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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  June 2009

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE June 2009

Subject:

Re: Why Do We Rape, Kill and Sleep Around?

From:

mart <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 24 Jun 2009 03:43:03 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (837 lines)

p.s.   actually this is a balanced article.  i thought it was promoting miller of unm (who is less than shallow) but it deconstructs him. 


--- On Wed, 6/24/09, mart <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> From: mart <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: Why Do We Rape, Kill and Sleep Around?
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Date: Wednesday, June 24, 2009, 3:16 AM
> this is just shit---nesweek and sftp
> 
> attention ecoonomy. z
> 
> 
> , Michael H Goldhaber <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
> 
> > From: Michael H Goldhaber <[log in to unmask]>
> > Subject: Why Do We Rape, Kill and Sleep Around?
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Date: Tuesday, June 23, 2009, 6:54 PM
> > An article worthy to be
> > called science for the people
> > http://www.newsweek.com/id/202789/page/1
> >  
> >  Best, Michael 
> > Why
> > Do We Rape, Kill and Sleep Around?The
> > fault, dear Darwin, lies not in our ancestors, but in
> > ourselves.Sharon BegleyNEWSWEEKFrom
> > the magazine issue dated Jun 29, 2009Among
> > scientists at the university of New Mexico that
> spring, rape
> > was in the air. One of the professors, biologist
> Randy
> > Thornhill, had just coauthored A Natural History of
> > Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion, which
> > argued that rape is (in the vernacular of
> evolutionary
> > biology) an adaptation, a trait encoded by genes that
> > confers an advantage on anyone who possesses them.
> Back in
> > the late Pleistocene epoch 100,000 years ago, the 2000
> book
> > contended, men who carried rape genes had a
> reproductive and
> > evolutionary edge over men who did not: they sired
> children
> > not only with willing mates, but also with unwilling
> ones,
> > allowing them to leave more offspring (also carrying
> rape
> > genes) who were similarly more likely to survive and
> > reproduce, unto the nth generation. That would be us.
> And
> > that is why we carry rape genes today. The family
> trees of
> > prehistoric men lacking rape genes petered out.The
> argument was well
> > within the bounds of evolutionary psychology. Founded
> in the
> > late 1980s in the ashes of sociobiology, this field
> asserts
> > that behaviors that conferred a fitness advantage
> during the
> > era when modern humans were evolving are the result
> of
> > hundreds of genetically based cognitive "modules"
> > preprogrammed in the brain. Since they are genetic,
> these
> > modules and the behaviors they encode are
> heritable—passed
> > down to future generations—and, together, constitute
> a
> > universal human nature that describes how people
> think, feel
> > and act, from the nightclubs of Manhattan to the farms
> of
> > the Amish, from the huts of New Guinea aborigines to
> the
> > madrassas of Karachi. Evolutionary psychologists do
> not have
> > a time machine, of course. So to figure out which
> traits
> > were adaptive during the Stone Age, and therefore
> bequeathed
> > to us like a questionable family heirloom, they make
> logical
> > guesses. Men who were promiscuous back then were more
> > evolutionarily fit, the researchers reasoned, since
> men who
> > spread their seed widely left more descendants. By
> similar
> > logic, evolutionary psychologists argued, women who
> were
> > monogamous were fitter; by being choosy about their
> mates
> > and picking only those with good genes, they could
> have
> > healthier children. Men attracted to young, curvaceous
> babes
> > were fitter because such women were the most fertile;
> mating
> > with dumpy, barren hags is not a good way to grow a
> big
> > family tree. Women attracted to high-status, wealthy
> males
> > were fitter; such men could best provide for the kids,
> who,
> > spared starvation, would grow up to have many children
> of
> > their own. Men who neglected or even murdered their
> > stepchildren (and killed their unfaithful wives) were
> fitter
> > because they did not waste their resources on
> nonrelatives.
> > And so on, to the fitness-enhancing value of rape. We
> in the
> > 21st century, asserts evo psych, are operating with
> Stone
> > Age minds.Over the years these arguments have
> > attracted legions of critics who thought the science
> was
> > weak and the message (what philosopher David Buller
> of
> > Northern Illinois University called "a
> > get-out-of-jail-free card" for heinous behavior)
> > pernicious. But the reaction to the rape book was of a
> whole
> > different order. Biologist Joan Roughgarden of
> Stanford
> > University called it "the latest 'evolution made me
> > do it' excuse for criminal behavior from evolutionary
> > psychologists." Feminists, sex-crime prosecutors and
> > social scientists denounced it at rallies, on
> television and
> > in the press.Among those sucked into the rape debate
> > that spring was anthropologist Kim Hill, then
> > Thornhill's colleague at UNM and now at Arizona State
> > University. For decades Hill has studied the Ache,
> > hunter-gatherer tribesmen in Paraguay. "I saw
> Thornhill
> > all the time," Hill told me at a barbecue at an ASU
> > conference in April. "He kept saying that he thought
> > rape was a special cognitive adaptation, but the
> arguments
> > for that just seemed like more sloppy thinking by
> > evolutionary psychology." But how to test the claim
> > that rape increased a man's fitness? From its
> inception,
> > evolutionary psychology had warned that behaviors that
> were
> > evolutionarily advantageous 100,000 years ago (a
> sweet
> > tooth, say) might be bad for survival today (causing
> obesity
> > and thence infertility), so there was no point in
> measuring
> > whether that trait makes people more evolutionarily
> fit
> > today. Even if it doesn't, evolutionary psychologists
> > argue, the trait might have been adaptive long ago
> and
> > therefore still be our genetic legacy. An unfortunate
> one,
> > perhaps, but still our legacy. Short of a time
> machine, the
> > hypothesis was impossible to disprove. Game, set and
> match
> > to evo psych.Or so it seemed. But Hill had something
> > almost as good as a time machine. He had the Ache, who
> live
> > much as humans did 100,000 years ago. He and two
> colleagues
> > therefore calculated how rape would affect the
> evolutionary
> > prospects of a 25-year-old Ache. (They didn't observe
> > any rapes, but did a what-if calculation based on
> > measurements of, for instance, the odds that a woman
> is able
> > to conceive on any given day.) The scientists were
> generous
> > to the rape-as-adaptation claim, assuming that
> rapists
> > target only women of reproductive age, for instance,
> even
> > though in reality girls younger than 10 and women over
> 60
> > are often victims. Then they calculated rape's
> fitness
> > costs and benefits. Rape costs a man fitness points if
> the
> > victim's husband or other relatives kill him, for
> > instance. He loses fitness points, too, if the mother
> > refuses to raise a child of rape, and if being a
> known
> > rapist (in a small hunter-gatherer tribe, rape and
> rapists
> > are public knowledge) makes others less likely to help
> him
> > find food. Rape increases a man's evolutionary
> fitness
> > based on the chance that a rape victim is fertile (15
> > percent), that she will conceive (a 7 percent chance),
> that
> > she will not miscarry (90 percent) and that she will
> not let
> > the baby die even though it is the child of rape (90
> > percent). Hill then ran the numbers on the
> reproductive
> > costs and benefits of rape. It wasn't even close: the
> > cost exceeds the benefit by a factor of 10. "That
> makes
> > the likelihood that rape is an evolved adaptation
> extremely
> > low," says Hill. "It just wouldn't have made
> > sense for men in the Pleistocene to use rape as a
> > reproductive strategy, so the argument that it's
> > preprogrammed into us doesn't hold up."These
> > have not been easy days for evolutionary psychology.
> For
> > years the loudest critics have been social
> scientists,
> > feminists and liberals offended by the argument that
> humans
> > are preprogrammed to rape, to kill unfaithful
> girlfriends
> > and the like. (This was a reprise of the bitter
> sociobiology
> > debates of the 1970s and 1980s. When Harvard
> biologist
> > Edward O. Wilson proposed that there exists a
> biologically
> > based human nature, and that it included such traits
> as
> > militarism and male domination of women, left-wing
> > activists—including eminent biologists in his own
> > department—assailed it as an attempt "to provide a
> > genetic justification of the status quo and of
> existing
> > privileges for certain groups according to class,
> race, or
> > sex" analogous to the scientific justification for
> Nazi
> > eugenics.) When Thornhill appeared on the Today show
> to talk
> > about his rape book, for instance, he was paired with
> a
> > sex-crimes prosecutor, leaving the impression that
> > do-gooders might not like his thesis but offering no
> hint of
> > how scientifically unsound it is.That is changing.
> > Evo psych took its first big hit in 2005, when NIU's
> > Buller exposed flaw after fatal flaw in key studies
> > underlying its claims, as he laid out in his
> > book Adapting Minds.Anthropological studies
> > such as Hill's on the Ache, shooting down the
> > programmed-to-rape idea, have been accumulating. And
> brain
> > scientists have pointed out that there is no evidence
> our
> > gray matter is organized the way evo psych claims,
> with
> > hundreds of specialized, preprogrammed modules.
> > Neuroscientist Roger Bingham of the University of
> > California, San Diego, who describes himself as a
> once
> > devout "member of the Church of Evolutionary
> > Psychology" (in 1996 he created and hosted a
> > multimillion-dollar PBS series praising the field),
> has come
> > out foursquare against it, accusing some of its
> adherents of
> > an "evangelical" fervor. Says evolutionary
> > biologist Massimo Pigliucci of Stony Brook
> University,
> > "Evolutionary stories of human behavior make for a
> good
> > narrative, but not good science."Like other
> > critics, he has no doubt that evolution shaped the
> human
> > brain. How could it be otherwise, when evolution has
> shaped
> > every other human organ? But evo psych's claims that
> > human behavior is constrained by mental modules that
> > calcified in the Stone Age make sense "only if the
> > environmental challenges remain static enough to
> sculpt an
> > instinct over evolutionary time," Pigliucci points
> out.
> > If the environment, including the social environment,
> is
> > instead dynamic rather than static—which all
> evidence
> > suggests—then the only kind of mind that makes
> humans
> > evolutionarily fit is one that is flexible and
> responsive,
> > able to figure out a way to make trade-offs, survive,
> thrive
> > and reproduce in whatever social and physical
> environment it
> > finds itself in. In some environments it might indeed
> be
> > adaptive for women to seek sugar daddies. In some, it
> might
> > be adaptive for stepfathers to kill their
> stepchildren. In
> > some, it might be adaptive for men to be promiscuous.
> But
> > not in all. And if that's the case, then there is no
> > universal human nature as evo psych defines it.That
> > is what a new wave of studies has been discovering,
> slaying
> > assertions about universals right and left. One
> evo-psych
> > claim that captured the public's imagination—and a
> > 1996 cover story in NEWSWEEK—is that men have a
> mental
> > module that causes them to prefer women with a
> waist-to-hip
> > ratio of 0.7 (a 36-25-36 figure, for instance).
> Reprising
> > the rape debate, social scientists and policymakers
> who
> > worried that this would send impressionable young
> women
> > scurrying for a measuring tape and a how-to book on
> bulimia
> > could only sputter about how pernicious this message
> was,
> > but not that it was scientifically wrong. To the
> contrary,
> > proponents of this idea had gobs of data in their
> favor.
> > Using their favorite guinea pigs—American college
> > students—they found that men, shown pictures of
> different
> > female body types, picked Ms. 36-25-36 as their
> sexual
> > ideal. The studies, however, failed to rule out the
> > possibility that the preference was not
> innate—human
> > nature—but, rather, the product of exposure to mass
> > culture and the messages it sends about what's
> > beautiful. Such basic flaws, notes Bingham, "led to
> > complaints that many of these experiments seemed a
> little
> > less than rigorous to be underpinning an entire new
> > field."Later studies, which got almost no
> > attention, indeed found that in isolated populations
> in Peru
> > and Tanzania, men consider hourglass women sickly
> looking.
> > They prefer 0.9s—heavier women. And last December,
> > anthropologist Elizabeth Cashdan of the University of
> Utah
> > reported in the journal Current
> > Anthropology that men now prefer this
> > non-hourglass shape in countries where women tend to
> be
> > economically independent (Britain and Denmark) and in
> some
> > non-Western societies where women bear the
> responsibility
> > for finding food. Only in countries where women are
> > economically dependent on men (such as Japan, Greece
> and
> > Portugal) do men have a strong preference for Barbie.
> (The
> > United States is in the middle.) Cashdan puts it this
> way:
> > which body type men prefer "should depend on [italics
> > added] the degree to which they want their mates to
> be
> > strong, tough, economically successful and
> politically
> > competitive."Depend on? The very phrase is
> > anathema to the dogma of a universal human nature. But
> it is
> > the essence of an emerging, competing field. Called
> > behavioral ecology, it starts from the premise that
> social
> > and environmental forces select for various behaviors
> that
> > optimize people's fitness in a given environment.
> > Different environment, different behaviors—and
> different
> > human "natures." That's why men prefer Ms.
> > 36-25-36 in some cultures (where women are, to
> exaggerate
> > only a bit, decorative objects) but not others (where
> women
> > bring home salaries or food they've gathered in the
> > jungle).And it's why the evo psych tenet that men
> > have an inherited mental module that causes them to
> prefer
> > young, beautiful women while women have one that
> causes them
> > to prefer older, wealthy men also falls apart. As
> > 21st-century Western women achieve professional
> success and
> > gain financial independence, their mate preference
> changes,
> > scientists led by Fhionna Moore at Scotland's
> University
> > of St Andrews reported in 2006 in the
> > journal Evolutionand Human Behaviour.
> > The more financially independent a woman is, the more
> likely
> > she is to choose a partner based on looks than bank
> > balance—kind of like (some) men. (Yes, growing
> sexual
> > equality in the economic realm means that women, too,
> are
> > free to choose partners based on how hot they are, as
> the
> > cougar phenomenon suggests.) Although that finding
> undercuts
> > evo psych, it supports the "it depends" school of
> > behavioral ecology, which holds that natural selection
> chose
> > general intelligence and flexibility, not mental
> modules
> > preprogrammed with preferences and behaviors.
> > "Evolutionary psychology ridicules the notion that
> the
> > brain could have evolved to be an all-purpose
> > fitness-maximizing mechanism," says Hill. "But
> > that's exactly what we keep finding."One of
> > the uglier claims of evo psych is that men have a
> mental
> > module to neglect and even kill their stepchildren.
> Such
> > behavior was adaptive back when humans were evolving,
> goes
> > the popular version of this argument, because men who
> > invested in stepchildren wasted resources they could
> expend
> > on their biological children. Such kindly stepfathers
> would,
> > over time, leave fewer of their own descendants,
> causing
> > "support your stepchildren" genes to die out. Men
> > with genes that sculpted the "abandon
> > stepchildren" mental module were evolutionarily
> fitter,
> > so their descendants—us—also have that
> preprogrammed
> > module. The key evidence for this claim comes from
> studies
> > showing that stepchildren under the age of 5 are 40
> times
> > more likely to be abused than biological
> > children.Those studies have come under fire, however,
> > for a long list of reasons. For instance, many
> child-welfare
> > records do not indicate who the abuser was; at least
> some
> > abused stepchildren are victims of their mother, not
> the
> > stepfather, the National Incidence Study of Child
> Abuse and
> > Neglect reported in 2005. That suggests that records
> inflate
> > the number of instances of abuse by stepfathers.
> Also,
> > authorities are suspicious of stepfathers; if a child
> living
> > in a stepfamily dies of maltreatment, they are nine
> times
> > more likely to record it as such than if the death
> occurs in
> > a home with only biological parents, found a 2002
> study led
> > by Buller examining the records of every child who
> died in
> > Colorado from 1990 to 1998. That suggests that
> child-abuse
> > data undercount instances of abuse by biological
> fathers.
> > Finally, a 2008 study in Sweden found that many men
> who kill
> > stepchildren are (surprise) mentally ill. It's safe
> to
> > assume that single mothers do not exactly get their
> pick of
> > the field when it comes to remarrying. If the men they
> wed
> > are therefore more likely to be junkies, drunks and
> > psychotic, then any additional risk to stepchildren
> reflects
> > that fact, and not a universal mental module that
> tells men
> > to abuse their new mate's existing kids. Martin Daly
> and
> > Margo Wilson of Canada's McMaster University, whose
> work
> > led to the idea that men have a mental module for
> neglecting
> > stepchildren, now disavow the claim that such abuse
> was ever
> > adaptive. But, says Daly, "attempts to deny that
> [being
> > a stepfather] is a risk factor for maltreatment are
> simply
> > preposterous and occasionally, as in the writings of
> David
> > Buller, dishonest."If the data on child abuse by
> > stepfathers seem inconsistent, that's exactly the
> point.
> > In some circumstances, it may indeed be adaptive to
> get rid
> > of the other guy's children. In other circumstances,
> it
> > is more adaptive to love and support them. Again, it
> > depends. New research in places as different as
> American
> > cities and the villages of African hunter-gatherers
> shows
> > that it's common for men to care and provide for
> their
> > stepchildren. What seems to characterize these
> situations,
> > says Hill, is marital instability: men and women pair
> off,
> > have children, then break up. In such a setting, the
> > flexible human mind finds ways "to attract or
> maintain
> > mating access to the mother," Hill explains. Or, more
> > crudely, be nice to a woman's kids and she'll sleep
> > with you, which maximizes a man's fitness. Kill her
> kids
> > and she's likely to take it badly, cutting you off
> and
> > leaving your sperm unable to fulfill their Darwinian
> > mission. And in societies that rely on relatives to
> help
> > raise kids, "it doesn't make sense to destroy a
> > 10-year-old stepkid since he could be a helper," Hill
> > points out. "The fitness cost of raising a stepchild
> > until he is old enough to help is much, much less
> than
> > evolutionary biologists have claimed. Biology is more
> > complicated than these simplistic scenarios saying
> that
> > killing stepchildren is an adaptation that enhances a
> > man's fitness."Even the notion that being a
> > brave warrior helps a man get the girls and leave
> many
> > offspring has been toppled. Until missionaries moved
> in in
> > 1958, the Waorani tribe of the Ecuadoran Amazon had
> the
> > highest rates of homicide known to science: 39 percent
> of
> > women and 54 percent of men were killed by other
> Waorani,
> > often in blood feuds that lasted generations. "The
> > conventional wisdom had been that the more raids a
> man
> > participated in, the more wives he would have and the
> more
> > descendants he would leave," says anthropologist
> > Stephen Beckerman of Pennsylvania State University.
> But
> > after painstakingly constructing family histories and
> the
> > raiding and killing records of 95 warriors, he and
> his
> > colleagues reported last month inProceedings of the
> > National Academy of Sciences, they turned that belief
> > on its head. "The badass guys make terrible husband
> > material," says Beckerman. "Women don't prefer
> > them as husbands and they become the targets of
> > counterraids, which tend to kill their wives and
> children,
> > too." As a result, the über-warriors leave fewer
> > descendants—the currency of evolutionary
> fitness—than
> > less aggressive men. Tough-guy behavior may have
> conferred
> > fitness in some environments, but not in others. It
> depends.
