Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Seen something interesting in the news or on the intertubes? Discuss it here.

Moderators: Zamfir, Hawknc, Moderators General, Prelates

jareds
Posts: 436
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 3:56 pm UTC

Re: Study proves black women are ugly

Postby jareds » Mon May 23, 2011 1:02 am UTC

Jahoclave wrote:
For example, because they have existed much longer in human evolutionary history, Africans have more mutations in their genomes than other races. And the mutation loads significantly decrease physical attractiveness

That's evo psych right there. He then continues with more nuanced evo psych from there.

The claim that Africans have a higher mutation load has nothing to do with the human mind, and therefore has nothing to do with evolutionary psychology in particular as opposed to evolutionary biology in general. We might as well say that this article proves that evolutionists are racists. The claim is not supported by any evidence or reason (did white people suddenly lose deleterious mutations when their skin color changed?) and of course the fact that Kanazawa wrote this does not prove that either evolutionary biology or evolutionary psychology is racist.

Jahoclave wrote:He's trying to explain a psychological phenomenon--largely based on cultural standards--and arrives at a biology explanation rooted in evolution to explain them. Evo psych: or, how to say "I'm not a racist/sexist/asshole but," in scientific terms.

Consider two competing hypotheses: (A) human psychological traits are not at all genetically determined and (B) some human psychological traits are at least partially genetically determined. Naturally, very nearly all scientifically-minded, non-religious racists will believe B because they will have beliefs that contradict A. This does not mean that any particular proportion of people who believe B are racists, nor does it mean that B is false.

There may be legitimate criticisms of evolutionary psychology as a field, but many criticisms seem to follow this line of reasoning: "If A is true, various offensive ideas are false. If B is true, various offensive ideas might or might not be false. Therefore, A is true. On top of that, people who believe B must want the offensive ideas to be true." This is unscientific and abhorrently offensive to boot.

Edit: typo
Last edited by jareds on Mon May 23, 2011 1:18 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
jules.LT
Posts: 1539
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2009 8:20 pm UTC
Location: Paris, France, Europe

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby jules.LT » Mon May 23, 2011 1:16 am UTC

If you're going to make this about evolutionary psychology in general, let's at least talk about a study with results that don't seem entirely stupid and bigoted.
I'd be interested in people's take on Agent Detection, "the inclination for animals and humans to presume the purposeful intervention of a sentient or intelligent agent in situations that may or may not involve an intelligent agent".
The study is available online, and at first glance doesn't look like Kanazawa-level bunk.

Jahoclave wrote:
For example, because they have existed much longer in human evolutionary history, Africans have more mutations in their genomes than other races. And the mutation loads significantly decrease physical attractiveness

That's evo psych right there. He then continues with more nuanced evo psych from there.

He's trying to explain a psychological phenomenon--largely based on cultural standards--and arrives at a biology explanation rooted in evolution to explain them. Evo psych: or, how to say "I'm not a racist/sexist/asshole but," in scientific terms.

And, in terms of the dude specifically, given his past publications, he's a racist prick.

That's actually a pathetic attempt at evolutionary biology. The guy talks as if physical attractiveness is objective...
Bertrand Russell wrote:Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality.
Richard Feynman & many others wrote:Keep an open mind – but not so open that your brain falls out

User avatar
Silknor
Posts: 842
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:21 am UTC

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby Silknor » Mon May 23, 2011 1:31 am UTC

Maybe the suggested title was meant to be sarcastic, but it still seemed to be of the mindset that I dislike the conclusion therefore the methods involved were wrong. I have to agree with jareds, most of the criticisms of evolutionary psychology I've seen have been of this form.
Nikc wrote:Silknor is the JJ Abrams of mafia modding

User avatar
Mokele
Posts: 775
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:18 pm UTC
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby Mokele » Mon May 23, 2011 2:11 am UTC

Silknor wrote:Maybe the suggested title was meant to be sarcastic, but it still seemed to be of the mindset that I dislike the conclusion therefore the methods involved were wrong. I have to agree with jareds, most of the criticisms of evolutionary psychology I've seen have been of this form.


Most of the ones I've heard have basically been along the lines of "You fail at experimentation", "Adaptive storytelling much?" and "Here's Gould & Lewontin 1979, please read it before embarrassing yourself further".

