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October 31, 2013

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Dear APLS Conference participants,
Thank you for attending APLS 2013 this past weekend. The contributions people made to the conference and to intellectual pursuits were outstanding. I very much enjoyed the presentations and heard the same from most if not all the participants I talked with.
To carry forward some of the momentum of the conference, I’m now writing you with the opportunity to receive a “free” book. As book review editor for Politics and the Life Sciences (PLS), it’s my job to find qualified reviewers for books within the scope of interest of the readers of PLS. Not only will successful reviews be published, but in exchange for your review you will also get to keep the copy of the book you reviewed.
I have three really interesting looking books right now that are available for review.
The Tribal Imagination: Civilization and the Savage Mind (Fox, 2011, Harvard University Press): “We began as savages, and savagery has served us well—it got us where we are. But how do our tribal impulses, still in place and in play, fit in the highly complex, civilized world we inhabit today? This question, raised by thinkers from Freud to Levi-Strauss, is fully explored in this book by the acclaimed anthropologist Robin Fox. It takes up what he sees as the main—and urgent—task of evolutionary science: not so much to explain what we do, as to explain what we do at our peril. Ranging from incest and arranged marriage to poetry and myth to human rights and pop icons, Fox sets out to show how a variety of human behaviors reveal traces of their tribal roots, and how this evolutionary past limits our capacity for action.” AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/The-Tribal-Imagination-Civilization-Savage/dp/0674059018.
Wired for Culture: Origins of the Human Social Mind (Pagel, 2012, W. W. Norton): “A unique trait of the human species is that our personalities, lifestyles, and worldviews are shaped by the culture into which we are born. It is our cultures and not our genes that determine which foods we eat, which languages we speak, which people we love and marry, and which people we kill in war. But how did our species develop a mind that is hardwired for culture—and why? Evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel tracks this question through the last 80,000 years of human evolution, revealing how an innate propensity to contribute and conform to the culture of our birth not only enabled human survival and progress in the past but also continues to influence our behavior today. This book sheds light on our species’ defining attributes—from art, morality, and altruism to self-interest, deception, and prejudice.” AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Wired-Culture-Origins-Human-Social/dp/0393344207.
Genomics and Democracy: Towards a ‘Lingua Democratica’ for the Public Debate on Genomics (Derkx and Kunneman, 2013, Rodopi): “This book addresses the ethical and political questions flowing from the vastly increased possibilities to manipulate the genetic properties of organisms, including human beings. It starts from the premise that neither clinging to the idea of value-neutral, disinterested science, nor the complete abandonment of this idea in favor of postmodern relativism is useful. Instead the different contributions to this book explore the idea of a ‘lingua democratica’ for the life sciences and sketch the contours of this notion by focusing on a broad range of conceptual and practical issues in the field of genomics.” AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Genomics-Democracy-Towards-Democratica-Sciences/dp/9042037199.
The journal looks for reviews of 1000-1500 words, and at this point I’m looking for reviews to be submitted to me by May 31, 2014. I am attaching the Review Guidelines so you can evaluate one of these books or familiarize yourself to do something in the future. And, by all means, let me know if you have a suggestion for a book that PLS readers should not miss.
If you’re interested, please email me at g.murray@ttu.edu to make all the arrangements.
Best to you all. I look forward to seeing you at our next conference!
Gregg Murray
- – - Gregg R. Murray, Ph.D. Department of Political Science Texas Tech University 10 Holden Hall (Box 41015) Lubbock, TX 79409 806.834.4017 g.murray@ttu.edu
Executive Director, Association for Politics and the Life Sciences (APLSnet.org)
Book Review Editor, Politics and the Life Sciences (PoliticsAndTheLifeSciences.org)
Latest Psychology Today Blog Post: 
“Male Politicians and Sexual Misbehavior: An Update”: http://goo.gl/akmcpx
Twitter: @GreggRMurray

2013 APLS MEETING May 21, 2013

Posted by ronwhite54 in Public Policy.
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OCTOBER 25-26, 2013

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Thirtieth Annual Meeting of the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences (APLS) will be held October 25-26, 2013, on the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.

