May 2003 Notebook Entries

Notebook entry, May 28, 2003

Time magazine came out today a wonderful cover about human nature written by Matt Ridley. What Makes You Who You Are: Which is stronger -- nature or nurture? The latest science says genes and your experience interact for your whole life." p. 54, issue, June 2, 2003. To sum it up, the new view is that one's local environment CAN have an impact on one's genetic "blueprint." In fact, Mr. Ridley has suggested that instead of calling the genome a blueprint, we should consider our genes"recipe" (Hmmmm.... sounds similar to an essay that I wrote back in 1996). Evolutionary Psychology and the Recipe for an Artificial Brain: Add One Cup of Gray Matter and Mix I have to quote Mr. Ridley here when he writes about this new overview because I want you to go out and buy the magazine to read the whole article: "The genome is not a blueprint for constructing a body. It is a recipe for baking a body. You could say the chicken embryo is marinated for a shorter time in the HoxC8 sauce than the mouse embryo is. Likewise, the development of a certain human behavior takes a certain time and occurs in a certain order, just as the cooking of a perfect souffle requires not just the right ingredients but also the right amount of cooking and the right order of events." p. 60. In other words, the outside environment CAN have an effect on the "blueprint." It is the perfect argument that genes and culture -- nuture and nature go together like peas in a pod. That is what I have been saying for years.

Notebook entry, May 27, 2003

Diana and I went to see Richard Wrangham give a talk on Chimpanzees, Bonobos, and the Problem of Human Vilolence. I'm a great fan of Professor Wrangham, and my tip of the hat to his speculative theory that the human family unit began when humans experimented with the cooking of hard to digest vegatation. Mr. Wrangham's presentation was split into three sections: The interpersonal, the intrapersonal, and the Domestication silimiarities between chimps, humans, and bonobos. To sum up the hour lecture, Mr. Wrangham believes that human males are in the early stages of a domestication period similar to the one that Bonobo males are currently unergoing, and that in the blink of an evolutionary eye (a thousand years?) human males will be less violent there are now.

I brought along my hard copy of his book, Demonic Males, and he signed the inside cover: To Bill & Diana. Long live the apes! Richard Wrangham. a Very approachable, and a heck of a nice guy.

Notebook entry, May 20, 2003

I'm still working in the background of the website, so don't despair if nothing pops up on the notebook section. I'm in the process of closing the 2002 New Book section and moving them into the Books by Subject section; it takes a while, but it helps to create a permanent record.

I also dropped the "Call for Funds" page where I have humiliated myself since May of 2001 in asking for money to help defray the costs of this web site. Funds raised in two years? $10.00. My prowess is stunning.

Notebook entry, May 13, 2003

Yesterday was Mother's day in America. Happy Mother's day to all on the planet.

I received a spectacular email on May 10th, from a student at DU, Denver University, a one, Charlie Lawton. Here is the email in its entirety:

Dear Mr. Spriggs-
I'm writing this email to thank you- for taking a unique and laudable step
that few dare to do. I consider myself to be a member of the scientific
community, as a student of ecology and conservation biology at DU (your alma
mater, am I right?), and I love science and exploration of our universe and
ourselves with a passion and deep respect. One of the things I see as one of
the great blights on American culture is the general apathy and hostility with
which Joe Public views science; the view that science is something remote,
cold, and threatening, that it's practiced by a group separate and apart from
the rest of the world, that it somehow poses a threat to spirituality and
religion. This attitude is partially fear of the unknown and the complex,
fostered by the general public's poor understanding of science and scientific
principles. Science is sort of a threatening yet generous deity- remote,
scary, hard to understand, but bestowing gifts and useful tools. We rely on
technology and science and logic but don't trust them.
What I find so laudable about your efforts with your website and books is that
finally, a member of the general public, not formally educated in science, has
finally bridged the gulf that has been created. You have kicked down the door
of the ivory tower many people imagine science to be; you have removed the
barriers and boldly stepped into a realm that the rest of the public views as
being impenetrable. You actively reconcile your faith and your logic, you
look for answers and ponder the unknown, and you embrace that which is
unfamiliar and possibly uncomfortable. In so doing, you have dared to
apprehend the universe on its own terms, confronting reality rather than being
consoled and comforted by the bliss of ignorance. I regard you as a paragon
of the ideals of rational thought, discovery, and fearlessly confronting the
unknown. Thank you for taking on what so many refuse to do, and keep up the
good work. Your example may very well influence many more to make the same
choice you did, to actively discover life and cast off the chains of ignorance
and complacency. Good day, and all the best.

Charlie Lawton

I replied that I was stunned and that I really did not know how to reply except to say thanks for the kind words and since he is in town, I invited him to lunch. He has accepted, and I'll keep you informed of the possible friendship as it develops or not.

Notebook entry, May 10, 2003.

The evoyage site had a small glitch occur the past week while I was in California. The counter was screwed up....somehow it was not recognizing the picture displays of the numbers. Talked to Dan, the Tech Man (good friend for many years) and got the situation cleared up in no time. Also, I am planning a few changes for the web site: I'm going to include a quest book so that people like Anna can comment. People have written of course, but this new section will solicit emails.

I am also thinking of eliminating the Retail Section of the web site. It does not sell that much and most likely the elimination of the section would make the site faster to load for those who do not have Broadband.

Notebook entry, May 7, 2003

I continue to work in the background at the web site. This week I'm placing all those loose files under folders. Once again, something that I should have done a long time ago. This will be the pattern from now on -- working tirelessly on the site instead of attempting to interact on a personal level with others as I attempted over the past six months. Those of you who understand the SMTH (Subordinate Male Target Hypothesis) from the Social Dominance theory will understand what I mean. I know that it is not me -- because I have no problem associating with people through this web site -- nor, they with me. It's how society has been set up and the only way to counteract the social norm is to control the social norm -- and that is done by people with hugh resources.

I am also reading Geography of Thought -- the theory is that Eastern and Western mind processes thoughts differently (like, Easterners see the big picture, and the Western mind see only the individual or subject) I'll give you an early argument -- everybody thinks alike, but differences in longitude and latitude make the biggest influences as those individuals adapt to their local environments.

I guess I will have the book review up by June, 2003

Notebook entry, May 6, 2003

I received a very nice email letter today that made me all warm and fuzzy inside...sniff...: The letter sums it up all very nicely.

Just wanted to thank you for your wonderful page evoyage.com
I am just in the process of writing a university dissertation about the all
controversial topic of rape as an adaptive behaviour, and found your essay
on EP and the pedophile: in defense of EP particularly inspiring. I like
the way in which you make a strong moral point whilst nevertheless not
categorically denying the "scientific" evidence. I think it would be fair
to say your appraoch to EP has guided my research - so its only right to
thank you!


Department of Experimental Psychology
University of Sussex