Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Missing Ingredient

Steven Pinker, research psychologist and professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT and author of "Words and Rules", HERE asks :

"What is the missing ingredient — not genes, not upbringing — that shapes the mind?"

Astrologers (and people like me) know the answer, but not exactly how the process works. Why not test a theory that broad astrological principles may be involved in the answer to this question? Astrologers, in cahoots with psychologists such as Professor Pinker, might discover much of value to both science and astrology .

Brief extracts:

"If genes have any effect at all, it must be total. But the data show that genes account for about only about half of the variance in personality and intelligence (25% to 75%, depending on how things are measured). That leaves around half the variance to be explained by something that is not genetic........................
...............growing up in the same home — with the same parents, books, TVs, guns, and so on — does not make children similar.

So the variation in personality and intelligence breaks down roughly as follows: genes 50%, families 0%, something else 50%. As with Bob Dylan's Mister Jones, something is happening here but we don't know what it is. (I say......"Or do we?")

Perhaps it is chance. While in the womb, the growth cone of an axon zigged rather than zagged, and the brain gels into a slightly different configuration. If so, it would have many implications that have not figured into our scientific or everyday way of thinking.................... "

And again...

David Sloan Wilson's article
"Are Liberals and Conservatives Different Species? The Answer is Yes" is an interesting read, but it also left me feeling really sad that astrology cannot command the $$$ required for an experiment such as the one he describes. If only more scientists would wake up, experiments like this one could be modified to take in birth data so that it could be analysed by astrologers. Dream on!

A few extracts:

For years I wanted to study people in the same way that I am accustomed to studying beetles and fish--not just in the laboratory, but also "in the field" as they go about their everyday lives. I finally found my chance when I met Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the famous psychologist who is best known for his work on peak psychological experience (Flow) and who pioneered something called the experience sampling method (ESM).

The ESM is simplicity itself. People are outfitted with devices that beep at random times during the day, prompting them to fill out a short questionnaire recording where they are, what they are doing, who they are with, and a checklist of psychological states on a numerical scale. Each beep is like a flash bulb that captures a snapshot of the individual's experience. Mihaly and others have used the ESM on thousands of people to study a variety of subjects. When I met him at a conference and began talking with him about the ESM, I immediately realized that it was the equivalent of field studies on other species. I therefore teamed up with Mihaly to use some of his past studies to ask questions inspired by ecological and evolutionary theory.

We began with a multi-million dollar project that Mihaly had conducted with sociologist Barbara Schneider to examine how young people prepare to enter the work force. Thousands of American high school students had participated nationwide by providing extensive background information and being beeped for a week, for roughly 50 snapshots of their individual experience.

With this as our "field study," we began to think about altruism and other do-good behaviors as a strategy that can succeed in some environments but not others. That story is recounted in a chapter titled "The Ecology of Good and Evil" in my book Evolution for Everyone.

Imagine the priceless information astrologers could glean from being included in an experimental survey like that one ~!

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