Thanks Phil, and I have several times quoted a particular passage that
I like from your 2004 article "Is Biology Destiny?"

Jay Joseph, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist
Author of *The Trouble with Twin Studies: A Reassessment of Twin Research
in the Social and Behavioral Sciences
 (2015), and Schizophrenia and Genetics: The End of an Illusion
<> (2017)

Blog: "The Gene Illusion" <>

On Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 10:04 PM Phil Gasper <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Those who don't know it should check out Jay's book *The Trouble With
> Twin Studies *(Routledge, 2015), a detailed examination of the research
> and its many errors. --P.
> On Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 11:50 PM Jay Joseph <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Dear Kamran,
>> I have not corresponded with Sapolsky. What I do is analyze research
>> claiming to show that genetics plays an important role in causing human
>> behavioral differences. I usually conclude that, whatever one's opinion is
>> on this question, the studies cited in support are severely flawed, and are
>> usually based on false assumptions. An example of this are the famous
>> Danish/American schizophrenia adoption studies of the 1960s/1970s, which I
>> have written about at length. These studies are flawed and based on false
>> assumptions, and the researchers more or less manipulated the data to
>> achieve the desired genetic findings, when none were really there. A
>> scientific scandal, in my opinion, yet these studies are celebrated in
>> every psychiatry textbook. There is a YouTube video where Sapolsky says
>> that these studies are terrific. I am sure he means that sincerely, and I
>> am also sure that his knowledge of these studies comes only from secondary
>> sources. Few people, even world-renowned experts, read the original
>> research publications.
>> About Sapolsky's idea that  "the brain, genes, culture, and ecosystems
>> evolve together." Perhaps so, but in this case "the genes" refers to
>> twin and other types of studies misinterpreted as showing that human
>> behavioral variation (differences) have a strong genetic component. It's
>> not just that genes are involved in the process, which is obvious, but that
>> supposed differences in genes that contribute to behavior play a major
>> role. That is where I differ from Sapolsky. He accepts the main claims of
>> the fields of behavioral genetics and psychiatric genetics. I and
>> other critics reject these claims.
>> Jay Joseph
>> On Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 10:11 AM Kamran Nayeri <[log in to unmask]>
>> wrote:
>>> Dear Jay:
>>> Thank you very much for sharing this with me.
>>> I am not a scientist (I got a BA in math/cs in 1973 from UT-Austin but
>>> it coincided with my radicalization and when I did return to grad school in
>>> the 1980s I studied political economy).
>>> The question of who we are, hence of "human nature," is central to any
>>> theory of history.  As a Marxist, I have been happy to go along with Marx's
>>> and Engels' view that we humans are the sum total of our social relations
>>> shaped by the prevalent mode of production. As I became interested in
>>> ecology crises and reviewed ecological socialist theories, I became aware
>>> that they are, despite creativity of the theorists involved, at the end the
>>> proposition that capital accumulation undermines the ecosystems.  This much
>>> was asserted by Marxists well before ecosocialism was coined.  Clearly, a
>>> theory of history that includes all of nature is required as M&E themselves
>>> point out in The German Ideology (1845). But they, like any good scholar,
>>> argue that they set these aside to focus on society and social classes.  We
>>> know what came after: The Communist Manifesto (1848) that provided a class
>>> analysis of written history (about 3000 years old) and concluded with the
>>> struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat that they argued might
>>> lead to socialism.  Marx's Capital is an application of historical
>>> materialism to the capitalist mode of production.  Thus, it too excludes
>>> nature to focus on society.
>>> Marx's conception of human nature evolved in his lifetime. But his most
>>> enduring view that stamped his materialism and theory of history is the
>>> notion I mentioned above: human nature is the sum total of our social
>>> relations shaped by the prevailing mode of production.
>>> To my knowledge there has been no significant advances so far among
>>> Marxist on any of these issues. In the light of advances in biology,
>>> Marxists generally concede that we are a combination of nature and culture.
