Genes for Religious Tendency

4 views
Skip to first unread message

young.u.huh

unread,
Dec 3, 1992, 6:42:33 PM12/3/92
to

While reading parts of "The Selfish Gene" and "The Blind Watchmaker"
by Richard Dawkins, I wondered if there are some genes for religious
tendency in humans. That is, are there some genes such that
individuals who possess them or some combinations thereof are more
likely to be religious than others? Has anyone looked into this
possibility?

WHAT IF there were such genes:

In memetic terms, such genes may cause the development of a brain
and nervous system that are more susceptible to viruses of the mind
or memetic parasites that cause the individual to have religious
thoughts and behaviours. Such viruses spread from individual to
individual, commonly from parent to offspring, by various means of
communication.

In terms of natural selection, religious individuals often select
their reproductive partners who are also religious, often within the
same type and of similar ancestry. At the same time, non-religious
individuals are less likely to be selected as reproductive partners
of religious individuals. This selection process is repeated
generation after generation.

What scale of time would it take for such genes to evolve?
Any thoughts or ideas on this?

Young Huh
yh...@ihlpe.att.com

Kent Sandvik

unread,
Dec 3, 1992, 10:26:43 PM12/3/92
to
In article <1992Dec3.2...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com>,

yo...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com (young.u.huh) wrote:
> In terms of natural selection, religious individuals often select
> their reproductive partners who are also religious, often within the
> same type and of similar ancestry. At the same time, non-religious
> individuals are less likely to be selected as reproductive partners
> of religious individuals. This selection process is repeated
> generation after generation.

Otherwise I would agree, but I've seen priests' children act
like gang leaders :-).

Kent
-------------------
Kent Sandvik (UUCP: ....!apple!ksand; INTERNET: ks...@apple.com)
DISCLAIMER: Private activities on the Net.

young.u.huh

unread,
Dec 4, 1992, 11:40:19 AM12/4/92
to
From article <ksand-031...@wintermute.apple.com>, by ks...@apple.com (Kent Sandvik ):

> In article <1992Dec3.2...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com>,
> yo...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com (young.u.huh) wrote:
>> In terms of natural selection, religious individuals often select
>> their reproductive partners who are also religious, often within the
>> same type and of similar ancestry. At the same time, non-religious
>> individuals are less likely to be selected as reproductive partners
>> of religious individuals. This selection process is repeated
>> generation after generation.
>
> Otherwise I would agree, but I've seen priests' children act
> like gang leaders :-).

Priests have children? Who are the mothers?

Chris Colby

unread,
Dec 4, 1992, 1:47:04 PM12/4/92
to
In article <100...@netnews.upenn.edu> wee...@sagi.wistar.upenn.edu (Matthew P Wiener) writes:

>In article <1992Dec3.2...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com>, young@cbnewsh (young.u.huh) writes:
>>I wondered if there are some genes for religious tendency in humans.
>>That is, are there some genes such that individuals who possess them
>>or some combinations thereof are more likely to be religious than
>>others? Has anyone looked into this possibility?
>
>There probably are such genes. See T J Bourchard Jr, D T Lykken, M McGue,
>N L Segal, A Tellegen "Sources of Human Psychological Differences: The
>Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart" SCIENCE (12 Oct 90) pp223-8

Here's three columns table 1 from Bouchard, et. al.
time together until split time apart total contact
mean 5.1 months 30 years 112 weeks
SD 8.5 14.3 230.7
range 0-48.7 0.5-64.7 1-1233

(N=56 but they say it varies per measure and don't give individual
sample sizes)

Noticed there are twins "raised apart" who spent the first four
years of their life together(*). Also some twin separation times
were a whopping 1/2 year. In addition, the average twins had been
reunited for two years prior to the survey(**). Despite this, we are
supposed to believe that their environments were different. Take
this study with a grain of salt (a lime and shot of Tequila
wouldn't hurt, either 8-) The authors claim this contact be ignored
because there is no correlation between contact time and IQ
difference between twins. It's worth your while to look at the
scattergram of that data, however (Fig 1.)

(*) in addition to 9 months in the womb
(**) some as long as 24 years

-- TANGENT --
If humans were found to have a large heritable component to
intelligence, this would mean that selection has not been
operating on this trait for a long time. Genetic variation
decreases under (directional) selection until all genetic variation
is gone -- and thus all variation in a trait is environmental.
(Populus has a neat simulation of this for a quantitative trait.)

I'm not using this as an argument against high heritablity
of mental capability, BTW. I _don't_ think mental ability has
been under selection for a long time (at least not under
individual selection.)

>-Matthew P Wiener (wee...@sagi.wistar.upenn.edu)

Chris Colby --- email: co...@bu-bio.bu.edu ---
"'My boy,' he said, 'you are descended from a long line of determined,
resourceful, microscopic tadpoles--champions every one.'"
--Kurt Vonnegut from "Galapagos"

James Davis Nicoll

unread,
Dec 4, 1992, 1:03:21 PM12/4/92
to
In article <ByqtD...@usenet.ucs.indiana.edu> adpe...@sunflower.bio.indiana.edu (Andy Peters) writes:
>
>Unfortunately, searching for genes "for" behavioral traits in humans
>is likely to be a fruitless exercise. There's a constantly-raging
>debate about whether or not they even exist, and even if they do it's
>likely to be pretty close to impossible to measure heritability.

material deleted

>Please note that I have no problem with the explanation of human
>behavior in genetic terms; I'm actually quite sure that much behavior
>is explicable, at least to some degree, by genetics. However, in
>humans (since breeding designs are so difficult, parental effects are
>so strong, and for other reasons), I think that the actual measurement
>of the heritability of behavioral traits is not feasible.

I wonder whether it be easier to look at the inter-relation
of genetics and behavior by studying closely related, but distinct
species, rather than members of the same species.

Is the tendency to religious behavior (and related types
of behavior) assumed to be a negative trait? Although I am areligious
myself, I can't help but wonder whether so universal a human behavior
is entirely negative or neutral in effect.

Aside: have there been non-religious cultures?

James Nicoll

Andy Peters

unread,
Dec 4, 1992, 11:20:19 AM12/4/92
to

>While reading parts of "The Selfish Gene" and "The Blind Watchmaker"
>by Richard Dawkins, I wondered if there are some genes for religious
>tendency in humans. That is, are there some genes such that
>individuals who possess them or some combinations thereof are more
>likely to be religious than others? Has anyone looked into this
>possibility?

Unfortunately, searching for genes "for" behavioral traits in humans


is likely to be a fruitless exercise. There's a constantly-raging
debate about whether or not they even exist, and even if they do it's
likely to be pretty close to impossible to measure heritability.

>WHAT IF there were such genes:


>
>In memetic terms, such genes may cause the development of a brain
>and nervous system that are more susceptible to viruses of the mind

I'm not sure that memetic selection can feed back to the underlying
"substrate" for the memes (i.e. the brains and the nervous system).
Memetic selection is based on the differential replication of ideas;
unless this can feed back on the differential survival of the brains
propagating those ideas, then the brains themselves won't evolve as a
response to memetic evolution.



>or memetic parasites that cause the individual to have religious
>thoughts and behaviours. Such viruses spread from individual to
>individual, commonly from parent to offspring, by various means of
>communication.

>In terms of natural selection, religious individuals often select
>their reproductive partners who are also religious, often within the
>same type and of similar ancestry. At the same time, non-religious
>individuals are less likely to be selected as reproductive partners
>of religious individuals. This selection process is repeated
>generation after generation.

This is one of the reasons that identifying a gene for religiousness
would be nearly impossible. Since the preference for marriage to
individuals with similar beliefs can be attributed to a cultural,
rather than a genetic, phenomenon, and can explain the observed
"inheritance" of belief in and of itself, this is a confounding factor
in any attempt at the identification of a gene.

Please note that I have no problem with the explanation of human
behavior in genetic terms; I'm actually quite sure that much behavior
is explicable, at least to some degree, by genetics. However, in
humans (since breeding designs are so difficult, parental effects are
so strong, and for other reasons), I think that the actual measurement
of the heritability of behavioral traits is not feasible.

>What scale of time would it take for such genes to evolve?

Is there selection for the strategy? If it started at a low frequency
in a population, can you give a mechanism by which it would spread?

>Young Huh


--
* Andy Peters * I borrowed Dad's jack. I'll *
* Program in Evolution, * return it and his rivet * (<-Don't
* Ecology, and Behavior * gun tomorrow * ask)
* Indiana University, Bloomington * -Bob *

Matthew P Wiener

unread,
Dec 4, 1992, 10:06:23 AM12/4/92
to
In article <1992Dec3.2...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com>, young@cbnewsh (young.u.huh) writes:
>I wondered if there are some genes for religious tendency in humans.
>That is, are there some genes such that individuals who possess them
>or some combinations thereof are more likely to be religious than
>others? Has anyone looked into this possibility?

