E S S
NEWSLETTER Nr. 53
Editor and ESS Secretariate: Johan M.G. van der Dennen, Center for
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: MRoele@Kunstweb.nl
ISSN: 0929-0206. Published by Origin Press, Groningen, The
FINAL ESS NEWSLETTER
This is - alas - the last ESS Newsletter. ESS is now officially in liquidation. During the last
business meeting of the ESS in Washington DC, on August 31, 2000, the members present
almost unanimously in favor of a merger with our sister organization the International Society
Human Ethology (ISHE) - a bare necessity for the continuation of our society, as explained by
ESS treasurer Vincent Falger in the ESS Newsletter Nr. 52 (June 2000) and on the ESS
Not everything has to be viewed, in retrospect, through the spectacles of dolorous
during this memorable business meeting, however, because some 20 new ESS members were
welcomed, and Edward O. Wilson, the founding father of sociobiology, received honorable
membership from the ESS Board (see photo by Jim Brody on page 20). The last more or less
independent meeting of the ESS celebrated the 25th birthday of sociobiology (Wilson's
opus magnum was first published in 1975), and was dedicated to the
comparative reception of sociobiology across a number of disciplines and countries. We like
thank the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences (APLS), and in particular its retreating
secretary and organizer Gary Johnson, for its hospitality during our joint meeting.
Anticipating the ESS/ISHE merger, our treasurer did not charge membership fee this
year. Membership fee of ISHE is about the same as the ESS fee ($25), and ISHE offers
substantial reductions for multiple-year memberships ($60 for three years or $25/3 yrs for
students and emeriti). The next year the ISHE treasurer, Dori LeCroy, will automatically
the members to pay their 2001 fees. All ESS members have to decide for themselves whether
they accept ISHE membership or not. Those who are members of both societies already will
be charged a double fee. I would recommend ESS members who are not yet ISHE members to
apply in person at http://evolution.humb.univie.ac.at/ishe.html
The ESS Newsletter and the Human Ethology Bulletin (HEB), the ISHE Newsletter, will
merge, and the September and December issues of the HEB will be mailed to the ESS
to get acquainted. The December issue of the HEB will officially announce the ESS/ISHE
and cordially welcome the new members. The ESS and ISHE websites will also merge
Finally, I like to thank all officers of the ESS, Peter Meyer, Vincent Falger, Marina
Butovskaya, and Marcel Roele, for their efforts on behalf of our dear society, and I would like
express my special gratitude to Jan Wind, who was the founder and long-term secretary and
mentor of the society, and who tragically died on October 30, 1995.
Johan M.G. van der Dennen
Secretary of the European Sociobiological Society
President-Elect of the International Society for Human Ethology
Joseph Lopreato & Timothy Crippen (1999) Crisis in Sociology: The Need for
Darwin. New Brunswick, NJ & London: Transaction. ISBN 1-56000-398-7
(Hdbk) US$39.95 Pp. xiv + 329.
by CHRISTOPHER R. BADCOCK, Department of Sociology, London School of
Economics, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, England.
Joseph Lopreato's name will be familiar to anyone who has done their human sociobiology
homework from his monumental Human Nature & Biocultural
Evolution of 1984. Quite apart from its standing as an evolutionary treatise, this
book was almost unique in applying sociological and biological expertise in equal measures to
deepest problem of evolutionary explanation: human culture. In retrospect, the book was far
ahead of its time, and has never been surpassed as a synthesis of sociology and
Now, writing with a fellow sociologist, Timothy Crippen, Lopreato has returned to the issue
that his great work of fifteen years ago posed more provocatively than any other but never
directly confronted: what if anything can be done to reconcile modern sociology with the
revolution in biology associated with modern Darwinism and evolutionary genetics?
Lopreato and Crippen begin with a review of 'The Early Promise' of founding fathers such as
Comte, Marx, Durkheim and Spencer. As in the earlier work, Emile Durkheim is given credit
for anticipating modern evolutionary insights, and in doing so Lopreato and Crippen open up
completely new perspective on this founding father of sociology. In the new book Durkheim's
insights into organic solidarity in particular are singled out and related to Robert Trivers's
of reciprocal altruism. Spencer was of course a founding father of both sociology and
but also a major contributor to 'that intellectual pestilence, Social Darwinism.' However,
Lopreato and Crippen are as balanced and as objective in their treatment of Spencer as they
all the founding fathers, and have many new and interesting things to say about all of
What will probably strike many readers as most notable about a book by two sociologists is
courage, candour and clarity with which they describe the current sorry state of the subject.
example, Lopreato and Crippen openly admit that "Nobody today knows what sociological
is, or even if there is any such thing at all... With little exception, what we call sociology
is, on the one hand, an awful extravagance of ideological debates - a forest of words - that go
the name of theory and, on the other, a miscellany of findings uninformed by theory and
such quantity of trivia that even sociologists find the whole mortifying."
Going deeper into the crisis, the authors state that "Sociology will never get anywhere but
farther out of the scientific course as long as it adheres to the banality that the fundamental
of behavior resides exclusively in the immediate influence of culture and social structure."
point out that "Despite the extraordinarily intense focus on ethnic prejudice and conflict in
American sociology, no one in sociology even imagined that, as part of the turmoil in Eastern
Europe, the Balkan volcano would explode and the republics of the old Yugoslavia proceed to
erupt in genocidal hostilities." Lopreato and Crippen candidly comment that "at present
offers a shallow and distorted view of human nature that prevents it from understanding the
world and thus from the likelihood of demonstrating its utility to society."
