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


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 voted almost unanimously in favor of a merger with our sister organization the International Society for 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 website.
Not everything has to be viewed, in retrospect, through the spectacles of dolorous melancholy 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 to 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 remind 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 not be charged a double fee. I would recommend ESS members who are not yet ISHE members to apply in person at
The ESS Newsletter and the Human Ethology Bulletin (HEB), the ISHE Newsletter, will also merge, and the September and December issues of the HEB will be mailed to the ESS members to get acquainted. The December issue of the HEB will officially announce the ESS/ISHE merger and cordially welcome the new members. The ESS and ISHE websites will also merge eventually.
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 to 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 the 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 sociobiology.
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 a 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 theory of reciprocal altruism. Spencer was of course a founding father of both sociology and evolution 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 are of all the founding fathers, and have many new and interesting things to say about all of them.
What will probably strike many readers as most notable about a book by two sociologists is the courage, candour and clarity with which they describe the current sorry state of the subject. For example, Lopreato and Crippen openly admit that "Nobody today knows what sociological theory is, or even if there is any such thing at all... With little exception, what we call sociology today is, on the one hand, an awful extravagance of ideological debates - a forest of words - that go by the name of theory and, on the other, a miscellany of findings uninformed by theory and exuding 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 cause of behavior resides exclusively in the immediate influence of culture and social structure." They 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 sociology offers a shallow and distorted view of human nature that prevents it from understanding the real 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 of 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 modern 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 book 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 human 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 the 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 economic well-being of women than that of men." Another chapter deals with the biological Fundamentals of Social Stratification, and the book ends with a consideration of the decisive contribution that 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 time 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 tools of explanation. These refer to the evolutionary forces that confronted our distant ancestors."
Of course, no single book can cover everything, and - as I am sure both Lopreato and Crippen 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, insights into the evolution of co-operation found in work on iterated prisoner's dilemma have gone a long way to providing a new, mathematically-secure basis for answering one of the most fundamental of all sociological questions: why do people co-operate when it is normally more rewarding to act selfishly? Most sociologists seem blissfully unaware that such issues are now effectively solved and that any sociological theory that ignores these findings is simply out of date and out of touch.
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 ignore 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 seen.


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, proposes to explain anti-Semitism at the levels of both proximate and ultimate causation. He uses "social 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 intense 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 at both the social psychological and evolutionary levels are implicated in generating and sustaining anti-Semitism. Central to his argument is the thesis that anti-Semitism is a response to features of 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. As such, MacDonald sees Judaism and anti-Semitism as "mirror image" group evolutionary strategies which, once activated, sustain each other via various proximate mechanisms specified 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 such as kin recognition, group selection, altruism, culturally and genetically based nepotism, reproductive and somatic competition, deception and self-deception, moralistic aggression, and other principles familiar to neo-Darwinian scientists and scholars. Part of his explanation hinges on his belief that 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 argues that mating rules prescribed by Jewish culture have functioned effectively as a "eugenic policy" that has bestowed higher intelligence and resource acquisition capabilities on Jewish populations than those of their non-Jewish competitors. In MacDonald's view, genes and culture co-evolved 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 and historical periods (the late Roman empire; the medieval Western world, especially the Spanish Inquisition; and Nazi Germany). Common themes expressed by anti-Semites include criticisms 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 economic 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," especially its mechanisms of cultural and genetic separatism, are themselves precipitants of these and related themes.
In his three case studies of anti-Semitism (the late Roman empire, the medieval West, and Nazi Germany), MacDonald emphasizes several themes. First, anti-Semitism is a response to competition over economic (and occasionally reproductive) resources. As such, MacDonald sees 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 all three cases, MacDonald argues, these reactive "group evolutionary strategies" represent "mirror 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 ideas drawn from evolutionary theory. In his view, evolutionary thinking about strategy and counter-strategy dynamics, the adaptive benefits conferred by flexible ideologies, and the psychology of deception 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 with 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 of 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 influence 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 of 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 cites the Kehilla organization as an example of this strategy.
In chapter 7, MacDonald documents the adaptive advantages conferred by Jewish ideologies in 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 cause, and Judaism is no exception. In MacDonald's view, much Jewish history functions in just such an 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 community 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, the 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 of their position in societies, thereby enabling them to support ideologies that advance their interests by distorting reality. Only because of their capacity for self-deception, says MacDonald, can Jews believe their own rhetoric about the "light of the world" thesis, deny their economic and general 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 strategy." 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 varying 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 history. 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 to 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 reports, 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 "conflict functionalism" in sociology might provide additional analytical insights relevant to this project.
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 the centrality of the idea of a "group evolutionary strategy" to MacDonald's analysis and the lack of 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 (or 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 deduction 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., Jewish 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" phenomena 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 Christ 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 in the explanatory power of the proximate mechanisms that MacDonald has identified in relation to the case of anti-Semitism. It would enable us to make predictions and test them, thereby carrying 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 of anti-Semitism. As MacDonald sees it, Judaism as a "group evolutionary strategy" has bestowed rich somatic and reproductive benefits on Jewish populations while, simultaneously, earning them opprobrium, hostility, and persecution. To some critics, MacDonald's analysis will appear to be 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 (p. 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 form of "victim blaming." However, this does not give criminologists license to ignore the empirical 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. Palmer 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 that 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. Yet, 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 vigilant. Yet, although many of his critics will dismiss his explanation as but another example of victim blaming, the logic of his analysis of anti-Semitism, however fraught with dangerous ideological, 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 Netherlands.

