Editor and ESS Secretariate: Johan M.G. van der Dennen, Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Groningen, Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat 5/9, 9712 EA Groningen, The Netherlands, Fax: +31 50 3635635, E-mail:

Book Review Editor: Marcel Roele, Meeuwenlaan 111a, 1021 HX Amsterdam, The Netherlands, E-mail:

ISSN: 0929-0206. Published by Origin Press, Groningen, The Netherlands

Calendar of Forthcoming Meetings

* December 2-3, 1999: Winter Conference of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour will be held at the Zoological Society of London, UK. For more information please contact: Celia Hayes, e-mail:
* July 9-14, 2000: The XIV World Meeting of the International Society for Research on Aggression (ISRA) will be held in Valencia, Spain. The meeting will be arranged by Prof. José Sanmartin and Prof. Manuela Martinez. E-mail: For details see the ISRA website:
* July 16-22, 2000: World Congress of the Systems Sciences in conjunction with the 44th annual meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences in Toronto, Canada. Chief organizer will be Peter Corning, President, International Society for the Systems Sciences, 560 Waverley Street, Suite 202, Palo Alto, CA 94301, USA. Tel: 1-650-325-5583; Fax: 1-650-325-3775; E-mail:; Website: There will be a panel on "the Evolution of Political Systems".

2000: ESS Conference: 25 Years of Sociobiology: Time for Reflection
In the year 2K, it is 25 years ago that Edward O. Wilson's seminal book Sociobiology: The New Synthesis has been published. For ESS this has been a natural stimulus to try to organize a retrospective conference and to inventarize the reception of sociobiology in various disciplines as well as in different countries. It seems that in order to attract a sizeable audience, joining with other societies with similar perspectives is advisable. The ESS board now is happy to inform you that ESS has been invited by the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences (APLS) to organize in its annual conference a main section to evaluate 25 years of sociobiology.
APLS is an international and interdisciplinary association of scholars, scientists, and policymakers concerned with problems or issues that involve politics or public policy and one or more of the life sciences. Among other things, the Association is deeply interested in the biobehavioural approach of evolutionary biology, psychology, and anthropology, as will be clear from a glance at the programs of its previous conferences (see Next year, APLS will have its 20th annual conference in Washington, DC, from August 31 to September 3. By means of a keynote speech of a top scientist (1998 E.O. Wilson, 1999 Frans de Waal), plenary lectures by other prominent speakers, round table discussions, panels for paper presentations, poster sessions, etc., the conferences are highly inspirational for open-minded social scientists and life scientists alike, and promises to serve as an excellent platform for presentations for ESS members. The conference will take place in a first class hotel at a comparatively attractive rate, but for this a one-year membership of APLS is advisable.
The ESS board invites all ESS members to participate in the sociobiology evaluation panels, and now already issues a CALL FOR PAPERS. The intention is bring together papers that cover the influence, or lack of influence, of sociobiology in various disciplines and various countries. The result should be the publication of a book that gives a representative picture of the reception of sociobiology after 25 years. Critical assessments of sociobiology are also most welcome, since this reception history also hopes to give an answer to the question how viable sociobiology has been amidst competitive approaches like those of classical ethologists, evolutionary psychologists and evolutionary biologists/anthropologists.
Proposals for papers should follow standard APLS procedures of evaluation, but it is adviced to channel the proposals via Vincent Falger and Osamu Sakura, the mediating organizers of this anniversary conference. The usual ESS free paper session will this conference take place directly under the aegis of APLS. Non-ESS members who want to present papers on the anniversary theme will be organized in one of the ESS panels. For more practical details - as far as available now - please contact Vincent Falger at

