Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

November 29, 1977 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-11-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

age 4-Tuesday, November 29, 1977-The Michigan Daily

Eighty-Eight Years of Et
420 Maynard St., Ann
Vol. LXXXVIII, No. 67

I 1

Edited and managed by students at ti

rhe misguided

raising the standard of living for
the nation's poor and underprivileged
often net contrary results because of
the guidelines set up to implement the
The federal government's welfare,
program is a prime example. Aimed at
providing relief for those unable to find
jobs and the chronically unemployed,
the present welfare system keeps
nuclear families divided and en-
courages unemployment.
The faults of another ambigious
federal program have been pointed out
in a law suit against the Ann Arbor
Board of Education in Federal District
Court in Detroit. The complainants in
the case are 15 black children who live
in the Green Road public housing,
project and attend Martin Luther King
Jr. Elementary School.
King School does not qualify for fun-
ds for remedial education aids under,
the federal HEW Title I program
because the school does not have
enough low-income families in its at-
tendance area.
The judge in the suit, Charles Joiner
was quoted as saying, "Perhaps the
city of Ann Arbor discriminated by
deliberately scattering its low-income
housing sites and not grouping them in
one area so that their school could
benefit from the federal funds."
Clearly the guidelines for the Title I
program and Judge Joiner's statement
foster the conditions that all com-
munities try to avoid.
When city planners decided to
spread out the locations of public
housing projects there was no
malicious intent, In fact they were


The 5
litorial Freedom >!Barry Peterson, with "In D
Arbor, MI 48109 Sociobiological Gene" (Daily, N
sees the basic issue in the soci
NesPhtroversy as the possible misa
ews one: 764-0552 sociobiology in some hypothetic
he University of Michigan attacks "groups such as 'Scie
People,' which have condemned
as a discipline which can only le
Splications." Petersen's assertio
benevolenc whole point.
We criticize sociobiology no
)tecting the best interests of the might be used, but for how it is b
mmunity. Concentrating public the sociobiologists themsel
sing sites give rise to ghetto con- statements they make on social
iosn te ie neeti issues without supporting evid
ons and oter vices inherent in methods are unscientific, and t
my concentrations of low-income distorts or ignores much anthrop
nilies. dence. If the issue were merely
Dividing the public housing into dif- diting the future possibilities ofs
ent parts of the city also helps foster it could perhaps be treated as a
;egra ted neighborhoods and schools. question, as Peterson does. But i
future; it is being used today, a
hough the Ann Arbor school district ic" statement of a particular id
racially segregated, that best way to demonstrate this i
;regation is de facto. If the city had quote the sociobiologists themse
ied all of the public housing into one ample, E. O. Wilson has written:
ea of the city, Ann Arbor might be In hunter-gatherer societies, m
nd guilty of de jure segregation. women stay at home. This stro,
sists in most agricultural and I
GEYOND THE RACIAL question, cieties and, on that ground alone
many sociologists now suggest that have a genetic origin ... My own
io-economic status has much to do the genetic biassisintenseenoug
substantial division of labor even
h the education of a child. Children free and most egalitarian of fut
households having a low socio- ... even with identical education a
Inomic status tend to learn better cess to all professions, men are i
en mixed with students of a higher tinue to play a disproportionate r
io-economic status. cal life, business and science.
arger blocks of segregated and low New Yor te
ome students would result from
dge Joiner's suggestion. It is ironic In the film Sociobiology: I
t the judge was the Dean of the Comes Naturally, Harvard so
yne State law School when black theorist Robert Trivers says:
dents there pressed for an affir- One of the most striking chara
tive action policy. For sometime warfare, and certainly classical
ir demands fell on deaf ears. that when you'overrun the other
he federal guidelines for the Title I loot and pillage, but you also g
cation programs must be revised. women, and you either insemina
the spot or you take them back as
children who come from low- You kill off the adult males; you
ome families are entitled to certain castrate young boys and bring th
nedial educational aids. servants. So I think warfare has t
When Gabriel Kaimowitz, the attor- had a strong sexual counterpart t
egthe 15 families, lear- certainly biological, and you d
representing r as 5 anlis he look far to see that there's that te
i that Judge Joiner was handling the ning today.
V suit, he said, "Oh boy, we're in
uble." It appears that Kaimowitz's Nor have our local sociobiol
rs were justified. exempt from applying their theor
cal subjects. W. D. Hamilton, re
by the University of Michigan, 1
45 show that such things as racism
roots in our animal past and th
likely to rest on direct genetic f
(in Biosocial Anthropology, 1975).
tried to explain the Renaissance
from either barbarian invasions
"certain genes or traditions" f
killer game
To The Daily:
I am appalled at the editorial
concerning the 'Killer game'
which appeared in the Sunday
issue of the Daily. Your com-
parison of the E. Quad game-
players with Son-of-Sam was both
v, shallow and ignorant. If your in-

