Another murder by so-called pro-lifers? Updated

From NOW:

NOW Offers Condolences to Richard Schroeder’s Family

Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill

October 30, 2009

NOW offers condolences to the family of Richard Schroeder, who died Thursday night. The death is being investigated as very suspicious, according to local police.

A retired U.S. marshal, Schroeder had provided protection to Dr. George Tiller, a heroic abortion provider who was murdered outside of his church in May.

Schroeder risked his own life to protect Dr. Tiller, and in doing so he ensured that women could exercise their fundamental right to safe and legal abortion. NOW honors and appreciates his legacy, and we will closely monitor the developments of this case.

Let us join NOW in offering condolences.

UPDATE:  it was natural causes, it seems.  Thanks to Roger in comments below.  Condolences to his family are still very appropriate.

Cross-cultural universals? that’s WEIRD!

I think we can recover from the article linked to below an interesting and possibly new fallacy.  It’s the fallacy of inferring that a trait is universal from the  fact that it is found in college studients in WEIRD (western, educated, industrialized, rich) societies.  We can call it the Weird fallacy.

An article forthcoming in Brains and Behavioral Sciences:

“The Weirdest People in the World?”

Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine and Ara Norenzayan

Abstract (short):  Broad claims about human psychology and behavior based on narrow samples from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD) societies are regularly published in leading journals.  Are such species-generalizing claims justified?  This review suggests not only that substantial variability in experimental results emerges across populations in basic domains, but that WEIRD subjects are in fact rather unusual compared with the rest of the species-frequent outliers.  The domains reviewed include visual perception, fairness, categorization, spatial cognition, memory, moral reasoning and self-concepts.  This review (1) indicates caution in addressing questions of human nature based on this thin slice of humanity, and (2) suggests that understanding human psychology will require tapping broader subject pools.  We close by proposing ways to address these challenges.

Here’s the article; you might find the authors claim there are more universals than you want, but it is still interesting. 

If you’ve followed discussions of modularity and vision, you might want to know that the news about early vision is less of a surprise than the article appears to suggest.  Hard-wired settings may be post-natal and depend on the environment.  On the other hand, things they agree are found in most human beings – e.g., passing the false belief test – have much more age variability than I at least had heard of.  And the experimental work on  fairness – very recently presented  in the  NY Times as culturally invariant – show a lot of cross-cultural variation.  And there’s more.

See what you think!