Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

or Rebash?

The accumulation of small heritable changes within populations over time.

Moderators: Calilasseia, ADParker

Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#1  Postby SpeedOfSound » Apr 16, 2018 12:51 pm

I have reviewing the pharyngula posts on EvPsych and I fail to see why PZ is so violently opposed to the phrase itself. It almost sounds like an argument between two sports teams. I am wondering how the people here line up on this and what exactly is the issue with Pinker and Ev Psych.

Now it seems to me that psychology would be about some overall trend in behavior. Obviously not a fixed path but rather a 'tendency'. EvPsych in it's first brushstroke would be looking for how genetic structure shaped such trends. How is that so damned controversial?

I got interested in neuroscience because of EvPsych and my being mystified with how the claim of the 0.70 waist to hip ratio might be enacted by genes in brains. Additionally, I actually raised my children on a few just so stories from EvPsych. Obviously it appeals to me. With that appeal comes a certain red-faced acknowledgement about the JS-stories and absolute embarrassment over some of the pope-ed claims.

So. How are we all feeling about this thing these days?
"Daddy, why did god make YEC's?"
User avatar
SpeedOfSound
RS Donator
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 32043
Age: 67
Male

Kyrgyzstan (kg)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#2  Postby SpeedOfSound » Apr 16, 2018 1:19 pm

Maybe an example. My raising the kids. By anecdotal review I decided that something deeper goes on in families when the children reach puberty. I considered that strong limbic responses to my children may be problematic as they reached adulthood. I then used reason to counteract any noticed tendencies. By that I mean that when I got pissed off at my sons Instead of reacting I sat back and considered the reason behind my anger if there was any.

But what is the 'cience behind that? What would the EvPsych approach be.
"Daddy, why did god make YEC's?"
User avatar
SpeedOfSound
RS Donator
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 32043
Age: 67
Male

Kyrgyzstan (kg)
Print view this post

Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#3  Postby SpeedOfSound » Apr 16, 2018 3:33 pm

From anecdotal review we come up with a possible trend in human behavior (T). We gather evidence for the trend and determine its veracity. We come up with TT true trend. We then filter it across cultures and have a TT+. So now we know that something IS happening. We look at two influences each quite complex. One is some biological enactor or atom. This is typically limbic in nature. The second is some cultural atoms which cannot all be ruled out with the filter. Some elements of the cultural atom can themselves be due to bio-atoms.

If we have a valid bio-atom contributing to the behavioral trend then we have two asks. Is it direct or is it a side effect of some other 'evolved' trait that has some other purpose.

I like to call emotional or limbic effects a Limbic Jerk or LJ. So and LJ's atom of contribution can be either selected for directly, concerning the behavioral trend or it can be a side effect. LJns and LJse.

While this is simple as hell and a little naive perhaps it seems to me that this is all the EvPsych people are asking.

(Limbic Jerk is a behavior pressure from some emotional or hormonal system)
"Daddy, why did god make YEC's?"
User avatar
SpeedOfSound
RS Donator
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 32043
Age: 67
Male

Kyrgyzstan (kg)
Print view this post

Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#4  Postby SpeedOfSound » Apr 16, 2018 9:11 pm

In the case of my proposed scenario we have the parent as the actor and the child as the recipient. And actually the other way around as well. There is conflict between parent and child. P->C and C->P. This could have resulted in any of the four possible benefit/expense outcomes for the two.

EvPsych is big on the savannah notion. Which is well-hated. It however claims that pre-modern cultures, usually 10k+ years ago had a different set of outcomes for the species. That being aware that such a bio-atom was present in our behavioral pressures would inform us as to how to not repeat certain behaviors.

I see great benefit in that and it is why I and guys like Pinker are so damned excited about EvPsych.

What's the problem here?
"Daddy, why did god make YEC's?"
User avatar
SpeedOfSound
RS Donator
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 32043
Age: 67
Male

Kyrgyzstan (kg)
Print view this post

Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#5  Postby SpeedOfSound » Apr 18, 2018 11:26 am

What I described above is covered in mammals under 'weaning conflict'. Whether or not the behavior is based in WC is the question.