Basically, evo psych seems to rarely bother to test that something is adaptive vs. not, and it's not surprising - as real biology found out in the wake of the paper above, actually testing whether something is truly an adaptation is really, really hard and often can mean literally decades of work from dozens of people to test a single trait. And that's in animals you can slice up, rather than humans. While I admit I may be swayed by the more publicized stories, there seems to be a terrible tendency to just assume that if an argument can be made for something being adaptive, it must be so.
"With malleus aforethought, mammals got an earful of their ancestor's jaw" - J. Burns, Biograffiti

User avatar
Silknor
Posts: 842
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:21 am UTC

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby Silknor » Mon May 23, 2011 2:30 am UTC

Well that sounds really sloppy then. I can see why it would be difficult to say if a trait is adaptive and to what degree.
Nikc wrote:Silknor is the JJ Abrams of mafia modding

User avatar
jakovasaur
Posts: 678
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 7:43 am UTC

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby jakovasaur » Mon May 23, 2011 2:35 am UTC

There are plenty of legitimate criticisms of evopsych. This thread title isn't one of them. And the worst part is when people play it off as "sarcastic" or just a "joke". Aren't jokes supposed to be funny? Or at least not knee-jerk butt-hurt lashing out against opinions you don't like.

jareds
Posts: 436
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 3:56 pm UTC

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby jareds » Mon May 23, 2011 3:02 am UTC

I'm not a biologist and I know that Mokele is. My problem is not with criticisms of the scientific quality of the field. Rather, my problem is with people like Jahoclave who directly say that explaining a psychological phenomenon in biological terms rooted in evolution means someone is racist/sexist/etc. This is dangerous to open scientific inquiry.

User avatar
netcrusher88
Posts: 2166
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:35 pm UTC
Location: Seattle

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby netcrusher88 » Mon May 23, 2011 3:35 am UTC

Hah, Kanezawa. A bit baffling that Psychology Today still publishes his shit, given the amount of backlash from everyone with a brain every time they do it.
Sexothermic
I have only ever made one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it. -Voltaire
They said we would never have a black president until Swine Flu. -Gears

User avatar
Jahoclave
sourmilk's moderator
Posts: 4790
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 8:34 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby Jahoclave » Mon May 23, 2011 4:15 am UTC

jareds wrote:I'm not a biologist and I know that Mokele is. My problem is not with criticisms of the scientific quality of the field. Rather, my problem is with people like Jahoclave who directly say that explaining a psychological phenomenon in biological terms rooted in evolution means someone is racist/sexist/etc. This is dangerous to open scientific inquiry.

Well my problem is with people like you who can't be arsed to realize that evolutionary psychology has a long history of justifying racism and sexism as biological imperatives--often, oddly in line with cultural assumptions of the middle twentieth century, or that it is hardly even a scientific field given their affinity for horrid methodology. And then throw a hissy fit about it. Good grief.

Stop acting like this is an attack on science, if anything it's more of a defense.

Furthermore: satire and sarcasm need not be humorous.

jareds
Posts: 436
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 3:56 pm UTC

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby jareds » Mon May 23, 2011 6:10 am UTC

Jahoclave wrote:Well my problem is with people like you who can't be arsed to realize that evolutionary psychology has a long history of justifying racism and sexism as biological imperatives--often, oddly in line with cultural assumptions of the middle twentieth century, or that it is hardly even a scientific field given their affinity for horrid methodology. And then throw a hissy fit about it. Good grief.

As I just explained, I imagine that most contemporary scientific racists will use concepts from evolutionary psychology. I imagine that 100 years ago, most scientific racists used concepts from evolution. So what? You seem to be confusing evolutionary psychology and scientific racism in general, as I pointed out with respect to Kanazawa's statements about mutation loads in Africans.

Jahoclave wrote:Stop acting like this is an attack on science, if anything it's more of a defense.

Just to be clear, when you write:
Jahoclave wrote:He's trying to explain a psychological phenomenon--largely based on cultural standards--and arrives at a biology explanation rooted in evolution to explain them. Evo psych: or, how to say "I'm not a racist/sexist/asshole but," in scientific terms.
you mean that psychological phenomena might or might not have biological explanations rooted in evolution, and this should be an open topic for investigation without fear of guilt by association. (Remember that poor methodology just means that conclusions are unproven, not false.)

After all, though a biologist can feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, it does seem exceptionally likely that human psychology, like that of any other animal, was shaped by evolution, but it might be very difficult to investigate the specifics.

ETA: Obviously the criticism of Kanazawa in particular can count as a defense of science, going by that article.

User avatar
Lucrece
Posts: 3558
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:01 am UTC

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby Lucrece » Mon May 23, 2011 7:17 am UTC

What. The fuck.

Where does that jackass get off calling males UGLY?!!!! :evil:

FUCKING PEACOCK IS ALL I SAY!

