Steven pinker essay nurture vs nature

Steven Pinker - Wikipedia

we can predict, then, that if group selection were common and kin selection rare, we would often observe altruistic behavior in nature between individuals who were completely unrelated. west describes pinker as "no polemicist, and he leaves readers to draw their own conclusions".[citation needed] the interactions of genes with environment, called gene–environment interactions, are another component of the nature–nurture debate. and goodness knows, among the attractions of the nature-or-nurture debate is that it lets you argue incessantly about a dichotomy that even your own argument betrays as false. i am an experimental biologist and not a theoretician, i see the biggest problem with group selection as its failure to explain anything about nature. versus nurture summarizes a long-running debate on whether human behaviour is determined by the environment, whether prenatal or during a person's life, or by their genes. steve would presumably argue that—in the interest of theoretical purity—we should toss "quantitative genetic" models onto the junk heap with "group selection" models because such models unnecessarily complicate matters by ignoring the digital nature of dna code. pinker's accounts of how natural selection works, and why group selection could not work that way, apply (as he briefly notes), mutatis mutandis, to cultural evolution."most of the groupwide traits that group selectionists try to explain," says pinker, "are cultural rather than genetic. steve pinker's essay is an account of the serious problems associated with one explanation: group selection. indeed, in the very next paragraph of his piece he notes that, to understand human thought,We need to take into account both the fundamental genetic wiring of the brain – what pinker calls its “basic information-processing capacities” – and the way our genetic makeup allows for ongoing changes in that wiring. group selectionists, says pinker "have drawn normative moral and political conclusions from these scientific beliefs, such as that we should recognize the wisdom behind conservative values, like religiosity, patriotism, and puritanism, and that we should valorize a communitarian loyalty and sacrifice for the good of the group over an every-man-for-himself individualism.^ a b pinker, steven (september 30, 2002) the blank slate: the modern denial of human nature. (1980) the craft of chrétien de troyes: an essay on narrative art, brill archive, p.” this is just another way of saying that it is in human nature to socialize and to be socialized, which is, pragmatically, exactly the view of the “intellectuals. all that is needed is a discerning evolutionary understanding of human nature and some rigorous, detailed work on history. second misplaced emphasis is pinker's phrase "the illusion of design in the natural world. 138 in meno: a dialogue on the nature and meaning of education.[6][7] pinker married nancy etcoff in 1980 and they divorced in 1992; he married ilavenil subbiah in 1995 and they too divorced.[38] an alternative to contrasting nature and nurture focuses on "obligate vs. in our book, a cooperative species, samuel bowles and i summarize a plausible model of human nature in which "people think that cooperating is the right thing to do and enjoy doing it, and that they dislike unfair treatment and enjoy punishing those who violate norms of fairness. these results suggest that "nurture" may not be the predominant factor in "environment". often—as in many of the pro-group selection responses to pinker's essay—facts such as that humans are a social species, prone to group living and social learning, and capable of high levels of coordinated action for cooperation and aggression are taken as prima facie evidence for group selection."[44] in the appendix to the 2007 reprinted edition of the language instinct, pinker cited why our children can't read by cognitive psychologist diane mcguinness as his favorite book on the subject and noted:One raging public debate involving language went unmentioned in the language instinct: the "reading wars," or dispute over whether children should be explicitly taught to read by decoding the sounds of words from their spelling (loosely known as "phonics") or whether they can develop it instinctively by being immersed in a text-rich environment (often called "whole language"). in the nurture assumption: why children turn out the way they do (1998), judith rich harris was heralded by steven pinker as a book that "will come to be seen as a turning point in the history of psychology".^ english usage is based on a tradition going back to medieval literature, where the opposition of nature ("instinct, inclination") norreture ("culture, adopted mores") is a common motif, famously in chretien de troyes' perceval, where the hero's effort to suppress his natural impulse of compassion in favor of what he considers proper courtly behavior leads to catastrophe.

