Thanks for this, Ian. It corresponds to my sense of things, but I am not a
specialist in behavior or anthropology. Is it not the case that it also
undercuts a lot of Pinkeresque argumentation such as has appeared in The
Human Nature Review?
Stuart A. Newman, Ph.D.
Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy
Basic Science Building
New York Medical College
Valhalla, NY 10595
Tel: (914) 594-4048
Fax: (914) 594-4653
E-mail: [log in to unmask]
From: Ian Pitchford [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Friday, January 24, 2003 1:08 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Genes and Cultures
CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY Volume 44, Number 1, February 2003
© 2003 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All
CA FORUM ON ANTHROPOLOGY IN PUBLIC
Genes and Cultures
What Creates Our Behavioral Phenome?
by Paul Ehrlich and Marcus Feldman1
A central theme of the flood of literature in recent years in
"evolutionary psychology" and "behavioral genetics" is that much or even
human behavior has been programmed into the human genome by natural
We show that this conclusion is without basis. Evolutionary psychology is a
series of "just-so" stories rooted in part in the erroneous notion that
beings during the Pleistocene all lived in the same environment of
adaptation. Behavioral genetics is based on a confusion of the information
contained in a technical statistic called "heritability" with the colloquial
meaning of the term, exacerbated by oversimplification of statistical models
for the behavioral similarity of twins. In fact, information from twin
cross-fostering, sexual behavior, and the Human Genome Project makes it
abundantly clear that most interesting aspects of the human behavioral
are programmed into the brain by the environment. The general confusion
by the genetic determinists has had and will continue to have unfortunate
effects on public policy.
1 Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford,
94305-5020, U.S.A. ([log in to unmask]).