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  #1  
Unread October 24th, 2004, 07:28 PM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Talking Published!

I Googled myself for the 1st time in a year. There were surprises.

My two chapters written in last fall and this spring were not lost at the publisher's but printed:

Bipolar disorder: emergent, self-interested networks, obsessions, and mood swings. In Malcomb Brown (Ed.) Trends in Bipolar Disorder Research. Hauppage, NY: Nova Science Biomedical Series. (about 35 pp).

ADHD: Inhibition, Emergent Networks, and Maternal Investment. In Michelle Larimer (Ed.) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD Research. Hauppage, NY: Nova Science Biomedical Series. (about 35 pp)

My dozen book reviews (three of them in January 2004) sometimes drew secondary links to other sites. My review (2003) of "Of Flies, Mice, & Men" (by Francois Jacob) has been reproduced in in Japanese, Russian, and French. My review of "The Nurture Assumption" has a link from Judith Harris's homepage.

A blog quoted part of my review of Strogatz's "Sync": "It is probable that natural selection for genes was originally guided by the extraordinary power of network rules, themselves a vital, little appreciated part of our original environment of evolutionary adaptation, one more subtle, pervasive and persuasive than mother's milk or a predator's teeth." (I can't believe that sentence emerged from my gnarly fingers!)

The biggest surprise: "EP has also gotten some good press; it looks at all human behaviors, both adaptive and maladaptive, and asks how this contributed to our survival as a species. James Brody is the best writer in this field, in my opinion." (URL for Wood, Wood, & Boyd (2004) The World of Psychology (5th Ed.). NY: Pearson, Allyn & Bacon.)
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  #2  
Unread November 29th, 2004, 06:51 PM
ToddStark ToddStark is offline
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Thumbs up Re: Published!

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Brody
The biggest surprise: "EP has also gotten some good press; it looks at all human behaviors, both adaptive and maladaptive, and asks how this contributed to our survival as a species. James Brody is the best writer in this field, in my opinion." (URL for Wood, Wood, & Boyd (2004) The World of Psychology (5th Ed.). NY: Pearson, Allyn & Bacon.)
Bravo, if there's someone who writes more clearly and more artfully about complex original ideas, I have yet to find them. Even when I disagee, I find myself appreciating the way his ideas were expressed. I just wish his thoughts weren't limited to technical journals and this forum. I'd really like to be able to point people to a book of Brody musings and applications of biology to daily life, and to have one for my own reference. I think a lot of the Brody stuff is worth saving and passing on.

Todd
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  #3  
Unread January 12th, 2005, 03:00 PM
Scott Shimabukuro Scott Shimabukuro is offline
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Default Re: Published!

That's fantastic. Would you please explain to a lay person what network rules are? Thanks,
Scott
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  #4  
Unread January 30th, 2005, 09:41 AM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Default Network Rules

Welcome!

Check the references, especially writings by Watts & Strogatz (1998) or by Barabasi (2002) in regard to the statistical advantages within network organizations. Albert Barabasi gives a lively, lucid, and informative foundation for us commoners.

Good luck...

Jim B
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  #5  
Unread January 30th, 2005, 09:47 AM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Default Re: Published!

Todd,

You keep me going!
My apologies for several weeks of neglect. New consultancy with a psychiatrist and helping with her office move and reorganization and forms, etc. Lots of work and promise of more to come with a steadier cash flow...also something of a vacation!

I've finished a couple of short reviews, took more pictures for a coming show (farm stuff and snow scenes). The reviews will be up in a couple of minutes, the show is in 2 weeks...I will sit behind a table in the local mall and peddle photos! Degradation or grandeur...not sure which. Generally, I meet chicks with the camera but lose customers with my obsessions about a different sort of likeness...our likenesses to birds!
Decided to renew HBES membership...will not give up that audience.

My best...

Jim
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  #6  
Unread March 6th, 2005, 01:01 PM
ToddStark ToddStark is offline
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Post Todd's summary in 10 points

My take:

1. Darwinian explanation ("evolution" in the technical sense) is fundamentally about how organisms and their environments affect each other over time.