* September 8-11, 2000: 12th Congress of the European Anthropological Association Millennial Perspectives - Past, Present and Future in Cambridge, UK. Info: Prof. N. Mascie-Taylor, University of Cambridge, Department of Biological Anthropology, Downing street, Cambridge CB2 3DZ, UK (Tel.:+44 1223 33.54.56; Fax: +44 1223 33.54.60; e-mail:
* September 8-11, 2000: Annual Symposium of the SSHB on Hominid Evolution in Cambridge, UK. Info: Dr. Robert Foley, University of Cambridge, Department of Biological Anthropology, Downing street, Cambridge CB2 3DZ, UK (Tel.:+44 1223 33.54.52; Fax: +44 1223 33.54.60; e-mail:
* 2003: The International Union for Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) will held its 15th International Congress on Humankind/Nature Interaction: Past, Present and Future, in Florence, 5-12 July 2003, under the Presidency of Prof. Brunetto Chiarelli.
The Union's plenary congresses (ICAES), held every five years, have always represented a major occasion for international researchers to meet and discuss a wide range of topics related to Man; from physical anthropology to genetics, to human ecology and ethnic conflicts. One of the aims of the Congress, in fact, is to elucidate the state of the art of this area of study. For more information please contact the Congress Secretariat Anna Lisa Bebi, e-mail:


Steven Pinker (1997) How the Mind Works. New York & London: W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-04535-8 (Hdbk) US$29.95 CAN$39.99 UK£22.00. Pp. xii + 660.

by KAREN JAGATIC, Department of Psychology, Wayne State University, 71 W. Warren, Detroit, MI 48202, U.S.A.