In the view of Lopreato and Crippen, the next twenty-five years will show that "the survival
sociology depends very much on whether the profession can cope with the extraordinary
revolution now taking place in evolutionary biology". Part 2 of the book introduces readers to
that revolution with by far the best summary of modern Darwinism that those with a social
science background could currently find. Indeed, Lopreato and Crippen show that two
sociologists can rival the best biologists in the depth and insightfulness of their grasp of
evolutionary thinking. They are particularly good on natural selection and the debate on
punctuated equilibrium, but even those with expert knowledge of the field will find things to
learn from their thoughtful and original analysis.
Echoing Dobzhansky, Lopreato and Crippen comment that "little in sociology makes lasting
sense except in the light of modern evolutionary theory," and the third and final part of the
brilliantly illustrates the point with "Select Adaptations and Applications". The first of these is
the issue of sex differences and their significance for sex roles, mating preferences, and
behaviour in general. Here two sociologists seem to put the matter better - and certainly more
succinctly - than the evolutionary psychologists do, and certainly seem less apologetic about
whole issue. They castigate sociological writing on the subject as "Social Constructivism Run
Amok" and give an excellent summary of the available data on sex-role determination.
A chapter on divorce, marriage and parenting presents a masterly synthesis of sociological and
biological findings that no serious student of these subjects can afford to avoid. A section on
cohabitation is particularly valuable for its clarity, objectivity and courage in pointing out that
"cohabitation appears to do greater harm to the reproductive, emotional, and possibly
well-being of women than that of men." Another chapter deals with the biological
of Social Stratification, and the book ends with a consideration of the decisive contribution
evolution can make to understanding ethnicity and culture. "Science," conclude Lopreato and
Crippen, "is the art of 'regressing' the why - inquiring into the more enduring causes of
phenomena. The environmental conditions that trigger ethnic clashes vary considerably from
to time and place to place. They too are an important part of scientific explanation. But to
transcend the level of mere historical description, they must be anchored to more constant
of explanation. These refer to the evolutionary forces that confronted our distant
Of course, no single book can cover everything, and - as I am sure both Lopreato and
would be the first to admit - there are some additions that would spring to the mind of any
well-informed reader. For example, however vacuous sociological theory may have become,
into the evolution of co-operation found in work on iterated prisoner's dilemma have gone a
way to providing a new, mathematically-secure basis for answering one of the most
of all sociological questions: why do people co-operate when it is normally more rewarding to
selfishly? Most sociologists seem blissfully unaware that such issues are now effectively
and that any sociological theory that ignores these findings is simply out of date and out of
But by any standards, this is an outstanding and timely book, superbly written, faultlessly
argued and unsurpassably well-informed. Many sociologists will probably do their best to
it, but Darwinism is now so widely seen as the basis of behavioural science that Lopreato and
Crippen are assured of a place in the future. Whether sociology will have one remains to be
Kevin MacDonald (1998) Separation and Its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary
Theory of Anti-Semitism. Westport, CT: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-94870-6 (Hdbk)
US$65.00, UK£51.95 Pp. x + 326.
by RICHARD MACHALEK, Department of Sociology, University of Wyoming,
Laramie, WY 82071-3293, U.S.A.
Kevin MacDonald, Professor of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach,
to explain anti-Semitism at the levels of both proximate and ultimate causation. He uses
identity theory" to isolate proximate causes and neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory to identify
ultimate causes. Central to his explanation is the notion that Judaism is a "group evolutionary
strategy" that promotes both high levels of intragroup cooperation among Jews as well as
conflict between Jews and gentiles who, in turn, evolve "reactive" counter-strategies, a key
component of which is anti-Semitism. By so doing, MacDonald argues that causal processes
both the social psychological and evolutionary levels are implicated in generating and
anti-Semitism. Central to his argument is the thesis that anti-Semitism is a response to
the "group evolutionary strategy" of Judaism itself. Specifically, MacDonald argues that
anti-Semitism is an expression of a gentile "group evolutionary strategy"
that is elicited by the cultural and genetic separatist forces that define the history of Judaism.
such, MacDonald sees Judaism and anti-Semitism as "mirror image" group evolutionary
strategies which, once activated, sustain each other via various proximate mechanisms
in social identity theory (e.g., reciprocal negative stereotyping).
MacDonald tries to give social identity theory more explanatory bite by shoring it up with
neo-Darwinian science. Having identified various proximate social psychological mechanisms
implicated in anti-Semitism, MacDonald then contends that both these mechanisms and the
empirical patterns they produce are "consistent with" key explanatory mechanisms featured in
evolutionary theory. In that regard, he sees numerous aspects of the dynamics linking Judaism
and anti-Semitism as consistent with what one would predict using explanatory principles
kin recognition, group selection, altruism, culturally and genetically based nepotism,
and somatic competition, deception and self-deception, moralistic aggression, and other
familiar to neo-Darwinian scientists and scholars. Part of his explanation hinges on his belief
Jews excel in social, cultural, economic, and political competition with gentiles because of an
asymmetry in resource holding potential (RHP) between Jews and gentiles. MacDonald
that mating rules prescribed by Jewish culture have functioned effectively as a "eugenic
that has bestowed higher intelligence and resource acquisition capabilities on Jewish
than those of their non-Jewish competitors. In MacDonald's view, genes and culture
to give Jewish populations a competitive edge in situations involving real conflicts of interest.
Thus, MacDonald argues that the competitive success of Judaism as a "group evolutionary
strategy" inadvertently helps generate "mirror image" gentile strategies that oppose it.
