Thie file contains messages that were rejected by the moderator of the Evolutionary Psychology group, and also some that were rejected by PSYCHE-B. Text in italics is the moderator's comment, the rest of the text is my message.

Maybe I should add that I don't think that this represents a conspiracy. But it does show how opinions that don't fit the mainstream are regarded as "inappropriate" by the moderators of these groups.
Darwinism 'is dead' in modern world
Precisely organized cortical microcircuits
Price, Cosmides & Tooby on punishment
[evol-psych] Human nature?
Re: paper
New Book: Stamenov

Darwinism 'is dead' in modern world
This one rejected without giving a reason.

Date: Sat, 11 Aug 2001 10:59:58 -0000
From: "Ian Pitchford" <>
To: Yehouda Harpaz <>
Subject: Message not approved: Darwinism 'is dead' in modern world

> > Australia's Peter Doherty, who shared the 1996 Nobel Prize for 
Medicine for his
> > work at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, told an 
audience at the
> > National Library last night that Darwinism no longer operated 
like it used to
> > for humans.
> >
> > "Natural selection belongs to history for contemporary human 
societies," he
> >  said.
>And he could be no more wrong. Certainly the old rules of natural
>selection have changed because of human culture, but what humans 
>created is a different selective environment for ourselves.  As 
>as we do not survive and reproduce equally (in a statistical 
>according to the genes we carry), then natural selection is still
>going on.

... But it can have an effect only of similar selective pressure is
operative over large number of generations. In modern society, 
that effect reproduction patterns happen so fast compare to the
generation time that advantagous biological traits don't have any
chance to fixate.

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Precisely organized cortical microcircuits
Note that my message is an answer to a previous message on the list, but somehow it stopped being interesting.
An interesting feature of the original message is that title of the message is not the title of the article, but the most outragous claim in it (see discussion).

Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001 10:56:03 -0000
From: "Ian Pitchford" <>
Subject: Message not approved: Precisely organized cortical microcircuits

 None of this has any bearing on evolved brain functions. 

--- In evolutionary-psychology_y..., "Ian Pitchford" 
>*Volume 293, Number 5531, Issue of 3 Aug 2001, pp. 868-872.
>*Stereotyped Position of Local Synaptic Targets in Neocortex
>*James Kozloski,* Farid Hamzei-Sichani, Rafael Yuste
>*The microcircuitry of the mammalian neocortex remains largely 
unknown. Although
>*the neocortex could be composed of scores of precise circuits, an 
>*possibility is that local connectivity is probabilistic or even 
random. To
>*examine the precision and degree of determinism in the neocortical
>*microcircuitry, we used optical probing to reconstruct 
microcircuits in layer 5
>*from mouse primary visual cortex. We stimulated "trigger" cells, 
isolated from
>*a homogenous population of corticotectal pyramidal neurons, while 
>*detecting "follower" neurons directly driven by the triggers. 
>*belonged to a few selective anatomical classes with stereotyped 
>*and synaptic responses. Moreover, even the position of the 
followers appeared
>*determined across animals. Our data reveal precisely organized 

This gives a very strong impression of a refutation of the claim
that the connectivity in the cortex is stochastic. However,  all 
analysis in this paper was done in a plane perpendicualr to the 
plane, so all the directions in the cortex plane were reduced to 
directions (Lateral and Medial). Hence this paper shows very little 
about the directions of connections inside the cortex plane, and 
cannot say much about the connectivity. This is not explained in 
paper, but I attach below two mail messages from the author 
explaining the procedure. 

In addition, even inside the perpendicular plane the angels of 
connections vary a lot , and the distances have a variance with SD 
~20% for non-pyramidal cells and much larger variances for 
cells (the authors don't actually give the vraiances for distances 
for pyramidal cells, but it is obviously very large from Figure 
Cleary  there is nothing in this paper that can be reasonably 
called "precise". The only observation that seem real is that the 
follower neurons seem to be stratified according to type. 

Deeper analysis in in 

Yehouda Harpaz

======== E-mails from the author ===============
First message : 
From: James Kozloski 
To: yehouda harpaz ; 
Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 9:12 PM
Subject: Re: Stereotypic position of synaptic targets

Dear Yehouda,

These experiments were done in coronal slices that were 350 um 
thick.  Fura
staining penetrates to around 3 cell layers into the slice (i.e., 
around 75
um).  Therefore, because our sampling method depended on Fura 
staining, we
were only able to probe 75 um along the axis perpendicular to the 
plane of
the slice.  This is why all the spatial analysis was done in just 2

Within these two dimensions, we expected to find high variance in 
distribution of followers, but did not.  Please note also that the 
dimensions analyzed included one axis perpendicular to cortex, 
Fig. 2), and one axis within the plane of the cortex (M<=>L in Fig. 