Steven Pinker assigns himself a monumental task in his newest book, How the Mind Works. The book jacket claims that the reader will discover "what the mind is, how it evolved, and how it allows us to see, think, feel, laugh, interact, enjoy the arts, and ponder the mysteries of life." Reading the more than 500 pages of text is meant to demystify such curiosities as Magic Eye stereograms, the brattiness of children, and the soothing qualities of paintings and music. Though Pinker's well-written words shed light on a number of interesting puzzles, the main question of how the mind actually works never seems fully answered.
Pinker attempts to explain how the mind works by using an evolutionary psychology approach, as well as a mechanistic approach where the mind is viewed as a machine. The mind is what the brain does, according to Pinker, and the brain is considered to be a "system of organs of computation, designed by natural selection to solve the kinds of problems our ancestors faced in their foraging way of life" (p. 21). Pinker refers to organs of computation as mental modules that are each specialized to interact with a different aspect of the world. Thus, the mind is not a single, homogeneous entity; rather, it is composed of a number of different modules that function together. Unfortunately, Pinker's explanation of modules is difficult to follow at times; his flowery prose often interferes with the points he tries to make. For example, he explains that a mental module "probably looks more like roadkill, sprawling messily over the bulges and crevasses of the brain" (p. 30). To his credit, Pinker acknowledges that the module metaphor is "clumsy." The result is that the reader is left with the impression that, though imperfect, the concept of mental modules is the best scientists have in explaining how the mind works. Modules may be too specific, however, and they fail to adequately explain species-specific aptitudes. Weisfeld (1997) offers motives as units of behaviors as a sound alternative to Pinker's modules; motives increase fitness of a species by fulfilling survival needs directly. The argument is that while Pinker generally does a good job of incorporating a number of different ideas and perspectives in his book, in some cases he fails to acknowledge various alternatives to the ideas he is presenting.
Understanding how the mind functions as it does is best accomplished, according to Pinker, by using a technique called reverse-engineering. The goal of reverse engineering is to determine what natural selection designed the mind to do in people living in foraging societies. The modules of the mind were "shaped by natural selection to solve the problems of hunting and gathering life led by our ancestors in most of our evolutionary history" (p. 21). While reverse-engineering may make a trendy catch-phrase, the method's weaknesses are never acknowledged by Pinker. In reverse-engineering a particular aspect of human behavior, such as why people like to look at flowers ("they are harbingers of growth marking the site of future fruit, nuts, or tubers," (p.379)), who is to say that the explanation suggested by this method is the correct one, or the only one? Pinker's strong, almost dogmatic stance on some of his arguments is admirable, and probably necessary to gain followers. Reverse-engineering may not always give us the best possible explanation to certain questions; Gould's notion of spandrels, though also controversial, is an alternative to reverse-engineering that Pinker does not fully embrace.
Putting aside the weaknesses of using the reverse-engineering technique alone to explain the mind, Pinker uses the method to explain a number of different human behaviors in an interesting manner. For example, he devotes an entire chapter to explaining the phenomenon of human stereoscopic vision, describing in painstaking detail "the mind's eye." Pinker also uses reverse-engineering to look at reasons why the human brain has not evolved even further, and for why other organisms have not evolved a similar brain. He states that the bulkiness of the brain, high energy requirements, long learning period (basically, childhood), and sophistication are high costs that are not outweighed by the potential benefits of possessing a more highly evolved brain. In a particularly interesting, as well as amusing, application of reverse-engineering, Pinker explains the emotion of disgust. Most things that people would classify as disgusting come from animals; this universal response has practical value for people in that it indirectly monitors what people consume, thus protecting them from dangers they might encounter by eating hazardous animal "stuff." The disgust motive served a greater purpose during hunting and gathering times, when it was far more difficult for people to discriminate between what was edible and what was not. Today, though people have less trouble discerning what they should consume, the disgust motive remains. While the reverse-engineering explanation of the above examples is interesting and probably has some merit, it should not be offered as the sole explanation for everything the mind does.