The bulk of Macdonald's book, especially chapters 2-6, is devoted to a comprehensive and
detailed description of specific features of anti-Semitism (key themes) in different societies
historical periods (the late Roman empire; the medieval Western world, especially the Spanish
Inquisition; and Nazi Germany). Common themes expressed by anti-Semites include
that (1) Jews resist assimilation into their host societies and persist in being separatist and
"clannish," (2) Jews see themselves as "racially" superior to non-Jews, (3) Jews take unfair
advantage of non-Jews in business transactions and are disproportionately influential in
institutions, (4) Jews serve the interests of elites who exploit non-Jews in the lower strata of
society, (5) Jews are misanthropic, (6) Jews often come to dominate the cultures of their host
societies, (7) Jews are disloyal to their host societies, and (8) Jews wield excessive political
power. MacDonald's review of these themes is exhaustive, detailed, and historically
comprehensive. He contends that social identity theory explains the social psychological
processes that generate these themes and make them plausible to anti-Semites. And in
MacDonald's view, the characteristics of Judaism as a "group evolutionary strategy,"
its mechanisms of cultural and genetic separatism, are themselves precipitants of these and
In his three case studies of anti-Semitism (the late Roman empire, the medieval West, and
Germany), MacDonald emphasizes several themes. First, anti-Semitism is a response to
competition over economic (and occasionally reproductive) resources. As such, MacDonald
it as a response to real conflicts of interest (although according to social identity theory, real
conflicts of interest are not necessary to generate anti-Semitism). And in all three cases, the
gentiles' response to the perceived threats posed by Judaism resulted in a crystallization of
"reactive" gentile groups strategies: corporate Catholicism in the Roman empire, the reactive
racism of the Iberian Inquisition, and National Socialism in German between 1933-1945. In
three cases, MacDonald argues, these reactive "group evolutionary strategies" represent
images" of Judaism in terms of features such as their cohesiveness, their subordination of the
individual to the group, their propagation of negative stereotypes of out-group members, and
their ideologies of in-group superiority.
Chapters 6-8 are devoted to explaining how Jews have coped with the threats posed by
anti-Semitism, and MacDonald's explanation of these coping efforts is framed in terms of
from evolutionary theory. In his view, evolutionary thinking about strategy and
dynamics, the adaptive benefits conferred by flexible ideologies, and the psychology of
and self-deception all help explain Jewish strategic responses to the threats posed by
anti-Semitism. In chapter 6, MacDonald attributes the success with which Jews have coped
varying forms of anti-Semitism under diverse social circumstances to the flexibility of their
strategies. Among these strategies, "crypsis" looms large. An example is the crypto-Judaism
the "New Christians" in Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition. MacDonald sees Reform
Judaism as a form of "semi-cryptic" Judaism, an expression that minimized the emphasis on
group structure and cohesion and represented itself as primarily a matter of belief and faith,
thereby helping to neutralize the perceived threat of Judaism as an alien nation within its host
societies. MacDonald also points to the effectiveness with which Jews have been able to
political processes such as immigration policy, which he attributes to the "highly organized,
highly intelligent, and politically astute" nature of Jews "as a group" and their ability "to
command a high level of financial, political, and intellectual resources in pursuing their group
goals" (p. 189). Another strategy MacDonald identifies involves the advocacy by Jews of
universal human rights and a tendency to emphasize the coincidence of their rights with those
non-Jews. Finally, MacDonald observes that members of Jewish communities have long been
careful to try to suppress behaviors of their members that gentiles might find offensive. He
the Kehilla organization as an example of this strategy.
In chapter 7, MacDonald documents the adaptive advantages conferred by Jewish ideologies
promoting the interests of the Jewish community. All ideologies promote favorable images of
their groups to outsiders and help persuade in-group members of the righteousness of their
and Judaism is no exception. In MacDonald's view, much Jewish history functions in just
ideological fashion. A key theme in such ideological constructions is the "light of the nations"
motif, a theme that identifies Judaism as the moral and ethical exemplar for humanity. While
MacDonald is emphatic to identify the distorting and self-serving nature of such Jewish
ideologies, it hardly seems necessary to note that this is a species-typical trait that can be
illustrated by almost any human group. Many human groups exhibit spectacular cultural and
ideological resourcefulness in this regard, and there is no reason to expect the Jewish
to be any less ideologically imaginative than any other human group.
In that MacDonald believes that Jews are gifted with exceptional intelligence, it is not
surprising to see him raise the question of how they could believe what he describes as the
distortions inherent in their own ideologies. His answer to this quandary is that Jews, like
humans everywhere, are saved from dissonance by the evolved psychology of self-deception,
theme of chapter 8. Drawing upon the thinking of evolutionists such as Robert Trivers,
MacDonald suggests that the evolved capacity of self-deception enables Jews to deceive
themselves in a manner that protects them from evidence about the objective realities of their
their position in societies, thereby enabling them to support ideologies that advance their
by distorting reality. Only because of their capacity for self-deception, says MacDonald, can
believe their own rhetoric about the "light of the world" thesis, deny their economic and
social success, and fail to acknowledge their political efficacy.
Finally, MacDonald concludes his book with chapter 9 in which he claims that Judaism, as
both a cultural and genetic system, is continuing to succeed as a "group evolutionary
Even solvents like intermarriage cannot destroy Judaism by the threat of assimilation. Rather,
MacDonald argues that Judaism, as a "group evolutionary strategy," is quite adaptable to
societal conditions, thereby enabling it to withstand threats and seize opportunities.