Steven Pinker: Human nature and the blank slate | TED Talk | TED

^ pinker, steven, the blank slate: the modern denial of human nature (viking, 2002), p. culture and human nature, for perspectives that are of special relevance, see pinker's paper on our "cognitive niche"[i] which, not least, deals with the problem of how natural selection came to endow our species with adaptations that enable us to perform cognitive feats so advanced that they would have been surplus to the adaptive requirements of our ancestors. you can see this in the way pinker prefers hypotheses based on manipulation, even suggesting that kinship systems and forms of social organization are primarily products of individuals' efforts at a grand deception or conspiracy.[35] the book's topic, the english past tense, is in yang's view unglamorous, and pinker's attempts at compromise risk being in no man's land between rival theories.  first, wilson makes the converse error that pinker does – that if he describes a phenomenon in russian, then the english account must be wrong. his jewish background pinker has said, "i was never religious in the theological sense . we agree with pinker that the multifarious intentions of agents shape the emergence and spread of cultural traits, these are merely aspects of proximate causation in cultural evolution and do not preclude the possibility of selection by consequences. understand why pinker would pose such a question, it is necessary to describe the concept of gene selection. locke's an essay concerning human understanding (1690) is often cited as the foundational document of the "blank slate" view. pinker said it was unlikely since the decline in violence happened too rapidly to be explained by genetic changes. situation as it presented itself by the end of the 20th century was summarized in the blank slate: the modern denial of human nature (2002) by steven pinker. we would like to amplify one of pinker's points about the dearth of empirical evidence for group selection, and address several related issues that appear perniciously difficult to communicate. nature and nurture: the complex interplay of genetic and environmental influences on human behavior and development. nature is what we think of as pre-wiring and is influenced by genetic inheritance and other biological factors. according to the models of group-selection from the 1970s, on which pinker is leaning for his dismissal of group selection, this team found something that should not exist. pinker compares music to "auditory cheesecake", stating that "as far as biological cause and effect is concerned, music is useless". pinker argues that all three dogmas were held onto for an extended period even in the face of evidence because they were seen as desirable in the sense that if any human trait is purely conditioned by culture, any undesired trait (such as crime or aggression) may be engineered away by purely cultural (political means). we’re successful (as a species, and generally as individuals) precisely because our brains learn readily and —as carl zimmer points out nicely in a recent essay — both brains and genes fluidly adapt to a surprising range of environments and challenges.. (1993) "behavioral genetics of cognitive ability: a life-span perspective", in nature, nurture, and psychology, by r. but i suspect that carr — hardly alone in doing so — expressed a nature v.[69] gladwell replied, disputing pinker's comments about the importance of iq on teaching performance and by analogy, the effect, if any, of draft order on quarterback performance in the national football league. after all, group selection sounds like a reasonable extension of evolutionary theory and a plausible explanation of the social nature of humans.^ "professor stephen pinker", new college of the humanities, accessed 4 november 2014. "peace in our time: steven pinker's history of violence in decline".'s research includes delving into human nature and what science says about it. large body of ethnographic and experimental work stands in stark contrast to the empirical work pinker offers to support his view, being limited to american undergraduates who are known not only to be psychologically unusual in many important dimensions, but also to be particularly unusual in behavioral games, in stark contrast to the several foraging groups we tested [48, 49, 59].

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Nature versus nurture - Wikipedia

muddle confirms the point of my essay: that the concept of group selection is making a shambles of the application of evolutionary biology to human psychology. in his view, it is more likely that human nature comprises inclinations toward violence and those that counteract them, the "better angels of our nature". 1990, pinker, with paul bloom, published the paper "natural language and natural selection", arguing that the human language faculty must have evolved through natural selection. i recommend that pinker and those he cites try modeling their ideas. here, pinker talks about his thesis, and why some people found it incredibly upsetting. a november 2014 episode of the point of inquiry podcast, host lindsay beyerstein, asked pinker how his style guide was different from the many guides that already exist. informs the listeners that one can read more about human nature in his book, blank slate. happiness fluctuates around that setpoint (again, genetically determined) based on whether good things or bad things are happening to us ("nurture"), but only fluctuates in small magnitude in a normal human. note: thanks to steven pinker and the twenty-three individuals above, who took the time to inform and educate edge readers on the ongoing debate concerning group selection, and in many cases, present their own ideas and work on these pages for the first time. 1994 i published an essay titled "why is group selection such a problem? but let's concede for now that a notational variant can prove its empirical usefulness by uniquely spotlighting certain phenomena as distinct variables in the model and showing that these phenomena are potent forces in nature. as steven pinker notes, this is precisely what we observe among eusocial insects and at first sight, this is what participants do in economic games: they voluntary transfer the money they have to the other participant, even though they could keep it for themselves.  pinker confounds these in talking about group selection predicting that humans are selected to benefit their groups (russian) at the expense of themselves (english meaning of individual).&a – linguistics, style and writing with steven pinker, royal institution, october 2015. pinker may be correct that natural selection was not intended to refer to group selection (the spread of alleles throughout a population because of their benefits to that population). reciprocity, says pinker, "is driven not by infallible knowledge but by probabilistic cues. pinker's essay does not identify the central question that provides continuity for the group selection controversy, from darwin to the present: how can traits that are "for the good of the group" evolve, when they are selectively disadvantageous within groups? the cognitive brilliance that steve pinker mistakenly sees as usurping the role of natural selection in human cultural change is indeed an important factor, but one should never forget orgel's second law:  evolution is cleverer than you are. "the nature of the language faculty and its implications for evolution of language" (reply to fitch, hauser, & chomsky)".^ a b "steven pinker: using grammar as a tool, not as a weapon". but as pinker makes clear, all of these behaviors could plausibly emerge from a psychology designed by forces other than group selection.[29][30] sampson argues that while it may seem attractive to argue the nature side of the 'nature versus nurture' debate, the nurture side may better support the creativity and nobility of the human mind. another major theme in pinker's theories is that human cognition works, in part, by combinatorial symbol-manipulation, not just associations among sensory features, as in many connectionist models. yet while resolving puzzles is in our genes, the nature-nurture debate is not; it’s prominent and perennially hot because each side offers a seemingly viable explanation of behavior, and, even more important, because it carries the horrid legacies of racism, the holocaust, and 20th century eugenics. his brother robert is a policy analyst for the canadian government, while his sister, susan pinker, is a psychologist and writer who authored the sexual paradox and the village effect. first, its proponents are well known scientists and psychologists who promote group selection in best-selling books, while the detractors are constrained to publish their criticisms in technical journals that aren't read by the public (pinker's essay is a rare exception).

