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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 12:55 PM

Nature vs Nurture? – Why We Need to Stop Using Evolution as an Explanation for Gender Differences

Sadly, proponents of the evolution-as-explanation-for-gender-differences idea seem to have fallen victim to something very similar to the fundamental attribution error, a term used in social psychology to describe humans’ tendency to attribute a person’s behaviour to their disposition, while completely ignoring any situational factors. Although this term refers specifically to individual personality, the same phenomenon seems to be at work when people choose to ascribe gendered behaviour to dispositional reasons, instead of acknowledging the possibility that there could be sociological factors at work.

Of course, there’s no denying that evolution explains almost everything about our physiology, and a good chunk of human behaviour. It is when evolution and biological determinism are used to explain everything, without reference to any period other than the present Western society and the vaguely-defined ‘caveman days’, that problems arise.

Here’s a small example of what I mean.

In 2007, through asking 208 volunteers to select their colour preferences, neuroscientists Hurlbert and Ling discovered that men had a preference for bluish/greenish colours, while women had a preference for pinkish/reddish colours. While the study did nothing to prove that this preference was biological, Ling made the leap quite easily, going from showing that grown men and women tended to prefer different colours, to stating, “This preference has an evolutionary advantage behind it.” Women, it was suggested, had to gather berries while men hunted, and so needed to spot ripe berries and fruits easily. This story was picked up eagerly by newspapers, with headlines like, “Study: Why Girls Like Pink“, and “Scientists Uncover Truth Behind ‘pink for a girl, blue for a boy“. As far as I can see, the study showed nothing about why girls like pink, but simply that they—well—did.

Yet all one has to do is go back 100 years in time (a mere nothing by evolutionary standards) to see that the pink/blue rule is fairly recent, and that the accepted social norms at the time were just the opposite. And since we’re doing some time-traveling, let’s have a look at life just one or two generations ago, and note the behaviour of women and men then, compared with women and men today. And then let’s take a tour around other countries too, in different continents. Maybe have a look at two people of the same ethnicity, who have been brought up on opposite ends of the globe.


http://cratesandribbons.com/2013/02/09/nature-vs-nurture-why-we-need-to-stop-using-evolution-as-an-explanation-for-gender-differences/

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Reply Nature vs Nurture? – Why We Need to Stop Using Evolution as an Explanation for Gender Differences (Original post)
ismnotwasm Feb 2013 OP
patrice Feb 2013 #1
ismnotwasm Feb 2013 #2
patrice Feb 2013 #3
Tien1985 Feb 2013 #4
ismnotwasm Feb 2013 #5
seabeyond Feb 2013 #8
Demo_Chris Feb 2013 #6
seabeyond Feb 2013 #7
Jim Lane Feb 2013 #9
redqueen Feb 2013 #10
Jim Lane Feb 2013 #11
seabeyond Feb 2013 #12
seabeyond Feb 2013 #13
longship Feb 2013 #29
redqueen Feb 2013 #14
Jim Lane Feb 2013 #21
MadrasT Feb 2013 #15
redqueen Feb 2013 #16
seabeyond Feb 2013 #17
Jim Lane Feb 2013 #19
seabeyond Feb 2013 #20
Jim Lane Feb 2013 #22
seabeyond Feb 2013 #25
MadrasT Feb 2013 #23
Jim Lane Feb 2013 #24
seabeyond Feb 2013 #26
redqueen Feb 2013 #28
ismnotwasm Feb 2013 #32
Jim Lane Feb 2013 #43
ismnotwasm Feb 2013 #44
ismnotwasm Feb 2013 #34
ismnotwasm Feb 2013 #18
TheMadMonk Feb 2013 #37
redqueen Feb 2013 #38
TheMadMonk Feb 2013 #39
redqueen Feb 2013 #40
TheMadMonk Feb 2013 #41
redqueen Feb 2013 #42
sufrommich Feb 2013 #45
Xipe Totec Feb 2013 #27
redqueen Feb 2013 #30
Xipe Totec Feb 2013 #33
ismnotwasm Feb 2013 #31
Xipe Totec Feb 2013 #35
ismnotwasm Feb 2013 #36
One_Life_To_Give Feb 2013 #46

Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:14 PM

1. Thank you, thank you, thank you, ismnotwasm!

If I wasn't broke, I'd give you a couple of hearts for that article.

It's a clear example of how inferential logic, while not necessarily invalid, has a high probability of invalidity that relates to the amount and quality (validity + reliability) of contextual information that is missing.

In trying to describe the rational bases for science, I have tried to say this sort of thing about gender differences here, but I'm making the mistake of not bringing it down to brass tacks the way that you did.

