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Evolutionary psychology

Darwinian conniptions over domestic violence

New Scientist, where it is known that all things come of evolution and we make nothing ourselves, does not know whether we “evolved” domestic violence: Why is domestic violence so horrifyingly common around the world? According to a study out today, men who are violent towards their partners have more children in societies without birth control. This implies that evolution favours domestic violence – but can that really be true? Yes. No. Maybe. It is true that allowing Political Correctness to rule your thoughts and not believing that you have free will can lead to conniptions. The researchers studied the Tsimane people of Bolivia, who have a pre-industrial culture with no access to contraception. Shockingly, 85 per cent of women Read More ›

Richard Weikart on the anti-Semitic burst in evolutionary psychology

From Richard Weikart at ENST: Even in cases of behaviors that seem to hinder reproduction, evolutionary psychologists can invent some good-old “just-so story.” E.O. Wilson, a Harvard biologist and the founder of sociobiology, claimed that homosexuality might be selected for, because a homosexual would be able to help siblings have more offspring. Is there any empirical evidence for this? No, but apparently it is the best just-so story he could devise. In a similar fashion Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker asserts that infanticide has biological roots. He claims that ancient humans were picky about which babies they would raise to maturity. According to Pinker, “A new mother will first coolly assess the infant and her current situation and only in Read More ›

Evolutionary psychology: A promising new strategy for anti-Semites?

At Undark, Michael Schulson asks, Why are ostensibly respectable, peer-reviewed journals now publishing discussions of what has long been dismissed as bigoted psychological research? IN THE 20 years since the publication of his best-known book, “The Culture of Critique,” Kevin MacDonald, an emeritus professor of psychology at California State University, Long Beach, has complained that his work receives scant attention from academics — though there are reasons for the silence. The book, after all, has much in common with centuries-old anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and, using the language of evolutionary psychology, MacDonald infamously argues that many Jews oppose the values of Western civilization in order to pursue insular group interests. … Since the book’s publication in 1998, MacDonald has openly aligned Read More ›

Does lack of a good father figure promote atheism?

From Wintery Knight Here’s a lecture by New York University professor Paul Vitz to explain a connection between atheism and fatherlessness: Wintery Knight also suggests an article by Paul Copan which points out how father presence/absence and father quality affects belief and disbelief in God: Seventh, the attempt to psychologize believers applies more readily to the hardened atheist.It is interesting that while atheists and skeptics often psychoanalyze the religious believer, they regularly fail to psychoanalyze their ownrejection of God. Why are believers subject to such scrutiny and not atheists? Remember another feature of Freud’s psychoanalysis — namely, an underlying resentment that desires to kill the father figure. Why presume atheism is the rational, psychologically sound, and default position while theism Read More ›

Richard Weikart: Why social science does not need evolutionary theory

From Richard Weikart at ENST|: In an article for Nautilus, Cristine Legare explains “Why Social Science Needs Evolutionary Theory.” An associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas, Austin, she laments that the social sciences are missing out, because they ignore the findings of evolutionary theory. She states, “The lack of willingness to view human cognition and behavior as within the purview of evolutionary processes has prevented evolution from being fully integrated into the social science curriculum.” … The emptiness of her approach is even more evident when she provides a concrete example to illustrate her point that “Applying evolutionary theory to social science has the potential to transform education and, through it, society.” The example she proffers is Read More ›

At Nautilus: Psychology needs evolutionary psychology

As if psychology were not troubled enough. Psychologist Cristine Legare argues at Nautilus: My high school biology teacher, Mr. Whittington, put a framed picture of a primate ancestor in the front of his classroom—a place of reverence. In a deeply religious and conservative community in rural America, this was a radical act. Evolution, among the most well-supported scientific theories in human history, was then, and still is, deliberately censored from biological science education. But Whittington taught evolution unapologetically, as “the single best idea anybody ever had,” as the philosopher Dan Dennett described it. Whittington saw me looking at the primate in wonder one day and said, “Cristine, look at its hands. Now look at your hands. This is what common Read More ›

Call for papers: How did atheism evolve? Evolutionary psychologists now want to study atheism

Is it due to natural selection acting on random mutations (Darwinian evolution)? Is it adaptive? A byproduct? A stop on the road to extinction? Papers wanted here: — Evolutionary perspectives on atheism/unbelief Despite increasing secularization and a decreasing role played by institutionalized religions in the western world, many scholars within the study of religion – from history through sociology and evolutionary accounts – continue to focus their inquiries on the study of the religious, without giving much attention to non-believers. There are few evolutionary explanations of atheism, and those that exist are either under-developed or investigate atheism through the lens and default starting position of religious belief. An example of this is the Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR), since even Read More ›

Larry Moran asks whether evolutionary psychology is a “deeply flawed” enterprise

Longtime University of Toronto biochemistry professor and frequent Uncommon Descent commenter Larry Moran: We were discussing the field of evolutionary psychology at our local cafe scientific meeting last week. The discussion was prompted by watching a video of Steven Pinker in conversation with Stephen Fry. I pointed out that the field of evolutionary psychology is a mess and many scientists and philosophers think it is fundamentally flawed. The purpose of this post is to provide links to back up my claim. Steady,  Larry. You are not alone. Lots of people have listened to the tin pan din of evolutionary psychology and come away thinking much the same thing. Dr. Moran offers citations and goes on to note: The field of Read More ›

Evolutionary psychology puts people with disabilities in their place. Not a nice place.

From Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, who struggls with a disability, reviewing a sci-fi film at Tor: I Belong Where the People Are: Disability and The Shape of Water On the surface, there are many things to like about The Shape of Water. The main characters, the ones in the right, they are all outsiders. They are people like me. With the exception of Children of a Lesser God, it is the first time I have ever seen a disabled woman as an object of desire. It is the first time I have seen someone swear in sign in a mainstream film. It is one of the only films out there to address some of my feelings about my body or depict them Read More ›

From the Edge: Another reason not to like evolutionary psychology – support for Chinese eugenics

A friend unearthed this: From evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller of NYU at the Edge (a response to their 2013 question): 2013 : What *Should* We Be Worried About? China has been running the world’s largest and most successful eugenics program for more than thirty years, driving China’s ever-faster rise as the global superpower. I worry that this poses some existential threat to Western civilization. Yet the most likely result is that America and Europe linger around a few hundred more years as also-rans on the world-historical stage, nursing our anti-hereditarian political correctness to the bitter end. … For generations, Chinese intellectuals have emphasized close ties between the state (guojia), the nation (minzu), the population (renkou), the Han race (zhongzu), and, Read More ›

Romantic love “evolved” to prevent infanticide? Can someone please pull the chain on evolutionary psychology?

From Phoebe Weston at the Daily Mail: Falling in love is one of life’s great mysteries, but now scientists believe this strange feeling could be key to our evolutionary success. For the first time researchers have found evidence ‘selection promoted love in human evolution’ as it increased the chances of us having families. Scientists studied the Hadza people of Tanzania, who don’t use modern contraception, and found passionate partnerships were associated with having more children. It follows previous research that found love may have evolved to stop male primates from killing their infants. More. From the human history for which we actually have a good deal of evidence (not just from a small, outlier group), “passionate partnerships” were not the main Read More ›

Evolutionary psychology’s greatest contribution to research is as a line item expense

Here is an example: A friend asked, why do so many pop science articles on the widespread problem of loneliness begin with some jaw about at how loneliness evolved. This item at The Atlantic gives a sense of it: As social animals, we depend on others for survival. Our communities provide mutual aid and protection, helping humanity to endure and thrive. “We have survived as a species not because we’re fast or strong or have natural weapons in our fingertips, but because of social protection,” said John Cacioppo, the director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago. Early humans, for example, could take down large mammals only by hunting in groups. “Our strength is Read More ›

The end of promissory materialism? What advances has materialism (naturalism) made in the last decade?

Here is a piece I (O’Leary for News) wrote for the first edition of Salvo (2006). Interesting to see how it has held up after more than a decade has past. – 0 – About three years ago, I predicted that the intelligent design controversy would explode in a few years, with every instapundit punding away furiously — some thoughtful, some foolish, some merely malign. The latter mood was expressed beautifully by a board member of Kansas Citizens for [promoting materialism in] Science, who summarized her public relations strategy against intelligent design advocates in February 2005 as follows: She advised her troops to portray them “’in the harshest light possible, as political opportunists, evangelical activists, ignoramuses, breakers of rules, unprincipled Read More ›

The “Grand Challenge” for evolutionary psychology is that it is bunk

Identifying the “Grand Challenge” in a Specialty Grand Challenge Article, Peter K. Jonason, School of Social Sciences and Psychology, Western Sydney University, explains: If one assumes, like evolutionary psychologists do, that psychological systems are biological and physical (i.e., no ethereal concept of mind) in nature, evolutionary models must apply to the brain and its sequalae. However, since at least Descartes and, perhaps as far back as Plato, a mind-body dualism has existed whereby the mind (i.e., psyche) has been treated as distinct from the body and there is a tendency to treat humans as distinct from “animals” in some form of implicit anthropocentrism which has led to psychological theories generally being developed in parallel deafness to biological theories (Jonason and Read More ›

Google: Should science be equated with truth?

From Heather Heying, weighing in on the Google foray into post-modern truth, which smacked an unwary engineer upside head, at Quillette: Should We “Stop Equating ‘Science’ With Truth”? Damore’s heresy turns on innate differences between men and women that have never been noticed by anyone in the history of human life on the planet except him. So, of course, the entire obsolescent traditional media melted down in shock. Heying: Evolutionary biology has been through this, over and over and over again. There are straw men. No, the co-option of science by those with a political agenda does not put the lie to the science that was co-opted. Social Darwinism is not Darwinism. You can put that one to rest. There Read More ›