What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement? Edge 2014 Question Roundup.

Edge 2014 Annual Question: What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement: 174 contributors! Edge, I do not really have time for all this. But I can’t help myself.

Edge really mixes it up this year. Instead of “who’s science do you like” it is “who’s science do you not like” or “please  knock around your favorite strawman.”

While this question encourages combativeness, what I like about what Edge does, is that it gets everyone’s often-hidden biases and beliefs out on the table (and in writing). These are types of beliefs that come out in conversation or at a conference presentation, but are often obscured in professional publications by careful constructed collegiality and jargon.

Many of the 174 responses have to do with the normal topics of this blog: evolution and social evolution, especially of humans.  Here are a subset of that subset . Most have to do with sussing out the relative contributions to behavior of genes, environment, culture, maternal effects, epigenetics…  I agree to these to various extents.  There are at least two that I just don’t understand, even after a few re-readings. But I include them anyway to contrast with the others.

Grouped roughly by topic:

Peter Richerson – Human Nature
Alison Gopnik – Innateness
Alun Anderson – We are Stone Age Thinkers
Patricia S. Churchland – Modules

Kiley Hamlin – Moral Blank State-ism
Laura Betzig – Culture
John Tooby – Learning and Culture

Robert Sapolsky – Heights and Lengths and Areas of Rectangles*
Stephen Pinker – Behavior = Genes + Environment
Timo Hannay – Nature Versus Nurture

Jamil Zaki – The Altruism Hierarchy
Tor Nørretranders – Altruism
Sandy Pentland – The Rational Individual

Martin Nowak – Inclusive Fitness

* – Look for a future post on this one.

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