Until very recently, it was a mystery to evolutionary psychology why men prefer women with large breasts, since the size of a woman’s breasts has no relationship to her ability to lactate. But Harvard anthropologist Frank Marlowe contends that larger, and hence heavier, breasts sag more conspicuously with age than do smaller breasts. Thus they make it easier for men to judge a woman’s age (and her reproductive value) by sightÃ¢â‚¬â€suggesting why men find women with large breasts more attractive.
and on Fred Reed’s hilarious take on it. Reed, of course, knocks the stuffings out of the pillow. Responding to “Blue-eyed people are considered attractive as potential mates because it is easiest to determine whether they are interested in us or not”, he notes,
I think of those millions of pitiful Chinese women, sobbing quietly in corners, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, how can I let him know IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m interested when I have these horrible dark eyes? Maybe I can write him a letterÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.Ã¢â‚¬Â
One thinks also of the advice Naomi gives Ruth in the Book of Ruth. I doubt Boaz knew what colour Ruth’s eyes were. It’s not clear how he could.
Still, we need to put a pin on the map for this latest outburst of evo psycho …
I am hardly surprised that an evolutionary biologist like Larry Moran, who is a successful textbook author (and no friend to ID), has enough sense to publicly blow clear of all the idiocy. Even the evo psychos themselves sense that something is going wrong, badly wrong.
However, the trenchant critiques I have heard are from common sense philosophers such as Jerry Fodor and David Stove and anthropologists such as David Buller and the husband and wife team of Steven and Hilary Rose (biologist and social scientist). Perhaps most evolutionary biologists are just hoping the vain mutterings of the evo psychos will cease on their own.
I just want to add two things, and the first one is very brief:
1. A key goal of evolutionary psychology is to greatly reduce the perceived role of the human mind as a factor in human behaviour. As the Psychology Today article puts it,
evolutionary psychologists see human nature as a collection of psychological adaptations that often operate beneath conscious thinking to solve problems of survival and reproduction by predisposing us to think or feel in certain ways.
The general drift is this: Your thought are not your thoughts; your decisions are not decisions. What happened a million or a billion yeas ago largely controls what you think. You don’t. That is part of the larger goal to claim that the human mind can be explained by materialism. But itÃ‚Â can’t .
2. While I am here, I also want to draw attention to a peculiar grammatical form that has crept into the English language, first disgracing Biblical interpretation and now finding its natural home in evolutionary psychology. I am referring to the use of “would have” – in English, the past conditional tense.
If grammar wasn’t your best subject in school, don’t despair. This will be easier than you think.
Properly, the past conditional tense refers to an event that did not occur. For example,
Denyse would have blogged on that movie last week, but all Blockbuster’s copies were already rented.
(= Denyse did not blog on the movie last week. That is a verifiable historical fact.)
However, over the years a tendency has arisen – in questionable Bible interpretation – to use “would have” in an entirely different sense, as follows:
“Jesus would have said such-and-such to Peter because in John 3:16, he says, yada, yada … “
In other words, we have no idea whether Jesus ever said anything of the kind to anyone. Any such comment is speculation thinly disguised as fact.
It gets better in evolutionary psychology, because we actually don’t have confirmation for the individual existence of the generic people discussed. So there isn’t even anyone in particular to hang the nonsense on.
For example, we might read – expressed in far more academic language than I can usually manage – some version of this thought:
Stone Age man would have whupped his squeeze pretty good if she had objected to his newly acquired train of trophy bimbos.
Yuh? And how do we know? Maybe some male Stone Age fossil found smashed to pieces was the first (and last) guy who tried Stone Age woman’s patience on the subject of trophy bimbos. Maybe a vengeful Willendorf Venus sat on him …
You think that’s just speculation? Oh, I entirely agree! But so is the other stuff. And I didn’t even use “would have” to try to fool you.
Now, about my own life, or the life of any person in the present day, the speculator faces the difficulty that whether I blogged on the movie (and if not, why not) must be determined on evidence.
But, when dealing with the mute halls of the unrecorded ancient dead, the speculator hopes to get around providing evidence for the primary proposition that he advances in the main clause. It’s a neat trick if people fall for it. And many do.
The key question to ask is, do we have evidence for that primary proposition in the main clause? What evidence? How strong is it?
If you can’t say “it happened”, you don’t have facts.
New posts at the Post-Darwinist:
Isaac Newton, icon of materialist science, prophesied the end of all things to come on or after 2060.
Darwinism becoming the West’s myth, doctor warns
Christian thinkmags divide over intelligent design