[scrapbook] Tinbergen on differences and similarities

The amount of times I have read this paper … I should be able to quote it chapter and verse by now. “The naturalist who studies animals in their natural surroundings must resort to other methods. His main source of inspiration is comparison. Through comparison he notices both similarities between species and differences between them. … Read more

[scrapbook] On generalizing from case studies

Köbben (1970 and in other papers) was concerned with the folly of making general statements based on case studies. In his study of the Siriono of Bolivia, Holmberg (1950) concluded that hunting and gathering tribes tended to be underfed and obsessed by food. From his celebrated study of Western European nations during the 1880s and 1890s, … Read more

[scrapbook] On the value of comparative anthropology

From: Burton, M, C Moore, J Whiting, A Romney. 1996. “Regions Based on Social Structure.” Current Anthropology 37 (1) (February 1): 87–123. I often go back to this paper. The analyses themselves are interesting (bottom-up culture regions based on the data rather than geography) but problematic (correspondence analysis on non-phylogenetically-controlled data). But the remarks in the … Read more

[scrapbook] Morgan’s Question.

From LH Morgan’s introduction to “Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family“: The tables, however, are the main results of this investigation. In their importance and value they reach far beyond any present use of their contents which the writer may be able to indicate. If they can be perfected, and the systems … Read more

[scrapbook] suites of correlated characters

The characters used for inferring phylogenetic relationships must be independent of one another (Kluge, 1989). Suites of morphological characters that evolve in concert violate this dictate. Such correlated evolution is most likely to occur when a set of characters underlie a functionally adaptive phenotype or common developmental pathway (Emerson and Hastings, 1998). Such suites of … Read more

on cultural determinism [scrapbook]

Benedict, in Patterns of Culture ” Society in its full sense […] is never an entity separable from the individuals who compose it. No individual can arrive at even the threshold of his potentialities without a culture in which he participates. It is largely because of the traditional acceptance of a conflict between society and … Read more

on classification [scrapbook]

Darwin, in The Descent of Man Every naturalist who has had the misfortune to undertake the description of a group of highly varying organisms, has encountered cases (I speak after experience) precisely like that of man; and if of a cautious disposition, he will end by uniting all the forms which graduate into each other as … Read more

definitions of evolution [scrapbook]

Evolution is not changes in gene frequencies. Genes are part of a network of developmental causes that lead to the manifestation of traits that have general properties in common across individuals while retaining individual differences. Evolution is change in the frequencies of alternative developmental causes that yield variations in developmental trajectories (a phrase that is more cumbersome than ‘‘changes in gene … Read more