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 is 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 selection - and how these can be applied to human artistic endeavours. That the gene is the unit' of natural 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 and 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 points that most authors in this book make is that culture has become an adaptation to the increasingly complex human environment.
Ellen Dissanayake coins the phrase "making special" in her paper: "Sociobiology and the Arts: 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 this 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 his paper entitled: "The Biology of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment: Cultural Text as Adaptive 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 it 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". Bible 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 growing up or to keep up with the cultural evolution, especially now in the fast age of technology.
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, above and beyond our own abilities, give us more reason for believing in their superiority. Frightening characters are usually guilty of culturally prohibited behaviour such as adultery or incest. Women adulterers are especially picked on.
Jan Baptist Bedaux examines why there is a tendency to depict supranormal proportions of the 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 animals, 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 size up muscled-male shoulders and men who size up female waist-hip ratios are innately calculating 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 Arouses Emotion". In experiments recording the reactions to curved and zigzagged lines, it is obvious that 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 to these two kinds of lines was very different. This "feeling import" from nature is apparent in the works of Cezanne who used the curved lines and Picasso who used zigzags in the paintings from his cubist period. These features are universal so we can expect the same responses from all cultures.
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 Symbolism in 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 the 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 exaggerated. 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 threaten, 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 male 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 an efficient way. Symmetry is one method that makes searching in a painting more efficient, even if there are only two elements symmetrical. Hierarchical structures are another, where the sequence of perceiving is regulated.
Abdras Ludmany also covers the process of perception in his article on "The Adaptive Role of the Aesthetic Experience: An Epistemological Approach". Aesthetic experience develops and refines human cognitive capabilities and can be released by anything that improves any factor in 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 information is then ordered in a searching system and further information is matched with stored information, sometimes resulting in recognition. Any new aspects are filtered again and searched out to fit into place and be compared to similar stored information. Finally small amounts of information can be made into greater quantities through communication, making links to arbitrary pieces of information. Human cognition has the additional advantages of intuition, criticism and evaluation, which involve more secluded information patterns. Once all new incoming information is placed 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, which 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, if not enrich, problems disadvantaged children have in expressing themselves verbally. Philippe, a 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 able to conceive. Such learning difficulties could lead to creative, non-conformist thinking that would benefit the individual and his group.
Thierry Lenain takes a more critical stance towards the similarities between human and animal artistic behaviour in "Animal Aesthetics and Human Arts". Studies of chimpanzee art, carried out 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 or 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 and 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 we 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 number of dictionaries as an "ism!" The Random House and Webster's Unabridged Dictionaries contain 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, as Jensen's (1969) review of the evidence that IQ is heritable and that genetic factors are involved in 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 brilliant 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 Whites has a substantial hereditary component, and that this difference has important societal consequences.
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 of 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. (This magnitude of difference gives a median overlap of less than 15 percent, meaning that less than 15 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 the 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 difference 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 verbal 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 minorities 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 ability 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 the 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 points] below the mean of Whites on nonverbal tests.)

Spearman's Hypothesis

But the 18 point IQ difference between American Blacks and Whites is only an average. On some sub-tests the Black-White difference is smaller and on other sub-tests the Black-White difference is larger. Black-White differences are markedly smaller on tests of rote learning and short term memory than on tests of reasoning and those requiring transformation of the input. For example, on the Forward Digit Span Test, in which people are asked to recall a series of digits in the same 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, more fundamental terms, the specific psychometric phenomenon that gave rise to the variation in the 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 from 17 independent data sets on a total of nearly 45,000 Blacks and 245,000 Whites derived from 171 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 factor 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, although the nearly 1 standard deviation difference between Whites and East Indians showed no correlation 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 asked to decide which of several lights is illuminated and move their hand to press a button that turns that light off. All children can perform the tasks in less than one second, but children with higher 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 +.70 to +.81.
Jensen also applied Spearman's hypothesis to East Asian-White comparisons using these same 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 differences.

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 profoundly differentiate Blacks from Whites. Thus, Black-White differences on 11 sub-tests of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children are predicted by the amount of inbreeding depression on the same 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 effect 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, prior to adoption, they went on to develop IQs ten or more points higher than their adoptive national 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. In 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 most clearly shown using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (r = .44 across eight separate studies). Chapter 12 documents the three-way racial gradient in brain size established by aggregating data from studies using four kinds of measurements: (a) wet brain weight at autopsy, (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 and their descendants average about 17 cm3 (1 in3) larger brain volumes than do Europeans and their 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 epidemiological studies) of +0.99 between median IQ and mean cranial capacity across the three populations of '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 than in 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 storing 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 work, and that of Richard Lynn on the evolution of East Asians, than Jensen does in TgF). Co-varying out IQ only reduces the Black-White difference in crime and other real-world social problems like 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 with 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, indeed almost natural to sit still in school and pay attention; Black kids on the other hand tend to feel ill 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 for crimes of violence and sexuality differences. Blacks mature faster than Whites and Asians slower. The races differ in the three way average order in sexual intercourse frequency. These differences 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 the 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 get the 'race genie' back in the bottle. By firmly establishing the psychometric, neurophysiological, 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, 230-232).


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, 1-123.
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 Brody).