Good Morning and Thanks for joining me on this beautiful Sunday morning. So, “Pandora’s Box” is open… How can this be? Why can't these new ideas coexist with the old?
The answer is simple: They are directly opposed. The one contradicts the other. This is not the acquisition of an optional and parallel approach. Genetics and evolution can't be tacked on current knowledge, it underlies all psychological knowledge with all the authority that only measurable fact can have. It negates all dogma which disagrees. The situation is one much like the old saw which says that no one can be just a little pregnant.
All modern psychological knowledge is based on three premises:
- The human is intelligent. He will behave properly with proper education (nurture). Aberrant behavior indicates trauma, disease, chemical imbalance or poor environment. Proper behavior is judged against the current academic elitist ideology (or is it that the current ideology was formulated by the psychologist?).
- The human mind can create knowledge without reference to the outside world. In fact, some believe, true knowledge is best developed without the taint of the real world. Perfect thought comes from pure minds. Psychologists have pure minds.
- Sufficient data about human behavior can provide a basis for determining the cause of that behavior. Determining cause from effect is a valid logical process.
It is now recognized that: genetics is a strong factor in the behavior of man; the current genetic configuration of man is the result of a process called evolution; and the human neural system is a part of that genetic configuration, therefore subject to the same forces as the physical part of the body.
Once the human neural system is recognized as an evolved neural biological mechanism, none of the above three premises hold true. If they are not true then all of the knowledge based on those suppositions becomes highly suspect.
The Myth of Human Intelligence
Man has studied the evolutionary process by which he was formed, and has found it to be primitive, unpredictable and brutal, without intelligence, planning or goal.
His physical and mental structures are both poorly engineered and suffer frequent malfunction, poor and erratic performance and early wear out. As man progresses into the study of the genetics of man and the process by which man was formed, it becomes more and more apparent that man, far from being a wondrous creature, is a makeshift creature at best, one which is now archaic and a misfit in a world suddenly crowded and technically complex. The wonder is that he is able to function as well as he does.
The human is quite proud, and justifiably so, of his technological accomplishments. He looks at the chimp, his nearest relative, and finds him dim-witted and with deplorable social habits. All other animals fall even farther behind. Man then becomes arrogant as he surveys the differences between himself and all others. This is an arrogance that is not justified. Man is intelligent only when compared with the others. Actually, he is quite error prone and self delusional.
The human neural system began its development when the first hominid appeared (the ape that walked). That was about 4 million years ago. During the next 2 million years, the early hominid developed as a herd herbivore. Almost all of the tribal social instincts were developed during that period. With the invention of tools and fire, about 2 million years ago, the human shifted from the herd herbivore to the hunter/gatherer tribe form of social structure. It was successful. The population began growing. Competition developed between tribes for territory. Relationships between tribes became militant. The hunter/warrior tribal system began forming. The neural system of modern man is honed for the hunter/warrior mode of living. The need was for fast decisions while under stress. Speed was more important than accuracy. Survival depended on it.
The human neural system is primarily a parallel mode reactive decision mechanism, one ideal for controlling an automobile, hunting tigers, or designing a trap for the tribesman next door. The conscious thought system makes iterative use of the same mechanism. It was designed for relationships within the tribe and waging a defensive posture against territorial encroachment. The human mind was not developed for tribes with memberships in the millions, for urban (ant hill) living, for mixing of cultures, for being ruled by strangers of another tribe, for high-technology living, etc.
The truth of the matter is that the function of the human brain, the mechanism which accepts and processes knowledge received through the senses, then provides behavior appropriate to the situation, is determined by a genome formed by chaos squeezed through a mindless random variable filter. Evolution is a process which is unplanned and without goals or standards.
As is to be expected with any complex mechanism which was built with no engineering, our genome is a pile of junk. Worse still, man, having eliminated the filter portion of the evolution mechanism, is now subject to the accumulation of all mutations not immediately fatal. Since the neural system is more complex than the balance of the body, it receives a major share of these mutations. Not only is the thinking apparatus fixed by a genetic code designed by an idiot, that code is now wandering all over the map, and deteriorating all the while.
In the lottery of being born with a genome of a particular configuration, the individual human may be an imbecile or a genius, or anywhere in between. Since the reasoning apparatus is a fixed mechanism, its change in capability with experience is quite small. Only the behavior of the individual changes, in response to the quality and quantity of the knowledge absorbed as processed by the fixed intellectual quality of the individual. The intelligence of man, therefore, is very questionable. One only needs to read the front page of a newspaper a few days to understand that. It only appears wonderful to us because there is nothing better around.
Instead of boasting about his intellectual ability, man should be humble and careful, knowing that his every thought is suspect.
The Myth of Human Intellectual Creativity
If the human neural system is a biological mechanism (genetics and evolution prove this is so), then it is shorn of magic, spirituality and mysticism.
It can not create gold from lead, truth from falsehood, or knowledge from dogma. Any mechanism has a finite capability. No machine can provide more than its fuel. There is always a loss in every machine, none may even reach 100% efficiency, much less produce more than it is given.
The human brain can no longer be considered creative. It can not create knowledge, it may only discover it.
The knowledge produced by thought must be contained in the premises (input data) on which that thought is based. Knowledge may be discovered by the human brain only when it has adequate truthful data on which to work. If the input knowledge (data) is inadequate or untruthful the output conclusions can be disastrous, and often are. Using unproven premises negates the reasoning that follows by the amount of its error. In the computer world we refer to this process limitation as "garbage in, garbage out."
Conjecture, imagination, hearsay, and introspection are all useful tools in the formation of new theory. They will not reliably provide working knowledge, separately or collectively. Theory must be proven before it is applied, whether the subject is a space shuttle, bridge, or airplane. It is even more important if the subject is human. A human culture should not be used as experimental fodder.
