Nature is full of unplanned obstacles and paleoclimatology proves that abrupt climate change have always been common (reference: analysis of ice drill cores, Peter DeMenocal). Therefore no set of specific modules can be adequate for survival. All beings need a general learning ability to survive, any being with specific "learning windows" would be doomed. Consider the fact that robots steered by conventional computers are unable to circumvent unplanned obstacles and therefore confined to very controlled environments such as industrial factories.
Datalogists have long denied the possibility of general learning ability, but statistical learning provides a foundation for spontaneous pattern emergence from examples (reference: Norvig: "On Chomsky and the two cultures of statistical learning"), and the conflations caused by common statistics can be avoided if the scientific method is used. There is evidence that brains do treat learned sensory stimuli equally with innate information, because neurons can rearrange their genetic structure on the command of signals from other neurons (references: "Aneuploid neurons are functionally active and integrated into brain circuitry", Smart Planet: "How many genomes do you have?"), in agreement with spontaneous pattern emergence from examples.
Assuming that a "language instinct" is needed to learn language is as silly as assuming that a "quantum mechanics instinct" was needed to figure out quantum mechanics. There is evidence that chattering chimpanzees show a pattern of brain activity similar to that of talking humans (reference: An empirical part of "Evolve: Communication" (tv documentary)), debunking any claims that any specific constituent module makes human language unique. Trying to explain it away by saying that a "language module" need not be localized to a particular brain region is, unless inconsistent hypocrisy is used, the same as abandoning the practise of correlating brain regions on scans with brain functions, a practise that the computationalists themselves consider important.
The claim that hardwired abstractions should be necessary for abstractions to exist is based on an essentialistic distinction between concrete and abstract. Such a distinction totally overlooks the fact that a first association can be moderated by later falsifications. Abstractions then spontaneously emerges when the predicting models can no longer be visualized as concrete objects, since when the falsification have progressed that far there is also enough falsificative information for concepts of qualities not tied to specific objects or situations to spontaneously and emergently appear. The scientific method could not exist without such spontaneous emergence.
There is evidence that brain-damaged patients can recover lost cognitive skills if the environment is tolerant, even when the supposed "learning window" is long since passed. Metastudies show that the missing factor distinguishing "unexplainable" recoveries after brain damage from the control group where such recovery did not happen is a tolerant environment. (reference: Kurt Fischer, Christina Hinton: "Mind, Brain and Education".).
There are even documented cases of mentally symptom-free people with no cerebral cortex at all. That is really extreme. Studies of gene expression shows that virtually all of the difference between human, chimpanzee and macac brains are concentrated to the cerebral cortex, and that the gene expression in the cerebral cortex of any mammal is more complex than that in the non-cortical brain of even humans. So these extreme recoveries are even more extreme than a kangaroo learning to think like a human, almost as extreme as a lizard learning to think like a human.
Recoveries of personal memories after brain damage may be due to the law of conservation of information. In intolerant environments, fields of pure information containing no energy at all would be completely drowned in cognitive biases caused by justification, but tolerant environments removes pressure to justify, making minds so unbiased they can tap into the law of conservation of information.
There is evidence that although some pairs of "identical" twins raised separately behaves very similarily, there are also cases where they behave very differently. There is, in other words, no generalizable nature/nurture percentages. The theory above predicts that the cases where they behave very similarily can be linked to cases where both faced the kind of environmental factors that prevents recoveries after brain damage (hampering plasticity keeps them staying put, so inherited behaviors show up) while cases where they behave very differently should be linked to cases where at least one of them faced a plasticity-favoring environment (only one of them have to detour for them to end up very different). This metastudy have not yet been done, but doing it is welcome. Anyone who have done it, please write the results here.
See also advice of ways to stop justifying.
The importance of tolerant environments means that bans and punishment is counterproductive. The counter-productivity of punishment means that the existence of punishment/vengeance is due to the fact that the punisher thinks it works (timeserving makes the banned actions less visible), consider the fact that violence rates are highest in countries with severe punishment and lowest in countries with mild punishment, implying that a significant factor in the decrease of violence is that punishments have become less severe which falsifies any claims that penal law should be a protection. Any sign of inheritance of a will to punish can be explained by inheritance of acquired characteristics. Because punishment is counter-productive, there is no way natural selection could have selected for it. Indeed, it should have selected against it. The reason why natural selection failed to eliminate punishment is most likely because natural selection by mere death or sterility of whole individuals is a way too blunt means of evolution to have any chance to fine-tune complex behavior, see self-organization. This does not disprove that directed self-correction can, under the right environmental circumstances, do anything natural selection can and more, since discoveries and ideas such as knowing the counterproductivity of punishment are environmental circumstances too.
Any attempts to explain the counterproductivity of punishment by Darwinian selection for alliances clashes with the fundamental Darwinian assumption of random mutations. If mutations were truly random, then evolution of a new instinct would always have to take into account that there would always have to be a one first individual with the new instinct and its viability where no other individuals shared that new instinct. In the absence of other individuals reacting against punishment, a first individual reacting against punishment would not have survived. So whatever the reason why punishment is counterproductive is, it cannot be Darwinian. And yet there is evidence that punishment is counterproductive.
The counterproductivity of punishment is not uniquely human. Research on pet training shows that punishment is counterproductive there too.
The concept that punishment is counterproductive is NOT the same thing as claiming that culture as such is destructive. There are different kinds of culture. Culture in the sense of sensible discussions and knowledge is constructive.
Most importantly, arguments from adverse consequences are not valid scientific arguments. The only reason why they have any place on this wiki is because possibility of science denying evopsychists use them themselves, so they must be refuted.
