the liver and the brain

David Longley David at longley.demon.co.uk
Mon Sep 6 16:22:55 EST 2004

In article <8d8494cf.0409060842.c5a0327 at posting.google.com>, dan 
michaels <feedbackdroids at yahoo.com> writes
>Wolf Kirchmeir <wwolfkir at sympatico.ca> wrote in message 
>news:<aJO_c.2789$Nd6.125809 at news20.bellglobal.com>...
>> r norman wrote:
>> >>Anyone interested should have a look at
>> >>http://www.robertplomin.com/index.html and related links, paying
>> >>attention to what people like Jensen have had to say over the years.
>> >>After a little Herrnstein along the way, it may become clearer why the
>> >>priority of behaviour analysis has been emphasised so much in c.a.p, and
>> >>why the indeterminacies so characteristic of what's done at the other
>> >>end of the measurement scale (so favoured by mentalists) has been
>> >>denigrated as no more than muddled folk psychological rhetoric.
>> >
>> >
>> > The history of human behavioral genetics and sociobiology ala Jensen
>> > and Herrnstein is a sorry story filled with abuse of scientific
>> > notions for very partisan political objectives.  Racism, or at least
>> > racial overtones, hangs heavy over the topic. No doubt some of the
>> > newsgroups involved in this exchange, like comp.ai.philosophy, have
>> > had rather extensive discussions of these issues
>> >
>"... LIKE comp.ai.philosophy ...". Wrong.
>Actually, many of us on c.a.p. - ie, those who are actually interested
>in [what by gosh and by golly] actual **AI**, rather than endless
>arguments about the "correct" psychological stance - try to ignore the
>extremist viewpoints. Those should not even be argued on c.a.p. - but
>it never ends, does it.

Is it any wonder that Glen frequently refers to this poster as "dumb 
Dan"? C.A.P is short for Comp.AI.PHILOSOPHY. It's *supposed to be* for 
discussions which bear on the "correct psychological stance". The fact 
that Michaels makes such great efforts to "try to ignore the extremist 
viewpoints" is basically no more than a frank but ironic statement that 
he ignores all the relevant science (and philosophy) because **he 
doesn't think it relevant!** But that's his basic problem. It's idiocy 
>There should be another forum for arguing extremist viewpoints of
>psychology - especially when the proponents engage in continual
>name-calling - and not on c.a.p. Those of us brought up in the church
>can recognize dogma a mile away.

Ironically, not only is that false, it's egregiously hypocritical. 
Michaels can't see the extent to which he (like Zick etc) expresses his 
own dogmatic ignorance in c.a.p (and tries to recruit others to share in 
his ignorance), he can't see the extent to which this amply demonstrates 
his "intellectual dishonesty". Here, he's second only to Zick amongst 
current c.a.p posters when it comes to demonstrating this quite absurd, 
self-defeating, pitiful lack of insight.
>> > However, from  my perspective as a biologist on bionet.neuroscience,
>> > there is a valid scientific study of the natural behavior of a wide
>> > variety of animals living in their natural environment, a field
>> > usually termed ethology.  The role of genetic "predetermination" in
>> > structuring the nervous system as a whole, in producing specific cells
>> > and circuits between cells, and in producing behavior is established
>> > for many animals beyond any question.  In the roundworm,
>> > Caenorhabditis elegans, for example, every cell division from the
>> > fertilized egg is absolutely determined so that every adult individual
>> > of that species, barring mutation, has exactly the same number of
>> > cells (959 to be specific, with 300 neurons and 81 muscle cells).
>> > Humans, of course,  show a different course of development.  Still,
>> > understanding just how genetic and environmental aspects interact in
>> > producing mammalian nervous systems is something that is actively
>> > being investigated.  I agree that many popular accounts of
>> > "evolutionary psychology" seem rather strained, to say the least.
>> > Still, genes undeniably have a strong impact on cells.
>> >
>Many of us "moderates" view the ideas of EP as also being equally

"Moderates is not a synonym for "ignoramuses". So called "Evolutionary 
Psychology" (a new name for something else) looks for similarities 
between individuals' behaviour, whilst behavioural genetics looks for 
individual differences. There's a subtly important history in that 
distinction which is of critical relevance to the philosophy of "AI" - 
but that's something which passes the likes of Michaels by, basically as 
a consequence of his self-confessed policy of ignorance.

>Why doesn't someone start a forum named "sci.psych.epvsbeh" for the
>extremist arguments to take place on. People interested in AI on
>c.a.p. can always go "over there" to listen, if they want to, that is.

Contemporary "AI" is "brain dead". Who said that? What was meant? Why 
has it come about?
>> Yes, I just love C. elegans. Especially the fact that it needs 300
>> neurons but only 81 muscle cells. Lovely! Brain over brawn very time,
>> eh? :-)
>> Question: Are there any environmental factors whose presence or absence
>> disrupt or divert development? Any non-lethal ones? Are there any
>> environmental factors whose presence/absence affects the timing of
>> development? I suspect there are, but I would like to know one way or
>> the other. I'm not asking about the obvious ones, such as water, without
>> which the creature will die. Anther way of asking the question is,
>> What's the range of, e.g., pH, etc in a normal environment for this
>> worm? Any differences at either extreme? Etc.
>Wouldn't it be the case that, even C.ele would have a homeostatic
>mechanism regulating internal pH, in order to deal with environment
>pressures, and if it were pushed it outside its limits, then the
>system breaks down?

Given that this is one of the best understood creatures on the planet, 
is this speculation, or has Michaels been browsing some of the many 
excellent website devoted to the genetics, anatomy, physiology and 
behaviour of this nematode?  This of course is a rhetorical question as 
Michaels has made it abundantly clear what he wants to use c.a.p for 
(and it certainly isn't to contribute towards a better understanding of 
notion of "AI").

>This is a general question, because even a simple organism must have
>*many* internal self-regulating mechanisms. To a large extent, these
>are probably very important to the species as a whole, in order that
>the environment doesn't drive the offspring to be radically different
>from the parents. After all, who can tell a rat one from another, let
>alone 2 worms - so internal regulation must be very strong.

Who's he "asking". He's already been told that this is not any of the 
present contributors specialist research area. Nevertheless, this work 
has been referred to several times in c.a.p, and it takes little to look 
up the research on the web. It is, after all, all Michaels could 
possibly be doing given his ludicrous claims to read several "books" 
every week.

>Actually, Ross Ashby talked about this. He said that biological
>organisms must be not only stable, but "ultra-stable". They have to be
>only "loosely-coupled" to their environments, and need secondary
>feedback loops internally, otherwise any environmental distress would
>immediately kill them.

As with what he says in a parallel post on "discrimination" in "neural 
nets", Michaels shows absolutely no grasp of the actual *origins* of 
this research (ie the tacit references) or its nature (usually as 
statistical modelling). Yet ironically, he has the temerity to denigrate 
that very research in his ignorance - *despite frequent efforts by many 
in the past to enlighten him*!

As I recently remarked in reference to Zick's similar nonsense, this is 
an illustration of "intensional opacity" par excellence, and it's why 
I've made so much of it here in c.a.p. (and at times actively 
cross-posted to bionet.neuroscience and sci.cognitive to draw further 
attention to the matter).
David Longley

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