EvPsych I think is suggesting that we are not so much driven by reason and culture as we are being driven by more primal structural mechanisms. Now let's not go to the strawman where EvPsych is claiming that genes prevent us from cultural or reasoned overrides of behaviors, or phenotypic variables. Exactly the opposite is being promoted. Given knowledge of these pressures to act in some Savannah-way we can hope to modify our behavior with reason.

There is a greater concern here over what I call Spirit-Mind thinking. The brain is not some rational spirit. 99% of what it does is limbic/structural. The 1% is reserved for reasoning. One can hope that we will change this ratio somewhat.

(am I having trouble picking a fight here? Let's see if this does it. :naughty2: )
"Daddy, why did god make YEC's?"
User avatar
SpeedOfSound
RS Donator
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 32043
Age: 67
Male

Kyrgyzstan (kg)
Print view this post

Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#6  Postby SafeAsMilk » Apr 18, 2018 12:38 pm

I'd fight, but I know almost nothing about EvPsych. I'm enjoying reading your posts tho, and hope someone comes along!
Yes, a mighty hot dog is our Lord!
User avatar
SafeAsMilk
 
Name: Makes Fails
Posts: 11905
Age: 38
Male

United States (us)
Print view this post

Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#7  Postby felltoearth » Apr 18, 2018 1:58 pm

^+1
"Walla Walla Bonga!" — Witticism
User avatar
felltoearth
 
Posts: 8724
Age: 50

Canada (ca)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#8  Postby scott1328 » Apr 18, 2018 2:39 pm

P.Z. Myers long ago abandoned science and reason for ideology. His views on matters outsides the mating habits of invertebrates should be ignored on that basis alone.
User avatar
scott1328
 
Name: Some call me... Tim
Posts: 7986
Male

United States (us)
Print view this post

Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#9  Postby SpeedOfSound » Apr 18, 2018 7:47 pm

scott1328 wrote:P.Z. Myers long ago abandoned science and reason for ideology. His views on matters outsides the mating habits of invertebrates should be ignored on that basis alone.


Thanks. I was wondering if he had strayed out into the deep waters of science politics but was afraid to conclude that all on my own.
"Daddy, why did god make YEC's?"
User avatar
SpeedOfSound
RS Donator
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 32043
Age: 67
Male

Kyrgyzstan (kg)
Print view this post

Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#10  Postby zoon » Apr 18, 2018 10:42 pm

In one of PZ Myers' diatribes against evolutionary psychology here, he quotes Jerry Coyne attacking the attacks on evolutionary psychology:
Jerry Coyne quoted by PZ Myers (2013) wrote:...the notion that “the fundamental premises of evo psych are false” seems deeply misguided. After all, those premises boil down to this statement: some behaviors of modern humans reflect their evolutionary history. That is palpably uncontroversial, since many of our behaviors are clearly a product of evolution, including eating, avoiding dangers, and the pursuit of sex. And since our bodies reflect their evolutionary history, often in nonadaptive ways (e.g., wisdom teeth, bad backs, the coat of hair we produce as a transitory feature in fetuses), why not our brains, which are, after all, just bits of morphology whose structure affects our behaviors?

PZ Myers replies to that paragraph:
You know what? I agree entirely with that. The brain is a material product of evolution, and behavior is a product of the brain. There are natural causes for everything all the way down. And further, I have great respect for psychology, evolutionary biology, ethology, physiology, anthropology, anatomy, comparative biology — and I consider all of those disciplines to have strong integrative ties to evolutionary biology. Does Coyne really believe that I am critiquing the evolved nature of the human brain? Because otherwise, this is a completely irrelevant statement.

PZ Myers is claiming that he's not questioning the evolved nature of our brains, but he does then criticise, as SpeedOfSound says, every attempt to study psychology in the light of evolution. I agree with Jerry Coyne and the people here who say that this looks very much like an ideological attempt to shut down evolutionary thinking.

At the same time, I would perhaps agree with criticism of attempts to use evolutionary psychology to tell us anything substantive about how we think in ordinary social life, or, even worse, about how we should think? Even neuroscience, the direct study of the brain as opposed to the study of how the brain evolved, still tells us almost nothing of immediate usefulness in ordinary life, in spite of the vast amount that is being discovered. (I'm talking about everyday social interactions here, rather than the curing of diseases.) It's certainly interesting and fun to become aware of ways our behaviour could have evolved, and to see the precursors of our behaviour in that of other animals, but it seems to me unsafe to bring evolutionary thinking into, for example, political decision-making.