>>> But they still hang in with the Marx's conception noted above.
>>> I have dealt with these issues in my essay "The Coronavirus Pandemic as
>>> the Crisis of Civilization
>>> <>"
>>> (March 2020) where I also offer an ecological theory of human nature based
>>> on the latest available scientific understanding.  I sum it up in a dense
>>> paragraph:
>>> Thus, human nature is the sum total of our eco-social relations shaped
>>> by the dynamic interrelation of three trends: (1) The transhistorical trend
>>> which recognizes and celebrates our continuity with other animals, in
>>> particular the primates. We are animals, mammals, an evolutionary cousin of
>>> the chimpanzee. Therefore, we share certain traits with them. (2) The
>>> historical trend of our species, *Homo* sapiens, that goes back at
>>> least 300,000 years, including cultural heritage from earlier *Homo* genera:
>>> We inherited the knowledge to use of fire from *Homo* erectus who
>>> domesticated it 400,000 years ago.  And, (3) the trend specific to the
>>> mode of production influences, e.g. capitalistically developed global
>>> culture today.
>>> I have watched prof. Sapolsky lectures and interviews available on
>>> Youtube and posted some on Our Place in the World (a blog I edit and
>>> publish for ecological socialist discussion).  What I have heard him say is
>>> appealing to me: He says and I am paraphrasing it: *the brian, genes,
>>> culture, and ecosystems evolve together*.   I  find this resonates well
>>> with the summary provided above of what I have learned from my readings
>>> over the years.
>>> Of course, I am not in a position to enter a discussion of the issue you
>>> have raised. Have you written to him with your objection? If so, what was
>>> his response? And, even if he made an error of judgement in that case, does
>>> that invalidate the summary of his view which I paraphrased above?  (I
>>> include the lecture where he presents that view below--it is an hour plus
>>> long talk)
>>> Thank you again for your response to my question.
>>> Best regards,
>>> Kamran
>>> The Brain and Genes Co-Evolve With Ecosystems and Culture
>>> <> (Please
>>> note, I picked the title for his lecture as the editor for OPITW. I thought
>>> it captures the thrust of his presentation better)
>>> On Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 8:20 AM Jay Joseph <[log in to unmask]>
>>> wrote:
>>>> Dear Kamran,
>>>> I have been a critic of research produced by the "behavioral genetics"
>>>> field, particularly twin studies, since 1998. In "Behave" (Chapter 8),
>>>> Sapolsky endorsed most major behavioral genetic claims and research
>>>> methods. In particular, he loves Bouchard's greatly flawed and heavily
>>>> genetically biased "Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart" even while, like
>>>> many commentators, he got the basic facts wrong about this study (eg.,
>>>> twins were not "separated at birth," which implies that they grew up not
>>>> knowing each other, and were reunited when studied). Given the fact that
>>>> the Minnesota study is often cited by white nationalist groups, in addition
>>>> to having been financed by the white nationalist Pioneer Fund, I wish he
>>>> would have reviewed it more closely and critically. To his credit Sapolsky
>>>> did discuss several criticisms of behavioral genetic twin and
>>>> adoption research, but he concluded in favor of this body of research and
>>>> in favor of general behavioral genetic positions, even if the "perceived
>>>> importance" of genes may be "inflated." For this and other reasons, I
>>>> cannot endorse this book.
>>>> Jay Joseph, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist
>>>> Author of *The Trouble with Twin Studies: A Reassessment of Twin
>>>> Research in the Social and Behavioral Sciences
>>>> <>*
>>>>  (2015), and Schizophrenia and Genetics: The End of an Illusion
>>>> <> (2017)
>>>> Website:
>>>> Blog: "The Gene Illusion" <>
>>>> <> Virus-free.
>>>> <>
>>>> <#m_-8279182480114071599_m_1377231460136089041_m_7815851169104950053_m_3103492507400370066_m_757959916080885101_DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>
>>>> On Mon, Jul 13, 2020 at 6:01 PM Kamran Nayeri <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> Dear All:
>>>>> I have been reading Behave and watching lectures and interviews by
>>>>> Robert Sapolsky. He is a fascinating speaker and has obviously a depth of
>>>>> knowledge in his field of study.
>>>>> I wonder if anyone on this list is familiar with his work and has
>>>>> opinions about it and can share any critique of the view of the biological
>>>>> nature of humans.
>>>>> Thank you.
>>>>> Kamran
>>> --
>>> Kamran Nayeri