Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Slate post: The Utter Phoniness of Evolutionary Psychology

Interesting post on Slate about the pseudo-science of "evolutionary psychology". It articulates the danger of any of these broad pop-science fields nicely. Read more about it at http://slate.com/blogs/blogs/xxfactor

It's taken a long time, but at last —- thank you for contributing, Meghan! —-evolutionary psychology is being revealed as the psuedoscience it usually is, at least by the time it reaches the newspaper columns and the conversations around the water cooler. My main objection has always been the way its lay adherents solemnly discuss research that confirms the existence of some utterly banal aspect of human behavior, usually sexual, and then go on to explain why our ape ancestors found it so useful. Usually, this involves self-satisfied explanations of the primal male "need" for multiple sexual partners—men "need" to spread their DNA around, you see—as opposed to the primal female "need" for a man to protect her children. But why, then, did the human race evolve the concept of monogamy? And who are these women with whom the naturally adulterous men are supposed to sleep? I know that evolutionary psychology has come up with various explanations for these phenomena, but really, one could argue the whole thing the other way around, too. It's like Marxism or Freudianism: a set of all-encompassing principles that can explain anything. And it, too, will pass.
- Anne Applebaum

1 comment:

David C said...

Oh, I get it. Basically evolution is being used as a logical explanation for the status quo, especially the really lame bits.

Evolution defending fatalism, basically.

On that premise, it could be ridiculously argued that the invention of TV must be part of evolution, simply because it occurred. So, if something exists in society, it must have been the natural course of evolution that it is there. Okay, then self-destruction (nuclear war, any manmade apocalypse, etc) could logically be part of our "natural" course in evolution, as well. If that's the case, I'll see you all in HELL!

Have a nice day!