There probably are such genes. See T J Bourchard Jr, D T Lykken, M McGue,


N L Segal, A Tellegen "Sources of Human Psychological Differences: The
Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart" SCIENCE (12 Oct 90) pp223-8

--
-Matthew P Wiener (wee...@sagi.wistar.upenn.edu)

Andy Peters

unread,
Dec 4, 1992, 1:22:49 PM12/4/92
to
In article <1992Dec4.1...@nsisrv.gsfc.nasa.gov> jga...@news.gsfc.nasa.gov (James G. Acker) writes:
>
> I was driving to or from my Thanksgiving celebration, and a
>report on the radio said that researchers had identified a genetic
>tendency toward divorce. We both turned to each other and said
^^
>"Give me a break!"

<Uh-oh, Kalki-pluralism is contagious!>

I have a newspaper article in front of me that talks about the study
(Bloomington, IN Herald Times, 11/27/92).

It begins with the statement: "Genes may play a substantial role in
the risk of divorce, probably because of the way they influence a
man's or woman's personality, a study of 1,516 sets of twins suggests."

Basically, the study found that identical twins were more correlated
than fraternal twins in their tendency toward divorce. I'd be willing
to bet that the effect is merely a result of something more general,
rather than a "divorce gene."

> With all that is known about the psychology of dysfunctional
>families, I sincerely doubt that a gene is responsible for divorce.
>Isn't there a limit to what is genetic and what is behavioral,
>somewhere?

Well, that one's still up for debate. No one _really_ believes that
each individual action performed by a human is controlled by a gene;
nor does anyone believe that there isn't some genetic component to
behavior. However, just about every viewpoint in between is still
taken up by someone.

> Jim Acker

James G. Acker

unread,
Dec 4, 1992, 12:39:57 PM12/4/92
to

I was driving to or from my Thanksgiving celebration, and a
report on the radio said that researchers had identified a genetic
tendency toward divorce. We both turned to each other and said
"Give me a break!"

With all that is known about the psychology of dysfunctional
families, I sincerely doubt that a gene is responsible for divorce.
Isn't there a limit to what is genetic and what is behavioral,
somewhere?

Jim Acker
jga...@neptune.gsfc.nasa.gov

Daniel E. Platt

unread,
Dec 4, 1992, 1:05:52 PM12/4/92
to

Episcopal priests, as well as others in the Anglican tradition,
who have or make a claim to apostolic succession, can and do marry.
There are even Roman Catholic priests who are essentially 'converted'
Episcopal priests who are serving as Catholic clergy and are married
(ie married Catholic priests).

--
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Daniel E. Platt pl...@watson.ibm.com
The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Andy Peters

unread,
Dec 4, 1992, 1:34:42 PM12/4/92
to
In article <1992Dec4.1...@julian.uwo.ca> jdni...@prism.ccs.uwo.ca (James Davis Nicoll) writes:
>In article <ByqtD...@usenet.ucs.indiana.edu> adpe...@sunflower.bio.indiana.edu (Andy Peters) writes:
>>
>>Unfortunately, searching for genes "for" behavioral traits in humans
>>is likely to be a fruitless exercise. There's a constantly-raging
>>debate about whether or not they even exist, and even if they do it's
>>likely to be pretty close to impossible to measure heritability.
>
> material deleted
>
>>Please note that I have no problem with the explanation of human
>>behavior in genetic terms; I'm actually quite sure that much behavior
>>is explicable, at least to some degree, by genetics. However, in
>>humans (since breeding designs are so difficult, parental effects are
>>so strong, and for other reasons), I think that the actual measurement
>>of the heritability of behavioral traits is not feasible.
>
> I wonder whether it be easier to look at the inter-relation
>of genetics and behavior by studying closely related, but distinct
>species, rather than members of the same species.

Good point. There is a current trend among some evolutionary
biologists toward "comparative biology:" mapping traits onto
phylogenies and inferring true "adaptiveness" from the resultant
patterns. Unfortunately, the methods (both for constructing the
phylogenies and for mapping and inferring patterns) are still not
perfect. Also, any characters one might choose to be homologous (and
therefore mappable onto a phylogeny) to religion or divorce among,
say, bonobos, would have to be pretty subjective.

> Is the tendency to religious behavior (and related types
>of behavior) assumed to be a negative trait? Although I am areligious
>myself, I can't help but wonder whether so universal a human behavior
>is entirely negative or neutral in effect.

I didn't make this assumption in my previous post; I merely asked for
a selection regime under which a postulated "religious" strategy (I
prefer the term strategy to gene in cases such as this) might spread.

> Aside: have there been non-religious cultures?

Good question. None that I can think of (not that that means anything).

> James Nicoll

Bruce Salem

unread,
Dec 4, 1992, 12:39:07 PM12/4/92
to

You had better be careful what you wish for, it may come true!

>
>In memetic terms, such genes may cause the development of a brain
>and nervous system that are more susceptible to viruses of the mind
>or memetic parasites that cause the individual to have religious
>thoughts and behaviours. Such viruses spread from individual to
>individual, commonly from parent to offspring, by various means of

I don't normally come to the aid of religious people, but I
find this offensive in the sense that the same tendencies, or even
genetics, that lead to religion may lead to other things that are
more valuable in human terms such as creativity and imagination. I
would be wery of an overgeneralization in these terms.

The aspect of religion that I think is almost universal
among humans is the child-like way we think that we are in control of
fate or that some agent like us, intelligant with emotions like us is,
controlls it for us. This is also the tendency to think that our
intentions have something to do with what happens to us, that something
we did or thought matteres in the overall outcome. Additionally there
is the belief, indeed the hope of some, that the day to day rules get
suspended every once in a while, and something wonderful happens.

Now, who am I to say that none of this is true? But the alternative
and equally powerful idea, that I think comes from the same brain chemistry,
is that the world is an orderly set of processes that we can understand at
some level, in other words, the pursuit of science. It is a relatively recent
idea that things happen to us through no fault of our own, and through noone
else's intention, but through process and statistics, being at the wrong (or
right) place at the wrong ( or right) time.

>Young Huh

Naw, just a little wiser.

>yh...@ihlpe.att.com


Bruce Salem


James G. Acker

unread,
Dec 4, 1992, 3:34:32 PM12/4/92
to
Thanks for the answer. Just to clarify:


Andy Peters (adpe...@sunflower.bio.indiana.edu) wrote:


: In article <1992Dec4.1...@nsisrv.gsfc.nasa.gov> jga...@news.gsfc.nasa.gov (James G. Acker) writes:
: >
: > I was driving to or from my Thanksgiving celebration, and a
: >report on the radio said that researchers had identified a genetic
: >tendency toward divorce. We both turned to each other and said
: ^^
: >"Give me a break!"

:
I was with my fiancee. I'm in that strange stage of a
relationship where I'm in a chaotic oscillation between "I" and "we".
Hopefully, we'll reach equilibrium after a few years of marriage.

Jim

: <Uh-oh, Kalki-pluralism is contagious!>


:
: I have a newspaper article in front of me that talks about the study
: (Bloomington, IN Herald Times, 11/27/92).
:
: It begins with the statement: "Genes may play a substantial role in
: the risk of divorce, probably because of the way they influence a
: man's or woman's personality, a study of 1,516 sets of twins suggests."
:
: Basically, the study found that identical twins were more correlated
: than fraternal twins in their tendency toward divorce. I'd be willing
: to bet that the effect is merely a result of something more general,
: rather than a "divorce gene."
:
: > With all that is known about the psychology of dysfunctional
: >families, I sincerely doubt that a gene is responsible for divorce.
: >Isn't there a limit to what is genetic and what is behavioral,
: >somewhere?
:
: Well, that one's still up for debate. No one _really_ believes that
: each individual action performed by a human is controlled by a gene;
: nor does anyone believe that there isn't some genetic component to
: behavior. However, just about every viewpoint in between is still
: taken up by someone.
:
: > Jim Acker

I like reasonable people. You get the 10s blurb on
the radio, and it's easy to misinterpret.
:
: --

Bruce Salem

unread,
Dec 4, 1992, 5:28:29 PM12/4/92
to

Ah, yes, nature? nurture? but also responsible? victim?

Of course, you are saying that getting a divorce is a complex
matter involving choice and decisions. I agree.

But what about the tendancy toward certian mental illnesses?
Or the tendancy to be homosexual? What if broad tempermental differences
are inherited, that clashes between spouses of certian temperment classes
do statistically lead to divorce? I am thinking of the Myers-Briggs
typology and its application to couples who may be in trouble. If there
were to be a connection between MB class and genetics and couples who
need merital help then a genetic componant could be identified.

The point you would make is that people at risk, for instance
those with MB conflicts, have a decision to seek help. This is just
the case as with people who have Lactose intolerance, or those with
the marker for alcholism, to make decisions based on genetic factors.

