Response to seabeyond (Reply #23)
Fri Jul 27, 2012, 10:26 AM
hifiguy (17,289 posts)
24. Actually, I read that link, and most of the comments.
You are, as usual, cherry picking the most absurd examples and ignoring the criticism of the argument that advocates your position.
As usual, you ignore the considerable examples rebutting the article offered in the comments section:
It's more of a philosophy of science applied to human traits and behaviors.
Because applying a rigorous method of hypothesis and testing (science) to the study of human behavior is bad... how?
To unilaterally attack Evolutionary Psychology is to deny that there is any part of human behaviour that is the result of evolution. This is the only claim that EP makes as a field and to go against this basic tenet goes against the oceans of evidence from genetics, neuroscience, psychology, ethology, etc. It is such a shallow understanding of evolution to claim that our limbs have been subjected to evolution, but not our neurology and behaviour.
Arguments against the tired straw-man claims delineated in this review and in many of the above comments: females preferring pink, the supposed link to eugenics (why isn't all of genetics washed away by this association fallacy?), specifying gene for behaviour. I have read a lot of work by EP authors over the past few years, and NO-ONE makes these claims! E.O. Wilson, Geoffrey Miller, Donald Brown, Leda Cosmides, and David Buss: their work exposes the intricate relationships between genetics AND environment that orchestrate the basis of human behaviour. Most importantly, these researchers also empathically remind us that what is discovered through science tells us nothing of morals or how we ought to live. Rather, the discoveries of EP act as evidence of our ancestry, and at times this evidence can be quite useful in helping us overcome our genetic dispositions“ not supplying us with a decree for indulging in them! What's wrong with Evolutionary Psychology? Nothing. What is wrong with Evolutionary Psychology criticism? Among other things like poor scholarship, several millennia of an unfortunately placed anthropomorphic egocentrism residing in any one of our historical and contemporary cultures.
This article is just straw men and red herrings. Don't discard an entire field based on a few anecdotes. How about commenting on Darwin's chapter on instinct in The Origin of Species? (Read the rest of the book for context.) Then you might consider Darwin's book The Expression of Emotions in Animals and in Man.About that list of things that evolutionary psychologists supposedly think ”no, they don't. Even if you could dredge up an anecdote or two, most of those directly contradict fundamental ideas in evolutionary biology. The other ones are philosophical questions, not biological (e.g., the "purpose" of life).
What struck me most about this rather ill-informed article is that in the evolutionary psychology books I've ready, pretty much all of the "often-believed tenets of evolutionary psychologists" are argued against, de-emphasised or demolished.
How about giving *us* some evidence of *your* processes? Who are these evolutionary psychologists who defend these tenets without reservation? Let's say three prominent names per tenet, with supporting quotations and sources, and you may use the same name more than once.
This article is like saying "Leni Riefenstahl made Nazi propaganda, therefore filmmaking is evil." Or, "John Brinkley transplanted goat testicles into humans, therefore medicine is wrong."
I'll just respond to the "often-believed tenets of evolutionary psychologists" (without attribution or citation there's no context, so my responses can only be general).
EP is not a sub-discipline of psychology, but a framework for understanding human minds. As Moriaty pointed out, "Why isn't it a good idea to look at psychology from an evolutionary perspective?" Why didn't you answer this question?
HA! CT and EP are much more nuanced overall than this article suggests. Read Steven Pinker's 'How the Mind Works' and Douglas Hofstadter's 'Godel Escher and Bach' and Bloom's 'The Lucifer Principle' then come back and look at these supposed beliefs of CT, EP, and AI researchers. This field is much deeper, nuanced, and subtle than this article suggests. Sure there will always be quacks in any field, but don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. There is so much to these fields to learn; it helps to be more charitable in the beginning to aid understanding. Stil, Pinker is just as guilty when he says the Social 'Sciences' are more concerned with politics than science, exclusively. He says in summary, even if science discovers some probable 'truth' about nature, it has to pass through the PC litmus test. Do feminists, LGBTs, ethnic minorities, and postmodern deconstructionsts approve? No? Then it MUST be quackery! Pinker just stereotypes the whole social science field as nothing more than a politically motivated field. Obviously that isn't entirely true either is it?
There are certain points of view, schools of thought, that really hate the idea of any human behavior being hard-wired, and it is my opinion that this is what is really at the root at a lot of objections to evolutionary psychology. Just because you can use it to make claims that aren't in fact 'scientific', doesn't mean that it lacks value as way to try and better understand human behavior. Our behavior has obviously been shaped by evolution. Obviously.
The mind is what the brain does. If the brain is a product of evolution then so is the mind.
You can pull out one example like a preference for pink which seems silly and is probably culturally motivated but that doesn't invalidate the entire exercise. Humans became the way they are somehow. If you examine this process scientifically that means naturalistic explanations.
If all human behavior is biologically driven, including culture then it is understandable. Even if it is a highly complex emergent phenomena.
W. James Au
Many on the right reject evolutionary psychology because they dogmatically believe humans were created by God. Many of the left reject evolutionary psychology because they dogmatically believe humans were created by Society.
If you accept Darwinism as an explanatory theory for the origin of species, then you must also accept that natural selection strongly influences behavior of species, including primates. And if you accept natural selection influences behavior of primates, you must accept it influences human behavior. This does not validate any particular finding of EP, but it does strongly suggest we need to understand how we act through the lens of natural selection. Dress it up however you want, but saying otherwise relegates you to the intellectual level of creationists.
It seems to me that evolutionary theories of animal behaviour have been fantastically successful. Nothing said in the post gives any reason why evolution should not also explain human behaviour.
Even if the human environment has changed substantially since evolution molded our behaviour, understanding the evolution can help us to understand why we act the way we do now.
Some of what you point out about evolutionary psychology is indeed pseudoscience, or just plain wrong. But it would be wrong to deny any scientifically proven conclusions that you happen to disagree with for political reasons. Humans have come along way from the "animals" we were and much of what evolution may reveal about human behaviour may be unpleasant, but in the long run denial serves no purpose.
This argument, citing the worst examples of bad reasoning, is remarkably similar to climate change denier arguments.
Evolutionary Psych is just as open to critique as anything else, periodically someone publishes something stupid or wrong-headed, but that can said of all fields.
See also: http://hplusmagazine.com/2009/11/23/darwinian-psychologist-straw-mans-ass-kicked/
Your unfamiliarity with Darwinian natural selection is rather appalling. Your intellectual dishonesty is truly breathtaking. And if I were you, I would be exceedingly reluctant to call anyone else "gullible."
And if you can point out one, even one, statement I made in post 22 that is not supported by extrinsic, irrefutable facts, I will eat my proverbial hat.
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