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Response to patrice (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:19 PM

2. Hey have one from me!

Hearts this way are fun!

And I'm glad you liked the article!

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #2)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:43 PM

3. Thank you, very much!

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Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:26 PM

4. K&R

I am getting "naturually" more irritated every time someone uses this "argument".

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Response to Tien1985 (Reply #4)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:36 PM

5. Heh

Me too.

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Response to Tien1985 (Reply #4)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 05:03 PM

8. right there with you tein. we finally get the sexual freedom in the 70's and 80's and

we have this garbage to put us back in our place from the 90's on. nothing more. no different than a patriarchal religion only using the label of science.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:11 PM

6. Interesting read, thanks for posting it!

 

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Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 05:01 PM

7. men have a naturally stronger sex drive than women.

“You see images of sexualised women everywhere, but not sexualised men, because men have a naturally stronger sex drive than women.”


i have been hearing a lot of this, of late. though, i know as many women that are wanting it more than they are getting, as i hear from men. though, on threads on du we hear some women say they want it more, just like some men. that though, we have studies that suggest women are as visually (if not more) stimulated by sex as men, that it is all about the men, still. that we hear that mens sexuality is to be glorified, idolized, out of orbit, womens sexuality is continually dismissed and buried.

i did research. and though science has no clear evidence, though they hold up testosterone as a god, they still have no clear evidence; but, it is a fact that men are more sexual cause all the men say so.

but, not one study or research that i saw addressed our reality today. not one research suggested our conditioning from the day we are born might have a factor in this. they say, women are more sexual today than in the past due to changing society, and yet still they saw no correlation in the societies conditioning.

lets just think about this.

from the time the boys are born thru out life they are told that their sexuality is all that. they are told their sexuality is to be applauded, that it is biological, media tells them 24/7, we have a cutsey study that is debunked and total bullshit, that men think about sex every 6 sec and you will have grown men on du site this study as a fact. they are fed sexual images continually. told women are to be used for their sexuality. that is all of who a man is. that is the very definition of a man. and so on and so on and on.

from the day girls are born, they are told they are not sexual, they need emotions, they need one man, no variety, and the mens sexuality is all that. they are told that they are sluts, whores, prostitutes one way or another. they are degraded sexually. they are ridiculed for their sexuality or their lack of sexuality. they are told by parents though more mature, they need to wait to have sex until 18 and the boy less mature should be 16 (sexist cenk). they are the responsible ones in the act. they are level headed. they do not like sexual images. they do not get sexual images either, because we are told the male body is not beautiful, only the womans.

on and on and on.

males have societal, cultural, religious approval of their sexuality.

females have societal, cultural, religious disapproval of our sexuality.

do we really think we have a level playing field to decides the sexual drive of either gender in the world we live in today? do we really think that these conditioned two opposites of who we are does not effect who we are?

thank you for the article. it is a duh to me. every story told by someone promoting evo psych, i can tell a perfectly logical different story.

a poster stated this well, and i forget the words. something like, this is the patriarchy for the scientific, not religious male. personally, i just see it as a cult.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 06:58 AM

9. The title is quite an unjustified leap.

From the excerpt you quoted: "Of course, there’s no denying that evolution explains almost everything about our physiology, and a good chunk of human behaviour. It is when evolution and biological determinism are used to explain everything, without reference to any period other than the present Western society and the vaguely-defined ‘caveman days’, that problems arise."

Given that, as the author admits, evolution has great explanatory power, it would be foolish to stop using it. The article doesn't support such a sweeping pronouncement.

The article does provide a useful caution for people who become infatuated with evolutionary explanations (perhaps, in some instances, as a reaction to right-wing anti-evolutionary hysteria). For their benefit, it points out that evolutionary ideas can be overused, can be stretched and contorted to provide a spurious explanation, and can crowd out contrary evidence and other factors.

It's as if an article pointed out that fire sometimes burns down buildings and kills people, and the headline was "Why We Need To Stop Using Fire."

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #9)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:39 AM

10. No, the headline is fine. It includes this condition: "... as an Explanation for Gender Differences"

So your analogy is wrong.

It's as if people said we should stop using fire 'to remove old buildings' or something.

There is absolutely no problem with the article or headline. It is completely accurate. Read seabeyond's post above. It perfectly shows how, within this idiotic system wherein males and females are conditioned to believe they 'should' conform to societal expectations, it is simply nonsensical to attempt to portray any gendered behavior as innate.

