Guest post by Captain Weeaboo: How Gender Feminism Became the New Creationism

18 Dec

Loved this Tweet from a parody Salon account, and thought I needed to write about evo psych and feminism.

 

evopsych

 

Turns out my friend Captain Weeaboo did a pretty nice job of addressing the issues, and with permission, here is the post:

 

http://libertarianweeaboo.tumblr.com/post/105531573042/how-gender-feminism-became-the-new-creationism

 

STEM fields are generally not popular among people driven by political ideology, because STEM deals with facts as opposed to humanities which are generally based on confirmation bias and fail to have a coherent method like the scientific method. But one of the scientific fields that is most hated and attacked of them all has to be biology.

 

 
The field of biology makes a lot of discoveries that tell us a lot about the implications of humanity, biology has shown us some inconvenient truths about human nature, such as that we are in the long run not so different from animals after all. Opponents who criticize fields of biology and people who criticize most of STEM are generally ideology driven people. Anthropocentrists who want to conform the facts to make them fit in their beautiful worldview to justify their false sugarcoated lies. It all manifested itself when Darwin and Wallace introduced a scientific argument for evolutionary biology known as natural selection. It made the bold claim that animals and humans where not seperately created in their current form by a creator but rather that biological populations changed over succesive generations and that they all including humans share a common ancestor.

 

 
As expected people where absolutely outraged by this idea, they claimed that this theory of evolution was against God and the bible and considered it blatant heresy. Opponents of evolutionary biology mainly known as the creationists claimed that evolutionary biology and natural selection would justify things like eugenics, satanism, abortion, murder, selfishness and might is right morality. They purely opposed evolution not because they could scientifically disprove the theory, but because they disliked the implications of the theory and feared that it would not fit within their worldview. They where too blinded by their religious and political motivations to even consider the evidence. In modern days evolutionary biology has become overwhelmingly accepted, with an incredible amount of evidence from genetics to paleontology backing the scientific theory up, sure there are still creationist groups out there redressing themselves as “intelligent design” but i’m fairly confident science won the Evolution vs Creation war.

 

 
But now we have a new controversial field in evolution, with an entire new enemy trying to deny human nature. This field is known as Evolutionary Psychology which started with it’s older brother Sociobiology. Both Evolutionary Psychology and Sociobiology aim to seek a middle ground in the fallacious Nature vs Nurture debate and seek to explain cultures, social behaviour and intelligence through genetics and biology, Evolutionary Psychology specifically uses adaption and the principle of Natural Selection for this. The fields where popularized by men like E.O Wilson, Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker and have till this day contributed a lot to the fields of biology and genetics. However since these fields reject the principle of a Blank Slate and that behaviour is purely shaped by culture and enviroment the field has once again gained a lot of controversy and attacks by ideology driven people scared of the implications.

 

 
In the 20th century it was first attacked by Neo-Lysenkoists like Richard Lewtonin and Stephen Gould who seeked to minimize the roles of genetics and biology as much as possible and outright rejected these fields, while they deny it, they where clearly motivated by political views and fear of biological determinism rather than actually opposing the science behind it. Now in the 21st century a whole other enemy has arrived to attack Evolutionary Psychology, these people specifically criticizing the role of EP in gender.

 

 
They are known as the Gender Feminists, people who view gender as a purely social construct and who seek to eliminate and destroy gender roles as they view it as harmful. These people completely reject the idea that gender has any biological influences, they believe that there is no difference between men and women from a genetic standpoint and that gender is essentially a blank slate molten by environment and culture. As such these feminists directly deny and hate Evolutionary Psychology with a passion, believing it enforces a patriarchy and viewing masculinity as superior, even going as far as to say that the field promotes rape.

 
These viewpoints are generally enforced in pseudoscientific fields like Woman Studies and Gender theory, fields that are strongly influenced by postmodernism and run rampant in academia. If you want to know more about these people i strongly recommend the Norwegian documentary “Hjernevask” which exposes the clear ideological motivation behind Gender Studies while providing clear scientific evidence against it.

 

 
Do you notice how extremely uncanney Creationism and Gender Feminism is? Both strongly oppose evolution in favor of a field that fits their own worldview, and both believe that accepting these evolutionary principles would lead to bad thing. Creationists believing it would lead to eugenics, racism, satanism and social darwinism. While Feminists believe it would lead to patriarchy, sexism, gender roles and biological determinism. While there are many other pseudoscientific beliefs SJW’s hold such as denial of transmedicalism (also known by tumblrites as truscum) and even more crazy the Otherkin/Headmate cultures, I want to mainly focus on feminists social constructionism and their criticism of Evolutionary Psychology.