I don't know if there is a genetic factor in MB types, but I
can see genetics and temperment at work in the traits of my four
children. Each one was born with temperment traits common to my
wife and I each.

The case with mental illness with known genetic markers is
different. As there may be less choice but only medical treatment
in the disorder.

Bruce Salem


Stephen Matheson

unread,
Dec 4, 1992, 5:53:04 PM12/4/92
to
From article <1992Dec3.2...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com>,
by yo...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com (young.u.huh):

Well, here's an idea for a cure:

You should round up all the people who display symptoms of the disease,
and put them into some sort of facility, or at least force them to wear
some identifying mark. Then you could use some toxic gas to terminate
them. You'd have to figure out a way to dispose of all the biological
waste that will be generated... hey, how about huge incinerators?
Yeah, that'll work. Eventually, you'll be able to "clean up" humanity
by ridding it of this pesky (and obviously maladaptive) "gene". Sounds
like you've stumbled onto something new.

BTW, have you noticed that bigotry, xenophobia and hatred display some
of the familial characteristics you've described?

--

Steve Matheson Program in Neuroscience University of Arizona
s...@neurobio.arizona.edu

Dinesh D. Gaitonde

unread,
Dec 4, 1992, 6:15:51 PM12/4/92
to

The latest issue of Science News (Vol. 142, No. 22, Nov. 28 1992, pp
374) also has an article on a similar topic, titled "Nature joins
nurture to boost divorce risk". They cite a paper to be published in
the November issue of "Psychological Science" by David T. Lyken and
Matt Mcgue.

Dinesh

sbi...@desire.wright.edu

unread,
Dec 4, 1992, 6:48:18 PM12/4/92
to
In article <ksand-031...@wintermute.apple.com>, ks...@apple.com (Kent Sandvik ) writes:
> In article <1992Dec3.2...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com>,
> yo...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com (young.u.huh) wrote:
>> In terms of natural selection, religious individuals often select
>> their reproductive partners who are also religious, often within the
>> same type and of similar ancestry. At the same time, non-religious
>> individuals are less likely to be selected as reproductive partners
>> of religious individuals. This selection process is repeated
>> generation after generation.
>
> Otherwise I would agree, but I've seen priests' children act
> like gang leaders :-).
>

Must be Anglican priests, unless the RC priests are up to something they
shouldn't be.

Sue

Maddi Hausmann

unread,
Dec 4, 1992, 9:14:21 PM12/4/92
to
s...@manduca.neurobio.arizona.edu (Stephen Matheson) writes: >

yo...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com (young.u.huh) writes: >>
>>
>> While reading parts of "The Selfish Gene" and "The Blind Watchmaker"
>> by Richard Dawkins, I wondered if there are some genes for religious
>> tendency in humans. That is, are there some genes such that
>> individuals who possess them or some combinations thereof are more
>> likely to be religious than others? Has anyone looked into this
>> possibility?

[stuff deleted...]

>> In terms of natural selection, religious individuals often select
>> their reproductive partners who are also religious, often within the
>> same type and of similar ancestry. At the same time, non-religious
>> individuals are less likely to be selected as reproductive partners
>> of religious individuals. This selection process is repeated
>> generation after generation.
>>
>> What scale of time would it take for such genes to evolve?
>> Any thoughts or ideas on this?
>
>Well, here's an idea for a cure:
>
>You should round up all the people who display symptoms of the disease,
>and put them into some sort of facility, or at least force them to wear
>some identifying mark. Then you could use some toxic gas to terminate
>them. You'd have to figure out a way to dispose of all the biological
>waste that will be generated... hey, how about huge incinerators?
>Yeah, that'll work. Eventually, you'll be able to "clean up" humanity
>by ridding it of this pesky (and obviously maladaptive) "gene". Sounds
>like you've stumbled onto something new.
>
>BTW, have you noticed that bigotry, xenophobia and hatred display some
>of the familial characteristics you've described?

No, but I've noticed that no matter what the newsgroup, or the
subject, you manage to find bigotry, xenophobia and hatred. I'm
beginning to suspect that you're some MIT-AI lab project. I
would really appreciate it if you would explain the connection
between the speculation that religious belief could be genetic,
and "curing" believers by incineration. But I'll give you a
hint: there isn't any.

Get some psychological help. Your ranting is tiresome.


--
Maddi Hausmann mad...@netcom.com
Humorist, Satirist, Tech Writer. Take your pick.

Centigram Communications Corp, San Jose California 408/428-3553

Andy Peters

unread,
Dec 5, 1992, 9:44:51 AM12/5/92
to
In article <1992Dec4.2...@nsisrv.gsfc.nasa.gov> jga...@news.gsfc.nasa.gov (James G. Acker) writes:
>Andy Peters (adpe...@sunflower.bio.indiana.edu) wrote:

>: Well, that one's still up for debate. No one _really_ believes that
>: each individual action performed by a human is controlled by a gene;
>: nor does anyone believe that there isn't some genetic component to
>: behavior. However, just about every viewpoint in between is still
>: taken up by someone.
>

> I like reasonable people. You get the 10s blurb on
>the radio, and it's easy to misinterpret.

Oh, Geez, thanks a lot, Jim, now people are going to start thinking of
me as _reasonable_. I'm going to have to leave t.o in digrace :-) !

Seriously, though, you've hit upon a real problem. The popular media
tend to portray these things much more, um, deterministically than
perhaps they should. All of the popular accounts I've seen have given
an impression of an actual "divorce gene," even though they usually
say something like, "though the researchers say that the effect could
be due to more general personality traits." In general, the overall
impression one gets from the accounts is that there really is a
divorce gene. Oh well. What can you do (freedom of the press, and
all that)?

John A. Johnson

unread,
Dec 5, 1992, 11:21:15 AM12/5/92
to
In article <1992Dec4.2...@organpipe.uug.arizona.edu>,
s...@manduca.neurobio.arizona.edu (Stephen Matheson) says:
>
[in response to an article <1992Dec3.2...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com>,
by yo...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com (young.u.huh) that speculates about the
genetic basis of religiosity]

>
>Well, here's an idea for a cure:
>
>You should round up all the people who display symptoms of the disease,
>and put them into some sort of facility, or at least force them to wear
>some identifying mark. Then you could use some toxic gas to terminate
>them. You'd have to figure out a way to dispose of all the biological
>waste that will be generated... hey, how about huge incinerators?
>Yeah, that'll work. Eventually, you'll be able to "clean up" humanity
>by ridding it of this pesky (and obviously maladaptive) "gene". Sounds
>like you've stumbled onto something new.
^^^^^^
Huh? Young merely speculated about the mechanisms for
genetic and cultural transmission of religiosity. Matheson is
the one who is stumbling here.

>
>BTW, have you noticed that bigotry, xenophobia and hatred display some
>of the familial characteristics you've described?
>
>Steve Matheson Program in Neuroscience University of Arizona
>s...@neurobio.arizona.edu

Suggesting that inquiry into the genetic bases of behavior is
automatically racist or xenophobic shows a level of thoughtless,
knee-jerk stupidity that quite unbecomes someone in a neuroscience
program.

Kent Sandvik

unread,
Dec 5, 1992, 7:30:33 PM12/5/92
to
In article <1992Dec4.1...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com>,

yo...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com (young.u.huh) wrote:
> From article <ksand-031...@wintermute.apple.com>, by ks...@apple.com (Kent Sandvik ):
> > Otherwise I would agree, but I've seen priests' children act
> > like gang leaders :-).
>
> Priests have children? Who are the mothers?

FYI, there exists Christian sects where marriage is allowed.

Kent Sandvik

unread,
Dec 5, 1992, 7:32:02 PM12/5/92
to
> From article <ksand-031...@wintermute.apple.com>, by ks...@apple.com (Kent Sandvik ):
> > Otherwise I would agree, but I've seen priests' children act
> > like gang leaders :-).
>
> Priests have children? Who are the mothers?

FYI, the Christian world has churches/sects where priests are allowed
to get married, the Lutheran church is one such example.

Matthew P Wiener

unread,
Dec 6, 1992, 11:11:00 AM12/6/92
to
In article <103...@bu.edu>, colby@bu-bio (Chris Colby) writes:
>>There probably are such genes. See T J Bourchard Jr, D T Lykken, M McGue,
>>N L Segal, A Tellegen "Sources of Human Psychological Differences: The
>>Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart" SCIENCE (12 Oct 90) pp223-8

>Here's three columns table 1 from Bouchard, et. al.
> time together until split time apart total contact
>mean 5.1 months 30 years 112 weeks
>SD 8.5 14.3 230.7
>range 0-48.7 0.5-64.7 1-1233

>Noticed there are twins "raised apart" who spent the first four


>years of their life together(*).

So? Look at the mean and standard deviation.

> Also some twin separation times
>were a whopping 1/2 year.

Again, look at the mean and standard deviation.

> In addition, the average twins had been
>reunited for two years prior to the survey(**).