Once we stop this conditioning, then it would be possible to examine behavioral differences as being possibly innate. At this point, it's simply reinforcing patriarchal norms. And seriously, fuck that. And fuck anyone who does it, because all they are doing is propping up the patriarchy (a counterproductive conservative goal) when it needs to be smashed to pieces.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 11:34 AM

11. Even with regard to gender differences, it goes too far.

I did understand that "gender differences" was the context.

Heredity and environment (the latter including the different conditioning of males and females) are both powerful factors, and interact in complex ways, in many aspects of human life. (As my quotation illustrates, the author agrees with this general point.) As a result, separating out their effects can indeed be enormously difficult. We can't just take a few thousand newborns and put half of them in our society and the other half in a completely gender-neutral one, to see what happens.

Nevertheless, it goes too far to throw up our hands and say that any effort to assess innate differences is "nonsensical" or must await the smashing of the patriarchy. We gather such data as we can, given the ethical limitations on human experimentation. Those of us who believe in evolution will also look to observations about other primates, while recognizing that they may or may not apply to humans. Where we find gender differences, we can consider whether they are most plausibly explained by nature, nurture, or a combination.

I'm no expert in this field, but I think there's research that found differences between boys and girls in the first several months of life. Now, I think other researchers have found that parents, even without intending to or realizing it, tend to treat boys and girls differently from birth, so even the testing of infants doesn't completely screen out environmental factors. Still, if we find significant differences at a very young age, that finding would tend to suggest (though not definitively establish) that innate factors were playing at least some role. The call to stop using evolutionary explanations would be valid only if we could definitively establish that NO innate differences are involved. The evidence currently available doesn't establish that.

Evolutionary theory should not be abused as a deus ex machina that lets us say whatever we want about gender. Evolution is based on natural selection. Therefore, an evolutionary explanation must show an adaptive benefit to the alleged gender difference. From that point of view, the example discussed in the linked article, about women's alleged preference for warm colors over cool colors, seems forced to me. The ability to find ripe berries would have survival value to all members of a hunter-gatherer society, even if, in at least some societies of that type, we've observed that women do more of the gathering. The berries thing strikes me as an example of inappropriately trying to stretch evolution to cover every conceivable observation.

It's also worth asking how the current societal conditioning arose in the first place. You can't cite patriarchical norms as part of the explanation for the origin of patriarchical norms. By contrast, there's no logical flaw in saying that the pervasiveness -- not universality, but pervasiveness -- of male dominance might arise from innate differences. I don't see anything antifeminist in the hypothesis that men tend to be more aggressive and that their greater aggressiveness has a genetic component. My guess is that, even without social conditioning, men would be more likely to undertake difficult and dangerous tasks, like hunting, that are beneficial to the welfare of the group; more likely to start stupid wars that threaten the survival of the group; and more likely to try to assert dominance over the other sex (and therefore more likely to attain it).

It should go without saying -- but on DU, alas, things like this tend NOT to go without saying -- that none of these theories say much about any particular individual. It's undeniable that men are taller than women, but, notwithstanding that valid generalization, there are plenty of tall women and short men. One can find proponents of the view that women are ill-suited to be President because women are too passive. One can also find proponents of the view that men are ill-suited to be President because men are too aggressive. Both these views are silly. Whatever one considers to be the ideal temperament for a President, one can find qualified candidates on both sides of the gender aisle. It might well be that, in a completely gender-neutral society with no sex-role conditioning, there would still be more boys than girls who wanted to play football, but that's no reason to prevent girls in our society from playing football if they want to, or to laugh at boys who want to learn knitting.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #11)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 11:47 AM

12. first, the consistent problem i have repeatedly found is a guess is put out as fact and conditioning

is NEVER a part of the equation. it is throwing up the hands and saying a clear agenda, cant buy into this crap. not to mention how much it is hurting us as a society and women specifically because this is growing and spreading as factual "science" being picked up by men that want to continue to promote it for dominate and control agendas.

that would be your guess that men would undertake the more dangerous, hunting... but that is the HUGE problem. it is ignoring the info we have gained today that is turning much of this upside down. so much of what was said as fact just a decade ago is being proven as wrong now. there were many cultures they are finding, where both genders were the hunters. and some where the women were. but.... listen to your guess, put forward as a biological fact.

or the fact that today study after study show that testosterone does not cause aggression. the opposite in fact. yet the myth for men hold firm.

or that we use todays thinking to overlap what was happening at beginning of time instead of looking at the beginning of time thinking.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #11)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 11:49 AM

13. The Evolutionary Psychology FAQ

Does evolutionary psychology have any problems?

