Darwin-L Message Log 9: 51–100 — May 1994
Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences
Darwin-L was an international discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences, active from 1993–1997. Darwin-L was established to promote the reintegration of a range of fields all of which are concerned with reconstructing the past from evidence in the present, and to encourage communication among scholars, scientists, and researchers in these fields. The group had more than 600 members from 35 countries, and produced a consistently high level of discussion over its several years of operation. Darwin-L was not restricted to evolutionary biology nor to the work of Charles Darwin, but instead addressed the entire range of historical sciences from an explicitly comparative perspective, including evolutionary biology, historical linguistics, textual transmission and stemmatics, historical geology, systematics and phylogeny, archeology, paleontology, cosmology, historical geography, historical anthropology, and related “palaetiological” fields.
This log contains public messages posted to the Darwin-L discussion group during May 1994. It has been lightly edited for format: message numbers have been added for ease of reference, message headers have been trimmed, some irregular lines have been reformatted, and error messages and personal messages accidentally posted to the group as a whole have been deleted. No genuine editorial changes have been made to the content of any of the posts. This log is provided for personal reference and research purposes only, and none of the material contained herein should be published or quoted without the permission of the original poster.
The master copy of this log is maintained in the Darwin-L Archives (rjohara.net/darwin) by Dr. Robert J. O’Hara. The Darwin-L Archives also contain additional information about the Darwin-L discussion group, the complete Today in the Historical Sciences calendar for every month of the year, a collection of recommended readings on the historical sciences, and an account of William Whewell’s concept of “palaetiology.”
------------------------------------------ DARWIN-L MESSAGE LOG 9: 51-100 -- MAY 1994 ------------------------------------------ _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:51>From BONN@nickel.laurentian.ca Wed May 4 12:03:15 1994 Date: Wed, 04 May 1994 12:59:21 -0500 (EST) From: "Bonnie Blackwell, (519)253-4232x2502" <BONN@nickel.laurentian.ca> Subject: Re: Lewontin, Gould, and behavioral creationism To: email@example.com To clarify my comment: Why are Gould and Lewontin not replying to this issues on Darwin-l. If they don't belong, why not? b _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:52>From BONN@nickel.laurentian.ca Wed May 4 12:12:16 1994 Date: Wed, 04 May 1994 13:06:01 -0500 (EST) From: "Bonnie Blackwell, (519)253-4232x2502" <BONN@nickel.laurentian.ca> Subject: Re: Re: Species/Linguistic Death To: firstname.lastname@example.org To Marc Picard: Your recent comments imply that education and the constant input from reading do not modify one's speech or writing. Granted I am not a linguist, but from experience I have observed many modifications in the oral and written language, vocabulary, syntax, grammar, etc., that have been modified through education and reading. In the Western languages, I believe these influences are much stonger than M. Picard would credit, especially at reducing divergence. b _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:53>From email@example.com Wed May 4 12:18:24 1994 Date: Wed, 4 May 1994 12:59:02 -0400 (EDT) From: "Kelly C. Smith" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: More on Vitamin C To: email@example.com On Tue, 3 May 1994, Bob Richardson, University of Cincinnati wrote: > It is not this easy. (1) Do we have any independent estimate of the > "metabolic cost" aside from the (supposed) loss of the ability to synthesize > Vitamin C, which it is supposed to explain? (2) Turkel's actual suggestion, > I think, was that if all/most primates lack the ability to synthesize vitamin > C, then that suggests that it was lost in some ancestral group. Why should > we accept that convergent evolution is the [more] likely mechanism? Bob's points are well taken. I can't resist some half-baked musings: 1) I myself am dubious that there is a significant cost of C synthesis. Linus Pauling cites as evidence the fact that single celled organisms lacking an unnecessary metabolic pathway typically outcompete others, but there seems a world of difference between single celled organisms which compete largely on the basis of fine gradations in cellular efficiency and multicellular organisms like mammals where most such "minor" differences will be swamped by the effects of unrelated phenotypic traits. Of course, I would have thought that sperm production imposed a pretty trivial cost as well and there is now, as I understand it, evidence that males' continuous production of sperm (in C. elegans??) may be responsible partly for thier shorter lives (pisser). Incidentally, if anyone has this reference, I'd like to get it..... 2) The picture that defenders of the lost synthesis story paint is one where virtually all mammals have C synthesis and only the primates lack it. I have no idea if this is accurate or not but, if it is, wouldn't this provide strong support for the interpretation of synthesis as primitive? It COULD be that synthesis is a convergent trait, but if it is sufficiently widespread this would call for a most unparsimonious cladogram (Sorry, I do not mean to open the parsimony can 'o worms). Make 'em keep their heads down, Bob... Kelly Smith firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:54>From email@example.com Wed May 4 12:29:49 1994 Date: Wed, 4 May 1994 13:19:01 -0400 (EDT) From: "Kelly C. Smith" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: Evolution of bodies but not minds To: email@example.com On Tue, 3 May 1994, Tom Schoenemann wrote: > Regardless of whether or not people accept the sociobiological argument > on the incest taboo, I am more interested in a separate question: For > those like Lewontin and Gould, who reject the notion that evolutionary > biology can have significant explanatory power for behavior in general > (and human behavior in particular), exactly what is so crucial about > getting the public to believe that their bodies evolved, given that they > don't at the same time have to extend this thinking to their minds? Put > another way, if the public were to continue to believe that their minds > were the result of special creation (either by a god or by themselves), > how would the world be a better place if we convinced them that their > bodies were the result of evolution? What practical benefits would one > expect to see from such a state of affairs? Well, how about the fact that it is the best theory we have available to explain the evolution of the human body and that the job of education is to communicate such theories? Even if it were true that our thinking about behavior was still screwy, this is not an argument for avoiding the best thoeries about our bodies. The extent to which evolution can be used to explain our behaviors seems an entirely seperate (if no less important) point. One can believe in evolution and still be a devout Christian (unless "seven days" is interpreted literally), but religious theories have no place in the public schools. It occurs to me that Tom might be thinking that if (physical) evolution did not shape our behavior, then me must explain behavior by recourse to some principles equally as mysterious as God. But Lewontin and his buddies do not mean to suggest that behavior must be explained in terms of mysterious entities, just that it can not be explained in terms of physical (as opposed to cultural) evolution. Our social mores evolve no less surely from not being genetically encoded... Sorry to annoy everyone with so many contributions today, but there's just too many juicy bits. Kelly Smith firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:55>From edkupfer@MIT.EDU Wed May 4 12:35:49 1994 From: edkupfer@MIT.EDU To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Naming and essentialism. Date: Wed, 04 May 94 13:36:11 EDT Gordon McOuat recently posted a request for those interested in historical, philosophical and sociological aspects of naming organisms, species, and higer taxa. Add my name onto the list of those working in this area. I've been exploring the relationship between bacterial nomenclature and the disciplinary development of bacteriology in 20th century America. In my case study there's a persistant tension between those seeking to name organisms/species/genera as a short-hand for the utility/relationship to man (i.e., what bacteria do) and those who sought a taxonomic system that would reveal the essence of the microoganism (i.e., what bacteria are). The example of bacteriology stands in stark contrast to the zoological and botanical systematics since phylogentic histories were impossible to construct for most of this century. Moreover, when bacterial taxonomies were tied to evolutionary concerns, the microorganisms were often portrayed in Lamarkian terms. I hope to argue that bacterial systematics remained outside of the taxonomic debates in zoology and botany until the 1930's, when the leaders of the Society of American Bacteriologists sought to situate their disipline as a more "biological" practice. At that time there was a concerted effort to integrate bacterial systematics within the conceptual frameworks of biology, an effort that proved to be a failure for several years. Yours, Eric Kupferberg MIT/Program in STS and Fellow Dibner Inst. _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:56>From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed May 4 12:38:58 1994 Date: Wed, 4 May 1994 13:34:18 -0400 (EDT) From: "Kelly C. Smith" <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Evolution of bodies but not minds To: firstname.lastname@example.org On Tue, 3 May 1994 ANWOLFE@ECUVM.CIS.ECU.EDU wrote: > Also, it has not been shown that inbreeding is necessarily harmful--it > depends on the genes you start with. Well, inbreeding IS harmful, given two assumptions: 1) that there are alleles which are recessive and deleterious (as I understand it, this is an almost universal feature of populations) and 2) that inbreeding occurs for a sufficiently long period of time to change the gene frequencies. It