SCIENTIST AT WORK/Steven Pinker; In Nature vs. Nurture, a Voice


then, according to pinker, we'd be done: men fight because it is in their interest to do so. best american science and nature writing (editor and introduction author, 2004). short, group selection (or as some prefer, multilevel selection) may be a completely coherent model that may suggest selection pressures that have acted to shape human nature. i believe that in his recent essay "the false allure of group selection" steven pinker is incorrect in applying occam's razor to say that simpler, ground level, individual selection is sufficient to explain traits in human groups. these books were language learnability and language development (1984), in pinker's words "outlin[ing] a theory of how children acquire the words and grammatical structures of their mother tongue",[20] and learnability and cognition: the acquisition of argument structure (1989), in pinker's words "focus[ing] on one aspect of this process, the ability to use different kinds of verbs in appropriate sentences, such as intransitive verbs, transitive verbs, and verbs taking different combinations of complements and indirect objects". pinker's essay is a welcome corrective to the renewed popularity of biological group selection models. arthur "steve" pinker (born september 18, 1954) is a canadian-born american cognitive scientist, psychologist, linguist, and popular science author. what it’s worth, louis menand, reviewing pinker’s the blank slate in 2002, accuses pinker of the same muddle. the better angels of our nature, published in 2011, pinker argues that violence, including tribal warfare, homicide, cruel punishments, child abuse, animal cruelty, domestic violence, lynching, pogroms, and international and civil wars, has decreased over multiple scales of time and magnitude. pinker's elegant essay points out the theoretical problems with group (or "multilevel") selection, how it is regularly misunderstood and misapplied, and how group selection promoting genetic evolution is regularly conflated with processes promoting cultural evolution—nongenetic change in human society. there are reasons for calling these phenomena a variety of group selection, reasons ably recounted by boyd and richerson in many publications, but better reasons—in my opinion—for avoiding the label, precisely because it seems to give support to the vague and misguided ideas of group selection that pinker exposes so effectively. "all pinker (and the connectionists) are doing is turning over the rocks at the base of the intellectual landslide caused by the chomskian revolution. in the 2007 interview with the point of inquiry podcast, pinker states that he would "defend atheism as an empirically supported view. here pinker relies on models of indirect reciprocity that apply only to pairwise interactions, and depend on a number of dubious assumptions including: (1) a single mutation can shift an individual from defection to a complex reciprocating strategy, (2) individuals have accurate knowledge of past behavior of all other members of their social groups, and (3) there is never significant disagreement about past behavior.  i join steven pinker in opposing this loose sort of groupish thinking., while evolution by natural selection definitively and demonstrably works under conditions of utterly random (non-directed) variation, non-random variation does not prevent the algorithmic process of natural selection from grinding out its well-tested innovations, or render it superfluous, as pinker suggests. in this essay, i'll explain why i think that this reasonableness is an illusion. in his interview on the point of inquiry podcast in 2007, he provides the following examples of what he considers defensible conclusions of what science says human nature is:The sexes are not statistically identical; "their interests and talents form two overlapping distributions". (1891) natural selection and tropical nature: essays on descriptive and theoretical biology (macmillan, london, p. in not in our genes: biology, ideology and human nature (1984), richard lewontin, steven rose and leon kamin criticise "genetic determinism" from a marxist framework, arguing that "science is the ultimate legitimator of bourgeois ideology [. am not aware of any writings of pinker's that confront the hypotheses and evidence for the importance of cultural evolution, cultural group selection, and gene-culture coevolution. pinker portrays the adherence to pure blank-slatism as an ideological dogma linked to two other dogmas found in the dominant view of human nature in the 20th century, which he termed "noble savage" (in the sense that people are born good and corrupted by bad influence) and "ghost in the machine" (in the sense that there is a human soul capable of moral choices completely detached from biology). in this study he established that in any given population, biology, language, material and symbolic culture, are autonomous; that each is an equally important dimension of human nature, but that no one of these dimensions is reducible to another.[72] pinker responded to a question about epigenetics as a possibility for the decline in violence in a lecture for the bbc world service. dawkins' explanation is that human morality is a cultural facade laid upon our basically selfish human nature. essays like steven pinker's attempt to set things straight, but despite many such clear arguments, the debate goes on.