Best Regards,

James Kozloski

yehouda harpaz wrote:

>*Dear James Kozloski,
>*I am writing to you about your recent paper "Stereotyped position 
>*local synaptic targets in neocortex". As far I can tell, all the 
>*analysis in this paper is in a plane perpendicular to the plane of
>*the cortex. Presumably, you also have the data about the relative
>*position of the "followers" with respect to the triggers in the 
>*of the cortex. Why didn't you present it too? Are you going to
>*publish it? Can you make it available electronically?
>*Yehouda Harpaz

Second message, after I asked if the limitation of the method and 
flattening are documented in the paper: 
From: James R Kozloski 
To: yehouda harpaz 
Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 10:52 PM
Subject: Re: Stereotypic position of synaptic targets

Ref. 26 describes the optical probing method.
Ref. 27 describes our slicing protocal.

Also,  figures 2a- c and their legends should make clear that we 
observing the surface of a slice of cortex, and not imaging the 
cortex in

I hope this helps.  Science's strict page restrictions inevitably 
lead to
this kind of confusion.  My regrets.

Best regards,

James Kozloski

Price, Cosmides & Tooby on punishment
This one the moderator did not bother to answer at all.
Again it is an aswer to another message.

Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2001 12:49:07 +0100 (BST)
From: Yehouda Harpaz <>
Subject:  [evol-psych] Re: Price, Cosmides & Tooby on punishment (was Re: terrorist attacks & moral emotions)
In-Reply-To: Michael Price's message of  Sun, 16 Sep 2001 08:52:01 -0000  <>

> In ancestral environments, free riders would have been an adaptive
> problem for high sacrificers: relatively high-sacrificing collective
> action beneficiaries would have been disadvantaged compared to
> lower-sacrificing beneficiaries (free riders).  We argue that the
> neural circuitry producing punitive sentiment towards free riders is
> an adaptation that enables high-sacrificing collective action
> participants to reduce the advantages of free riders.

I read the paper and didn't find it anything that supports a special
neural circuitry or any evolved adaptation, as opposed to cultural
effects. Can you give us some ideas why you think it is eveolved

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Price, Cosmides & Tooby on punishment
This one the moderator did not bother to answer at all.
Again it is an aswer to another message.

From: Yehouda Harpaz <>
To:  "Ian Pitchford" <>
Subject:  [evol-psych] Communication
In-Reply-To: Ian Pitchford's message of  Wed, 3 Jul 2002 20:07:27 +0100  <004a01c222c4$e4b07860$299987d9_s5c8j9>
-----text follows this line-----

> Question
> 1)I think in English, while my Swedish friend thinks in Swedish. But how do
> deaf people, who have never heard words in any language, think? - Roger Keays
> 2)When I think, I think using words and sentences. Although I can't remember
> for certain, I don't think I knew any form of language as a baby, so how do
> babies think?

What a nonsense.

We are all thinking in "neuronish", i.e. patterns of activities of

The idea that anybody thinks using language is not even wrong. It is
meaningless, unless you define what "words" "sentences" etc. mean in
neuronal terms. I don't see anybody even trying to do that, let alone

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[evol-psych] Human nature?
This one rejected without giving a reason.
Date: Mon, 16 Sep 2002 09:04:49 +0100 (BST)
From: Yehouda Harpaz <>
Subject:  [evol-psych] Human nature?
In-Reply-To: Rick Goldberg's message of  Sun, 15 Sep 2002 12:04:43 -0500  <>

> David Rakoff asks, "What's at the heart of that phobia [of 
> humans having an evolved nature]"?
> "That a biological understanding of human nature threatens fundamental
> values of political equality, social progress, personal responsibility and
> meaning and purpose."

Another reason to believe that humans are "blank slate" is that the
connectivity of neurons in the cortex varies randomly across
individuals, so it cannot have anything innate in it. Anything that is
innate has to be outside the cortex. 

It is fair to say that people like Gould, Lewontin and Rose don't know
that either. 