Program Directors:
Ron White: aplswebmaster@gmail.com
Steve Peterson: sap12@psu.edu
Site Directors:
Erik Bucy: erik.bucy@ttu.edu
Gregg Murray: g.murray@ttu.edu

CALL FOR PAPERS: Individual paper presentations, panel, and roundtable proposals are welcome on any topic that pertains to the following broad categories: new directions in politics and the life sciences, biobehavior, life science policies (e.g., health policy, genetically modified foods, stem cell research), neurobiology and politics, bioethics, bioterrorism, environmental policy and communication (e.g., media coverage and public opinion about global warming) genetics and politics, biotechnology, and other biopolitical topics.

THEME: This year’s theme will be “Evolution, Consumption, and the Political.” The importance of evolutionary and other biologically based theories to consumer behavior and economic analysis has become increasingly evident with the growth of research in neuromarketing, thin slice forecasting, the evolutionary bases of risk taking, and related areas. Theme panels and presentations relevant to political behavior, public policy, and ethics might address the following questions:

• How does evolutionary biology clarify economic and political theory?
• What are the political implications of behavioral economics?
• What are the public policy implications of biological and evolutionary theories?
• How might biological and evolutionary theory elucidate such pressing issues as gun control, health care, global warming, drug war, and the recent financial crisis?
• How does evolutionary biology explain international instability as in Tunisia, Egypt, and the Middle East?
• How do biological and evolutionary theories inform us about the rapid development of social networking technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Wiki-Leaks?

NOTE: Although participants are encouraged to address the conference theme, other topics are also welcome.

TO SUBMIT PROPOSALS: The Program Committee will consider proposals for individual paper presentations, research panels, and roundtables. For paper presentations, please send via email attachment to the Program Director an abstract (preferably in Word) not to exceed 200 words that includes: the title of your presentation, your name and title, and institutional affiliation.

For research panels and roundtables, send to the Program Director a description not to exceed 200 words of the proposed panel or roundtable that includes the panel title, your name as “organizer,” your affiliation, and contact information for all other panel and roundtable participants. All panel members should submit individual abstracts for their papers and indicate their panel affiliation.

The deadline for receipt of proposals is July 30, 2013.

KEYNOTE LECTURE: The keynote lecture for this year’s meeting will be delivered by Gad Saad, professor of marketing and research chair in evolutionary behavioral sciences and Darwinian consumption at Concordia University in Montreal. Professor Saad is the author of:

• The Consuming Instinct: What Juicy Burgers, Ferraris, Pornography, and Gift Giving Reveal About Human Nature (2011)
• Evolutionary Psychology in the Business Sciences (2011)
• The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption (2007)

HOTEL ARRANGEMENTS: To be arranged individually. Although there is no main “conference hotel,” the hotels closest to campus are the Overton Hotel, 2322 Mac Davis Lane, Lubbock, (806) 776-7000, and the Staybridge Suites, 2515 19th Street, Lubbock, (806) 765-8900. Rooms are available at both hotels for $110-$120 per night.

AIR TRAVEL: Flights can be arranged directly to Lubbock International Airport (LBB), a convenient 15-minute drive from campus.

Members: $125
Non-Members: $150
Students: $50 (contact Erik Bucy to inquire about fee waivers: erik.bucy@ttu.edu)
To avoid a $20 late fee, please pay by September 30, 2013.
Note that a Membership with online subscription to Politics and the Life Sciences is $25. To join, visit: http://apls.msj.edu/membership.html

E-Mail: aplswebmaster@gmail.com (Ron White: Program Director)
Website: http://apls.msj.edu/
APLS blog: http://politicsandlifesciences.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AssnPoliticsLifeSciences

Gregg Murray’s Blog February 13, 2013

Posted by ronwhite54 in Public Policy.
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Here is Gregg Murray’s new blog titled “Cave Man Politics: How Evolution Impacts Politics.”


