One of the hottest debates in evolutionary biology concerns the origin of behavior: is it genetically encoded or do animals and birds copy their parents or other individuals? A classic experiment published in 2000 seemed to provide overwhelming evidence that a particular behavioral choice (whether individuals of a species of swallow breed in a small colony or a large one) is largely genetically determined. Scientists have now re-examined the data and shown that the findings could be explained by random choice.
A shot across the bow for evolutionary psychology? One of the hardest things about behavioral sciences is sussing out genetic behavior from learned behavior. This study apparently just added a new wrinkle to take into account when looking at behavior. It’s about animal behavior, but I suspect there are implications for human studies as well.
It seems like these kinds of studies are getting progressively more expensive. Human studies now need to be cross cultural to avoid WEIRD (western, educated, industrial, rich, democratic) biases. Now they’ll have to look out for these identified fallacies.