Can Cause be Determined from Effect?
Any study of primitive tribal knowledge (lore) is a study of cause determined from effect. If, for example, there should be a partial solar eclipse, it becomes obvious to the village shaman that the fairest village maiden must be sacrificed.
The effect is quite visible. Without knowledge of the actual cause, however, there are a multitude of possible causes that may be imagined.
One of those would be an angry God whose ire may be appeased only through the death of a lovely young woman.
In the modern engineering world, the source of designs for human service, it has long been known that the loop must be closed. No idea is useful unless both cause and effect are known (verified, measured), the effect is desirable and the side effects are known and are a reasonable price to pay. Only when both cause and effect are known sufficiently well to reliably predict the effect(s) should an idea be used in the service of man. It is dangerous to do otherwise.
The tribal shaman discovered the cause by noting the magnitude of the event. Obviously, this was an important occasion, one that only the Gods could control. Modern psychology uses similar logic. It ascertains the cause of human behavior by analysis of human behavior. And its answers are often no better.
An excellent example is shown by the current controversy in our schools over the proper method for teaching small children to read. The two procedures in question are "whole language" and "phonics". The problem provoking the argument is that children are not, on the average, learning to read very well.
The psychologist says that the human learns everything in the same way. The brain is a bucket into which knowledge is poured, therefore, if a young child learns to speak through immersion in an environment rich in the spoken language, it will learn to read if immersed in an environment rich in the written language.
The problem is that the two processes (learning to speak and learning to read) are not even remotely equivalent, and that difference lies in the structure of the brain, a structure defined by genetics. The human brain is not a sponge. It has structure and that structure determines its capability to learn. As a result of that structure, it learns different things in different ways.
The first hominid, four million years ago, required tribal living for survival. Tribal living requires communication. Tribal success depends a great deal on communication. Those tribes with the best communication tended to survive the best. The ability to communicate verbally is instinctive in the human, as it is in all animals, though to a lesser extent.
Internal thought is composed of electrical and chemical signals. To communicate, these internal thought signals must be converted into physical movement (behavior). To send a message, those internal thoughts to be expressed aurally must be converted into a combination of phonemes (aural elements). To receive a message, those phonemes heard must then be converted into internal thought equivalents. A bidirectional thought/speech lookup dictionary is required.
Evolution developed a specialized area in the brain which mechanizes the learning of phoneme-to-thought and thought-to-phoneme conversions. It is called the Broca's area and is located in the male human brain in the left frontal lobe and in the female in both frontal lobes.
Immerse a child in an environment rich in spoken language and it will instinctively learn to verbally communicate.
Careful instruction in proper pronunciation and idea construction augments this natural ability. Written language is a different thing entirely. From the viewpoint of evolution, a multimillion year process, written communication is a very recent invention. It is an intellectual skill that has no special neural circuitry to aid in its acquisition. There is no mechanism in the brain for converting the written word, as seen by the eye, to thought. A different sense is used. Verbal communication uses the voice and ears. Written communication uses the hand and eyes. There is, however, a mechanism available for converting the spoken word to thought.
So when we learn to read, we convert the written word to its spoken equivalent and run that through the Broca's area to obtain the meaning (internal thought equivalent).
When we write, we run the thought through the Broca's area to obtain the phoneme equivalent, recall the visual pattern associated with that phoneme set and then tell the hand to write that word.
It is a duty of the education system to teach a child the proper pronunciation of his spoken thought elements, for it is that pronunciation which is cross-referenced to the proper thought. It is sheer idiocy to expect a child to learn a written word that it does not already know both the meaning and the proper pronunciation.
Does this mean that the child can not learn to read using the whole language concept? Of course not. The human child is extremely adaptable. One could hang some of these children by the heels and require them to study with the book held sideways and they would still learn to read. For the maximum benefit to the most, however, the education process should fit the mechanism instead of requiring the mechanism to adapt to the process.
Does this mean we should cancel whole language and go back to phonics? Not completely. We have not been teaching phonics properly either, but that's another story. And once a child is proficient with a verbal and written vocabulary of a particular size and complexity, his immersion into an environment rich in written communication that does not exceed his ability is indeed quite valuable. The key is that the child must know the pronunciation and meaning of a word before it is allowed to tackle the written equivalent.
How many of these problems are there? There must be multitudes.
A few psychologists will grasp the need and attack the new approach with vigor. Many will avoid basic learning by reading only the pop authors. Others will try vainly to fit genetics and evolution in with the old premises and reasoning. Still others will build a protective wall of cute quotations, hiding business as usual. Many will not make any change, choosing to blunder through. Some will turn to real estate. It will be painful for all.
Worse still, it appears to be a long and arduous transition. Unlike an engineering field which produces a product directly for public use, a position demanding immediate accountability and responsibility, psychology is a behind-the-scenes function. It provides the basis for education, politics, journalism and jurisprudence without ever appearing directly to the public. If psychology errs in education, for example, it is the education system which bears the brunt of the blame.
Complaints from the education system may then be shunted rather than corrected by claiming complexity, misunderstanding, improper application, etc. Psychology is largely peer controlled. It need not be right as long as a majority of other psychologists agree. The entire field of psychology is a mutual admiration society. It is also highly reactionary, staunchly resisting the shift toward becoming a true science.
Being cushioned from external accountability and responsibility, archaic premises and the resultant generation of dogma will survive for many years. Fifty years from now there will be psychologists who will claim, "The human is an intelligent creature, therefore, if healthy, its behavior depends on education and cultural environment."
There are people even today who claim the earth is flat...
Kemo D. (a.k.a. no.7) www.beyondgenes.com