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Carr, Pinker, the shallows, and the nature-nurture canard | WIRED

other books, how the mind works (1997) and the blank slate (2002), broadly surveyed the mind and defended the idea of a complex human nature with many mental faculties that are adaptive (pinker is an ally of daniel dennett and richard dawkins in many disputes surrounding adaptationism). "book review: 'the better angels of our nature: the decline of violence in history and its causes', by steven pinker". much of the rhetorical energy of their commentaries is directed at a misreading of my essay as a denial of these truisms: "contrary to pinker, humans are not solitary psychopaths; therefore group selection is true. commentaries following pinker’s essay on cultural evolution are extraordinarily diverse.^ in plato's protagoras 351b; an opposition is made by protagoras' character between art on one hand and constitution and fit nurture (nature and nurture) of the soul on the other, art (as well as rage and madness; ἀπὸ τέχνης ἀπὸ θυμοῦ γε καὶ ἀπὸ μανίας) contributing to boldness (θάρσος), but nature and nurture combine to contribute to courage (ἀνδρεία). this is important enough to say twice: social or group-oriented features of human nature, such as moral intuitions of fairness, valuing group loyalty, etc.^ pinker has written a piece on the irregular verbs, stating that "i like the irregular verbs of english, all 180 of them, because of what they tell us about the history of the language and the human minds that have perpetuated it." they are right to complain that my essay mentioned these models only in passing. he seems to insist on a false split between nature and nurture.  i am with pinker in being a big fan of inclusive fitness.* on a fine scale and at most proximate range, of course, he’s attacking pinker’s “faith in evolutionary psychology and behavioral genetics,” and perhaps that’s all carr means here — that pinker objects because pinker feels threatened, and pinker feels threatened because he’s wed to a false dichotomy about nature-or-nurture. in how the mind works, pinker reiterates immanuel kant's view that music is not in itself an important cognitive phenomenon, but that it happens to stimulate important auditory and spatio-motor cognitive functions. thus, pinker's claim that carefully specifying and analyzing the causal processes underlying historical change (which include inter-group competition) and testing these ideas across times and places, "nothing to conventional history," is like saying genetic evolutionary theory adds nothing to butterfly collecting. psycholinguistics, pinker became known early in his career for promoting computational learning theory as a way to understand language acquisition in children. "a decade after steven pinker's the blank slate, why is human nature still taboo? my next principal objection to pinker's essay is that he ignores one known way in which individual traits are selected for by groups, the selection of genetic mutations by cultural pressures, also known as dual-inheritance theory. what evolves in the total gene pool depends upon the relative strength of within- vs.*unlike pinker or my friend vaughan bell, i don’t find neuroplasticity a dirty word. in ecology and behavioral genetics, researchers think nurture has an essential influence on nature. colleagues and i elsewhere argue at greater length than is possible here (2) that pinker's view of culture depends on an impossibly high degree of individual cognitive prowess that amounts to a magical "skyhook" in daniel dennett's (3) felicitous phrase. view that humans acquire all or almost all their behavioral traits from "nurture" was termed tabula rasa ("blank slate") by john locke in 1690.[24][25] the article also presaged pinker's argument in the language instinct. pinker's fifth paragraph nails most of the confusions so well that i could do no better than quote it verbatim, so i won't.[49][50][51][52][53] it also aroused criticism on a variety of grounds, such as whether deaths per capita was an appropriate metric, pinker's atheism, lack of moral leadership, excessive focus on europe (though the book covers other areas), the interpretation of historical data, and its image of indigenous people. this episode strongly suggested to me that one of the themes that has been gaining ground in "common knowledge" is that evolutionary biologists are reluctant to "admit" or "acknowledge" the manifest design in nature. following from his argument, pinker presumably doesn't think we should study and label "sexual selection," since it's really just another component of natural selection.

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Why Nature and Nurture Won't Go Away