The technique of reverse-engineering falls short in the explanation of sentience. Pinker concedes that scientists have not yet grasped the "special extra ingredient that gives rise to sentience" (p. 147) and that "our incomprehension of sentience does not impede our understanding of how the mind works in the least." (p. 147). The admission that sentience cannot be explained leads to disappointment for readers interested in learning how the mind works. Sentience, which plays such a large role in how the non-scientific world perceives the mind, appears to be thrust aside by Pinker. He provides a fairly long argument as to why an understanding of sentience is not necessary to understand how the mind works; the argument does not achieve the desired effect. Pinker's model of the mind leaves him unable to explain certain qualitative states, such as pain and pleasure, which are very important aspects of the mind. He states that "sentience floats in its own plane, high above the causal chains of psychology and neuroscience" (p. 147). Perhaps if he had chosen a more modest book title, readers would not expect a full explanation of how the mind works, only to be left disappointed in the end.
Pinker covers a huge amount of ground in How the Mind Works. In eight fairly extensive chapters, he explains a number of different human characteristics, behaviors, and emotions, including intelligence, stereoscopic vision, fear, happiness, altruism, sexual attraction, the concept of beauty, various relationships (parents, children, siblings, friends, enemies), humor, and arts and entertainment. Explaining how the mind functions is a large task, and while Pinker attempts to cover as many bases as he can, the overall feeling the reader is left with is that the various issues have been presented in an unbalanced manner. That is, there are almost two distinct halves to the book: the first half, which covers in great detail how the brain itself works using a mechanistic approach, and the second half, which discusses, in large part, how people deal with each other using principles of evolutionary psychology. The second half of the book is easier to read and probably appeals to a wider readership, many of whom are more interested in issues such as why people feel love for each other than in the microscopic dealings of the brain and its modules.
At various points in his book, Pinker anticipates critics' reactions to his beliefs and those of evolutionary psychology in general. For example, he discusses the evolutionary psychology of sexuality and makes some potentially controversial comments, such as "rape was an offense against the woman's husband, not the woman" (p. 491), and "in most societies, marriage is a blatant transfer of ownership of a woman from her father to her husband" (p. 490). Pinker defends the Darwinian approach to these issues by pointing out the weaknesses in some people's thinking, such as the notion that nature is nice (it is often not) and that what people like is good (again, this is not necessarily so). While evolutionary psychology and some of the mysteries of human behavior it has uncovered are not particularly palatable to many of us, it is bad science to dismiss certain findings because we find them unappealing.
Pinker does not repudiate the feminist goal of "ending sexual discrimination and exploitation" (p. 492), but attempts to strike a balance between the goals of feminism and the principles of evolutionary psychology.
Overall, Pinker's book nicely summarizes the principles of evolutionary psychology, although there are both positive and negative aspects to How the Mind Works. While his goal is to present the Darwinian approach to a mass audience, he is not always successful in doing so; the first half of the book requires a moderate amount of effort to comprehend. Some of the earlier chapters are quite dense, and one is sometimes left wondering what the point of the book is. Pinker seems to be explaining how the brain works, rather than how the mind works, and the reader may be left confused, right through the end of the book, as to what the author is really trying to explain. On the positive side, Pinker's excellent use of practical examples, humorous writing style, and coverage of interesting topics makes the book a worthwhile read for both scholars and non-scientists.


