Talk:Richard Lewontin

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must distinguish sociobiology/evolutionary psychology from behavioral genetics[edit]

The following quotation is found under the heading of Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology: "In books such as Not in Our Genes (co-authored with Steven Rose and Leon J. Kamin) and numerous articles, Lewontin has questioned much of the claimed heritability of human behavioral traits such as intelligence as measured by IQ tests, promoted by books such as The Bell Curve."

This gives the impression that claims such as those made in the Bell Curve belong to sociobiology/ev psych. But this is not the case; the study of the role of genetic differences in the production of individual differences belongs to the field of behavioral genetics. Sociobiology/ev psych tends to focus on what people have in common. This part of the article should be changed.

acting talent?[edit]

"When an eminent Franco-American actor saw Lewontin's performance, he dubbed him the most naturally talented actor he had ever seen, and attempted to get him to sign a Hollywood contract."

performance in what? I've removed that pending clearer wording and some kind of reference. -- Danny Yee 13:57, 5 November 2005 (UTC)

older stuff[edit]

Lewontin has been a persistent critic of the type of genetic determinism espoused by some neo-Darwinists such as Richard Dawkins.

I want to edit that, but I don't dare, because I'm not sure whether my edits would count as NPOV. Lewontin and Gould's argument with Dawkins appears to based entirely on a straw-man misunderstanding of Dawkins et al's "genetic determinism" (Dawkins covers this in A Devil's Chaplain, the end-notes of the 2nd ed of The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype. Matt Ridley and Stephen Pinker have also done good at showing that Lewontin's argument's based on a misunderstanding (Ridley's Nature via Nurture and Genome and Pinker's The Blank Slate)... --Steinsky 01:45, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)


I have edited the sentence cited above, because it gave the impression that Dawkins et al are espousing genetic determinism, when in fact that is just one (I think rather misleading) view of what they are saying.
The article would also, I feel, benefit from a paragraph or two outlining the response to Lewontin from the sociobiology / evolutionary psychology camp. R Lowry 20:12, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)

  • The article should refer to Lewontin's extreme leftist politics, and mention that his rejection of sociobiology has been criticized as being perhaps influenced by his political ideology. And if you can do this and still be NPOV, you get a cookie. Tim Shell
This is just from memory, but doesn't Steven Pinker's latest book The Blank Slate refer a quote by Lewontin where he openly admits that he's only interested in doing and supporting science matching his political views? I seem to remember it does, so if someone wants to dig up a quote from Lewontin to build up this argument, it might be wise to start looking there for the reference. Mortene 09:07, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Rather than getting too worked up about ideology and politics (which have a place, but shouldn't be the focus of the article) and having this turn into a "he-says, she-says" kind of Wikipedia article. I would rather see this article expanded further in the coverage of Lewontin's science, particularly in the early days of population genetics and molecular evolution, where he has been hugely influential and developed a good deal of mathematics and analysis which continues to inform the field to this day. His scientific output in these areas (particularly in the early days), is more notable in the scientific community than his views on sociobiology, which are relatively small part of his output. --Lexor|Talk 09:39, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Agreed. I was just reading Matt Ridley's Nature via Nurture, and it is mentioned that Lewontin was the first to prove that there is on average a far greater genetic difference between two randomly selected individuals from the same race, than the average between any two different races. (Chapter 8, "Conondrums of Culture", page 204 in my hardcover edition.) Sounds like a major scientific finding, which should be mentioned in the article. Ridley gives no reference for just this statement, though. Anyone here know more about this? Mortene 12:49, 25 Jul 2004 (UTC)
It was referenced later in the book: Lewontin, R.C. 1972 "The apportionment of human diversity" Evolutionary Biology 6:381-98. I'll make a note of this scientific accomplishment in the article, if there are no protests. Mortene 09:18, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Yes, Lewontin was one of the major contributors to that result and that reference sounds about the right timeframe. I haven't read the paper itself, possibly a good idea. If none of use gets around to digging up the original, and if you think Ridley summarizes it correctly, just say: Lewontin 1972 blah, blah as cited by Ridley 2004(?) blah, blah.... --Lexor|Talk 14:36, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)
"Lewontin was the first to prove that there is on average a far greater genetic difference between two randomly selected individuals from the same race, than the average between any two different races" - a paper on this topic is called Lewontin's Fallacy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewontin%27s_Fallacy and should probably get a link on this page.

