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Selected Books by Edmund Blair Bolles

  • Galileo's Commandment: 2500 Years of Great Science Writing
  • The Ice Finders: How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age
  • Einstein Defiant: Genius vs Genius in the Quantum Revolution

« Was the First Language Tonal? | Main | The Origins of Attention »



Thanks for the grat and very illuminating post.
Just one thing:
"if you live among a people where the gene known as Microcephalin-D predominates, you probably speak a tonal language, even though you do not have the gene."
Wasn't Microcephalin-D the allele predominating in non-tonal societies, so that you'd rather be more likely to speak a non-tonal language if you lived among a people with the derived version?

BLOGGER: Eek. How did I make that mistake? I'm correcting it now, so further readers will not see the error, but this comment records the goof for posterity. I guess I should not make a post just before going off on vacation.


I'd like to offer some very cranky thoughts on the whole nature-v-nurture silliness. This is a political argument, not a truly scientific one. People have emotional investment in this issue, and that makes it almost impossible to discuss rationally. But I'll offer two basic observations:

1. It's NOT "nature versus nurture"; it's "nature and nurture". It is patent that both genetics and culture together determine human behavior. Arguments about which is more important are just silly political posturing. Some behaviors are more dependent upon genetics, some are more dependent upon culture. Trying to assess which of the two is more important overall is about as silly as talking about intelligence as if it were a one-dimensional trait.

2. Genetics and culture do not operate in parallel; genetics provides the foundation of behavior and culture builds upon and modifies that foundation. In some cases, such as socialization of males towards females, the cultural component completely overrules the genetic foundation. In other cases, such as gender-based differences in promiscuity, cultural factors either reinforce or have no effect upon behavior.

Ultimately, I see the whole nature-v-nurture debate as in the same league with, but more respectable than, studies of the relative differences in intelligence of different races.

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