seems very misleading then for Linda to say that inbreeding need not be deleterious since, from an evolutionary point of view, it almost always will be. > Human biologists demonstrated that years ago. Who are we talking about? Kelly Smith email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:57>From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed May 4 12:50:14 1994 Date: Wed, 4 May 1994 13:43:12 -0400 (EDT) From: "Kelly C. Smith" <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Lewontin, Gould, and behavioral creationism To: firstname.lastname@example.org On Wed, 4 May 1994, Prof Vince Sarich wrote: > Bonnie Blackwell asks: > > I for one would like to hear both Gould's and Lewontin's replies > to these arguments. That way we would know what they REALLY do > feel, not what others think they feel. Can we not ask them? > > Lewontin has written, along with Steven Rose and Leon Kamin, a book whose > title, Not in Our Genes (Random House, 1984), tells us exactly what he thinks > about the connection between human genes and human behavior. Sure, but this is not the same as saying exactly what he thinks about the relation between evolution in general and human behavior (unless one assumes that cultural evolution does not occur or isn't properly "evolutionary"). > Gould has given us much the same message in his Natural History essays, and, > in particular, in his Mismeasure of Man (Norton, 1981). There he manages to > spend the first 2 chapters (100 or so pages) telling us that brain size and > intellectual performance have nothing to do with one another without once > noting that our brains have not always been the size they are today. Nor is > that awkward fact mentioned anywhere else in the book. I've always thought > that the reason for this curious omission is that Gould is too good a > biologist to not appreciate that the only way the human brain could have > almost tripled in size in the last 2 million years was if larger-brained > individuals were in some way advantaged over smaller-brained ones. How > advantaged? Well -- dare one say it? -- by being smarter. What else? But > Gould also saw where that would lead, and so the inconvenient fact of human > evolution was simply ignored. ABSOLUTE brain size has almost tripled, but our body size in general is much bigger than, say, Australopithecenes. It would be surprising, given correlation of growth, if our brains had NOT enlarged considerably in 2 million years. Does anyone know what has happened to the brain-body RATIO over this period (as Gould is at pains to point out, it is the ratio that matters)? Last comment today, I promise. Kelly Smith email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:58>From firstname.lastname@example.org.Hawaii.Edu Wed May 4 14:29:21 1994 Date: Wed, 4 May 94 9:29:38 HST From: Ron Amundson <email@example.com.Hawaii.Edu> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Lewontin, Gould, and behavioral creationism Gould does not have an email account. I consider his reasons somewhat Luddite, but there you are. Lewontin has an account, but chooses to keep his address private. The MCZ node does not allow a "finger" command. I know a lot of technologically sophisticated people who consider email to be far more nuisance than it's worth. If you notice the amount of nonsense chatter on, say, sci.bio (the USENET group) about Gould's opinions, you realize that if he were to respond to email discussions he'd never get anything else written. Luckily there are those who have carefully read his and Lewontin's writings. On the other hand, I'll have comments presently on Vince Sarich's interpretation of them. Ron _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:59>From email@example.com Wed May 4 14:44:08 1994 From: Jerry Koch <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: re: Re: Re: Species/Linguistic Death Date: Wed May 4 11:31:29 1994 Clearly, it's a function of a living language to change, or "evolve" without the control, or possibly even the notice of the people speaking it. BUT, with a few exceptions (as in the case of nationalism, where people intentionally use language to separate themselves) mass communications lessens the chances for language to change differently such that new languages might form. Think of your own language. Do you suppose it might change from those you communicate with? Of course not. So, as global communications increases, mass communications improve, and trade and other factors of modern civilization motivate us to communicate with more people we find that the "communications pool" (the group of folks we communicate with, either directly, or indirectly) increases. While the language used by members of that pool will evolve, it won't change independently of the members. This will lead to fewer languages, not more. I gotta add that Marc's awfully snobbish to suggest that only a linguist can know what a language is. Jerry Koch firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:60>From CBLINDERMAN@vax.clarku.edu Wed May 4 14:50:33 1994 Date: Wed, 4 May 1994 15:49 EST From: CBLINDERMAN@vax.clarku.edu Subject: TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES To: email@example.com On May 4, 1825, in Ealing, London, Thomas Henry Huxley was born. THH emerged in the forefront of Victorian biologists, responsible for wide-ranging anatomical and paleontological discoveries, for example a human hair sheath, parallels between invertebrates and vertebrates in embryological development, the evolution of birds from dinosaurs, and the evolution of human beings from simian predecessors. His Man's Place in Nature, the first articulated presentation of human evolution, appeared eight years before Darwin's Descent of Man. He did not invent the hypothesis of natural selection, and always distrusted gradualism and disapproved of pangenesis. Although he conducted the most energetic and often eloquent defense of evolutionary theory, he was more than what is signalled by his sobriquet "Darwin's Bulldog": he was the architect of Darwinism in its philosophical and Biblical criticism features, as shown by his inventing the word "agnostic" and in nine volumes of Collected Essays. His lectures, participation in professional societies and governmental boards, and "fugitive pieces," essays on humanistic and historical subjects, identify him as a designer of British education from primary to university grades, from teaching in a classroom to conducting laboratory experimentation, as an enthusiastic exegesist of the creation myth, Noah's ark, Gadarene demonology, and as a Reform Darwinist. He was remarkable not only in being one of the major scientific discoverers of the Victorian period and not only in being the top popularizer of scientific discoveries and theorizing, but also in being one of the finest writers of any time and in being a talented artist of subjects ranging from jellyfish to gibbon hands to New Guinea canoes, huts, and people. He was so extraordinarily successful in his professional work and in secularizing science that what he predicted has become so basic to our own perspectives, we have forgotten him. He has suffered a deletion and so the Huxley name is now immediately applied to Aldous and Julian, Andrew and Anthony, and not to their ancestor and the ancestral inspiration for much of what today we know and believe, T. H. Huxley, 1825-1895. _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:61>From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed May 4 15:18:03 1994 Subject: Re: Lewontin, Gould, and behavioral creationism To: email@example.com Date: Wed, 4 May 1994 15:19:21 -0500 (CDT) From: James Mahaffy <firstname.lastname@example.org> > To clarify my comment: Why are Gould and Lewontin not replying to this > issues on Darwin-l. If they don't belong, why not? > b Perhaps because even a good and useful group like darwin-l is quite a time sink. There are other ways to interact. I still love this group and the way it brings the scholarly community to my desk, but if I were as well known as those two I suspect I might think it a bother. -- James F. Mahaffy e-mail: email@example.com Biology Department phone: 712 722-6279 Dordt College FAX 712 722-1198 Sioux Center, Iowa 51250 _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:62>From LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU Wed May 4 15:45:43 1994 Date: Wed, 4 May 1994 15:45:43 -0500 From: "JOHN LANGDON" <LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: RE: teaching history backwards I have just come from a faculty discussion in which many of us found we faced a similar problem: Understanding the present (present political situation, geological landforms, scientific paradigms, anatomy, etc.) requires understanding past history; but when we start our courses off with the traditional "historical background" students lose the relevance. The bigger problem appears to be that they are profoundly ignorant of the present. Solution? Teaching history backwards? Has anyone used this approach? Does it work? I would be interested in hearing about tips or pitfalls of such an approach. JOHN H. LANGDON email LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY FAX (317) 788-3569 UNIVERSITY OF INDIANAPOLIS PHONE (317) 788-3447 INDIANAPOLIS, IN 46227 _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:63>From LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU Wed May 4 15:55:08 1994 Date: Wed, 4 May 1994 15:55:08 -0500 From: "JOHN LANGDON" <LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU> To: email@example.com Subject: Re: More on Vitamin C In message <Pine.3.87.9405041202.G13786firstname.lastname@example.org> writes: > Of course, I would have thought that sperm production > imposed a pretty trivial cost as well and there is now, as I understand > it, evidence that males' continuous production of sperm (in C. elegans??) > may be responsible partly for thier shorter lives (pisser). Incidentally, > if anyone has this reference, I'd like to get it..... W.A. Van Voorhies, 1992. Production of sperm reduces menatode lifespan. Nature 360:456-458. (and comment on page 415) see also commentary in Nature 354(1991):190-191 on the same topic referencing an article by Hodgkin and Barnes in Proc. Royal Society B246(1991):19-24. JOHN H. LANGDON email LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY FAX (317) 788-3569 UNIVERSITY OF INDIANAPOLIS PHONE (317) 788-3447 INDIANAPOLIS, IN 46227 _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:64>From