Yes. Here are what I see as a few of the major problems currently faced by evolutionary psychology:

1. Evolutionary psychology is attempting to elucidate the functional organization of the brain even though researchers currently cannot, with very few exceptions, directly study complex neural circuits. This is like attempting to discover the functions of the lungs, heart, etc., without being able to conduct dissections. Although psychological evidence indisputably reveals that cognition has structure, it is less clear that it does so with sufficient resolution to provide convincing evidence of functional design. Can the current state of the art in cognitive psychology successfully cleave human nature at its joints? Maybe, maybe not. Despite these reservations, it is worth noting that virtually every research university in the world has a psychology department. Grounding psychology in an explicit framework of evolved function cannot help but improve attempts to unveil the workings of the brain. It is far easier to find something if you have some idea of what it is you are looking for.

2. The domains of cognition proposed by evolutionary psychologists are often pretty ad hoc. Traditionally, cognitive psychologists have assumed that cognitive abilities are relatively abstract: categorization, signal detection, recognition, memory, logic, inference, etc. Evolutionary psychology proposes a radically orthogonal set of 'ecologically valid' domains and reasoning abilities: predator detection, toxin avoidance, incest avoidance, mate selection, mating strategies, social exchange, and so on. These latter domains and abilities are derived largely from behavioral ecology. Although mate selection surely involves computations that are fundamentally different from predator detection, it is not so clear that the organization of the brain just happens to match the theoretical divisions of behavioral ecology. The concept of 'object' is obviously quite abstract, yet it is equally obvious that it is an essential concept for reasoning about mates, predators, kin, etc. The same goes for other 'abstract' abilities like categorization and signal detection. Ecologically valid reasoning about domains such as kinship may require cognitive abilities organized at higher levels of abstraction like 'recognition.' On the other hand, numerous experiments show that reasoning can be greatly facilitated when problems are stated in ecologically valid terms. Negating if-p-then-q statements becomes transparently easy when the content of such statements involves social exchange, for example. The theoretical integration of more abstract, informationally valid domains with less abstract, ecologically valid domains remains a central problem for evolutionary psychology.

3. Evolutionary psychology (and adaptationism in general) has devoted considerable theoretical attention to the issue of design, the first link in the causal chain leading from phenotype structure to reproductive outcome, but has lumped every other link into the category 'reproductive problem.' This failure to theorize about successive links can lead to spectacular failures of the 'design' approach. Three examples: 1) evidence of design clearly identifies bipedalism as an adaptation, but what 'problem' it solved is not at all obvious, nor does the 'evidence of design' philosophy provide much guidance (though more detailed functional analyses of bipedalism are further constraining the set of possible solutions). 2) Language shows clear evidence of design, and there are several plausible reproductive advantages to having language, so why don't many other animals have language? 3) It can be very difficult to determine whether simple traits are adaptations simply because there is insufficient evidence of design. Menopause may be an adaptation, but it has too few 'features' to say based on evidence of design alone (some 'features' of menopause, like bone loss, seem to indicate that it is not an adaptation). Very simple traits will not always yield to a 'design analysis,' simply because there isn't enough to grab onto.

*

6. Finally, even the best work in evolutionary psychology remains incomplete. Two examples: 1) evolutionary psychologists have made several predictions about mate preferences, and these predictions have been verified in a broad range of cross-cultural contexts. However, the empirical data have not been subjected to many alternative interpretations. It is possible that they can be accounted for by other theories, and it will be difficult to be fully convinced that the evolutionary interpretation is correct until it withstands challenges from competing paradigms. The record on this account, however, is quite good so far. Competing theories such as the "social role", "structural powerlessness" and "economic inequality of the sexes" hypotheses have been tested in a number of studies and have received little, if any, support. 2) The cheater detection hypothesis, on the other hand, has withstood a blizzard of competing hypotheses, but it has been confirmed in only a very limited number of cross-cultural contexts: Europe, and one Amazonian group. Adaptations must be universal, and the variation seen in even the limited cross-cultural cheater detection studies suggests that further studies are warranted.


http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/projects/human/epfaq/problems.html

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #13)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 05:21 PM

29. ^^THIS^^

Maybe much human behavior is evolutionary. But behavior and brain development are so entangled with developmental and environmental influences that we may never be able to sort it all out.

That's my problem with evol psych.

Still, there are those who are advocates, like Steven Pinker, who I like. But he recognizes the problems, as any good scientist should.

Some people take things too far. That's kind of what this is about.

Thanks for your post. I wasn't going to comment in this thread until I saw your excellent response, which was my basic understanding of the issue.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #11)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 11:57 AM

14. Verbose ...

It boils down to this: What is the point?

Researching infant behavior gives valid data. The rest is questionable at best.

