That’s Richard Dawkins. He knows EVERYTHING.
But can he see why kids love Cinnamon Toast Crunch?
“Because it’s coated in crystallized dextrose engineered to induce the chemical reward we’ve developed in response to monosaccharides due to the presence of vital energy-producing carbohydrates in fresh fruits?”
Wrong; it’s got cinnamon sugar SWIRLS in every bite!
“Why imagine that specific genes for aggression, dominance, or spite have any importance when we know that the brain's enormous flexibility permits us to be aggressive or peaceful, dominant or submissive, spiteful or generous? Violence, sexism, and general nastiness are biological since they represent one subset of a possible range of behaviors. But peacefulness, equality, and kindness are just as biological—and we may see their influence increase if we can create social structures that permit them to flourish.”—
Stephen Jay Gould in “Biological Potentiality vs. Biological Determinism”, Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in natural history
Read the chapter, and I’m not sure why evolutionary psychologists are still around after this.
Women and males should learn to appreciate their natural roles in life
In humans, sexual dimorphism is prevalent. Males are generally bigger and stronger, while women creates life and have a slightly different brain structure.
Knowing this, it should be pretty obvious that they both have natural, pre-determined roles, that’s the purpose of dimorphism, that’s why women and males are different to each other. And we should respect that, and keep in mind that it doesn’t mean one role is better than the other; They’re just different!
Since males are big and strong, they are suitable for menial labor and other physical tasks. Such as building, agriculture, cleaning, cooking, and generally be of assistance to women.
Women, on the other hand, are more suitable leaders and overseers. Since they’re the creators of all life, they hold the responsibility to lead males in the world and protect them. Women’s brains are also more suitable for reasoning, logic, empathy and understanding, this again adding to their status of natural leaders.
This is not sexist, this is just biology. To make peace in the world, we need to return to our natural roles. Masculinism has gone too far.
Feminism And Evo Psych
To say that feminism and evolutionary psychology have a “bad relationship” would be one of the greater understatements we could make. Unfortunately, the problem is equal parts bigotry and ignorance.
Evolutionary psychology is a relatively new field that examines things like memory, habits, and yes, gender, from a modern evolutionary perspective. The MRM frequently bring up topics discussed in evolutionary psychology, but many people seem very confused about their reasons for doing so. When the MRM bring it up, they generally are trying to show why current gender interactions are the way that they are. Even we have used evolutionary psychology to help explain things in at least two of our basics posts. People often don’t understand this, though, and tend to hear ”this is why things should stay this way.” Just because something is natural, doesn’t make it right. Indeed, this is actually a fallacy in and of itself, the “naturalistic fallacy.” They assume the MRM is trying to say that because this is the way things are, this is the way it should remain; that the fact that these roles are the product of nature inherently justifies them. For most MRAs, though, this is not the case. What they’re actually trying to do is explain things in a rational fashion so we can better understand how to fix them.
Feminists, however, do not like it when MRAs bring up this field. Not at all. See, most of evolutionary psychology contradicts virtually all of mainstream feminist theory. One example is a central tenet of almost all feminism: patriarchy theory. This theory suggests that men hold the majority of power in the world and use it to benefit men while oppressing women. Most radical feminists (and a scary number of mainstream ones) also believe that the patriarchy was created by men. Evolutionary theory clearly contradicts this, demonstrating how gender roles were created because they were necessary for our survival. We needed a division of labor and pregnant women couldn’t hunt, and so they stayed home to raise the kids while the men went out and did all the dirty work. This itself was strongly influenced by the persistence-hunter nature of early humans and our unusually long infancy and childhood, which in turn were further enabled by the division of labor they produced.
Once we understand this, we can easily see how these roles are oppressive to both genders. By this same line of reasoning, we also see why women’s issues are being given all the attention while nobody is trying to rectify men’s issues. Women are seen as needing protecting while men are seen as disposable. While MRAs agree that while these gender roles were useful in the past, they are more or less irrelevant in the present. Due to the technological developments of the last 100 years, the division of labor between the genders that was once necessary is slowly but surely becoming obsolete. MRAs have realized this, and are working to get rid of these now useless gender roles.
The thing is, feminists don’t want people to understand this because if they did, the feminist movement would basically implode in on itself. The movement relies on convenient myths and fabrication that stem from other convenient myths and fabrications, the vast majority of which are not supported by science, as well as evolutionary psychology. This is also another possible reason why they try discredit the MRM’s attempts at using the field to explain things. In the end, evolutionary psychology is an ally to the ones who truly want to bring about change and equity, and an enemy to the bigoted who only use the label of equality for their own selfish gain.