MacDonald's book provides a detailed and comprehensive account of the long and complex
history of anti-Semitism and the dramatic social and cultural dynamics expressed in this
His use of social identity theory and research to explain the ironies and tragedies of interaction
between Jews and gentiles offers interesting insights into the proximate causes that may help
generate and sustain anti-Semitism, whenever and wherever it is found. Many of the ideas
MacDonald derives from social identity theory will be familiar to sociologists knowledgeable
with the theoretical thinking of Georg Simmel and, more recently, Lewis Coser. Both Simmel
and Coser offered numerous propositions about the nature, causes and "functions" of social
conflict that bear directly on the sorts of Jewish-gentile social dynamics that MacDonald
and his analysis of these dynamics could profit from a review of this tradition of sociological
analysis. While MacDonald put social identity theory to good use in his effort to identify the
proximate social causes and consequences of anti-Semitism, the theoretical tradition of
functionalism" in sociology might provide additional analytical insights relevant to this
I was more disappointed with the strictly evolutionary analysis that MacDonald offered. For
example, the complex and subtle topic of group selection gets a half-dozen or so pages of
discussion toward the end of the first chapter, but I think more is needed on this topic given
centrality of the idea of a "group evolutionary strategy" to MacDonald's analysis and the lack
sophistication of most "standard social science model" researchers on the levels of selection
issue. In fact, it never became clear to me if MacDonald's notion of a "group evolutionary
strategy" requires group selection logic or if such a strategy could be attributed to individual
gene) level selection. While his earlier book (A People That Shall Dwell
Alone, 1994) devotes more attention to this topic, if Separation and Its
Discontents is designed to stand alone, then the issue needed further discussion and
clarification in this volume as well.
A good deal of MacDonald's evolutionary analysis involves describing various empirical
patterns associated with anti-Semitism and then explaining how these patterns are "consistent
with" this or that principle drawn from evolutionary theory. Although MacDonald does a good
job of showing how social identity theory and evolutionary theory are in many ways
"compatible," this sort of approach does not yield the satisfaction that comes with the
and statement of formal hypotheses that are at least testable in
principle. While MacDonald routinely frames his interpretation of historical
patterns and cultural data in terms of various evolutionary principles or mechanisms (e.g.,
ideologies express the adaptive human capacity for self-deception), this is not the same as
deriving formal hypotheses that can be pitted against alternative hypotheses, even if data for
adjudicating the competition are not currently available. While I do not fault MacDonald for
failing to execute an analysis he never intended to conduct, analyses that "explain"
only by showing their compatibility with a given principle come perilously close to leaving us
with little more than "just so stories."
MacDonald develops a theory from which could be derived formal explanatory principles
(propositions) that could be applied to other separatist groups such as the Church of Jesus
of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) or perhaps Hutterites, the Amish, or even Native Americans
who live on reservations. A comparative analysis of this sort could give us greater confidence
the explanatory power of the proximate mechanisms that MacDonald has identified in relation
the case of anti-Semitism. It would enable us to make predictions and test them, thereby
us appreciably beyond the type of analysis that can only claim the consistency between an
empirical pattern and an explanatory principle.
Finally, it is worth devoting a bit of attention to some of the ideological perils and pitfalls
associated with explanations that try to explain how the traits and behaviors of victims can
contribute to their own victimization, an issue that is by no means unique to the phenomenon
anti-Semitism. As MacDonald sees it, Judaism as a "group evolutionary strategy" has
rich somatic and reproductive benefits on Jewish populations while, simultaneously, earning
opprobrium, hostility, and persecution. To some critics, MacDonald's analysis will appear to
a classic example of "blaming the victim," an expression popularized by William Ryan's book
(1976) by the same title. To "blame the victim," of course, is to misattribute the causes of a
victim's human-inflicted suffering to the victim him/herself rather than to pin the blame on the
perpetrator of the crime, "where it belongs." MacDonald himself is keenly aware of his
vulnerability to this sort of criticism, and, in fact, he attempts to defend himself in the preface
viii) by disavowing that he is launching either "personal or ethnic attacks" in his book.
The charge of "blaming the victim," however, suggests a related idea that has a fairly old
pedigree in contemporary criminology: the idea of a "victim precipitated crime" (von Hentig
1948, Wolfgang 1958). The notion of a victim precipitated crime was developed to explain
certain types of homicide wherein the victim behaved in manner so as to elicit an assault by
his/her murderer. Often, the murder is a product of retaliation. No "blame" is assigned in this
type of explanation. Rather, a sequence of behaviors and counter-behaviors that result in a
homicide is identified. Such crimes are not uncommon, and criminologists estimate that from
25% to 50% of homicides in the U.S. may be of this variety.
The notion of victim precipitated crime could be interpreted by critics as simply another
of "victim blaming." However, this does not give criminologists license to ignore the
possibility that the traits or behaviors of victims themselves may, in certain circumstances,
contribute to the causation of the very crimes from which they suffer. Another example of this
dynamic has been identified by the evolutionary scientists Randy Thornhill and Craig T.
in their recent book A Natural History of Rape (1999). Thornhill and
Palmer explain that a woman's risk of being raped is influenced by a constellation of factors
determine her "attractiveness' (pp. 179-183), and they argue that it is a disservice to potential
rape victims to pretend that attributes and behaviors of a woman are not
potential causal contributors to her victimization. It is clear that Thornhill and Palmer are
interested in identifying causes of rape so that policies for preventing this crime, including
educational programs, can be inaugurated to reduce the incidence of this horrendous crime.
they have already been accused of "blaming the victim."
MacDonald's explanatory approach, like that of Thornhill and Palmer, makes him vulnerable
to the charge that he is "blaming the victim," a possibility to which we must remain ever
Yet, although many of his critics will dismiss his explanation as but another example of
blaming, the logic of his analysis of anti-Semitism, however fraught with dangerous
political and moral pitfalls, deserves serious and careful consideration. One does not condone
rape by identifying traits and behaviors that can place a woman at risk of victimization. If one
identifies traits and behaviors that put the members of any separatist
group at risk of harm inflicted by another group, does one thereby condone ethnic prejudice,
discrimination, and persecution?
