Leda Cosmides and John Tooby’s article
Evolutionary psychology deals with decoding the instincts that we may be “programmed with”, or tendencies passed down through our genetic makeup, and tries to explain our behavior through the lens of these tendencies. “These circuits organize the way we interpret our experiences, inject certain recurrent concepts and motivations into our mental life, and provide universal frames of meaning that allow us to understand the actions and intentions of others. Beneath the level of surface variability, all humans share certain views and assumptions about the nature of the world and human action by virtue of these human universal reasoning circuits.” According to current behavioral research, people inherit more from their parents genetically, by far, than from years of upbringing. I’m thinking specifically of Freakenomics, the book that exposed how little parenting effects the “success” of a child, whatever that means for the authors.
The author highlights that our brain is like a “wet computer”, designed to deal with obstacles that plagued our ancestors, specifically necessary for action and movement. This sounds misleading and intelligent designy. We should say the people left on earth were those that happened to be resistant to these obstacles through highly functioning and complex system, or just lucky at the right moment.
They write that many social and experimental psychologists have “neglected to study some of the most interesting machinery in the human mind” by avoiding the subject of the “machinery”s evolutionary purpose. But I think, and it may have been Jaron Lanier that first introduced this concept to me, when talking about vestigial mental capacity, that there is a lot of doubt about our ability to deduce the evolutionary significance of certain mental mechanisms, since many stages of evolution have resulted in a, possibly “fittest”, yet ultimately randomly combined model that survived based on the combinatorial quality of its parts, not the individual mechanisms. Since the parts may have been formed and proven advantageous because of their interaction with other parts, or because of their own benefits to unknown and possibly unimagined natural challenges, it is difficult to make the kind of sense of our mind that the author seems to be getting excited about.
Their use of the words “design” and organism’s architecture is a little inconsistent with the newer models of natural selection that hold the gene as the unit of evolution. This makes organism behavior more complicated than the evidence of its benefits. It is also inconsistent with the way that natural selection works, through the process of eliminating unsuccessful attempts ONLY, while design seeks to anticipate and problem solve, eliminating only in the case of unsuccessful attempts. I’m very weary of this view of nature because while it works to explain, it can be pretty misleading.
Early this week I finally fixed the problems I was having with my GSR sensor, but it may be a little while longer before I totally understand how the capacitor and resistor are working together, and why such a set up works better.
Next I installed the new versions of Arduino, Processing, the Android SDK, and began to work on the mobile component.
I also set up the bluetooth arduino, the bluetooth with the lilipad arduino, and a smaller portable battery. I did not get around to making the gar wearable that I envisioned, with two rings or bracelets for the sensor as of Tuesday night I’ll keep working on it though.
I want to finish the wearable part of this this week, and I’d like to start coordinating this with other readings soon, I don’t find the data super interesting without reference to other aspects of the environment. But it is exciting to be collecting it finally.