2. The underlying assumption that makes this relationship between organism and environment Darwinian rather than something else is that nature 'solves' design problems through natural selection. [see Dennett, "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" for a particularly thorough discussion of selection as a kind of natural design algorithm]

3. The traditional scientific theoretical challenge in applying Darwinian explanation is isolating things about organisms ("characters") of interest to us, and then identifying the design problem that had to be solved in order for this to make sense. This is known loosely as "adaptationist explanation" for the character in question.

4. Theories can sometimes differ greatly as to what they assume the design problem to be for a particular trait or ability of interest. This is particularly true when it comes to human beings.

5. Evolutionary psychology in one of the central traditions (The Adapted Mind, Barkow, Cosmides, and Tooby) holds the environment of human beings stable in the Pleistocene and treats our most interesting characters as a matter of applying (computational) abilities evolved to solve specific design problems during that period or our history. It doesn't ignore characters that arose before the Pleistocene or span vastly different eras, but it's focus is primarily there. It considers us as very smart chimps whose interesting characters arise mostly from the way we solved Pleistocene problems by applying more sophisticated versions of primate adaptations to more elaborate social living.

6. Other theorists (e.g. Boyd & Richerson, Not By Genes Alone) contend that the design problem we have to address must also include the capacity to learn from each other and various changes to evolution that this causes, and that this fundamentally alters the kind of design problem we have to consider in human history. That is, this view says that social learning became a constraint in the design problem very early and very fundamentally and continually shapes the course of evolution in an ongoing way, it is not just as a matter of certain very smart chimps being able to learn from each other and this creating yet another specific Pleistocene computational trick.

7. A third interpretation is that nature itself has properties that while describable in terms of mathematics, are a recent enough discovery that they have not been considered part of our environment and so have been neglected as fundamental constraints in the design problem to be considered.

8. Among these mathematical properties in nature are "network rules" which describe the way large numbers of things interact, through no deliberate intention on the part of individuals, but because of the mathematical contours of the network itself:

a. power law -- It appears that many man made and naturally occurring phenomena, including city sizes, incomes, word frequencies, and earthquake magnitudes, are distributed according to what is known as a power-law distribution. A power-law implies that small occurrences are extremely common, whereas large instances are extremely rare. This regularity or 'law' is sometimes also referred to as Zipf and sometimes Pareto. To add to the confusion, the laws alternately refer to ranked and unranked distributions, but they are all pretty much the same idea. It isn't clear yet how well it can be used as a predictive tool, but it is intrinsically interesting to find a mathematical pattern so similar between so many very disparate phenomena with only "nature" in common between them. In a way, power law is just a mathematicians way of describing the commonsense notion that big events happen less than small ones in a loosely regular pattern. Yet the regularity is almostly disturbingly odd the more you think about it, and it is the nature of scientific discovery that huge doors often begin to move on such tiny hinges. [See "Ubiquity" or Per Bak for more on power laws and their implications]

b. "small worlds" -- Better known popularly as "degrees of separation," (as in the "Kevin Bacon" game) this is known more formally as small world networks. The idea is when we have huge numbers of active agents communicating with each other, we often find small dense clusters of interconnected things, with a smaller number of longer, looser connections between the clusters. This network configuration has remarkable properties that have only recently begun to be explored, such as very rapid propagation of information from one end of the network to another over the loose links, while permitting extremely dense information transmission within the small clusters and avoiding the traffic jams and chaos that would result if the entire network were densely connected. In other words, nature provides a network, even without explicit human design efforts, that allows a very powerful combination of detailed local communication and selective remote broadcasting. Again, this would look to the casual observer like a pretty commonsense thing in some ways, but it is a very counter-intuitive finding as the assumptions of natural science go, both with regard to the network properties themselves and the fact that such things organize themselves rather than being designed that way. God is not only a mathematician, but also a network engineer.

9. I think Jim Brody's thesis is in part that things like power laws and small worlds (just to give two very quick examples, there are a number of others) have always been with us and that they must be considered as essential parts of the design problem regarding interesting human characters.

10. I find this a very appealing idea. It yields a unifying principle that is potentially a very attractive way to bring a lot of diverse data in different fields together without throwing out what we already know. It isn't clear just which network rules apply to what phenomena, or what we may still be missing in the big picture, but that's part of the fun of science.

kind regards,

Todd
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