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Evolutionary psychology

Evo psych used to excuse errors in science

From Nature: How scientists fool themselves – and how they can stop This is the big problem in science that no one is talking about: even an honest person is a master of self-deception. Our brains evolved long ago on the African savannah, where jumping to plausible conclusions about the location of ripe fruit or the presence of a predator was a matter of survival. But a smart strategy for evading lions does not necessarily translate well to a modern laboratory, where tenure may be riding on the analysis of terabytes of multidimensional data. In today’s environment, our talent for jumping to conclusions makes it all too easy to find false patterns in randomness, to ignore alternative explanations for a Read More ›

PZ Myers agrees with UD News on something, again

Well, it is more or less the same subject The last time we agreed was that New York Times’s David Brooks is a dreadful novelist. His stinker was an “evolutionary psychology” novel, a description which principally guarantees ballast under the thinking person’s canoe shed. Anyway, Myers says, I must have been taking a nap a couple of years ago. I just found this interesting discussion of EP by a psychologist, and I agree very much with it. Evolutionary psychologists believe that the human mind works much like the body… that it is an information-processing system, with pre-specified psychological programs (or environmentally-triggered ones), adapted much like the rest of the body, to meet specific problems in our … More. What’s mainly Read More ›

Don’t bog down bioethics in social justice! (?)

From evolutionary psychologist that Harvard “Our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth”guy: here: A truly ethical bioethics should not bog down research in red tape, moratoria, or threats of prosecution based on nebulous but sweeping principles such as “dignity,” “sacredness,” or “social justice.” Nor should it thwart research that has likely benefits now or in the near future by sowing panic about speculative harms in the distant future. These include perverse analogies with nuclear weapons and Nazi atrocities, science-fiction dystopias like “Brave New World’’ and “Gattaca,’’ and freak-show scenarios like armies of cloned Hitlers, people selling their eyeballs on eBay, or warehouses of zombies to supply people with spare organs. Of course, individuals must be protected from identifiable Read More ›

Pigs helped human smell evolve?

The claim in the title of the science PR is How our sense of smell evolved, including in early humans Most receptors can detect more than one smell, but one, called OR7D4, enables us to detect a very specific smell called androstenone, which is produced by pigs and is found in boar meat. People with different DNA sequences in the gene producing the OR7D4 receptor respond differently to this smell — some people find it foul, some sweet, and others cannot smell it at all. People’s responses to androstenone can be predicted by their OR7D4 DNA sequence, and vice versa. Professor Cobb from The University of Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences and the other researchers studied the DNA that codes Read More ›

In case you wondered what difference Darwinism was making to popular culture

Well, here is one: Crap about “Intentional change” = stuff government will probably try to make us do, if it gets votes:  The Evolution Institute says it uses evolutionary science to solve real-world problems. Currently, there is no mechanism for applying current theory and research to public policy formulation. We aim to provide the mechanism. Working with our large network of advisors, we can: Identify and assemble the evolutionary expertise for virtually any topic relevant to human welfare. Organize workshops, coordinate the writing of position papers, and provide advisors. Assist in the implementation of the policies that we formulate. Does that include SWAT teams? Curiously, it took a Canadian to publicize how many semi-useless bureaucrats in the United States have SWAT Read More ›

Why are Darwinists obsessed with why many people are not selfish?

The authors explain that the meta-incentives encouraging rewards given to co-operators in social dilemmas significantly prevent cooperative incentive-non-providers who shirk their duty to provide incentives to others, or the second-order free riders. The authors focused on one human trait, a linkage, which means individuals who are willing to provide incentives would automatically provide meta-incentives as well. Allowing a reward-to-reward linkage, rather than a punishment system, can resolve the social dilemma without any social costs for formal incentive systems. “Unexpectedly, the role of the reward system in resolving social dilemmas is significant,” says Okada. “We would apply it to real social and biological situations in the absence of the strong institutions by analyzing the efficiency of incentives required for keeping cooperation. Read More ›

We didn’t know anyone still thought evo psych was still cool

See vid below. Figures it’d be some U tenures as per below, but … Once a while back, a rabbi wrote me and asked why, succinctly I didn’t believe evo psych had anything to offer. Well, apart from issues around reason and logic?  I wrote back and said: If it is true that your behaviour and mine can be predicted on the basis of what supposedly happened on the African savannah a million years ago but not on the basis of the founding of human civilizations, Judaism, Christianity, Western culture, and (in my case) Canada—that would mean evolution does not happen. In a million years, nothing happened. Now, I don’t care much whether evolution happens or not. I mean, take Read More ›

Well, maybe the fittest in the English Department did not survive, but …

… literary Darwinism is dead. And took a proponent down with it. From Chronicle of Higher Education Review, we learn, Survival of the Fittest in the English Department: Jonathan Gottschall tried to save literary studies. Instead he ruined his career. Which sounds terrible. Until we find out why: The story of how things went so wrong for a promising young scholar is one of disciplinary politics, contentious methodological debates, and the respective statures of the sciences and the humanities. Above all it is the story of how brash literary Darwinists and evolutionary theorists attempted to “save” English departments — by forcing them to adopt scientific methodology — and were, on the whole, repelled. There is nothing scientific whatever about evolutionary psychology, and Read More ›

New “twist” on evolution theory “explains” racism

So we are told at ScienceDaily: According to this new model developed by researchers DB Krupp (Psychology) and Peter Taylor (Mathematics and Statistics, Biology) at Queen’s and the One Earth Future Foundation, individuals who appear very different from most others in a group will evolve to be altruistic towards similar partners, and only slightly spiteful to those who are dissimilar to them. However, individuals who appear very similar to the rest of a group will evolve to be only slightly altruistic to similar partners but very spiteful to dissimilar individuals, often going to extreme lengths to hurt them. Taken together, individuals with ‘common’ and ‘rare’ appearances may treat each other very differently. This finding is a new twist on established Read More ›

Naturalism may explain religion – provided it is naturalist religion

From: Imagine a world of religions that naturalism might indeed be able to explain: Regarding the phenomenon of religion, here are two curious things: When naturalists (materialists) study religion, they get so many basic facts wrong, one wonders why they bother, except to bolster their own view. Second, they mainly study “revealed” religion, where the world is interpreted through a divine message (or some would say, an acute insight), revealing a higher order of reality. The recognized principal purpose of religion in that case is understanding of reality, not control over it. But it was not always so. Closing this series on the human mind, I would like to take you on a journey back to a time much closer Read More ›

David Brooks: The blowhard files

New York Times commentator David Brooks, who wrote one of the worst novels imaginable, based on evolutionary psychology (PZ Myers seems to agree with me on this), allows us to know that he is paid to be a narcissistic blowhard. He has one thing down right: He made sure they paid him. Yes, okay, okay, otherwise a narcissistic blowhard. But why must the world keep getting bulletins about it? From the Guardian review of his book length lecture, The Road to Character: The Road to Character feels like an abrupt plunge that goes far deeper. Though not explicitly religious, Brooks’s language evokes theology: for example, he doesn’t shirk from using the word “sin”, not in a scolding sense, but to refer Read More ›