What does this matter? They spend most of the article discussing IQ,
but I find it hard to believe that in their measures of religiosity
they failed to check if one twin converted another. A simple how
many years sort of question, say.

Anyway, I'm going to look up their reference (32).

> Despite this, we are
>supposed to believe that their environments were different.

Well yes. Different, as in, not the same.

> Take
>this study with a grain of salt (a lime and shot of Tequila
>wouldn't hurt, either 8-)

If you knock off the lime and tequila, you'd be in better condition
to read the paper.

> The authors claim this contact be ignored
>because there is no correlation between contact time and IQ
>difference between twins. It's worth your while to look at the
>scattergram of that data, however (Fig 1.)

What of it? I don't see any correlation.

Meanwhile, they haven't published their DZA article, but the tone
of their article and other publications on the subject indicate DZA
correlations are weaker.

[DZA=DiZygotic twins raised apart, opposed to MZA.]

Stephen Matheson

unread,
Dec 5, 1992, 5:03:58 PM12/5/92
to
From article <1992Dec5.0...@netcom.com>,
by mad...@netcom.com (Maddi Hausmann):

Oops. First, the point about bigotry, xenophobia and hatred was
simply that these are maladaptive (or at least unacceptable) traits
which seem to have some of the same "heritability" characteristics
as religious behavior. To imply that the original poster's intent
was bigoted would be offensive. Second, the "connection" between
the genetic "hypothesis" is a bit of a stretch, but it goes like this:

A trait is identified as being undesireable.
[Big step.] People displaying the trait are considered
evil or at least worthless.
People displaying the trait are dehumanized.
Society/humanity is judged to be improved by the elimination of
the mutants.

The "connection" was made by me. I don't think the original poster
had this sort of progression in mind. It seems to me, however, that
this sort of thing has happened before, even if it didn't start with
a specifically genetic argument. An interesting point I've heard
made on the subject of the putative genetic basis for homosexuality
is that such information could be used to define homosexuals as
"mutants" in need of a "cure". As I said before, it's a stretch,
but I think humanity is quite capable of such things.

> Get some psychological help. Your ranting is tiresome.

I've tried. They told me it was genetic. There's only one cure...

--

Herb Huston

unread,
Dec 7, 1992, 7:41:42 AM12/7/92
to
In article <1992Dec4.1...@julian.uwo.ca> jdni...@prism.ccs.uwo.ca (James Davis Nicoll) writes:
> I wonder whether it be easier to look at the inter-relation
>of genetics and behavior by studying closely related, but distinct
>species, rather than members of the same species.

If so, we'd better hurry. Geza Teleki has predicted that chimps will be
extinct in the wild in 40-60 years (he made the prediction several years
ago).

There are chimps in Guinea who use stone tools to crack nuts in hammer-anvil
fashion. One of them even used a third stone as a wedge to make her anvil
flat. There are fewer than 20 of these chimps.

> Is the tendency to religious behavior (and related types
>of behavior) assumed to be a negative trait? Although I am areligious
>myself, I can't help but wonder whether so universal a human behavior
>is entirely negative or neutral in effect.

Since it tends to strengthen group cohesion, it's probably positive for
members of the group.

There are writers who consider religious behavior to be a consequence of
human neoteny. Desmond Morris wrote briefly on it in _The Naked Ape_ in
the chapter on fighting and later expanded it into a chapter on religious
behavior in _Manwatching_. For a comprehensive treatment read _The Biology
Of God_ by Alister Hardy (this book might be tougher to find than Morris').

> Aside: have there been non-religious cultures?

None that I've ever heard of. Even Communism has its gods (Marx, Lenin, Mao),
its sacred writings (_Das Kapital_, _Sayings of Chairman Mao_), and its
holy-men (commissars).

-- Herb Huston
-- hus...@access.digex.com

young.u.huh

unread,
Dec 7, 1992, 1:40:27 PM12/7/92
to
If it is ever shown that there are genes for religious tendency,
there might be some interesting consequences. For one thing,
religious individuals would no longer need to explain, justify,
or defend their religiousness (although some may do so anyways).
They can simply say, "We're just born this way." After all,
many religious couples already believe that their children are
born in their religion. Would it be more/equally/less comforting
to them if such were shown to be a result of certain DNA-coding
in their cells?

Young Huh
yh...@ihlpe.att.com

Charles Geyer

unread,
Dec 7, 1992, 10:30:10 PM12/7/92
to
In articles <100...@netnews.upenn.edu> and <100...@netnews.upenn.edu>
wee...@sagi.wistar.upenn.edu (Matthew P Wiener) writes, and in article
<103...@bu.edu>, colby@bu-bio (Chris Colby) writes (MW is Matt, CC is Chris):

MW> There probably are such genes. See T J Bouchard Jr, D T Lykken, M McGue,
MW> N L Segal, A Tellegen "Sources of Human Psychological Differences: The
MW> Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart" SCIENCE (12 Oct 90) pp223-8

Now just a cotton-pickin minute. Heritability != genes. You know that.

CC> Here's three columns table 1 from Bouchard, et. al.
CC> time together until split time apart total contact
CC> mean 5.1 months 30 years 112 weeks
CC> SD 8.5 14.3 230.7
CC> range 0-48.7 0.5-64.7 1-1233

CC> Noticed there are twins "raised apart" who spent the first four
CC> years of their life together(*).

True, but Bouchard et al. are not rabid genetic determinists. They say
(p. 226) that "all of [the MZA twins] were reared apart through the formative
periods of childhood and adolescence". They concede that common prenatal
environment and common environment in early infancy is confounded with the
genetic variance.

MW> So? Look at the mean and standard deviation.

This is basically irrelevant though. You know "time together until split
isn't normal". Why do the mean and SD tell you anything? How much would
you bet that only 5 or 6 of the 56 MZA pairs in this table were separated
before 16 mo.?

Basically you either agree that anything before 2 years of age doesn't count
as "environmental" or you ignore the study.

CC> Also some twin separation times were a whopping 1/2 year.

But this is irrelevant too. See the claim above that *all* of the twins
were "reared apart" throughout childhood and adolescence. The fact that
the twins may have met occasionally doesn't count (no reason, Bouchard, et
al. have to assume that given the data they've got). The short times in
the "time apart" column here are "time apart to first reunion". After the
first reunion they were apparently "reared apart" some more.

MW> Again, look at the mean and standard deviation.

Even more irrelevant here. Basically either this column doesn't mean
much or the study should be ignored.

CC> In addition, the average twins had been reunited for two years prior
CC> to the survey(**).
MW>
MW> What does this matter? They spend most of the article discussing IQ,
MW> but I find it hard to believe that in their measures of religiosity
MW> they failed to check if one twin converted another. A simple how
MW> many years sort of question, say.

Let's stick with IQ. That's a fairly bogus number, IQ = ability to do
simple tasks real quick, but at least it's been well studied. "Religiosity"
is hyperbogus.

CC> Despite this, we are supposed to believe that their environments were
CC> different.
MW>
MW> Well yes. Different, as in, not the same.

Now this totally misses the boat. This is the only serious question I have
about the study. Bouchard, et al. have a section "Do Environmental
Similarities in Rearing Environments Explain MZA IQ Similarity" so they
take this question much more seriously than Matt does. Chris doesn't
give any reason to question the argument of Bouchard, et al., so if this
were a debate, they'd win.

But it isn't, so let's look at their argument. Bouchard et al. have done
the only thing they can do to get at the question. They "adjusted for"
a variety of covariates and that didn't change the correlations much.
Hence one is forced to conclude the following. If (big if) these covariates
are the only environmental factors that influence IQ then "similarities in
rearing environments" do not explain "MZA IQ similarity". If you don't buy
the "big if", you can just say "correlation is not causation" and this paper
doesn't prove what it is trying to prove.

So what are the covariates they used (From Table 3 in the paper)?

Correlation between variable and IQ
SES indicators
Father's education 0.100
Mother's education -0.001
Father's SES 0.174
Physical facilities
Material possessions 0.279**
Scientific/Technical -0.090
Cultural -0.279**
Mechanical 0.077
Relevant FES scales
Achievement -0.103
Intellectual Orientation 0.106

SES = socioeconomic status
FES = Moos Family Environment Scale
** significant at P < .01 level

Note several things. (1) All but 2 of the "covariates" are garbage, pure
random noise. (2) There is the possibility of something funny (perhaps
a typo) about the two "significant" covariates. Are the correlations
really exactly equal and opposite? And is "culture" as they measure it
really "significantly" *negatively* correlated with IQ? (3) Even if there
is nothing funny about the duplication of 0.279, these are extremely weak
correlations. If X and Y have a correlation of 0.279, then the conditional
SD of Y given X is sqrt(1 - 0.279^2) = 0.96 times the unconditional SD.
So even the "statistically significant" covariates have almost no utility
for predicting IQ.