[16](daly, 1982; maynard smith & warren, 1988; sperber, 1985; symons, 1992); see also (pinker, 1997), chap. the sixth book, the better angels of our nature (2011), makes the case that violence in human societies has, in general, steadily declined with time, and identifies six major causes of this decline. (2011) the better angels of our nature: the decline of violence in world history and its causes (viking penguin, new york). pinker dismisses this evidence by asserting that "any residue of pure altruism" beyond self-interested reciprocity and reputation building "can be explained by the assumption that people's cooperative intuitions have been shaped in a world in which neither anonymity nor one-shot encounters can be guaranteed. this collaborative weeding out of the inferior was just one of an endless series of phenomena supposedly explained by a darwinism that was held to operate by retaining whatever traits contributed to the "survival" of the group, population, species, or balance of nature (for a modern example, think gaia hypothesis). after all, group selection sounds like a reasonable extension of evolutionary theory and a plausible explanation of the social nature of humans. culture and history, martin daly and margo wilson's classic study of homicide[iii] pioneered the way to go; and pinker's work on "the decline of violence in history and its causes" [iv] can be seen as a systematic demonstration of how right these pioneers were. theories of human nature cannot seriously be tested using only weird people [60]. i want to address here not so much the heart of the pinker-carr argument but one particular argument that carr used in his response to pinker that i found offkey — not so much because it didn’t apply (though it doesn’t, for reasons we’ll see), but because it pulls on a false dichotomy that i think we need to lay to rest. the better angels of our nature: why violence has declined. the definition of "nature" in this context is tied to "heritability", the definition of "nurture" has necessarily become very wide, including any type of causality that is not heritable. i'll try to show that it has everything to do with our best scientific understanding of the evolution of life and the evolution of human nature. steven pinker's new book reveals an ever more peaceable species: humankind". pinker is right that "group selection" confuses more than it clarifies. to pinker's argument, the evidence for other-regarding dispositions in humans extends beyond the results of the economic game experiments he mentions. rather, it was purist behaviorism which was gradually replaced by the now-predominant view that both kinds of factors usually contribute to a given trait, anecdotally phrased by donald hebb as an answer to the question "which, nature or nurture, contributes more to personality? pinker focuses on reasons he assumes were responsible for unduly repressing evidence to the contrary, notably the fear of (imagined or projected) political or ideological consequences. but i side with pinker and jonah lehrer in being skeptical that the net is working a fundamental, singular, bad bad voodoo on how we think. ardrey in the 1960s argued for innate attributes of human nature, especially concerning territoriality, in the widely read african genesis (1961) and the territorial imperative.  we need to guard against the overly strong psychological appeal of group selection, but perhaps also against a sometimes excessive relish for the hardheaded view that human nature must be selfish and conniving.^ "steven pinker: how our minds evolved" by robert wright time accessed 8 february 2006. group selection is so impotent in helping us understand nature, why is it so popular?” he seems not to be saying that pinker is wrong to draw the contrast, but that he’s on the wrong side of the debate. (there is some irony in the fact that pinker shares this view with richard lewontin, one of evolutionary psychology's most vociferous critics. their 2014 survey of scientists, many respondents wrote that the dichotomy of nature versus nurture had outlived its usefulness, and should be retired.[73] helga vierich and cathryn townsend wrote a critical review of pinker’s sweeping "civilizational” explanations for patterns of human violence and warfare in response to a lecture he gave at cambridge university in september 2015.

Nature vs nurture: outcome depends on where you live - Telegraph

further, claims that kin selection is less useful than group selection in understanding nature are simply wrong. "protagoras, in spite of the misgiving of socrates, has no scruple in announcing himself a teacher of virtue, because virtue in the sense by him understood seems sufficiently secured by nature and nurture. thus seems to me mistaken for pinker, wilson, haidt and others to quibble about the proper definition of natural selection in this context while ignoring dual-inheritance theory. 1988 pinker and alan prince published an influential critique of a connectionist model of the acquisition of the past tense (a textbook problem in language acquisition), followed by a series of studies of how people use and acquire the past tense. nurture framework for pondering human thought and behavior that, though deeply ingrained, is being proven false by the highly fluid conversations that researchers are exposing between genes and experience. one aspect of the present debate—and the focus of pinker's essay—turns on the question: are there psychological adaptations that evolved due to group selection? this luxuriant, pervasive, unanchored teleology choked off productive evolutionary reasoning: in the biological world, any good effect on anything else was supposedly explained by darwinism's benign collectivism: plants produce oxygen for animals to breathe; predators target the sick and the old to keep the unfit from reproducing, maintaining the balance of nature. (note: pinker takes group selection to be the claim that that mental traits can be shaped be a process in which natural selection acts on groups "akin to natural selection acting on genes. the debate between "blank-slate" denial of the influence of heritability, and the view admitting both environmental and heritable traits, has often been cast in terms of nature versus nurture. "the nature-nurture issue (an illustration using behaviour-genetic research on cognitive development)".[34] "words and rules" is also the title of an essay by pinker outlining many of the topics discussed in the book. when pinker asks whether groups can be like genes and group selection can be like gene selection, he is comparing apples and oranges. the selfish gene versus group selection issue, when properly formulated, has little to do with the nature of human sociality. perhaps pinker disagrees with this work, but he does not appear to be aware of it. garvan, "i appointed therefore the mother guardian, who is properly so by nature and nurture, where there is no testamentary guardian.” pinker can write, in refutation of the scarecrow theory of violent behavior, “the sad fact is that despite the repeated assurances that ‘we know the conditions that breed violence,’ we barely have a clue,” and then, a few pages later, “it is not surprising, then, that when african american teenagers are taken out of underclass neighborhoods they are no more violent or delinquent than white teenagers.^ man and aggression (1968) cited after pinker, steven (2002) the blank slate: the modern denial of human nature, penguin, new york, isbn 1501264338, p. on the other hand, i have also argued in many places (especially in my recent book language: the cultural tool) that language is not carried on the genes—in other words, that there is no innate grammar or language instinct—so i won't press pinker hard on this one, even though he does believe that core components of language are part of the human genotype. pinker has answered this, too—and without the slightest need for any groupishness. pinker asserts, "it's only when humans display traits that are disadvantageous to themselves while benefiting their group that group selection might have something to add. 1982 until 2003, pinker taught at the department of brain and cognitive sciences at mit, and eventually became the director of the center for cognitive neuroscience, taking a one-year sabbatical at the university of california, santa barbara, in 1995–96. week’s spat between nicholas carr and steven pinker generated a lot of attention — and, happily, delivered a couple of the more lucid framings yet of the debate over whether digital culture makes us shallow, as carr argues in his new book, or simply represents yet another sometimes-distracting element that we can learn to deal with, as pinker countered in a times op-ed last thursday. the nurture assumption: why children turn out the way they do, revised and updated. if the prosociality in both fairness and willingness to punish in such games was the result of a "misfiring" reciprocity psychology, as pinker proposes, then we'd expect either (1) no variation among societies, or (2) variation such that those populations who actually experienced a non-anonymous, face-to-face, life would be more prosocial and more willing to build their reputations by punishing low offers. the mind works, the blank slate, the better angels of our nature. it is difficult for me to tell whether pinker is committing this error or whether he has something more nuanced in mind.