Weisfeld, G. (1997). Research on emotions and future developments in human ethology. In A. Schmitt, K. Atzwanger, K. Grammer, & K. Schafer (Eds.), New aspects of human ethology. New York: Plenum Press.


Jared M. Diamond (1997) Guns, Germs, and Steel. The Fates of Human Societies. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-03891-2 (Hdbk) US$27.50 CAN$35.00 UK£19.45. Random House / Vintage Pbk: ISBN 0-09-930278-0 UK£8.99 Pp. 480.

by KAREN PARHAM, Sint Mariastraat 120B, 3014 SR Rotterdam, The Netherlands

In a conversation with Yali, a New Guinean native, Jared Diamond was asked why white people had developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea instead of vice versa. Following on from this question the author asked himself a more underlying question: Why did history unfold differently on different continents? Diamond has not been the first to attempt to answer this question but his explanations from an evolutionary biological perspective are relatively novel.
History followed different courses for different people not because of biological differences, Diamond very adamantly claims, but because of the difference in environment. Environmental differences were inextricably linked to a difference in available wild plants and animal species, in the rates of migration and diffusion and the accessibility of the area (technological advances reached isolated areas at a later stage). The move from hunter- gatherer to sedentary farming and the increased production of food allowed denser populations to survive and have more time to invent ways of expanding and making life's necessities easier to come by. And so guns, germs and steel were developed proving to be the essential weapons of victory of one continent over the other.
The five major domesticated animals - cow, sheep, goat, pig and horse - were domesticated at an early stage and share specific characteristics that make it possible for them to be domesticated, such as diet, growth rate, easy breeding, calm nature and a herd instinct. The Fertile Crescent of Eurasia, had the most to offer in wild plants and domesticable animals due to the ideal climate and the fertile grounds this generated in the area. The earliest crops provided essential ingredients for a balanced diet for a growing community. In addition Diamond suggests that the people themselves were also open to change, they may have also faced less competition from neighbouring hunter- gatherers. Gradually farming became an established success and soon spread westwards from the Fertile Crescent where the day length and seasonal variation remained the same.
In his epilogue Diamond suggests points for further research, why China, the Fertile Crescent or India do not dominate now. He points out that the Fertile Crescent lost its head start after a while, there were no more compelling geographic advantages, large areas of the Fertile Crescent are now desert. But the remaining affluent parts of Europe owe their success to the Fertile Crescent.
China was also one of the first centres of plant and animal domestication but the climatic and ecological differences between north and south, despite being unified in language and culture, are so great that unification in farming was not possible. Centralized decision making came as a result of unification and this proved to be a burden on further expansion. In the example of the whole of China banning its fleet Diamond demonstrates how China lost out in becoming a dominating world power. Europe, on the other hand, has always been fragmented. Therefore the social and economic benefits of innovations force neighbouring countries to adapt otherwise there is a chance that they fall behind.
Diamond categorizes the present natives of Africa into five basic groups - whites, blacks, Pygmies, Khoisan and Madagascans - who represent the diversity in history and geography of the continent of Africa. The whites occupy the north. The Madagascans originate from Southeast Asia. Originally both the Khoisan and Pygmies inhabited much larger areas, however, they and their territories were engulfed by black Bantu farmers. The Bantu farmers, originating from Cameroon and Nigeria, owe their strength to the crops that spread from the Fertile Crescent. The remaining Khoisan and Pygmy people now hide themselves in corners of Africa unsuitable for farming.
The islands of and around Indonesia first had an indigenous population of hunter-gatherers who were eventually driven off, killed, infected with disease or assimilated by invading farmers, originating from South China. New Guinea managed to avoid this fate. Its climate resembled that of the Fertile Crescent and there was already a system of food production in progress in the highlands. However, there were some differences with Eurasia. New Guinean produce had little protein, the highland population was restricted to a limited available area, the mid-montane zone was the sole zone suitable for intensive food production, and there is geographic isolation.
The mainland of Australia, on the other hand, was a difficult continent to cultivate being the driest, climatically unpredictable, most infertile and biologically most impoverished continent. Possibilities for domestication, in the way of large native mammals, became extinct as soon as man set foot in Australia.
America also had no big mammals to domesticate and less available nutritional wild plants, as a result the larger fraction of America was occupied by hunter-gatherers. And the few domesticated animals and crops they did have were obstructed from getting to other parts of the continent by geographic and ecological barriers. The first attempts to colonize America came from Norway across the Bering Strait and were unsuccessful. The second attempt succeeded. One crucial event, Diamond describes in detail, involved the Spanish victory over the Inca emperor Atahuallpa. The Spaniard Pizarro was able to capture Atahuallpa because of three crucial ingredients: superior weapons (guns), advances in technology allowing him, among other things, to sail to America (steel), and small pox (germs) that killed off the previous Inca emperor and many others.
Europeans were the carriers of many diseases. With the rise of agriculture and sedentary living came the dense populations allowing the spread of microbes that originally thrived on herds of cattle and later came to thrive on crowds of people.
Another important feature of western society is literacy that transmits knowledge and information. History s oldest writing system is that of the Sumerian cuneiform, originating in the Fertile Crescent and on which modern European languages are based. It was first used to keep records and later became a help in accounting and technology. Other societies either learned to write by blueprint copying or idea diffusion. Hunter-gatherers never adopted writing; there would have been no time, resources or use for it in a society forever on the move.
Guns and steel came about thanks to a sedentary lifestyle making it possible for humans to accumulate non- portable possessions and free time to invent. Some western inventions arose by chance; there was no initial demand for a steam engine, a spinning jenny or a typewriter. Once the economic and social advantages were evident the ideas soon caught on from the one invention to the next. And the inventors themselves were no geniuses, they had had their predecessors.


Jared M. Diamond (1997) Guns, Germs, and Steel. The Fates of Human Societies. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-03891-2 (Hdbk) US$27.50 CAN$35.00 UK£19.45. Random House / Vintage Pbk: ISBN 0-09-930278-0 UK£8.99 Pp. 480.

by J. PHILIPPE RUSHTON, Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario N6A 5C2, Canada

In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond joins the debate over racial differences in IQ. In a few ex cathedra pronouncements, Diamond brands the genetic argument "racist" (pp. 19-22), declares Herrnstein and Murray's (1994) The Bell Curve "notorious" (p. 431), and states: "The objection to such racist explanations is not just that they are loathsome but also that they are wrong" (p. 19). He summarises his solution to one of philosophy and social science's most enduring questions in one credal sentence: "History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among people's environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves" (p. 25).
The book grew out of an attempt to answer "Yali's question." Yali, a New Guinea native, allegedly asked Diamond, an evolutionary biologist, "Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?" "Cargo" refers to all that technology - airplanes, guns, steel axes - European whites brought to New Guinea, whose dark-skinned inhabitants were still using stone tools. Diamond's answer, is that the peoples of the Eurasian continent were environmentally rather than biologically advantaged. They had the good fortune to have lived in centrally located homelands that were oriented along an east-west axis, thereby allowing ready diffusion of their abundant supply of domesticable animals, plants, and of cultural innovations.
According to Diamond's reckoning, there are only 148 species of large, wild creatures that can be tamed (and of these only 14 species have made it to the farm). In the plant realm, only several hundred of 200,000 species can yield good protein. The ancestors of these mammals and plants - which include pigs, barley, and rice - just happened to be in the Fertile Crescent and China. Moreover, only the Eurasian continent has an east-west axis allowing diffusion of plants, animals, and people across similar, somewhat Mediterranean-style climate and terrain. The north-south axis of Africa and America inhibited diffusion due to severe changes in climate. For example, the tropical jungle of central America effectively stopped the southward migration of domestic corn from Mexico and the northward migration of the domestic llama from Peru. Five thousand years after llamas had been domesticated in the Andes, the Maya, Aztecs, and all the other native societies of Mexico remained without pack animals. Similarly, the Saharan desert and tropical rainforests of Africa impeded the southward spread of technology from the Fertile Crescent of the Middle-East.
Thus, agriculturally wealthy Eurasians had a long head start in developing a surplus population with a division of labor that enabled the tools of civilization to arise. Agricultural settlements led small bands of nomadic hunter- gatherers to coalesce into village-based tribes. These grew into chiefdoms comprising thousands of people from many villages. Chiefdoms led conflict-mediating laws to be codified. Ruling classes and elites emerged to mobilize citizens and their resources to wage war, build public works, and increase political power. Finally, the state arose and with it the large populations and technological developments including political organizations that produced fleets of soldiers engaging in transoceanic conquest.
Astonishing, for example, is how Diamond describes the case of the island of Madagascar. It was colonized around 500 A.D. (about the same time as Hawaii) by an Austronesian-language people (similar to Polynesians) from Borneo, some 4,000 miles across the Indian Ocean, rather than by East Africans living only 250 miles away. Diamond's answer (again) is that conquerors had better homelands rather than better brains. The immediate reason why Austronesians crossed the Indian Ocean was because they invented ocean-going canoes. They did this by outrigging dugouts, to stop them from capsizing, by lashing two smaller logs parallel to the hull and several feet from it, one on each side, connected to the hull by poles, with sails added later.
According to Diamond, the underlying explanation of why the Austronesians were more inventive than Africans and developed a technology that Africans did not dream of is that they were colonizing farmers originating in south China where they had achieved a head start through domesticating pigs, chickens, dogs, and rice. They simply loaded their domesticated products into their ocean-going canoes and moved on to replace the original tropical southeast Asians (possibly hunter-gathering Negritoes). The Austronesian expansion began in Taiwan (3,500 B.C.), then moved to the Philippines (3,000 B.C.), Indonesia (2,000 B.C.), New Zealand (1,000 A.D.) and the Pacific Islands (500 A.D.).