email@example.com Wed May 4 17:27:21 1994 Date: Wed, 4 May 94 18:27:46 EDT From: firstname.lastname@example.org (R. Hilliard) To: email@example.com Subject: re: Re: Re: Species/Linguistic Death > I gotta add that Marc's awfully snobbish to suggest that only a > linguist can know what a language is. I didn't save Marc's original message, but it seems to me a key point in this discussion is that our naive, folk notions of "language" play virtually no role in theoretical linguistics. (Just as our folk notion of "the sun rises" plays no role in astronomy.) E.g., it's not a goal of linguistics to define the term "language" such that one could determine which entities are "really" languages versus dialects or idiolects. Rather, each of those are purely descriptive notions, useful sources of data to the linguist studying a scientific abstraction -- "possible human language" -- in the hope of explanation. -- Rich Hilliard firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:65>From CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu Wed May 4 17:35:35 1994 Date: Wed, 04 May 94 17:35 CDT From: Tom Cravens <CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu> Subject: Re: teaching history backwards To: email@example.com John Langdon, I've used the approach you mention, in sort of mini-modules, i.e. examine some language structure as it is now, in detail, and then ask how it got that way. It works just fine. In fact, it seems totally normal to me, and, I think, to students as well. Tom Cravens firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:66>From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed May 4 17:36:28 1994 Date: Wed, 4 May 94 17:36:52 CDT From: "Asia "I work in mysterious ways" Lerner" <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Lewontin, Gould, and behavioral creationism Gould has given us much the same message in his Natural History essays, and, in particular, in his Mismeasure of Man (Norton, 1981). There he manages to spend the first 2 chapters (100 or so pages) telling us that brain size and intellectual performance have nothing to do with one another without once noting that our brains have not always been the size they are today. Nor is that awkward fact mentioned anywhere else in the book. I've always thought that the reason for this curious omission is that Gould is too good a biologist to not appreciate that the only way the human brain could have almost tripled in size in the last 2 million years was if larger-brained individuals were in some way advantaged over smaller-brained ones. How advantaged? Well -- dare one say it? -- by being smarter. What else? Since the answer is of such pristine simplicity, I am sure you can direct me to a research that shows the connection between cranial capacity and intelligence in modern _Homo sapens_ who are the subject of Gould's critique. I await with much curiosity. But Gould also saw where that would lead, and so the inconvenient fact of human evolution was simply ignored. Where would it lead? To the conclusion that elephants are smarter? Asia _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:67>From email@example.com Wed May 4 17:50:21 1994 Date: Wed, 4 May 94 17:50:45 CDT From: "Asia "I work in mysterious ways" Lerner" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Lewontin, Gould, and behavioral creationism Kely Smith writes: (as Gould is at pains to point out, it is the ratio that matters)? Well, yes and no. It's certainly a reasonable assumption that it matters in the evolutionary developement, but I do not think that anybody has as yet established a correlation between cranial capacity/bodywieght and intelligence in modern _Homo sapiens_, nor do I know of any other physical aspect that can be simplistically measured and positively correlated with intelligence. Why would the correlation exist on evolutionary timescale but not at any one particular moment is a good question, and the solution would probably tell as much about "intelligence" the ontology and phenomenology of which is still pretty misterious, but it's still the case that no connection was ever found in the here and now. Asia _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:68>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Wed May 4 19:19:24 1994 Date: Wed, 04 May 1994 20:19:35 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: List meltdown / Darwin-L gopher back in service To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro The beleagured list owner turns his back for a day and boy, the whole list nearly melts down. For the first time in our history some unfriendly sparks seem to be flying among our members, a state of affairs much to be regretted. I'd like to encourage everyone to sit back, take a deep breath, and reflect on what has been said. Contemplate, too, that at least in this part of the world the semester is almost over! In just a few days there will be no more papers to read, no more lectures to give, and (yes!) no more exams to grade. The original point of this message was to report that the Darwin-L gopher is back in service on rjohara.uncg.edu. As those of you who have visited it know, the Darwin-L gopher contains copies of all our past logs, several text files of interest to historical scientists, and links to a number of other network sites. I encourage you all to pay a visit. (Please report any problems with the Darwin-L gopher to me privately (email@example.com). The software has acted a bit odd from time to time, so there may still be some occasional problems.) <whew> Bob crawls back to his desk and looks forward with a grimace to the remainder of the evening, which he will spend writing an exam. :-( Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner Robert J. O'Hara (firstname.lastname@example.org) Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology 100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A. _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:69>From email@example.com Wed May 4 20:09:15 1994 Date: Wed, 4 May 1994 21:07:55 -0400 From: Fr. James Cassidy O.S.B. <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Teaching History Backwards? I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "teaching history backwards" but if you mean starting with where we are now, and asking much in the manner of a detective: how did this state of affairs come to be, then you might be interested in taking a look at James W. Davidson and Mark H. Lytle's book, _After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection_ (actually, it comes in 2 vols) ) by McGraw Hill, 1992. The book is intended to go along with U.S. Survey courses and introduce students to the idea of how history is done and why it can be relevant to study, but you might find it interesting all the same. And if there are any other ideas out there on "teaching history backwards," I too would be interested in hearing them. Thanks, Jim Cassidy, Saint Anselm College firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:70>From PICARD@VAX2.CONCORDIA.CA Wed May 4 21:47:16 1994 Date: Wed, 04 May 1994 22:29:07 -0500 (EST) From: MARC PICARD <PICARD@VAX2.CONCORDIA.CA> Subject: Re: Re: Re: Species/Linguistic Death To: email@example.com The problem with Jerry Koch's theory is that the vast majority of speakers in the world are not involved in mass communications. Moreover, since language change is deemed to take place mainly in the transmission of phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic rules from one generation to another, and since children are not expected to become involved in any global or universal "communications pools" in the foreseeable future, we can expect that languages will continue to evolve the way they always have. Also, I simply fail to see how my ability to communicate with people in all sorts of different countries, either verbally (e.g. by telephone) or electronically (e.g. via the Internet) can have any influence on any aspect of my French grammar, or their (choose one of thousands of possibilities here) native grammatical systems. Very few people are willing or able to make more than a few cosmetic changes to their grammatical rules vis-avis speakers of other dialects.What they acquire instead is greater passive knowledge of the other dialects they come into contact with. Moreover, whatever changes they do make are not ordinarily transmitted to their offspring since they will learn the speech habits of their peers in most circumstances. Finally, let me state that, of course, I don't believe that only a linguist can know what a language is, just like I don't believe that only a physicist can know what motion and light are. Except that I wouldn't claim to have any significant understanding of these phenomena simply because I can walk and see. Marc Picard _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:71>From CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu Wed May 4 22:14:02 1994 Date: Wed, 04 May 94 22:13 CDT From: Tom Cravens <CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu> Subject: Re: Species/Linguistic Death To: firstname.lastname@example.org Let me add to Rich Hilliard's comments by saying that Marc Picard wasn't being snobbish, but just pointing out that being a proficient user of a language provides no more insight about the vast complexities of how language works than having 12 children provides about the intricate details of reproduction. This is not an argument that discussion of either topic should be left only to experts, but that it is counter-productive to indulge in speculation that overlooks knowledge already attained. As in many fields, a lot of the basics is just refining common sense notions. Linguists distinguish between prescriptive grammar ("Don't say 'ain't'") and descriptive grammar (the genuine use of ain't as defined by native speakers who have it naturally). Prescriptive grammar just isn't very interesting, since, while it may reveal rather circumscribed social rules, it doesn't reveal much about the workings of language. Prescriptive disapproval isn't even all that trustworthy as an indicator of change, since much that's normal but disapproved of by a small elite (e.g. ain't, double negatives) persists for ages. The viewpoint of descriptive grammar is to accept language as it actually is, and this in turn encourages discovery of the principles that control it. Tom Cravens email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:72>From Robert.Richardson@UC.Edu Wed May 4 23:25:26 