Since tolerance is a crucial factor for plasticity too, dictators cannot abuse the plasticity. Fearing that neuroplasticity and inheritance of acquired characteristics should be abused by dictators is thus totally unwarranted, as are imprecise, conflational pejoratives like "environmental determinism". For more differences between the theory of unlimited brain plasticity if the environment is tolerant on one side and the "blank slate" strawman on the other, see "Unlimited initial guesses and science" below.
Fearing that the idea of brain plasticity only being limited by intolerant environments should lead to blaming of parents for being intolerant ignores the fact that since all intolerance is counterproductive, so is blaming of parents. Parents should NOT be blamed for their intolerance, because that blaming would only prevent them from changing their behavior from intolerant to tolerant. Anyone who blames parents for their intolerance after reading this neuroplasticity theory have, frankly, not understood this neuroplasticity theory at all. This also refutes any interpretation that this neuroplasticity theory should lead to persecution of social classes with "unfair" advantages, as if that fear were not sufficiently non sequitor already, based only on historicism-based association fallacies. See also moderating the free will debate.
The fear that the concept of neuroplasticity should lead to centrally directed "utopian" architecture is totally non sequitor, especially in the case of the tolerant environment version of neuroplasticity theory. Central direction is against the principles of tolerance. Tolerance can exist in all possible forms of architecture, and diversity of architectures is good for testing. If you never try different things, you never learn if something is better than anything you knew before.
And just because biolimitationist evopsychists think that individuals are implastic snot machines does not mean that it gets a free pass from "social engineering", it just means that it predicts the possibility of more ruthless versions of it. Biolimitationist evolutionary psychology predicts the possibility of creating master races or obedient slave races through selective breeding on individual personality traits and carefully chosen psychiatric conditions. The means, killing and/or sterilizing, is arguably not any better than forcible reschooling (on top of the fact that forcible reschooling is only predicted to be effective by the traditional blank slate model and NOT by the tolerant environment plasticity model). Just because Stalin got more years in power than Hitler and therefore more time to carry out his actions does not mean that Hitler's ideas were any less bad than Stalin's. Furthermore, the tolerant environment plasticity model predicts that tolerant environments gives hope for anyone regardless of genetic background and is therefore also a protection against the selective breeding version of "social engineering" that biolimitationist evolutionary psychology predicts the possibility of.
There are numerous examples of modern research falsifying claims of hardwired, context-free irrationality. For example, studies of economic behavior shows that thinking in foreign languages eliminates common biases (reference: "The Foreign-Language Effect : Thinking in a Foreign Tongue Reduces Decision Biases". Psychological Science 2012). There is also evidence that, contrary to earlier beliefs, teenagers are not drawn to danger in general. Their seemingly risk-taking behavior is simply due to a poorer frame of reference for comparing unknown risks to known risks, showing that irrationality comes from ignorance (which also explains why reading much speeds up maturing of judgment). Another example is that taking more time to think shifts thinking from faith to science.
A fact that debunks Robin Dunbar's formula is that since brains act as virtual regulators and do not store information as space-filling data bits, there is no such thing as a "maximum number of relationships" linked to "brain capacity", although of course time shortage and the time it takes to maintain relationships quasi-limits the number of relationships. Because children make predictions in a scientific way, complex language acquisition only requires that false predictions do not pan out (and of course a willingness to admit error and not trying to avoid admitting it). An even deeper flaw in the Machiavellian intelligence hypothesis is that Machiavellian conditions makes even a single mistake disastrous. Higher cognition relies on daring to do mistakes to learn from, as shown by apes displaying a fear of humiliation absent in human children as well as by the "Mind, Brain and Education" metastudy. This means that show-off models of the evolution of intelligence (such as sexual selection) do not hold up either. Archaeology shows that early human group size throughout the Paleolithic was indistinguishable from that of primates like chimpanzees and bonobos. Modern hunter-gatherers also have numbers of relationships in the chimp/bonobo range. There are significant differences in the quality of each relationship of course, but no quantitative difference in the number of relationships. When Dunbar claimed to have found evidence for 150 being a maximum number of social relationships for Homo sapiens, he was actually studying agricultural village societies. While human hunter-gatherer tribes have quantitative relationship counts within the nonhuman primate range (15 to 40), social media on the Internet often count more than 200 relationships, sometimes close to 300. And the "brain capacity" approach, apart from ignoring the research shown in "Does size really matter?" below, also ignores the explanation of time shortage, that building and maintaining relationships takes time. That is an explanation that does not rely on "brain capacity" theories. And moving the goalposts from just social relationships to "stable social relationships" is circular reasoning due to the arbitrariness and lack of a clear, general definition of "stable".
Obviously, not all languages use all phonemes. Polynesian languages are an example of complex language with very few phonemes. But if complex language does not require many phonemes, why should a potential for many phonemes have evolved in the first place? This is another problem with the specific acquisition windows hypothesis.
Trying to explain away the unnecessarily vast range with theories about language having evolved to prevent(!) communication between different tribes does not work. Geographically, each tribe can only have a limited number of neighbouring tribes. That makes a small phonetic range enough. Contact with more tribes beyond that limited number requires peaceful relations where members of one tribe can cross the territories of other tribes unpunished, and in such a context communication between different tribes would be favored and not held back. See origin of language.
There is evidence of altruism towards non-kin that makes no sense from a selfish gene viewpoint. It is most common in humans, but dolphins have been seen rescuing humans, penguin mothers often care for other penguin young when they have lost their own young, different types of ant can sometimes be foundin the same ant hill as integrated members of the same society, and there are examples of squirrels adopting the young of other squirrels that makes no Darwinian sense.
The whole idea of explaining altruism as helping close relatives assumes small groups of close relatives. Such small family groups and the big, politically complex groups assumed by the Machiavellian intelligence hypothesis does not mix, so Darwinian evolutionary psychology contradicts itself. And the idea that altruism evolved as a way of building alliances to gain social status is falsified by the success of psychopaths in just about all hierarchical organizations and observations of traffic showing that owners of very expensive cars are more respectless.
