Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

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Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#1  Postby HAJiME » Sep 15, 2011 8:51 pm

As the title says. Books, web pages or just information you have to share. Quite interested in how much environment shapes who we are.

Thaaaaanks.
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#2  Postby Doubtdispelled » Sep 15, 2011 10:20 pm

:coffee:
Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.

― Mark Twain
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#3  Postby Pulsar » Sep 15, 2011 10:30 pm

"The longer I live the more I see that I am never wrong about anything, and that all the pains that I have so humbly taken to verify my notions have only wasted my time." - George Bernard Shaw
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#4  Postby zoon » Sep 15, 2011 10:35 pm

"Nature via Nurture: Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human" (2003) by Matt Ridley, and "Design for A Life: how behaviour develops" (1999) by Patrick Bateson and Paul Martin, are both readable, though published some time ago. The central message of both is that nature is not in opposition to nurture, genes respond to the environment, and these responses evolved.
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#5  Postby SafeAsMilk » Sep 15, 2011 10:44 pm

:popcorn:
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#6  Postby Mr.Samsa » Sep 16, 2011 6:57 am



I'd strongly recommend against reading Pinker's book. His is a political piece that mostly misrepresents scientific history in order to further his own personal agenda.

The books recommended by Zoon are far better, in my opinion.
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#7  Postby odorikomi » Oct 01, 2011 2:41 am

I found Sex on the Brain: The Biological Differences Between Men and Women , by Deborah Blum to be interesting and accessible. Pretty much focused on the evolutionary biology of gender differences and well written. I wouldn't consider it a "hard science" book although all of the research and footnotes are there. Just felt more colloquial.
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#8  Postby E. Samedi » Nov 18, 2011 1:36 am

Samsa wrote:I'd strongly recommend against reading Pinker's book. His is a political piece that mostly misrepresents scientific history in order to further his own personal agenda.


Pinker's right wing temperament does occasionally show through. I didn't find the section on punishment and prison, for example, very convincing. Apparently, getting tough is a standard part of the right mindset. Still, I found this book informative, and the science largely sound. This topic requires a brave and unsentimental treatment to combat millennia of woo-based thinking.

In any event, there are much worse offenders like SJ Gould whose work was overshadowed by politicization to the point that it ceased being good science. "NOMA", are you kidding me?
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#9  Postby Bribase » Nov 18, 2011 2:37 am

E. Samedi wrote:
Samsa wrote:I'd strongly recommend against reading Pinker's book. His is a political piece that mostly misrepresents scientific history in order to further his own personal agenda.


Pinker's right wing temperament does occasionally show through. I didn't find the section on punishment and prison, for example, very convincing. Apparently, getting tough is a standard part of the right mindset. Still, I found this book informative, and the science largely sound. This topic requires a brave and unsentimental treatment to combat millennia of woo-based thinking.

In any event, there are much worse offenders like SJ Gould whose work was overshadowed by politicization to the point that it ceased being good science. "NOMA", are you kidding me?


:offtopic:

I'm going to start a topic on Pinker's new book, The Better Angels of our Nature once I have read a substantial amount of it. I'm really interested to hear what your take on it is. I'm not very familiar with Stephen Pinker's work before now and would love to hear if you think the premise of his new book is flawed or politically driven.

I left a video presentation of his new book on Inkasteppa's thread here.
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#10  Postby Mr.Samsa » Nov 18, 2011 3:32 am

E. Samedi wrote:
Samsa wrote:I'd strongly recommend against reading Pinker's book. His is a political piece that mostly misrepresents scientific history in order to further his own personal agenda.


Pinker's right wing temperament does occasionally show through. I didn't find the section on punishment and prison, for example, very convincing. Apparently, getting tough is a standard part of the right mindset. Still, I found this book informative, and the science largely sound. This topic requires a brave and unsentimental treatment to combat millennia of woo-based thinking.


Yes and no. Beyond his speculation and poetic license, most of the research he presents to defend his views is good science, but the problem is that the entire slant of the book and underlying premise is a massive strawman. The idea that we need to overthrow blank slate thinking, and particularly the idea that science has adopted some blank slate sympathies, is simply so far removed from reality that it's difficult to understand why Pinker believes it. The best example is how he presents behaviorism as promoting a blank slate viewpoint, when it's obvious to anyone who has taken a single psychology course (and presumably any distinguished psychology professor) that it's impossible to view behaviorism as blank slatist since it's founder and subsequent major proponents have all emphasised the importance of genetics and biology on behavior. To erect this strawman, Pinker has to quotemine Watson by leaving out the last sentences of his "12 infants" quote to make it look like he believed that learning could result in a child being made to adopt any personality or skills, when in reality he went on to point out that this is an obvious exaggeration.

E. Samedi wrote:In any event, there are much worse offenders like SJ Gould whose work was overshadowed by politicization to the point that it ceased being good science. "NOMA", are you kidding me?


I'm not sure if Gould is a "worse" offender, but I agree that political beliefs ruin good books on science.
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#11  Postby seeker » Nov 20, 2011 5:51 pm

Two recommendations:

Scher, Rauscher et al. (2002). Evolutionary Psychology: Alternative Approaches.
http://ifile.it/a5g6io/ebooksclub.org__ ... xk4x5z.pdf
The book presents several criticisms to narrow evolutionary psychology, and offers several alternatives.