Perhaps a major problem here is that evolutionary theory has in fact had the effect of destroying belief in gods, which takes out the traditional underpinning for attempts to justify morality, and evolutionary psychology is the immediate default candidate to fill that gap. Historically, evolutionary theory has sometimes been misused in this way, and the track record is hardly better than that of religion in justifying horrors. I take an interest in this question because it has been difficult to reconcile the degree of altruism and civic-mindedness in human cultures around the world with the "Nature red in tooth and claw" aspect of evolution, it's far from immediately obvious that it can be done. T.H. Huxley took the line that morality is something wholly outside evolution, and many people have agreed with him. In theory that's obviously wrong, assuming we evolved body and mind, but in practice, so far, given our lack of understanding of the mechanisms of the brain, let alone how they evolved, it's probably the best practical advice? I'm happy to look at the ways morality might have evolved, for example a precursor to a sense of fairness seen in wolves as described here (The original article is behind a paywall here.):
the BBC (2017) wrote:The sense of fair play is an important human trait, but new research suggests that it's a key behaviour for dogs and wolves as well.
In tests, if one animal was given a more substantial reward when performing a task, the other one downed tools completely.
It had been felt that this aversion to unfairness was something that dogs had learned from humans.
But the tests with wolves suggest that this predates domestication of dogs.
Scientists have long recognised that what they term a "sensitivity to inequity", or a sense of fairness, played an important role in the evolution of co-operation between humans. Basically, if others treated you badly, you quickly learned to stop working with them.
Researchers believe that the behaviour is also found widely in non-human primates.

Humans normally take fairness much further than wolves do, working out what is fair for everyone rather than only themselves (OK, up to a point), and I'm happy to suppose that this gives a selective advantage in the effectiveness of groups, so I can think of the human level of fairness as likely to be an evolved trait. At the same time, I recognise that this is far from proven, and this evolutionary just so story certainly isn't anything I could use to say that being fair is something we should do. For that, I would need to look at the current circumstances in the matter at issue, the shared and the differing goals of the people concerned, and so on, as we do anyway, without bringing evolution into it. I can use my evolutionary story to block anyone who is arguing, for example, that evolution means we should be like wolves and look after our immediate families and nobody else, but I would not take it further than that?
Last edited by zoon on Apr 19, 2018 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
zoon
 
Posts: 2941

Print view this post

Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#11  Postby Rumraket » Apr 19, 2018 12:07 am

PZ Myers made a ridiculous and hyperbolic statement (“the fundamental premises of evo psych are false”) , then was forced to run away from it. In that respect, Jerry Coyne is absolutely correct.

PZ Myers says one thing first ("My main point: Developmental plasticity is all. The fundamental premises of evo psych are false."), which is ridiculous and absurd, Jerry Coyne then criticizes those statements by PZ by pointing out OBVIOUSLY evolved psychological tendencies and behaviors (we desire food, sex, etc. and consistently act on it), then PZ Myers completely reverses his position on the point criticized by Jerry Coyne.

But as evo-psych is actually practiced, PZ Myers has a point.
PZ Myers: I detest evolutionary psychology, not because I dislike the answers it gives, but on purely methodological and empirical grounds: it is a grandiose exercise in leaping to conclusions on inadequate evidence, it is built on premises that simply don’t work, and it’s a field that seems to do a very poor job of training and policing its practitioners, so that it primarily serves as a dump for bad research that then supplies tabloids with a feast of garbage science that discredits the rest of us.


The parts in blue I can agree with, but I disagree with the rest.
Luscious and blue cloaked in clouds the Earth spins it's way through a universe of dimensions and splendour utterly beyond comprehension.
User avatar
Rumraket
 
Posts: 12851
Age: 37

Denmark (dk)
Print view this post

Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#12  Postby Hermit » Apr 19, 2018 2:07 am

zoon wrote:PZ Myers is claiming that he's not questioning the evolved nature of our brains, but he does then criticise, as SpeedOfSound says, every attempt to study psychology in the light of evolution. I agree with Jerry Coyne and the people here who say that this looks very much like an ideological attempt to shut down evolutionary thinking.