Data Unexplained:
As a card-carrying "race-realist" (Rushton, 1995), I should register my objection to Diamond's claim that Guns, Germs, and Steel is a good faith effort to solve one of the most controversial and enduring controversies in the history of philosophy and social science. However well written, however encyclopedic in scope, and however much truth there may be in this book about 10,000 years of human history, Diamond does not give his readers the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In fact, he gives them much less. Inexcusably for an evolutionary biologist, Diamond fails to inform his readers that it is different environments that cause, via natural selection, biological differences among populations. All of the Eurasian developments he described created positive feedback loops selecting for increased intelligence and various personality traits (e.g., altruism, rule-following, etc.).
Racial differences in brain size and IQ map very closely to the same cultural histories Diamond explains. Although Diamond dismisses such research as "loathsome", he fails to tell his readers what, if anything, might be scientifically wrong with any of it. One hundred years of research has established that East Asians and Europeans average higher IQs than do Africans. East Asians, measured in North America and in Pacific Rim countries, typically average IQs in the range of 101 to 111. Caucasoid populations in North America, Europe, and Australasia typically average IQs from 85 to 115 with an overall mean of 100. African populations living south of the Sahara, in North America, in the Caribbean, and in Britain typically have mean IQs from 70 to 90.
Discoveries using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which creates a three-dimensional image of the living brain, have shown a strong positive correlation (.44) between brain size and IQ (see Rushton & Ankney, 1996, for a review). And there is more. The National Collaborative Perinatal Project on 53,000 children by Sarah Broman and her colleagues, showed that head perimeter at birth significantly predicts head perimeter at 7 years - and head perimeter at seven years predicts IQ. It also shows that Asian children average a larger head perimeter at birth than do White children who average a larger head perimeter than do Black children.
Racial differences in brain size have been established using a variety of modern methods. Using endocranial volume, for example, Beals et al. (1984, p. 307, Table 5) analyzed about 20,000 skulls from around the world. East Asians averaged 1,415 cm3 , Europeans averaged 1,362 cm3, and Africans averaged 1,268 cm3. Using external head measures to calculate cranial capacities, Rushton (1992) analyzed a stratified random sample of 6,325 U.S. Army personnel measured in 1988 for fitting helmets and found that Asian Americans averaged 1,416 cm3, European Americans 1,380 cm3, and African Americans 1,359 cm3. Finally, a recent MRI study found that people of African and Caribbean background averaged a smaller brain volume than did those of European background (again see Rushton & Ankney, 1996, for review).
As discussed in Herrnstein and Murray's (1994) The Bell Curve, and Rushton's (1995) Race, Evolution, and Behavior, the heritability of intelligence is now well established from numerous adoption, twin, and family studies. Particularly noteworthy are the genetic contributions of around 80% found in adult twins reared apart. And most transracial adoption studies provide evidence for the heritability of racial differences in IQ. For instance, Korean and Vietnamese children adopted into white American and white Belgian homes were examined in studies by E.A. Clark and J. Hanisee, by M. Frydman and R. Lynn, and by M. Winick et al. Many had been hospitalized for malnutrition. But they went on to develop IQs ten or more points higher than their adoptive national norms. By contrast, the famous Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study marked black/white differences emerged by age 17 even though the black children had been reared in white middle-class families (Weinberg, Scarr & Waldman, 1992).
Although Diamond (pp. 38-40) acknowledges the accumulating evidence in favor of the "Out-of-Africa" theory of human origins that Homo sapiens arose in Africa 200,000 years ago, expanded beyond Africa in an African/non-African split about 110,000 years ago, and then migrated east in a European/East Asian split about 40,000 years ago, he refuses to acknowledge any relationship between this evolutionary sequence and the parallel ranking of Africans, Europeans, and East Asians in brain size and other behavioral traits. Nor does he tell his readers that evolutionary selection pressures were different in the hot savanna where Africans evolved than in the cold Arctic where East Asians evolved.
In recent years, the equalitarian dogma has been hit hard by some bad karma. In the wake of the success of The Bell Curve and other recent books about race (including my own) to provide race-realist answers to the question of differential group achievement, there has been an intense effort to get the previously tabooed toothpaste back in the tube. It is in such times that Diamond provides an answer that, just coincidentally, shores up the walls of the politically correct fortress, when they are being threateningly undermined by scientific research.

This review is an abridged version of a review-essay published in the Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems, JAI Press.


Beals, K. L., Smith, C. L. & Dodd, S. M. (1984). Brain size, cranial morphology, climate, and time machines. Current Anthropology, 25, 301-330.
Herrnstein, R. J., & Murray, C. (1994). The bell curve. New York: Free Press.
Rushton, J. P. (1995). Race, evolution, and behavior. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.
Rushton, J. P. & Ankney, C. D. (1996). Brain size and cognitive ability: Correlations with age, sex, social class and race. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 3, 19-34.
Weinberg, R. A., Scarr, S., & Waldman, I. D. (1992). The Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study: A follow-up of IQ test performance at adolescence. Intelligence, 16, 117-135.


Jeffry A. Simpson & Douglas T. Kenrick (Eds.) (1997) Evolutionary Social Psychology. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. ISBN 0-8058-1905-3 (Hdbk) US$79.95 UK£63.95 ISBN 0-8058-2420-0 (Pbk) US$39.95 UK£31.95 Pp. x + 424.

by SALLY WALTERS, Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, V5A 1S6, Canada