The most recent entry is “Our Genes and Anti-Immigration Attitudes: Biological forces weigh on our attitudes toward other groups. “
Published on February 9, 2013 by Gregg Murray, Ph.D. in Caveman Politics

“My “little” girl is not so little anymore. She’s a college-level athlete who physically towers over many of her peers and who is smart as a whip (yes, proud papa, guilty as charged). She’s grown into a self-sufficient young woman in college, but is way beyond my protective reach at a school more than 500 miles away. And I all too well remember the talks with her when she was truly little about “stranger danger”: don’t talk to strangers, don’t accept gifts from strangers, and for goodness’ sake just be careful.”

2013 APLS MEETING February 13, 2013

Posted by ronwhite54 in Public Policy.
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The board is in the process of planning the 2013 APLS Meeting. It will be at Texas Tech University sometime in October 2013. Right now we are looking for a Program Director. If you are willing to serve in this capacity contact Ron White at ron_white@mail.msj.edu . He will explain what is involved and will help you get started.

More on E.O. Wilson’s THE SOCIAL CONQUEST OF NATURE. June 9, 2012

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Like I said in my previous APLS blog entry, there is a lot to ponder in E.O. Wilson’s new book, The Social Conquest of Nature. Here I would like to continue my argument that cultural evolution often trumps (and elucidates) biological evolution. The most obvious point would be that biological science itself evolves based on cultural evolution. The basic argument in support of cultural evolution is that cultural beliefs evolve based on variation and selection. Beliefs are irrevocably in the minds of individuals. Individual minds are comprised by competing old beliefs and new beliefs. Our minds are mostly conservative, therefore, new beliefs are at a competititive disadvantage. The number of new ideas that enter this competition is relative to an intellectual environment. High-level global belief systems (world religions, global science) have more believers than low-level belief systems (cults).  Therefore, these high-level belief systems are more likely to be innovative.  

Now what does all of this this say about the dramatic increase in the rate and scale of cultural evolution after the Agricultural Revolution? Wilson and most scientists believe that before the AR humans lived in small insular groups of about 30 hunters and gatherers.  In those small groups of hunters and gatherers orthodoxy was easily maintained via non-coercive, mostly democratic means. There was very little need or opportunity for innovation or cultural evolution for the first 3 million years of human existence.  And, there was no permanent nest to defend. Although, there is some question as to the level of violence between these groups, one might surmise that extensive warfare probably didn’t exist at a large scale prior to the AR.  Or, one might argue that post AR humans were more peaceful and that the incidence of human violence today is relatively low.  In chapter 19, Wilson identifies five stages in the emergence of eusociality:  formation of groups, occupy defensible nests, rise of caste systems (dominance hierarchies)in humans. The most important is the rise of permanent, defensible nests. As the size of human nests increased and specialized labor increased (especially defense-relate labor) and communitities were able to increase in size and complexity. However, Hayek and others argued that one cannot account for the increase in the size of human communities based on “natural” small group morality. Therefore, “large group morality” must have been discovered by trial and error and passed on via teaching and learning.  Markets, for example, emerged after pre-AR  humans “discovered” that if they don’t kill strangers, if they don’t steal, and if they keep their promises, then then they can engage in reciprocal relationships and everyone is better off. Now, there no doubt is a genetic basis for these rules, however, the puzzle is why didn’t these rules and global trade emerge earlier in human history? Another puzzle is why did the military (and military values) take over these large groups? And, why has there been so much technological innovation associated with the military? In other words, why did the “defense of the nest” lead to perpetual warfare? But how did the omnipresent quest for self-defense and military culture affect the early rise of global trade (and commercial values)? If we are by nature small-group cooperators, how can we expect to live peacefully in large groups ruled by security-seeking military regimes? Any theory that seeks to explain that transition from “small group” to “large group” socialization during the Argricultural Revolution must explain how it spawned BOTH security-seeking military culture (perpetual warfare) AND the emergence of global markets (perpetual trade). One of the weaknesses in Wilson’s account is that he did not attempt to explain the collateral rise of both eusocial commercial enterprise and anti-eusocial military culture. In other words, maybe “defense of the nest” led to the rise of both cooperative eusocial culture and competitive anti-eusocial culture.  We’re still a long way from understanding the co-evolutionary basis of military culture and commercial culture.     



