Notebook entry, October 31, 2000
Once again, The New York Times has given a prominent scientist who is practiced in the evolutionary perspective a swing at bat on the op/ed page of the Times. Steven Pinker, psychology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, chimes in with his short essay, "Decoding the Candidate." Basically, his article tells that us after months of listening to both candidates speaking before hundreds of various groups, it has become clear that one candidate is lacking verbal skills. Pinker continues that "the comprehension of spoken language is a forgiving mental process that seldom takes things literally." Thus, Pinker tells us, that despite Mr. Bush's verbal bloopers, the brains of most people hear right through them. His conclusion? That it is not so much what Bush says, but how he says them. "A president's words, well-chosen and convincingly delivered, can be a powerful tool at home and abroad." Such phrases as "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what can you do for your country," is a perfect example.
I agree, Steven. But does that not also apply to a candidate yelling aside an open microphone and telling his running mate that some reporter (A New York Times reporter at that) was a real asshole!? Does this not also tell us something about the candidate's use of the English language and the message that it sends? And how about that smirk? What does the brain of the common person think about that?; not to mention the rest of the planet. How about actions speaking louder than words?? Does a candidate's role as governor and that person's record concerning death penalty executions say more than that person's words about being compassionate?
Notebook entry, October 26, 2000
The New York Times again scores with a short view of men, sports, emotions, and rules. Lionel Tiger, professor of anthropology at Rutgers University, also comments on the Roger Clemons, Mike Piazza confrontation: "...there is good reason to pay attention to such a primordial conflict between two athletes. It seems we have acknowledged in this episode that males can be physically dangerous and that tight regulations are necessary to limit their behavior."
He ends his observation with the reason we have "rules." "The rules are the same for everyone. They make the game safe and emotionally bearable. They work."
Now if we can just create rules for corporate globalization and respect for the common person.
Notebook entry, October 25, 2000
Maureen Dowd in her award-winning LIBERTIES column with The New York Times chimes in with her take on the World Series that is between the two home New York teams and has sent the city gah gah. She opens up with an anecdote from one of her girlfriends who stated she was going to root for the Mets because she knows more cute guys she wants to date who are Mets fans. "Some women pick their team based on the reproductive possibilities," she quotes her friend.
Ms. Dowd has for some time now been bitten by the evolutionary perspective bug, but I have not mentioned her work in this notebook/journal column because she usually makes good-natured fun of the science. But this time she included a real citation. And that means that she is doing her homework or someone is supplying her with background knowledge. The quote: "Alan Dundes, a professor of anthropology at Berkeley, writes in his essay "From Game to War" that all games and sports are based on one theme that "involves an all-male preserve in which one male demonstrates his virility, his masculinity, at the expense of a male opponent. One proves one's maleness by feminizing one's opponent....No male wants to be considered a 'sissy' (from 'sister'). Thus males must aggressively seek to parry any such threatened thrusts." Ms. Dowd was attempting to explain to her readers why Roger Clemens threw a bat at Mike Piazza, and Mr. Piazza began to make retaliation on Mr. Clemens head.
But the important point that I want to make is that a widely read NY Times columnist is beinging to share with her readers the new knowledge that she has gained over the past several years concerning the evolutionary perspective.
I salute you Ms. Dowd. Welcome aboard and enjoy the Voyage.
Notebook entry, October 22, 2000
The Business Week cover story for the Oct. 23rd issue, "Why Service Stinks" tells us that modern technology is creating a new stratification of consumer society. "For the first time, companies can truly measure exactly what such service costs on an individual level and assess the return on each dollar. They can know exactly how much business someone generates, what he is likely to buy, and how much it costs to answer the phone. That allows them to deliver a level of service based on each person's potential to produce a profit -- and not a single phone call more." p. 121. These new business models of customer service are a result of Corporate America's increased push for profits in a more highly competitive world.
The article opens with anecdotal evidence from a Tom Unger of New Haven who works for a electric utility by telling us that in his customer-service department the top 350 business clients are served by six people. The next tier of 700 are handled by six more, and 30,000 others get two. The rest of the 300,000 customers at the lowest end of the hierarchy get an 800 number.
The question that we have to ask is are the companies merely being effective or are they actually reflecting human behavior by classifying people according to rank. Premier customers get premier service, and the losers get the shaft.
I can't wait to read the story in the near future of corrupt HMO officials found guilty of stealing DNA readouts of their customers that were supposed to be held in confidence. Their arguments? To keep costs down to the customers.
Stay tuned for later developments as we continue to expand our knowledge of our own genetics and human behavior.
Notebook entry, October 17, 2000
Spent the good part of the last two weeks on vacation. Some around the house doing those things that are necessary for owning a condo, and the rest of the time was spent in New Mexico for the balloon fiesta. We spent most of time driving in a rental car the whole length of New Mexico from Carlsbad to Santa Fe. It rained most of the time which put a damper on the trip, but it was good for the state because there was an emergency water shortage program in effect. (Strange, all the golf courses were still green). We did get to see the balloon festival on our last day and it was everything that it was billed up to be. The most exciting part was being on the field where the balloons were inflated and watching them inflating while still on the ground. And it was a very interesting site to see when more than 300 balloons were flying over the city after their launch and started their descent.
Notebook entry, October 2, 2000
I received an email on Sept 29, 00. from a young man in Poland by the name of Tomasz Skibinski saying that he thoroughly enjoyed the essays and how grateful he was in finding Evolution's Voyage. Unfortunately, I was was in the process of changing my ISP provider from dial-up to cable modem, and I lost his email address in the rush of changing addresses with several locations that I must maintain contact. It is for that reason that I use this forum to reply to his letter:
Dear Tomasz: Thanks for writing to Evolution's Voyage. I'm glad that you find evolutionary psychology so "natural" as opposed to the other branches of psychology that you have studied. Think of EP as a tree trunk from which the other limbs branch giving rise to clinical, cognitive, developmental, personality, and social psychologies. You stated that you were happy to find a place on the internet that is proving these theories. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but the theories that I post here are far from being proven. In fact, most of them are mere speculations. I do have a gut feeling that most of the theories will be proven correct, or at least in part way helping scientist lean in the right direction and then to ask the proper questions so that they will someday be proven correct, but I also believe that it won't happen in my lifetime. Also, I don't have the time in my local environment to devote time to test the theories through the scientific method -- Such is the fate and direction of the path that I was led upon, and as such, I will continue to daydream of theories related to human behaviors.
But, I am still a happy camper -- as we say over here in the United States. Most of my spare time is devoted to studying and reading the latest books from some of the greatest minds in the field. The spread of the internet over here has given me an inexpensive forum in which to post my work and make it available at a small cost to those who find their way to this website. And hopefully, because of the speed with which this technology is moving, it will open more doors of opportunities to all members of our species that dwell on this planet.
Good luck with your studies, and feel free to ask me any questions that you come up with. (I hope that I can answer them). In the meantime, devote as much time to the books located on the recommended reading list to provide you with much of the current knowledge that is available about the new emerging science.
Bill Spriggs @ Evolution's Voyage