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Evolutionary psychology: A bridge too far for Darwinism?

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Bill Dembski scooped me on the latest idiocy of Darwinism’s idiot child, evolutionary psychology:

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 sight—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, “Oh, how can I let him know I’m interested when I have these horrible dark eyes? Maybe I can write him a letter….”

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 it 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

Denyse, An article that reported a study of the evolution of blond hair and blue eyes says,
According to the study, north European women evolved blonde hair and blue eyes at the end of the Ice Age to make them stand out from their rivals at a time of fierce competition for scarce males. The study argues that blond hair originated in the region because of food shortages 10,000-11,000 years ago. Until then, humans had the dark brown hair and dark eyes that still dominate in the rest of the world. Almost the only sustenance in northern Europe came from roaming herds of mammoths, reindeer, bison and horses. Finding them required long, arduous hunting trips in which numerous males died, leading to a high ratio of surviving women to men. Lighter hair colours, which started as rare mutations, became popular for breeding and numbers increased dramatically, according to the research, published under the aegis of the University of St Andrews. “Human hair and eye colour are unusually diverse in northern and eastern Europe (and their) origin over a short span of evolutionary time indicates some kind of selection,” says the study by Peter Frost, a Canadian anthropologist. Frost adds that the high death rate among male hunters “increased the pressures of sexual selection on early European women, one possible outcome being an unusual complex of colour traits.” Frost’s theory, to be published this week in Evolution and Human Behavior, the academic journal, was supported by Professor John Manning, a specialist in evolutionary psychology at the University of Central Lancashire. “Hair and eye colour tend to be uniform in many parts of the world, but in Europe there is a welter of variants,” he said. “The mate choice explanation now being put forward is, in my mind, close to being correct.” Frost’s theory is also backed up by a separate scientific analysis of north European genes carried out at three Japanese universities, which has isolated the date of the genetic mutation that resulted in blond hair to about 11,000 years ago.
-- from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article735078.ece Larry Fafarman
Denyse, Do you believe human behavior can be understood scientifically? If so, what paradigm do you believe is sound? Speculation is an important part of science. It serves to suggest reasonable lines of research. One can easily create the impression that a scientist is jumping to conclusions by taking speculation out of context. I don't think evolutionary psychologists are as convinced of their speculations as you make them out to be. Unlike breast size, the waist-to-hips ratio (WHR) of women has been studied intensively and rigorously. WHR values closer to 0.7 are associated with higher levels of health and fertility. It is well established that across cultures and over a number of decades, men have been most attracted to women with WHR of 0.7. How are we to interpret these findings? Is it accidental that men are attracted to a signal of health and fertility? If not, how do men come by the attraction? Semiotic 007
"a mystery to evolutionary psychology" Evolutionary psychology IS a mystery. It's existence is based on the inane logic of Darwinism but even staunch Darwinists think it should not even exist. "men prefer women with large breasts" This is not even true. Perhaps for many men but certainly not all. "Some of the basic psychological drives clearly have an animal origin. Sex and fear come to mind." Disagree strongly. Sex and fear are not psychological 'drives' (whatever that is) Putting sex and fear, or anything else you care to mention, into a simplistic, grossly over-generalized black box type 'explanation' is the way Darwinists explain everything. That's the way the explain rm+ns pathways - conveniently leaving out several 1000 to several millions of evo steps by flying quickly over them with a just-so story that sounds nice but explains nothing more than how frogs turn into princes in the classic fairy tales. What's next on the evo/psy agenda of inane drone style explanations? Explaining the evolutionary purpose of nose-picking? Smoking? Farting? Borne
Until very recently, it was a mystery to evolutionary psychology why men prefer women with large breasts they needed a PhD to figure this out? Pleeeeaaassse... ajl
JasonTheGreek: Experience alone tells us that 99.9% of what we’re told via this “field” is complete and utter nonsense. How right you are. Bill Dembski had a really good exposition of evolutionary psychology's take on altruism in the first (sample) chapter of his upcoming book. These pompous academics will have us believe that that icon of selfless compassion, Mother Teresa, was either a selfserving hypocrite or a failure with no future. This of course also applies to everyone else helping others with no gain to themselves. Such thinking is both repellent and incredibly, fundamentally misguided. But this is not to deny the existence of the animal side of human nature. Some of the basic psychological drives clearly have an animal origin. Sex and fear come to mind. magnan
I have no desire whatsoever to have children. I never have. I don't dislike kids, I'm just not a fan of them, whether they be me own or others. So- with a bit of common sense in mind, I can conclude that life is not merely the fight to reproduce and have as many children as you can successfully take care of, so more "selfish genes" can be created. Millions NEVER have children, and do everything in their power to prevent children. I guess we'll pretend there's not a billion dollar industry selling us every item on earth to allow us to have sex and prevent children. I guess we'll also pretend the millions of abortions each year in this country alone don't happen. If everyone is simply acting out unconscious desires to have sex and have kid, when, then, do women have abortions at all? I guess the subconscious "evolved" command to have sex and have kids isn't very strong after the many millions of years it's been working out its deal, huh? That evolved nature can't overcome a doctor and an abortion clinic, I see. It also can't overcome the use of condoms, IUDs, and many other devices, pills, patches, etc. we use to prevent reproduction. And then there are the millions of men and women who, through decision making, NEVER have children. I guess they were wasted lived. I also guess this evolved unconscious demand to make us have kids isn't strong enough to conquer humans who live lives without any sex, let alone sex but no children. I also wonder why some people stay married their entire lives, if darwinian evolution demands that we have more than one partner (if possible) to have more kids with more diverse genomes thanks to different partners giving their different genes. This is all mind bogglingly stupid. It defies common sense, it contradicts most of what we know about what people actually do, and it doesn't actually fit with most of our real lives. Experience alone tells us that 99.9% of what we're told via this "field" is complete and utter nonsense. JasonTheGreek

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