May 2002


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Michael H Goldhaber <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 11 May 2002 00:16:22 -0700
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I don't know why Ian Pitchford suddenly decided to put things on the
very quiet SftP list. But I do know that a few years ago I was surprised
to see that Herb Gintis (of Bowles and Gintis, economists and authors of
a good critique of the American educational system and other left-wing
studies had written a very abusive and negative review of the Rose's
ALAS POOR DARWIN. I wrote him to find out if indeed he was the same Herb
Gintis, and it turns out the two of them have become dedicated and, as
far as I can see, insanely simple-minded supporters of evolutionary
psychology. They do things like try to come up with mathematical proofs
that prejudice against 'shirkers " as opposed to workers would have been
built in by our putative ancestors' supposed experiences as
hunter-gatherers. Gintis was angrily adamant abvout the wonders of ev.
psych, but what he and Bowles were up to, I was saddened to conclude,
was mathemtically precise while being utterly intellectually shoddy.
Their work apparently is respected in the eve-psych community, which is
certainly an ad hominem argument against the lot of it. (And there are
many cases where hard workers are the ones despised.)

While Michael Weissman is evidently right to suggest we have some
inherited tendencies, which we know because we share these tendencies
with most other mammals, evolutionary psychologists mostly focus on the
unknown and probably unknowable era of \spcifically proto-human
evolution, being mostinterested in tendencies that are not shared with
other mammals, and for which evidence, even in anthropological terms, is
necessrily questionable, since virtually all present day cultures have
been influenced by the west by this point, and ealrier investigatros of
them from the west had by now unknowable biases to see what they thought
they should see.

Further, followers of evolutinary biology, if not all its practitioners
strongly support neo-liberal or libertarian ideologies, and the common
drift of their work on ev. psych has that written all over it.

by the way, though anthropological studies are always suspect, I
understand that in not all socieities are insults responded to in kind.
Unless one could definitively demonstrate the opposite, why should we
believe the tendency evolved as such?

Michael H. Goldhaber

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