The Evolution of Evolutionary Theory: Philosophical Observations on E.O. Wilson’s, THE SOCIAL CONQUEST OF NATURE June 2, 2012

Posted by ronwhite54 in Public Policy.

I’ve been reading E.O. Wilson’s new book, The Social Conquest of Earth (Norton: 2012) and thought it would be a worthwhile topic for the APLS Blog. I will limit my comments to a few general philosophical points, in the hope that others might follow up with other more specific lines of discussion.

First of all, this book is about the recent “evolution” of evolutionary theory and the revolution that is now underway in evolutionary biology from the “exclusive fitness paradigm” (kin altruism and gene selection) to the “eusocial paradigm” (group selection). This is portrayed not only in terms of the evolution of science, but also the evolution of his own thought. That, of course, really makes for compelling reading for those of us that have read his earlier books, and it’s also a sound business plan for selling his books, but we’ll leave that for a later topic. 

It is noteworthy that although he has changed his mind on the nature of evolutionary theory, he is still a positivist at heart, which means that he is still engaged in the quest to “biologize” philosophy and the social sciences, and he still views Science as one single, unified line of inquiry rooted in Newtonian Science. Hence, he still believes that the ultimate goal of Science is to generate one single over-arching theory rooted in physics, therefore he still pursues mathematical modeling as a primary scientific value. Moreover, don’t expect to find anything in this book on the sociology of scientific knowledge or the economics of science. Like all well-versed positivists, these forces are conveniently “bracketed” if not totally ignored. And as an evolutionary philosopher, I’m still puzzled by his woefully misguided understanding of what philosophers actually do, especially philosophers of science. Any good philosopher would quibble with his use of notoriously vague concepts such as “eusocial” and “conquest.” And he still has not done much evolutionary economics, evolutionary politics, or complex adaptive systens theory. 

To me the biggest hole in the new Eusocial Paradigm is it’s failure to take cultural evolution seriously. Or to be more precise, his attempt to explain it in biological terms. If one of the necessary conditions for the emergence of eusociality was the “defense of a stable nest,” then why isn’t the emergence of cultural evolution attributed to the “defense of a stable nest of ideas?”  Sure, he acknowledges that human cultural evolution is responsible for most of what we regard today as valuable. But why are some nations more innovative and adaptive than others? Why is the culture of Science constantly under assault? One reason for Wilson’s persistent myopia is that he assumes that Science and scientists are primarily engaged in the pursuit of Truth and that social structure and economics are relevant only to the extent that they either advance that goal or impede it. Finally, I would add that Wilson is still the undisputed master of seamlessly shifting between “facts” and “values.” If violating the “naturalistic fallacy” were a crime, E.O. Wilson would be on the “most wanted list” of serial offenders. 

However, in the final analysis this is obviously an important, even revolutionary book. It’s written with typical Wilsonian charm and grace, and you’ll learn a whole lot about ants, termites, and humans and about the recent history of evolutionary theory. This is all important stuff. However, as a philosopher I would argue that we still cannot understand biological evolution apart from an over-arching theory of cultural evolution. To get to that higher level of philosophical analysis we must eventually escape from the Wilsonian “black box” and re-examine the seminal works of the evolutionary philosophers: Charles Sanders Peirce, F.A. Hayek, Karl Popper, and Thomas Kuhn.                     .


Posted by ronwhite54 in Ethics, Organizational, Political Behavior, Public Policy.
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Here is the link to the semi-final draft of the APLS-Cincinnati program.


This draft includes a couple of additions, a couple of withdrawals, and a couple of schedule changes. I also took the liberty to appoint several program chairs without consulting those individuals. (Sorry but I’m buried in work right now!) If you would rather decline that appointment/invitation let me know at aplswebmaster@gmail.com  RON

Online Registration for APLS Cincinnati, 2011 August 28, 2011

Posted by ronwhite54 in Public Policy.