1994 Date: Thu, 05 May 1994 00:23:10 -0500 (EST) From: "Bob Richardson, University of Cincinnati" <Robert.Richardson@UC.Edu> Subject: Vitamin C & Evolutionary Scenarios To: Darwinemail@example.com There's been much discussion of evolutionary issues concerning the synthesis of Vitamin C, and the loss of it in humans and other primates. In a context assuming that the loss of the ability is a derived trait in humans, Tom Schoenemann observes, correctly, that there is random mutation in the DNA relevant to the synthesis of Vitamin C and many ways to disable the pathway. It's correct, but uncontroversial. Here is what appears to be a conclusion from the observation: >The point is that there is no a priori reason to suspect >that the loss of some adaptation is necessarily due to selection [rather >than drift] Again, I could not agree more. The point I was driving at in an earlier posting was that just being able to tell a consistent story favoring selection as opposed to drift, or drift as opposed to selection, is no guide to actual evolutionary scenarios. There are even some solid models which tell us what we'd have to know to know whether we're dealing with selection or drift. I'm still skeptical that we're asking a question we can answer. I'm looking for empirical measures, not a priori reasons. It's hard not to observe (so I won't resist) that the discussion of Vitamin C has a lot in common with the discussion of Lewontin & Gould on human intelligence (about which more in a later posting). The postings are dominated largely by a priori speculations, with minimal empirical basis. Robert C. Richardson Department of Philosophy ML 374 Richards@UCBEH.Bitnet University of Cincinnati Richards@UCBEH.san.uc.edu Cincinnati OH 45221-0374 Telephone: 513-556-6327 Fax number: 513-556-2939 _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:73>From Robert.Richardson@UC.Edu Wed May 4 23:58:58 1994 Date: Thu, 05 May 1994 00:58:12 -0500 (EST) From: "Bob Richardson, University of Cincinnati" <Robert.Richardson@UC.Edu> Subject: Evolving Intelligence To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu In discussing the correlation between brain size and intelligence, Vince Sarich recounts that Gould explains >that brain size and intellectual performance have nothing to do with >one another without once noting that our brains have not always been >the size they are today. Nor is that awkward fact mentioned anywhere >else in the book. I've always thought that the reason for this curious >omission is that Gould is too good a biologist to not appreciate that >the only way the human brain could have almost tripled in size in the >last 2 million years was if larger-brained individuals were in some way >advantaged over smaller-brained ones. How advantaged? Well -- >dare one say it? -- by being smarter. What else? But Gould also saw where >that would lead, and so the inconvenient fact of human evolution was >simply ignored. Quibbles aside, the fact that our brains are different in size than the brains of our non-conspecifics is not mentioned because it's not relevant. The question Gould is after in the *Mismeasure of Man* is whether differences in brain size between races (sic) or between nationalities or between males and females is a sound index of differences in intelligence. He concludes it is not. Whether you like his reasons or not, these are differences within a species (or within a lineage, if you think there are races); differences between species are not relevant. Gould is too good a biologist to confuse questions of within and between group variation. I suspect that that is why he does not make much of the evolution of a larger brain size within humans. As Asia noticed, though, the right response here is skepticism. (Are elephants smarter because their brains ar larger than ours?) And Kelly Smith saw that it is not absolute brain size that matters, but relative: our absolute brain size may triple, but body size has increased too. Gould has, in more publications than I could care to count, emphasized the importance of *allometry* in evolution; that is, change in shape correlated with change in size. This is critical to his account in the *Mismeasure* because brain volume (shape) is correlated with size (e.g., in stature). This is an alternative explanation, though, like Kelly Smith, I don't know how much of the variation between species could be accounted for in this way. Perhaps we could be enlightened? Bob Richardson OK Kelly. Robert C. Richardson Department of Philosophy ML 374 Richards@UCBEH.Bitnet University of Cincinnati Richards@UCBEH.san.uc.edu Cincinnati OH 45221-0374 Telephone: 513-556-6327 Fax number: 513-556-2939 _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:74>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu May 5 04:02:59 1994 Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 01:57:05 -0700 (PDT) From: Tom Schoenemann <schoenem@qal.Berkeley.EDU> Subject: Re: Evolving Intelligence To: email@example.com Jerison (1973) lists the following "encephalization quotients" (which take account of the relationship between body size and brain size across vertebrates) for chimps, gorillas, and orangutans: Chimp (male): 2.48 (56.7 kg body weight, 440 g brain weight) Chimp (female): 2.17 (44.0 kg body weight, 325 g brain weight) Gorilla (male): 1.53 (172.4 kg body weight, 570 g brain weight) Gorilla (female): 1.76 (90.7 kg body weight, 426 g brain weight) Human (male): 7.79 (55.5 kg body weight, 1361 g brain weight) Human (female): 7.39 (51.5 kg body weight, 1228 g brain weight) These are individual specimens, but they are representative of what I have seen in other studies. Clearly, body size does not come close to explaining the huge increase in brain size in hominids, and it isn't even necessary to calculate EQ's to see this. With respect to the question of brain size and intelligence, the most recent review I know of (there have been others) concerning the correlation between IQ and head size looked at 25 separate studies (going back to the turn of the century), comprising 39 independent normal samples (total N = 51,931; Wickett, et al. in press). They report that most correlations range between r = .10 to r = .30, with an n-weighted mean of r = .194. This is highly statistically significant, though head dimensions clearly do not explain very much of the variation in IQ. More interestingly, 4 recent studies of this question for the first time derived estimates of brain size from high quality magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), instead of using external cranial dimensions. All 4 studies show much higher correlations: Willerman et al. (1991) report an estimated correlation of r = .35 (N = 40); Andreasen et al. (1993) found a correlation of r= .38 (N = 67); Raz et al (in press) found a correlation of r = .43 (N = 29); and Wickett et al. (in press) report a correlation of r = .395 (N = 40, all females). These are all statistically significant. It is quite simply a myth that brain size and IQ are empirically unrelated in modern populations. It is also a myth that brain size has never been shown to relate to behavioral differences in any non-human species. Hamilton showed way back in 1935 that rats selected for 12 generations to be either "maze-bright" or "maze-dull" differed by about 2.5 standard deviations in brain weight. Within unselected control rats there was a correlation of r = .25 between maze ability and brain weight. Recently Anderson (1993) reported data on rats in which several cognitive tasks were given and a general factor extracted, and brain weights were obtained. The correlation between this general factor and brain weights in these rats was r = .48. All the way back in 1974 Van Valen pointed out that if brain size and intelligence were truely functionally related, then the correlations between IQ (an imperfect measure of "intelligence") and head dimensions (an imperfect measure of brain size) would necessarily be attenuated. The fact that the MRI derived correlations are approximately double the average derived from external cranial dimensions is strong support for this view. The next logical step will be to see if other dimensions of cognitive ability besides IQ show higher correlations with MRI derived brain size measures. However, Van Valen (1974) also showed that a correlation of r = .30 would have been big enough to account for the rapid evolution of brain size assuming selection for intelligence (or whatever behavioral variable correlated this highly with brain size). REFERENCES: Anderson, Britt,1993, "Evidence from the rat for a general factor that underlies cognitive performance and that relates to brain size: Intelligence?" NEUROSCIENCE LETTERS v.153: 98-102. Andreason, Nancy C., Michael Flaum, Victor II Swayze, Daniel s. O'Leary, Randall Alliger, Gregg Cohen, James Ehrhardt, and William T.C. Yuh,1993, "Intelligence and brain structure in normal individuals," AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY v.150: 130-134. Hamilton, J. A. 1935, THE ASSOCIATION BETWEEN BRAIN SIZE AND MAZE ABILITY IN THE WHITE RAT, Dissertation, University of California at Berkeley. Jerison, H. J., 1973, EVOLUTION OF THE BRAIN AND INTELLIGENCE. New York: Academic Press. Raz, N., Torres, I. J., Spencer, W. D., Millman, D., Bertschi, J. C., Sarpel, G., in press, "Neuroanatomical corelates of age-sensitive and age-invariant cognitive abilities: An _in vivo_ MRI investigation," INTELLIGENCE. Van Valen, Leigh.,1974, "Brain size and intelligence in man," AM. J. PHYS. ANTHROP. 40: 417-424. Wickett, John C., Philip A. Vernon, and Donald H. Lee., in press, "_In vivo_ brain size, head perimeter, and intelligence in a sample of healthy adult females," PERSONALITY AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES. Willerman, Lee, Robert Schultz, J. Neal Rutledge, and Erin D. Bigler, 1991, "_In vivo_ brain size and intelligence," INTELLIGENCE v.15: 223-228. P. Tom Schoenemann Department of Anthropology University of California, Berkeley (firstname.lastname@example.org) _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:75>From email@example.com Thu May 5 04:14:02 1994 Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 02:07:50 -0700 (PDT) From: Tom Schoenemann <schoenem@qal.Berkeley.EDU> Subject: Inbreeding avoidance To: firstname.lastname@example.org First, some data. I specifically know of studies demonstrating outbreeding mechanisms for the following non-human species: Japanese Quail, (Bateson, 1980), Bewick's swans (Bateson et al., 1980), Woodland mice (Hill, 1974), Acorn woodpeckers (Koenig and Pitelka, 1979), Baboons (Packer, 1979), Chimpanzees (Pusey, 1980). I suspect that any zoologist could give many more. Perhaps Asia Lerner could match this list with an equal number of references showing that inbreeding (say, between first degree relatives) routinely occurs in some other species in natural conditions. I would be very interested in such a list. The detrimental effects of inbreeding in humans has been conclusively demonstrated by Seemanova (1971) who compared 2 sets of children produced by the same 141 Czech women. 