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Evolutionary psychology: More stuff I could not make up

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Look, I tried. I practically had a nervous breakdown trying to think up anything as ridiculous as this that was not obscene. I am not into that.

You need to pay or sign up for something (which probably means contuaally being  pestered for some promotion) to see the rest of this story from the National Enquirer of science mags, New Scientist, on why the large human brain can be explained by cooking food.

Strikes me that useful information would work the other way around. You start with a large brain, and … voila! Escoffier!! I doubt it works the other way round.

I think, jongurney, Ms. O'Leary has decided to go on to more interesting thigns than continuing this discussion. So we'll be left here in suspense waiting for any explanation of her thoughts. Heinrich
I'm having some difficulty following this argument (sorry). If a hypothesis as to anatomical brain evolution is "evolutionary psychology speculation", then the human mind (studied in psychology) must be entirely due to the material brain. Is there not possibly some room for the argument that the evolution of the brain is a separate discipline to "psychology" as the study of the mind? I suppose you could insist that all the mind is can be traced back to the material brain, but this doesn't seem established by Ms O'Leary. jongurney
'Why should we? It sounds like a dumpster of nonsense, and I do not want to pay for it. Nor does any sensible citizen. It is the evolution version of “recovered memories.”' I'd very much like to hear your idea of how and why human brains evolved when they appeared to have done. I find it much more informative to compare and contrast conflicting notions. ellazimm
Evolutionary psychology is a myth-making method for cynical adults and nothing more. I try to look at it from a humorous perspective. above
Denyse, my previous comment was caught in moderation but I don't think my questions have been answered: 1. What is so bad about this theory? just repeating that you think it's nuts isn't convincing, I'm afraid. It may be nuts, but I'd like to know why. 2. What does this have to do with evolutionary psychology? Heinrich
tjm at 7: Yes, that is just the trouble: Evolutionary psychology speculation guarantees all kinds of funny stories. Then they have the nerve to raise Hull because the public does not believe them. Why should we? It sounds like a dumpster of nonsense, and I do not want to pay for it. Nor does any sensible citizen. It is the evolution version of "recovered memories." O'Leary
Let me reiterate the last sentence in the previous post:
"Since the storytelling rules(for evolutionists) eliminate design as a possibility, you can be sure the stories will be funny."
Here is another person's take on this: http://creationsafaris.com/crev200906.htm#20090617a What Makes You Human? 06/17/2009 June 17, 2009 — If you are a war-mongering beast who likes to burn things, you’re displaying your evolutionary past. That’s what a couple of news reports are claiming. New Scientist has a review of two books: Fire: The spark that ignited human evolution by Frances D. Burton, and Catching Fire: How cooking made us human by Richard Wrangham. Saswato R. Das got the message. He entitled his review, “How Fire Made Us Human.” Here comes the synopsis in the form of a just-so story: Anthropologist Frances Burton suggests that taming fire led to the evolution of modern humans. Millions of years ago, our ape-like ancestors may have overcome their fear of fire to pick at found delicacies – maybe an animal accidentally cooked in a forest fire. Over time, they learned how to keep a flame going by feeding it twigs, how to use fire to thwart predators and how to harness it for heat and light. This familiarity with fire, Burton argues, changed the hormonal cycles that depend on light and darkness: light from nightly bonfires may have caused a change in the nocturnal flow of melatonin. Over time, this changed the rates and patterns of our ancestors’ growth, and the regulation and activation of genes, leading ultimately to us. Das did not explain why no apes have been found repeating this experience in recent times. Regarding the second book, Das said that “Wrangham builds a compelling case” that cooking turned an ape into a human, “although archaeological proof of his theory has yet to be found.” Das ended with colorful prose: “These fascinating books show how the biological evolution of human beings may not have been a matter of biology alone, and why, as Wrangham writes, ‘we humans are the cooking apes, the creatures of the flame.’” Dan Jones wrote for Nature that “War and migration may have shaped human behaviour.” Reviewing other anthropologists’ work, he explains that make love, not war is a false dilemma: it was making war that led to human altruism. Here came his just-so story: “intergroup conflict would have been common among our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and estimates that it accounted for roughly 14% of all deaths – much higher than the mortality rate seen in wars of recent history,” he said, without explaining where he got the statistics. “Under these conditions, [Samuel] Bowles [Santa Fe Institute] shows that even costly group-beneficial altruism and cooperation could be favoured.” His theory relies on group selection – a controversial theory among evolutionists. Adam Powell [University College London], by contrast, looks to human migration as most influential for human culture and behavior. Chris Stringer [Natural History Museum, London] called this a “nice bit of work” but was “not convinced it is the whole story” that explains what makes us human. None of these evolutionists attempted to explain why warring chimpanzees have not started an Ape Red Cross, let alone built a fire or cooked their meals after all these millions of years. 1. Dan Jones, “War and migration may have shaped human behavior,” Nature 4 June 2009 | Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2009.546. Evolutionary anthropology should not be understood as following the scientific method to achieve conclusions that are observable, testable, repeatable, falsifiable or any of that good stuff you associate with the word science. No; it is the endless quest for a good story (see 12/22/2003 commentary). Since the storytelling rules eliminate design as a possibility (see Brett Miller cartoon), you can be sure the stories will be funny. tjm
Well, quantum mechanics sounds like science fiction to me so I depend on lots of smarter, better informed people who assure me it's true. If the above hypothesis is bunk then someone will gleefully shoot it down and I suspect there are competing ideas already or that this one was proposed to compete against another. The fittest will survive. :-) Is there a different one that you prefer? Cooking does help break down some of the molecules in meat (for example) therefore making it not only safer to eat (by killing off some microbes) but easier to digest. ellazimm
Ellazimm at 1, the question is not whether new science ideas can be proposed but at what point does it begin to sound like people raising heck on talk radio rather than actual science ideas. I think this one crossed the line. NormO at 2: "So perhaps it was not just cooked food, but cooked sea food in particular that was associated with an increase in brain size." The fishing industry in Canada loves you, of course, NormO. Now get your rez in here asap. A massive career awaits you, if you plan it right. O'Leary
I'll second what ellazimm said. Why do you find this such an outlandish idea Denyse? If you liked that one you might also enjoy the theory that posits that the evolution of large brains was due to the consumption of sea food (you know, lots of protein for those big noggins): Was Seafood Brain Food in Human Evolution? So perhaps it was not just cooked food, but cooked sea food in particular that was associated with an increase in brain size. NormO
It's true that this may be one of those classical which came first arguments. But's it's surely okay to speculate. From a developmental or evolutionary point of view there must be some advantage to having a big brain considering the extra demand on the body's resources to maintain it. A bigger brain must convey some kind of advantage. Perhaps that extra cerebral processing allowed them that had it the ability to exploit more food resources? Surely there is nothing wrong with throwing out ideas into the public forum and letting them be scrutenised by all and sundry. Pardon my spelling. Science is not just an inflexible collection of truths that never alters. It adapts and modifies based on the best and latest research given a certain amount of assimilation time. If there is no confirmatory evidence then it will fall. If it's consistent with what is already known then it will stand . . . for awhile at least. The best way to question the research is to propose an alternative backed up with evidence. ellazimm
Can you explain why this theory is so bad? And what does it have to do with evolutionary psychology? I'm not going to pay to log in to find out what the theory is all about. Too damned expensive. From the preview, it looks plausible, but I the devil might be in the detail. Heinrich

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