It is sometimes claimed that Darwinian theory can explain homosexuality as helpers who does not reproduce themselves, like a non-reproducing working ant caste, but that ignores that the same result can be achieved with asexuality (which working ants do). Considering that the evolutionary psychologists obsess with conditions in the hunter-gatherer era, in which condoms protective against sexually transmitted diseases were not yet invented, it is very strange and suspicious that they ignore the fact that homosexuality, unlike asexuality, could spread sexually transmitted diseases into neighbouring tribes and indirectly infect close relatives. And the theory is totally incapable of explaining the existence of homophobia. What ant colony would systematically destroy its own working ants?!
It have been claimed that suicide could be Darwinistically explained as a way of freeing family groups of close relatives from burdensome individuals, but that ignores the fact that such individuals could have achieved the same result with much better side effects by volunteering to extremely dangerous missions instead of direct self-destruction. Such volunteering could, unlike direct suicide, save close relatives from having to do those dangerous missions.
A first moral individual born in a group where everyone else was amoral would not survive. The evolutionary psychologists themselves are aware that naive altruism in such a group would be fatal. But they have not realized that their attempted solution, altruism combined with indignation towards egoists, would be equally fatal since such an individual would hate all the others at the only one moral individual stage. That means that the theory of Darwinian innate morality makes a patently falsified prediction. See also moderating the Gaia/Medea debate.
Sexual behaviors also suffer from their own first individual evolvability paradoxes. For instance, if a trait is considered unattractive it cannot be selected by sexual selection, and if the trait is not already prevalent sexual preferences for it cannot be selected by Darwinian evolution. This causes fatal flaws in evolutionary psychology explanations for gender recognition, species recognition and other factors of attraction. Furthermore, unanswered love creates first individual evolvability paradoxes for pair-bonding.
And, of course, there is the first individual evolvability paradox of language. There is no use for language unless others can already use language, a fatal flaw in any theory of a specific innate language module necessary to learn language.
There are also first individual evolvability paradoxes for other (nonverbal) forms of communication. In short, just about everything interaction or communication has first individual evolvability paradoxes. Well, recognition of individuals (facial recognition, smell recognition, butt recognition which won an IG Nobel prize, whatever) is not necessarily a problem if it is just recognition of already existing characteristics, and understanding of "body language" signals that are actually spandrels of non-communicative bodily functions are no problem either. But evolution of signals specifically for communication does rise first individual evolvability paradoxes. And a first social individual when everyone else was solitary is clearly infeasible, see atypical animal cultures#Let's go extreme: originally solitary animals culturally inventing sociality! for an evo-synchro solution of the problem.
According to the computational theory of "mind" (as if something computational even deserved the term "mind"?!) it takes at least three separate modules to get something done: one for perceptual cognition to know when to doit, one for emotional motivation to want to do it and one motorically executive that gets things done. The theory predicts that neither is of any use unless the other two are already there. This makes Darwinian evolution of psychology (which predicts computational-style modulization) so extremely unlikely it is practically impossible. Serial computers stop working if just one part breaks, and the "specific mechanisms" tenet of evolutionary psychology predicts serial processing. So Darwinian evolutionary psychology predicts irreducible complexity, thus contradicting and falsifying itself. However, such "irreducible complexity" does NOT extend to connectionism, it applies ONLY to the computational theory of "mind", and is therefore NOT an argument for "intelligent design" at all.
Any claims of brains being subdivided into modules demands each module to have an absolute origin before which it did not exist. That is a breach of gradualism. Combining that with a gradualist view of evolution is a hypocritical moving of the problem.
Computationalists claim that many things, including free will, non-instinctive moral agency, rationality, openness for arguments, and so on, are illusions selected by natural selection because they were important to pacify the questioning mind and motivate actions. But if it was that way, how did the first questioners (who obviously could not already have evolved those illusions) survive? The theory logically predicts that natural selection would have selected against questioning instead. So why does questioning exist?
If the claim that evolution happened in a massive number of imperceptibly small steps is used to solve the evolvability paradoxes of computationalism, that means that a truly massive number of mutations must have been relevant for the traits in question. Not only one trait, but every trait that is claimed to have evolved in lots of imperceptibly small steps. Add the fact that junk DNA theory claims that functional DNA changes less over time than junk DNA, and the fact that different species share large parts of their DNA, and the whole notion of squeezing that massive number of imperceptibly small mutations into the small part of the genome that is considered functional falls on its own mathematical impossibility. And since gene-centered theory, due to mathematically proven limits to how many defects natural selection can purge, presupposes that most DNA must be junk, this means that Darwinian evolution of computational brains is a mathematical impossibility.
Rapid evolution exists, so all computationalism makes racist predictionsEditEdit
This does NOT mean that all computationalists are racists. You can be a computationalist without being a racist if you either do not know the research about rapid evolution, or have not been thinking about the implications of it.
There is evidence, especially from domestication research, showing that evolution can go very fast (and the existence of domestication also shows that the theory that human evolution should have stopped at the dawn of civilization is silly). The dog example is often explained away by the theory of dogs having exceptionally plastic genomes, but there are examples of many different animals being domesticated in fewer generations than any model of human evolution places as a minimum for how long different modern human populations have been separated (for example, domestication of rabbits first started in the middle ages, which despite their rapid reproduction is the equivalent of far less than a hundred thousand human years). The only (neo)-Darwinian explanation is that evolution can very rapidly select on individual variation and turn it into group differences. There is also hard evidence for rapid (recent millennia) human evolution, such as lactose tolerance and Sherpa and Tibetan lung and blood vessels. This conclusively falsifies the idea of stopped human evolution, and the lactose tolerance was a direct effect of agriculture.