Key word here: Psychology. Evo psych is questionable at best. When the context is gender issues, it is worthless. Full stop.

When it comes to differences of the sexes... yeah, physiologically speaking, there is actual science possible. When it comes to psychology? Worthless.

Blame something else if you don't like the word patriarchy. The point is this programming or conditioning or whatever you want to call it benefits one group far more than the other. Just a coincidence I'm sure.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #14)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:05 PM

21. You stopped just when it was getting interesting.

You write: "Blame something else if you don't like the word patriarchy. The point is this programming or conditioning or whatever you want to call it benefits one group far more than the other. Just a coincidence I'm sure."

Obviously you're being sarcastic, obviously you don't think it was coincidence, and obviously you're correct in that view. But that leaves open the question -- if it's not coincidence, what is it? Why is it that male oppression of women seems to be so much more common than female oppression of men?

The question arises in this thread because an explanation based on evolution is one possible answer. I don't know how much credibility there is to that explanation or to any competing explanation.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #11)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:21 PM

15. Disagree.

The call to stop using evolutionary explanations would be valid only if we could definitively establish that NO innate differences are involved. The evidence currently available doesn't establish that.


No, it is the exact opposite: The justification for using evolutionary explanations would be valid only if we could definitively establish that innate differences ARE involved.

You can't use "Well, we'll just call it evolution because nobody can prove it isn't."

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Response to MadrasT (Reply #15)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:24 PM

16. Exellent point. nt

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Response to MadrasT (Reply #15)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:33 PM

17. "Well, we'll just call it evolution because nobody can prove it isn't." but they can. that is what

they are doing. exactly that. lol

then they tell us if we do not buy it we are anti science, creationists.

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Response to MadrasT (Reply #15)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 01:22 PM

19. You're disagreeing with a straw man.

I certainly haven't endorsed "Well, we'll just call it evolution because nobody can prove it isn't." I join you in disagreeing with that. What I actually wrote was: "Where we find gender differences, we can consider whether they are most plausibly explained by nature, nurture, or a combination."

This is the general approach explained in the excerpt that seabeyond posted in #13, especially the paragraph numbered "6": An evolutionary explanation is one possible explanation, and we consider all competing explanations to evaluate which one seems to be the best fit for evidence that's less than definitive. Frankly, I thought my posts included ample express recognition of the limits of our evolutionary knowledge, so that no one would think I was giving a blanket endorsement of evolution as the explanation for everything under the sun. For example, I specifically disagreed with the berries hypothesis, because the attempted evolutionary explanation seems weak to me, even though nobody can prove that it's wrong.

Perhaps you and I are merely interpreting the OP differently. My understanding of "We Need to Stop Using Evolution as an Explanation for Gender Differences" was that it called for ruling out all such explanations -- to use your phrasing, it would be "Well, we'll just deny that it's evolution because nobody can prove it is." That's just as much an error as the "just call it evolution" view that you rightly disagree with.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #19)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 01:38 PM

20. no. i think what youa re ignoring is that there is a movement at hand to use this against women

and create once again, a society of male dominance and control. ignoring that, along with ignoring all the other issues pointed out is the strawman.

you mention my point. but, my point was ignored. to come up with a make believe story, ignoring a very big and real issue in the developing of who we are. it is ignored because it does not meet the agenda being promoted. it is a good five years watching this cult like industry grow and the abuses in it as a fact to create a world of hostility toward women. a make believe world presented as scientific fact.

that is what you are ignoring.

when evo psych first started, it was ignored. with internet and male anger at losing privilege it has been embraced. it had a short time of glory in media until people started taking it seriously. now people, scientists, and women are calling the bullshit out.

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #20)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:12 PM

22. I was addressing a different point.

My interest was in figuring out the correct theory (to the extent we can), not in cataloguing all the misuses of science. The latter is quite a large topic.

The history of science makes clear that some theories receive attention and support beyond what the evidence would warrant, because they serve some other goal. A theory may jibe with a preconceived religious dogma (as in the Catholic Church’s embrace of geocentrism and consequent suppression of Galileo’s work). A theory may provide a justification for exploitation (as in pseudoscientific arguments about the innate inferiority of blacks, which were embraced by those defending slavery or, later, racially segregated schools). These sorry episodes represent the abuse of science. Scientific theories should be evaluated on the evidence, not accepted for other reasons.

Does such abuse go on today? Of course it does. I gave the example of an argument purportedly from evolutionary psychology being used to contend that no woman should ever be President. I expressed my disagreement. Yes, I could have said a great deal more about that aspect of the topic, but that would have made my post even more verbose, exacerbating redqueen’s displeasure.