Having taken to a dislike of the Minnesota loudmouth a long time ago, years before he joined the Atheism+ crowd, I naturally jumped on the link you provided to see his ideological attempt to shut down evolutionary thinking. There is not even a hint of that, so I guess there is evidence of your and Coyne's assertion that you have not linked to for our perusal.

As for evolutionary psychology itself, it's chapter X of the debate concerning nurture versus nature. I don't think we have anywhere sufficient data to discuss that issue with any prospect of some kind of resolution. To forestall accusations that I too want to see evolutionary thinking shut down for ideological reasons I'd like to mention that, on the contrary, I'd like to see more actual research done, which means more funding for evolutionary psychology.
God created the universe
God just exists
User avatar
Hermit
 
Posts: 672
Age: 65
Male

Country: Australia
Print view this post

Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#13  Postby zoon » Apr 19, 2018 7:37 am

Hermit wrote:
zoon wrote:PZ Myers is claiming that he's not questioning the evolved nature of our brains, but he does then criticise, as SpeedOfSound says, every attempt to study psychology in the light of evolution. I agree with Jerry Coyne and the people here who say that this looks very much like an ideological attempt to shut down evolutionary thinking.

Having taken to a dislike of the Minnesota loudmouth a long time ago, years before he joined the Atheism+ crowd, I naturally jumped on the link you provided to see his ideological attempt to shut down evolutionary thinking. There is not even a hint of that, so I guess there is evidence of your and Coyne's assertion that you have not linked to for our perusal.

As for evolutionary psychology itself, it's chapter X of the debate concerning nurture versus nature. I don't think we have anywhere sufficient data to discuss that issue with any prospect of some kind of resolution. To forestall accusations that I too want to see evolutionary thinking shut down for ideological reasons I'd like to mention that, on the contrary, I'd like to see more actual research done, which means more funding for evolutionary psychology.

You are being careful to forestall accusations that you want to see evolutionary thinking shut down for ideological reasons. PZ Myers does not make any such attempt, or perhaps I should say that the nearest I've seen is in the quote I gave in post #10 above, where he's answering Jerry Coyne and says that he agrees brains evolved. Unlike you, PZ Myers doesn't say anywhere that he would like to see more funding for evolutionary psychology, or that he makes a distinction between the useful and the harmful variety. Other posts on Pharyngula include "History will judge evolutionary psychology as the phrenology of our era" (here) and "Evolutionary Psychology poisons everything" (here).

In post #11 above, Rumraket quotes PZ Myers from my original link (here), and says that he agrees:
Rumraket wrote:.....
But as evo-psych is actually practiced, PZ Myers has a point.
PZ Myers: I detest evolutionary psychology, not because I dislike the answers it gives, but on purely methodological and empirical grounds: it is a grandiose exercise in leaping to conclusions on inadequate evidence, it is built on premises that simply don’t work, and it’s a field that seems to do a very poor job of training and policing its practitioners, so that it primarily serves as a dump for bad research that then supplies tabloids with a feast of garbage science that discredits the rest of us.

The parts in blue I can agree with, but I disagree with the rest.

That is a blanket condemnation of all evolutionary psychology, and while some evolutionary psychology deserves that criticism, I would agree with you and with Jerry Coyne (and I suspect also with Rumraket) that not all of it does, and that much of it is a valuable field of scientific investigation.

Again, I think the trouble is that in the end, those of us who don't think there is a god do in fact think that we are shaped by evolution, and it's all too easy to jump from there to claiming, when it suits us in one of the ongoing arguments about moral details which are a feature of human social life, that we should be behaving more like the animals we evolved from, in order to live in accordance with our "true" nature. In many fields we do this uncontroversially, for example, evolutionary thinking gives a clear and probably reasonably correct handle on our tendency to like sitting down and eating sugar (it's adaptive to conserve energy and to like calorific foods) and also why those traits can be bad for health (we evolved in environments which didn't often give us the chance to overdo the sloth and overeating). Morality is apt to be a social minefield in any culture, and arguments around the foundations of morality have extra potential for going nuclear. Unlike theists, we don't have the option of saying that our minds are essentially unlike those of other animals; the most we can say when arguing against those who may wish to promote tribalism or misogyny on supposedly scientific grounds is that humans have evolved socially in ways which are strikingly different from any other large animal, and that we are not yet close to understanding our brains as the mechanisms they almost certainly are.
User avatar
zoon
 
Posts: 2941

Print view this post

Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#14  Postby Rumraket » Apr 19, 2018 8:26 am

It is a valuable field of scientific investigation, but very little competent investigation has been done. Lots of grandiose declarations are made, with very little evidence to show for it.

