Science in Society Archive

Powerful commentaries by leaders in epigenetic evolutionary theory

Evolutionary Psychology: A House Built on Sand

By Peter Saunders

In R. M. Lerner & J. B. Benson (Eds.), Advances in Child Development and Behavior. Embodiment and Epigenesis: Theoretical and Methodological Issues in Understanding the Role of Biology within the Relational Developmental System Part A: Philosophical, Theoretical, and Biological Dimensions. Academic Press, New York, 2013, pp 257–284

Abstract

While Darwinism has contributed much to our understanding of the living world, it has not given us an adequate account of why organisms are the way they are and how they came to be that way. For that we will need all of science, not just a single algorithm. The crucial contribution of Darwinism to biology is that it explains how we can have functional physical traits without a creator. This is less important in psychology because no one is surprised when people behave in ways that work to their advantage. Evolutionary psychology nevertheless follows the Darwinian model. It assumes from the outset that the brain is largely modular and that human nature is made up of a very large number of functionally specialised psychological mechanisms that have been constructed over time by natural selection. How much confidence one should have in its conclusions depends very much on how far one accepts its premises.

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No Genes for Intelligence in the Fluid Genome

By Mae-Wan Ho

In R. M. Lerner & J. B. Benson (Eds.), Advances in Child Development and Behavior. Embodiment and Epigenesis: Theoretical and Methodological Issues in Understanding the Role of Biology within the Relational Developmental System Part B: Ontogenetic Dimensions. Academic Press, New York, 2013, pp. 67-92.

Abstract

Revolution is brewing belatedly within the heartlands of the genetic determinist establishment still in denial about the fluid genome that makes identifying genes even for common disease well-nigh impossible. The fruitless hunt for intelligence genes serves to expose the poverty of an obsolete paradigm that is obstructing knowledge and preventing fruitful policies from being widely implemented. Genome-wide scans using state-of-the art technologies on extensive databases have failed to find a single gene for intelligence; instead, environment and maternal effects may account for most, if not all correlation among relatives, while identical twins diverge genetically and epigenetically throughout life. Abundant evidence points to the enormous potential for improving intellectual abilities (and health) through simple environmental and social interventions.

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Article first published 25/06/13


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