Conclusion: Bouchard et al. made an effort to check this, and they failed.
This section is unconvincing. It gives no one any reason to change their
prior opinion.

Can anyone think of any other covariates they might have included? How
about quality of schools? Years of schooling? Whether the twins were
jocks or not? Lots of things. All of these could be entirely responsible
for the results and none were apparently checked. Of course that's the
problem with *any* observational study. You can't check all possible
covariates. You can only hope that your audience agrees that you checked
all important ones. Here they didn't check any important ones.

CC> The authors claim this contact be ignored because there is no correlation
CC> between contact time and IQ difference between twins. It's worth your
CC> while to look at the scattergram of that data, however (Fig 1.)
MW>
MW> What of it? I don't see any correlation.

I have to agree with Matt on this one. I don't see anything suspicious in
Fig. 1 either.

You've got to hand it to Bouchard, et al. They seem to have done the
definitive study on the subject (despite being on the same campus, I
have no first-hand knowledge about them or their data). Presumably
their data are clean and honest, but their study suffers from the
drawbacks of any observational study and hence is not really convincing.
Look what you have to assume to get the conclusion that "IQ is mostly
genetic":

1. Nothing that happens before age 2 (approximately) has anything to do
with IQ.

2. The things that really affect IQ after age 2 were uncorrelated
with the rearing environments of the twin pairs.

The study gives no evidence whatsoever for either one. Both are pure
assumptions. Neither is likely to be true.

A true believer in "IQ is mostly genetic" hypothesis might claim
that I am holding Bouchard et al. to an impossible standard of proof.
There is no way (barring the return of the Nazis) that a controlled
experiment could be done to settle the issue. You can't treat people
like guinea pigs. Furthermore, almost all of psychology, sociology,
and economics suffers from the same problem.

But the fact remains that observational studies are often highly
misleading no matter how well done. In medicine where for a variety
of reasons we often insist on randomized controlled trials, it is very
common for uncontrolled (but otherwise well done) trials or case-control
studies to provide very strong indications that are completely contradicted
by follow-up randomized controlled trials.

So at the very least it is essential that researchers make every attempt
to seriously "adjust for" all relevant covariates. Bouchard et al. didn't.
If there are any environmental factors that affect IQ, there is nothing
in the design of this study to prevent them from being completely responsible
for the results.

Sorry for the statistics lecture, and I realize that nature vs. nurture
is outside the charter of talk.origins. I just couldn't resist.

--
Charles Geyer
School of Statistics
University of Minnesota
cha...@umnstat.stat.umn.edu

James Davis Nicoll

unread,
Dec 8, 1992, 2:43:46 PM12/8/92
to
Perhaps the human tendency towards religion is a side-effect
of another human ability. Is there a 'weak link' in the behaviors
associated with religion whose elimination would also prevent religious
behaviors? How radically would the absence of that ability change day-to-day
behavior of humans? what do 'religion-challenged' mass populations act
like?

I wonder about the ability to imagine in detail that which
is not present, and how it interacts with trust.


James Nicoll

Jeffrey Clark

unread,
Dec 8, 1992, 9:57:38 PM12/8/92
to

>In article <ByqtD...@usenet.ucs.indiana.edu> adpe...@sunflower.bio.indiana.edu (Andy Peters) writes:
>>
>>Unfortunately, searching for genes "for" behavioral traits in humans
>>is likely to be a fruitless exercise. There's a constantly-raging
>>debate about whether or not they even exist, and even if they do it's
>>likely to be pretty close to impossible to measure heritability.

> material deleted

>>Please note that I have no problem with the explanation of human
>>behavior in genetic terms; I'm actually quite sure that much behavior
>>is explicable, at least to some degree, by genetics. However, in
>>humans (since breeding designs are so difficult, parental effects are
>>so strong, and for other reasons), I think that the actual measurement
>>of the heritability of behavioral traits is not feasible.

Don't go around saying anything is impossible. The Human Genome project is
likely to be completed around 2010 (possibly earlier given some recent
software advances in the area), maybe then we will be able to do some cross
gene comparisons of differing trait structures, thereby identifying gene
sequences involved in the influencing of behaviour. Don't quote me but I
think it's something like 99.99% of our genes are identical to all other
humans therefore all the variety in the species including any genetically
determined behavioural differences will be due to that 0.01%. All we need do
is identify which is that 0.01% and off we go. Should be fuel for thousands
of research projects. Explanations from biologists of how I have completely
misunderstood the entire Genome project gratefully accepted.

Jeff.

Bruce Salem

unread,
Dec 8, 1992, 10:32:45 PM12/8/92
to
In article <1992Dec7.1...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com> yo...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com (young.u.huh) writes:
>If it is ever shown that there are genes for religious tendency,
>there might be some interesting consequences.

How would you define such a thing in terms of genetics?
The giggest word in the sentence is "If", and the question
begged is the biggest one you must answer.

> For one thing,
>religious individuals would no longer need to explain, justify,
>or defend their religiousness (although some may do so anyways).

Is this what you are really after? Some ironclad way to
give religion some authority you think it has lost due to scientific
objectivity? It is a bogus pursuit, and entirely beside the point.

>They can simply say, "We're just born this way." After all,
>many religious couples already believe that their children are
>born in their religion. Would it be more/equally/less comforting
>to them if such were shown to be a result of certain DNA-coding
>in their cells?

No, acutally just the opposite. People who believe religious
stuff, and in the supernatural, often fear what they think, mistakenly,
is a determinism of the natrual materialistic world. They think that
the mystery they imbue their faith with prevents them from being
made into just a number in someone's differential equation. It does
not matter that this view is a complete destortion of the claims
of science, and that it is often a ruse for the moral authoritarianism
and homocentrism or ethnocentrism, even, of their religion.

The natural depection of Mankind in a web of processes is neither
deterministic, nor is it so constrained so that lots of choices aren't
implicit in it without the need of a supernatural hand or suspension of
the rules. The model many people have of natural processes as if they
were simple machines, such as would be fashioned by engineers, is wrong.
The analogy gives a misleading view of the complexity of nature.

Bruce Salem

Andy Peters

unread,
Dec 8, 1992, 11:29:06 PM12/8/92
to

Well, since you asked :-)...

First of all, I explicitly and purposefully did _not_ say that
anything was impossible.

Secondly, since the proximal biochemical pathways leading to complex
behaviors are not even understood (correct me if I'm wrong, someone),
having the sequence of the entire human genome won't help one piddling
whit. Even if, once we have the human genome sequenced, we figure out
what all the gene products are, we still won't know how they interact,
or even what most of them do. Even if we figure that out, we won't
necessarily know when or where they're turned on. Even if we figure
that out, it won't do us any good, because we don't know what the
proximal cause of the behavior is to compare it to.

****uncalled-for, rampaging diatribe on****

Thirdly, IMHO, the HGP is nothing but an obnoxious, narcissistic,
pork-barrel project that only gets funded because obnoxious,
narcissistic, pork-barrel administro-ex-scientists convince obnoxious,
narcissistic, pork-barrel politicians that it will lead to the
discovery of genes for divorce and religion, allow them to genetically
determine who people will vote for, and help them get chicks.

****uncalled-for, rampaging diatribe off****

>Jeff.

Matthew P Wiener

unread,
Dec 9, 1992, 8:59:30 AM12/9/92
to
In article <1992Dec8.0...@news2.cis.umn.edu>, charlie@umnstat (Charles Geyer) writes:
>MW> There probably are such genes. See T J Bouchard Jr, D T Lykken, M McGue,
>MW> N L Segal, A Tellegen "Sources of Human Psychological Differences: The
>MW> Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart" SCIENCE (12 Oct 90) pp223-8

>Now just a cotton-pickin minute. Heritability != genes. You know that.

Yes. They include a nice example to this. Twins raised apart in the
USA are going to show much higher heritability for baseball than twins
raised apart in the USSR. This is clearly not genetic.

However, they keep dropping hints, which I assume are legitimate, that
there are significant differences between the MZA and DZA results, the
latter to come out in a forthcoming article. I've been gullible before
though, so you're right to complain about my "probably".

>MW> So? Look at the mean and standard deviation.

>This is basically irrelevant though. You know "time together until split"

>isn't normal. Why do the mean and SD tell you anything?

I'm not assuming its normal. I am assuming the distribution isn't too
flakey, so the mean (5.1mo) and SD (8.5mo) give me a vague sense that
much more than half were only together for less than 1 year. And in
particular, Chris Colby's snorting at the extremes was meaningless.

> How much would
>you bet that only 5 or 6 of the 56 MZA pairs in this table were separated
>before 16 mo.?

I would bet against that.

>Basically you either agree that anything before 2 years of age doesn't count
>as "environmental" or you ignore the study.

Actually, I would find most problematic the issue of even identifying how
long the twins were together after birth.

>CC> In addition, the average twins had been reunited for two years prior
>CC> to the survey(**).