Steven Pinker | Penguin Random House

in my opinion, pinker needs to absorb the fact that the process of natural selection requires heredity and that genes are a particular mechanism of heredity. one prominent opponent of pinker's view is geoffrey sampson whose 1997 book, educating eve: the 'language instinct' debate has been described as the "definitive response" to pinker's book. however, these claims have attracted a number of criticisms [9-13], not least because of the highly artificial nature of experimental economic laboratories. pinker sets out the problems with the current enthusiasm for group selection clearly and fairly, except for what are, in my opinion, two regrettable but easily corrected misplaced emphases. rather than just asserting it, these models allow theorists to study how varying amounts of random variation vs. he sums the matter up: “with violence, as with so many other concerns, human nature is the problem, but human nature is also the solution. he identified approximately 150 such features, coming to the conclusion there is indeed a "universal human nature", and that these features point to what that universal human nature is.^ pinker, steven (2002), the blank slate: the modern denial of human nature, penguin putnam, isbn 0-670-03151-8. focusing on the main points where i believe that the debate over selection models has gone astray, i want to point out a potentially important example of group selection that pinker overlooks: human languages. however, the moral nature of human society, and the key role of morality in our success as a species, can be accommodated without requiring evolutionary biology to abandon its cherished accomplishments. pinker further argued that since the ten most frequently occurring english verbs (be, have, do, say, make .^ gutiérrez, luci (january 24, 2014) time to retire the simplicity of nature vs. reality of pinker's proposed language instinct, and the related claim that grammar is innate and genetically based, has been contested by many linguists. underline this point, consider pinker's suggestion that if somehow the variation on which a selective process acts is non-random, it is not an "evolutionary" process., reciprocity theory does not say what pinker thinks it says. pinker questions the very nature of our thoughts — the way we use words, how we learn, and how we relate to others. the term has thus moved away from its original connotation of "cultural influences" to include all effects of the environment, including; indeed, a substantial source of environmental input to human nature may arise from stochastic variations in prenatal development and is thus in no sense of the term "cultural". this essay pinker convincingly argues that the idea of group selection, as popularized by leading scientists such as e.[26] brown mentored pinker through his thesis; pinker stated that brown's "funny and instructive"[27] book words and things (1958) was one of the inspirations for the language instinct. understanding human nature requires mapping the nature of human psychological adaptations. steven pinker wants banished from our science is a modeling tool that has proved useful for breaking down and analyzing different components of a selective process. pinker is a harvard college professor and johnstone family professor of psychology; harvard university. that is apparent design; the design in nature, in contrast, is typically as good as, or even much better than, the designs we "intelligent" artificers have yet devised. 2008, he has chaired the usage panel of the american heritage dictionary, and wrote the essay on usage for the fifth edition of the dictionary, which was published in 2011. pinker's book the blank slate argues that all humans are born with some innate traits. pinker sees language as unique to humans, evolved to solve the specific problem of communication among social hunter-gatherers.

