Category Archives: Peter Gray

Peter Gray

[W]hen a companion says, “You’re not listening to me,” you can still hear those words, and a few words of the previous sentence, for a brief time after they are spoken. Thus, you can answer (falsely), “I was listening. You said…”—and then you can repeat your annoyed companion’s last few words even though, in truth, you weren’t listening when the words were uttered.

Peter Gray, Psychology, 5th ed., New York, 2006, p. 305

Peter Gray

[T]he deterministic fallacy is the assumption that genetic influences on our behavior take the form of genetic control of our behavior, which we can do nothing about (short of modifying our genes). The mistake here is assuming or implying that genes influence behavior directly, rather than through the indirect means of working with the environment to build or modify biological structures than then, in interplay with the environment, produce behavior. Some popular books on human evolution have exhibited the deterministic fallacy by implying that one or another form of behavior—such as fighting for territories—is unavoidable because it is controlled by our genes. That implication is unreasonable even when applied to nonhuman animals. Territorial birds, for example, defend territories only when the environmental conditions are ripe for them to do so. We humans can control our environment and thereby control ourselves. We can either enhance or reduce the environmental ingredients needed for a particular behavioral tendency to develop and manifest itself.

Peter Gray, Psychology, 5th edition, New York, 2007, pp. 87-88