 

 
Ironically most of the notable criticism of Evolutionary Psychology are self-proclaimed skeptics who you’d usually expect to make fun of such pseudoscience. Rebbeca Watson also known as the Skepchick is an atheist/skeptic notable for attempting to force feminism into the skeptic community. She poorly attempted to attack Evolutionary Psychology but has been excellently rebutted by real skeptics. (Credits to Ed Clint)
http://www.skepticink.com/incredulous/2014/12/12/science-denialism-skeptic-conference-redux/

 

 

Overall here are some of the most notable criticisms of Gender Feminists who tend to attack Evolutionary Psychology.

 

 

1. Evolutionary Psychology enforces Gender Roles and patriarchy
Fallacies: Is/Ought, Appeal to Consequences.

 
Many gender feminists argue that if it is indeed true that genetics and biology plays part in gender that that would mean that people can justify gender roles based and going back to some kind of Hunter-Gatherer society where men are masculine and women and obedient since that is what biology dictates right? The problem with this argument is that it blatantly lumps an is with an ought. Just because the two genders may be biologically different does not mean that we ought to live different. Also should be noted that EP does not entirely reject the enviromental contributions to gender, again it’s a middle ground of Nature and Nurture.

 

 
I myself am a strong supporter in libertarianism which means i support individuals to aim for their own life, liberty and pursuit of hapiness which means i oppose limiting someone’s own freedom and pursuit of hapiness through lumping them into a gender role, i strongly believe a child’s growth is based on his/her own exploration. So you can say that i do not support enforcing traditional gender roles in society. That being said however we should neither completely reject gender differences alltogether and pretend that we can basically raise kids as if they’re the complete other gender. Take David Reiner’s case, he was part of an experiment in order to prove that gender was a social construct, he was biologically a boy but was raised as a girl after medical advice and when his penis was destroyed in a failed circumcision. So was this experiment evidence that gender was learned and not biological? Nope. He killed himself.

 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reimer

 

 
So trying to appeal to consequences like this is absolutely nonsense because consequences aren’t a one-way street. Cases like David Reimer clearly show the dangerous consequences that can come by believing gender to be a social construct.

 

 

2. Evolutionary Psychology promotes Racist and Sexist views
Fallacies: Strawman, Appeal to Consequences, Appeal to Emotions

 

 

Quite the contrary, Evolutionary Psychology generally looks at behaviour from a genetic and neurological viewpoint, which includes all races and sexes. And that has actually shown that there are far more genetic similarities. Evolution maintains that humans are one species which means they share pretty much the exact same basic featrues. Sure there are differences in races, sexes and even individuals but these differences tend to be minor and not something EP pays that much attention to.

 
What Evolutionary Psychology is saying that just like how natural selection and genetics shaped our physical properties it can also shape our psychological properties since physical and psychological properties are essentially based on adaptations. And yes just like there are physical differences in races and sexes there are some psychological differences, but again these are so extremely minor compared to the large functions of he human body that it’s entirely irrelevant.

 

 

3. Evolutionary Psychology promotes rape
Fallacies: Strawman, Guilt by Association, Appeal to Consequences, Association Fallacy

 

 
This is probably without a doubt one of the biggest reasons EP has a poor reputation among feminism. This argument is based on the book “A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion” which was a book introducing a EP solution to rape and maintain that rape is inherently biological as an evolutionary behavioral adaptation. It is generally accepted that this is the reason why a lot of animals including Ducks, Great Apes and Dolphins rape but when it comes the humans the subject is obviously controversial.

 
However feminists claiming that because this exists means that EP is wrong is absolutely ridiculous. First of all most EP’s maintain that there is no evidence for this hypothesis in the first place and consider it as possible at best. Second of all even if it is true that it is a biological adaptation it again does not equal that rape can be justified. I believe that studies about the biological nature of rape should be encouraged in order to know more about the psychology behind rape so that we can take measures to prevent it.

 

 

4. Evolutionary Psychology cannot be tested and is therefor unfalsifiable
Fallacies: Unwarranted Assumption

 
This is actually one of the few objections to EP that isn’t clearly motivated by politics. They maintain that when Evolutionary Psychologists make hypotheses they are mere stories that cannot be remotely tested in science like we can test Evolutionary Biology through experimenting with isolating Bacteria to watch them evolve.
Instead of using my admitted limited knowledge on the details of EP research to give examples of how to test these hypotheses here is another great article by Ed Clint providing exactly that.

 
http://www.skepticink.com/incredulous/2012/09/13/how-are-evolutionary-psychology-hypotheses-tested/

 

 

5. There are cultures today and in history that did things different therefore EP is false and everything must be cultural

Fallacies: Nirvana Fallacy, Cherry Picking

 

 
This is a common argument i hear as well, especially in the context of hunter-gatherer societies where they show examples of cultures where the men are the gatherers. Though this is a common misconception of Evolution and science in general. Natural selection does not mean everything has to be absolute, with everything there will be exceptions and contrasts to what is generally expected, same goes with evolutionary biology and statistics. The point is that in general these societies act very much the same.

 
As for hunter-gatherer societies specifically these generally happen under specific circumstances rather than being a manifestation in the culture itself. For example men only gather when food especially meat is scarce and women tend to only hunt for small catch. It’s not that these people do not follow the hunter-gatherer rules but rather that they adapt to different circumstances at times.

 

 

My conclusion is that feminism has turned into a very fringe postmodernist ideology that aims to silence and criticize legitimate science that does not conform to their ideology, and as such are pretty much an example of modern day creationists. I wish that feminists would move their blinders and realize that there is so much more amazing and complex issues in EP rather than gender differences or stuff like that. Who knows.

 

 

77 Responses to “Guest post by Captain Weeaboo: How Gender Feminism Became the New Creationism”

  1. insanitybytes22 December 18, 2014 at 18:17 #

    Good post, thank you for linking to it. I enjoyed reading it.

    Needless to say I am all about the biology. Much of that has come from debating with feminists and discovering this quirk where they don’t like to actually acknowledge the existence of biology at all. Evo-psych can really get them shrieking. The idea that there may simply be some biological truths to the world that we have no control over, doesn’t usually go over very well. I suppose it can be a bit difficult for some to come to terms with the fact that women are simply smaller, weaker, and more biologically vulnerable then men are, at least physically and reproductively. Kind of sad however, because hidden within feminist ideology is a type of misogyny or self hatred, so the very nature of women becomes something to be despised, rejected, and avoided at all costs.

    Like

  2. theasdgamer December 18, 2014 at 19:05 #

    As Philosophers of Science showed some 3 decades ago, the word “science” has no objective, clear, meaning. The use of the word “science” is purely rhetorical and its meaning subjective. The whole article relies on hogwash for a foundation.

    Evolutionary biologists have nothing but disdain for evo-psych. The link mentions Gould’s 79 paper. Show me some broad-spectrum reviews of EvoPsych papers by Philosophers of Biology that consider the rigor of EvoPsych papers. A link to an article written by an EvoPsych grad student isn’t even slightly persuasive, not to mention compelling.

    And the writer of the article didn’t get creationism right, either. He referenced the worst ideas of creationism rather than the best. Straw Man fallacy.

    The only thing Darwin did right was to undermine the idea of the fixity of species. See Richard Lewontin’s writing about natural selection.

    Piss-poor article.

    No, I’m not a feminist. Not even close.

    Like

  3. slacker December 18, 2014 at 19:16 #

    This is what happens when people make a political ideology their religion like so many feminists have and why likening them to creationists is an apt comparison. They’ll attack anything that threatens their world view even if it has scientific backing like Evolutionary Biology does.

    Like

  4. caprizchka December 18, 2014 at 19:59 #

    The problem of the polarized camps of Evolutionary Psychology, Gender Feminism, and Creationism is that it is impossible to criticize either camp without being mistakenly lumped in with another camp. For what it’s worth, I have criticism for all three of these camps. However, to voice such criticisms instantly tars me as being a member of either of the other two camps. So much for intellectual freedom. Welcome to the War on Honesty not to mention the War on Math, Longitude, Latitude, and Time. Whoever has the most money wins. That will work out well.

    Like

  5. Bob Wallace December 18, 2014 at 20:02 #

    You do know that psychology and sociology, no matter by what name you call them, are not sciences? For that matter, no “science,” however “hard,” is ever settled. There is always room for change, improvement, revision.

    Like

  6. That_Susan December 18, 2014 at 20:13 #

    I’ve found evolutionary psychology to be a highly useful approach to life ever since becoming a mom nearly 15 years ago. It helped me trust my own instincts to follow my babies’ cues regarding when they wanted to nurse, rather than making them conform to schedules, and so on. And evolutionary psychology is just a reference-point for understanding certain aspects of who we are and where we came from — not a blueprint to be rigidly followed. We spring up from our roots and reach for the sun — which is, paradoxically, where this planet originally came from.

    It’s very obvious that just because things were done in a certain way for a very long time, that doesn’t mean everything “should be” done that way forever — for example, the fact that the males in many mammal species were (and some still are) simply sperm donors and not active fathers IS NOT an indication that no males should be allowed to be active fathers. Many males are wonderful fathers!

    Like

  7. That_Susan December 18, 2014 at 20:15 #

    I’m posting again because I think I forgot to check the “notify” box.

    Like

  8. Ken Wise December 18, 2014 at 20:20 #

    Clever distraction, but it doesn’t mean made-up constructs like “evolutionary psychology” are cut from the same cloth as, for example, physics principles like momentum/energy demonstrated by shuffleboard or air hockey puck collisions and the tracking of such collisions. Compared to such an example, “evolutionary psychology” is someone having an idea, telling herself it’s a “theory”, and then convincing herself it’s “proved” with emotional arguments that pull at one’s empathies, guilt, etc.

    Also, starting your comment with “You do know that…” is smug snarkiness, a passive-aggressive way of saying you know more about the subject. Since you failed to show any superior knowledge/wisdom with the rest of your comment, it reads like you’re failing at the superiority angle.

    If you’re satirizing yourself, keep trying. That was neither Juvenalian nor Horatian, but keep trying.

    Like

  9. That_Susan December 18, 2014 at 20:29 #

    And by “sperm donor,” I don’t mean men who want to be active fathers but aren’t allowed access, but those that choose no further involvement beyond procreation.

    Like

  10. theasdgamer December 18, 2014 at 20:47 #

    “I’ve found evolutionary psychology to be a highly useful approach to life ever since becoming a mom nearly 15 years ago. It helped me trust my own instincts to follow my babies’ cues regarding when they wanted to nurse, rather than making them conform to schedules, and so on.”

    I’ve found astrology to be a highly useful approach to life ever since becoming an adult. It helped me organize my life according to reliable principles and astrological schedules rather than trusting my own emotional instincts and so on.

    For the illiterati, this is a reductio ad absurdum.

    Like

  11. Jason Wexler December 18, 2014 at 20:48 #

    By my best estimate, as of this writing, this post has been up for around three hours, there have been 5 responses all with a different take if only slightly. Yet this hasn’t been an echo chamber nor a gladiatorial arena with posters rhetorically maiming one another (although nearly everyone who has thus far responded, has expected as much), to which I say congratulations. I would however, invite those who are holding back their full responses, to consider the risk of argument to be worth it, as it seems most of us are willing to hold more nuanced views than my way or the highway on the question of evolutionary psychology.

    Taking my own advice, I’m fairly skeptical of the entire subject of psychology to begin with because of a frequent lack of empirical rigor (which may be what Bob Wallace meant when claiming it wasn’t a science). I don’t know enough about the intricacies evo psych theory to really judge it’s validity, but have often felt like I was reading context free “literary analysis” when reading research papers which self identified as being evo psych research. On the other hand several of its proponents are scholars whose work I respect and have found to be stimulating and enlightening, but which rarely is labeled as evo psych. I think we may be able to agree that regardless of the validity and utility of evo psych, that dismissing inconvenient conclusions and data because it doesn’t fit a preferred orthodoxy or narrative is a hallmark of ideologues of all stripes, particularly when doing so without evidence. If one doesn’t like the conclusions of inquiry into way the world works, one should engage in the final step of the scientific process independent retesting for verification, either you will learn why you were wrong or you will find the mistakes the previous researchers made or both.

    Like

  12. theasdgamer December 18, 2014 at 20:49 #

    You do know that psychology and sociology are in the American Academy of Science?

    Like

  13. Goober December 18, 2014 at 20:50 #

    The progressives may sneer and snicker at how they perceive “the other” to be “anti-science” and ignorant, but they are just as much so, when the science goes against their preconceived shibboleths.

    For example, if you consider the theory of evolution to be honest-truth, hard boiled “Science” (which, as it were, I do), then you must understand that with that acceptance of evolution, you have to also accept some very, very not-so-politically correct things that go completely against the progressive correct thought.

    Like, for instance:

    In mammals, the costs of bearing young are distributed disproportionately among the sexes.

    In mammals, correct game theory play for reproduction between males and females are different.

    In mammals, if the brains of males and females were identical in interests or capabilities, it would be a failure of evolution to function.

    With 25 year generations, the out-of-Africa diaspora of the human race occurred around 4000 generations ago. There has been a lot of time for different sub-populations (races) to optimize differently. Given that evolution works on the brain, the brains of different human sub-populations should be optimized differently as well. Finding out how is the question, not whether.

