Guy who still thinks there’s something in it: Says U Manitoba philosopher Neil McArthur:
Someone who reads only the media coverage might wonder why anyone takes the evolutionary study of sex (ESS) seriously. It is easy to caricature, and many of its followers seem intent on doing the job themselves. In the past couple of years, evolutionary psychologists have been able to grab reporters’ attention by suggesting, for instance, that men with smaller testicles make better fathers, that men with attractive partners perform oral sex more often because they’re checking for competitors’ sperm, and that women have orgasms in order to attract mates willing to commit to raising offspring. Stories such as these have given plenty of ammunition to critics of ESS and, as a result, many people now dismiss it out of hand. And that’s a shame, because the discipline has stimulated some genuinely original thinking about human sexual behaviour. A closer look at its history can give a sense of its sophistication.
The roots of evolutionary psychology can be traced back to Charles Darwin himself, who says in On the Origin of Species (1859) that, armed with the theory of natural selection, ‘psychology will be based on a new foundation’.
Note “Charles Darwin himself” … As in “Jesus himself … ”
That said, it is nice to hear someone backhandedly admit that the usual drivel is not very “sophisticated.” A house favourite is why little girls evolved to wear pink and boys blue, when that whole colour scheme developed in the twentieth century.
Merely being sophisticated probably won’t rescue this stuff, in an age when fundamental issues in human evolution are under dispute. It just means we realize that evo psych wasn’t intended to be the comic interlude after all.
So lose the clowns.
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