STONE AGE BRAINS. NOT ONLY BUSH'S, BUT HE DOESN'T KNOW IT
I got the following off of the University of California, Santa Barbara, psychology department website. I think I may have linked to this site in it's entirety many many posts before this. But now, I intend to break the interview down into smaller frags and post it piecemeal. Two Chileans interviewed Leda Cosmides for the Chilean newspaper, EL MECURIO. Leda Cosmides is the Director of the Department of Psychology.
[Open quote] Question (Fischer & Araya): You and John Tooby are considered to be among the founders of evolutionary psychology. According to philosopher of mind, Dan Dennett, "you are doing some of the best work in Darwinian psychology today" and "you seem to have uncovered a fossil of our Nietschean past". Can you explain what evolutionary psychology is, and how knowing that "our modern .skulls house a stone age mind" can help us to understand modern humans?
Cosmides: Evolutionary psychology is an approach to psychology, in which knowledge and principles from evolutionary biology are put to use in research on the structure of the human mind. It is not an area of psychology, like vision, reasoning, or social behavior. It is a wav of thinking about psychology that can be applied to any topic within it.
When evolutionary psychologists refer to "the mind", they mean the set of information-processing devices, embodied in the human brain, that are responsible for all conscious and non-conscious mental activity, and that generate all behavior. What allows evolutionary psychologists to go beyond traditional approaches in studying the mind is that they make active use in their research of an often overlooked fact: That the programs comprising the human mind were designed by natural selection to solve the adaptive problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. It leads one to look for programs that are well-engineered for solving problems such as hunting, foraging for plant foods, courting mates, cooperating with kin, forming coalitions for mutual defense, avoiding predators, and so on. Our minds should have programs that make us good at solving these problems, whether or not they are important in the modern world.
At the same time, by understanding these programs, we can learn how to deal more effectively with evolutionarily novel circumstances. Consider, for example, that the only information available to hunter-gatherers about probability and risk was the frequency with which they encountered actual events. It looks like our "stone age mind" has programs designed to acquire and reason well about frequency data. Knowing this, evolutionary psychologists are developing better ways of communicating complex modern data about statistics. Let's say you have a positive mammogram. How likely is it that you actually have breast cancer? The typical way of presenting the relevant data—in percents—makes this difficult. If you said that 1% of women randomly screened have breast cancer, and all of these test positive, but there is a 3% false alarm rate, most people mistakenly think a positive mammogram means they have a 97% chance of having breast cancer. But let me give you the same information in absolute frequencies—an ecologically valid information format for a hunter-gatherer mind: Out of every 1000 women, 10 have breast cancer and test positive; 30 test positive but do not have breast cancer. So: out of every 1000 women, 40 will test positive, but only 10 of these will have breast cancer. This format makes it clear that, if you had a positive mammogram, your chance of having breast cancer is only 1 in 4. . . that is, 25%, not 97%. [Close quote]
SAGAN IDENTIFIES THE PROCESSES OF SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY
Although I can't find in my notes who Velikovsky is nor what hypothesis he introduced, I put this entry in to demonstrate the scientific attitude which most scientists bring to their work. I can't imagine a better attitude to bring to this creationist intelligent design controversy.
"Many hypotheses proposed by scientists as well as by nonscientists turn out to be wrong. But science is a self-correcting enterprise. To be accepted, all new ideas must survive rigorous standards of evidence. The worst aspect of the Velikovsky affair is not that his hypotheses were wrong or in contradiction to established facts, but that some who called themselves scientists attempted to suppress Velikovsky's work. Science is generated by and devoted to free inquiry: the idea that any hypothesis, no matter how strange, deserves to be considered on its merits. The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion and politics, but it is not the path to knowledge; it has no place in the endeavor of science. We do not know in advance who will discover fundamental new insights." (Sagan's COSMOS, p. 91)