More important is that the politicization of science isn’t relevant to my criticism of the OP. The issue is whether we need to stop using evolution as an explanation for gender differences. To the extent that the theory of evolution offers any valid explanation of human behavior as well as human physiology, that validity doesn’t vanish just because some people improperly seize on the vocabulary of evolution when they want to give a scientific veneer to their agenda.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #22)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 04:33 PM

25. from the 80's on reading evo psych, it has shown that it is riddled with agenda. this is what

people keep telling you in different way that you ignore. you want to use evo psych, keeping out the agenda. i have yet to find a theory that was done non biased without todays mentality projected back to beginning of time, or was not the sole purpose of reinforcing the patriarchy and sexism/misogyny in a totally sloppy guess work.

can it be done? who the fuck knows. but, we certainly are not seeing it.

and one post i gave you was a scientist laying out 6 MAJOR reasons why. these are only major reasons. there are a whole lot of minor ones.

so, seeing how evo psych is pop science, no.... it does not get to be used as science.

when continually being fed garbage, i would hope one gets to the point of saying... enough

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #19)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:25 PM

23. You wrote:

The call to stop using evolutionary explanations would be valid only if we could definitively establish that NO innate differences are involved. The evidence currently available doesn't establish that.


That looks to me exactly like "Well we'll just call it evolution because nobody can prove it isn't".

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Response to MadrasT (Reply #23)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 04:16 PM

24. I thought I explained that in #19

I wrote:

Perhaps you and I are merely interpreting the OP differently. My understanding of "We Need to Stop Using Evolution as an Explanation for Gender Differences" was that it called for ruling out all such explanations -- to use your phrasing, it would be "Well, we'll just deny that it's evolution because nobody can prove it is." That's just as much an error as the "just call it evolution" view that you rightly disagree with.


I reject the OP's approach of ruling out all evolutionary explanations. I also reject the opposite approach of ruling out all non-evolutionary explanations.

Let me try putting it another way. For any hypothesis X (such as one concerning the extent to which behavior is caused by innate differences, or one concerning the extent to which innate differences are caused by evolution), consider these two propositions:
1. The evidence does not definitively establish that X is true.
2. The evidence does not definitively establish that X is false.

Here's the key: It's quite possible to believe both of these propositions at once. That's why I can reject the OP's sweeping dismissal of evolution in this context, and yet also believe that an evolutionary explanation, like any other hypothesis, must be tested against the available data, rather than being some kind of default that gets accepted if it can't be disproved.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #24)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 04:35 PM

26. when it is your gender being DENIED equal pay, jobs, rights, control, BECAUSE of a

may be right and may not be right, then come back to me about how willing you are to accept that manner of science.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #24)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 05:13 PM

28. "must be tested against the available data"

When it comes to a control group, there is none. You may not personally like it, but until the patriarchy is dead and gone, and therefore all this bullshit conditioning that we are subjected to from cradle to grave is no longer an influence, there is no way to know how humans would behave naturally.

The only we data we have is corrupted and useless except in proving how effective it is at brainwashing people.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #24)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 05:31 PM

32. So which traits do you believe are affected by evolution?

Not physical ones of course.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #32)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 12:53 AM

43. You might pose that question to the author of the article you linked.

She wrote, “Of course, there’s no denying that evolution explains almost everything about our physiology, and a good chunk of human behaviour.” She didn’t specify which traits she included in the “good chunk” explained by evolution.

I wasn’t defending any particular tenet of evolutionary psychology. I was merely criticizing the headline, with its blanket rejection of any explanatory role for evolution with regard to gender differences, and my criticism was that the headline is not supported by the article. You're quite correct in #18 in characterizing my view as "don't throw the baby out with the bath water as far as gendered evolutionary differences."

My own knowledge of evolutionary psychology is small – too small to allow me to state definitively that behavioral traits A, B, and C are explained in whole or in part by evolution. From the smattering of knowledge I have, though, I’d think first of mate selection as a good candidate.

My smattering includes in part the following passage from the "Evolutionary Psychology FAQ" (link: http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/projects/human/epfaq/problems.html), quoted by seabeyond in #13:

6. Finally, even the best work in evolutionary psychology remains incomplete. Two examples: 1) evolutionary psychologists have made several predictions about mate preferences, and these predictions have been verified in a broad range of cross-cultural contexts. However, the empirical data have not been subjected to many alternative interpretations. It is possible that they can be accounted for by other theories, and it will be difficult to be fully convinced that the evolutionary interpretation is correct until it withstands challenges from competing paradigms. The record on this account, however, is quite good so far. Competing theories such as the "social role", "structural powerlessness" and "economic inequality of the sexes" hypotheses have been tested in a number of studies and have received little, if any, support.


