Science and Sociobiology
Twin studies suggest that behavioral traits such as creativity, extroversion and aggressiveness are between 45% to 75% genetic. Intelligence is said by some to be about 80% genetic after one matures. Others, such as R. C Lewontin, reject the idea of 'dividing' environment and heredity in such an artificial way.
Here's how scientific sociobiology usually proceeds: A social behavior is first explained as a sociobiological hypothesis by finding an evolutionarily stable strategy that matches the observed behavior. Stability can be difficult to prove, but usually, a well-formed strategy will predict gene frequencies. The hypothesis can be confirmed by establishing a correlation between the gene frequencies predicted by the strategy, and those expressed in a population. Measurement of genes and gene-frequencies can also be problematic, because a simple statistical correlation can be open to charges of circularity. Circularity can occur if the measurement of gene frequency indirectly uses the same measurements that describe the strategy. Though difficult, this overall process finds favor.
As a successful example, altruism between social insects and litter-mates was first satisfactorily explained by these means, and it was correlated to the degree of genome shared by the altruists, as predicted. Another successful example was a quantitative description of infanticide by male harem-mating animals when the alpha male is displaced. Female infanticide and fetal resorption are active areas of study. In general, females with more bearing opportunities may value offspring less. Also, females may arrange bearing opportunities to maximize the food and protection from mates.
Criminality is actively under study, but extremely controversial. There are persuasive arguments that in some uncivilized environments criminal behavior might be adaptive . Some authorities say that capital punishment may be the traditional way to weed criminal traits from the gene pool.
Some types of sociobiological results could justify mass oppression of innocent human beings. Most people therefore find them very suspect. For example, Dr. Norman Hall wrote an article "Zoological Subspecies in Man" (Mankind Quarterly, 1960) that argued that "racism" actually exists in most mammalian species, because racial groups within mammalian species (such as moose, rats, and reindeer) tend to compete for space and fight rather than mate and form offspring. Hence, "racism" could have an instinctive component in humans as well as other mammalian species. Further, Sir Arthur Keith (in A New Theory of Evolution) said that "racism" could be adaptive because it enables groups with superior genetic characteristics to inbreed and preserve genetic advantages. If these arguments are right, racism might be adaptive.
Such theories are bound to draw fire, both on political and scientific grounds. Usual political argument is, that even if racism was adaptive, it still wouldn't make it ethically acceptable, because the ethical considerations should be based on the harm racism causes for those who are the target of it. Scientific critism of this kind of research usually centers on pointing out that these theories often include only those aspects of the processes they are dealing with which can best be used to come to "politically preferred" conclusions. For example, including the complete genetic dynamics of in- and outbreeding might lead to completely different conclusions in above mentioned theories of adaptive nature of racism. Also, it is widely known in scientific community that when certain outcome of reseach is expected or preferred by the researchers, they are often likely to subconsciously incorpororate the bias into their interpretation of the results. Therefore, any research which has serious political implications should be met with rigorous criticism, and not least by the researchers themselves. In other words, in order to make good science, it would be necessary for the scientists themselves to be highly aware and critical of their own biases, and this kind of self-criticism is often conspiciously absent from these controversial studies.
Sociobiology must be distinguished from memetics. In sociobiology the evolving entities are genes, while in memetics they are memes. Sociobiology is concerned with the biological basis of human behaviours, while memetics treats humans as products not only of biological evolution, but of cultural evolution also.
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