Human Social Complexity - Causal Networks among World Cultures 2010

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ANTHRO 174AW HUMAN COMPLEXITY lec A (60440) 12:30-1:50 SST 155 Instructor: Doug White Office Hours 2:30-3:30 Soc Sci Gateway 3544 3rd floor x4-5893 TA: Tolga Oztan 60440-F10

        Address: 71500-w11@classes 
Optional: The theories in this on-line book can be tested with SCCS variables v3 v570 v270 v54 v51 v664 v626 using the SCCS codebook. Ira Reiss. 1986. Journey into Sexuality.
The societies in the SCCS were chosen as the earliest best described ethnographic studies in their world region
Blowup of causality graph


This is an undergraduate class on human complexity. It focuses on the complex network of causal variables of early ethnographically well-described human societies in the SCCS or Standard Cross-Cultural Sample. Because human societies develop in the context of historical and spatial networks we use software that first estimates "network effects" which then allows us to study the causal relations among variables that describe and explain cultural variability. You choose a single variable or topic for study and use the *Rccs* software to compute results. We gain new understanding how and why variables predict one another in expected or unexpected ways that challenge our preconceptions. The work of different students is combined by the instructor into a graph that shows the networks and patterns of these combined causalities between the predictive variables and other specific variables or topics of study.[1]

The writing-science focus of the class is on causality, with an objective of trying to understand cultural causality using the tools of widely used and much-applauded approach of Judea Pearl's causal graphs that combine human knowledge and inference with machine learning of complex patterns. You take time early on to choose a dependent variable you're interested in (first week, and you can change it later) for finding an explanation of how and why it varies in the sample societies (aided by our ability to produce maps on-demand with the software). Through the quarter, you research the causality of its relationships to other aspects of human cultures, and to find significant results on 'what causes what' in human societies. Your tools for the term project and paper are a database on human cultures, a literature to draw from (the 1060 published articles (1,110 since I first wrote this in the spring) on the SCCS in Google Scholar. My background -- as a creator of the database, a co-developer of the software methods, and writer on numerous social science subjects that bear on cross-cultural studies -- helps to explain why I am teaching this class. I explain to the class the background behind the SCCS, how the variables were researched and why causality is not only important but fundamental to an understanding of how the world works. Your term paper is on your own findings using the related literature you find on the web using Sccs guided search.

In week two we introduce the *Rccs* R software and probe what R does, why it is so widely used, how it works, and how to build your page for R that lists your many independent (predictor) variables and your one dependent variable which will guide R to your research results. We explore the 3 parts of the program and how R calculates causal effects. We provide guidance for how students can modify simple prototypes of the program for their own project. Hopefully that will give our students a head start so they need not spend a couple of weeks figuring out how to get what they need to do a powerpoint and write a paper on their results. For today's world of computer assisted research this course gives a powerful boost for research and the ability to produce scientific understandings of complex problems.

Class meetings

Chronology of class meetings fall 2010
First Reading: for background and motivation: Simon, Herbert A. 1954. Spurious Correlation: A Causal Interpretation. Journal of the American Statistical Association 49(267): 467-479.
Second: Christian Brown and Tony Eff, 2010. The State and the Supernatural: Support for Prosocial Behavior
Third (reports on last year's class): White, White, Ren, and Oztan 2010 Causal Inference for Multilevel Networks of Early Ethnographically Well-Described Populations
National Science Proposal 2010 growing out of this class (Fall 2009, Winter 2010) (It is "peer effects" that we study in class, a valuable approach in all fields of social, historical and biological sciences)
Map, myths and disclaimer for forager societies -- A foragers sample will be available for next year's class.

Student suggestions[2]

  1. Thanks to Nick Robles, winter 2010, for suggestions on these pages.
  2. Send an email about the course out to students a week early.
Optional as useful for terminology although reviewed as "stupid or common sense?" and for the determinist beliefs of the author; evidently, the work of a desperate father to communicate his life's work and personal observations to a dying son. $15 at Amazon
Optional:Ethnography as networks and organizations


Nepal NGO posting
World agriculture and deforestation

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Course (UCI) Policies

· *DROPS:* Must be submitted by 5PM of week 2 using the WebReg system. No exceptions after week 2. No late drops or change to grade options versus exceptions after week 2.

· *ADDS:* Must be submitted by 5PM of week 3 using the WebReg system. No exceptions after week 3. No late adds after week 3

· *CHANGE: *Must be submitted by 5PM of week 2 using the WebReg system. From week 3 through 6, you must use the Student Access system to submit a request for a grade option change. No exceptions will be considered after week 6. No late grade option changes after week 6.