Image
Belial wrote:That's charming, Nancy, but all I hear when you talk is a bunch of yippy dog sounds.

casiguapa
Posts: 416
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:49 am UTC

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby casiguapa » Mon May 23, 2011 9:03 am UTC

I'd like to think a black female turned Kanazawa down prompting him to pull a Mark Zuckerberg with this article but I'm too busy pondering how this buffoon keeps being published when he doesn't even know the difference between objective and subjective and uses graphs that look like they were made on Kid Pix.

Between Kanazawa, Ken Clarke not being able to differentiate between unlawful sexual intercourse and rape, and this guy right here, I've had my fill of people talking out of their arses for one week.
<SugarTits> What's a penis?
<Casiguapa> Heisenberg

User avatar
RockoTDF
Posts: 582
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:08 am UTC
Location: Tucson, AZ, US
Contact:

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby RockoTDF » Tue May 24, 2011 2:08 am UTC

Jahoclave wrote:
jareds wrote:I'm not a biologist and I know that Mokele is. My problem is not with criticisms of the scientific quality of the field. Rather, my problem is with people like Jahoclave who directly say that explaining a psychological phenomenon in biological terms rooted in evolution means someone is racist/sexist/etc. This is dangerous to open scientific inquiry.

Well my problem is with people like you who can't be arsed to realize that evolutionary psychology has a long history of justifying racism and sexism as biological imperatives--often, oddly in line with cultural assumptions of the middle twentieth century, or that it is hardly even a scientific field given their affinity for horrid methodology. And then throw a hissy fit about it. Good grief.


So does anthropology, yet no one seems to care.

Right, evolutionary psychology has a *history* of problems, but so does every other discipline. Just because Nazis tortured people in the name of physiology doesn't mean we should stop studying the human body. Just because physicists designed nuclear weapons doesn't mean that physics is bad. Some of the animal work we do today will probably be frowned upon by future generations. Etc, etc, etc.

Evo psych is not perfect. But to assume that biological processes and evolution do not influence culture is just as ignorant as saying that biology is the be all and end all. Evolutionary psychology does not make that argument, and anyone who claims so is just straw man-ing. Not only is it ignorant, it is dangerous. As someone who presumably takes a Eurocentric view of history, it is easy to forget about the cultural revolution, pol pot, Japanese colonization of Korea/China, etc when thinking of great atrocities. We probably think of European colonization, the Holocaust, and so on. These atrocities were done under the assumption that culture was what needed to be wiped out, and were no less evil than Hitler's ideas that races needed to be wiped out.
Just because it is not physics doesn't mean it is not science.
http://www.iomalfunction.blogspot.com <---- A collection of humorous one liners and science jokes.

User avatar
Mokele
Posts: 775
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:18 pm UTC
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby Mokele » Tue May 24, 2011 3:09 am UTC

RockoTDF wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:
jareds wrote:I'm not a biologist and I know that Mokele is. My problem is not with criticisms of the scientific quality of the field. Rather, my problem is with people like Jahoclave who directly say that explaining a psychological phenomenon in biological terms rooted in evolution means someone is racist/sexist/etc. This is dangerous to open scientific inquiry.

Well my problem is with people like you who can't be arsed to realize that evolutionary psychology has a long history of justifying racism and sexism as biological imperatives--often, oddly in line with cultural assumptions of the middle twentieth century, or that it is hardly even a scientific field given their affinity for horrid methodology. And then throw a hissy fit about it. Good grief.


So does anthropology, yet no one seems to care.

Right, evolutionary psychology has a *history* of problems, but so does every other discipline. Just because Nazis tortured people in the name of physiology doesn't mean we should stop studying the human body. Just because physicists designed nuclear weapons doesn't mean that physics is bad. Some of the animal work we do today will probably be frowned upon by future generations. Etc, etc, etc.

Evo psych is not perfect. But to assume that biological processes and evolution do not influence culture is just as ignorant as saying that biology is the be all and end all. Evolutionary psychology does not make that argument, and anyone who claims so is just straw man-ing. Not only is it ignorant, it is dangerous. As someone who presumably takes a Eurocentric view of history, it is easy to forget about the cultural revolution, pol pot, Japanese colonization of Korea/China, etc when thinking of great atrocities. We probably think of European colonization, the Holocaust, and so on. These atrocities were done under the assumption that culture was what needed to be wiped out, and were no less evil than Hitler's ideas that races needed to be wiped out.