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The next two rejected from PSYCHE-B. They are answers to the messages from Andreas Bartsch (Fw: PAPER: (129 lines)) and g.rees (Re: PAPER: (81 lines)) in this page, which are themselves answer to my previous message.

From: Yehouda Harpaz <>
To:  "PSYCHE Discussion Forum (Biological/Psychological emphasis)" <PSYCHE-B_LISTSERV.UH.EDU>
Subject:  Fw: PAPER:
In-Reply-To: Andreas Bartsch's message of  Fri, 08 Nov 2002 00:21:32 +0100  <044a01c286b4$68855900$eb2654d9_qualium>
-----text follows this line-----

> I do agree with Geraint. The study argues for quite reproducible individual
> activations which may not be adequately described by multisubject analyses
> (yet).
> I feel it may be quite deleterious if neuroscientists want to aspire to
> philosophers neglecting all the in-depth work they may be unfamiliar with.
> But that holds true the other way around as well. And it is quite hard for
> "neuro- or mind/body-philosophers" to keep up with all the basics and
> details of the work in neuroscience. We should not base any premature
> conclusions on some abstracts.

Paternalistic comments are not a good replacement to actual facts. The
actual facts are that neuroimaging studies produce irreproducible
From: Yehouda Harpaz <>
To:  "PSYCHE Discussion Forum (Biological/Psychological emphasis)" <PSYCHE-B_LISTSERV.UH.EDU>
Subject:  Re: PAPER:
In-Reply-To: g.rees's message of  Thu, 07 Nov 2002 10:05:53 +0000  <Pine.SOL.3.91.1021107095923.17405D-100000_dodgy>
-----text follows this line-----

> > Are they now going to admit that all their irreproducible studies,
> > which were based on the assumption of similarity across individuals,
> > are invalid?
> You're getting confused here. Similarity across individuals is an
> empirical fact;

No, it isn't. That is the point that I am making. Apart from the gross
similarity that was already known from brain damage studies inm 1950,
imaging studies don't show any reproducible results. See 

>  for example, numerous brain imaging studies have shown
> that human subjects have a primary visual cortex located in the calcarine
> sulcus.

That was alreday known in the 19th century, so brain imaging studies
couldn't have shown that. 

>. So individual > differences coexist with reproducible group
> commonalities.

In principle they could. In principle, the results are not

> You're wrong
> to say that there is an 'assumption' of similarity in neuroimaging (or
> electrophysiological, or behavioral) studies; it's an empirical question.

See the pages above. 

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This one from PSYCHE-D. Again an answer to a message that was posted on the group.

From: Yehouda Harpaz 
To:  "PSYCHE Discussion Forum (Theoretical emphasis)" 
Subject:  New Book: Stamenov
In-Reply-To: Christopher Bell's message of  Wed, 08 Jan 2003 13:12:01 -0500  <>
-----text follows this line-----

> Quite remarkably, they are tuned to 
> fire to the enaction as well as observation of specific classes of 
> behavior: fine manual actions and actions performed by mouth. 

Why is this remarkable? For anybody that is not a dualist, and
believes that the monkey is intelligent enough to associate its
movements with other animals movements, there must be some neurons in
the brain that are active in both cases. 

The observation would have been interesting if it was the _same_
neurons across animals. Since it isn't, it is not even an interesting
observation about the brain. 

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Another clustch of rejected messages

From: Yehouda Harpaz 
Subject:  Re: [evol-psych] Social insects point to non-genetic origins of societies
In-Reply-To:'s message of  Tue, 30 Sep 2003 17:28:37 EDT  <>
-----text follows this line-----

> > The myth of "The remarkable universality of the genetic regulatory
> > elements" was based on a single factor (PAX6) that is both in
> > verterbrate eye and some inverterbrate (probably also its receptor(s)),
> > That is clearly just a chance, and by now researchers of eye
> > development went off the idea of similarity in molecular mechanism. 
> > You can always find homologuous proteins across phyla, but they don't
> > have the same role. Even the role of Pax6 is not the same. 
> > 
> > For those who are in doubt, type "eye development" in Google, and read
> > some of the pages that come up. 
> > 
> And for those who are inclined to take this comment too seriously, I 
> recommend a go at any good, current account of the molecular biology of developmental 
> regulation, e.g., the book from Carroll, Greiner, and Weatherbee (FROM DNA TO 
> DIVERSITY; Blackwell Science, 2001). "Remarkable," like most otehr emotive and 
> success words, obviously means different things to different people, for 
> different reasons.