Ryan, W. (1976). Blaming the Victim. New York: Vintage.
Thornhill, R. and Palmer, C.T. A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of
Sexual Coercion. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
von Hentig, H. (1948). The Criminal and His Victim. New Haven, CT:
Yale University Press.
Wolfgang, M. E. (1958). Patterns in Criminal Homicide. Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press.
Jan Baptist Bedaux & Brett Cooke (Eds.) (1999) Sociobiology and the
Arts. Amsterdam, NL & Atlanta, GA: Rodopi. ISBN 90-420-0584-X (Hdbk)
US$83.00 Dčl.150.00 ISBN 90-420-0684-6 (Pbk) US$25.00 Dčl.45.00 Pp. 298.
by KAREN PARHAM, Sint Mariastraat 120B, 3014 SR Rotterdam, The
The first ever conference devoted to Sociobiology and the Arts was held in 1993 at the Free
University of Amsterdam and was opened by Jan Wind, professor of evolutionary behavioural
biology at this university. This book is a recording of the papers given at this conference and
dedicated to Jan Wind who died in 1995.
Sociobiology and the Arts reveals how crucial art is in group survival
and group functioning. Without the group we are nothing and without art the group is nothing.
As an introduction to this, Jan Wind and Marcel Roele discuss the four major sociobiological
paradigms - the unit of natural selection, Evolutionary Stable Strategy, altruism and kin
- and how these can be applied to human artistic endeavours. That the gene is the unit' of
selection has become common knowledge. The organism inhabited by this selfish' gene is the
level of selection. By putting itself and its closest kin first it can maximize its own life span
that of the organisms that carry its genes. Finally, adaptation occurs on the level of the group
with which the organism socially interacts. But how does all this effect our artistic behaviour?
Art does not appear to have any direct use in an organism's survival and reproduction. It does,
however, bind the group and facilitate adaptation to new environments. One of the major
that most authors in this book make is that culture has become an adaptation to the
complex human environment.
Ellen Dissanayake coins the phrase "making special" in her paper: "Sociobiology and the
Problems and Prospects". Making special is the uniting factor of all forms of art. All other
functions of art, such as competition or controlling, are subsidiary and have developed from
one function. Humans go out of their way to embellish, shape or artify something beyond the
necessity to survive in order to attract attention. This unique blend of making special enhances
communication and group cohesion.
Thematics, the bioevolutionary approach specific to literature, examines the underlying
sociobiological relevance to cultural messages evident in stories. For example, Gary Cox in
paper entitled: "The Biology of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment: Cultural Text as
Mechanism", discusses the novel "Crime and Punishment" as a cultural tool to decrease male
aggression. Aggression was once a survival mechanism in the times of the hunter-gatherers, as
still is for other species, but for present-day human society it has become mostly obsolete. By
focusing on the disastrous ending of the villainous characters in Crime and Punishment,
Dostoevsky is instructing its readers to transgress boundaries, to step across from being a
traditional aggressive male.
Transgression of boundaries is the theme in Eric C. Rabkin's paper: "Vegetable, Animal,
Human: The Perils and Powers of Transgressing Sociobiological Boundaries in Narrative".
myths and fairy tales project the social and biological boundaries that should not be crossed.
Science fiction, on the other hand, tells us of boundaries that need to be expanded when
up or to keep up with the cultural evolution, especially now in the fast age of
Literature has to stand out and attract readers if it is to have any results. Brett Cooke also
clarifies this aspect in both his papers: "The Promise of a Biothematics" and "Pushkin and the
Memetics of Reputation". All leading characters we admire or detest in literary works are
exaggerated to make their point. Characters possessing magical and supernatural powers,
and beyond our own abilities, give us more reason for believing in their superiority.
characters are usually guilty of culturally prohibited behaviour such as adultery or incest.
adulterers are especially picked on.
Jan Baptist Bedaux examines why there is a tendency to depict supranormal proportions of
body, such as long legs, wide eyes, huge muscles and fuller figures, in "From Normal to
Supranormal: Observations on Realism and Idealism from a Biological Perspective". All
including humans, possess an innate releasing mechanism that reacts to certain stimuli. These
stimuli can be substituted and exaggerated in art to provoke strong reactions. The putto, for
example, exhibits supranormal attributes of a baby, such as big eyes, prominent forehead,
rounded body shapes, and round protruding cheeks. Even Mickey Mouse, who took on these
baby features as his character developed into a well-behaved mouse, works on this principle.
These principles play on our maternal and paternal instincts. In the same way, women who
up muscled-male shoulders and men who size up female waist-hip ratios are innately
the reproductive value of an individual. Art and the world of advertising make use of this
biological factor in accentuating, among other things, legs, muscles and hips.
Nancy E. Aitken examines the importance of using natural stimuli in art, in "How Art
Emotion". In experiments recording the reactions to curved and zigzagged lines, it is obvious
the harshness of the zigzag aroused emotions of agitation and defensiveness as opposed to
responses of orientation with the gentle curved lines. In addition, the pupil dilation in response
these two kinds of lines was very different. This "feeling import" from nature is apparent in
works of Cezanne who used the curved lines and Picasso who used zigzags in the paintings
his cubist period. These features are universal so we can expect the same responses from all
A certain amount of selection, or biases, is fundamental when reacting to stimuli. These
biases, as examined in Christa Sutterlin's paper "Ethological Aspects of Apotropaic
Art", are necessary for us to order and simplify incoming information, for us to communicate
non-verbal species-specific messages and for us to imprint culture-specific markers for group
identity. Non-verbal expressions develop from signals into behavioural patterns, where both
sender and the receiver have to react in a predictable manner for it to catch on. This process
involves first of all the movements becoming simplified, rhythmically repeated and
Then the motivation of the movement changes, for example, mounting changes from a sexual
movement to a display of dominance. Finally the movement can freeze into postures. And, of
course, humans use art to substitute and exaggerate these behaviours. Grimacing faces
tongues sticking out challenge you to fight, piercing eye contact shows no fear and trophies of
heads warn you of the consequences. Gestures, such as the phallus, mounting displays and
and female genital displays are offensive which will scare unwelcome visitors away.