Steven Pinker - Wikipedia

Steven Pinker on the false fronts in the language wars.

social commentators such as ed west, author of the diversity illusion, consider pinker important and daring in his willingness to confront taboos, as in the blank slate. the growing body of research on the adult brain’s remarkable ability to adapt, even at the cellular level, to changing circumstances and new experiences poses a challenge to pinker’s faith in evolutionary psychology and behavioral genetics. empirical evidence on cooperation in humans does not support pinker's view. human social groups are psychologically very salient entities (8)as pinker acknowledges.^ the nature of the language faculty and its implications for evolution of language.^ "my genome, my self" by steven pinker the new york times sunday magazine accessed 10 april 2010. from its inception, part of its appeal has been that it seems to tell us that nature is not as coldblooded and cruel as we feared. in this essay, i'll explain why i think that this reasonableness is an illusion. but queller, in his response to pinker's essay, notes that the days of pitting multilevel selection against inclusive fitness theory are over.[30] others have sought a middle ground between pinker's nativism and sampson's culturalism. 2009, david shenk criticized pinker for siding with the "nature" argument and for "never once acknowledg[ing] gene-environment interaction or epigenetics" in an article on nature versus nurture in the new york times. author, the better angels of our nature: how violence has declined, the language instinct, and how the mind works. stuff of thought: language as a window into human nature (2007). in his 1996 book impossible minds, the machine intelligence researcher igor aleksander calls the language instinct excellent, and argues that pinker presents a relatively soft claim for innatism, accompanied by a strong dislike of the 'standard social sciences model' or sssm (pinker's term), which supposes that development is purely dependent on culture. but a more complete explanation must also consider developmental questions concerning the nature and sequencing of the car assembly process, such as how pistons, crankshafts, gearboxes, and axles come to be installed and connected up. pinker's thoughtful remarks concerning group selection present a useful occasion for clearing some misconceptions surrounding recent developments in the behavioral sciences concerning our understanding of moral vs. on the debate around the blank slate, pinker called thomas sowell's book a conflict of visions "wonderful",[33] and explained that "the tragic vision" and the "utopian vision" are the views of human nature behind right- and left-wing ideologies. i recommend instead the expository policy of calling nature's marvels design, as real as any design in the universe, but just not the products of an intelligent designer. it both ways [that is, sometimes insisting that nature trumps nurture, and at other times citing nurture’s power to override nature) is an irritating feature of “the blank slate. perhaps the reason why pinker finds it hard to recognize this is that intelligent design is commonly associated with supernatural theories of creation that have no place in science. "the better angels of our nature: the decline of violence in history and its causes by stephen pinker".  they hugely underestimated the power of natural selection because they had been told by evolutionary biologists, again and again, that there is no actual design in nature, only the appearance of design. but pinker's concerns here are less about science than about words. yet another complication to the nature–nurture debate is the existence of gene-environment correlations. brings us to cultural evolution, which pinker dismisses as a bad metaphor. of course, pinker is right that individuals sometimes make deliberate innovations.

^ "steven pinker: the mind reader" by ed douglas the guardian accessed 3 february 2006. "be warned," he states, "that if you wish, as i do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature. pinker argued that language depends on two things, the associative remembering of sounds and their meanings in words, and the use of rules to manipulate symbols for grammar. compared to the way people treat nonrelatives, they are far more likely to feed their relatives, nurture them, do them favors, live near them, take risks to protect them, avoid hurting them, back away from fights with them, donate organs to them, and leave them inheritances. "dig-dug, think-thunk (review of words and rules by steven pinker)". the alliterative expression "nature and nurture" in english has been in use since at least the elizabethan period[1] and goes back to medieval french. (2004) "the nature of nurture: maternal effects and chromatin remodelling", in essays in social neuroscience, cacioppo, jt & berntson, gg eds. "nature, nurture and cognitive development from 1 to 16 years: a parent-offspring adoption study". 2009, pinker wrote a mixed review of malcolm gladwell's essays in the new york times criticizing his analytical methods." because expectation of reciprocity and concern for reputation are basically selfish and do not involve a fundamental respect for moral values, pinker is simply reiterating dawkins' message of a half-century ago that we are the selfish product of selfish genes. bowles's formulation tells you exactly what kind of empirical data you need to test the model: (1) what the minimum ratio of genetic variances needs to be (between vs. pinker might reply that this is beside the point since if an individual cannot talk then their genes will be eliminated due, perhaps, to sexual selection, so that language only appears to be group-selected. these results did not in any way point to overwhelming contribution of heritable factors, with heritability typically ranging around 40% to 50%, so that the controversy may not be cast in terms of purist behaviorism vs. to pinker, group selection "adds nothing to conventional history" as an explanation of cultural change. but as pinker argues, and in our view as well, there are no data that demonstrate the existence of group selected adaptations in humans. further, aleksander writes that while pinker criticises some attempts to explain language processing with neural nets, pinker later makes use of a neural net to create past tense verb forms correctly. it is curious but telling that proponents of group selection always concentrate on its logical and mathematical soundness rather than on its usefulness in explaining features of real organisms in nature. this essay i'll concentrate on the sense of "group selection" as a version of natural selection which acts on groups in the same way that it acts on individual organisms, namely, to maximize their inclusive fitness (alternatively, which acts on groups in the same way it acts on genes, namely to increase the number of copies that appear in the next generation; i will treat these formulations as equivalent)., group selection and inclusive fitness are not equivalent; the price equation vs. assumptions underlying the nativist view have also been criticised in jeffrey elman's rethinking innateness: a connectionist perspective on development, which defends the connectionist approach that pinker attacked. or, in a situation that pinker skips, the net effect of what's going on within groups is zero (a "stable equilibria"), and all the action comes from the relative contribution of each group to the evolutionary change. as both "nature" and "nurture" factors were found to contribute substantially, often in an extricable manner, such views were seen as naive or outdated by most scholars of human development by the 2000s. variability of trait can be meaningfully spoken of as being due in certain proportions to genetic differences ("nature"), or environments ("nurture"). words and rules: the ingredients of language (1999), pinker argues from his own research that regular and irregular phenomena are products of computation and memory lookup, respectively, and that language can be understood as an interaction between the two. his seventh popular book, the sense of style: the thinking person's guide to writing in the 21st century (2014), pinker attempts to provide a writing style guide that is informed by modern science and psychology, offering advice on how to produce more comprehensible and unambiguous writing in nonfiction contexts and explaining why so much of today's academic and popular writing is difficult for readers to understand. contributions tend to decline rapidly, and in his essay, steven pinker concludes from this research that "humans are not a group-selected adaptation which capitalizes on opportunities to make sacrifices for the common good.