>MW> What does this matter? They spend most of the article discussing IQ,
>MW> but I find it hard to believe that in their measures of religiosity
>MW> they failed to check if one twin converted another. A simple how
>MW> many years sort of question, say.

>Let's stick with IQ. That's a fairly bogus number, IQ = ability to do
>simple tasks real quick, but at least it's been well studied. "Religiosity"
>is hyperbogus.

Not so obvious. I'd agree that it's hyperbogus in the sense of any claim
that IQ measures intelligence is hyperbogus. I don't agree that it's bogus
in the sense that I expect some vague correlation would exist between my
intuition of religiosity and their scales. And when the statistic shows
the same similarity between MZAs and MZTs (and their hints at differences
with DZAs), I'll be more impressed that it is measuring something, sort of.

I was pointing out the possible contamination of one twin influencing the
religiosity of another after their meeting. If the scale weights for time,
as in "how many years have you believed in God" type questions for every
"do you believe in God" question, this would be protected against.

>But it isn't, so let's look at their argument. Bouchard et al. have done
>the only thing they can do to get at the question. They "adjusted for"
>a variety of covariates and that didn't change the correlations much.
>Hence one is forced to conclude the following. If (big if) these covariates
>are the only environmental factors that influence IQ then "similarities in
>rearing environments" do not explain "MZA IQ similarity". If you don't buy
>the "big if", you can just say "correlation is not causation" and this paper
>doesn't prove what it is trying to prove.

That is, in fact, the main published criticism. Just saying "correlation
is not causation" is not enough. Where is the correlation coming from?
I'd think most of us would be surprised to learn our adult religiosity
was mostly set by our toddler environment as if we were to learn that it
was our genetic inheritance.

>Note several things. (1) All but 2 of the "covariates" are garbage, pure
>random noise.

That was the point!

> (2) [...] And is "culture" as they measure it really


>"significantly" *negatively* correlated with IQ?

What did they mean by "culture"? Elvis records and TV GUIDES? We'd have
to look at their scales to figure this out, but it's not a priori funny.

The tone of your question suggests that you're missing the point of the
article, namely, our intuitions about where our IQ and the like come from
are mostly wrong.

> (3) Even if there
>is nothing funny about the duplication of 0.279, these are extremely weak

>correlations. [...]

Exactly! That's their point. The environmental variables they checked
came out weak.

>Conclusion: Bouchard et al. made an effort to check this, and they failed.
>This section is unconvincing. It gives no one any reason to change their
>prior opinion.

It may be unconvincing, for the reasons you give:

>Can anyone think of any other covariates they might have included? How
>about quality of schools? Years of schooling? Whether the twins were
>jocks or not? Lots of things. All of these could be entirely responsible
>for the results and none were apparently checked. Of course that's the
>problem with *any* observational study. You can't check all possible
>covariates. You can only hope that your audience agrees that you checked
>all important ones. Here they didn't check any important ones.

Without checking the scales, you can't assert that.

>You've got to hand it to Bouchard, et al. They seem to have done the
>definitive study on the subject (despite being on the same campus, I
>have no first-hand knowledge about them or their data).

So perhaps you'll have an easier time finding out where the rest of us
can find all the details.

> Presumably
>their data are clean and honest, but their study suffers from the
>drawbacks of any observational study and hence is not really convincing.

They have a control. MZA vs DZA.

>Look what you have to assume to get the conclusion that "IQ is mostly
>genetic":

> 1. Nothing that happens before age 2 (approximately) has anything to do
> with IQ.

> 2. The things that really affect IQ after age 2 were uncorrelated
> with the rearing environments of the twin pairs.

>The study gives no evidence whatsoever for either one. Both are pure
>assumptions. Neither is likely to be true.

So how do you explain their hinted differences between MZA/DZA scores?

Lionel Tun

unread,
Dec 9, 1992, 12:59:03 PM12/9/92
to

A very convenient line of argument. You can use it to `excuse'
any sort of behaviour. For example, "No need for me to go to
jail for this, your honour, the doctor has diagnosed that I
am a genetic kleptomaniac", or "Murder runs in the family, not
really my fault if I feel an urge to kill you".

In one fell swoop doctors replace the judiciary for legal
guidance and the priests for moral guidance. In fact they
have been called (by doctors) the new priests of society.

Anything which takes personal responsibility and answerability
away is very popular. Take the modern theory of evolution for
example. It denies the Creator so makes man free of His demands.


--
________________ ________________
/\ \ \ lio...@cs.city.ac.uk / / /\
/ \ \____ ___\ Lionel Tun / /___ ____/ \
\ \ \ \ \ Vision Group / / / /\ /

Charles Geyer

unread,
Dec 9, 1992, 2:58:15 PM12/9/92
to
In article <101...@netnews.upenn.edu> wee...@sagi.wistar.upenn.edu (Matthew P Wiener) writes:
>In article <1992Dec8.0...@news2.cis.umn.edu>, charlie@umnstat (Charles Geyer) writes:

>>Let's stick with IQ. That's a fairly bogus number, IQ = ability to do
>>simple tasks real quick, but at least it's been well studied. "Religiosity"
>>is hyperbogus.
>
>Not so obvious. I'd agree that it's hyperbogus in the sense of any claim
>that IQ measures intelligence is hyperbogus. I don't agree that it's bogus
>in the sense that I expect some vague correlation would exist between my
>intuition of religiosity and their scales. And when the statistic shows
>the same similarity between MZAs and MZTs (and their hints at differences
>with DZAs), I'll be more impressed that it is measuring something, sort of.

That isn't what I ment by "bogus". What I meant is that it is probably a
very "soft" number, calling it a measurement of anything is giving it too
much credit. Whatever IQ measures, at least all of us have some experience
with what it is. I would doubt that their scales of "religiosity" measure
anything reproducible.

>> ... let's look at their argument. Bouchard et al. have done


>>the only thing they can do to get at the question. They "adjusted for"
>>a variety of covariates and that didn't change the correlations much.
>>Hence one is forced to conclude the following. If (big if) these covariates
>>are the only environmental factors that influence IQ then "similarities in
>>rearing environments" do not explain "MZA IQ similarity". If you don't buy
>>the "big if", you can just say "correlation is not causation" and this paper
>>doesn't prove what it is trying to prove.
>
>That is, in fact, the main published criticism. Just saying "correlation
>is not causation" is not enough. Where is the correlation coming from?
>I'd think most of us would be surprised to learn our adult religiosity
>was mostly set by our toddler environment as if we were to learn that it
>was our genetic inheritance.
>
>>Note several things. (1) All but 2 of the "covariates" are garbage, pure
>>random noise.
>
>That was the point!

No it was not the point! And saying "correlation is not causation" *is*
enough. It is up to the researchers to show that "similarities in rearing
environments" do not explain "MZA IQ similarity". It is not up to me to
show that they do. Any other attitude is not science.

Bouchard et al. concede that there are large environmental influences on
IQ. But they do not know what the large environmental influences are.
The covariates they measured are not scientifically significant influences
since the correlations are too small. Hence it is a pure assumption (i. e.
mere wishful thinking) that the really significant environmental influences
are uncorrelated with rearing environments.

Bouchard et al. are in the same position here as the drunk looking under the
lamp post for his keys because the light is better. They showed that things
that *don't significantly influence IQ* are uncorrelated with rearing
environments when what they were supposed to do was show that essentially
all environmental influences on IQ are uncorrelated with rearing environments.

>The tone of your question suggests that you're missing the point of the
>article, namely, our intuitions about where our IQ and the like come from
>are mostly wrong.

No. That's putting the cart before the horse. If their statistics were
convincing, then I would pay attention to their interpretations. If their
statistics are bogus, their discussion isn't worth reading.

>>Can anyone think of any other covariates they might have included? How
>>about quality of schools? Years of schooling? Whether the twins were
>>jocks or not? Lots of things. All of these could be entirely responsible
>>for the results and none were apparently checked. Of course that's the
>>problem with *any* observational study. You can't check all possible
>>covariates. You can only hope that your audience agrees that you checked
>>all important ones. Here they didn't check any important ones.
>
>Without checking the scales, you can't assert that.

No I can. Covariates help *only* when they have some explanatory power,
i. e. when they have significant correlations with the response. Since
their covariates don't, they might as well have not been measured.

I'm repeating myself here, but perhaps this will help. What they want
are covariates that have large correlations with IQ and essentially no
correlation with rearing environments. That would say something. They
don't have that. What they have is covariates that don't have anything
to do with anything. They are unrelated to either IQ or rearing environments
and are hence irrelevant.

>They have a control. MZA vs DZA.

There are two meanings of the word "control" in statistics. One you see
in the phrase "randomized controlled trial" the other in "case-control
study". They have the second but not the first. This is not a controlled
experiment in the way that term is commonly used. This is an observational
study. The difference is that the allocation of the twins to "rearing
environments" is accidental and may be correlated with environmental factors
that influence IQ. Comparing MZA vs DZA doesn't change that a bit.

