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Thanks, that was an interesting reading. It's a bit sad, though, that
the critic uses the same exaggeration techniques that the ones used in
the APD book. I don't think anything sensible can ultimately come from
such a discussion.
Plus, I hope we agree on the fact that proving someone is wrong on a
particular point does not mean you're right on all other points.
Anyway, I do acknowledge that I made an aggregation between people
practicing the art of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, and
people using some of the result of those disciplines in a way that is
Sociobiology and evolutionary psychology are interesting arts. They try
to find explanation of social behaviours and, ultimately, of the reason
why conscience appeared during the biological evolution process.
That's a truly interesting question, a real issue, and something we
would all be glad to know, I think. It's an interesting part in the
search for an answer to the question "what is the purpose of all this ?"
(I mean, an answer other than just "42").
Now that we are conscious people, we all would like what we are supposed
to do with our conscience, and knowing why we were given one can be an
That's where sociobiology and evolutionary psychology are interesting :
examining the past and the reasons of the appearance of social
behaviours and conscience. However, what I totally disagree with is the
use of the result from those disciplins as guidelines for current and
It is the tendency of many people to use weak evolutionary psychology
results to justify their behaviour. "Look, they say, it seems that
acting selfishly *can* lead us to altruism on a *global* scale, so why
bother at all ? Just act selfishly and feel confident that everything is
going to be better in the future".
The first problem I have, is the experiments themselves used to obtain
such results. This is a scientifical concern. How can we take the
experiments as a proof ? I think we are accepting results a bit lightly,
here. The mere fact that the subjects in many experiments are psychology
students (sometime paying for it) simply makes me wonder of their
Anyway, let's suppose the experiments are validated. Now, I have
problems with the model the experiments are supposed to validate or
invalidate. The experiment described in the Economist article, like many
others, use a pre-defined set of beliefs and assumptions. For example,
they use monetary metrics. No wonder experiments made with models that
follow monetary metrics validate behaviours we observe in a capitalist
Take the experiment described in the Economist. Did the experimentator
"measured" how people that were punished resented they punisher ? Did
they measure anything other than money exchange, for example global
satisfaction, group cohesion, and so on ? It doesn't seem so. Why ?
Because it cannot be measured easily and "scientifically".
I say the sheer design of this experiment forced the result to be what
was observed. It quite obvious that the rules of the game were built to
show that "selfish behavious can lead to altruism".
It's a nice experiment, but it has nothing to do with real life. Its
result is just used to make you think that after all, you only have to
care about yourself and the world will become better sooner or later.
I hope that from the current state of the world, and the increasing
inequalities between the rich people and the poor people, you understand
that this is not a responsible way of thinking.
I don't understand what is the point in supporting selfish behaviour in
the hope that it leads to altruism, where we could be thinking instead
about how to directly support altruism in our society.
P.S. sorry for "squatting" this mailing list with this discussion. It is
in times like this that I wish we could easily and dynamically create a
temporary dedicated mailing list.
De : Jim Ancona [mailto:email@example.com]
Envoyé : jeudi 28 mars 2002 15:09
À : Nicolas Lehuen
Cc : firstname.lastname@example.org
Objet : Re: [xml-dev] RE : [xml-dev] Capitalism and XML
--- Nicolas Lehuen <email@example.com> wrote:
> Sociobiology is blinded by its motto that any human behaviour is
> explained by evolution and genetics. This motto is highly dubious.
Of course it's so dubious that only opponents of sociobiology believe
http://human-nature.com/nibbs/02/apd.html, for an analysis of this and
accusations against sociobiology/evolutionary psychology.
This is an interesting discussion, but I question its relevance to
Would someone like to suggest a more appropriate forum?
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