Here is the link to pay your APLS membership dues and register for the Conference in Cincinnati. https://timssnet2.allenpress.com/ECOMPOLS//timssnet/common/tnt_frontpage.cfm


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APLS CONFEREES: Thank you for your excellent proposals for the forthcoming meeting of the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences, which will be held October 13-15 at the Garfied Suites Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio. Right now we need to address two issues: 1.) Hotel Arrangements at the Garfield Suites Hotel, and 2.) Conference Registration.
A block of rooms for meeting participants and attendees has been reserved at the Garfield Suites Hotel, the same site as  the 2007 APLS meeting. We need to make our reservations as soon as possible! CALL: 1-800-367-2155 and tell them you want the APLS rate ($79 for a single). We also get discounts for doubles and triples. All of the rooms are spacious suites and include two televisions, free high-speed wireless Internet, refrigerators, and free shuttle service around downtown. The Garfield is located two blocks north of Fountain Square, which was under construction in 2007. Today it’s the site of many fine restaurants and civic activity. Hotel parking is only $6.00 a day.

For more hotel information: Garfield Suites Hotel, 2 Garfield Place, Cincinnati OH 45202. Toll-free reservations: (800) 367-2155.

AIRPORT: Executive Transportation shuttle service is available from the Greater Cincinnati International Airport to the Garfield Suites If you wish to obtain pricing information or make use of this service please call (800) 990-8841 or log onto their website:

 We would definately prefer that you pay your annual dues and register online in advance. Go to  https://timssnet2.allenpress.com/ECOMPOLS//timssnet/common/tnt_frontpage.cfm then click on “Conference Registration in the left column. We would also prefer that you join APLS. Membership and registration via the website is pretty straightforward. Note that a APLS Membership with online subscription to Politics and the Life Sciences is only $25. However, if for some reason (after you do the math) you’d like to not-join, here’s those directions: Non-members will pay by adding the non-member registration of $150 to their shopping cart, which is what appears if you are not logged-in, as the default.  Once you attempt to checkout, you will use the checkout process to gather the required demographic information (name, address, contact, etc).  You would then proceed to entering the credit card number for payment. Members: $125. Non Members: $150. Students: $50. Contact Ron White to inquire about fee waivers: aplswebmaster@gmail.com.  Please pay by September 30, 2011 to avoid late fee. Although, you may pay your dues and register for the conference when you arrive at the conference, we may not be able to keep the registration desk open all day Thursday and Friday.

 HERE IS THE PRELIMINARY SCHEDULE: http://inside.msj.edu/academics/faculty/whiter/PRELIMINARYSCHEDULE.pdf  Report corrections to aplswebmaster@gmail.com


E-Mail: aplswebmaster@gmail.com (Ron White, Program Director)

Website: http://www.aplsnet.org

Blog: http://politicsandlifesciences.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Association-for-Politics-and-the-Life-Sciences/236630397139


Posted by ronwhite54 in Ethics, Organizational, Political Behavior, Public Policy.
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The deadline for submission of abstracts for the APLS meeting in Cincinnati is June 30.  We have openings on several panels and roundtables that we’re looking to fill. We have a roundtable discussion of Scott M. James new book An Introduction to Evolutionary Ethics (Wiley-Blackwell). I have a couple of free copies of the book available if anyone is interested in sitting on that panel. I reviewed it for Choice Magazine. It’s a great book. Scott will be attending.  (no abstract required for roundtable participants!)  We will have a similar roundtable discussion of our keynote’s new book : Mark van Vugt’s Naturally Selected: Naturally Selected: The Evolutionary Science of Leadership.  It would be great if a substantial number of APLS members could read it before the meeting. 

Right now we have several panels in need of 1-2 members including:  warfare, ethics, environmental issues, health care reform, various aspects of leadership and followership, and the “Arab Spring.”  We are also looking for abstracts on the relationship between biology and various strands of social and political theory, especially: totalitarianism, welfare liberalism, and libertarianism.


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