Are these universities in chronological order?

North Carolina State University, the University of Rochester, and the University of Chicago

Removal[edit]

Yep, quite correct Danny Yee. I took out the MacDonald reference from the sources, but I missed the parenthetical mention. Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters 21:27, 20 December 2005 (UTC)

this isn't a message board.

Russian or Ukraine American?[edit]

Is Richard Lewontin an Russian (or Ukraine) American? This may have something to do with his political views. Anyhow, if someone knows this, this may be added to the section on his biography. (Postdoc 18:44, 31 July 2007 (UTC))

Lewontin's Fallacy[edit]

A section has been added by an anonymous user 87.114.148.156 which is mostly concerned to persuade us how wrong Lewontin was in committing Lewontin's fallacy and how terribly misleading this has been. This has been struggled with on the page Lewontin's Fallacy and reached a reasonable state, where it is made clear that whether there is such a Fallacy depends on what question is being asked (and a reference to a paper by R. Chakraborty saying that was given). The present section quotes material from that page while coming to a very different conclusion. The fact that with enough loci we can differentiate clearly between, say, Norwegians and Swedes, does not persuade us that we ought to call those different races. The author of this new section apparently thinks this, though. This anonymous author should reconsider. Felsenst 06:35, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

As the anonymous author has not reconsidered, I have removed the sentences

"Organisations such as the American Anthropological Association, and many academics and politicians frequently cite this fallacy as though it were fact with the cliche that 'the differences between races are the same as those within them', Edwards' work clarifies the fallaciousness of this statement. The types of difference between races are not the same as the types of differences within them"

as these convey the wholly misleading impression that differences between races are somehow special and utterly unlike differences between any two populations. Edwards's point, that one can discriminate clearly between races by using enough loci, is true for any two populations, the difference being that more loci will be required the less the populations differ. Felsenst (talk) 05:50, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

The entire section seems odd at best. One can find numerous papers critical of Lewontin's views. Why should this one particularly be selected for an entire section here? Doesn't a link in the "see also" section suffice? Furthermore, it's in the section on Lewontin's critique of evolutionary theory. This is clearly an unsuitable location for a reference to criticism of Lewontin himself. --Silver Pyrogenesis (talk) 16:17, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

Intelligence Citations Bibliography for Articles Related to IQ Testing[edit]

You may find it helpful while reading or editing articles to look at a bibliography of Intelligence Citations, posted for the use of all Wikipedians who have occasion to edit articles on human intelligence and related issues. I happen to have circulating access to a huge academic research library at a university with an active research program in those issues (and to another library that is one of the ten largest public library systems in the United States) and have been researching these issues since 1989. You are welcome to use these citations for your own research. You can help other Wikipedians by suggesting new sources through comments on that page. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk) 03:01, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

Critique of orthodox evolutionary biology[edit]

I've removed two cryptic, unexplained figures from this section. While one might guess at the meaning of the figures, no legend is given, nor a reference to some work of Lewontin's that might explain them, and one contains an outright error ('adaptionist' [sic]). The title of the section is also poorly chosen-- Lewontin's views are pretty much the definition of orthodox evolutionary biology-- but the section does address some important views of Lewontin, and I don't have any immediate suggestions for cleaning up it's title and content. MayerG (talk) 05:49, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

"Personal life" section[edit]

This isn't at all about his "personal life - which should be about family etc.

What we have here is a bit about his academic interactions with some academic philosophers. If this information is to be included in this article, it should be classified elsewhere.

If there is to be a "Personal life" section, it should contain appropriate information. If there is none to be had (or if no-one wants to, or is brave enough, to write it here), then this section should be removed. 101.117.70.185 (talk) 02:52, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

Some oral history on Lewontin from EO Wilson[edit]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4TwiXs056A has some of EO Wilson's recounting of Lewontin--some info which we might want to include starting at about 7 min in. I haven't figured out a good way to integrate it yet (if at all)--but note it here as a reminder to me and others to think it through more. The information about Lewontin's scientific productivity does seem important, although I'm not sure the best way to integrate this. Pengortm (talk) 04:47, 1 December 2014 (UTC)