IMHO, one problem compounds the other - because of its major methodological shortcomings, most particularly the failure to subject adaptive hypotheses to experimental testing before assuming their validity, it's easy for those in the field to promote claims rooted in their own personal biases (conscious or not) rather than in fact. While such biases are not unique to evo-psych, the lack of rigorous testing allows them to run rampant to a degree not seen in other fields. If evo-psych digs it's collective head out of its ass and starts doing science properly, I suspect many of these problems will vanish as a consequence.

What's most annoying is that they don't even have to do the heavy intellectual lifting - Gould & Lewontin laid out the problems for them, and biology has devoted extensive time, effort, and literature to how to do things properly. All they need to do is pick up some journal articles and *read*.
"With malleus aforethought, mammals got an earful of their ancestor's jaw" - J. Burns, Biograffiti

User avatar
RockoTDF
Posts: 582
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:08 am UTC
Location: Tucson, AZ, US
Contact:

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby RockoTDF » Tue May 24, 2011 3:31 am UTC

Mokele wrote:IMHO, one problem compounds the other - because of its major methodological shortcomings, most particularly the failure to subject adaptive hypotheses to experimental testing before assuming their validity, it's easy for those in the field to promote claims rooted in their own personal biases (conscious or not) rather than in fact. While such biases are not unique to evo-psych, the lack of rigorous testing allows them to run rampant to a degree not seen in other fields. If evo-psych digs it's collective head out of its ass and starts doing science properly, I suspect many of these problems will vanish as a consequence.

What's most annoying is that they don't even have to do the heavy intellectual lifting - Gould & Lewontin laid out the problems for them, and biology has devoted extensive time, effort, and literature to how to do things properly. All they need to do is pick up some journal articles and *read*.


See, now this is a fair and intellectually honest criticism of evolutionary psych, and something I plan to discuss with people I know in the field in order to be more educated about the topic.
Just because it is not physics doesn't mean it is not science.
http://www.iomalfunction.blogspot.com <---- A collection of humorous one liners and science jokes.

KingofMadCows
Posts: 165
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 5:12 am UTC

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby KingofMadCows » Tue May 24, 2011 7:32 am UTC

I wish the behaviorists were back in charge of psychology.

User avatar
RockoTDF
Posts: 582
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:08 am UTC
Location: Tucson, AZ, US
Contact:

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby RockoTDF » Wed May 25, 2011 12:01 am UTC

KingofMadCows wrote:I wish the behaviorists were back in charge of psychology.


Evolutionary psychologists love behaviorism.
Just because it is not physics doesn't mean it is not science.
http://www.iomalfunction.blogspot.com <---- A collection of humorous one liners and science jokes.

KingofMadCows
Posts: 165
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 5:12 am UTC

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby KingofMadCows » Wed May 25, 2011 12:14 am UTC

RockoTDF wrote:
KingofMadCows wrote:I wish the behaviorists were back in charge of psychology.


Evolutionary psychologists love behaviorism.


Behaviorists love evolution but evolutionary psychologists do not like behaviorism. In fact, most evolutionary psychologists don't even seem to understand behaviorism.

User avatar
RockoTDF
Posts: 582
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:08 am UTC
Location: Tucson, AZ, US
Contact:

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby RockoTDF » Wed May 25, 2011 3:45 am UTC

KingofMadCows wrote:
RockoTDF wrote:
KingofMadCows wrote:I wish the behaviorists were back in charge of psychology.


Evolutionary psychologists love behaviorism.


Behaviorists love evolution but evolutionary psychologists do not like behaviorism. In fact, most evolutionary psychologists don't even seem to understand behaviorism.


They don't like the pure rabid behaviorism of Skinner et al. They do like behavioral approaches over cognitive ones.
Just because it is not physics doesn't mean it is not science.
http://www.iomalfunction.blogspot.com <---- A collection of humorous one liners and science jokes.

KingofMadCows
Posts: 165
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 5:12 am UTC

Re: Study proves evolutionary psychology still largely junk.

Postby KingofMadCows » Wed May 25, 2011 5:10 am UTC

RockoTDF wrote:
KingofMadCows wrote:
RockoTDF wrote:
KingofMadCows wrote:I wish the behaviorists were back in charge of psychology.


Evolutionary psychologists love behaviorism.


Behaviorists love evolution but evolutionary psychologists do not like behaviorism. In fact, most evolutionary psychologists don't even seem to understand behaviorism.


They don't like the pure rabid behaviorism of Skinner et al. They do like behavioral approaches over cognitive ones.


If they think that Skinner's behaviorism is "rabid," then they don't understand behaviorism.


Return to “News & Articles”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 12 guests