Evolutionary psychology Intelligent Design

Philosopher challenges evolutionary psychology

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But that’s not the amazing part. The amazing part is the admission of skepticism at a popular scitech mag:

It’s not often that a paper attempts to take down an entire field. Yet, this past January, that’s precisely what University of New Hampshire assistant philosophy professor Subrena Smith’s paper tried to do. “Is Evolutionary Psychology Possible?” describes a major issue with evolutionary psychology, called the matching problem.

Ryan F. Mandelbaum, “This Philosopher Is Challenging All of Evolutionary Psychology” at Gizmodo

Smith’s paper is paywalled but we have a copy and will have more to say about it later.

Meanwhile, get this:

We at Gizmodo have long rolled our eyes at the often-nonsensical conclusions that some people come to when employing evolutionary psychology theory, so we were excited to chat with Smith about her work. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Ryan F. Mandelbaum, “This Philosopher Is Challenging All of Evolutionary Psychology” at Gizmodo

Rolled their eyes? As you’ll see from the interview, the prof’s on target but … imagine … it’s now becoming okay to admit that evo psych is mostly just flaming nonsense?

Hey, we can provide lots of examples of flapdoodle. But we took for granted that all these science writers actually believed in it. And not wanting to just pick a stupid useless fight with true believers, we mostly talked (well, okay, hooted, really) among ourselves…


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

7 Replies to “Philosopher challenges evolutionary psychology

  1. 1
    orthomyxo says:

    it’s now becoming okay to admit that evo psych is mostly just flaming nonsense?

    In my experience, evolutionary biologists are among the strongest critics of evolutionary psychology, and that’s been a constant for a long time.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    I wonder if criticism by a philosopher will have the same impact as criticism from evolutionary biologists?

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky apparently believes that philosophers are to be ignored and evolutionary biologists are to be unquestionably believed. Yet, the philosophical foundation of reductive materialistic that Darwinian evolution rests upon, is about as philosophically bankrupt as any philosophy can possibly be. In other words, perhaps evolutionary biologists, instead of constantly reminding philosophers how much smarter they are than philosophers, should shut up for a minute and actually listen to what philosophers have to say about their theory.

    For instance, perhaps they should have shut up long enough to listen to what Thomas Nagel, Professor of Philosophy and Law, Emeritus, at New York University had to say, a few years back in 2013, about their philosophically bankrupt theory,

    Mind and Cosmos – Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False – Thomas Nagel
    Excerpt: If materialism cannot accommodate consciousness and other mind-related aspects of reality, then we must abandon a purely materialist understanding of nature in general, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology. Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history.

    “I have argued patiently against the prevailing form of naturalism, a reductive materialism that purports to capture life and mind through its neo-Darwinian extension.” “…, I find this view antecedently unbelievable—a heroic triumph of ideological theory over common sense”.
    Thomas Nagel – “Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False” – pg.128

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt:,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.

  4. 4
    martin_r says:

    Seversky @2

    and what is your education ? When will you answer my simple question ?

  5. 5
    martin_r says:

    Seversky @2

    and what about this, does this count ?

    From a mainstream paper:


    ““May a biologist in these polarized times dare suggest that Darwin is a bit wrong about anything ? Even worse, does a biologist risk insult, ridicule, anger, and intimidation to suggest that Darwin is incorrect on a big issue ? We have a test case before us. Darwin appears completely mistaken in his theory of sex roles, a subject called the ‘theory of sexual selection’.””


  6. 6
    mike1962 says:

    “evolutionary psychology” should be called “evolutionary fantasy in service of a narrative”

  7. 7
    Belfast says:

    I think it was science writer John Horgan who wrote, “At its best, physics is the most potent and precise of all scientific fields, and yet it surpasses even psychology in its capacity for bullshit.”
    He seems to have regarded psychology as the yardstick.

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