>>Look what you have to assume to get the conclusion that "IQ is mostly
>>genetic":
>
>> 1. Nothing that happens before age 2 (approximately) has anything to do
>> with IQ.
>
>> 2. The things that really affect IQ after age 2 were uncorrelated
>> with the rearing environments of the twin pairs.
>
>>The study gives no evidence whatsoever for either one. Both are pure
>>assumptions. Neither is likely to be true.
>
>So how do you explain their hinted differences between MZA/DZA scores?

Possible correlation between environmental influences on IQ and rearing
environments. There's no way to get out of this except to know what those
influences are and measure them.

Daniel A Ashlock

unread,
Dec 9, 1992, 3:36:48 PM12/9/92
to
Does that make him an environemntalist?

In article <1992Dec9.1...@city.cs>, lio...@cs.city.ac.uk (Lionel Tun)
writes:


> Anything which takes personal responsibility and answerability
> away is very popular. Take the modern theory of evolution for
> example. It denies the Creator so makes man free of His demands.

Goddamnit Lionel, could you at least acknowledge your fellow Christians who
think evolution is a tribute to the genius of the creator instead of trying,
again, to show evolution is bad because it has undesireable consequences? Could
you at least locate an undeasireable consequence that is not the product of
your fevered imagination? If God caused man to evolve, how does that free us
from Him?

In other news, genetic predisposition is _not_ a broadly recognized defense.
It is a useful warning if known that enables better preplanning. If, for
example, your parents had known you had a genetic predisposition to incredible
stupidity, they might have gotten you added tutoring to compensate.

IMNSHO knowing you have a genetic predisposition to a bad condition places
ADDED responsibility on you. I'm a heart attack prone (based on familly
history) and thus have a GREATER duty to watch my health so that my kids (who
depend on me for financial support) will not come up short. I don't say,
"well, if I die it's not my fault", I rather say "Gosh, shit! I better be more
careful than a normal person".

It's only a moral reprobate like you who has already abandoned every shred
of personal responsibility to a stupid cult that would even think genetic
predisposition was a _defense_. It's an added cross to bear; an increased
responsibility. For the record: go to hell Lionel, you're a jerk who can't be
bothered to think, read, or understand.

Dan
Dan...@IASTATE.EDU
*whew* I feel a little better. Judge: is that a potential for the "white hot
flame award" or was I too temperate?

Loren King

unread,
Dec 9, 1992, 5:37:50 PM12/9/92
to
In article <1992Dec9.1...@city.cs>, lio...@cs.city.ac.uk (Lionel Tun) writes:
|> In article <1992Dec7.1...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com> yo...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com (young.u.huh) writes:
|> >If it is ever shown that there are genes for religious tendency,
|> >there might be some interesting consequences. For one thing,
|> >religious individuals would no longer need to explain, justify,
|> >or defend their religiousness (although some may do so anyways).
|> >They can simply say, "We're just born this way." After all,
|> >many religious couples already believe that their children are
|> >born in their religion. Would it be more/equally/less comforting
|> >to them if such were shown to be a result of certain DNA-coding
|> >in their cells?
|>
|> A very convenient line of argument. You can use it to `excuse'
|> any sort of behaviour. For example, "No need for me to go to
|> jail for this, your honour, the doctor has diagnosed that I
|> am a genetic kleptomaniac", or "Murder runs in the family, not
|> really my fault if I feel an urge to kill you".
|>
|> In one fell swoop doctors replace the judiciary for legal
|> guidance and the priests for moral guidance. In fact they
|> have been called (by doctors) the new priests of society.

Well, I wonder if I wouldn't rather have doctors and neurophysiologists
working on criminal minds than judges, priests and moralists?



|> Anything which takes personal responsibility and answerability
|> away is very popular. Take the modern theory of evolution for
|> example. It denies the Creator so makes man free of His demands.

Not take away responsibility, but rather, effectively explain and alter the
actions for which some people are responsible ... morality, religion, and their
attendant legal norms represent one attempt; science tries to supplement and
make more effective legal norms.

|>
|>
|> --
|> ________________ ________________
|> /\ \ \ lio...@cs.city.ac.uk / / /\
|> / \ \____ ___\ Lionel Tun / /___ ____/ \
|> \ \ \ \ \ Vision Group / / / /\ /


Loren King
MIT

Wild and Crazy Kind of Girl

unread,
Dec 9, 1992, 2:27:19 PM12/9/92
to
Probably not such a thing. After all Madalyn Murray O'Hair's son, William,
is now a Bible-beating fanatic...

Shari

Bruce Salem

unread,
Dec 9, 1992, 10:04:32 PM12/9/92
to
In article <1992Dec9.1...@city.cs> lio...@cs.city.ac.uk (Lionel Tun) writes:
>Anything which takes personal responsibility and answerability
>away is very popular. Take the modern theory of evolution for
>example. It denies the Creator so makes man free of His demands.

Thank you, Lionel, you give fuel to my contention that Christianity
is basically a bankrupt authoritarian trip, having no spiritual substance,
"love" be dammed, you, and your ilk would condemn anyone who doesn't
see the world as you do to eternal damnation.

So, dear sir, your solution to the pain and problems of this
world is to make the unformtunate take the blame for their misfortune.
I take it you would bring back witch burning as a cure for deviant
behavior. Now, I also take it that you do not believe in an organic,
chemical basis, for mental illness, or even that it is an illness to
be "crazy", and that people who are abbarent should be punished for
that even if it is widely believed that their behavior is not due to
something of their own intention.

The issue, kind sir (which I doubt, full of judgement, full of
censure) is not whether everyone is culpable, but who aren't. I agree
that the matter can be controversial, but I also seriously doubt that
your attitudes help.

Now, is this nonsense really what the whole debate in this
group boils down to, not the scientific basis of evolution, but
the motal fear of religious bigots, like yourself, that the world
doesn't neatly divide itself up into moral evaluation according to
chapter and verse, and that final goal of you fear mongers is to
get everyone into an unthinking lockstep of referral of every decision
to the Bible, no questions askable. So you would be some kind of
faschistic character trying to erase uncertianty, and along with it
choice and the potentional for people to make their own mistakes.

No thank you, I'll take the world according to science with
evolution, with the world "red in tooth and claw". Next you would
have me believe that two millenia of Christianity has been bloodless.
But a more bloodthrirsty crew I do no know than Christians, who would
just as soon kill each other as kill unbelievers. At least pery in
the animal world are not wasted in death, nor are they killed with
a grudge. So the crucifix is but a chip on your shoulder. I don't
think I can knock it off, but the way you use it damms you rather
than me.

Bruce Salem

Steven Fisher

unread,
Dec 10, 1992, 8:11:46 AM12/10/92
to
In article <1992Dec9.1...@city.cs> lio...@cs.city.ac.uk (Lionel Tun) writes:

|>A very convenient line of argument. You can use it to `excuse'
|>any sort of behaviour. For example, "No need for me to go to
|>jail for this, your honour, the doctor has diagnosed that I
|>am a genetic kleptomaniac", or "Murder runs in the family, not
|>really my fault if I feel an urge to kill you".

Or, how about: I have repented to the Lord, and now I am saved!
No need for me to go to jail for this, your honor.

|>
|>In one fell swoop doctors replace the judiciary for legal
|>guidance and the priests for moral guidance. In fact they
|>have been called (by doctors) the new priests of society.
|>
|>Anything which takes personal responsibility and answerability
|>away is very popular. Take the modern theory of evolution for
|>example. It denies the Creator so makes man free of His demands.

You stupid ass. Evolution says *nothing* about the existance of a
"Creator". You have been told that repeatedly, yet you continue to
propagate such lies. As a Christian who believes that the theory of
evolution is basically correct, I am deeply offended by *ALL* of your
posts.

-steve

Don't forget to chant:

Lionel is a liar;
Lionel is a moron;
Lionel is a jerk.

John A. Johnson

unread,
Dec 10, 1992, 8:00:39 AM12/10/92
to
In article <1992Dec9.1...@city.cs>, lio...@cs.city.ac.uk (Lionel Tun)
says:

>
>In article <1992Dec7.1...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com> yo...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com
>(young.u.huh) writes:
>>If it is ever shown that there are genes for religious tendency,
>>there might be some interesting consequences. For one thing,
>>religious individuals would no longer need to explain, justify,
>>or defend their religiousness (although some may do so anyways).
>>They can simply say, "We're just born this way." After all,
>>many religious couples already believe that their children are
>>born in their religion. Would it be more/equally/less comforting
>>to them if such were shown to be a result of certain DNA-coding
>>in their cells?
>
>A very convenient line of argument. You can use it to `excuse'
>any sort of behaviour. For example, "No need for me to go to
>jail for this, your honour, the doctor has diagnosed that I
>am a genetic kleptomaniac", or "Murder runs in the family, not
>really my fault if I feel an urge to kill you".
>
If you think jailing people is really based on abstract conceptions
such as "justice," "personal responsibility," "morality," etc.,
you might want reconsider. The purpose of jailing people is to get
persons who are threats to the social order out of circulation.

