I don't want to split hairs with you, but two quick points:

1. I was referring more to Science's news coverage in my exchange with mart.
I do not think that we "promote" these fields even if the coverage could at
times be more skeptical; that is a big difference, the word "promote" is
really loaded and not accurate in my view. And often, as in the
microcephalin case and the psychiatric genetics story in today's issue that
I linked to, we are the first or among the first to shoot down our own
papers. We should be given some credit for that; the great majority of
Science reporters are politically progressive and not shills for social
Darwinism. Why was my critique of Bruce Lahn's work given 3 pages in Science
if the editors are ruling class stooges?

2. I don't think that the occasional publication of these papers amounts to
"promotion" either, even if one could take issue with the peer review of
some of them.

It seems that some in the progressive science community would not be happy
unless anything suggesting a biological basis for human behavior is denied
publication, on the grounds that any evidence for such viewpoints is
automatically suspect and politically motivated (I am not chararcterizing
Jon that way, but some others.) We occasionally see dismissal of such papers
on this list without a careful examination of them, and the assumption is
that anyone who pursues these lines of research is a paid up stoolie for the
ruling class. Life is more complex than that, and human behavior is an
exquisite blend of both cultural and biological factors. To deny either side
of this equation is absurd, even as we debate the relative contributions and
interactions of biology and culture.


On Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 5:17 PM, Jon Beckwith <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

>  Michael-  I do think that Science Magazine has a pretty bad history of
> publishing "behavior genetics" papers that 1)could have been better refereed
> and maybe even rejected, 2)way overstate the data and implications and
> 3)tout such articles with their own feature articles.   I use several of
> these in my course, particularly because the fact of their being published
> in prestigious Science Magazine, and then the magazine featuring it even
> more to attract attention has repeatedly led to broad media coverage and
> social consequences.  (One of the cases is, of course, the microcephalin
> story you covered, and even though you gave a balanced report, the very fact
> of Science featuring it this way is all that's needed to help it take
> off.)                           Jon
> At 01:29 AM 6/26/2009, you wrote:
> Who is "promoting" behavioral ecology? Not me, certainly, all I did was say
> that Begley had referred to that field in her piece.
> It would not be correct to say that Science has "promoted" either
> evolutionary psychology or behavioral genetics, although the journal has
> written about these subjects occasionally and there are a couple of
> reporters who are interested in them. We have also written about when they
> don't work out in several recent articles including the blog I just did on
> the Begley article and a story in today's issue on psychiatric genetics:
> Why don't we stick to the issues instead of engaging in the guilt by
> association logic that I thought we had got past on this list.
> MB
> On Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 6:40 AM, mart <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>  its nice you are promoting beahvioral ecology, but don't forget science
> mag has been one of the major formats for promoting evolutionary psychology
> and behavior genetics.   (i can only think of a few right now, but its in
> there.)   also, i did correct myself after reading past the first paragraph.
> (even chagnon was in science, promoting the idea that brazilian indigenous
> people did exactly as is promoted from unm, but a re-analyses of the data
> sugeested there was measurment bias.)  Keep going.
> --- On Thu, 6/25/09, Michael Balter <[log in to unmask] > wrote:
> > From: Michael Balter <[log in to unmask] >
> > Subject: Re: Why Do We Rape, Kill and Sleep Around?
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Date: Thursday, June 25, 2009, 1:38 PM
> > Begley does not refer to behavioral
> > psychology, as Phil says, but behavioral ecology. Perhaps
> > that was just a typo.
> >
> > I agree with Phil on Gould, however.
> >
> > MB
> >
> >
> >
> --
> ******************************************
> Michael Balter
> Contributing Correspondent, Science
> Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
> Boston University
> Email:           [log in to unmask]
> Website:
> Balter's Blog:
> ******************************************
> Jon Beckwith
> Dept. of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
> Harvard Medical School
> 200 Longwood Ave.
> Boston, MA 02115
> Tel. 617-432-1920
> FAX 617-738-7664
> e-mail [log in to unmask]
> website <>
> Remember: My book, a memoir: *Making Genes, Making Waves: A Social
> Activist in Science, Harvard University Press (2002)*  *Harvard University
> Press.*  and the latest: Beckwith, J., and Morris, C.A. Twin Studies of
> Political Behavior: Untenable Assumptions? Perspectives on Politics *6 *(4):
> 785-781 (2008).

Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
Boston University

Email:           [log in to unmask]

Balter's Blog: