By Mark Frauenfelder at 2:47 pm Wed, Apr 7, 2010
It's time for Evolutionary Psychology Bingo! (Via Annalee Newitz)
I guess with would be humorous to someone with only a pacing understanding of the field of evolutionary psychology.
This is a highly readable primer on the subject: http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-People-Have-More-Daughters/dp/0399534539/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1270677312&sr=8-1
1970s-style Behaviorism always reemerges:
#1, Book title: “Beautiful People Have More Daughters”
Is that under the “O” on my card?
…Or perhaps it should read: “Beautiful Daughters Have More People”
I guess it would be humorous to EP-sympathizers with a sense of self-irony. Fundamentalists don’t excel in self-irony of course.
The gender dynamics of our savannah ancestors looked curiously like those of 1950s America.
My last discussion with these ideologues got to bingo in 7 minutes without using the free space!
I think you have found a new definition of “ideologue,” which in the Merriam Webster dictionary is defined as referring to “an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology.” I can see why you don’t like this definition, since it seems to apply to you; it is much more convenient to use the definition “a person whose ideas threaten my worldview.”
@Eicos#13: Should I cover up N-3 or O-1 for your blindly partisan reply?
Cute. I suppose it’s fair enough to answer one ad hominem with another, but I should say that my comment was motivated by my displeasure with the cheerful misrepresentation of what evolutionary psychology is. I don’t think any field is without its charlatans, but usually journalists are sensible enough not to judge the mainstream by its fringes. On the other hand, it adds nothing to a debate to tar the opposition by printing ridiculous statements that would never be uttered by any scientist.
Andrea, I entirely support your cause – at least, what I imagine your cause to be. But I am put off by your inflammatory rhetoric and tendency to indulge in smug denigration of those with opinions differing from your own. In any event, you seem to have found a receptive audience here at BoingBoing, where as usual well-meaning voices of dissent are removed by self-important moderators. Yes, go ahead, disemvowel me if you can’t take criticism.
P.S., you really haven’t done much to offend me in this thread. I was just squeezing out a bit of residual bile.
Nobody has molested your comments, so I have no idea why you’re so agitated. Andrea is a former guest blogger. She does not have access to The Big Red Button. The only position that I’ve taken in this thread is against trollish commenters ticking off talking points on their greasy, little agendas.
I got your skepticism riiiiight here!
Heh, this is oddly apropos an ongoing debate in Norway. We’ve had a TV program here studying biological versus sociological explanations of behaviour – basically the old nurture vs. nature debate reheated.
The angle is … somewhat hostile to the sociology side, mostly because their department at the university of Oslo seems to be staffed exclusively by supremely arrogant people. A defining moment was when two of them laughed derisively at the suggestion that there might be a biological aspect to some of the differences in behaviour between the sexes.
Oh well. It’s possible to go to far in both directions.
Aaargh. Too far.
I’ll claim that as a typo, not a spelling error…
And now I fail at closing my html tags. *sigh*
Time to get some sleep.
Heh, I’ve read Pinker and have in fact made a few of these remarks in conversation. Thanks for pointing out my douchey ways!
Well in my flat I get lots of:
“It’s a fact, I don’t need to prove it!”*
“Is a male undergrad who can’t get laid”**
but I’m rather lucky in that I don’t hear the others!
*”The only thing you can prove is that your trying to prove” and that’s a fact, I don’t need to prove it.
***Screw the USA – Brussels forever!!
#1, I enjoyed reading the 1-star reviews of that book. Call me petty.
What gets called “Evolutionary Psychology” these days deserves strong critisism, but it deserves better criticism than this.
We should really be worried abot some of its more serious missteps:
It tends to be vulnerable to glib post-hoc justificaton of any convenient observation.
Its proponents see the delicate balance of the old Nature/Nurture debate and come down on one side with all the weight, force and forethought of an elephant falling off a cliff.
They also straddle the Is/ought boundary with wild abandon, downplay the adaptability and diversity of the human species, and completely ignore the even the possibility of the existence of spandrels.
Most damning of all, some writers in the field make silly mistakes about evolution itself, that could be spotted by anyone who’s read up to page 2 in The Selfish Gene.
What #12 and other have said. Yep, a lot of the kind of “just so stories” associated the the “Santa Barbara School” of evolutionary psychology (and its pop psychology manifestations especially) are richly deserving of critique, but the kind of snark coming from this kind of feminist/sociological “social constructionist” mindset hardly represents an intelligent alternative. If anything, there’s even less science behind this kind of “blank slate”/”culture is king” model. One could just as easily make a spot-on bingo card for some of the simplistic social constructionist arguments offered up by otherwise-intelligent people with a leftish or sociological bent.
Myself, I subscribe to the “interactionist” model in which evolutionarily-shaped capacities and tendencies interact with culture and the larger environment in *very* complex ways, to the point of making “nature” and “nurture” supremely difficult to tease apart (and also impossible to dismiss either component).
For a non-simplistic critique of sloppy evolutionary psychology, from an evolutionary psych academic work no less, I highly recommend this:
Evolutionary Psychology and the Challenge of Adaptive Explanation
Also, David Shenk in his recent book about intelligence gives a good account of interactionism. Interview here:
You could fill a roledex with different bingo cards in a university context, especially in the social sciences. What’s new.