161 children were fathered by the women's fathers, brothers, or sons, while another set of 95 children were fathered by unrelated men and were used as controls. 15 of the 161 inbred children were stillborn or died before 1 year of age, compared to 5 of the 95 outbred children. Also, 64 of the inbred children suffered mental or physical defects (severe mental retardation, deafness, heart abnormalities, etc.) compared to on 5 of the outbred children. Van den Berghe (1983) states that studies of this question generally show infant mortality rates about twice as high for children of first cousins compared to children of unrelated parents. He states that the problems of inbreeding are, empirically, quite severe for close relatives, but much less so for first cousins and more distant relatives. Perhaps someone knows of contradicting evidence on this point? These are only the short-term effects. The long term effects involve the reduction of variation in a particular (inbred) lineage, and this makes the lineage much less able to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Is inbreeding characteristic of humans? The highest average level of inbreeding that I am aware of in humans is for the Samaritans of Israel and Jordan (a religious sect of about 350 members), who average somewhere between first and second cousin matings (Nelson and Jurmain, 1988). Again, I would be very interested in any data showing that a particular human group that routinely allowed matings among first degree relatives. Does anyone know of any?? They clearly are not the norm if any do exist. Given that vertebrates avoid close inbreeding, and that we know what the short and long-term effects of close inbreeding are (both theoretically and empirically) the most parsimonious explanation is that genetically-influenced behavioral mechanisms evolved to make outbreeding much more likely. This would then have been the situation for our common ancestor with chimps and gorillas as well. Since humans show this pattern as well, in order to argue that it is purely cultural in humans, we would have to maintain that this genetically-influenced behavioral tendency was selected out during human evolution. The only way this could have occured is if breeding among first-degree relatives had been selected FOR during a significant period of our evolutionary history. Perhaps those who believe inbreeding avoidance in humans (i.e., the "incest taboo") is entirely cultural can explain how this would work. I can't. REFERENCES: Bateson, P. P. G., 1980, "Optimal outbreeding and the development of sexual preferences in Japanese quail." Z. TIERPSYCHOL. v.53:231-44 Bateson, P. P. G., Lotwick, W. and Scott, d. K., 1980, "Similarities between the faces of parents and offspring in Bewick's swans and the differences between mates," J. ZOOL. LONDON, v.191:61-74 Hill, J. L., 1974, "Peromyscus: Effect of early pairing on reproduction," SCIENCE, v.186:1042-1044 Koenig, W., and Pitelka, F., 1979, "Relatedness and inbreeding avoidance: Counterplays in the communally nesting acorn woodpecker," SCIENCE, v.206:1103-1105 Nelson, H., and Jurmain, R., 1988, INTRODUCTION TO PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY, St. Paul: West Publishing Co. Packer, C., 1979, "Inter-troop transfer and inbreeding avoidance in _Papio anubis_," ANIMAL BEHAVIOR, v.27:1-36 Pusey, A., 1980, "Inbreeding aboidance in chimpanzees," ANIMAL BEHAVIOR, v.28:543-552 Seemanova, E., 1971, "A study of children of incestuous matings," HUMAN HEREDITY, v.21:108-128 Van den Berghe, P., 1983, "Human inbreeding avoidance: Culture in nature," BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES, v.6:91-123 P. Tom Schoenemann Department of Anthropology University of California, Berkeley (email@example.com) _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:76>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu May 5 04:38:16 1994 Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 05:38:37 -0400 (EDT) From: John E Limber <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Evolving Intelligence To: firstname.lastname@example.org Bob Richardson says:" Gould has, in more publications than I could care to count, emphasized the importance of *allometry* in evolution; that is, change in shape correlated with change in size. This is critical to his account in the *Mismeasure* because brain volume (shape) is correlated with size (e.g., in stature). This is an alternative explanation, though, like Kelly Smith, I don't know how much of the variation between species could be accounted for in this way. Perhaps we could be enlightened?" Although somewhat dated, Richard Passingham's 1982 book "The Human Primate" summarizes both studies on brain size and estimated intelligence ("brain size may be related to intelligence in the human population. But we have no evidence..that the relationship is close. Theoretically there is no reason to suppose that it should be, since the advantage conferred by a larger brain need only be slight for the rapid evolution of the human brain to be adequately explained. p.122" Passingham also presents much data on between species variation; there the evidence is very strong, e.g on a visual discrimination learning set task. "When primates and other mammals are ranked in terms of their rate of improvement over a series of problems their rank proves to be well predicted by an index of brain development (the number of nerve cells in the brain over and above those need for controlling bodily functions with reference to Jerison, 1973)." I suspect many of us are as reluctant to embrace "physical" accounts of the "mental" today as were the psychologists at the turn of century who tried to maintain Lamarckism as long as possible and then --when that became totally untenable--created a Behaviorism that had similar political progressive appeal. John Limber, Psychology, University of New Hampshire _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:77>From email@example.com Thu May 5 04:38:27 1994 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bayla Singer) Subject: Re: Teaching History Backwards? To: email@example.com Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 05:38:51 -0400 (EDT) I tried teaching a history of technology course via the concept 'present technology is the answer to a problem; sometimes the problem is caused by a previous answer' and taking that back a few iterations. The students liked the concept, but it was very difficult to actually follow the examples. I think I didn't do quite enough prep beforehand. I'd like to try it again, but I'm not in a position to do so now. --bayla _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:78>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu May 5 05:10:39 1994 Date: Thu, 5 May 94 10:59:44 BST From: Margaret Winters <email@example.com> Subject: language change To: firstname.lastname@example.org Let me add my bit about whether languages are still changing in the time-honored way by recommending (as I think I did be- fore in another context) a book by Rudi Keller called _Sprachwandel_. There is an article-length preview of the contents as well (for those like me who don't read German as well as they probably should) in a volume edited by Thomas Balmer(s) called _Linguistic Dynamics_. The point Keller is making - borrowed from, I believe, Adam Smith talking about economic systems - is that language change is neither teleological in the way, for example, road building is planned and executed according to the plan and for a specific well-articulated purpose, nor a blind natural force like gravity. Rather it is what he called a phenomenon of the third kind, social but not deterministic. There are human, social forces that can be pointed out, such as group identification or the power of prestige (which can mean almost anything - think about the underworld or drugworld slang that becomes so widespread), but they do not act to bring about the language changes that might be aimed at, except in the trivial sense of lexical addition or obsolescence. Instead other changes may come about which are, in some indirect ways, responses to these forces, but were not and could not be intended by the language users. I hope this helps - Cheers, Margaret Winters email@example.com P.S. Thank you, Bob, for pointing out that we were getting ill-tempered! I am in total agreement with all who have mentioned recently what a wonderful forum you have set up, and would hate to see it spoiled by squabbling like some other nets I could mention if I were not so lady-like :-). _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:79>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu May 5 06:32:49 1994 From: mhinelin@polar.Bowdoin.EDU (Mark L. Hineline) Subject: Costing out the paleoanthropological record To: email@example.com Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 07:33:50 +119304128 (EDT) A highly speculative question for list members: How much paleoanthropological knowledge would $9 billion, approximately the cost of the superconducting supercollider, buy? Using the past two decades of field and museum research in paleoanthropology as a baseline, and making fairly straight-line projections of cost-per-results (and, assuming that the fossil record is relatively complete, just buried or remote, and necessarily setting aside the problems of imperialism implied by billions of US dollars spent to dig up East Africa), would $9 billion buy a fairly complete account of hominid evolution? Perhaps several times over? Mark L. Hineline Bowdoin College Brunswick, Maine 04011 firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:80>From email@example.com Thu May 5 08:01:08 1994 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Species/Linguistic Death Date: Thu, 05 May 94 08:21:53 -0400 From: Sally Thomason <email@example.com> Rich Hilliard sugests that folk notions of "language" may play no role in theoretical linguistics, [so that] "it's not a goal of linguistics to define the term `language' such that one could determine which entities are `really' languages versus dialects or idiolects. Rather, each of those are purely descriptive notions..." In a way, this may be true of some areas of linguistics, but not historical linguistics, where abstracting away from the messiness of real-life language use is less useful than in some synchronic theoretical areas of the field. So yes, historical linguists do worry about how to tell a language from a dialect. (Not many linguists think, nowadays, that "idiolect" is a useful concept: it was originally thought of as a way to avoid variation & irregularities & mixed dialects, but it has been clear for thirty years & more that no single person has a perfectly regular & consistent linguistic system. Well, it's not as if idiolects are no longer discussed at all, but they don't play the role that was once hoped for them.) The problem of language vs. dialect, as has been mentioned by other contributors, is one that engages historical linguists in much the same way as the problem of species vs. (say) subspecies engages evolutionary biologists. Biologists have the leaky criterion of interbreeding possibility/potentiality; we have the leaky criterion of mutual intelligibility. And the leakages have some of the same causes. So the boundaries are fuzzy, as with many other kinds of boundaries in historical sciences, but that doesn't make the distinction unimportant. Rich Hilliard also refers to linguists who study the scientific abstraction of a/the "possible human language": quite right, but those linguists do synchronic theory, not diachronic theory. Very few specialists in synchronic linguistic theory concern themselves with the history of language(s); and the connections between the synchronic theories and the results of historical linguistic investigations are poorly understood (by both groups of specialists). Sally Thomason firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:81>From BONN@nickel.laurentian.ca Thu May 5 08:17:19 1994 Date: Thu, 05 May 1994 09:14:15 -0500 (EST) From: "Bonnie Blackwell, (519)253-4232x2502" <BONN@nickel.laurentian.ca> Subject: Re: Inbreeding avoidance To: email@example.com Your post reminded me of a small town in New Brunswick, Canada, where many of the people show the physical appearance of being very "stupid" - looking brutish in the old Victorian sense. This is supposed to be a classic case of either drift or inbreeding (I cannot remember which and when I went to try to find the reference again of course I could not). I do recall from passing through the town on a geological fieldtrip being struck by the feeling that the everyone we saw in the town was really mentally deficient - this was a gut reaction which was as abhorrent to me who supposedly does not judge people by appearances as it was vivid. Others on the trip made the same comment. If anyone has references on the phenonmenon in Zealand on the Keswick River, I would appreciate it. bonnie blackwell firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:82>From email@example.com Thu May 5 08:20:15 1994 Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 09:22:50 -0400 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (Jeremy Creighton Ahouse) Subject: who is Mr. Clarence King? Curled up with a reprint of C.S.Peirce's essay _The Architecture of Theories_ last night I came across the following passage. After paragraphs discussing Darwinian and Lamarkian theories of evolution we arrive at; A third theory of evolution is that of Mr. Clarence King. The testimony of monuments and of rocks is that species are unmodified, under ordinary circumstances, but are rapidly altered after cataclysms or rapid geological changes. Under novel circumstances, we often see animals and plants sporting excessively in reproduction, and sometimes even the undergoing transformations during individual life, phenomena no doubt due partly to the enfeeblement of vitality from the breaking up of habitual modes of life, partly to changed food, partly to direct specific influence of the element in which the organism is immersed. If evolution has been brought about this way, not only have its single steps not been insensible, as both Darwinians and Lamarkians suppose, but they are furthermore neither haphazard on the one hand, nor yet determined by an inward striving on the other, but on the contrary are effects of the changed environment, and have a positive general tendency to adapt the organism to that environment, since, since variation will particularly affect organs at once enfeebled and stimulated. This mode of evolutions, by external forces and the breaking up of habits, seems to be called for by some of the broadest and most important facts of biology and paleontology; while it certainly has been the chief factor in the historical evolution of institutions as in that of ideas; and cannot possibly be refused a very prominent place in the process of evolution of the universe in general. from _The Architecture of Theories_ by C.S.Peirce, The Monist (Jan 1891) Are the seeds of Punk Eek* here? I don't really know what "variation will particularly affect organs at once enfeebled and stimulated" means. Suggestions from you all would be interesting. - Jeremy *Punctuated Equilibrium ____________________________________________________________________ Jeremy Creighton Ahouse (firstname.lastname@example.org) Biology Dept. Brandeis University Waltham, MA 02254-9110 (617) 736-4954 _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:83>From email@example.com Thu May 5 08:20:18 1994 Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 09:22:53 -0400 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (Jeremy Creighton Ahouse) Subject: The eye problem FYI: This week's Nature (21 April, 1994, v368 no.6473) p 690 has Richard Dawkin's reviewing the work of Nilsson and Pelger (Proc. R. Soc. B256, 53-58, 1994). They have "reasonably" simulated the evolution of eyes from light sensitive flat tissue with a gradualist approach (never more than 1% change per step) and find the skin to eye transition in less than 400,000 generations. - Jeremy ____________________________________________________________________ Jeremy Creighton Ahouse (firstname.lastname@example.org) Biology Dept. Brandeis University Waltham, MA 02254-9110 (617) 736-4954 _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:84>From email@example.com Thu May 5 09:40:08 1994 Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 10:40:30 -0400 (EDT) From: John E Limber <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: language change To: email@example.com Some may be interested to know that Adam Smith had more than a passing interest in language and its origins. See, for example, Plank, F. (1992). Adam Smith: grammatical economist. In P. Jones, & A. S. Skinner (Ed.), Adam Smith reviewed (pp. 21-55). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. One can read a lot worse stuff on language origins published recently! John Limber, Psychology, University of New Hampshire _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:85>From PICARD@VAX2.CONCORDIA.CA Thu May 5 10:22:38 1994 Date: Thu, 05 May 1994 09:43:16 -0500 (EST) From: MARC PICARD <PICARD@VAX2.CONCORDIA.CA> Subject: Re: Teaching History Backwards? To: firstname.lastname@example.org A good example of explaining things from present to past is Barbara Strang's A HISTORY OF ENGLISH in which, after an introductory section, she deals with the chronological sequence of events backwards so that the first chapter of the second section is entitled 1970-1770, the second is 1770-1570, and so on to Chapter 9 which is BEFORE 370. I have to admit I couldn't really get into it but that may just be force of habit. Marc Picard _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:86>From SHANKSN@ETSUSERV.EAST-TENN-ST.EDU Thu May 5 10:47:09 1994 From: <SHANKSN@ETSUSERV.EAST-TENN-ST.EDU> Organization: East Tennessee State University To: Darwin <Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu> Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 11:45:27 GMT-5 Subject: brains and such I have watched the discussion of the evolution of brain size and intellegence with interest. Since I am not a professional biologist I would like to ask the following question for clarification: has the evolution of the human brain over the last 2 million years or so led to (directly or indirectly) the evolution of other physiological features (e.g., metabolic features)? So what have been the broader physiological implications of the evolution of the human brain? References would be appreciated. This is probably a dumb question, so please feel free to enlighten me privately at: Shanksn@etsuserv.east-tenn-st.edu Cheers, Niall Shanks _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:87>From email@example.com Thu May 5 13:41:02 1994 Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 14:41:25 -0400 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (Christine Franquemont) Subject: Re: Bonnie Blackwell on Inbreeding avoidance Bonnie Blackwell: Sorry I don't know the reference for your New Brunswick case, but I can tell you that I used to live near a town in New Hampshire which gave me the same "gut reaction." Much later, I learned sadly that I had been observing the results of fetal alcohol syndrome -- no relationship to breeding whatever. Christine Franquemont firstname.lastname@example.org Christine Franquemont Department of Anthropology Cornell University McGraw Hall Ithaca NY 14853 e-mail: email@example.com Phone: (607) 255-6773 Fax: (607) 255-0469 _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:88>From JMARKS@YALEVM.CIS.YALE.EDU Thu May 5 14:12:42 1994 Date: Thu, 05 May 94 14:54:44 EDT From: Jon Marks <JMARKS@YaleVM.CIS.Yale.edu> Organization: Yale University Subject: Re: Inbreeding avoidance To: Multiple recipients of list <firstname.lastname@example.org> In response to some of the points made by Tom Schoenemann: While in theory the deleterious effects of inbreeding are clear, that has proven elusive to document in practice. The Seemanova study showing that incestuous matings produced screwy children had some control problems, specifically concerning the age of the mother and the biological condition of the parents. These were raised in Nature (280:107, 1979) by Bittles. Bittles et al (Science 252:789, 1991) found