One prominent research result in this area was reported in "MHC-Dependent Mate Preferences in Humans" (abstract available for free but you must pay for the full article). The underlying fact is that a child’s immune system functions better when the two parents differ in their major histocompatibility complex (MHC), because the child inherits from both and gets protection against a broader range of pathogens. In the study, women smelled t-shirts that had been worn by men. The women “scored male body odours as more pleasant when they differed from the men in their MHC than when they were more similar.” (I think this result has since been replicated for men scoring female body odors but I’m not completely sure.)

Evolution proceeds by random mutation plus natural selection. If some people have a gene that inclines them to be attracted to sex partners with different MHC, and others lack that gene, then the people in the first group will tend to have children with better immune protection. Those children are more likely to survive to have children of their own. Therefore, whatever the proportion of this gene is in the population at the start (the first generation), its proportion will increase in subsequent generations.

That's how the observed preference for mates with differing MHC can be readily explained by evolutionary theory. By contrast, it’s hard to see how social conditioning could have played a role here.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #43)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 04:03 AM

44. So your main problem is with the headline?

If you don't mind, take a look at the other study I posted and see what you think. It's more a critique on how gender studies are conducted with inherent biases, and how gender runs more on a continuum.

When we are talking histocompatability complexes imbedded in sense of smell, I take you think this forms a valid basis for the idea of evolutionary psychology?

Left out of course are all the diseases and conditions that arose anyway, as well as the tangle of autoimmune disorders, including many cancers; it seems more complex to me. There is the thought that breeding occurred earlier that these conditions were able to manifest I suppose. There is the problem as well that humans sense of smell is inadequate to say the least, I would wonder why it isn't more developed. I can look up the study or ones like them, I have good university access. I'll try tomorrow.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #24)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 06:03 PM

34. Schrodinder's Evo-Psych?

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #11)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 01:13 PM

18. Oh that hunting thing again.

So, when, exactly did the evolutionary impetus for sustenance hunting, assuming it was evolutionary and not a social construct stop? And are we sure women did not participate? Given social 'permission' are we sure women aren't just as aggressive? For that matter does evolution itself just quit at some arbitrary point so we look at the psychology of today and say ' this is because of what was going on 100,000 years ago' and assume its hard wired? Does all the combined history of certain women trying to break out of societal imposed imperatives mean nothing? And that history IS there.

You are right, we are physically NOT general neutral, with males having a large edge on upper strength as you point out for instance. But what does that mean exactly? Is it still useful?

Women live long past the age of useful breeding. (There are a couple of theories why that might be so, my favorite being the grandmother theory-currently not in favor). Why? There's no useful evolutionary benefit. Or is there?

Do we follow bonobos or chimpanzees? They have different social styles. As do other primates.

My point is other than physical differences, the is little proof psychological differences are hard wired, and more indication that they are social constructs.

From what I'm reading in your post, you are simply saying don't throw the baby out with the bath water as far as gendered evolutionary differences, but football and knitting are terrible examples, and quite frankly I can think of any good ones that don't insult any gender. I would Never tell a father he can't 'mother' a child if he wanted to. We just had a thread on women who do NOT want children, and the social pressure they experience.

One of the most interesting books I've ever read on the rise of civilization was entitled 'Dirt' and it made a very good case for the loss of topsoil and subsequent crop failure having a great deal to do with how we developed territorial land aggressiveness, and this is a much, much more recent development evolutionary wise.

There are so many other factors as well

I'm kind of jumping all over the place here, but I believe human beings have enough plasticity to account for gender differences in response to social situations, not as cause of them.




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Response to redqueen (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 06:51 PM

37. "AS THE ONLY EXPLANATION" makes it work.

 

However, as written the headline is as disingenuous as the argument. "Some black men are criminals, therefore all black men are criminals."

And the article is wrong inasmuch as it took a lot of SOCIAL EVOLUTION to get from chattel slavery to the level of freedom women and children enjoy in the West today.

Iraq and Afghanistan are prime examples of what enforced "equality" in the face of social inertia results in. EVEN WORSE ABUSES, than before.

Forty years of "perfect equality" in the Balkans, didn't put a dent in a 600 year old hatred, which re-erupted the moment the Communist yoke was lifted.

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Response to TheMadMonk (Reply #37)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 06:57 PM

38. Did 'forced equality' in the US result in EVEN WORSE ABUSES for freed slaves?

What is the point of citing these EVEN WORSE ABUSES?

