To the Editors of The Crimson:
With spring the Yard turns green again, we look for summer jobs again, and J. Wyatt Emmerich scribbles about sociobiology again. This year he claims Professor DeVore is out of his league, but perhaps it is Emmerich who is guilty of this.
Emmerich condemns the discipline of sociobiology as "a chaos of untested and untenable extrapolations." This single phrase indicates he ignored the major portion of DeVore's speech which explained how the consistent findings by a wide variety of researchers support specific behavioral theories. To cover his bets Emmerich says that zoologists should not try to explain human behavior. He mentions the surprising genetic similarity between man and other relatives but it does not occur to him that we probably share some basic behavioral genes as well as some basic anatomical genes. He claims DeVore made "unverifiable conjectures" and says "human evidence for his theories is simply nonexistent." Obviously, he also ignored the smaller portion of the talk which showed, complete with photographs of human cultures (one of which is part of a long term study by DeVore), how specific animal social behaviors were also found in man. Even by selective listening Emmerich could hardly have heard what he wanted to hear.
In fact, DeVore pointed out that humans exhibit a wider array of possible social behaviors than any other single species, but still an array smaller than that of all other species combined. Thus, by carefully studying not only humans but also the social behavior of other species, be they ants, herring gulls or chimpanzees, we may learn something which is applicable to ourselves. Sociobiology is more of a pure scientific discipline than Emmerich allows for. The elitist politics are injected by him, not DeVore, Wilson, Trivers or any other serious sociobiologist. In fact, sociobiology stresses the cross cultural unity of mankind and of "human nature." Last year Emmerich was burning books, this year he's shooting at lecterns. He has twice demonstrated his distate for sociobiology, but he has yet to show us he knows anything about it. --John Wenzel '80
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