@ #13, I think the point of the bingo board is that it’s difficult not to sound like a bit of a toolbag when you say these things – especially if you don’t fully understand the subject (like me)
I dunno, I know a lot of women who seem to have evolved to enjoy polyamory…
[Per EP] polyamorous females have the instinct to bond with one man, to obtain the best $$$, while still playing the field, to obtain the fittest sperm.
So, you see, /anything/ fits under that EP umbrella!
The way people talk about universities, it’s as if you could pass a freshman-level final exam using only this BINGO card as your notes.
I’m still waiting to see whether the female shortage they’re cultivating in China will result in polyandrous marriages, rampant homosexuality, importation, or lots and lots of military invasions. This seems to be the kind of thing you’d be using evolutionary psychology to try to predict. If you’re just trying to whine about not getting laid, then trust me, you don’t need science to do that.
At first I was excited because evolutionary psych is over-applied and there are so many stock over-generalizations that an image like this could use. Then I read it and found it to focus on really extreme examples dealing pretty much exclusively with gender and not the same sorts of criticisms I would levy against people who overuse evolutionary psych. Now I want to make my own evolutionary psych bingo and an accompanying social constructionist bingo. Both camps are dogmatic ideologies ripe for satire!
A criticism of evolutionary psychology that literally centers on insulting the opposition’s mating fitness and social status?
Now that’s irony, Alanis.
Zing! I think you just won the internet!
Evolutionary psychology is a bit of a minefield, with plenty of poorly-conceived arguments that often happen to benefit the person proposing them. It’s unclear if this bingo card has a final verdict on the validity of evolutionary psychology, other than that undergrads tend to write poorly-reasoned and self-comforting papers about it (I think we can all agree on that).
That said, if you believe in evolution, it must play a role in our psychology. Yet I often hear many social scientists who are completely dismissive of it. Investigating evolutionary psychology is very tricky business, where causation is elusive. Still, it seems reasonable to me to propose that women, on average, with other variables held constant, might prefer to be with men with more resources rather than less, and that to do so is adaptive (read the comments in this recent boing boing story for support: http://boingboing.net/2010/02/17/one-inch-equals-3000.html ) Likewise, it seems reasonable to propose that men, on average, with other variables held constant, might prefer women of reproductive age with attractive and symmetrical features (a proxy of health). While showing evolutionary causality in a lab is nearly impossible in these scenarios, these tendencies have high face validity and occur in just about every culture on the world. To dismiss them prima facie as absurd is likewise absurd.
There is a lot of douchery in evolutionary psychology, no doubt, and much that masquerades as “science” is really just sexism in costume. There is a middle road that accounts for cautious and deliberative interpretation of evolutionary evidence while also accounting for social influences. Yet many imply that evolution plays little or no role in how we think and act, that we are all tabula rasa inscribed only by our upbringing and societal norms, and to suggest there may be any gender differences is tantamount to deep-rooted sexism (as is suggested by this famous piece by Lois Gould: http://tiltedworld.org/2009/07/22/boy-or-girl-x-a-fabulous-childs-story-by-lois-gould/ ). These arguments strike me as presumptuous and poorly-supported, and just as self-serving as those made by the more unscrupulous evolutionary psychologists.
A> The Devil made me do it.
B> Evolution made me do it.
C> False dichotomies made me do it!
It’s fun watching feminist ideology fight it out with closet chauvinism. It’s like watching a scorpion fight with a tarantula, but it doesn’t change the fact they are both ugly bugs.
Feminist ideology states that all factors of male sexuality are wrong, while all theirs are right. Chauvinist hold the exact opposite point of view.
This diagram is a great example of that misandry. Yes, men are attracted to younger females who have enhanced sexual characteristics. They can be loyal despite these attractions, and often are, but the misandrist who made this diagram doesn’t see that, thinking men are enslaved to their primal instincts, since they are inherently more primitive.
The Selfish Gene gives great coverage of the topic of the conflicting motives that drive sexual behavior, and how both sides manipulate each other to conform to their preferred mode. Love is war, and unfortunately, the math backs it up. But I’m getting tired of male sexuality being lampooned and degraded in public as much as feminists were tired of the nagging useless housewife as a staple character decades ago.
Feminist ideology states that all factors of male sexuality are wrong, while all theirs are right.
Feminism isn’t monolithic, and even if it were, it would undoubtedly have progressed beyond “Boys suck.” Try again.
I’ve seen that explanation before (feminism isn’t monolithic) and it seems too similar to the Christian complaint when confronted with historical christian atrocities, “Oh but those people weren’t REAL christians”.
Can’t have it both ways. If feminism comes in all shapes and sizes, then the most extreme views are as much a part of it as the most brochure-friendly version.
Hang on, what? Every feminist has to be held accountable for the most extreme possible feminist view? Right? That’s your argument? Really?
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So yes, you can’t just declare ‘olly olly oxen free’ on every example of the negative effects of feminism.
Does that also apply to evolutionary psychologists?
I’m aware of the “No true Scotsman” fallacy, and your application of it here is complete bollocks.
By the logic you propose, all feminists also have to hold the least extreme views expressed by feminists, because any view held by a feminist is a view of feminism and all feminists hold those views.
Complete. Load. Of. Bollocks.
You could try specifically addressing radical feminism, but I still say you are pushing shit up hill. Anyway, have fun with it!
How is that a “No True Scotsman” fallacy? It might be if someone said “no feminist holds a negative view of men,” and then you came up with an example of a feminist who has a negative view of men, and then the other person said “well, that’s not a true feminist.” That’s the way that logical fallacy works.
Your poo-flinging invective is out of line.
Noted, but for the record, I’ve suffered ad hominem attacks from the get-go here and they were not told they were out of line.
Did I mention personal accountability? Here’s your strawman back.
If feminism is a spectrum of similar ideologies or worldviews (which is what the statement “feminism isn’t monolithic” can be taken to mean in this type of context), then it becomes difficult to define what is and isn’t part of the feminist “canon”. Who’s to say that some particularly extreme views endorsed by one self-declared feminist can be considered non-feminist by another?
Did I miss something in this thread? Did anyone assert or imply that radical feminists aren’t feminists at all? Tdawwg’s statement about feminism not being monolithic was in response to this statement, which paints all feminists with one broad brushstroke:
I’ve yet to see Tdawwg’s point refuted in all of this talk about strawmen and Scotsmen.
“Did anyone assert or imply that radical feminists aren’t feminists at all?” No, nor did I say they had. I’m referring to feminist ideas, not the people who endorse them (or not).
The main problem with primalchaos’ summary is that it is selective. “Boys suck” is still arguably a feminist idea; it’s just not a particularly widely-endorsed one. Personally, I’ve actually yet to see a satisfactory summary of feminism. Based on what I’ve read and seen, I would hazard “a social movement that seeks to empower women”.
Personally, I’ve actually yet to see a satisfactory summary of feminism.
It does have many facets, but there’s plenty of information out there on all types of feminism. I think the Wikipedia article I linked to above is a pretty good summary.
My desktop dictionary defines it as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”
Yeah, except I think the question of gender equality is more orthogonal in practice.
OK, OK. I think I’m with you now. It’s the grouping of ideas. So if we have a group of ideas called feminism, any ideas in that group are feminist ideas, thus it is accurate to say “feminists think all heterosexual sex is rape”, because that idea is in the feminist “canon”.
Cool. I get it now.
By the way, did you know Americans think the media is a huge Zionist conspiracy? It’s true! That’s what Americans think! Also, Cats are black.
See my reply to Felton in #73.
So because you don’t think the group is sufficiently well defined, the group is open to blanket misrepresentation of their views. You might even say they’re asking for it.
I’m beginning to think you’re a troll, but; defining feminism is the problem of those who self-identify as feminists, not mine.
Feminist ideology does not state that all factors of male sexuality are wrong.
Neither scorpions nor tarantulas are bugs. Beauty is, admittedly, in the eye of the beholder. There are plenty of people who find both scorpions and tarantulas beautiful. (Here’s a link to a picture of a lovely sky blue tarantula: http://www.swiftinverts.com/species/C-cyan4.jpg )
So you got three out of four wrong. About what one would expect when the source for your sociological information is Fox News and you learn all your entomology from the back of breakfast cereal boxes. Really, even in a world as aggressively anti-intellectual as ours, it wouldn’t hurt to read an actual book every once in a while.
Great spider pic, Pipenta!
It seems that some people out there don’t understand what feminism actually is. The Wikipedia entry is as good a place to start as any.
Actually, I intentionally said ‘bugs’ instead of ‘insects’ because I knew both were arachnids, but that is what I get for drawing a cute little metaphor.
Some of the more healthy forms of feminism aren’t misandrist, but most American feminism regards men as ‘broken’ and needing to become ‘more feminine’. Female good, male bad. They don’t say it that way, those with views like this rarely do, but the proof is in the action. If I talked about how women were ‘less advanced’ and needed to become ‘more masculine’, I’d be crucified. I think the feminists who do the same thing in reverse deserve the same treatment.
Also, I’m actually an anarcho-socialist who reads the Nation and is actively involved in a commune, I despise Faux News and am a huge fan of Emma Goldman, a great woman and advocate for women’s rights. So, don’t discount me on that measure. I don’t fit into your box, so try and listen when I’m tired of being told my sex is wrong about everything it ever feels. If this was ‘College Feminist Bingo’, I wouldn’t be reading it here, would I?
“I understood that differently than you did. I took it more as a making fun of the guy who says something along the lines of “But I can’t help looking when she walks by / I can’t hitting on her [etc] – men just evolved to be that way!””
Yeah, that guy is a jerk who can’t control himself. Pointing out that gravity pulls you downward doesn’t excuse you from responsibility if you throw yourself off a tall building.
“This diagram is a great example of that misandry. Yes, men are attracted to younger females who have enhanced sexual characteristics. They can be loyal despite these attractions, and often are, but the misandrist who made this diagram doesn’t see that, thinking men are enslaved to their primal instincts, since they are inherently more primitive.”
I understood that differently than you did. I took it more as a making fun of the guy who says something along the lines of “But I can’t help looking when she walks by / I can’t hitting on her [etc] – men just evolved to be that way!”
“Yes, men are attracted to younger females who have enhanced sexual characteristics.”
No, men aren’t. You are. That’s the problem with evolutionary psychology. For all the talk of “Oh, it’s reasonable to hypothesise that our desires are shaped by blah blah blah”, they make no attempt to actually scientifically find out what desires most humans have. They just take their own fetishes and assume everyone has them, like you just did.
I can’t make this clear enough: being attracted to skinny 17 year olds is not normal. To normal people, 17 year olds look like children. FFS, they are children.
For all the talk of “Oh, it’s reasonable to hypothesise that our desires are shaped by blah blah blah”, they make no attempt to actually scientifically find out what desires most humans have.
A quick search through Google Scholar on ‘evolutionary psychology “sexual attraction”‘ gives about 3,000 hits, some from the American Journal of Psychiatry, Nature, Current Anthropology, Behavioral and Brain Sciences … It seems it’s a hot (pardon the pun) research topic.
They just take their own fetishes and assume everyone has them, like you just did.
But replace “fetishes” with “social norms”, and isn’t that just what you did?
To normal people, 17 year olds look like children. FFS, they are children.
Children, in what sense? That they can’t vote? There are moves afoot to lower the voting age to 16 in Denmark and the UK. And they can drive a motorbike and/or a car in many countries. They can’t have sex? But they can in some states, all European countries and many other countries of the world. They can’t buy alcohol or tobacco? They can in many European countries …
“A quick search through Google Scholar on ‘evolutionary psychology “sexual attraction”‘ gives about 3,000 hits”
Even if you put “evolutionary psychology” in quotes so you weren’t getting thousands of false positives from non-EvPsych psychology and evolutionary research, it would still only show that they mention sexual attraction and not that they researched what sexual desires people have.
“But replace “fetishes” with “social norms”, and isn’t that just what you did?”
You’re saying I have my own social norms? :S
“In the thousands of years where human life wasn’t that long, it made sense for attraction to at the very least encompass this group of perfectly fertile potential mates.”
You can imagine for yourself how well an EvPsych just-so story is going to go down as an argument in this thread.
This is easily shown to not be a “just so story”. We have written records dating to periods where old and wise was about 40 and where brides in their early teens were the norm of the time. Husbands were often older, but not always. Really, on this forum I would consider this to be common knowledge. We may regard this as a terribly unfair example of patriarchy now but it doesn’t mean that is wasn’t something highly conserved across virtually every culture we have records for.
I was having consensual sex before the age of 17–does that mean I was sexually abused as a “child?” Or worse, that I abused another “child?”
Fair point. That gets it to 934. And searching for “sexual desire” instead of “sexual attraction” actually gets 1,100 … Whichever way you choose to view this, there are around 1,000 book entries, papers and citations relating to “evolutionary psychology” and “sexual attraction” and/or “sexual desire”. I’m not going to read them all; I just to demonstrate to you that SOMEONE is doing the science, contrary to what you stated.
You’re saying I have my own social norms?
… received from your parents, your school, your peers, your own rationalizations and experiences, your church, the country(-ies) and political milieu(-s) of your childhood and adulthood, your political party, your interests and hobbies, your work, the films and TV you watch and the books you read … yes.
Ah, good times.
Evolutionary psychology, welcome to senescence. You’re another one in the long line of names for psychological study that has been dragged down through the fact that cultural norms contaminate the field, which in great and august tradition leads to your dismissal. Oh, it’s not anything you really did wrong, it was just your time to go. You’ve got more negative connotations than feminism.
Human behavioral ecology (HBE) is the next upcoming name for these following few decades, so I expect people to keep an eye out for that one and shift their disdain accordingly.
Studying human difference is not inherently bad. Of course there’s an enormous amount of inaccuracy that comes mostly from trying to explain our current cultural norms, but the goal is that these will get washed out eventually. One thing that helps? Repeatedly renewing the field, which comes with renaming it. And, not coincidentally, leaving behind the people who made their name in the old field. I wasn’t kidding about updating your disdain. It’s for the betterment of human knowledge. I’m just hopeful that the acceleration of knowledge dissemination won’t crush the next one before it gets a chance to do some worthwhile studies.
“Confusing it with evolutionary biology”. I’m sad to report that much of what you’re thinking of falls under the evolutionary psychology umbrella, but hasn’t been called that because that named field is in decline.
I have to take issue with you on this one steeroy. 17 year olds are teenagers, not children. Globally and throughout history, they are young men and women. The trend of labeling teens children and calling sexually activity between or with teens pedophilia is silly. Biologically speaking, both men and women are sexually mature somewhere around 13, with men on average taking a little longer to mature. In the thousands of years where human life wasn’t that long, it made sense for attraction to at the very least encompass this group of perfectly fertile potential mates.
Children lack secondary sexual characteristics, teenagers have them. All people are attracted to humans of one sex or another displaying secondary sexual characteristics. How we handle that is a function of cultural norms.
So you’re calling him a paedophile. Nice.
Of course, given that a 17 year old can LEGALLY CONSENT TO SEX this argument doesn’t hold a whole lot of water.
“It’s not normal to be attracted to 17-year old girls”?
That’s why there’s never been a 17-year old girl who was an international sex symbol. Oh, wait…pretty much ALL international sex symbols are around (+/-3 yrs) that age!
“Feminist ideology states that all factors of male sexuality are wrong, while all theirs are right. Chauvinist hold the exact opposite point of view.”
Citation please, sir?
I looked in my feminist agenda. I keep it right by the gay agenda, but I put a blue bookmark in it just to keep things clear. I just didn’t find this quote in there though. Am I doin’ it wrong!?
This should read “Ev Psych Fallacy Bingo” to be more accurate. Defining a field of study by its worst abuses is not really helpful.
It’s like having a “Feminism Bingo” with cards like “All men are evil” and “All sex is rape.”
My thoughts exactly. Many of the statements are off-kilter interpretations of what evolutionary psychologists actually say, such as the one about our environment of evolutionary adaptation looking somewhat like 1950s America. Not only have I never heard anything like that in my 8 years of psychology training, but it’s also blatent Americanocentrism.
Perhaps, like others have suggested, these statements are what you’d expect from an undergrad who hasn’t had time to think about the concepts and arrange them into a larger and more coherent theory of understanding about the world. I’m sure I popped off a few inaccurate doozies in the first few years of university.
OUCH!!!!!!! or Awwwww SNAP!
Happily married devoted father of one here. Also a red-blooded American male.
And I’m not afraid to admit that there has never been a time in my life when skinny, blonde, 17-year-old women with symmetrical features seemed unattractive to me.
Is this ‘natural’? It would depend on how you define ‘natural’. If by ‘natural’, you mean a humanity that sleeps in trees, runs in packs and eats raw meat, then I’d have to say it’s not at all ‘natural’.
However, if you expand your definition to include culture (which certainly appears to be a part of the natural process for humans, considering the fact that everyone has one, and everyone has had one for a VERY long time), then I’d have to say that it’s completely ‘natural’, since the much of what is and is not ‘attractive’ is culturally determined.
‘Natural’ is not the same as ‘biologically determined’.
My point? That the biggest problem I see in the soft sciences (one of which accounts for half of my higher education) is a plague of ill-defined questions. Narrowly-focused fields of study often fail to look outside their own area of interest, which usually results in research questions that over-simplify human development and behavior. This invariably leads to incomplete answers.
Hm. You’ve never spoken to a feminist, have you? (I’m sure you’ve spoken at one or two without listening.)
Credit where credit is due: I believe this is the original source:
I bet I (or anyone else) could come up with a “stereotypical boingboing posts and commments” bingo in about ten minutes. Or two.
better still if it can be configured into a Venn diagram.
What would you have for the free space; unicorn, banana, steampunk or cigarbox?
On a tangent: I have no idea what the two green people in the bottom right corner of the bingo card are up to.
That’s pretty straight-forward: it’s a caricature of “Men on top of women,” implying that that’s what evolutionary psychology is really all about. A few of the posters have tried to point this out as a caricature, offering analogies of simplified “feminism,” but I think emotions about gender issues are too high to have a particularly nuanced discussion about it.
In all fairness, the difference between the most common claims of Feminism and of Evolutionary Psychology is that one is unscientific and makes claims that aren’t falsifiable and the other…actually, you know what? Forget that.
I’m not convinced that Evolutionary Psychology is entirely without merit. It’s just that most of the strident theories are theories in name only. Sure, it’s plausible that men wanting to mate with women with wide birthing hips and healthy hair is a trait that’s been selected for but that’s it. It’s plausible but not something that can be tested at the moment. It’s not Science, it’s Speculation.
This reminds me of people in the humanities at my University who accuse some psychologists and philosophers of engaging in “too much scientism”.
The opposite of the Bingo statements make even less sense. Does it have nothing to do with our savannah ancestors? Are there no genetic differences between men and women? Does Science always have to be PC?
Pop Evolutionary Psychology is too much of a strawman these days. There’s lots of good science going on as well. (Psst, one of the founding figures is female)
I’ve been following the EvoPsych debate here and was curious if any of y’all were familiar with Howard Bloom’s work. I would imagine that he might draw similar fire in the battle of the sexes that seems to be the only thing anybody wants to discuss here regarding evolutionary psychology, but I found both The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History and Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century to be heavily sourced and highly readable. Thoughts?
I consider myself a feminist and I’m a researcher in the evolutionary ecology field. Also, I more or less agree with Christovir. The funny thing about averages is that there are plenty of anecdotes that seem to contradict the norm, but they are noteworthy precisely because they are outliers.
Of course our societal imprinting influences our attitudes, fears and assumptions. We can point to the rise of the bromance in a generation of men raised by feminist-informed mothers telling their sons it’s okay to share feelings and affection with other men. But my guess is that on average, you will continue to see the vast majority of overtly violent crimes perpetrated by men no matter what our current cultural trend may be.
Nature vs. nurture only gets you so far in evolutionary discussions. If we are talking heredity here, it’s genotype vs. phenotype.
Yes!!! This’ll stick to all them evolutionary psychologists, out there always messin’ everything up for the rest of us…
Suck it, evolutionary psychologists!
“if women don’t find you handsome, they might as well find you handy…”
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On the one hand, many of the claims of people who think they’re speaking on behalf of evolutionary psychology have some theoretical and empirical backing. On the other hand, the theoretical backing consists of theories about a very-complex and ill-understood subject and the empirical backing has a low signal-to-noise ratio. On the gripping hand, there were apparently-sound theoretical and empirical reasons to believe similar ideas in the past that turned out not be the case. To make matters worse, some of the most fervent advocates for the claims are would-be totalitarians, which makes adopting the ideas much riskier than skepticism.
In other words, it should not be ruled out a priori but it makes sense to insist that any claim jump through lots of hoops first.
I call bullshit anytime anyone calls an entire subfield of science “pseudo-science”.
It’s the scientific analogue of Godwin’s Law.
This is a bit sad actually. BB usually generally aims to refute the misinterpretation of science – here is a gleeful example of misinterpretation (posing evolutionary psychology as a strawman front for justification of male stereotypical behavior) and what’s BB’s take? Would you run a “Darwinism Bingo” website so we could laugh at all the foolish things that evolutionary biologists subscribe to?
Why does the author’s ignorance about the science get a pass? You could fill an entirely different bingo card with squares from the opposite end of the ideological spectrum.
There’s good science and bad science, and there are criticisms to be made about evolutionary psychology, but none of them make an appearance here. It calls to mind when E.O. Wilson had water dumped on his head during a lecture in 1978 – ideology, not science.
It’s humor, a trait apparently not sufficiently linked to survival to guarantee its presence in all modern humans.
This debate is weird. Evolutionary Psychology, like all scientific fields, focused on trying to develop rules that explain behavior. We accept that objects in freefall descend at 9.2 m/ss because that’s what we’ve observed. These observations never get it perfectly right the first time. Only a fool would subscribe wholesale to Freud’s theories of Psychology, but boy, did he get the conversation started. Our Constitution represents the great do-over in the experiment we call democracy.
Evolutionary Psychology is following in the footsteps of all scientific inquiry. As ideas are refined to better describe observations, the theories will change. For now it’s easy to mock the gender-polarizing nature of the field, but the theories will develop and… evolve.
The blanket dismissal of EP as a field of inquiry is also troubling. As a species, our minds developed right along with our other features. To declare human psychology bereft of evolutionary imperatives is to embrace a special kind of creationism.
Feminism: Men are jerks.
Evolutionary Biology: Men are jerks, here’s why.
I thought it was more like this:
Feminism: Women should have rights equal to those of men.
Evolutionary Psychology: Women aren’t actually equal to men, and here’s why.
Feminism: Women should have rights equal to those of men.
Evolutionary Psychology: Women aren’t actually equal to men, and here’s why.
You correctly note that Ev Psych is not making any claims regarding women’s rights. I have yet to see a serious EP source claim women should have less rights; and I’ve read a number of quotes from feminist EP writer that clearly state that a moral society requires equal rights for men and women.
How do you make the leap that because men and women may have inherited different behavioral tendencies, one sex or the other must then be superior? That’s like arguing the because Darwinism explains that men evolved to be on average taller than women, Darwinism is sexist because it claims men are better. It doesn’t follow.
Reasonable Feminism: Society and the law should treat women and men as equal, just as it treats those of different colors, creeds or IQs as equal, even if they are evidently not.
Unrealistic Feminism: Women and men actually are equal, in all possible respects with no possible deviation. Any attempt to say otherwise is the product of male chauvinism, as is most of the world’s problems.
Dumb but Far Too Common Feminism: Women are more spiritually and mentally advanced than men, have more enlightened opinions and generally better human beings. (You’ll see a lot of this in mainstream media. Think of the average modern sitcom, who has the enlightened opinion and who’s the idiot, the husband or the wife?)
I see a lot of the second and third trying to masquerade at the first, especially from people with a superiority complex. They do prove one thing is equal between the sexes – both contain people who want to feel like they are better than others just because of what they were born as.
Hm. I can’t quite make Bingo out of squares on that board that could refer to me. But I can get 4 corners!
The problem with saying this is all ‘radical feminism’ is that it doesn’t seem all that radical or out of mainstream. It’s just ‘lazy feminism’, a sort of cheap backslapping about how silly the boys are and how great the girls are, a source of cheap jokes and stereotypes, hell, I’d even call it ‘minstrel feminism’. It doesn’t refute anything, it just dismisses anything that disagrees with it as ‘just the boys being cranky’. It’s certainly more common than the reasonable models of discourse about sexuality advocated by intelligent women throughout the hard struggle for centuries.
Had you given any examples or citations to justify your sweeping insults, I might have believed that you’re not just trolling. But, alas, no. Why don’t you take the rest of the evening off to assemble some supporting materials.
Great. What am I going to do with all of this troll food? ;-)
a sort of cheap backslapping about how silly the boys are and how great the girls are, a source of cheap jokes and stereotypes
reasonable models of discourse about sexuality advocated by intelligent women throughout the hard struggle for centuries.
I’d say the latter is a much bigger part of what feminism is than the former.
Were all products of evolution minds/bodies/culture everything. Attempting to see ourselves in this context is 100% appropriate.
I thought trying to mis-characterize a whole field of science through a few half understood ideas was the domain of religious crazies… guess not.
I haven’t encountered any of the entries on the image. Given the fact that
a) I sit in front of a computer in Germany and
b) there’s an entry “Euro-Centrism”
gives me the impression that this card is US-centric regarding the displayed stereotypes.
Zhat’s practically Zen!
@Yithmas Then you are very lucky. Among other, I follow articles/threads about this topic at Spiegel Online, Heise, Telepolis.
I’ve encountered at least B5, I1, I3, I5, N1, N4, G1, O4.
Sadly, I do not knowthe rules to Bingo, so I don’t know if I won something.
If yes, I’d like an iPad.
I feel I may be missing something of the broader context here, hence my confusion. So many of your posts truly live up to the BB claim as a “directory of wonderful things”. But this is the poorest I’ve seen yet. The finer its edge, the deeper the blade of satire cuts. And this is simply a billy club with crooked nails in it.
Oh, honestly. Biologically, most 17 year olds are very much adults. Denying that just makes one look silly. Does that make it ok for someone 10, 20, 30 years older to take one as a “mate?” Not in my opinion, no. But for social reasons, not biological reasons. Who’s spinning spinning “just so stories” now?
I remember the last time BoingBoing had this discussion, on an article Ms James posted. It ended with her failing to refute or even answer five or six respectful, salient enquiries from people she’d spent several days strawmanning. It wasn’t very impressive.
Personally I find the bingo card hilarious. Until people stop using EP to justify whatever the hell it is they *want* to believe about people it can sit right alongside theories of racial superiority on my rationalization fodder shelf.
One thing I want to add to this debate is that, generally, within the psychology world outside of evolutionary psychology, it’s not a matter of nature vs. nurture, but rather nature AND nurture and how the two work in concert together.
I constantly find myself correcting/informing undergrads (disclosure: I’m a current clinical psychology grad student and have to TA and teach/mentor/correct/”fix whatever they done f’ed up in my databases” undergrads) about the misnomer of Nature vs. Nurture.
The way most psychology scientists (and other researchers in the biological/sociological areas) think about this is to view nature/biological/genetic factors acting in a transactional way with nurture/social/cultural/environment. Some researchers do examine Gene x Environment interactions (shorthand: GxE) statistically to examine which accounts for more variance in specific situations or disorders (for example: the occurrence/diagnosis of schizophrenia is ~60% genetic/biologic factors) most of this research finds that nothing is 100% nature or nurture- it’s usually a combination of both. Thus why I tell undergrads, it’s not “Nature vs. Nurture” but “Nature and Nurture.”
I agree fully. However, it is Ms James’ job to tell us what we believe, because she is part of the generation who apparently wish to discount genetics entirely from human behaviour, generally with the best of intentions. Pity the facts don’t match up.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t find the bingo card funny, Raj. Not everyone has the time to examine their privilege.
I think the bingo card is High-Larious!
And I think this thread exhibits why….
Wait… “breast-fetishists?” That’s a fetish? I thought a fetish had to be something normally considered non-sexual. Isn’t that what breasts are for? I mean, other than keeping bra manufacturers in business and something to do with babies?
Fetishes are objects with powers – originally it meant some sort of magic artifact. When you’re attracted to a woman with nice breasts, it’s not a fetish, because she’s a person. When the breasts themselves attract you, it is, because they’re objects. I guess the practical difference is how much you care about who’s behind them.
Ok, I feel like I’m wading into a snake pit here.
So, I’m kind of shocked to see a reference to Pinker in there. Full disclosure, I don’t know very much about the Evolutionary Psychology movement right now nor have I read all his work. On recommendation, I’m about halfway through reading ‘The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature’ which seems to be interesting if a little heavy on the rhetoric. Nothing really misogynistic, just some really broad brush strokes attempting to tie neuroscience with his philosophical outlook. My linguistics professor seems to think he’s great, though I haven’t really discussed it too much with her. What are some of the arguments challenging Pinker and EvoPsy?
My read on feminism is one of mutual respect and equality under the law. I feel that it’s an important benefit for males and females to have to same rights, opportunities and protections. We achieve this through education, tolerance and the disposition of the institutions we create for ourselves. Gwynne Dyer has often pointed out that equality of the sexes is no more ‘natural’ than domination by one sex or the other. I accept that there is a limited degree of dimorphism between males and females, however, in comparison to other primates sex differences appear to be much less pronounced. I, for one, would prefer to stand side by side with empowered, educated and formidable women.
I’d like to see the woman who made this attempt to create a 3-dimensional bingo card. Lolz.
As far as a predictor of behavior, viewing the world through an Evolutionary Psychology prism has successfully predicted behavior I’ve witnessed 99% of the time. This despite its abhorrence to me, in terms of values.
I thought trying to mis-characterize a whole field of science through a few half understood ideas was the domain of religious crazies… guess not.
Regardless of the person stance towards the science, this Bingo card is sort of funny. You could replace Evolutionary Psychology with *any topic*, replace all the squares with bastardized straw men of the stereotypes of that topic, and it should get a chuckle if you’re familiar with the material.
That being said, there should be a disclaimer which defines the poster’s actual beliefs. If they say, “Check out this funny hyperbole of evo psych,” you can laugh and be like, “Ha, that’s kind of right!”
But if the disclaimer is, “These are the talking points of the EVIL-utionary psychologists, pushing their misogynist agenda,” you can laugh at someone else’s blatant ignorance, which is fun if you don’t do it too often.
Science sometimes takes two steps forward then one step back. It takes a few years to filter the good ideas from the trash.
We are animals, products of evolution and should be understood in this context. Fundamentally evolutionary psychology is on the right track.
The fight here is over the enlightenment ideals that underpin the humanities. The fields of psychology and neuroscience have been undermining these ideals for over 100 years, and our understanding of the brain’s workings only accelerates with time.