Paul van den Akker's paper entitled "Visual Order in Figurative Art: To Zoom in on
Mannerism" focuses on principle of Ernst Gombrich's theory of a sense of order' in art.
Perception filters out different scales of light and continuously zooms in and out to order
incoming information. "Perception is always guided by mainly unconscious expectations for
regularity and order that allow animals to take things for granted, to anticipate and eventually
make plans for future actions", states Van den Akker. The positioning of the figures is of
importance and can aid this process in perceiving the whole composition if they are placed in
efficient way. Symmetry is one method that makes searching in a painting more efficient,
there are only two elements symmetrical. Hierarchical structures are another, where the
of perceiving is regulated.
Abdras Ludmany also covers the process of perception in his article on "The Adaptive Role
the Aesthetic Experience: An Epistemological Approach". Aesthetic experience develops and
refines human cognitive capabilities and can be released by anything that improves any factor
the process of learning. This process of learning, of acquiring information, involves various
steps. First primary information is selected and accepted, experiences are stored in specific
information patterns and any further incoming information is filtered. The reduced
then ordered in a searching system and further information is matched with stored
sometimes resulting in recognition. Any new aspects are filtered again and searched out to fit
place and be compared to similar stored information. Finally small amounts of information
made into greater quantities through communication, making links to arbitrary pieces of
information. Human cognition has the additional advantages of intuition, criticism and
which involve more secluded information patterns. Once all new incoming information is
into a framework with no contradictions, truth is found, a highly emotional moment.
The appreciation of beauty is analyzed in Frederick Turner's article, "The Sociobiology of
Beauty". All living creatures experience pleasure, a reward for the work of finding food or an
attractive partner. Beauty is honoured by the more evolved beings, which use both the left and
right sides of the brain for these rewarding aesthetic experiences, which Turner chooses to call
neurocharms. The right side will always compensate for the left side if there is a problem,
may be proof that the appreciation of beauty is an essential part of our survival.
Koen DePryck, in his article "Toward an Archaeology and Futurology of Mind. Possible
Evolutionary Advantages of Learning Difficulties", demonstrates how art can compensate for,
not enrich, problems disadvantaged children have in expressing themselves verbally. Philippe,
boy of 11 suffering from dyslexia, for example, used the visual to guide him in the verbal. The
visual gave him an extra dimension making him see things he would otherwise not have been
to conceive. Such learning difficulties could lead to creative, non-conformist thinking that
benefit the individual and his group.
Thierry Lenain takes a more critical stance towards the similarities between human and
artistic behaviour in "Animal Aesthetics and Human Arts". Studies of chimpanzee art, carried
by Desmond Morris, verify that chimpanzees have no creative consciousness, only a formal
consciousness. The chimpanzees did not demonstrate any autonomy within the pictorial field
venture out of the iconic field'. Artists play around with this iconic field, within their cultural
restraints, of course. The act of painting and the result of this act are what brought about the
emergence of human culture. Therefore, the conclusions Lenain draws from the results of the
chimpanzee's paintings are that there is a connection between painting and cognitive faculties
that this artificial ability has no use in chimpanzee life.
Applying an evolutionary approach to the arts is not an easy thing to get accepted in both the
Sciences and the Humanities. Colleagues from both fields will attack you for trying to explain
something that they would rather not explain. But if we abide by the law of physics, why do
not abide by the law of biology? Hopefully, this book will open a few eyes.
Arthur Robert Jensen (1998) The g Factor: The Science of Mental
Ability. Westport, CT: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-96103-6 (Hdbk). UK,31.95. US$39.95
Pp. xii + 649.
By J. PHILIPPE RUSHTON, Deparment of Psychology, University of Western
Ontario, London, Ontario N6A 5C2, Canada.
Few scientists have effects or laws named after them. Arthur Jensen's name is listed in a
of dictionaries as an "ism!" The Random House and Webster's Unabridged Dictionaries
the following entry:
...()()()..Jen-sen-ism (jen se niz em), n. the theory
that an individual's IQ is largely due to heredity, including racial heritage. [1965-1970];
after Arthur R. Jensen (born 1923), U.S. educational psychologist, who proposed such a
theory; see -ism] --Jen sen-ist, Jen sen-ite , n., adj. ...()()()..
The "theory" attributed to Jensen has, in fact, been around since the time of Francis Galton
(1822-1911), whose Hereditary Genius (1869) predated by exactly one
century Jensen's famous Harvard Educational Review article that led
him to be labeled a "hereditarian." The dictionary definition can't be overly derided, however,
Jensen's (1969) review of the evidence that IQ is heritable and that genetic factors are
the Black-White IQ gap had enormous impact.
Jensenism, one of the great heresies of 20th century science, is partly responsible for getting
the Darwinian-Galtonian paradigm back on track in differential psychology after it had been
derailed in the behavioral sciences for at least a generation following World War II. In a
40-year career that has earned him a place among the most frequently cited figures in
contemporary psychology, Arthur Jensen has systematically researched and extended Charles
Spearman's (1927) seminal concept of g, the general factor of
intelligence. The g Factor is an awesome and monumental exposition of
the case for the reality of g. It does not draw back from its most
controversial conclusions - that the average differences in IQ found between Blacks and
has a substantial hereditary component, and that this difference has important societal
However, The g Factor is not about race, as such. The first five
chapters deal with the intellectual history of the discovery of g and
various models of how to conceptualize intelligence. Other chapters deal with the biological
correlates of g (excluding race), its heritability, and its practical
predictive power. The fact that psychometric g has many physical
correlates proves that it is not just a methodological artifact. Among biological variables,
g loads on heritability coefficients determined from twin studies and
inbreeding depression scores calculated in children born from cousin-marriages.
g is also related to brain size measured by Magnetic Resonance Imaging
(MRI), brain evoked potentials, and intracellular brain pH levels. It (g)
is a product of human evolution and is also found in non-human animals.