If the evopsychists claim that mental evolution is different, they are contradicting one of their own holiest tenets, the rejection of all mind/body dualism. There was, and is, differences in living conditions between different cultures in different environments across them world, which could easily have such effects (starvation leading to energy-thrift which could limit brainpower, differences in child mortality causing different maturity rates and affecting learning ability, differences in the frequency and severity of survival situations that require tough decisions which could change senses of right and wrong, differences in seasons that could positively or negatively select some forms of bipolar disorder (also known as manodepressivity), differences in geographical transport possibilities that by affecting the amount of contact between tribes could change ingroup-outgroup behavior, purely cultural whims including some aspects of language which especially in combination with a culture valuing early competence could select for innate specialization for that particular language, differences in food supply creating differences in possible group size which according to the social intelligence hypothesis would create differences in intelligence and behavior or even without a Dunbar-style general intelligence formula would still cause differences in the frequency of autism, differences in reliance on hunting and other activities where hallucinations are a bad thing causing differences in the frequency of shizophrenia, differences in subsistence conditions creating differences in the frequency of non-reproductive sexual orientations, differences in the amount of sexually transmitted diseases causing differences in what form non-reproductive sexual orientations comes e.g. homosexuality if the risk is low and asexuality if the risk is high, and so on). The cultural norm parts would become especially strong in countries where the whole family of an offender is punished with death, which have been fairly common in history but far from universal, and more common in some parts of the world than in others.
Considering this massive amount of factors that could diverge, it is absurd to think that they all coincidentally were the same in all populations worldwide. It is an empirical fact that the supposedly racial mental differences does disappear when social factors are taken into account, but it is an empirical fact that computationalism and Darwinian evolutionary psychology cannot explain.
Furthermore, the genetic drift predicted by mainstream, neutral theory could also produce such differences. Proponents of that mainstream theory actually draw "human family trees" based on supposed population bottlenecks to explain differences in the degree of genetic variation, so the fixed limiting factor model of psychology inevitably makes racist predictions in that context as well.
This means that there is a contradiction between nature explanations of individual psychiatry and nurture explanations of ethnic differences. There must be some missing methodological factor. Since racist discrimination is a form of intolerance often associated with other forms of intolerance, studies of ethnic differences effectively takes the tolerant environment factor into account, explaining why nurture explanations prevailed in studies of ethnic differences. But studies of individual psychiatry have, at least before the "Mind, Brain and Education" metastudy, not taken the tolerant environment factor into account, explaining why nature explanations prevailed there. And since giving up hope is often linked to prejudice including racist prejudice (somebody in the 1800s could deny the possibility of smart blacks by lack of concrete evidence, and racists today dismiss examples as "anecdotical" in a manner very similar to how mainstream academic naysayers in different questions denigrate examples of other things as "anecdotical"), the pessimism factor is also capable of solving the rapid evolution paradox. In other words, the social factors taken into account by studies debunking the concept of race are the same social factors that disturb recoveries after brain damage.
But for the principles of extreme recoveries after brain damage to be appliceable to de-racialization in a rapid evolution context, it is necessary that neurons can genetically engineer themselves, which is supported by the "Aneuploid neurons are functionally active and integrated into brain circuitry" study.
Most studies show that all links between race and behavior disappears when social factors are taken into account. The plasticity theories outlined here predicts that the few studies that do disagree and really show racial differences should be concentrated to countries/states where uniformly plasticity-hampering factors are enforced from an early age, such as low liability ages and/or early bestowing of ABCDEF-style grades in school (uniform enforcement makes social factors statistically indetectible). See also Moderating the free will debate.
The limitations to what natural selection can purge does not contradict the rapid evolution principle argument since natural selection could still have a highly statistically significant effect even if unable to give a sufficiently good protection for there to be any significant chance of going free from all possible errors. This is the same principle as the fact that an umbrella with holes in it lets numbers of raindrops through, but still much fewer than with no umbrella at all. The theory of self-organizing evolution is fundamentally non-computational and therefore not part of this falsificative simulation of the absurd predictions of Darwinian evolutionary psychology. And the limits to natural selection does not apply to genetic drift at all, so mainstream theory makes racist predictions in that way too.
The away-explanation of rapid evolution about strong niche construction does not work. If niche construction were strong enough to keep "psychological selection pressure" the same regardless of context, there would be no way to explain behavioral species differences in a neo-Darwinian context either. Any attempt to explain this away by claiming that humanity reached a critical strength of niche construction just in time for Homo sapiens to form contradicts evolutionary psychology's own holiest tenet, that about humanity being just another specific animal species. Placing the critical threshold of strong niche construction at the beginning of agriculture and civilization instead makes racist predictions about people whose last common ancestors were hunter-gatherers, thus failing to explain away the rapid evolution argument. Furthermore, both versions of the hypothesis of strong niche construction is thoroughly empirically falsified by the facts that emergency survival behavior exists and climate change have caused the fall of cultures and civilizations.
Claiming that the rapid evolution argument does not apply to human brains because they are too complex to evolve rapidly contradicts the whole premise of computationalism, that about specific modules for specific functions that can be inherited separately from each other. If different mental functions can be inherited separately from each other and therefore have separate evolutionary histories, then holistic complexity arguments loses all relevance to the evolution of specific functions.
Denying the fact that computationalism makes racist predictions by saying that all human populations are very genetically similar contradicts the whole mainstream assumption that most of the genome plays little or no role. That means that some genes are supposed to be much more important than others, which in turn means that tiny genetic differences that geneticists tend to dismiss as totally insignificant can have huge effects. And single factors with bigg effects are highly likely to be affected by rapid evolution. And claiming that something most likely could not happen just because of lack of evidence that it actually happened is backwards reasoning that in no way whatsoever answers the question why it did not happen.
