Re: Heretics in the Laboratory

John Zimmer (
Tue, 1 Oct 96 12:57:18 CDT

Greetings, I am testing this post. Not that I have anything great to
say about Steve Schimmrich and Niel Haave's discussion.

Steve said:

I stand by my implication that Gould perceives science through his
spectacles of Marxist ideology and that it's quite hypocritical of him
to criticize Christians for opposing evolution because of their belief
in the inerrancy of Scripture.

The "science" discussed here is sociobiology.

My thoughts here is that the sociobiology of 20 years ago was sort
of a first effort at applying the burgeoning field of evolutionary biology
to understanding the human psyche. The next wave. evolutionary
psychology, achieved press recognition this past year (1995).

Evolutionary psychology (EP) promises to undermine the current social
sciences which emphasize the centrality of culture - and exclude the
concept of biologically linked traits. Cognitive Psychology has already
demonstrated that there are many specific biologically linked traits in
the sensory (especially visual) system. Why wouldn't humans also
have biologically linked behavioral propensities? For example, humans
may be biologically designed to "learn language" during a certain
developmental phase.

The idea of individuals with evolved behavioral propensities (or
psychological adaptations) directly challenges the idea of culture
as an autonomous cause for human action, which is basically what
Lewontin says when he says:

"There is nothing in Marx, Lenin, or Mao," he wrote in
collaboration with Richard Levins, "that is or can be in
contradiction with the particular physical facts and processes
of a particular set of phenomena in the objective world."
[p. 346]

So while Steve may be correct in the hypocrisy of Gould's position,
the irony may be that the next wave of the attempt to apply insights
from evolutionary biology to understanding human action will capsize
his little Marxist boat which claims that culture is autonomous of
physical (or biological) phenomena. Evolutionary psychology is
more strongly based on evolutionary theory than Wilson's sociobiology
because Wilson wanted to describe culture in terms of evolutionary
adaptiveness and EP wants to describe individual psychology in terms
of adaptations in the Peleistocene environment.

Maybe this is too long - but its my first try.
J. Raymond Zimmer