Therefore I might "excuse" a murderer as a hapless victim of his/her
criminal genes or lousy homelife growing up, but I'm still going to
lock the person up so s/he doesn't kill anyone else.

Warren Vonroeschlaub

unread,
Dec 10, 1992, 11:45:07 AM12/10/92
to
In article <85...@ut-emx.uucp>, sh...@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu (Wild and Crazy Kind of

Girl) writes:
> Probably not such a thing. After all Madalyn Murray O'Hair's son, William,
> is now a Bible-beating fanatic...

I agree. If there is any genetic tendancy (or just inheritable) for
"religious" behaviour, I doubt that it is "religious" in the standard way one
means this.

Far more likely it is some sort of tendancy for "conviction" (for lack of a
better word). Many of the most Bible thumping hard nosed Christians I have met
were originally hard nosed atheists. The people who were mild atheists (or just
barely Christian as I was) seem to become more laid back Christians after
conversion.

Likewise, some of the most vocal atheists I know seem to have equally
convicted religious parents. If anything is inherited, it is not the
religiousness as much as the conviction.

| __L__
-|- ___ Warren Kurt vonRoeschlaub
| | o | kv...@iastate.edu
|/ `---' Iowa State University
/| ___ Math Department
| |___| 400 Carver Hall
| |___| Ames, IA 50011
J _____

Robert Beauchaine

unread,
Dec 10, 1992, 1:13:54 PM12/10/92
to
In article <1992Dec9.1...@city.cs> lio...@cs.city.ac.uk (Lionel Tun) writes:
>
>A very convenient line of argument. You can use it to `excuse'
>any sort of behaviour. For example, "No need for me to go to
>jail for this, your honour, the doctor has diagnosed that I
>am a genetic kleptomaniac", or "Murder runs in the family, not
>really my fault if I feel an urge to kill you".
>

Why is it that few groups can hit my rage button better than you
self grandiosed christians?

Thank you once again for exemplifying the christian ideal of
compassion, Lionel. Of course, your reasoning is understandable;
you probably believe schizophrenia is the result of demonic
possession, most likely at the request of the possessed.

I certainly hope that you and your fundamentalist christian
cohorts are one day shown to be mentally incompetent. The
alternative is that you are in full possession of your faculties,
in which case you are to the last man ignorant, hate mongering
bastards.

See you in hell, Lionel.

>In one fell swoop doctors replace the judiciary for legal
>guidance and the priests for moral guidance. In fact they
>have been called (by doctors) the new priests of society.

I have no doubt they could do a far better job at moral guidance
than your religion has done over the last 2 thousand years. Pick
up a history book, Lionel. Have a look at the legacy your
precious moral arbiters have left for themselves. Even this pales
in comparison to the hate and terror your very lord and savior
brought upon all but his chosen people for thousands of years.

There is only one personality defect that I cannot stand in another
person: intolerance. And I have found few less tolerant people than
the group you represent.

>Anything which takes personal responsibility and answerability
>away is very popular. Take the modern theory of evolution for
>example. It denies the Creator so makes man free of His demands.

Stuff it, Lionel. You're obviously too fucking thick to realize
that the only person here who's in denial is you. Or are you
perhaps finally ready to present that complete and coherent theory
of creationism you've promised for so long?

Bob "yes I've had a bad day and I'm taking it out on Lionel"
Beauchaine.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Bob Beauchaine bo...@vice.ICO.TEK.COM

"Look, I tried the cat experiment. On the third trial, the cat was
dead. On each of the subsequent 413 trials, it remained dead. Am I
doing something wrong?"
James Nicoll

Q. How many Heisenbergs does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. If you know the number, you don't know where the light bulb is!

Seanna Watson

unread,
Dec 10, 1992, 1:19:52 PM12/10/92
to
In article <1992Dec9.1...@city.cs> lio...@cs.city.ac.uk (Lionel Tun) writes:
>
>Anything which takes personal responsibility and answerability
>away is very popular. Take the modern theory of evolution for
>example. It denies the Creator so makes man free of His demands.
>

<sigh>

Here is what the theory of evolution denies:

o That the universe, the earth and life were created fully formed less
than 10K years ago.

o That the Bible is everywhere literally true and factually accurate.

o That humans are descended from a specially created couple.

Creationists may (and many do) say that if one does not believe these
things, one is not a Christian. This is certainly a very restrictive
definition of Christianity, and contradicts the claims of many non-
creationists who claim to be Christians, but it is at least consistent.

BUT, evolution does not deny the existence of a Creator. There is
nothing about evolution that frees people from God's demands, any more
than I am freed of God's demands because I was not miraculously created,
but came to being due to a chance meeting of two half-cells.

On the contrary, I can see a way that a literal belief in Genesis removes
personal responsibility: I look at the story of Adam an Eve as an allegory
or parable (and we certainly have evidence that God likes to teach using
parables). It describes how people tend to turn away from God, and ignore
God's demands. It applies to me personally--I also sometimes make bad
choices. And I am personally responsible for the choices which I make.
But if Adam and Eve were the ancestors of all people, and all people sin
because A&E sinned, and passed sin down to their descendents, then it's
not my fault when I do wrong--I cannot do otherwise, because I inherited
an evil nature.

--
Seanna Watson Bell-Northern Research,
(sea...@bnr.ca) Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Opinions, what opinions? Oh *these* opinions. | Occam's razor split
No, they're not BNR's, they're mine. | hairs so well, I bought
I knew I'd left them somewhere. | the whole argument.


Mikel Evins

unread,
Dec 10, 1992, 4:37:06 PM12/10/92
to
In article <1992Dec9.1...@city.cs> lio...@cs.city.ac.uk (Lionel Tun) writes:
>A very convenient line of argument. You can use it to `excuse'
>any sort of behaviour. For example, "No need for me to go to
>jail for this, your honour, the doctor has diagnosed that I
>am a genetic kleptomaniac", or "Murder runs in the family, not
>really my fault if I feel an urge to kill you".

This assertion is tangential and irrelevant to the previous post.
If you intend it to be an argument for why there cannot be
genetic causes of behavior, it fails because it is simply an
implied ad hominem attack, specifically, a case of poisoning the
well.

>Anything which takes personal responsibility and answerability
>away is very popular.

No it isn't. Take the insanity defense, for example. It is quite
unpopular, though it is used in cases where a defense attorney
thinks it might work, because there is reason to suppose that
a person laboring under certain kinds of mental dysfunction cannot
distinguish right from wrong.

>Take the modern theory of evolution for
>example. It denies the Creator so makes man free of His demands.

No it doesn't. For one thing, there are Christians who are
not 'scientific' Creationists.

Mark A Biggar

unread,
Dec 10, 1992, 6:23:00 PM12/10/92
to

At least for the first asumption above there is good evidence that it is false,
at least at the group level. There are lots od studies that show that
nutrition during the first 2 years of life strongly correlates with IQ.
The one study showed a 10 point IQ difference due to good vs bad nutrition
with a high correlation factor.

--
Mark Biggar
m...@wdl1.dl.loral.com

Kent Sandvik

unread,
Dec 10, 1992, 8:52:41 PM12/10/92
to
In article <1992Dec9.1...@city.cs>, lio...@cs.city.ac.uk (Lionel
Tun) wrote:
> Anything which takes personal responsibility and answerability
> away is very popular. Take the modern theory of evolution for
> example. It denies the Creator so makes man free of His demands.

I think there's a difference between popularity and scientific
scrutiny. But then again scientifically verified theories becomes
usually quite popular, because people want to believe in things
that they could verify themselves.

Stephen L. DeKorte

unread,
Dec 27, 1992, 12:29:02 AM12/27/92
to
In article <1992Dec9.1...@city.cs> lio...@cs.city.ac.uk (Lionel Tun) writes:
In article <1992Dec7.1...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com> yo...@cbnewsh.cb.att.com (young.u.huh) writes:
>>They can simply say, "We're just born this way."
>A very convenient line of argument. You can use it to `excuse'
>any sort of behaviour.

Only if one falsely assumes that free will is neccesary for the
administration of punishment. It all comes down to what you
consider the purpose of punishment to be.
Ex:Ask yourself:

Is the purpose of jail to right a wrong/just an injustice/get one eye for another?

Or is it to act as a deterent to crime and to protect society from harmfull elements
by removing them from society and perphaps even reforming them?

>Anything which takes personal responsibility and answerability
>away is very popular. Take the modern theory of evolution for
>example. It denies the Creator so makes man free of His demands.

It also reminds us that nature's judgement(selection) has nothing to do
with free will. (The Devil made me say that-but dont judge me,least yea be judged)

Steve Dekorte

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages