Monday, 4 August 2008

Monday Funday - With evolutionary psychology

Phila at Echinde of Snakes satirises evolutionary psychology, and the latest "finding" that men make music as a strategy to score, and women are but putty in their plectrum wielding hands:
You'd think that'd be the last word on the subject. But male rivalry is as endlessly productive in science as it is in every other civilized endeavor, and so Miller has already been elbowed aside by John Manning of the University of Central Lancashire, who claims that "men who make lots of good music make lots of sperm" (thanks to testosterone), and that women accordingly flock to them like flies to dogshit.
Hat tipped to The F Word.


harvestbird said...

What then, of the sperm-depleting behaviours that these hypothetical male musos so regularly indulge in (booze! dope!)? What make the sperm-seeking ladies of this?

Sometimes I think that evolutionary psychology/biology/psychobiology is the scientific narratorial equivalent of stock film footage of fountains gushing and trains going into tunnels.

Anna McM said...

Thanks for drawing attention to what an ongoing pile of shite evolutionary psychology is. It's not just around in popular consciousness either. Part of my thesis looks at the way it was used by Treasury during the 4th Labour Govt in relation to social policy reforms. Eek.

Julie said...

I studied biological anthropology at uni, so evolutionary psychology is something I've been struggling with for some time now. They often seem to forget the rather haphazard nature of evolution, and see it instead as a driving force almost with some kind of specific aim in mind.

That's fascinating about the 4th Labour Govt Anna, might you write some more about that sometime?

Anna McM said...

Yeah, I will. I've done a wee bit of work in this area already, but I'm about to embark on it properly very soon - just finishing the chapter prior.

Ben R said...

I can't understand the level of hostility to evolutionary psychology. Sure, some of the theories may be silly, but have you read many of Steven Pinker's articles? His piece in the New York times about morality, and his one about swearing are fascinating.

You can access his articles here:

I'd also cite this extract from Pinker's letter to the NY Times in 1997 defending evolutionary psych:

"Far from being "barren," the adaptationist approach has, for over a century, driven the most rigorous, elegant, and empirically rich branch of psychology, perception. Today it is spawning new insights and intensive modeling and data-gathering on every other aspect of the mind, including reasoning, mental imagery, memory, language, beauty, sexual desire, autism, emotions such as fear and disgust, violence, the numerical abilities of children and animals, and the shaping of personality.(Note 1) Gould's hostility to this exciting field is a missed opportunity for both."