tentions were to be glamorous,
then it is sad that you had to stoop
to this kind of sensationalism to
make a point.
Even more upsetting is the
possibility that you believe the
analogy to be appropriate.
Anyone who can draw com-
parisons between the sick and
disturbed actions of Son-of-Sam,
and the firing of a toy dart gun is
obviously unaware of the
seriousness of the Son-of-Sam
While the comparison of the
physical act of pulling a trigger is
incredible, to say that "the East
Quad 'hit man' is enjoying the
same sensations which a real
1s support killer-like the Son-of-
Sam-enjoys" is disgustingly in-
sensitive. By what means do you
e. Here at the University, one can claim to understand the 'sen-
tribute $2.00 to PIRGIM by simply sations' experienced by a mur-
R by sderer such as Son-of-Sam? Cer-
nig the voluntary contribution tainly the feeling which accom-
m which is attached to every panies the act of firing a bullet
dent verification form. But with the knowledge that life will
IGIM officials are worried that be vioently destroyed is not to be
dents won't take the time to read compared with the feeling ac-
form, and thus won't contribute. companying the firing of a toy
dart gun, knowing that the only
IRGIM needs our help if it is to con- result will be a harmless "Darn
e fighting for public interest. Last it!, I'm out of the game."
m only 18 per cent of the students While it is true that therte are
ported PIRGIM, and that just isn't moral arguments which can be
ugh. If PIRGIM doesn't elicit the simlatswainstr-lkebgaehior
port of at least 33 per cent of the (chess, for instance), the overall
dent hndv in the nming term it effect of the name must be con-

efense of the
rov. 16, 1977)
obiology con-
pplication of
al future. He
ence for the
ad to evil ap-
- misses the
t for how it
eing used by
les -- for
and political
dence. Their
heir analysis
ological evi-
one of pre-
an academic
iis not in the
s "scientif-
deology. The
is simply to
ves. For ex-
en hunt and
ong bias per-
ndistrial so-
, appears to
guess is that
;h to cause a
ain the most
ure societies
and equal ac-
ikely to con-
ole in politi-
es Magazine,
175, pp. 49-50
Doing What
cteristics of
warfare, is
country, you
grab up. the.
ate them on
em back as
o it, which is
in't havee to
ndency run-
ogists been
ies to politi-
cently hired
has tried to
"have deep-
uis are quite
He has also'
as resulting
bringing in
or altruism

ociobiology myt

_ %../ w w

"which tends to die out in a large panmictic
(random breeding) population" (ibid.). An-
other University sociobiologist, R.D. Alexan-
der, has suggested to his classes that both
rape and the degree to which women resist it
have been selected for. Women would resisi a
rapist only enough to be sure that they are
being raped by someone who is strong and
fit, and thus would pass on good genes to their
Does Petersen really believe that, in mak-
ing such assertions, sociobiologists are
merely asserting value-free facts and not en-
tering the realm of politics and ethics? If so,
he is going beyond the sociobiologists them-
selves. Wilson, for example, forsees a future
fusion of sociobiology and neurobiology as
giving as "A genetically accurate and hence
completely fair code of ethics" (Sociobiology,
p. 574). Trivers predicts that "Sooner or later,
political science, economics, law psychology,
psychiatry and anthropology will all be bran-
ches of sociobiology" (Time, 1 August 1977, p.
IF SOCIOBIOLOGISTS indeed stated flat-
ly that such things as sexism were "justifi-
able, inevitable, good, and right," in Peter-
sen's phrase, their pronouncements would be
much less dangerous, for then their political
nature would be obvious to all. The dangerous
versions are those which tell us about
"genetic predispositions" or "genetic ten-
dencies." Such phrases, though presented
without evidence from genetics, are used to
argue that "There are certain limitations and
certain strong biases in the development of
human behavior. We are not preordained to
one specific behavior, but we are preordained
to a definable range of behavior" (Wilson,
National Observer, 16 August 1975, p.15).
In fact, those who speak of "genetic predis-
positions" reveal a misunderstanding of how
genes and environment interact. It is clear
from modern genetics that genes as well as
environment are involved in every aspect of
the phenotype (observable characteristics of
an organism), including behavior. It is
equally clear that they normally do not
'predispose''or ''bias'development toward
preferred phenotypes; rather the resulting
phenotype depends on what environment the
genes grow up in. Without knowledge of both
genotype and environment, we cannot predict
the phenotype. Thus to say that human genes
are "predisposed" or "preordained" to a
determinable range of behaviors is like
saying that a rectangle whose width is five
centimeters is "predisposed" to have an area
of about ten square centimeters. Unless we
know that the length has to be about two cen-
timeters, this is clearly nonsense. It is equally
unscientific to assert that, as Wilson states
(and Petersen repeats), "I see maybe ten per
cent of human behavior as genetic and 90 per
cent environmental" (New York Times, Nov.
9, 1975). He could just as well have said two
per cent or 80 per cent or 50 per cent is
genetic; it is like trying to say what percen-
tage of the rectangle's area is due to its width.
In fact, it makes even less sense, for at least
we know what "ten per cent of the rectangle's
area means, but the phrase "ten per cent of