If you would like to learn more about this topic, feel free to check out this link, where we discuss bits of it in greater detail.
“Here’s an easy indicator. If it’s a paper that presumes to tell you the evolutionary basis of differences between the sexes or races, it’s bullshit. That means the author is going to trot out some prejudice about how sexes or races differ before building some feeble case from a collection of poorly designed surveys or sloppily analyzed statistics to make up a story. Unsurprisingly, those differences always fit some bigoted preconception, and always have, from Galton’s determination of the ‘objective’ degrees of feminine beauty between races to Kanazawa’s, ummm, determination of the ‘objective’ degrees of feminine beauty between races. There really hasn’t been a lot of creativity in this subfield.”—
-PZ Myers on determining whether a piece of evolutionary psychology is bullhsit or not. Also some mocking at a pick-up artist/MRA douchebag.
Some thoughts about evo psych
I’m not going into the methodic aspects of evo psych, because they’re just bad (just-so stories, unfalsifiable hypotheses…). Even if they manage to make successful predictions, that still doesn’t exclude the possibility of alternative explanations, especially since said predictions are informed by observations of modern society. However, they could be onto something when it comes to describing males. After all, those descriptions are not clouded by misogynistic beliefs.
But when it comes to women, the obliviousness to the oppressive workings of society is just baffling. Like, ooh, we make a cross-cultural study, ‘cause that’s totally gonna prove hypergamy (“marrying up”) is a universal adaptive trait! How blinded by privilege one must be to make such a conclusion, given the fact that women worldwide are economically disadvantaged, especially WOC?
It’s such a Western white privileged assumption that all women marry for romantic or merely personal reasons and if you happen to observe that they “marry up”, that must be some subconscious adaptive mechanism, because biotruth!!!!11!
No, there’s no possibility that women do that as a conscious, pragmatic decision… you know, some women don’t have the privilege to marry out of love, which, BTW, doesn’t make them greedy, gold-digging b*tches. Not to speak of arranged marriages and social norms informing reasons to marry which are later reflected in your stupid survey as if they were basically the same for all women…
Oh, and, female reproductive strategy? Women are picky, right? How about the fact that birth would possibly put an end to a woman’s life? Why is that never discussed, huh? What if the woman already has children and doesn’t want to get pregnant, because she has to take care of her offspring and can’t afford to fucking die? Or help other women to raise their children? Maybe the fear of dying as a result of pregnancy is adaptive? I could also claim that - just so.
And why is that males, according to evo psych, tend to go for young, “neotenous” (euphemism for “childlike”) women? If the male strategy is to “spread the seed” and all women are picky, then every male trying to mate with a woman does also have at least some opportunity costs. So if you leave the woman with the offspring, how about making sure that she’s able to survive and teach the children survival tactics? ‘Cause a woman who is young, immature and submissive wouldn’t be my first pick when it comes to survival competence and reproductive success as a result of that, because the next generation would also have to pass my genes, right?
Oh, and weird inconsistency for the fact that males are supposed to leave as soon as the fuck is over, but women “choose a provider of resources”.
And why aren’t males standing in queues to donate to sperm banks? I’m not saying that they don’t want to spread their “precious” seed at all, but has it ever occurred to the evo psych crowd that there might be more into that than just a reproductive strategy?
And why is reproductive behavior in animal species such as gorillas framed as “having a harem”? What if we lived in a matriarchal society. Would we call it a group of female gorillas having a personal sperm donator? I’m just sayin’, because analogies to the animal world are often used as justifications for patriarchal institutions and I’m quite sure that patriarchal ways of thinking are also playing into observations of animal behavior.
Tiger Eyes Shaped Mysterious Sleepwalking Maniac
(It’s been a while since I felt like writing one of my regular links blogs, but here I am - I realised just then that I’d read a bunch of articles in the last few days, and that I felt like sharing them. The busiest part of semester for me is over for a bit, so I have more time and energy for stuff like this! So hi!)
The Maniac In Me by Daniel Smith (New York Times): Thoughtful piece on the nature of anxiety; Daniel and his brother both have anxiety, but of different qualities, and Smith elegantly portrays his adulthood as a quest to figure out how to best harness that anxiety rather than let it harness him.
The Mysterious Case Of The Vanishing Genius by Mike Martin (Psychology Today): Margie Profet was fascinated by human evolutionary biology, and clearly had an original mind. Perhaps one of her most interesting hypotheses (and one with some evidence behind it) is that allergies are the body defending itself against likely carcinogens - at least, people prone to allergies have lower rates of cancer. But Profet was an eccentric kind of person, too, and eventually decided to remove herself from the world between 2002-2005; nobody knows where she is now, whether she’s alive or dead. [via]
On Tiger Moms by Julie Park (The Point): As an Asian-American, Julie Park has seen the ‘Tiger Mom’ parenting technique of Amy Chua (e.g., relentless focus on achievement, no namby pamby ‘find your calling’ stuff) up close and personal, in her childhood and in her friends’ experiences. And here she discusses the complications of the technique, and what it can and can’t do for a child; and her piece makes you think about the unexamined assumptions we have about childhood and Western society, and that Amy Chua has about childhood and Western society. [via]
Do The Eyes Have It? by Pat Shipman (American Scientist): One funny thing about us humans is that our eyes have white sclerae. This is not the case for the other apes (apart from some rare mutations) - their sclerae (i.e., the bits that surround the iris) are darker. And Shipman argues that it may well be that the reason we’ve evolved white eyes is to communicate with dogs. After all, dogs are very unusual in that they seem to watch our eyes in a way almost no other animal does, and having white sclerae makes watching our eyes easier. And hunting animals is more successful with dogs. (Still, Australian aborigines went without dogs for tens of thousands of years, until traders bought dingoes a couple of thousand years ago. And their sclerae are white.) [via]
A Duplicated Gene Shaped Human Brain Evolution, And Why The Human Gene Project Missed It by Ed Yong (Not Exactly Rocket Science): The Human Gene Project had some limitations in terms of how it collated the human genome; one of which was that the techniques used had trouble identifying genes that are duplicated within the genome only in humans and not in other animals. It turns out that one of those duplicated genes, SRGAP2C, is responsible for human neurons having more synapses with longer stalks and bigger ‘heads’ than the neurons of other mammals; after all, more synapses almost certainly increases the overall amount of information a human brain can hold!
The Case Of The Sleepwalking Killer by Karen Abbott (Past Imperfect): In 1846 in Boston, a man named Albert J. Tirrell was tried for murdering Mary Ann Bickford, his romantic partner. Tirrell’s lawyer, Rufus Choate, knew that there was a fair bit of circumstantial evidence against Tirrell. And so he went for a novel defense - Tirrell had murdered Bickford in his sleep!
How to get your opinions labeled "Science." (Using bullshit pop-evolutionary-psychology)
1. Get a little bit of data. A self-reported survey administered to fifteen undergrads (the portion of your 9AM class who returned the surveys) is more than enough.
2. Break that data down by sex. Make sure to never ever ever break it down by age, socioeconomic status, level of education, nationality, or any other way people could conceivably differ from each other.
(2b. Make sure that you treat gender as absolutely biologically fixed. Disregard the possibility of non-heterosexual subjects, or for bonus points, attempt to lump gay men in with straight women and vice versa.)
3. Search for differences and discard similarities. Ways in which men and women are alike could never be significant findings! For bonus points, design your study in a way that is incapable of finding similarities—only test one sex, or test two sexes in different ways without a control.
4. This is the creative step. A less brilliant researcher would find that, say, women have a higher pain tolerance than men (as tested by heat exposure to the skin), and publish a paper entitled “Gender and pain tolerance in heat exposure.” You are better than that! Because you know how to speculate wildly! Make up a completely ludicrous story that could have produced the results you found, and present it as your conclusion. Be sure that this story references “cavemen,” justifies stereotypical gender roles, and act like proof of your data constitutes proof of your story. In the example given above, your paper should be entitled “Women naturally adapted to cooking; cavewomen adapted to the heat of cooking fires while making their men a nice mastodon roast when the men were away doing important things.”
5. Release your findings to the popular press with an air of “This is the proclamation of Science and henceforth must be considered objective truth.” Promote the story you came up with as the headline and bury the boring ol’ actual data.
6. Get read by millions of grandparents, chatty neighbors, and suburban ER nurses who are spectacularly susceptible to the appeal to authority fallacy, and respond to all objections with “but that’s just your opinion, Holly, and this is Science.”
Via The Pervocracy
(This list is spot on and the whole article is well worth a read. I have seen this pop-Darwinism/evolutionary psychology bullshit used so badly, so many times. For example the “Black women are objectively less attractive” study and the “Men cheat because CAVEMEN” study and the “Women use men for babies/belong in the kitchen/dye their hair because CAVEMEN” study. The list is endless.)
I'm so sick of evolutionary psychologists trying to justify sexism
They’re a shameful pustule of misogynistic wank, hindering the concepts of social progression and equality with each new piece of bullshit they produce.
