You have probably heard the saying, “correlation does not imply causation.” In other words, just because two things are associated, it does not mean that one causes the other. Perhaps this time-honored standard of scientific investigation should be amended based on what is often practiced by Darwinists. I propose, “correlation and Darwinian storytelling imply causation.” This kind of thinking does not pass scientific muster, but it is the kind that is often practiced, particularly when the evolutionary roots of behavior are being studied.
As a case in point, consider the recent study, Musical Aptitude Is Associated with AVPR1A-Haplotypes.1
NewScientist2 reports on the study:
MUSICAL ability is linked to gene variants that help control social bonding. The finding adds weight to the notion that music developed to cement human relationships.
Järvelä thinks musical aptitude evolved because musical people were better at forming attachments to others: “Think of lullabies, which increase social bonding and possibly the survival of the baby.”
And from the original source:
Interestingly, AVPR1A has been known to modulate social cognition and behavior (see the recent review by Donaldson and Young ) making it a strong candidate gene for music perception and production. Several features in perceiving and practicing music, a multi-sensory process, are closely related to attachment . Based on animal studies Darwin proposed in 1871 that singing is used to attract the opposite sex. Furthermore, lullabies are implied to attach infant to a parent and singing or playing music together may add group cohesion . Thus, it is justified to hypothesize that music perception and creativity in music are linked to the same phenotypic spectrum of human cognitive social skills, like human bonding  and altruism  both associated with AVPR1A. It is of notice that both altruism (also called pathological trusting), and intense interest towards music and relatively sparse language skills are the characteristic features of Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS), a neurodevelopmental syndrome with elfin facial features, supravalvular aortic stenosis, hypercalcemia and scoliosis , . AVPR1A is also associated with autism, an opposite phenotype with poor social communication skills , , .
The source article is actually titled appropriately. In other words, it suggests the mere genetic association (correlation). The authors seem to want us to believe that since Darwin proposed studies in 1871 about the singing behavior of animals and reproduction, it is reasonable to think that evolution is the hidden causal variable in the mix.
1. Ukkola LT, Onkamo P, Raijas P, Karma K, Järvelä I, 2009 Musical Aptitude Is Associated with AVPR1A-Haplotypes. PLoS ONE 4(5): e5534. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005534
2. Genes help us make sweet music together, NewScientist, 6/2/09
Re-post from Uncommon Descent.