And no... your analogy about black men being criminals is 100% fail. There is zero similarity between your analogy and the headline. None.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #38)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 12:43 AM

39. In a good many ways yes. Look how long after the Civil war...

 

...it took for civil rights to be finally rammed down the South's throat, and how much low grade resentment still remains today. It would take very little to unwind decades of progress. "Even worse" is what happens if Jim Crowe comes back.

The abolishion of slavery was a very necessary thing, pretending it didn't have it's own negative outcomes is how nearly a century of apartheid came into being.

No, evolution can't explain everything, nor should it be the direction to automatically turn, but it STILL HAS ITS PLACE.

And social evolution also has its place. Ultimately people have to want to change, if that change is to stick.

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Response to TheMadMonk (Reply #39)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 12:59 AM

40. No one is pretending anything. Reinforcing patriarchal crap with 'just so' stories is bullshit.

Evolutionary biology is great. Evolutionary psychology might be useful in some contexts. Where matters of sexual differences are concerned, unless the intent is to shine a light on how thoroughly awful the conditioning is: It. Is. Simply. Worthless.

There is no word-salading your way around it.

Allowing society to achieve equality and justice for oppressed groups 'naturally' takes around 400 years. I'll pass. We have been tiptoeing around this issue for centuries, settling for legal rights and rolling our eyes at our lower social status, content to tell ourselves it isn't true and doesn't matter... Well no more. No more Ms. Nice Woman.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #40)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 11:45 AM

41. And how many thousands of women will die, ARE DYING...

 

...for your militancy? How far backwards have Afghanistan and Pakistan travelled simply because feminism is viewed as an American idea? Iraq and Iran? Large chunks of Africa?

Feminisim with America as it's enforcer is damned well going backwards worldwide.

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Response to TheMadMonk (Reply #41)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 11:55 AM

42. Um... wtf? America enforces feminism? Where the fuck did you get that idea?!

And please, do explain this "militancy" you refer to.

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Response to TheMadMonk (Reply #41)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 01:20 PM

45. So its the American feminists fault

That women are treated like shit in those places? Not a machismo culture on steroids backed up by powerful patriarchal theocrats? I learn something new every day.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 04:59 PM

27. Trichromatic color vision is carried in the X chromosome

And it initially was an exclusive characteristic of females because it required two x chromosomes in combination to achieve trichromatic color vision. A later gene crossover allowed a single X chromosome to carry the genes for both chroma thus enabling males to become trichromatic.

This is why color blindness in females is very rare, but color blindness in males is not.

Whatever we may or may not agree on regarding color preferences, surely we agree that perception of color is a prerequisite.

While not all gender differences can be traced to evolution, color vision is one that is strongly influenced by gender.

Tetrachromatic color vision is a very recent mutation of the X chromosome and so far only a few females possess it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/27/tetrachromatic-super-vision-women-100-million-colors_n_1631480.html

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Response to Xipe Totec (Reply #27)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 05:23 PM

30. Yes, evolutionary biology is solid science.

Evolutionary psychology, not so much. And not at all where differences between the sexes are concerned.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #30)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 06:01 PM

33. There is good science, and there is bad science...

... and then, there's psychology...

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Response to Xipe Totec (Reply #27)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 05:23 PM

31. There's is no argument about physical differences

From color-blindness to predisposition to certain cancers, to who has the babies, to who is averagely bigger.

But take a random skill such as math. For years it as said that women were inherently worse at math. There was no chromosomal proof, and it is now known to be complete bullshit. This is the kind of thing the article is addressing.

There are a number of diseases and conditions that are gender related. My husband has MS. One of the theories is that it may be due, in part to a vitamin D decency on the maternal line somewhere that caused chromosomal damage, setting the stage for a predisposition once certain environmental factors are met.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #31)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 06:10 PM

35. Math is not a random skill. Well, maybe statistics is.

Kidding aside, I agree with what you're saying, which is far more reasonable than what the title of the OP implies.

There is a lot of psychological pseudo science out there about gender differences. Not all of it is pseudo science, but there is enough to make the real stuff hard to find.

Someday, some really clever female scientist will publish a paper showing that females have an innate ability to guess what psychology researchers are trying to prove, and tell them what the want to hear, just to mess with them...

It would not surprise me.

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Response to Xipe Totec (Reply #35)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 06:22 PM

36. Heh!

I meant pick out of a hat random. Like leadership skills or something.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 11:18 AM

46. Like so much junk science

Evo-Psych type claims have been used without regard to actually establishing proof. Be it a car getting 3x fuel mileage or schooling being bad for a woman's delicate health. They feed on prejudice and ignorance. The most dangerous claims being the ones that feed our own preconceptions, thus they need to be scrutinized even more.


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