1. The key features of scientific understanding is
having falsifiable predictions (or a null), replicable observations (which helps
removes bias), and parsimony (which means that typically the simplest
explanation is the most correct).
2. Proximate Explanation: If a snake bites a human, it
can cause an immense amount of pain, so humans will avoid being around snakes.
b. Ultimate Explanation: Historically, humans who
avoid snakes will survive in a greater number and reproduce more often rather
than humans who do not avoid snakes.
c. To test my
explanation, I would separate a group of humans that did not know what snakes
are into two different areas (without any ethics involved in this scenario) I
would inform the groups that they must reproduce with one another. One area
would not have snakes while the other area would. Then I would want to observe
if humans in the snake-infested area had a lower survival rate or reproduction
rate than my control group (snake-less community) over several generations.
Then, I would try to observe in the later generations gauging if their behavior
towards snakes changed at all. Another scenario would involve observing if
individuals were more likely to survive if they avoided snakes versus others if
they did not. These individuals would be living within the same community with
snakes present and would be randomly selected.
3. The “Tabula Rasa,” argument states that humans when
they are born do not have any innate behaviors and that these behaviors were
developed by culture and experiences.
b. In the section “Barrier 4: Tabula Rasa”, Puts
disputes this notion. He highlights that many mental functions differ from one
another because if one is damaged and then with this logic all mental functions
should be altered. However, some of these other mental functions are not at all
damaged—showing that the human brain is not just a “general learning machine”.
Moreover, he argues that “specialized learning abilities” also would not make
sense using that logic. He cites an experiment about rats associating taste and
the feeling of nausea between the sound and physical pain. The researchers
concluded that you can’t connect taste and physical pain together nor the sound
and nausea. Lastly, Puts writes about “cultural
behavior and ideas.” He argues that humans who share similar ideas such as
avoiding incest would be difficult to prove if it was just based on the culture
of one specific society because many cultures share this same notion.
4. In Chapter One, Puts highlights two questions in his
section, “Barrier Five: The Nature-Nurture Debate”: “Why do people have
different biologies underlining their different genes?”; “To what extent are
human phenotypes determined by the genotype versus the environment?” (pgs.
b. The question, “To what extent are human phenotypes
determined by the genotype versus the environment?”
c. The question,” Why do people have different
biologies underlining their different genes?” In this question, the term “biology”
is being used ambiguously. Everyone has biological and chemical processes which
allow them to live. It’s the differences of the biological and chemical processes
in the individual that can affect the different genes which could be due to
5. Schizophrenia is a heritable trait that is passed on
from parent to offspring.
b. Schizophrenia is a trait with higher heritability
which makes it a more fixed trait even if it’s a different environment such as
the child with the adoptative parents.
c. Heritability informs you the phenotypic variation
that results from genetic differences.