    Allow the pearl clutching to commence, but progs? If you would, please, the next time you feel like accusing someone of being “anti-science?” Just shut the fuck up, mmmkay?

    Like

  14. theasdgamer December 18, 2014 at 20:50 #

    You do know that I’m arguing both sides of every question just to show that there is no objective meaning for “science?”

    Like

  15. Jason Wexler December 18, 2014 at 20:50 #

    Damn, took too long to type my comment, and the arguing started while I wasn’t looking….

    Like

  16. Goober December 18, 2014 at 20:52 #

    Goddamn it, the attribution and quote marks failed. Starting at “Like, for instance,” and ending at “Finding out how is the question, not whether” those are not my words. I picked them up from a blog that posted them years ago, known as “aretae.” He no longer blogs, but I still didn’t want to steal his words and claim them as mine.

    Like

  17. theasdgamer December 18, 2014 at 20:55 #

    Ah, well, Jason, why not take a nuanced view of astrology and apply it to the sexual dynamics of mammals?

    The whole post is low quality and controversial.

    Like

  18. theasdgamer December 18, 2014 at 20:57 #

    Ah, yes, because creationism is a political ideology. Great point.

    Like

  19. theasdgamer December 18, 2014 at 20:59 #

    Ken, even in physics there are widely-varying methodologies and strategies. There is no “physics method.”

    Like

  20. Jason Wexler December 18, 2014 at 21:04 #

    25 year generations may be a little long, that doesn’t invalidate your point, it probably reinforces it, and I do agree with your point. I have been arguing most of this year with my fellow liberals and progressives that they are often just as anti science when it suits them, particularly when it comes to energy policy and what Neil deGrass Tyson calls the second prohibited “n” word… nuclear. Unfortunately the disappointing response is to accuse me of something called a gish gallop, and then petulantly declaim that their bad behavior is exonerated by virtue of the opposition being worse… that side denies evolution after all.

    Like

  21. That_Susan December 18, 2014 at 21:21 #

    That’s cool if you’re into astrology. I find it interesting but not as practically useful as evolutionary psychology — but again, every theory that I make use of as a means of understanding the world is only that — a theory, not a religion to be meticulously followed. May the stars be ever in your favor!

    Like

  22. Jason Wexler December 18, 2014 at 21:23 #

    I’m reminded of a warning I received from a professor, back in my more ideological/fundamentalist days: remember there are differences between, incomplete science, tested and rejected science, bad science, pseudoscience and non science, and each will require a different response. Evolutionary psychology for all its very real problems is not remotely comparable to astrology. The latter rests on impossible premises, while the former claims causation for observed phenomena from plausible but untested correlations. Astrology is impossible bullshit, evolutionary psychology is science in its infancy, it’s probably getting quite a bit wrong but only because it has so much more left to learn, avoid the Semelweise reaction.

    Like

  23. Jason Wexler December 18, 2014 at 21:28 #

    At the risk of becoming a science fundamentalist again, could you define theory, as you used it in that post, please?

    Like

  24. slacker December 18, 2014 at 21:30 #

    Did I say creationism is a political Ideology? I don’t believe I did, I said or least tried to say that Feminists and creationists are similar in the sense that both are notorious for moving the goal posts whenever there’s information that discredits or least challenges their views.

    Like

  25. That_Susan December 18, 2014 at 21:35 #

    A theory is an explanation about why something happens or how something works. The explanation often starts out as a sort of “educated guess” (which of course is a hypothesis). In life, we generally follow our best theories, or hypotheses about how the world works, until such time as they’re disproven by a better explanation or “educated guess.”

    Like

  26. Jason Wexler December 18, 2014 at 21:42 #

    You did that very well, I deserved that, I’m sorry for doubting you.

    Like

  27. theasdgamer December 18, 2014 at 21:50 #

    What do you call people who ignore/refuse to accept settled arguments? Cranks.

    Philosophy of science disposed of the demarcation problem some 30 years ago. Read Larry Laudan’s 1983 paper, “The Demise of the Demarcation Problem”. Before that you had “Against Method” by Paul Feyerabend. Before him you had “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by Thomas Kuhn.

    Experimental physics is extraordinarily difficult to do well and get real answers even when experimental conditions can be controlled very tightly and you can limit which variables change in very simple systems. Real-time stuff. And you still have questions about the usefulness of its general methods such as Nancy Cartwright’s book, “When the Laws of Physics Lie.” Simple systems, real-time, carefully controlled, limited variability.

    EvoPsych deals with stuff long ago with many different variables in complex systems. Complex systems, historical, uncontrolled, unlimited variability. Is it any wonder that physicists are skeptical of its methods and conclusions?