It has a lot of potential, but the standards are lacking. I suppose one problem is that some the questions that researchers in the field are seeking to address are practically extremely difficult to accomplish as they require data collection across the whole spectrum of cultures and nationalities in the world, needs to be combined with genetics studies again across geographical and national boundaries, and have to yield statistically significant results.

Think of a simple problem like color preference among the sexes, endlessly debated among psychologists. Do boys really intuitively prefer colors different from girls, and if they do, is this a preference that evolved due to natural selection? To ascertain what is true, you have to gather huge amounts of data if you are not in a position to actually fund and set up the rearing of children of the different sexes under properly controlled conditions where they are not culturally forced to think of certain colors as "boy" or "girl" colors. Then you need to combine that with genetics studies to find the genes responsible (supposing you even manage to find evidence for a difference in preference that isn't just due to culture), and then look for evidence of positive selection on certain mutations. This is incredibly difficult, expensive, and time-consuming work. And all to address what seems to be intensely irrelevant anway?
Luscious and blue cloaked in clouds the Earth spins it's way through a universe of dimensions and splendour utterly beyond comprehension.
User avatar
Rumraket
 
Posts: 12851
Age: 37

Denmark (dk)
Print view this post

Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#15  Postby Cito di Pense » Apr 19, 2018 8:41 am

zoon wrote:Unlike you, PZ Myers doesn't say anywhere that he would like to see more funding for evolutionary psychology, or that he makes a distinction between the useful and the harmful variety.


If what EvPsych has on offer are glib rationalizations, from an evolutionary perspective, 'explaining' (e.g.) how we come to like sitting down and eating sugar, then no, I don't want to see more funding for evolutionary psychology, either. Psychology already contributes a lot of research of dubious value to anyone with a couple of extra neurons to rub together without looking deep into the past to come up with something to tell the creationists.
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
User avatar
Cito di Pense
 
Name: Ivar Poäng
Posts: 25812
Age: 6
Male

Country: The Heartland
Mongolia (mn)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#16  Postby Hermit » Apr 19, 2018 10:00 am

zoon wrote:Other posts on Pharyngula include "History will judge evolutionary psychology as the phrenology of our era" (here) and "Evolutionary Psychology poisons everything" (here).

This is the sort of thing that caused my intense dislike of Myers. You just requoted me describing him as "the Minnesota loudmouth". I started ranting about him at the Richard Dawkins forum about twelve years ago. When that forum was killed off I continued my rants at Rationalia. Here's one example from 2009: "...he could teach the tabloid media a trick or two regarding the arts of exaggeration, twisting facts until they bear no relation with reality and sheer hysteria mongering. Fuck off, Myers. Your blathering - at least in this instance - is counterproductive to the spread of atheism." Myers likes outrageous exaggeration, screeching hyperbole and totally inappropriate analogy too much for his own liking. So he does not mind riffing on Hitchens's book title, comparing evolutionary psychology to phrenology, and so forth. As long as it is loud and colourful he loves it. In that regard he is a fucking idiot. Once you read the texts themselves, at least on the topic of evolutionary psychology he writes mostly about its woeful methodology, its habit of coming to conclusions that bear no relation to the data they are supposedly based on, and such. You know, the sort of things Rumraket highlighted.

Rumraket wrote:.....
But as evo-psych is actually practiced, PZ Myers has a point.
PZ Myers: I detest evolutionary psychology, not because I dislike the answers it gives, but on purely methodological and empirical grounds: it is a grandiose exercise in leaping to conclusions on inadequate evidence, it is built on premises that simply don’t work, and it’s a field that seems to do a very poor job of training and policing its practitioners, so that it primarily serves as a dump for bad research that then supplies tabloids with a feast of garbage science that discredits the rest of us.