The infant field of evolutionary psychology is as easy indirect target, and a worthy one, in some cases, as this bingo card tries to show. But here’s the thing – evolutionary psychology may be supplanted by different narratives or paradigms, but those paradigms will not be enlightenment ideals.
“God of the gaps” arguments face the same impossible task. Poking holes in the theory of evolution may also lead to new paradigms, but these paradigms are not going to be the creation myths in the bible.
The more we learn about the mind and the more that enlightenment ideals are undermined, the stronger these attacks will become. Much as with creationism, the only adherents will not be arguing from the scientific method, but from something else – human needs that science can’t cover, for example (which I completely approve of, by the way – the scientific method is not the be all end all of human experience and achievement). Still, the humanities are going to need a reformation in the next few decades to stay relevant.
As the misandrist and 3D-challenged original designer (and one of three contributors), I’m utterly thrilled to have my 15 minutes of internet fame. Any chance you could link back to the original post?
To address the strawman issue: Almost all of the squares were paraphrased from posts and articles written by self-declared evolutionary psychologists.
I think some defenders of evo psyche have it confused with evolutionary biology, which involves actual science such as DNA comparisons, rather than subjective musing on what behaviors date back to our ancestors trying to get a leg up on breeding, combined with some evo bio stuff and an unhealthy dose of “let’s pretend correlation equals causation”.
Oh look Ma! It’s another strawman about evolutionary psych!
Seriously just because some people that claim to be into evol psych say stupid things doesn’t mean that there is nothing of value in evol psych.
Evoloutionary psychology most bothers me when it seems to assume that there is only one evolutionary strategy that works… I’ve heard the “many blonde seventeen-year-olds” stated as categorical and irrefutable fact, but it is just possible that remaining faithful to a mate who, while still young enough to be fertile with you, is smart, accomplished, and rich in social capital, maybe even less prone to sunburn (and hence, less prone to avoid mating and cuddling children) than some blondes can be (and don’t most people born blonde turn brunette at around sexual maturity, anyhow?) also a possible method of propagating one’s offspring?
Oh, wait, that can’t be. No-one ever found Gina Torres or Tina Fey or any oriental or Hispanic woman sexy. No man would ever marry a woman to whom he felt an intellectual connection, or turned down a woman because she’s really not very accomplished and shows little sign of becoming so. Sorry, my bad.
I’ve kind of learned to steer clear of bedding men who swallow the statements espoused in the chart above (and there are a few) unless it’s clear that they don’t confuse “I am aware of a tendency to” with “I must comply with the dicta of biology, and therefore it is impossible that I can pick up my socks or believe that you can dislike most shades of pink.”
And um, didn’t past ages use rationale that sounded enough like evolutionary psychology to justify all sorts of oppressive silliness? Perhaps one could, without dismissing it out of hand, keep that in mind while exploring the theories thereof.
Chrs just said everything I wanted to. Cheers.
As far as examining my privilege goes; I’m not a prick, of course I’ve done some thinking about that. Mind you, I come from an area that was effectively ethnically homogeneous until the late 90s (amazingly, no-one wanted to immigrate to Northern Ireland. Lack of jobs and presence of a war had something to do with that.)
You see, I’ve personally met some of the most horrific evo-psych racists there are, such as Richard Lynn. I abhor them and their ideas, but they are not the concept of evolutionary psychology. Given that we know that some areas of human behaviour are genetic, it is literally impossible that they did not form by evolution. Refusing to study that because of a few mad old bastards is exactly the same as blasting feminism because of the unpalatability of so-called radical feminism as a culture.
Babies have to be separated from bathwater, and the answer to the problem is to attack the ideas and the sacred cows, not the area of investigation. Savonarola would be proud.
Oh, and I forgot to mention- I wasn’t having a go at the bingo card itself- it *is* an attack on some pretty stupid ideas, and it’s funny. I just knew that the discussion itself was headed for a broadside, that’s all.
For sure, Evolutionary Psychology is controversial and some find what it says about human nature hard to accept, and there is some misguided research out there, but as products of evolution our bodies have been shaped by the forces of natural and sexual selection. One doesn’t have to buy into eugenics, sociobiology or the like to see that our brain function and structure, and therefore our behaviour is in part influenced by our evolutionary history. How could it not be?
EP is not about saying “my genes made me do it, so it’s ok”, rather is offers insights into how our behaviour is defined by the interaction of genes and environment.
Perhaps the OP should read a little more deeply into the subject before mischaracterising an entire field of research. I smell a strong whiff of anti-scientism (on Boing Boing of all places).
I see many comments posted here by misogynists( though they may believe they aren’t) bashing women and (radical)feminism but not even tolerating slightest criticism of the sexist claims made by evolutionary psychologists.
Definition of “racism” according to Cambridge dictionary: the belief that people’s qualities are influenced by their race and that the members of other races are not as good as the members of your own, or the resulting unfair treatment of members of other races.
Fact: Anyone who believes European-American’s higher IQ test scores compared to that of African-Americans is biologically based is a racist.
Definition of “sexism” according to Cambridge dictionary: the belief that the members of one sex are less intelligent, able, skilful, etc. than the members of the other sex, especially that women are less able than men.
Fact: Anyone who believes men’s superior test scored in mathematics or spatial abilities (compared to scores of women) is biologically based is a sexist.
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