From yesterday, readers may remember Subrena Smith, the prof who is challenging evolutionary psychology.
To my mind, evolutionary psychologists have not shown that there are specific psychological programs that are written in our bio-historical document. In my recent paper “Is Evolutionary Psychology Possible?”, published in the journal Biological Theory, I argue that it is not possible to give true evolutionary explanations of contemporary human behavior.1 The focus of my argument is that there is a matching problem at the core of evolutionary psychology that is irresolvable and thus renders the project impossible to execute.Subrena E. Smith, “Why Evolutionary Psychology (Probably) Isn’t Possible” at The Evolution Institute
Evo psych is cheaper than therapy for Darwinists but hey, every form of refuge has its…
Anyway, Rob Sheldon took a break from the usual physics stuff to offer some thoughts:
Did you notice how Smith trashes Evolutionary Psychology because it uses “circular” reasoning? Then she realizes it sounds like an ID criticism, so she rushes to defend the remaining Evolutionary sciences with this paragraph:
“Some readers might think that I am holding evolutionary psychology to a much higher epistemic standard than is normal in evolutionary biological sciences. But this is not the case. Evolutionary psychological inferences commonly fail to satisfy reasonable epistemic criteria. When making evolutionary inferences about paradigmatically biological traits, biologists use experimental manipulations, comparative methods, the fossil record, and optimality models to determine that selection has taken place and that the items under consideration have retained their selected-for functions.”
In her defense of evolution, she gives away the farm. Here’s the 4 ways you can test evolution: 1) experimental manipulation 2) comparative methods 3) fossils 4) models that can be optimized.
(1) we have never seen evolution in the lab, so whatever we are manipulating, it wasn’t evolution. (2) if it is true, as many evolutionists say, that there is no other model, then what are we comparing with? Another evolutionary model? So isn’t that, like, circular? (3) Fossils are impressive. But they don’t seem to know about evolution. Many, many papers have been written about the inability to get evolution out of the fossil testimony. (4) Models that can be optimized. Well, if it didn’t have any adjustable parameters, it wouldn’t be a model, would it? And optimizing models is what they were meant for. I really don’t understand people who think models can teach us something we didn’t already put into the model. So how is this a test for anything outside of computer science class?
So there you have it. It all comes down to the uncooperative fossils.
Hey, she’s brave anyway, for someone who probably doesn’t have tenure.
See also: Philosopher challenges evolutionary psychology. But that’s not the amazing part. The amazing part is the admission of skepticism at a popular scitech mag. Hey, we can provide lots of examples of flapdoodle. But we took for granted that all these science writers actually believed in it. And not wanting to just pick a stupid useless fight with true believers, we mostly talked (well, okay, hooted, really) among ourselves…