Simpson and Kenrick's (1997) edited volume Evolutionary Social Psychology is an essential read for anyone interested in the interface between evolutionary theory and current social psychology. It is organized into general sections on Social Perception, Interpersonal Attraction, Pair Bonding and Mating Strategies, Kinship and Social Relations, and Groups and Group Selection. There is a nice balance between theory and data among individual chapters, and one has the sense that while many evolutionary psychologists may not define themselves as social psychologists per se, clearly, evolutionary social psychology is a vibrant, active, and exciting field of research.
The book's introductory chapter by the editors describes in compelling detail what evolutionary theory has to offer social psychology. This chapter provides an excellent introduction to the entire enterprise; if this chapter was widely disseminated, a lot of social psychologists might rethink what theories provide the most compelling predictions of social behavior. The editors clearly and cogently review how evolutionary theory may unify previously piecemeal findings about the richness of human social experience. This is not just preaching from the pulpit either; the editors have drawn together chapters from a varied group of researchers that show concretely and specifically why going beyond proximate explanations provides a greater understanding of human social life. The discussion in the introduction of the misconceptions in psychology about the use of evolutionary theory justifies the need for this book by itself. One only has to skim through recent social psychology texts to see that evolution is seldom mentioned, and if it is, it seems to be regarded as either a speculatory theory with little application to humans, or as a theory of genetic determinism.
The volume is nicely bookended with Buss's concluding chapter on some of the broad themes underlying the book, with suggestions for future research directions. Buss's chapter highlights the energy and promise in evolutionary social psychology research.
The section on Social Perception contains three chapters: Krebs and Denton's discussion of the evolution of biases in social cognition shows systematic ways in which we categorize social information about ourselves and others; Springer and Berry's chapter contains both suggestions for potential problems in the search for human universals and guidelines for using evolutionary theory in understanding social perception; and Shackelford s discussion of the domain specificity of relationship betrayal is an interesting view both on the nature of evolved psychological mechanisms and on a heretofore somewhat neglected aspect of relationships.
In the Interpersonal Attraction section, Cunningham, Druen and Barbee's chapter on physical appearance as a set of fitness indicators suggests how trade-offs between appearance features operate in the management of multiple goals. The chapter by Graziano, Jensen-Campbell, Todd, and Finch discusses women's preferences for and reactions to dominance and pro-social behaviour in men.
Three chapters comprise the section on Pair Bonding and Mating Strategies. Gangestad and Thornhill s discussion of the role of developmental stability in sexual selection reviews some of the more intriguing recent human research on fluctuating asymmetry; Miller and Fishkin discuss pair-bonding in humans, including an interesting analysis of attachment patterns and mating preferences; Zeifman and Hazan's chapter continues the theme of attachment within a lifelong developmental perspective.
The section on Kinship and Social Relations opens with Daly, Salmon and Wilson's highly readable chapter on the neglect in social psychology studies of the most fundamental of social relationships - those between kin. Also in this section is Haslam's chapter on several possible relational models governing social relations in primates.
Finally, the section on Groups and Group Selection is likely to challenge the viewpoint of mainstream evolutionary researchers with chapters by Caporael and Baron, and Sloan Wilson on natural selection as a process that occurs at multiple levels, including groups.
This book would be appropriate for senior undergraduate courses and graduate seminars. Anyone using evolutionary theory in psychological research is likely to be interested in it, and it is strongly recommended reading for social psychologists in particular. As with any edited volume, the chapters vary somewhat in readability and coherence. Particularly well written and enjoyable are those by Krebs and Denton, and Daly, Salmon and Wilson.
As Buss suggests, the field of evolutionary psychology has matured in its research design, theory generation and as a body of data. Human evolutionary history is explicitly social, and this volume makes clear the necessity of investigating how and why we evolved to live and think in this social world. In an admittedly nowhere near exhaustive look at some social psychology texts, sociobiology references from the 1980s are prominent in the few texts even to mention evolution, but more recent work in evolutionary psychology or evolutionary theory in general seem to have had no impact whatever. Thus, it is to be hoped that social psychologists come across this important edited volume, as it has the potential both to inform and to stimulate a plethora of research ideas.

Lucio's Request

We have the pleasure to inform you that we are founding a Center for the Study of Darwinism, and forming our own library. We would like to request to all of you who are interested in helping us to send reprints of your papers, covering sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, evolution, ethology, anthropology or any other topic of interest to be included in our files. All reprints should be sent to the following address: Dr. Lucio Ferreira Alves, Rua Conde de Bonfim 383 apt 603, CEP 20520-051 - Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Thanks for your attention and help.

ESS Year 2000 Conference

Please see page 2 of this Newsletter for important information on the ESS Year 2000 Conference. Do not forget to visit the ESS website regularly for the latest information:

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* to stop distribution of the paper version of this Newsletter and make it permanently available in electronic format on the ESS website; and
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