September 15th, 2008

beartato phd

(no subject)

This is how I feel about arguments about "nature vs. nurture". Wikipedia says this sort of unasking the question is fairly standard among certain subsets of people, which is a little comforting (Hebb's "which contributes more to the area of a rectangle, its length or its width?") but then everything that follows still seems very couched in language like "In only a very few cases is it fair to say that a trait is due almost entirely to nature, or almost entirely to nurture" which still seems to betray a way of thinking that is out of touch with causual reality.

On the other hand, it seems necessary to say something about the apparent extremity of traits like "which language you speak" and "what color your eyes are". While it's possible in principle that you could genetically engineer a person to speak 15th century French, or modify someone's eye color after birth, the range of variation we expect in genes or post-birth environment amounts to a negligible effect on language or eye color in practice.