Evolutionary psychology Intelligent Design

At Evolution Institute, of all places, evolutionary psychology is savaged

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In a detailed and very academic critique, a philosopher of biology puts a match to a lot of rubbish:

I have shown that there are obstacles to demonstrating that present-day behaviors are outputs of the kinds of evolved psychological structures proposed by evolutionary psychology. Even if these obstacles could be surmounted, the problem remains of identifying these behaviors with particular kinds of behavior that are hypothesized to have existed in prehistory. Psychological structures can be individuated only by the behaviors that they produce, so it follows that their individuation depends upon the individuation of behaviours…

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.

Evolutionary psychologists are impeded by the fact that these methods are unavailable to them. Experimental manipulations of the sort used when studying other organisms are, in our case, usually ethically unacceptable or technically unachievable. Comparative methods are not reliably informative, as there are no extant species that are closely related to Homo sapiens and the relevant behaviors are not generally highly conserved. The fossil record is also unproductive, as mental processes leave no unambiguous material evidence, and optimality modeling is problematic because the underdetermination of behavior by psychological structures makes it difficult or impossible to apply an optimality calculus to the hypothesized psychological structures. Furthermore, evolutionary psychological hypotheses turn on inferences about hypothetical structures for which there is a dearth of empirical support, and there is no evidence that the minds of our prehistoric ancestors possessed this sort of architecture.

Subrena E. Smith, “Why Evolutionary Psychology (Probably) Isn’t Possible” at The Evolution Institute

For some reason, some of us are haunted by visions of thousands of pop evo psych titles—everything from “Getting to Know Your Ancient Carnivore Brain” through “Cave Women Weren’t Really Like That—A Women’s Liberation Primer” slowly being reprocessed into wallboard, endless piles of wallboard, for Habitat for Humanity…

Waste not, want not, we always say. (whistling, of course)

See also: “The evolutionary psychologist knows why you vote — and shop, and tip at restaurants”

7 Replies to “At Evolution Institute, of all places, evolutionary psychology is savaged

  1. 1
    jstanley01 says:

    Well, that was devastating.

  2. 2
    Silver Asiatic says:

    The comments on that are interesting – confusion, acceptance, denial.
    The logic she provides is clear. Fossils do not show what kind of behaviors were exhibited 200 million years ago. We can’t test sub-humans. There’s no hard data to work with. It’s speculation and guess work.
    But eventually evolutionists have to come up with something. Behaviors are supposedly determined by genetics and therefore created and changed by mutations.

  3. 3
    Fasteddious says:

    I almost choked at, “Some readers might think that I am holding evolutionary psychology to a much higher epistemic standard than is normal in evolutionary biological sciences.” What high epistemic standard was being referred to? The four methods subsequently referred to support the Darwinian mechanism of evolution only when that mechanism is assumed from the outset.

  4. 4
    Silver Asiatic says:

    She’s basically destroying the entire Darwinian inference but trying to limit the critique to just evolutionary psychology.
    This is one of those little items that provides a window into the dark world of Darwinian “science”.
    First, she says quite boldly that not only is Darwinism wrong in this area, but it is impossible for Darwinists to use their “theory” to give answers here:

    I argue that it is not possible to give true evolutionary explanations of contemporary human behavior …

    It’s “not possible”.

    Ha ha ha ha ha.

    We see this occasionally. In a peer-reviewed paper, she has basically blown away an entire field of evolutionary study. The whole thing is dismissed as incorrect, false — and basically a foolish enterprise.
    What happens next?

    Well, we should expect that she’d be fired by now, but that didn’t happen. Why?
    We’ve seen this also. The academic world, and biology specifically, is dominated by atheistic leftists. They have their own hierarchy of causes to advance. Evolution is high on the list. But higher than that is social reformation. So, a black woman writing a scholary paper? If she was a lesbian, even better. Nobody is going to criticize her. She is in a protected class. So, she just freely and somewhat innocently says that the Emperor has no clothes — and she pays no price for this.

    The second strange thing is that even if she was taken seriously, absolutely nothing happens to the world or evolutionary science at all. A paper comes out saying that evolutionary biology is useless, and life just goes on. As true as the paper is, nobody really cares. Evolution provides absolutely nothing of value. It can be totally dismissed and we lose nothing.

    Evolutionists know their theory is a joke. Even their own peers will let this truth slip out once in a while. But they just pretend everything is fine.

  5. 5
    jstanley01 says:

    SA @4
    Publishing this kind of critique is fine on the scientific dominance pyramid — where physics is the all-seeing eye on top, biology vies for the number 2 spot, and psychology and sociology are way, way down, somewhere below chemistry and computer science. Just like with any dominance hierarchy, rolling s*** downhill is no problem at all.

  6. 6
    Silver Asiatic says:

    JS – it’s interesting. Biologists want the credibility of physicists. The psychologists just want some sort of credibility.

  7. 7
    Truthfreedom says:

    Hey evolutionary psychologists:
    What is the evolutive explanation for ‘me’ (yes, I do exist) feeling amazement each time I study the incredible, amazing, marvelous, mind-blowing intrincacies of even the smallest cell?
    Thank you.

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