Despite these caveats, The Bell Curve affair allows one to safely
predict that The g Factor's coverage of race will strike many as of
central importance. All the issues Jensen raised in 1969 are still with us today. Indeed, much
the opposition to IQ testing and heritability would probably disappear if it were not for the
stubborn and unwelcome fact that, despite extensive well funded programs of intervention, the
Black-White difference refuses to go quietly into the night. Chapter 11 of The g
Factor fully documents that, on average, the American Black population scores
below the White population by about 1.2 standard deviations, equivalent to 18 IQ points.
magnitude of difference gives a median overlap of less than 15 percent, meaning that less than
percent of the Black population exceeds the White average of 50 percent).
The difference between Blacks and Whites in average IQ scores has scarcely changed over
past 80 years (despite some claims that the gap is narrowing) and can be observed as early as
three years of age. Controlling for overall socioeconomic level only reduces the mean
by 4 IQ points. Culture-fair tests tend to give Blacks slightly lower
scores, on the average, than more conventional tests, as do non-verbal tests compared with
tests, and abstract reasoning tests compared with tests of acquired knowledge. On average,
Blacks also score 1 standard deviation below Whites in academic achievement throughout the
period from grades 1 through 12 (and also considerably below all other disadvantaged
tested: Puerto Rican, Mexican-American, and American Indian).
International IQ Distribution
Inspired by "Jensenism," researchers like Richard Lynn and Philip E. Vernon not only pushed
the envelope, but extended the 'outside of the envelope' and made the race-IQ debate
international in scope with their findings that East Asians average higher on tests of mental
than do Whites, whereas Caribbeans (and especially Africans) average lower. 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 have
average IQs from 85 to 115 with an overall mean of 100. African populations living south of
Sahara, in North America, in the Caribbean, and in Britain typically have mean IQs from 70 to
90. (Blacks in sub-Saharan Africa score about 2 standard deviations [approximately 30 IQ
below the mean of Whites on nonverbal tests.)
But the 18 point IQ difference between American Blacks and Whites is only an average. On
sub-tests the Black-White difference is smaller and on other sub-tests the Black-White
is larger. Black-White differences are markedly smaller on tests of rote learning and short
memory than on tests of reasoning and those requiring transformation of the input. For
on the Forward Digit Span Test, in which people are asked to recall a series of digits in the
order as that in which they were presented, Black-White differences are quite small, but on the
Backward Digit Span Test in which people recall a series of digits in the
reverse order to that in which they were presented, they are quite large.
One day, while re-reading Spearman's (1927) The Abilities of Man,
Jensen tells us that he noted the suggestion (which appears on page 379), that Black-White
differences on various tests are a function of each tests' g loading.
Here, Jensen thought, was the essential phenomenon that would explain, in much broader,
fundamental terms, the specific psychometric phenomenon that gave rise to the variation in
Black-White average differences.
The g Factor summarizes the results of numerous investigations of
Spearman's hypothesis on a wide variety of psychometric tests administered to large
representative samples of Whites and Blacks. Chapter 11, for example, describes the results
17 independent data sets on a total of nearly 45,000 Blacks and 245,000 Whites derived from
psychometric tests. g loadings consistently predict the magnitude of the
Black-White difference (r = +.63). Spearman's hypothesis is borne out
even among three-year-olds administered eight subtests of the Stanford-Binet. The rank
correlation between the g loadings and the Black-White differences is
+.71 (p <.05).
These g related race differences are not due to factors such as the
reliability of the test, social class differences, or tautologies based on some inevitability of
analysis. Indeed, it is not even universally true that all groups that differ, on average, in their
overall score on a test battery will conform to Spearman's hypothesis. In South Africa,
the nearly 1 standard deviation difference between Whites and East Indians showed no
between g loadings and standardized mean differences, the 2 standard
deviation difference between Whites and Blacks showed a correlation of +.62.
Spearman's hypothesis even applies to the g factor extracted from
performance on elementary cognitive tasks. In some of these studies, 9-to-12-year-olds are
to decide which of several lights is illuminated and move their hand to press a button that
that light off. All children can perform the tasks in less than one second, but children with
IQ scores perform faster than do those with lower scores, and White children, on average,
perform faster than Black children. The correlations between the g
loadings of these types of reaction time tasks and the Black-White differences range from
Jensen also applied Spearman's hypothesis to East Asian-White comparisons using these
reaction time measures. The direction of the correlation is opposite to
that in the Black-White studies, indicating that, on average, East Asians score higher in
g than do Whites. No one so far seems to have looked at East
Asian-White differences on conventional psychometric tests as a function of their
g loadings. From the study just mentioned, however, Jensen's
prediction is clear: One should find the reverse of Spearman's hypothesis for Black-White
Are Race Differences Heritable?
Chapter 12 presents Jensen's technical arguments for why he believes that race differences are
about 50 percent heritable. He emphasizes the fact that it is precisely those components of
intelligence tests that are most heritable and that most relate to brain size which most
differentiate Blacks from Whites. Thus, Black-White differences on 11 sub-tests of the
Intelligence Scale for Children are predicted by the amount of inbreeding depression on the
11 sub-test scores from Japan (r = +.48). The inbreeding prediction
was a sufficiently robust predictor to overcome generalization from the Japanese in Japan to
Blacks and Whites in the U.S. There really is no non-genetic explanation for the inbreeding
and its ability to predict Black-White differences in scores on IQ tests.