Oyama et al. (1985). The Ontogeny of Information: Developmental Systems and Evolution.
http://ifile.it/zdk6pw/ebooksclub.org__ ... xk4x5z.pdf
The book presents several criticisms to gene-centered views, and offers several alternatives.
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#12  Postby seeker » Nov 24, 2011 3:59 am

Another recommendation:
Oyama, Griffiths, Gray. (2001). Cycles of Contingency: Developmental Systems and Evolution.
http://ifile.it/co3seu/ebooksclub.org__ ... xk4x5z.pdf
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#13  Postby Beatsong » Feb 05, 2012 11:43 pm

Not as scholarly as some of the recommendations above and unashamedly presenting one side of the story - but a worthwhile read anyway, is BOUNCE, by Matthew Syed. I thinks it usefully points out some of the factors people often overlook on the nurture side of things, such as the crucial role of expert tuition at exactly the right time.

Another one I enjoyed some time ago was GENIUS EXPLAINED, by Michael J A Howe. He presents the same side of the argument largely through specific case studies of people like Einstein, Mozart etc.

I find this subject fascinating but sometimes worry that I don't have sufficient scientific background to understand the other side of the argument, from the nature POV. In fact I recently started a thread asking for book recommendations about that here - so you might find those helpful too. As a matter of fact I just took delivery of some of them a few days ago, but haven't got going on them yet.
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#14  Postby FredJackM » Jun 28, 2012 10:23 pm

Free will , by Sam Harris http://www.amazon.com/Free-Will-Sam-Harris/dp/1451683405
No, I didnt think it was a good book at all - too shallow.. BUT, in my view, any and every discussion about "nature vs nurture" starts on an entirely "wrong" premise - Its not a "vs" situation - both nature and nurture are components of the " matrix of causal determinants" which result in, well, everything.

It is a strange one.. Determinism was probably scientifically "proved" first by Laplace, and discarded because QP seemed to give a "way out" of this uncomfortable idea.. but the idea is as valid as it ever was.

Alas, I have not found a good book yet on this subject - so have started writing one.. this is my first attempt at anything more than a thesis, so whether it turns out to be a "good" book (or even ever gets published) is yet another thing to be "determined" by the matrix !
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#15  Postby DavidMcC » Jun 29, 2012 12:08 pm

FredJackM wrote:Free will , by Sam Harris http://www.amazon.com/Free-Will-Sam-Har ... 1451683405

No comment! :what:
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#16  Postby NamelessFaceless » Jun 29, 2012 2:12 pm

If you want to read a real-life case study, try:

As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#17  Postby DavidMcC » Jun 29, 2012 3:19 pm

NamelessFaceless wrote:If you want to read a real-life case study, try:

As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl


I'm not sure that gender-changing is a good case for the anyhow false dichotomy of nature v. nurture, Nameless, because it involves operations and hormone treatment, not just "upbringing". Gender has too large a physical component.

EDIT: Sex hormones do more than just colour your outlook on life.
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#18  Postby NamelessFaceless » Jun 29, 2012 6:35 pm

DavidMcC wrote:
NamelessFaceless wrote:If you want to read a real-life case study, try:

As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl


I'm not sure that gender-changing is a good case for the anyhow false dichotomy of nature v. nurture, Nameless, because it involves operations and hormone treatment, not just "upbringing". Gender has too large a physical component.

EDIT: Sex hormones do more than just colour your outlook on life.


Fair enough, but it's a fascinating story.
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#19  Postby Mr.Samsa » Jun 30, 2012 1:16 am

DavidMcC wrote:
NamelessFaceless wrote:If you want to read a real-life case study, try:

As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl


I'm not sure that gender-changing is a good case for the anyhow false dichotomy of nature v. nurture, Nameless, because it involves operations and hormone treatment, not just "upbringing". Gender has too large a physical component.

EDIT: Sex hormones do more than just colour your outlook on life.


Not to mention that it assumes that a parent who knows their child is a boy would raise their child in the same way a parent who knows their child is a girl would raise them. And, of course, the kid in that example was sexually, physically, and mentally abused throughout his entire childhood by the "therapist" who was supposed to be helping the family..
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Re: Any good reads on the nature vs nurture concept?

#20  Postby FredJackM » Jun 30, 2012 1:18 am

DavidMcC wrote:

No comment! :what:


Why no comment?

It is a crap book (as I said) - but it at least mentions (LOL) the most fundamental illusion that humanity, almost universally embraces.

IMO, the ideas of "freedom" and "responsibility" are all grounded in the false premice that we have "free will" - When looking at "nature vs nurture" there is always a "political pull" towards one 'side' or the other - Realization of determinism changes the whole paradigm - both nature and nurture simply become "causes" in a matrix of causal determinants, and this "matrix" is collosal (well, its the entire universe, from the big bang or whatever, onward..)

Without factoring the determinism, every analysis of behaviour is flawed to the point of near uselessness. It is only when policy is based on rational objectives which have the result of feeding the required "inputs" to the "matrix" (as, for example, when "penalty" for "crimes" are designed to give greatest deterence - but neither 'punishment' or 'retribution' or - dare I say it -even "justice" have any part in the process - the process is optimised to benefit the "criminals" rehabilitation and feed the 'right' data into the matrix to reduce the probability that others will "offend") that things will get better.

While we live with the free-will illusion, almost everything we do is erronious, and almost all our analysis is facile.

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