Trying to explain away the rapid evolution argument by saying that there are no biologically isolated ethnic groups contradicts the whole anthropological assumption that isolated tribes exist, and therefore undermines the whole claim that "cultural universals" are due to anything other than contact between cultures. If members of a tribe are having sex with outsiders, that tribe is patently not an isolated, uncontacted tribe. If there are close enough contacts for sex, no doubt cultural ideas will be exchanged too. So although it is in principle possible that ethnic biological isolation may be non-existent, there is no way to prove "cultural universals" if such continuity is true. And the examples of lactose tolerance and Sherpa and Tibetan lung and blood vessels disproves the extreme continuity that the argument of total non-existence of regional differences requires.
Claiming that evolutionary psychology does not make racist predictions just because those racist predictions have turned out to be false is like claiming that the theory of a lumniferous aether does not predict Earth-orbital changes in the speed of light in different directions just because Earth-orbital change of the speed of light in different directions is empirically falsified. It is important to distinguish between what follows logically from the premise of a theory and what is shown by experiments. Just because a prediction is false does not prevent it from following logically from the premise of a theory. In fact, theories MUST be able to make false predictions, or else it would have been impossible to disprove theories. The racist predictions are patently false, but they still follow logically from the premise of evolutionary psychology, and what that means is that evolutionary psychology is disproved by its empirically falsified prediction.
What about connectionism?EditEdit
Computationalism clearly makes a lot of racist predictions, but what about connectionism? By lacking the module division of computationalism, connectionism clearly does not make the massive amount of racist predictions that computationalism does. But if the version of connectionism in question believes in fixed genetic limits to learning ability, even if the learning ability is general, it still leaves doors open for racialization by rapid evolutionary adaptation to famine limiting energy comsumption of brains as well as child mortality factors necessitating different rates of maturation and thus different learning period lengths. Differences in famine and child mortality across the world are still so obvious that explaining it away by coincidental sameness of those selection pressures across the world is ridiculous. If genes affect behavior, the whole idea of fixed genes must fall to logically avoid making racist predictions. So avoiding racist predictions is solved by connectionism combined with exceptionless regulation. But the same disclaimer about ignorance of rapid evolution and/or its implications as applies to computationalists also applies to fixed learning ability connectionists.
See also origin of language.
Another paradox comes from the fact that the theory of natural selection putting fixed limits to organism flexibility predicts that nature should be taken over by beings that maximize their reproduction without limits, which is falsified by the fact that ecosystem collapses are orders of magnitude rarer than Malthusian theory predicts that they should be. This is explained in greater detail in moderating the Gaia/Medea debate.
Although tomographic studies do show a statistical correlation between brain size and intelligence, there are small-brained smart people too. This means that brain size is not a limiting factor for intelligence, but there is some third common cause that affects them both. Time to think is a probable candidate. Time to think is important for intelligence, and big brains contain longer nerves which takes more time for signals to pass. Pressure to make fast decisions impairs intelligence, and short nerves (small brains) are good for making fast decisions (see multiple stages of justification poisoning). So brains became bigger not to "make room" for intelligence, but because longer time to think removed a pressure that had held back brain growth, and brains blobbed up simply because they could. Therefore brain enlargement is a sign of a lifestyle that allowed greater intelligence, but small brains need not mean stupidity as long as there is some other factor holding brain growth back. However, it is also possible that poor nutrition, which stunts growth, is simply by socioeconomical factors linked to poor education. Other theories are about other functions of brain size not about intelligence, such as throwing.
It have often been claimed that fluid (creative) intelligence is fixed and untrainable just because standard brain training programs cannot improve it, but that ignores the well-documented fact that time shortage is bad for creativity. Standard brain training programs are shaped to fit formal IQ tests, which stress speed. So the faliure of standard brain training programs to improve creativity is best explained by the fact that they impose time shortages which makes them counterproductive. See law of flexible problem solving.
There is evidence for the existence of continuous (non-binary) neuron (brain cell) firing in insect brains. It has been assumed that this is not possible in bigger brains just because of longer transports of information, but that assumption ignores the fact that short-distance pathways may use it to help avoid conflations. Something that only works at short distances is self-evidently more sensitive to disruption, and conflation of words is a classical symptom of brain damage related to loud noise (not simply hearing damage since it affects reading and writing as well). This can be explained by the use of short-distance continuous signals for non-conflational precision.
Research about wasp intelligence provides an example of intelligence with very small brains.
This is an obvious example of the nocebo (the destructive version of placebo) effect. Believing that something is hopeless prevents improvement from happening. But denial (or today more commonly downplaying and limit-setting) of the inheritance of acquired characteristics makes it extremely difficult to avoid both pessimism and intolerance, since the "hereditary equals fixed" assumption leads to a false dichotomy between stigmatization as "fixed" and refusal to give help that others do not need.
Taking time to think is also important. There is evidence that taking time to think tends to shift thinking from faith to science. There is also evidence that religiosity neurologically resembles psychopathy (same poor long-distance connections in the brain and same strong local and regional dopamine surges). Reasonable thought is thus a very advanced case of Falsificative interaction. The limitations to the ability of natural selection alone to purge genetic defects, the same argument as is used to promote neutral theory in evolutionary biology, also means that the innatist-central dogma of molecular biology model of mental illness predicts that we all would have several severe mental illnesses (not "just" the common stupid actions in the world, see moderating the Gaia/Medea debate but also lots of a few population percent disorders), a prediction that is obviously falsified.
