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Mind

A correlation between acacia trees and tonal languages?

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanJanuary 25, 2013 10:26 PM

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At A Replicated Typo, Most important paper on cultural evolution that includes acacia trees published. The lessons here can be generalized obviously:

Last month saw the publication of a paper by James and I (our first paper!) on the so-called ‘nomothetic’ approach to links between language structure and social structure. In it we review the recent trend of using large-scale cross-cultural statistical analyses to find links between cultural traits and social structures (e.g. Lupyan & Dale, 2010). We show that statistical tests can be misleading because of the nature of cultural systems. We also argue that using statistics alone does not provide strong explanatory power. However, they can be a valuable part of a pluralistic approach to problems – especially generating hypotheses and as a catalyst for debate. Other approaches can help support the suggestions made by nomothetic studies, such as experiments and models.

The paper is open access, Social Structure and Language Structure: the New Nomothetic Approach.

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