Tinbergen vs Dobzhansky

Human Ethology Bulletin

Vol 28, No 4 (2013): Special Issue on Tinbergen

Excerpt: As is now well-known, his view of ethology, “the biological study of behavior”, incorporated four interconnected strands – what causes a behavior, how does it develop, what is its functional significance, and how did it evolve.

In 1964, Dobzhansky published Biology, molecular and organismic [pdf opens here]

He wrote: “… the only worthwhile biology is molecular biology. All else is “bird watching” or “butterfly collecting.” Bird watching and butterfly collecting are occupations manifestly unworthy of serious scientists!” (p. 443)

The challenge to Tinbergen (1963) and to other ethologists was clear. Instead of merely observing birds and/or collecting butterflies, Dobzhansky thought it was more important… “to discover just how the challenges of the environment are translated into evolutionary changes.”

In the past 5 decades, molecular biologists have discovered how the environment is translated into evolutionary change.  Clearly, olfactory/pheromonal input causes the epigenetic landscape to become the physical landscape of DNA in the organized genomes of species from microbes to man. Adaptations occur that explain increasing organismal complexity via controlled nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction. Conserved molecular mechanisms are involved at every level of biologically-based investigation that links the sensory environment to behavior via the gene-cell-tissue-organ-organ system pathway.  Dobzhansky advocated including biophysical constraints and chemistry in “the biological study of behavior” instead of asking comparatively simple-minded what and how questions about observed behaviors.

Thus, what is known today about the biology of behavior can be attributed to Dobzhansky, but not to bird watchers. For example, we know that adaptations are nutrient-dependent and pheromone controlled. For comparison, the moderator of the International Society for Human Ethology‘s yahoo discussion group thinks that random mutations are the substrates on which directional natural selection acts.

About James V. Kohl 1308 Articles
James Vaughn Kohl was the first to accurately conceptualize human pheromones, and began presenting his findings to the scientific community in 1992. He continues to present to, and publish for, diverse scientific and lay audiences, while constantly monitoring the scientific presses for new information that is relevant to the development of his initial and ongoing conceptualization of human pheromones. Recently, Kohl integrated scientific evidence that pinpoints the evolved neurophysiological mechanism that links olfactory/pheromonal input to genes in hormone-secreting cells of tissue in a specific area of the brain that is primarily involved in the sensory integration of olfactory and visual input, and in the development of human sexual preferences. His award-winning 2007 article/book chapter on multisensory integration: The Mind’s Eyes: Human pheromones, neuroscience, and male sexual preferences followed an award winning 2001 publication: Human pheromones: integrating neuroendocrinology and ethology, which was coauthored by disinguished researchers from Vienna. Rarely do researchers win awards in multiple disciplines, but Kohl’s 2001 award was for neuroscience, and his 2007 “Reiss Theory” award was for social science. Kohl has worked as a medical laboratory scientist since 1974, and he has devoted more than twenty-five years to researching the relationship between the sense of smell and the development of human sexual preferences. Unlike many researchers who work with non-human subjects, medical laboratory scientists use the latest technology from many scientific disciplines to perform a variety of specialized diagnostic medical testing on people. James V. Kohl is certified with: * American Society for Clinical Pathology * American Medical Technologists James V. Kohl is a member of: * Society for Neuroscience * Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology * Association for Chemoreception Sciences * Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality * International Society for Human Ethology * American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science * Mensa, the international high IQ society