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Astonishing: Guy grapples with nonsense of evo psych

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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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3 Replies to “Astonishing: Guy grapples with nonsense of evo psych

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Stephen Meyer Talks Origins, Evolution, More on “The X Zone” – radio interview
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u55VeNdaxPU&list=PL7Wwl5TzliiH9TlzXoYtryoVgA7bpkAHg&feature=share

  2. 2
    mahuna says:

    I think this would be a very hard field to do any serious research in because almost everything about the psychology of adult humans is warped by their local culture. So proposing anything about how adult humans act in groups must either be trivial or local custom.

    When Europeans first landed in Australia, the Australians did not know that male humans had any role in helping female humans produce baby humans. This is now widely accepted as being the universal condition of all humans up until only a few tens of thousands of years ago.

    So humans travelled in a man-pack of perhaps 25 individuals, which was of course of the nature of an extended family: your father and mother, an uncle and aunt, some cousins, and a bunch of half-brothers and half-sisters. And the odds were really good that the only female about your age when you became interested in sex was your sister. But then you’d be dead before you were 30, so you either took what was available or died without offspring.

    And infanticide was a standard practice. It’s still common among Bushmen that a woman is allowed 2 children: the one she carries in her arms and the one that walks along beside her when the pack changes camp. If she has a third child before the middle child can walk unassisted for perhaps 10 miles, the newest (or sickest) baby is simply abandoned. Similarly, there are cultures where the firm law is that any girl baby born to a woman before she bears a boy baby is killed.

    Living in towns and having a steady food supply changed most of that. And many people get confused by assuming that the culture of towns is the basic culture and the social mores of towns are the fundamental thinking of all societies.

  3. 3
    Bateman says:

    I’ve said this before: I am a practitioner in the mental health field. We don’t use this tripe in developing treatment for clients. It wasn’t even discussed in graduate school. Why? Because it’s useless in affecting change in our clients.

    It’s useless because it doesn’t match reality.

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