what appears to be self-sacrifice is thus simply a superficial veneer covering our selfish natures.'s essay is centered on a different question: can a concept of group selection be formulated that is comparable to the concept of gene selection? pinker is also noted for having identified the rename of phillip morris to altria as an "egregious example" of phonesthesia - with the company attempting to "switch its image from bad people who sell addictive carcinogens to a place or state marked by altruism and other lofty values". 1951, calvin hall[23] suggested that the dichotomy opposing nature to nurture is ultimately fruitless. data, then—as well as the absence of data for pervasive altruism—point to group selection as a rather unimportant force in nature. these remarks i concentrate on the steven pinker's misconceptions about cultural evolution, cultural group selection, and gene-culture coevolution.: a born devil, on whose nature nurture can never stick) and richard barnfield (nature and nurture once together met / the soule and shape in decent order set. as pinker notes, models of group selection are either mathematically equivalent to those based on kin selection but less tractable, or are so nebulous that they can't be analyzed at all. pinker criticizes several widely held ideas about language – that it needs to be taught, that people's grammar is poor and getting worse with new ways of speaking, the sapir–whorf hypothesis that language limits the kinds of thoughts a person can have, and that other great apes can learn languages. thus, pinker's claims about human psychology depend on evolutionary predictions about the content of norms. the image is used by pinker in the better angels of our nature, with the comment "as the housebook illustrations suggest, [the knights] did not restrict their killing to other knights". for pinker, this is the only way that the term "group selection" makes sense, but it is not the concept of group selection that began with darwin, was refined by population geneticists, rejected in the 1960's, and revived today. we need to get out of the dictionary and into the field, to go beyond essentialist discussions of natural selection vs. the economics and psychology journals, including the most influential natural science journals, science and nature, are full of accounts of human moral and prosocial behavior. nurture is generally taken as the influence of external factors after conception e. "frequently asked questions about the better angels of our nature: why violence has declined". the end, group selection, while innately appealing, has not helped us understand very much about nature., style and writing in the 21st century: with steven pinker, royal institution, october 2015. is a welcome relief that steve pinker has applied his usual acuity to the ever-vexatious debate on group selection. the reason is that in many fields of research, close feedback loops have been found in which "nature" and "nurture" influence one another constantly, as seen in self-domestication. the stuff of thought (2007), pinker looks at a wide range of issues around the way words related to thoughts on the one hand, and to the world outside ourselves on the other. the hypothesis is, as pinker notes, is designed to explain those features of evolution—especially traits like altruism and cooperation in our own species—that seem disadvantageous to individuals but good for groups. this framework is quite clearly delineated in scientific terms (see, for instance, my overview, "gene-culture coevolution and the nature of human sociality") 2 which i can summarize as follows. problems in his essay begin with the idea that mutations have to be random with respect to fitness for natural selection to occur.) true altruism in humans, which does exist, is the sole exception, but, as pinker notes, this is almost certainly because of cultural features unique to our species. queller, often cited as a contemporary critic of group selection, helped to coordinate the much discussed reply by 137 co-authors [5] to the article by nowak, tarnita and wilson on group selection published in nature.