August 1998 Notebook Entries

Notebook entry, August 20, 1998

In the August 17th 98 issue of The New Yorker, p. 54, under the banner of Annals of Behavior, comes a very important article entitled "Do Parents Matter?" by Malcom Gladwell, staff writer for the magazine.  Basically the article is about a New Jersey grandmother, Judith Rich Harris, whose primary vocation was writing developmental psychology textbooks when suddenly she realized the fact that children were more motivated to learn about their environments from their peers than from their parents.  Since September of 1994, when her first article appeared in the journal Psychological Review, she has been writing a book on the subject titled The Nurture Assumption due for Fall 98 publication.  It is, to quote Gladwell, "a graceful, lucid, and utterly persuasive assault on virtually every tenet of child development."  In other words, it is an assault on the assumption that parents shape most of a child personality and attempts to shift that focus onto the group of peers that the child voyages through life with.  So, a victory for those of us that believe that group selection and rejection are more powerful than once thought is about to explode onto the evolutionary scene beginning this fall.  All I can say is: Yahoo!

Notebook entry, August 18, 1998. 

Press release from Bob Calverley at the University of Southern California claiming that a USC scientist has found the missing link in the origin of speech. Dr. Michael A. Arbib, in a article published the journal Trends in Neuroscience, May 98 issue, have located what researchers describe as a "group of neurons in the brains of monkeys--neurons that discharge when the monkey grasps or manipulates an object and when it sees the experimenter making similar actions."  Dr. Arbib claims that the neurons provide the mechanisms for development of "inter-individual communication, and finally of speech."  Contact: Bob Calverley for more information.

Notebook entry, August 14, 1998

Utne Reader Online, which is a service of Utne Reader, the paper magazine, had a discussion of Professor Robin Dunbar's book Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language, Harvard University Press, 1997 in their "Culture" section.  I am reading the book this week, and most likely will include the book in my Recommended Readings section.   You may read the discussion by going to:   You will have to register your name and email address in order to read the review.

Notebook entry, August 12, 1998

I will be spending most of the next two weeks sprucing up the web site in anticipation of the fall season.  As most of the visitors to this web site are students, that means it is the perfect time to work on this.  I have spent considerable time adding photo icons to books that are located in the Books by Subject section.  Sales from this section are poor and I wanted to add mechanisms that would liven up that section.  I have found that keeping up a web site is similar to keeping up a house of bricks and mortar.  It takes constant care and patching this or that.  Additions and renovations must be thought out or attempted at whim.  And, at the same time it gives me a great sense of ownership pride and there are feelings of hurt if the site receives criticisms, weather they are justified or not.   I believe that it represents a combination of internalization and externalization in my cognitive process.  Interesting.

Notebook entry, August 5, 1998

Well, I finally followed my own advice.  No, I didn't get a life beyond evolutionary psychology!  After the American  stock market's large correction on August 4th, 1998, I went and bought some Apple Computer Stock.  We are talking big money here folks -- all of 30 shares.   When I fist recommended readers to buy the stock, it was sitting somewhere around $20 a share and heading south to $18 later than year.  I bought the stock two days ago at $33.  That repetitive thumping noise that you hear is my head meeting with the wall.  Oh, well it will be a good stock for my retirement.  This means that I am going to archive the Apple essay tonight.  We must not have any appearances of inappropriate behavior. (note: Sept. 99 -- stock sold -- essay relit)

Copyright, William A. Spriggs, 1999