Do they actually claim that apart from the Pax6 and its receptors
there are similarities (above the molecular level) between vertebrate
and invertebrate eye? 

It is hard to believe, because ther eis nothing about in the hiome
page of the senior author:


From: Yehouda Harpaz 
Subject:  Re: [evol-psych] Social insects point to non-genetic origins of societies
In-Reply-To:'s message of  Wed, 1 Oct 2003 08:49:15 EDT  <>
-----text follows this line-----

> You dismissed the notion (offered in the first instance, I think, by Stonejk 
> or me -- I don't save these messages) that although "the eye" has is said to 
> have "evolved separately 40 times," that may not be the case, because the 
> molecular and morphogenetic fundamentals of vision appear to be the same or nearly 
> the same all the way from planaria to eagles. 

The similarity at the molecular level is the same as the similarity
between any pair of complex animal tissues (which involve neurons).
Therefore it does not show anything about evolution. 

> We're talking about visual 
> pigment proteins, and about the genes that regulate the morphogenesis of 
> photoreceptor elements.

These are different between different phyla. 

> So the ommatidial eye of a fly and the camera eye of a squid are 
> very different objects at the level of optical design; but at the most basic 
> molecular level they have almost everything in commmon.

This is plain false. That is the point. 

> Again, look at the book I referenced in an earlier post, or any one of half a 
> dozen other good, recent ones on evo-devo.

That is atypical "bogus referenbce" technique. You give a reference
without saying what this refrence actually claims, so the readers have
to imagine it. 

If you are serious, make explicit what these references claim and where
(i.e. page numbers). 


From: Yehouda Harpaz 
To:  "Ian Pitchford" 
Subject:  [evol-psych] Salk news: A new view on brain function
In-Reply-To: Ian Pitchford's message of  Fri, 26 Sep 2003 22:46:14 +0100  <007401c38477$9da4be20$e9784d51_s5c8j9>
-----text follows this line-----

> But they point out that simply comparing the brain to the digital computers of
> today does not adequately describe the way it functions and makes computations.
> The brain, according to Sejnowski, has more of the hallmarks of an "energy
> efficient hybrid device."

The total eveidence that they bring to support this statement is the
following sentence: 

    "The obvious similarities between hybrid devices and 
     neurons strongly suggest that hybrid processing makes a 
     substantial contribution to the energy efficiency of the
     brain (31)."

The reference is to a theoretical analysus of (artificial) neural
networks that claims to show that hybrids are more efficient (I didn't
read the full refernce, only the abstract). Science, in the sense of
using observations and experiments to establish the facts, it isn't. 

Another gem from this article is this surprising result: 

     When signals are relatively expensive, it is best to 
     distribute a few of them among a large number of cells. 
     When cells are expensive, it is more efficient to use few of
     them and to get all of them signaling.

How come this rubbish finds its way into the magazine Science is an
intersting question, thogh it  probably belongs to another egroup
(sociology of Science?).
Volume 301, Number 5641, Issue of 26 Sep 2003, pp. 1870-1874. 

  [19apr2004] Full text

From: Yehouda Harpaz 
Subject:  Re: [evol-psych] Social insects point to non-genetic origins of societies
In-Reply-To: Carmi Turchick's message of  Sun, 28 Sep 2003 22:14:57 -0000  
-----text follows this line-----

> I would have hoped we were beyond this here at EP. If genes dont 
> determine behavior, then we should be able to raise a monkey to 
> behave like a human, or vice-versa.

To get a monkey behaving like human you need to make it intelligent
(i.e. have the learning capabilities) as human. The other way is
pretty easy. 

>  We should be able to raise a cat  to hunt in packs and bury bones 
> and hump legs.

Quirte easy thing to do, if you actually try. 

>  We should be unable to  find "human universals".

Anything that is contributing to the strength of a society should be
"universal", whether it is innate or learned. 

> We should be able to create workable  Communist societies. 

I suspect you are assuming that is behaviour is not innate, then it
should be possible to teach every child whatever you feel like. That
simply doesn't follow. 

> Unfortunately for those who assert complete 
> plasticity of behavior for humans, they are just completely wrong and 
> their assertion is laughable at this point given the existing 
> mountain of opposing evidence. 

What you give here is a religious manifesto, rather than a scientific