Giving up hope, on the lines of "he/she cannot help it", is actually indirectly a result of intolerance. It is intolerance that leads to the blaming that creates the pressure to make up "cannot help it" justifications. If blaming as a phenomenon is eliminated so thoroughly that the idea of unlimited brain plasticity does not lead to blaming, then the social pressure to justify disappears. And that is where the connection between optimism and tolerance is, truly tolerant environments means that thorough elimination of blaming. See moderating the free will debate.
See also origin of language.
Unlimited initial guesses is qualitatively different from a sum of specific capabilities. If you pour water into a bathtub or pool, the water will cover the whole bottom of it. But if you place some blocks of marble on the floor of a room, only the parts of the floor where the blocks of marble were placed will be covered by marble. Scientific progress is about thinking new ideas, and in order to think new ideas you must be able to think things that you have no innate specific predisposition for. When evolutionary psychologists talk about "brain plasticity with fixed limits", their so-called "plasticity" merely refers to the equivalent an ability to shape the marble by carving away parts of it. Scientific thought requires the equivalent of pouring water in a pool in the initial guesses, which are then pruned by falsification. If Albert Einstein's ability to figure out the theory of relativity was due to a unique or near-unique "marble block" of innate potential for it, nobody else would have been able to learn the theory of relativity from him. If it was merely near-unique he happened to find someone else with the same "marble block" he could possibly help that individual use it in a better way, but never ever teach it to individuals without that "marble block".
So is scientific progress possible, or is the whole idea that science exists just a case of insane megalomania? In other words, do unlimited initial guesses exist or does it not? There are numerous clues showing that it does. The extreme recoveries after brain damage if the environmentis tolerant is one. There are also scientists who have connected their brains cybernetically to robotic hands with both mobility and sensors, and when they had learned how to use it they really experienced it as an extra part of their body, falsifying the dogma of a fixed brain self-image of the body. Monkeys have also learned to control cybernetic arms and hands. The wild imagination of children, and the discovery that hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD and THC (THC is the hallucinogenic component in cannabis) work not by stimulating brain activity but by shutting down brain regulation, also supports the idea of unlimited initial guesses. So it seems that science can exist after all. See also Karl Popper.
This theory is actually much further from both the evopsychist concept of "learning windows" and the "blank slate" strawman than those two are from each other. Both evopsychist "learning windows" and "blank slate" are based on the "empty unless specifically filled" assumption. They merely differ in what they think does the initial filling. The whole question of what does the initial filling is completely non-appliceable to the theory of omniplentitude of initial guesses, since it is all about the "full unless specifically emptied" principle.
Correctibility is not the same thing as infallability. Fallability in the sense of committing mistakes is compatible with science, as long as the mistakes can be corrected afterwards. The hardwiring that computationalism believe in, however, is incompatible even with correction afterwards and therefore incompatible with science.
A possible mechanism for the unlimited initial guesses is quantum superposition. There are ideas about quantum computers using quantum superposition to do all the calculations at once instead of one by one. In this neurological (brain) version, however, it is not really a quantum computer but rather a quantum guesser, providing the initial guesses that are later purged by falsification from experience. It is the guessing part of the Popperian predictive-falsificative theory of mind, or an unlimited internal window of opportunity (as opposed to the sum of specific windows advocated by evolutionary psychologists). The channels through cell membranes are nanoscopic, allowing quantum effects to operate at molecules passing through them. The bigger whole cell membrane, operating within classical physics, then does the falsificative part. This means that brain functions are not restricted to the brain per say, which is confirmed by evidence for intelligent problem solving in plants and microbes.
Do NOT confuse this theory with the idea that quantum randomness provides free will. This theory is not about random decisions, it is about quantum superposition providing unlimited initial guesses. In other words, quantum physics provides an abundance but the choice is still in classical, causal physics. See also moderating the free will debate.
Another possible explanation is a connectionism in which the same signal can have different meaning in different contexts, depending on what other signals are around. Adding more signals makes the concepts more precise, while very few signals produces imprecise concepts. Concrete association is the simplest, most zoomed-out state, while greater abstract precision comes with a zooming-in. This theory operates completely within classical physics and do not rely on quantum mechanics. Although it does not assume that all possible ideas are already in the mind, it is still distinguished from the "blank slate" strawman by allowing emergent phenomena.
Another explanation is that since all flexible problem solving can find ways to circumvent obstacles and thus improve itself, flexibility with fixed limits cannot exist. See law of flexible problem solving.
The claim that unlimited initial guesses would consume impossible amounts of energy is based on the false assumption of separate thoughts with a separate signal for each thought. But with regulatory brains where simple signals are random and mass-covering and complex regulation creates precise thoughts (as shown by the hallucinogene research), there is no reason to assume a separate signal for each thought, so unlimited initial guesses does not require any absurd amounts of energy at all.