The parts in blue I can agree with, but I disagree with the rest.


zoon wrote:That is a blanket condemnation of all evolutionary psychology...

It is indeed. At this stage I must agree with Myers. From your link in post #10:
I detest evolutionary psychology, not because I dislike the answers it gives, but on purely methodological and empirical grounds: it is a grandiose exercise in leaping to conclusions on inadequate evidence, it is built on premises that simply don’t work, and it’s a field that seems to do a very poor job of training and policing its practitioners, so that it primarily serves as a dump for bad research that then supplies tabloids with a feast of garbage science that discredits the rest of us.


zoon wrote:I would agree with you and with Jerry Coyne (and I suspect also with Rumraket) that not all of it does, and that much of it is a valuable field of scientific investigation.

Where did you get the idea from that I might have seen anything of value coming from ev psy? My opinion that funding should be increased? My dear fellow, in my opinion funding should be increased for every field of inquiry, be it evolutionary psychology, phrenology, the paranormal or whatever else you can think of. At a stretch even astrology. I have this, perhaps naïve confidence that unimpeded competition will sort the winners from the losers. People with a modicum of education, including a rudimentary grounding in scientific method will be able to tell which is which.

Meanwhile, I am still waiting for that link to Myers's attempt to shut down evolutionary thinking.
God created the universe
God just exists
User avatar
Hermit
 
Posts: 672
Age: 65
Male

Country: Australia
Print view this post

Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#17  Postby Rumraket » Apr 19, 2018 10:50 am

Cito di Pense wrote:
zoon wrote:Unlike you, PZ Myers doesn't say anywhere that he would like to see more funding for evolutionary psychology, or that he makes a distinction between the useful and the harmful variety.


If what EvPsych has on offer are glib rationalizations, from an evolutionary perspective, 'explaining' (e.g.) how we come to like sitting down and eating sugar, then no, I don't want to see more funding for evolutionary psychology, either. Psychology already contributes a lot of research of dubious value to anyone with a couple of extra neurons to rub together without looking deep into the past to come up with something to tell the creationists.

:this:

Evolutionary biology isn't just story telling. We want some actual evidence that supports those stories. That means comparative genetics data must support the stories. Any idiot can sit and just invent adaptive explanations for why humans do X. But it's supposed to be a science.
Luscious and blue cloaked in clouds the Earth spins it's way through a universe of dimensions and splendour utterly beyond comprehension.
User avatar
Rumraket
 
Posts: 12851
Age: 37

Denmark (dk)
Print view this post

Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#18  Postby zoon » Apr 19, 2018 11:49 am

Hermit wrote:
zoon wrote:Other posts on Pharyngula include "History will judge evolutionary psychology as the phrenology of our era" (here) and "Evolutionary Psychology poisons everything" (here).

This is the sort of thing that caused my intense dislike of Myers. You just requoted me describing him as "the Minnesota loudmouth". I started ranting about him at the Richard Dawkins forum about twelve years ago. When that forum was killed off I continued my rants at Rationalia. Here's one example from 2009: "...he could teach the tabloid media a trick or two regarding the arts of exaggeration, twisting facts until they bear no relation with reality and sheer hysteria mongering. Fuck off, Myers. Your blathering - at least in this instance - is counterproductive to the spread of atheism." Myers likes outrageous exaggeration, screeching hyperbole and totally inappropriate analogy too much for his own liking. So he does not mind riffing on Hitchens's book title, comparing evolutionary psychology to phrenology, and so forth. As long as it is loud and colourful he loves it. In that regard he is a fucking idiot. Once you read the texts themselves, at least on the topic of evolutionary psychology he writes mostly about its woeful methodology, its habit of coming to conclusions that bear no relation to the data they are supposedly based on, and such.
.............
Where did you get the idea from that I might have seen anything of value coming from ev psy? My opinion that funding should be increased? My dear fellow, in my opinion funding should be increased for every field of inquiry, be it evolutionary psychology, phrenology, the paranormal or whatever else you can think of. At a stretch even astrology. I have this, perhaps naïve confidence that unimpeded competition will sort the winners from the losers. People with a modicum of education, including a rudimentary grounding in scientific method will be able to tell which is which.

Meanwhile, I am still waiting for that link to Myers's attempt to shut down evolutionary thinking.