surprisingly little reproductive problems associated with consanguineous matings in a large study in South India. Caro and Laurenson in Science (263:485, 1994) criticize the causal link between poor reproduction in cheetahs and the lack of genetic diversity documented among them. Apparently environmental factors (predation) and anthropogenic factors are more directly the cause of their problems than is their homozygosity. Predation was a big problem: apparently the babies are getting made (and without three eyes and twelve toes), but they're also getting eaten -- which leads the authors to question the causal role of homozygosity in the demographics of cheetahs. --Jon Marks _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:89>From BONN@nickel.laurentian.ca Thu May 5 15:05:16 1994 Date: Thu, 05 May 1994 16:02:30 -0500 (EST) From: "Bonnie Blackwell, (519)253-4232x2502" <BONN@nickel.laurentian.ca> Subject: Re: Bonnie Blackwell on Inbreeding avoidance To: email@example.com i actually saw this one sited in a human genetics textbook, but of course now cannot find the reference. so i don't think it is fetal alcohol syndrome. bonn _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:90>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu May 5 15:28:15 1994 Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 15:50:56 -0400 (EDT) From: Patricia Princehouse <email@example.com> Subject: Re: What Gould might say on a Thursday morn the last week of a very hard semester teaching 4 courses To: firstname.lastname@example.org On Wed, 4 May 1994, Ron Amundson wrote: > I know a lot of technologically sophisticated people who consider > email to be far more nuisance than it's worth. If you notice the > amount of nonsense chatter on, say, sci.bio (the USENET group) > about Gould's opinions, you realize that if he were to respond to > email discussions he'd never get anything else written. Luckily > there are those who have carefully read his and Lewontin's > writings. Ron is very much correct. As people seem to be clamoring for a word from Gould, I relate the following incident (with some trepidation): This am (Thurs) I went into my office (MCZ) & was shocked to find some 50 messages waiting -mostly from Darwin-l. I took a quick look & found much of it had to do with Gould & Lewontin (Lewontin, by the way, is currently out of town & so couldn't respond even if he were on D-l. He can't be at everybody's beck & call). Just then Gould came by, so I told him that he was the source of my problems. He had an 8:30 lecture & so only had a minute (as is typical of him) but he couldn't resist taking a look at one or two (yes, with a little instruction he can be taught to work a computer keyboard). His comments were: a) That there's an awful lot of bullshit on the net b) That (as Ron later pointed out) people are confusing intra- and inter- specific variation. and c) (Fighting back the urge to post a reply) That this reinforces his feeling that it would be madness to be on e-mail as he would never get anything else done. So, there it is. -Patricia Princehouse PS I trust you-all understand that this was a chance event and that I can not serve as a conduit to Gould. If you want his views, read his stuff (especially the Spandrels article) and/or write him a snail-mail letter. _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:91>From email@example.com Thu May 5 15:36:25 1994 Date: Thu, 05 May 94 13:28:38 PST From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Species/Linguistic Death Though I'm adding this at a late point in the discussion, Creole languages in the last two centuries have undergone a period of great expansion which seems only now to be stabilizing. Derek Bickerton's highly readible piece in Scientific American (early '82?) entitled not surpisingly "Creole Languages" would be a fine introduction to this area of world language evolution. Thanks, David B. Newman, MS firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:92>From email@example.com Thu May 5 15:49:45 1994 Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 16:41:43 -0400 From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Inbreeding avoidance The theoretical basis for the negative results of inbreeding are not really obvious. Although increases in homozygosity may result in loss in variability, once deleterious alleles have been removed the population should have a lower genetic load. Furthermore, it should also be easier to remove deleterious mutations as they arise. In respect to the incest taboo: Although it is generally believed that all human societies practice some type of incest taboo, the\ forms of these taboos differ. In many societies some form of what we would call 1st cousin marriage is actually encouraged. spencer turkel life sciences nyit firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:93>From email@example.com.Hawaii.Edu Thu May 5 15:50:31 1994 Date: Thu, 5 May 94 10:50:51 HST From: Ron Amundson <firstname.lastname@example.org.Hawaii.Edu> To: email@example.com Subject: fetal alcohol syndrome Regarding Bonnie Blackwell's mention of fetal alcohol syndrome as the cause of widespread wierdness in a small town: I recently read a survey article from a recent (within the last 5 years or so) issue of JAMA discussing alcoholism. The statement was made that only about 10% of practicing alcoholic mothers have children exhibiting fetal alcohol syndrome. I got the impression from the context that it was something about the mother's own physiology which made blood alcohol an insult to the fetus, so that a given woman either would or would not have children which exhibited the syndrome. Alcoholic intake was controlled for. I think this indicates that widespread wierdness (i.e. more than 10%) wouldn't likely have fetal alcohol syndrome as its cause unless a large number of the mothers had the tendency to give birth to syndrome children. Cheers, Ron firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:94>From email@example.com Thu May 5 17:02:00 1994 From: Jerry Koch <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: re: Re: Species/Linguistic Death Date: Thu May 5 14:27:49 1994 First, let me apologize to Marc Picard for my "snob" comment. His contributions to this discussion have been consistently intelligent and I have a great deal of respect for what he has to say (whether I agree or not). I'd also like to apologize to the list owner and the other members of the list for any part my messages have played in the "near melt down" of the list. My expressions of disagreement are offered with the friendliest of intent. Regardless of your point of view, the counter-point is valuable because it makes us think our position through. Imagine if all ideas we expressed were met with "correct", "ditto", "right", "I agree" <yawn>! With that in mind let me challenge a couple more assertions: I'll start with Rich Hilliard's anology regarding the folk notion "the sun rises" playing no role in astronomy. Sure, but I think we can make certian predictions about whether the sun will rise tomorrow without being an astronomer. By the same token, I think we can make certian predictions about language without being a linguist. So, I'd like to respond to some of the things Marc Picard said: > The problem with Jerry Koch's theory is that the vast majority of >speakers in the world are not involved in mass communications. I think it's a mistake to try to make predictions on the future of mankind based on a "majority" (especially if you're figuring that "majority" strictly by numbers). You wouldn't, for example, predict future literacy based on the total population of the world. Rather, you would make predictions based on the "main stream" with the idea that civilization tends to go the way of the "main stream" (or the main stream forces the course of civilization). >Also, I simply fail to see how my ability to communicate >with people in all sorts of different countries... can have any influence >on any aspect of my French grammar I find that hard to believe. My study of languages (and I'm not trying to pass myself off as an expert by that) had a tremendous effect on my use of English. How can you learn another language WITHOUT an influence to your own? >Moreover, whatever changes they do make are >not ordinarily transmitted to their offspring since they will learn the >speech habits of their peers in most circumstances. Where do you suppose their peers learn their language? Jerry Koch firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:95>From email@example.com Thu May 5 17:22:19 1994 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: fetal alcohol syndrome Date: Thu, 05 May 94 15:22:43 -0700 From: Lyle Wiedeman <email@example.com> >> I think this >> indicates that widespread wierdness (i.e. more than 10%) wouldn't >> likely have fetal alcohol syndrome as its cause unless a large >> number of the mothers had the tendency to give birth to syndrome >> children. I agree completely, but it also seems reasonable that, as there seems to be a genetic underpinning to susceptibility to FAS that an inbred population might well exhibit >10% due to FAS. Lyle Wiedeman Office of Academic Computing firstname.lastname@example.org Univ. Calif. Irvine Irvine, CA 92717 (714) 856-8718 FAX (714) 725-2069 WWW - http://www.oac.uci.edu/indiv/wiedeman/home.html _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:96>From email@example.com Thu May 5 17:39:24 1994 Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 18:33:54 -0400 (EDT) From: Patricia Princehouse <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: TODAY-HUXLEY To: email@example.com On Wed, 4 May 1994 CBLINDERMAN@vax.clarku.edu wrote: > He was so extraordinarily successful in his professional work and in > secularizing science that what he predicted has become so basic to our own > perspectives, we have forgotten him. He has suffered a deletion and so the > Huxley name is now immediately applied to Aldous and Julian, Andrew and > Anthony, and not to their ancestor and the ancestral inspiration for much > of what today we know and believe, T. H. Huxley, 1825-1895. Perhaps his name will soon be more widely recognized as Adrian Desmond and Jim Moore are about to come out with their bio of Huxley. -Patricia Princehouse _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:97>From BONN@nickel.laurentian.ca Thu May 5 17:49:08 1994 Date: Thu, 05 May 1994 18:47:33 -0500 (EST) From: "Bonnie Blackwell, (519)253-4232x2502" <BONN@nickel.laurentian.ca> Subject: Re: Re: Species/Linguistic Death To: firstname.lastname@example.org I would second Jerry Koch's opinions, especially that regarding the effect of learning another language on one's mother tongue. _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:98>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Thu May 5 18:10:43 1994 Date: Thu, 05 May 1994 19:11:01 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: "Just So Stories", Vitamin C, and the importance of phylogeny To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro In the context of the recent discusions concerning Vitamin C and its possible evolutionary history, Bob Richardson made the point that being able to tell a coherent evolutionary narrative about something doesn't necessarily entail that that narrative is true. This I think is a very important point, and one I'd like to expand upon a bit. One of the strongest psychological impulses human beings seem to have is the impulse to narrate. We tell stories about all kinds of things, and generating stories is tremedously easy for us. In the historical sciences, of course, we endeavor to tell stories that are true -- indeed, that is our entire business as historical scientists. It is very easy however, to generate _plausible_ stories to account for almost any current state of affairs. Evolutionary biologists frequently use the derogatory label "Just So Stories" for accounts that they find narratively coherent but factually ungrounded (not necessarily false, just ungrounded), and that expression has already appeared here a couple of times. It comes of course from Rudyard Kipling's "Just So Stories", a collection of stories for children on "How the camel got his hump", "How the leopard got his spots", and so on. The word "scenario" is often applied in this manner also, to indicate an evolutionary history that is plausible, but little more: "Well that's an interesting scenario, but there are plenty of other plausible scenarios for the same thing." (I point these terms out because I think one of the most difficult things for people to acquire in an interdisciplinary setting is a sense of the particular connotations and nuances that certain words have in other fields.) What we want to strive to do as specialists in historical reconstruction and explanation is to _constrain_ the range of plausible narratives as much as possible. In evolutionary biology the way best way to do this is through knowledge of phylogeny. Phylogeny is our estimate of the evolutionary chronicle: the sequence of events for which explanations may being sought. As a systematist, I have been occasionally surprised to find people, even some who have had training in evolutionary biology, who to equate "evolutionary biology" with the study of evolutionary processes only (selection, adaptation, etc.), and neglect the entire historical half of evolutionary biology, the phylogenetic half that is concerned with reconstructing the past. The creation of Darwin-L was an attempt to redress that perceived imbalance, and to provide a forum for the discussion of historical reconstruction, not just in evolutionary biology but in other fields as well. In the case of our discussions about Vitamin C, there have been many comments to the effect that, well, some primates lack the ability to synthesize, or maybe all primates, and maybe assorted other vertebrates as well. From the point of view of a systematist, there really isn't much point in even beginning to answer any questions about humans and Vitamin C until a substantial chronicle is specified: until the distribution of the trait is mapped onto a vertebrate phylogeny in some detail. Someone might say "Well, suppose we know that 30% of all primate species can't synthesize Vitamin C. Doesn't that tell us something?" No, it tells us virtually nothing. Percentages of species that have trait x is close to being worthless information, because it is based on a false model of explanation that assumes species are random variables like tosses of a coin (see in particular Felsenstein (1985) and Ridley (1989), below). Species are historical products that are all connected to one another in a phylogeny. Suppose 50 species of primates lack the ability to synthesize Vitamin C. Unless we know the phylogeny, we don't know whether the loss of Vitamin C synthesis is one evolutionary event, two evolutionary events, three, four, five, six, ten, twenty, or fifty. We don't know whether, if the ability is lost, it is ever recovered. We don't know whether the loss or gain of the ability repeatedly coincides with any particular behavioral or ecological shifts. Thinking in terms of phylogeny ("tree thinking") is absolutely essential for any serious attempt to address these questions (O'Hara, 1988). Since the development of cladistic analysis in the 1960s and 1970s, many people have outlined in detail how phylogenetic information bears on evolutionary explanation, and I list a few references to this literature below (many more exist). Phylogenetic approaches are now sweeping through ecology and behavior like wildfire, but (to prod my colleagues a bit) they don't seen to have made their way into discussions of human evolution very far yet. But humans and their near relative are just a handful of species and so not particularly important.... ;-) (I say that just because I have also encountered students from time to time who seem to think that evolutionary biology is the study of human origins. If it is, then historical linguistics is the study of the origin of Bill Clinton's accent.) I think anyone who is seriously interested in the explanation of various events in human evolution could make a very real and substantial contribution to the field by investigating some of this literature and seeing what it has to offer. References on the importance of phylogenetic information to evolutionary explanation (a slightly more extensive list of references is available on the Darwin-L gopher (rjohara.uncg.edu) in the directory Darwin-L Files): Baum, D. A., and A. Larson. 1991. Adaptation reviewed: a phylogenetic methodology for studying character macroevolution. Systematic Zoology, 40:1-18. Brooks, D. R., and D. A. McLennan. 1991. Phylogeny, Ecology, and Behavior: A Research Program in Comparative Biology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Burghardt, G. M., and J. L. Gittleman. 1990. Comparative behavior and phylogenetic analysis. In: Interpretation and Explanation in the Study of Behavior: Comparative Perspectives M. Bekoff and D. Jamieson, eds.). Boulder: Westview Press. Coddington, J. A. 1988. Cladistic tests of adaptational hypotheses. Cladistics, 4:3-22. Felsenstein, J. 1985. Phylogenies and the comparative method. American Naturalist, 125:1-15. Harvey, P. H., and M. D. Pagel. 1991. The Comparative Method in Evolutionary Biology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Huey, R. B. 1987. Phylogeny, history, and the comparative method. Pp. 76-98 in: New Directions in Ecological Physiology (M. E. Feder, A. F. Bennett, W. Burggren and R. B. Huey, eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lauder, G. V. 1982. Historical biology and the problem of design. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 97:57-67. Ligon, J. D. 1993. The role of phylogenetic history in the evolution of contemporary avian mating and parental care systems. Current Ornithology, 10:1-46. McLennan, D. A. 1991. Integrating phylogeny and experimental ethology: from pattern to process. Evolution, 45:1773-1789. O'Hara, R. J. 1988. Homage to Clio, or, toward an historical philosophy for evolutionary biology. Systematic Zoology, 37:142-155. Ridley, M. 1989. Why not to use species in comparative tests. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 136:361ff. Wanntorp, H.-E., D. R. Brooks, T. Nilsson, S. Nylin, F. Ronquist, S. C. Stearns, and N. Wedell. 1990. Phylogenetic approaches in ecology. Oikos, 57:119-132. <Back to grading exams. Sigh.> Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner Robert J. O'Hara (firstname.lastname@example.org) Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology 100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A. _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:99>From email@example.com Thu May 5 18:48:36 1994 Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 16:50:18 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Anton Sherwood) To: email@example.com Subject: German in Czecho Margaret Winters writes: > you can go to the Czech Republic > and find that German will get > you much further than English. one Isaac Taylor wrote in 1896: "Sclavonic names, scattered over Central and Western Germany, lead us to infer that, at some remote period, the Sclavonians must have extended themselves westward much beyond their present frontier of Bohemia, even as far as Darmstadt, where the River WESCHNITZ marks the extreme western limit of Sclavonic occupancy. For several centuries, however, the German language has been encroaching towards the east; and the process is now going on with accelerated speed. In Bohemia, where almost every local name is Sclavonic, and where five-and-twenty years ago few of the elder people knew any language but their Bohemian speech, we find that the adults are now universally able to speak German; and in half a century, there is every likelihood that the Bohemian language will be extinct. . . ." WORDS AND PLACES: or Etymological Illustrations of History Ethnology and Geography _______________________________________________________________________________ <9:100>From ANWOLFE@ECUVM.CIS.ECU.EDU Thu May 5 19:46:00 1994 Date: Thu, 05 May 94 20:41:02 EDT From: ANWOLFE@ECUVM.CIS.ECU.EDU Subject: Re: Evolution of bodies but not minds To: Multiple recipients of list <firstname.lastname@example.org> To Kelly Smith. Frank Livingstone did a series of articles probably in the 1960's on inbreeding. It also seems to me that if there was an incest avoidance "gene" in humans that there would not be all of father-daughter incest that there is in the US and we would not be having this discussion. However, incest is common in the US which to me is evidence against the notion that there is in humans a genetic bases for incest avoidance. Finally, I have always heard that Darwin was a product of a cousin marriage. Linda Wolfe _______________________________________________________________________________ Darwin-L Message Log 9: 51-100 -- May 1994 End
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