Answer: Some practical problems are common and may warrant comparable solutions. Differences from other animals are explainable by differences in technology among other lifestyle factors (just like there are behaviors universal among human hunter-gatherers but not animals, so are there behaviors universal among farmers but not hunter-gatherers). It is also likely that elimination of obstacles against higher cognition in itself created a closer approximation of objective knowledge by helping the rational interpretation of the observational data already available. The whole idea of defining "species characters" are debunked by discoveries of Atypical animal cultures. And the existence of rapid evolution means that biological fixedness theory makes racist predictions, so it is not even a good theory. And as shown in self-organization, the behavior of cells simply drag the genes with them, so any DNA-based species definitions can easily be fooled by lifestyle changes, or, in the case of humanization, cognitive sophistication. Then there is the well-documented fact that tribal cultures often have adopt significant amounts of new outside influences, leaving the anthropologists with the realization that the culture they return to study again is not the same culture as they left just a few years earlier. It is possible that many cultural "universals" are the result of such recent influence dispersals. That can explain why anthropology have shifted from stressing differences to stressing similarities in the last few decades (some tribes may have abandoned practices such as cannibalism and matriarchy in the late 1900s, which does NOT mean that those practices were ever "universal" but merely greater cultural diversity in the past). It have been claimed that the shift of description was due to a change in perspective and that earlier studies were biased to support so-called "cultural relativism" (which is a vague word, conflating the factual theory that cultures are substantially different with the normative claim that no person from one culture has the right to criticize the values of other cultures, which is actually two distinct claims, neither of which presupposes the other, and the conflation is even more absurd in the mouths of people who think that facts can never imply normative values). But that claim is simply the historical fabrication of a supposed past consensus about cultures being different, which is falsified by more nuanced, broader studies of older anthropology textbooks, showing that a significant percentage of the authors believed in cultural "universalism" all along (although those who did had generally only studied a few major cultures, being oblivious to minor, more extreme cultural groups). So recent dispersal of influences is the more likely explanation of the recent decades shift. There is also evidence that cultures can be affected by ideas from outside well before they show any visible signs of it. There are, for instance, documentations of Papua New Guinean tribes who had a stone age lifestyle and had never heard of freezers or clocks, but still knew about the moon landing and Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. This is NOT a denial of the existence of some cultural "universals" that follow logically from cognitive sophistication, it is just a refutation of claims of a massive body of arbitrary, irrational behaviors being panhuman and in some cases uniquely human (the we cockchafers lithania).
Question: What about similar facial expressions in all cultures and in infants and blind people?EditEdit
Answer: You could as well be asking why the stress reaction higher heart rate exists in all cultures. Facial "expressions" are not merely communicative, but have practical functions as well, such as respiratory, cooling and heightening senses. The metabolic factor explains why cold-blooded animals are more "different" in that regard than warm-blooded animals. "Uniquely human" facial expressions can be explained by the changes in skull shape and weakening of jaw muscles that follows with relative technological convenience. And the fact that Papua New Guineans have no facial distinction between fear and surprise suggests that culture still plays some role. The idea that blushing (redding) evolved for communication becomes really, really absurd if you think that we are all descended from black Africans, on who blushing is not even visible (just like blood is not visible on black clothes). No sub-Saharan African language has a word for blushing, unlike just about every language in Europe and northern Asia. Although not empirically tested yet, the presence of blood vessel expansion in the faces of black Africans in "blush" situations would be definitive evidence of a non-communicative function or spandrel nature of blushing regardless of model for human evolution. If you have done the experiment, please write the results here. And for the part about infants and blind people, inheritance of acquired characteristics also applies. The inheritance of acquired characteristics means that just because it is present in infants and blind people does not rule out the possibility that it was culturally dispersed, possibly in recent millennia, centuries or for some tribes even decades or years. Consider the knowledge of moon landing in supposedly isolated tribes example in the "cultural universals" item above. And if you still claim that facial expressions evolved for communication, you face a first individual evolvability paradox. There is no use for displaying the facial expression unless others already understand it, and there is no use for understanding the facial expression unless others already display it. The claim that honest, automatic facial expressions evolved to have reliable communication that cannot be faked is at odds with the selfish gene model it pretends to be promoting, since the selfish gene model predicts that deception should be favored regardless if it is"conscious" or not. After all, the selfish gene model claims that consciousness is an illusion, so why should it be able to make communication any more dishonest than it already is? There is no way. Also, the percentages of communication that are said to be "nonverbal body language" can be varied depending on how you define and measure information, so all such percentage numbers are arbitrary. There is also borde cases of communication inconvenient for those who want do dichotomize communication into "verbal" and "nonverbal". For instance, the signs used by divers are undeniably conscious and culturally invented, but have nowhere near the linguistic complexity and richness of the natural sign languages of deaf communities. Trying to explain such borderline communication away by denying that it is communication is just bullshit. If both extremes on the scale are communication, why should the intermediates not be?!?!?!?!
Question: How does the plasticity model explain why efforts to change sexual orientation fails?EditEdit
Answer: The plasticity theory only predicts plasticity if the environment is tolerant, not if the environment is intolerant. Although sexual orientations are not brain damages, the distinction is irrelevant since recoveries after brain damage is all about other brain regions taking over the lost function, and brain tissue taking new functions can happen even without brain damage. Attempts to change sexual orientation are generally made by intolerant religious fundamentalists (or by authorities in countries with religious laws, which are equally intolerant). Why are no such attempts ever made by tolerant environments? Because there is no logical reason to consider homosexual activity wrong anymore! The last one, sexually transmitted diseases, can be adressed using condoms. In the modern, overpopulated world, the idea of maximizing reproduction (like the religious fundamentalists want to) is just baloney. It is even possible that intolerant religious fundamentalists and other homphobics spreading homophobic messages may increase the frequency of homosexuality by the same effect as ban against thinking of polar bears increases the likelihood of thinking of polar bears. Accusing the theory of unlimited brain plasticity provided tolerant environments of homophobia just because it predicts that sexual orientation change is theoretically possible is just a case of association fallacy, especially absurd since the tolerance factor theory states that all hate is counterproductive. And since children often fall in love with other children of their own age, the theory of fixed sexual orientations predict that pedophiles should be a population majority. So it is likely that absolute sharp limit applications of ages of conscent actually increases the frequency of pedophilia in the generations who passed the limit in the presence of such sharp limit laws (as opposed to a softer law with exemptions when the age difference is quantitatively small). This can be investigated by matching statistics of pedophilia with reading of the laws in different countries/states and also studying the law history (when different laws was passed). If you have done such a study, please write the results here. See also moderating the testosterone debate. Then there is the first individual evolvability paradox of sexuality, the evolvability paradox between preference for and prevalence of a trait. This means that Darwinian evolution cannot explain the emergence of new sexual characteristics and preferences for them. The only way to explain it is if living individuals can, under certain circumstances, change their sexual orientations, and that new sexual characteristics can only evolve under said circumstances. As shown in evolutionary development in new niches, evolutionary change is concentrated to periods when life colnizes new niches and environments where they do not have to compete or fear (much) predation. That, given the negative influence of rivalry and positive influence of time to think on brain plasticity, means that those new niche circumstances are likely to give brain plasticity the necessary boost.