OK, I should have said evolutionary thinking in the field of psychology. Given that Myers is in the habit of saying things like: "history will judge evolutionary psychology as the phrenology of our era" and "the fundamental premises of evo psych are false", it doesn't seem unreasonable to suppose he thinks it should be treated in the same way as phrenology: worthless at all levels. I don't think he backtracks enough in the small print to be let off the hook, but that's probably a matter of opinion. Also, there's a question of what exactly the phrase "evolutionary psychology" refers to: Tooby and Cosmides did indeed make claims in their 1992 book The Adapted Mind which are overblown (massive modularity etc) and which have since been associated with "Evolutionary Psychology". If "Evolutionary Psychology" is taken to refer only to the approach set out in that book and similar writings, then I think the criticisms are largely reasonable. If "evolutionary psychology" is taken to refer more generally to any attempt to link psychological findings to evolutionary theory, then I'm with Jerry Coyne, I think Myers' criticisms are too general and are not limited to the headlines.

I think it's fair to say there's a difficulty for atheists who are left-leaning in current political arguments, in that we insist on the evidence from evolution when it comes to questions of any god's existence, and then have to insist equally strongly that apparent evidence from evolution is irrelevant when it comes to practical morality. For example, evolutionary theory is, as far as I can tell, adamant that kin altruism is at the core of evolved cooperation between large animals (group selection being a variant of kin selection which is usually less tractable mathematically), and this is not helpful when trying to combat racial prejudice. If racists wave that fact in our faces, it does look helplessly feeble merely to respond that we don't know enough about how brains work to draw any practical conclusions from evolutionary theory and leave it at that, even though that is correct. I would be happier to say that the evidence shows humans have evolved to cooperate with non-kin far more effectively than any other animal, largely using our ability to quantify reciprocity, and that this underlies our unique success in taking over the planet. Granted, what I've just said would be another evolutionary just-so story (though there is a good deal of evidence in its favour), and I would need to add that we don't know enough either about our evolution or how our brains work as mechanisms to be able to draw any firm conclusions from science about the best way to manage multiracial societies.

I still think that the apparent lessons from evolutionary theory in favour of racism etc are blatant enough to need some sort of counter, also from evolutionary theory, as well as the point that we don't know enough yet to use evolution as any kind of basis for politics. In the same sort of way, abiogenesis does indeed look exceedingly improbable at first sight, like a Boeing being assembled from a high wind in a junk yard, and it is useful when arguing against theists to have the admittedly speculative ideas about how it could have happened as well as the more general point that we don't know.
User avatar
zoon
 
Posts: 2941

Print view this post

Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#19  Postby Cito di Pense » Apr 19, 2018 3:46 pm

zoon wrote:I still think that the apparent lessons from evolutionary theory in favour of racism etc are blatant enough to need some sort of counter, also from evolutionary theory, as well as the point that we don't know enough yet to use evolution as any kind of basis for politics.


Surely you understand by this time that someone with a political axe to grind will dismiss even quite good science, as has happened with arguments over climate change. What chance does evolutionary psychology, on its young and still-very-wobbly legs, stand in that kind of intellectual climate? Maybe it's time to get the fuck out of politics. People even argued against the science that said the Ford Pinto of the early 1970s had a tendency to explode when its fuel tank was punctured in a rear-end collision. It wasn't the only Ford automobile of that era with that sort of tendency.
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
User avatar
Cito di Pense
 
Name: Ivar Poäng
Posts: 25812
Age: 6
Male

Country: The Heartland
Mongolia (mn)
Print view this post

Re: Evolutionary Psychology Reboot

#20  Postby laklak » Apr 19, 2018 3:54 pm

Hey, those undergrads need something to talk about at 2:00 AM in the dorm room, once the 'shrooms kick in.

Like, why do we eat so much sugar, dude?
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. - Mark Twain
The sky is falling! The sky is falling! - Chicken Little
I never go without my dinner. No one ever does, except vegetarians and people like that - Oscar Wilde
User avatar
laklak
RS Donator
 
Name: Florida Man
Posts: 17664
Age: 64
Male

Country: The Great Satan
Swaziland (sz)
Print view this post

Next

Return to Evolution & Natural Selection

Who is online

Users viewing this topic: No registered users and 1 guest