> > "The message for the evolutionary-psychology
> > guys," says Beckerman, "is that there was no
> > single environment in which humans evolved" and
> > therefore no single human nature.I can't end the
> > list of evo-psych claims that fall apart under
> scientific
> > scrutiny without mentioning jealousy. Evo psych argues
> that
> > jealousy, too, is an adaptation with a mental module
> all its
> > own, designed to detect and thwart threats to
> reproductive
> > success. But men's and women's jealousy modules
> > supposedly differ. A man's is designed to detect
> sexual
> > infidelity: a woman who allows another man to
> impregnate her
> > takes her womb out of service for at least nine
> months,
> > depriving her mate of reproductive opportunities. A
> > woman's jealousy module is tuned to emotional
> > infidelity, but she doesn't much care if her mate is
> > unfaithful; a man, being a promiscuous cad, will
> probably
> > stick with wife No. 1 and their kids even if he is
> sexually
> > unfaithful, but may well abandon them if he actually
> falls
> > in love with another woman.Let's not speculate on
> > the motives that (mostly male) evolutionary
> psychologists
> > might have in asserting that their wives are
> programmed to
> > not really care if they sleep around, and turn instead
> to
> > the evidence. In questionnaires, more men than women
> say
> > they'd be upset more by sexual infidelity than
> emotional
> > infidelity, by a margin of more than 2-to-1, David
> Buss of
> > the University of Texas found in an early study of
> American
> > college students. But men are evenly split on which
> kind of
> > infidelity upsets them more: half find it more
> upsetting to
> > think of their mate falling in love with someone else;
> half
> > find it more upsetting to think of her sleeping with
> someone
> > else. Not very strong evidence for the claim that men,
> as a
> > species, care more about sexual infidelity. And in
> some
> > countries, notably Germany and the Netherlands, the
> > percentage of men who say they find sexual infidelity
> more
> > upsetting than the emotional kind is only 28 percent
> and 23
> > percent. Which suggests that, once again, it depends:
> in
> > cultures with a relaxed view of female sexuality, men
> do not
> > get all that upset if a woman has a brief,
> meaningless
> > fling. It does not portend that she will leave him. It
> is
> > much more likely that both men and women are wired to
> detect
> > behavior that threatens their bond, but what that
> behavior
> > is depends on culture. In a society where an illicit
> affair
> > portends the end of a relationship, men should indeed
> be
> > wired to care about that. In a society where that's
> no
> > big deal, they shouldn't—and, it seems, don't. New
> > data on what triggers jealousy in women also undercut
> the
> > simplistic evo-psych story. Asked which upsets them
> > more—imagining their partner having acrobatic sex
> with
> > another woman or falling in love with her—only 13
> percent
> > of U.S. women, 12 percent of Dutch women and 8 percent
> of
> > German women chose door No. 2. So much for the handy
> > "she's wired to not really care if I sleep
> > around" excuse.Critics of evo psych do not doubt
> > that men and women are wired to become jealous. A
> radar for
> > infidelity would indeed be adaptive. But the evidence
> points
> > toward something gender-neutral. Men and women have
> both
> > evolved the ability to distinguish between behavior
> that
> > portends abandonment and behavior that does not, and
> to get
> > upset only at the former. Which behavior is which
> depends on
> > the society.Evolutionary psychology is not going
> > quietly. It has had the field to itself, especially in
> the
> > media, for almost two decades. In large part that was
> > because early critics, led by the late evolutionary
> > biologist Stephen Jay Gould, attacked it with
> arguments that
> > went over the heads of everyone but about 19 experts
> in
> > evolutionary theory. It isn't about to give up that
> > hegemony. Thornhill is adamant that rape is an
> adaptation,
> > despite Hill's results from his Ache study. "If a
> > particular trait or behavior is organized to do
> > something," as he believes rape is, "then it is an
> > adaptation and so was selected for by evolution," he
> > told me. And in the new
> > book Spent, evolutionary psychologist
> > Geoffrey Miller of the University of New Mexico
> reasserts
> > the party line, arguing that "males have much more to