    Like

  28. Rodriguo December 18, 2014 at 22:07 #

    Some months ago, a documentary produced by feminists was aired on a french public channel: it was entitled “Why women are shorter than men?” To sum up, it explained that women are shorter than men because of the patriarchal oppression. Seriously. 😐
    Sexual dimorphism? Darwin? Science? What are you talking about?

    Like

  29. Bob Wallace December 18, 2014 at 22:08 #

    Apparently you did not understand what I wrote, and apparently you don’t understand the difference between a hypothesis and a theory. Physics is a “hard” science. Psychology, sociology and economics are “soft” sciences, meaning they are not sciences at all. The same applies to evo-psych and sociobiology – not sciences, but more along the lines of fairy-tales. Yet even hard “science is never settled – it’s always provisional. So when people start speaking with complete assurance about something about which they clearly know little – such as the author of this article – I never take him seriously again. The same apparently applies to you.

    Keep trying, though. The day might come when you understand a few paragraphs I write.

    Like

  30. Jason Wexler December 18, 2014 at 22:34 #

    What do you call people who ignore/refuse to accept settled arguments? Cranks.

    Or possibly visionary, on those occasions when they are right, Galelio, Semelweise, Chandresakar etc…

    Being skeptical is appropriate, and even mandatory when doing empirical science, but dont confuse orthodoxy for skepticism, it will always bite you in the ass. I understand the eye rolling, groan inducing frustration, when being told that evolutionary psychology attempts to trace behavior back in time to periods where all we can do is guess and presupose our own biases on the alien people of those cultures. The methodology is clearly suspect, but just as Semelweise taught us we can’t dismiss something that works, just because we don’t understand why and dislike the implications of what it means for our ideology, which in a funny round about way brings us back to feminists and other ideologues rejecting inconvenient data.

    Like

  31. Goober December 19, 2014 at 05:31 #

    Yeah, I get that a lot, too. It’s almost as if very few people understand nuance, and assume that if you don’t agree with them on one issue, that you must disagree with them on all issues, and they classify you as “the other”, buying fully into the ways and ideas of “the other.”

    There is no understanding of how a guy can be fiscally conservative, but socially liberal. It shorts circuits their wiring somehow. When I talk about how taxes should be lower, I get people responding that a woman should have a “right to choose,” as if that is not a total non-sequitor…

    WTF does abortion have to do with lowering taxes?

    Oh, yeah, conservatives want to lower taxes. Conservatives want to ban abortion. I want to lower taxes, therefore, I must want to ban abortion.

    i feel sorry for them sometimes.

    Like

  32. physicist December 19, 2014 at 07:35 #

    The word “science” may be completely subjective to you, but the reality of science is completely objective. While interpretations of experiments are sometimes open disagreement, the actual reality of observation is not up for debate.

    Lewontin’s article is a great example of this: he claims races don’t exist based on some genetic markers. Edwards (2003) shows that detailed data on the position of the same markers is indeed sufficient to group people into “races” by objective means. This has been taken further more recently, where it has been shown that you can in some cases identify a person’s place of origin to within kilometers using only genetic information: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/140429/ncomms4513/full/ncomms4513.html

    All these authors agree on the data, and how genetic markers are tied to historical population groups. All of them agree in general with Darwinan evolution by natural selection. What is in dispute is the interpretation of this data, and how much (or what kind of) genetic distinctiveness would qualify as “race”.

    “Show me some broad-spectrum reviews of EvoPsych papers by Philosophers of Biology” … philosophers of science have long been disdained by actual scientists for not knowing what they are talking about. You can find several interesting review articles concerning evolutionary psychology topics by searching for “Evolutionary Origins” in Google Scholar.

    Here is one from Nature, 2003:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v425/n6960/abs/nature02043.html

    ” … Current gene-based evolutionary theories cannot explain important patterns of human altruism, pointing towards the importance of both theories of cultural evolution as well as gene–culture co-evolution.”

    One in Science:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/316/5827/998.short

    “Morality is universal, yet culturally variable. Such apparent contradictions are dissolving as research from many disciplines converges on a few shared principles, including the importance of moral intuitions, the socially functional (rather than truth-seeking) nature of moral thinking, and the coevolution of moral minds with cultural practices and institutions that create diverse moral communities.”

    (Emphasis mine.)

    Like

  33. physicist December 19, 2014 at 07:38 #

    So … is genetics a hard science?

    Like

  34. Spaniard December 19, 2014 at 10:03 #

    Evolutionist psychology show us that women are natural born prostitutes.
    Just read Helen Fisher.