Question: But how explain the evidence for inheritance shown in twin studies and studies of infant behavior?EditEdit
Answer: See inheritance of acquired characteristics, which of course renders any studies of infant behavior incapable of proving any kind of fixedness. Although there are cases where "identical" twins raised separately behave very similarly, there are also cases where they behave complete differently. The tolerance factor predicts that the similarity cases should be linked to cases where both twins faced intolerant environments while the difference cases should be linked to cases where at least one of the twins faced a tolerant environment. No such metastudy have as of yet been done, but doing one is recommended. If you have done such a study, please write the results here on this wiki. Questions such as "are we born to that-or-that or do we become it?", "is it nature or nurture?" and "would that-or-that hominid think like us if raised in a modern society?" are totally and utterly misframed questions.
Answer: With the same predictive-falsificative method as used in science, original false assumptions can be corrected. If you associate a word with the wrong thing once, you will later notice that predictions based on that assumption fails to pan out. As for grammar, prediction-falsification applies to that too when words keep appearing in orders based on what type of words they are and prepositions and changes in the form of the words themselves also follow researchable patterns. This fallabilist model of language acquisition explains why children do comical language errors. It also explains why dialects and languages diverge. If there was a flawless generative formula, languages would be able to develop separately in parallel for many thousands of years and still follow the same course and remain perfectly mutually intelligible, and there is evidence that in reality they do not. So the generative model made another prediction that is falsified. See also origin of language and Piraha. Discoveries of "subconscious" complex linguistic cognition does not prove ChomskyoPinkerian innatism at all. The theory that any part of the brain can learn to take over any function predicts that if there are something holding coordinated communication in the brain back so much that it creates a subconscious mind, that alienated mind can acquire its own cognitive abilities separately from the "official" mind.
Answer: First, consider the first moral individual evolvability paradox. The existence of morality thus proves that NOBODY is beyond hope of becoming moral. The existence of rapid evolution also means that any claims of individuals being hardwiredly dangerous is inevitably bound to predict that whole ethnic groups should also be hopelessly dangerous in the same way, a prediction that is not only racist but also empirically disproved. And if you want to lock up all dangerous psychopaths, you should for the sake of avoiding hypocrisy lock up everyone with strong religious beliefs at the same time, since they are overrepresented among violent criminals and have psychopath-like brain features too. If you do not want to lock up everyone with strong religious beliefs, it is hypocritical to lock up psychopaths. Hypocrisy is also linked to such disconnected brains. Dogmatic prestige-obsessed academic "scientists" also have dogmas in a way similar to religious fundamentalists. Should prestige-obsessed official "scientists" be locked up? Since tolerant environments are the key to neuroplasticity, it is necessary to accept a transitional period with violent maniacs on the loose, just like drug addicts must accept a transitional period of abstinence symptoms to get a life without drugs. Many of the problems associated with the transition period can be mitigated by not having shops with very dangerous objects everywhere, but instead distributing objects after rational discussions with those who are going to use them. After all, not giving guns and fire-matches to children is NOT the same thing as stigmatizing them as hopeless lifelong violent maniacs. Other mitigation of the transitional period is that escaped individuals from prisons and other institutions can create their own societies by ocean colonization and/or space colonization (but, because of the plasticity and tolerance argument, shall NOT be kept at a distance for their whole lives just because of their past, any more than everybody should hide from everybody just because evolution implies that the ancestors of humans were once wild animals). And consider the missing heredity/poverty of natural selection problem outlined in self-organization. If biologically fixed factors shaped behavior, we would all be severely mentally ill due to random mutations and the limited efficiency of natural selection in purging defects. And, as shown in moderating the Gaia/Medea debate, any theory claiming that hardwiring of dangerous behavior is possible predicts an absurdly high frequency of Malthusian ecosystem collapses, a prediction that is falsified by the observed fact that the frequency of ecosystem collapses is actually much lower than Malthusian theory predicts that it should be.
Question: How does the theory explain why children learn spoken language easily but must be intensely trained to learn written language?EditEdit
Answer: Spoken language is often present in contexts together with the objects, events, situations and so on they are talking about, especially when the speech is infant-directed. By contrast, written language are usually only illustrated to a limited extent that does not cover the whole situations and events, if they are even illustrated at all. Written books do not contain other sounds either. Texts at TV are usually for foreign language speakers or hearing impaired, and almost never literally correct word for word, let alone marked when pronounced. Furthermore, schools are based on compulsion, which externalizes (makes externally imposed instead of voluntary) the concept of learning and makes it boring, making them counterproductive (see moderating the free will debate). And despite all of this, there ARE individual cases where children are self-taught at reading and writing, sometimes at roughly the same time as they learn to talk. Some of these cases even include children whose close biological relatives are dyslectic! Evopsychists themselves saying that reading is not an innate skill is also at odds with twin studies showing heredity of reading skills and dyslexia. But then, as shown in self-organization, the amount of heredity is so vast that there is no way natural selection could purge even a significant fraction of the defects that would randomly appear if mutation was left to randomness. This, of course, means that all evolutionary psychologists are bound to arbitrarily ignore the majority of the evidence to make their math even look like it has even the slightest chance of adding up. Furthermore, it is absurdly inconsistent to assume a learning difference between spoken and written language at the same time as one denies learning differences between spoken and sign language.