Jim's phrase of "Us/Them Chip" captures in a vivid way the social consequences of dichotomous thought.
Us/them chips are fast, convenient, efficient - and dangerous. In fact they usually end up leaving out "half" of the equation all together, by affording the neglected half with a zero value.
Social prejudice is an obvious example. Good folks/bad folks. Valid folks/invalid folks (i.e. folks who are invalidated), Academic prejudice is perhaps just slightly less obvious. This factor "versus" that factor, as if "that factor" has a zero value. Failure at apprehending "intricate structures" (also stolen from Jim) is potentially more pervasive in our core thought patterns than we would like to believe. Our FAVORITE factor(s)can be important, lovely, cool, swanky, .... and say nothing whatsoever about anyone else's "unimportant", "ugly", "tepid", "swankless"....factor(s)
Issues of genetic VERSUS environmental influences in behavior is certainly a striking example. I simply want to reinforce Jim's position that single causal models (which often accompany binary logic - as in THIS FACTOR versus EVERYTHING ELSE) - are at best convenient fictions. At least they are fictions.
Factors that influence behavior are obviously (I trust) multiple. Manipulation of one among multiple factors says little if anything about roles played by the other factors. A major challenge, which we remain poor at addressing, is how multiple factors cohere together. Its a lot easier to break something down into its parts than to assemble these parts. As a youngster I owned many disassembled old watches, few of which ever ran again.
I propose the stance that factors influencing behavior are best viewed in relational, or even relative, terms. X has its effect against a system containing many other variables which operate together in dynamic flux. The same gene in different backgrounds can do quite different things, for example. Any gene can do different things under different experiences, or different neighboring genes (which in turn influence the effects of a chosen gene). Dynamic systems models are thus essential complements to isolated mechanistic models.
So, one can be a determinist and also a relational systems person. Even here the dichtomy between thought style A and thought style B is relative, not absolute. It can sound kinda waffly, but I think that is better than the pseudo precision that comes from an overly isolationist view of the universe.
If no one disagrees with this, then we can let the matter rest.
After all, its only the "Them chip" sides who could disagree, and they are discounted by the "Us chips". Three (two?) cheers for our team (versus their team).
For the unconvinced ->....
Experiment A: Two animal strains, reared in same environment. Strain X fights, strain Y does not. Genes affect ("account for") DIFFERENCES in behavior. Is fighting thus genetic? NO.
Experiment B: One of the above animal strains, reared under two different environments. Under environment Q animals fight, under environment R animals do not fight. The DIFFERENCE in fighting is due to the environment. Are genes irrelevant? NO.
Without genes there certainly would be no fights. Without environments there would be no fights. Genes plus environments, together, produce fights. That, of course, is the simple story.
The real question i: HOW DO GENES AND ENVIRONMENTS WORK TOGETHER - AT THE MOMENT AND THROUGHOUT ONTOGENY? Many would argue that the question is TO BIG to be answered definitively, and I suspect they are right. But it ain't better to "pretend" at an answer by apply the Us/Them chip to academic pursuits. This dichtomizing has caused too much trouble in the past.
Somehow the message must get across. Evolutionary biology/psychology in no way negates environments. Indeed, its genes within the contexts of environments (via phenotypes) that selection gets a toe hold in the first place. Unless social scientists can see evolutionary thought as supplementing, not negating, their own primary line(s) of interest they will fall prey to obliterating a full half of the equation. X + nothing -> NOTHING. End of game. Extinction.