    Like

  35. Spaniard December 19, 2014 at 10:12 #

    Susan, I have got fantastic gossip for you.
    Finally, as I suspected that it was going to happen (but not so soon, certainly not)…
    my Belarusan girlfriend got pregnant! 🙂
    Well, she does not know I am shooting blanks, so I have no clue who can be baby daddie´s.
    So, I am behaving quite machiavelic cuz I pretend I am very happy about the new. I did not tell her yet. I am holding, waiting for the roght moment to tell her.

    Like

  36. That_Susan December 19, 2014 at 11:47 #

    No apologies needed! When debating stuff like this, it’s good to know what definitions people are working from.

    Like

  37. Noor December 19, 2014 at 12:45 #

    Sorry, but most of evopsych resembles creationism more. For example, making an assertion and then looking for evidence to prove it, such as that BS about men liking blue because of blue skies and women liking pink because of berries.

    Most sex differences (or rather trends) are due to hormones, for example men having better spatial ability. Males still have better spatial ability in species where the female takes on the hunting role, since spatial ability differences are moreso a side effect of higher levels of testosterone (http://www.biology.ucr.edu/people/faculty/Garland/Clint_et_al_2012_male_superiority_in_spatial_navigation-adaptation_or_side_effect.pdf).

    The problem with this whole “men and women evolve different traits” is that if a trait is not specifically harmful to the other sex, it will be passed on. That’s why males have nipples – because they are beneficial to the female sex and not harmful to the male. If men and women evolved entirely on gender differences, well, that’s regular evolution and adaptation into a new species. It’s because almost everything is passed from mothers to sons and fathers to daughters that species exist.

    Like

  38. Dr. Weezil December 19, 2014 at 14:08 #

    Psychology, sociology, and especially economics, despite being “soft” sciences, are still sciences as much as mathematics is a science.

    Try again.

    Like

  39. Dr. Weezil December 19, 2014 at 14:13 #

    Experimental rigor isn’t the only way to come to understanding of something. This is the English major who learns “science” from New York Times bestsellers fallacy. Deductive reasoning from first principles, observation, logic, all can bring about understanding, new knowledge, insight, etc., Economics, for example, uses deductive means to explain behaviors and provide clues as to why certain events occur.

    Also, see here, where a scientist discusses the four types of science:

    You’ll be surprised.

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  40. Dr. Weezil December 19, 2014 at 14:15 #

    In many circles “skeptic” is another word for “defender of orthodoxy.”

    Like

  41. That_Susan December 19, 2014 at 14:44 #

    You ought to make a visit to the doctor just to be sure that the vasectomy is still effective and that you are indeed shooting blanks.

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  42. That_Susan December 19, 2014 at 14:52 #

    Not only are male nipples not harmful — in some cases, they have been used to comfort, and even rarely, to nourish babies in the absence of the mother.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2011/05/man_milk.html

    Like

  43. skeptic December 19, 2014 at 15:29 #

    Well, thing is that many specialists (including myself) do not take Gould’s 1979 paper on ‘spandrels’ too seriously. It is self-contradictory. That said, much of the first wave of Evo Pysch had issues. But to deny that the quality of work has not improved over the last 25 years is too be really unfair.

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  44. skeptic December 19, 2014 at 15:33 #

    Regarding the social sciences, this is unfair. There is a considerable amount of poor work in both fields, but there have also been important findings. There is (uneven) rigor. Unfortunately, the combination of careerism and ideological groupthink has really hurt work in these areas over the past 40 years. In Anthropology, activism has overtaken research . . . most young anthropologists are not educated in their own field and know little to nothing about the significant contributions made in the early 20th century.

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  45. That_Susan December 19, 2014 at 15:59 #

    I think there’s room for both activism and the acquisition of knowledge.

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  46. Goober December 19, 2014 at 18:02 #

    “Most sex differences are because of hormones”

    And how, pray tell, did men and women end up with different hormones that drive both physiological and psychological differences between the sexes?

    You’ve described the method by which it works in the process of arguing that it doesn’t exist.

    Like

  47. LostSailor December 19, 2014 at 19:35 #

    He referenced the worst ideas of creationism rather than the best.

    He didn’t reference the “best” ideas of creationism because there are none to reference…

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  48. LostSailor December 19, 2014 at 20:02 #

    Creationists believing it would lead to eugenics, racism, satanism and social darwinism.