human behavior" is scientifically
Geneticists study the interaction of genes
and environment, not by using such unscien-
tific terms as "genetically predisposed" or
"ten per cent of human behavior," but by ex-
perimentally manipulating genotype and en-
vironment and seeing what phenotype
results. This method, much'.:used with such
organisms as fruit flies, gives us what is
called the "norm of reaction" - the pattern
of gene-environment interaction to give a
phenotype. However, its application to
humans has a major drawback - it requires
the experimenter to manipulate both the
mating patterns and the environments of the
subjects. Such a procedure is obviously
totally unethical with humans, and no
technical advances in research methodology
can change this.
THIS IS THE reason that sociobiologists
cannot cite genetic evidence for their
hypothetical "genetic biases," nor are they
likely to. If Petersen believes that "empirical
proofs are the basis of all scientific
knowledge," he should tell us how the
existence of "genetic predispositions can be
empirically proved.
But lack of evidence has not prevented
sociobiologists from postulating gene effects
and drawing conclusions from them. Indeed,
sociobiology illustrates how easily one can
discuss genes as "just hypothetical, and
somewhere in the midst of the discussion,
forget about the "hypothetical." Ironically,
Petersen's own article provides a good exam-
ple of this process. He initially tells us that E.
0. Wilson "hypothesizes, for example, that
man could have a genetic predisposition to
warfare," and asserts later' that this is "a
statement which, given enough time and
research, is capable of being empirically
either verified or disproved." Exactly what
this research would be is not made clear, but
apparently by the end of the article it has
already been done, for Petersen is telling us
about "our inborn craving for annihilation."
In fact, a major criticism of sociobiology is
that it is unfalsifiable and thus not scientific.
A legitimate scientific theory must be
testable through observations. Further,'it
must be, at least in theory, possible for your
observations to contradict your hypothesis. If
you know prior to your observations that your
theory cannot be refuted or "falsified," then
your observations are not a valid test of your
theory. Because sociobiology can explain any
conceivable behavior - selfish or altruistic,
with relatives or with non-relatives - it can-
not be contradicted by observational evi-
dence, because anything you could possibly
see will fit into the theory somewhere.
TOMORROW: The evidence.
This article was prepared by the Socio-
biology Study Group of Ann Arbor
Science for the People. They helped edit
the recently published book Biology as a
Social Weapon.


ers to
to meet each other.
" been a fun change-of-pace
from the constant pressures of
I feel that these benefits of the
game far outweigh the moral
considerations which you failed
to intelligently discuss, choosing
instead to label each participant
a 'David Berkowitz'.
-Lenny Pitt
Game Coordinator
2nd Annual EQ Killer
south africa
To The Daily:
Your front-page editorial of
November 22 explained your
position on the controversy
regarding holding securities in
companies which operate in
South Africa: ".. . we oppose in-
vestments in corporations whose
activities benefit the nation's
white minority regime." I won-
der, though, if this is not an
overly simplistic "solution" to a
terribly difficult situation. What
we seek, ultimately, is a change
in the social and political
situations within South Africa.
Whether a divestiture of such
securities would help to effect
this change is the question at
Consider what would happen if
this University, and others
holding the same views, were to
institute such a policy of
divestiture. All stocks and bonds
held by groups and individuals
who felt that ownership involved
conflict of morals would be sold.
There would, of course, be no dire
ect effect of the individual cor-
poration; they are normally not
involved with the trading of their

The Daily

cause of the blacks in South
Africa who would be in control of
the companies operating in that
country. It is difficult to see how
this would restrain these com-
panies' activities in supporting
the white minority regime. In
fact, it would seem as though this
would encourage this support in
order to further extraordinary
profits reaped at the expense of
the South African blacks.
Certainly, this facet of the
situation does not, itself, present
a clear-cut solution to this debate.
What it does show is that intricate
problems cannot always be
solved by simplistic methods.
Perhaps we need to re-evaluate
the scope of the problem before
we can act upon it.
-Paul Andrew Fitzsimmons
go blue
To The Daily:-
I would like to congratulate the
University of Michigan. Before

becoming a student here, I had
visions of lectures with thousands
of students. I conceived the
University of Michigan to be a
cold, unfriendly institution with
little personal contact. To my
surprise, I have found just the
opposite. Granted, lectures are
large but the discussion groups
make the gap between professor,
teaching fellow and student much
smaller. The students and faculty
are both friendly and helpful.
When I or any of my fellow
classmates need assistance, the
professor or teaching fellow is
there to help. I am pleased to see
that a one to one relationship can
be formed between student and
teacher here at the University of
-Debbie Foran
Letters should be typed and limited
to 400 words. The Daily reserves th.
right to edit letters for length and

T'S REGISTRATION time, and the stat
Ilast thing you want to do is fill out con
any more forms than you must. But sigi
there's one extra form that's worth fora
reading-the PIRGIM voluntary con- stu(
tribution form. PIN
PIRGIM is a public interest group stu(
comprised of students and professional thel
persons who lobby in Lansing for pro- P
consumer legislation, and work to in- tinu
form the public about legislation of in- tern
terest. Currently, they are pushing for sup
a national bottle bill, that would eno
eliminate all non-returnable con- sup]
tainers. This would be similar to the gtni

Back to Top

© 2024 Regents of the University of Michigan