[ExI] Genetics doesn't explain why people are poor

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Wed Jan 29 01:48:09 UTC 2020

BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:

> Perhaps the Nature article didn't refer to Clark's paper because he
reached his genetic conclusions without any genetics research being involved?

More likely the authors were not aware of Clark's work.

But Clark showed a consistent selection from around 1250 to 1800 for
wealth or whatever psychological characteristics lie behind a person
becoming wealthy.  How can you have selection in a population without
it affecting population gene frequencies?

> The difficulty with Clark's research and evolutionary psychology is
that they leap from behaviour analysis to the conclusion that it must
be due to genes and miss out all the steps in between.

I think you are conflating my interest in evolutionary psychology with
Clark's work.  Clark was looking at the outcome of a lifetime of
behavior that generated wealth and children and seeing how well they

> What about the
causes of the behaviour? How much was influenced by genes and how much
by social learned behaviour?  What genes cause what behaviour?

Ultimately genes build bodies with psychological traits.  There are
not a lot of examples where specific genes are known to be connected
to behavior.  I can think of only two, waltzing in mice and dogs
playing fetch.  Recently researchers found that some wolf cubs will
play fetch.  But Chows will not.  That's going to be traced to genes
eventually.  If you think not, why not?

> Do these genes *always* cause that behaviour or only in some social

It depends on the particular behavior.  Dunk a rat in water and it
swims.  But do this with a million rats and you might find one that
sinks like a stone.  Dry out your sinker and see if it breeds true.
If it does, would you consider this an example of genes causing
behavior (or lack of same)?

Incidentally, the outcome of the behaviors that lead to wealth depends
strongly on the social environment.  Clark goes into considerable
detail about the "stable agrarian society" which made accumulating
wealth possible.

> All these questions and more are ignored to reach their
preferred conclusion.

I lost track of your argument.  What is the "preferred conclusion" here?

> Now that real scientific genetic research is being done different
conclusions are being suggested.

Hmm.  Do you have an example?


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