The g Factor also cites the evidence of transracial adoption studies.
Three studies have been carried out on Korean and Vietnamese children adopted into White
American and White Belgian homes. Though many had been hospitalized for malnutrition,
to adoption, they went on to develop IQs ten or more points higher than their adoptive
norms. By contrast, Black and Mixed-Race (Black-White) children adopted into White
middle-class families typically perform at a lower level than similarly adopted White children.
the well known Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study, by age 17, adopted children with two
White biological parents had an average IQ of 106, adopted children with one Black and one
White biological parent averaged an IQ of 99, and adopted children with two Black biological
parents had an average IQ of 89.
The g Factor also devotes a fair amount of space to racial differences
in brain size. Chapter 6 reviewed the literature that found that the brain-size/IQ relation was
clearly shown using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (r = .44 across eight
separate studies). Chapter 12 documents the three-way racial gradient in brain size established
aggregating data from studies using four kinds of measurements: (a) wet brain weight at
(b) volume of empty skulls using filler, (c) volume estimated from external head sizes, and (d)
volume estimated from external head measurements and corrected for body size. East Asians
their descendants average about 17 cm3 (1 in3) larger brain volumes than do Europeans and
descendants, whose brains average about 80 cm3 (5 in3) larger than do those of Africans and
their descendants. Jensen calculated an "ecological" correlation (widely used in
studies) of +0.99 between median IQ and mean cranial capacity across the three populations
'Mongoloids,' 'Caucasoids,' and 'Negroids.'
The g Factor also considers the race differences from an evolutionary
perspective. Jensen endorses the "Out-of-Africa" theory, that Homo
sapiens arose in Africa about 100,000 years ago, expanded beyond Africa after
that, and then migrated east after a European/East Asian split about 40,000 years ago. Since
evolutionary selection pressures were different in the hot savanna where Africans evolved
the cold Arctic where Mongoloids evolved, these ecological differences had not only
morphological, but also behavioral effects. The farther north the populations migrated 'Out of
Africa,' the more they encountered the cognitively demanding problems of gathering and
food, gaining shelter, making clothes, and raising children during prolonged winters. As these
populations evolved into present-day Europeans and East Asians, they underwent selective
pressure for larger brains.
Although Art Jensen has gone further in TgF to incorporate brain size and racial origins
research than ever before, I believe he still hasn't gone far enough in considering the
consequences of racial evolution. (The Bell Curve actually went further in considering my
and that of Richard Lynn on the evolution of East Asians, than Jensen does in TgF).
out IQ only reduces the Black-White difference in crime and other real-world social problems
HIV infection, single parenthood, poverty, belief in conspiracy rumours, and even educational
achievement by 50% (at best 60%) and that leaves a lot of room left to be explained.
The first piece of evidence is the fact that IQ "overpredicts" Black performance (and
underpredicts Asian performance). Blacks with IQs of 100 do poorer in schools than Whites
IQs of 100 and Asians with IQs of 100 do much better. Why? I think the answer lies in race
differences in testosterone level and its effect on temperament. Asian kids find it easier,
almost natural to sit still in school and pay attention; Black kids on the other hand tend to feel
at ease and get restive. These racial differences in temperament also explain the differences in
family structure so often commented on (Africans less structured, more breakups and violence
and Asians more structure, with greater obedience, and Whites in between). The same holds
crimes of violence and sexuality differences. Blacks mature faster than Whites and Asians
The races differ in the three way average order in sexual intercourse frequency. These
cannot be explained completely in terms of IQ alone.
More importantly, I believe I can make a case that Jensen's "g nexus" itself can be subsumed
under a broader principle, namely r-K theory. Why was there selection for big brains? What
evolutionary purpose do they serve? Why do they covary with so many life history traits, not
only across human races but also across primate species. In some studies comparing across
species of primates, when life history variables like gestation length, birth weight, maturation
rate, age of first intercourse, body size, brain size, etc are plugged in, it is brain size that has
highest correlations with the other variables, not body size. This implies that selection is for a
suite of covarying traits, not just for one of them alone. Thus, perhaps the next generation of
researchers will need to go beyond g and look at
g in the context of r-K life history selection and the evolution of human
races within the broad sweep of primate evolution.
In the wake of the success of The Bell Curve (Herrnstein &
Murray, 1994), 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
the 'race genie' back in the bottle. By firmly establishing the psychometric,
behavior genetic, and comparative evidence for the existence and importance of Spearman's
g, Jensen's The g Factor makes it near certain
that such efforts will end up shredded by Occam's razor.
This is an extended version of a review first published in Politics and the Life
Sciences (1998, 17,
Galton, F. (1869). Hereditary genius. London: Macmillan.
Herrnstein, R.J., & Murray, C. (1994). The bell curve: Intelligence and class
structure in American life. New York: Free Press.
Jensen, A. R. (1969). How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement?
Harvard Educational Review, 39,
Rushton, J. Philippe (2000) Race, Evolution, and Behavior (3rd
edition). Port Huron: Charles Darwin Research Institute.
Spearman, C. (1927). The abilities of man: Their nature and
measurement. New York: Macmillan.
Edward O. Wilson, founding father of sociobiology, receives honorable membership from the
ESS Board: Johan van der Dennen (secretary), Peter Meyer (chairman), and Vincent Falger
(treasurer) at the ESS business meeting Washington DC, August 31, 2000 (photo by James