Perhaps I need not reassure any truly scientifically inclined mind that supports the free exercise of creating and publishing even the most inane ideas, but I love psychology. I hate junk studies and shitty theories slopped together from the dull brains of people steeped in self-importance and/or white male privilege. Time and time again, these evolutionary psychologists publish garbage claiming nonsense such as the following: that feminism is illogical and evil because women control men with their beauty (if you’re ugly though, forget it) and have really had it better than men all along, that women’s menstrual cycles make them fickle attention lovers, and that rape has a genetic basis in men because it helps increase reproduction. The last of these has already been debunked by a group of researchers who explained why it is a piece of fraudulent slime.
The first article shows little attempt to disguise the bitter misogyny with which it is packed. The dude claims that the fact that women make less money than men isn’t evidence that they’re not as well off as men, and to illustrate this idea he compares it to women owning more shoes than men doesn’t mean that women are better off than men. Because you know, stereotyping women as spendthrift shopaholics is tantamount to proving that women aren’t affected by their level of income. I mean, it’s only a good indicator of your fucking standard of living.
He says that in every human society, “more women attain some reproductive success; many more men end their lives as total reproductive losers, having left no genetic offspring.” Common sense clearly escapes this mongo. If so many men are dying and killing themselves having failed to reproduce, then these gestating women are all breeding with the same dudes - who, given the biological differences between the sexes, don’t have any problem fathering far more children than women. It’s obvious to any reader who knows anything about feminism that he doesn’t have the faintest idea what feminism is, or what its premises consist of, or what modern feminists are interested in accomplishing. Absolutely everything about this article is just so completely wrong that I’d waste my time preaching common sense and simple facts to people whom I expect are already familiar with common sense and simple facts.
The second article is just as misogynistic but there is an attempt to disguise it as science. It’s not uncommon for pseudo-psych writers to reduce women to their ovaries and uteri: “With her tight clothes, alluring scent, and seductive waist-hip ratio, a woman in estrus is sending out a signal not unlike the chimp or the cat in heat.” The insulting comparison of women to animals in heat aside, the notion that an ovulating woman is inviting sexual attention is misogyny at its finest. This claim is “evidenced” by the fact that a certain “researcher” found that 18 menstruating strip club dancers earned less money than ovulating dancers - because, as we all know, lap dancers are not only representative of the female population but also unconsciously send out come-fuck-me signals every time one of their ovaries drops an egg in the tube.
The ridiculous fickle-hormonal-male-female-attraction idea is followed up with a warning to women to not put themselves in risky situations by drinking too much at bars while they’re ovulating. Quick shift there to blaming women for getting unhappily man-handled or force-fucked by uncontrollable horny man-beasts, nice going. With all my hating of rapey patriarchal priming, I can’t do a better job at castigating this piece of rubbish than sage radfem Twisty over on her wonderful patriarchy-blaming blog.
Why Psychology Today does not moderate the crap that gets posted, I do not know.
I’m not going to say much about the last one other than that I truly wonder how a couple of tossers so ignorant about sexual violence managed to get their pile of dung published. There’s a power dynamic in rape that extends far beyond affecting just attractive females of childbearing age. And trauma messes with your hormones.
I might need to barf.
“China has been running the world's largest and most successful eugenics program for more than thirty years, driving China's ever-faster rise as the global superpower. I worry that this poses some existential threat to Western civilization. Yet the most likely result is that America and Europe linger around a few hundred more years as also-rans on the world-historical stage, nursing our anti-hereditarian political correctness to the bitter end.”—
Evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller shares some thoughts on “Chinese Eugenics” in a response to Edge’s 2013 question, “What should we be worried about?” [Edge]
Near the end Miller concludes,
There is unusually close cooperation in China between government, academia, medicine, education, media, parents, and consumerism in promoting a utopian Han ethno-state. Given what I understand of evolutionary behavior genetics, I expect—and hope—that they will succeed. The welfare and happiness of the world’s most populous country depends upon it.
My real worry is the Western response. The most likely response, given Euro-American ideological biases, would be a bioethical panic that leads to criticism of Chinese population policy with the same self-righteous hypocrisy that we have shown in criticizing various Chinese socio-cultural policies. But the global stakes are too high for us to act that stupidly and short-sightedly. A more mature response would be based on mutual civilizational respect, asking—what can we learn from what the Chinese are doing, how can we help them, and how can they help us to keep up as they create their brave new world?
Given the platform, evolutionary psychologists never fail to don the academic fedora.