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Branding pop culture for Darwin: Advice columns, business, and art

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From Evolution News & Views:

Personal Relationships

Evolutionary psychology hit the advice column circuit in 2010. Britain’s Guardian newspaper burbled proudly that a new columnist would shine the “cold light” of evolutionary psychology on readers’ problems, via lore from the study of apes and monkeys.

A mere 150 years after Darwin published On the Origin of Species, we are proud to introduce our very own Evolutionary Agony Aunt in the person of Carole Jahme, author of Beauty and the Beasts: Woman, Ape and Evolution and star of the comedy Carole Jahme is Sexually Selected, described as a combination of Charles Darwin and Charlie Chaplin.

Jahme’s advice is not always bad. But wherever it is good, a sensible adult with no knowledge, belief, or interest in evolution might have said the same. And some information Jahme gleans from evo psych would strike a mature reader as just wrong. For example, we learn, “Young children have opinions — they are wired for survival and will ask for changes that benefit themselves.” In reality, children ask for whatever they want, not what benefits them. That is why they have parents.

Indeed, the hand of popular culture is far more evident in the series than are the paw prints of common ancestors. In virtually every case, Jahme’s advice would be more relevant and concise if she just left out the ritual padding about chimps, bonobos, etc. The light of evolutionary psychology shines not so much cold as dim. More.

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One Reply to “Branding pop culture for Darwin: Advice columns, business, and art

  1. 1
    rvb8 says:

    This may be news to you News, but I’ve been reading the Guardian for years, religiously, as it were. Their advice column has always delved into our animal instincts for, bad, sexual, or unsocial behaviour.

    If they have a new Advice Columnist, he/she is just following this paper’s past.

    By the way, it’s the only Advice Column that gives advice that actually makes sense.

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