> > gain from many acts of intercourse with multiple
> partners
> > than do females," and there is a "universal sex
> > difference in human mate choice criteria, with men
> favoring
> > younger, fertile women, and women favoring older,
> > higher-status, richer men."On that point, the
> > evidence instead suggests that both sexes prefer
> mates
> > around their own age, adjusted for the fact that men
> mature
> > later than women. If the male mind were adapted to
> prefer
> > the most fertile women, then AARP-eligible men should
> marry
> > 23-year-olds, which—Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard
> > Marshall notwithstanding—they do not, instead
> preferring
> > women well past their peak fertility. And,
> interestingly,
> > when Miller focuses on the science rather than tries
> to sell
> > books, he allows that "human mate choice is much more
> > than men just liking youth and beauty, and women
> liking
> > status and wealth," as he told me by e-mail.Yet
> > evo psych remains hugely popular in the media and on
> college
> > campuses, for obvious reasons. It addresses "these
> very
> > sexy topics," says Hill. "It's all about sex
> > and violence," and has what he calls "an obsession
> > with Pleistocene just-so stories." And few
> people—few
> > scientists—know about the empirical data and
> theoretical
> > arguments that undercut it. "Most scientists are too
> > busy to read studies outside their own narrow field,"
> > he says.Far from ceding anything, evolutionary
> > psychologists have moved the battle from science,
> where they
> > are on shaky ground, to ideology, where bluster and
> > name-calling can be quite successful. UNM's Miller,
> for
> > instance, complains that critics "have convinced a
> > substantial portion of the educated public that
> evolutionary
> > psychology is a pernicious right-wing conspiracy,"
> and
> > complains that believing in evolutionary psychology is
> seen
> > "as an indicator of conservatism, disagreeableness
> and
> > selfishness." That, sadly, is how much too much of
> the
> > debate has gone. "Critics have been told that
> > they're just Marxists motivated by a hatred of
> > evolutionary psychology," says Buller. "That's
> > one reason I'm not following the field anymore: the
> way
> > science is being conducted is more like a political
> > campaign."Where, then, does the fall of
> > evolutionary psychology leave the idea of human
> nature?
> > Behavioral ecology replaces it with "it
> > depends"—that is, the core of human nature is
> > variability and flexibility, the capacity to mold
> behavior
> > to the social and physical demands of the environment.
> As
> > Buller says, human variation is not noise in the
> system; it
> > is the system. To be sure, traits such as symbolic
> language,
> > culture, tool use, emotions and emotional expression
> do
> > indeed seem to be human universals. It's the
> behaviors
> > that capture the public imagination—promiscuous men
> and
> > monogamous women, stepchild-killing men and the
> like—that
> > turn out not to be. And for a final nail in the
> coffin,
> > geneticists have discovered that human genes evolve
> much
> > more quickly than anyone imagined when evolutionary
> > psychology was invented, when everyone assumed that
> > "modern" humans had DNA almost identical to that
> > of people 50,000 years ago. Some genes seem to be
> only
> > 10,000 years old, and some may be even younger.That
> > has caught the attention of even the most ardent
> proponents
> > of evo psych, because when the environment is
> changing
> > rapidly—as when agriculture was invented or
> city-states
> > arose—is also when natural selection produces the
> most
> > dramatic changes in a gene pool. Yet most of the
> field's
> > leaders, admits UNM's Miller, "have not kept up
> > with the last decade's astounding progress in human
> > evolutionary genetics." The discovery of genes as
> young
> > as agriculture and city-states, rather than as old as
> > cavemen, means "we have to rethink to foundational
> > assumptions" of evo psych, says Miller, starting with
> > the claim that there are human universals and that
> they are
> > the result of a Stone Age brain. Evolution indeed
> sculpted
> > the human brain. But it worked in malleable plastic,
> not
> > stone, bequeathing us flexible minds that can take
> stock of
> > the world and adapt to it.With Jeneen
> > InterlandiURL:
> > http://www.newsweek.com/id/202789©
> > 2009 
> 
> 
> 
> 


      

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