    Actually, I’d say that was generally true of most Christians for a time. But now, creationism is pretty much limited to a group of Protestant Christians who adhere to a rather specific belief set, a belief set that drives them to have to explain away the evidence of evolution and other even more long-settled ideas. And those are the Biblical literalists and their problem goes deeper than fears of eugenics, satanism, or anything else. Because if evolution or a billions-years-old Earth, etc. is correct, then the Bible cannot be correct and it destroys the entirety of their Christian faith. Most Christians don’t have a problem in considering the creation account in Genesis to be allegorical and can continue on in their Christian belief. Not so Biblical literalists: Evolution must be false and there can be no compromise.

    The effect of evo psych on feminism isn’t quite that strong, but it’s telling that feminists’ reaction to it comes close. Evo psych, for all the problems of this new field of study, has produced some interesting work, studies that undermine some cherished tenets of not just gender studies, but feminist theory itself. It’s not a killing blow the way evolution is to Biblical literalism, but you wouldn’t know it by the feminist reaction.

    And I think that has more to do with feminists knowing, in their hearts, that their third-wave, post-modern feminist movement is a house of cards built on lies, and it’s those lies at the foundation that evo psych erodes. Feminists can’t have that. Aside from the general feminist need to not tolerate the slightest criticism, evo psych must be dismissed out of hand and not engaged at all because they know the danger it poses.

    I’m not going to argue about evo psych as a science or not, or whether it’s “true” or not, or whether it’s on a par with astrology (which I don’t believe). There have been useful studies that have come out of the discipline that I have found both credible and convincing; more work needs to be done. But I definitely support the continuing work of evolutionary psychologists (time will tell the truth of their work) if just for the abject fear it strikes in feminists hearts….

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  49. W. December 19, 2014 at 22:13 #

    Next time, JB: do some proofreading before publishing a guest article. Is it too harsh to be inherently dismissive of the author’s message when it’s written this poorly?
    This was a cringeworthy read–overall message notwithstanding.

    Thanks for your thoughtful posts.

    – W

    Like

  50. caprizchka December 19, 2014 at 23:28 #

    Science is unfortunately not informed by Democracy and that includes Political Science.

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  51. Noor December 20, 2014 at 01:23 #

    Sex hormones have long existed in vertebrates, for the purpose of reproduction and primary sex characteristics. Hardly anything to do with human behavior, as animals have had very different gendered behaviors over time, quite some with females as hunters and males as nurturing caregivers, when other factors were more important. I figure if testosterone was found more in females, causing human women to behave differently, we’d probably have had different gender roles or, if they were detrimental enough, disappeared.

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  52. physicist December 20, 2014 at 07:12 #

    “I figure if testosterone was found more in females, causing human women to behave differently, we’d probably have had different gender roles or, if they were detrimental enough, disappeared.”

    This is the heart of evolutionary psychology! Hormone rates and hormone response are evolved, and human behavior and animal behavior are determined (in part) by these hormone rates. We can see this both in social behavior and more explicit physical phenotype expression.

    1) “Sex hormones have … Hardly anything to do with human behavior”

    Testosterone changing behavior in women (with a warning about a confounding placebo testosterone effect that effects older literature):

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7279/full/nature08711.html

    Effect of testosterone on brain composition in utero:
    http://www.jneurosci.org/content/32/2/674.short

    2) “animals have had very different gendered behaviors over time, quite some with females as hunters and males as nurturing caregivers”

    Testosterone is associated with aggression and male-type mating activity throughout the animal kingdom.

    Songbirds:
    http://www.pnas.org/content/110/48/19573.abstract

    Rats:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2602456

    Lambs:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10627069

    And the most interesting case – iguanas:
    http://www.columbia.edu/~dr2497/PUBLICATIONS_files/H%26B2005.pdf

    “Testosterone [in females] reached maximal levels during the mating stage when female – male aggression was most common, and increased slightly, but significantly, during the nesting stage when female – female aggression was
    most common.”

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  53. That_Susan December 20, 2014 at 15:15 #

    I found that first link especially interesting — the one about testosterone increasing fair bargaining behavior in women. I’ve always been kind of interested in how high levels of male hormones affect women, because when I saw a doctor in my early twenties, due to never having “grown out of” the severe acne that plagued me through my teens, I learned that my condition was cased by what the doctor called “hyperandrogenism” — very high levels of testosterone and other male hormones. They were surprised that I looked as feminine as I did, because most women with my high levels of androgens exhibited lots of other male secondary sex characteristics like a muscular body build. The doctor warned me that many women with my problem couldn’t get pregnant without medical intervention — so of course I was pleasantly surprised when I easily became pregnant on my wedding night in my mid-thirties.

    At any rate, I’ve never had any interest in competitive games — I’ll play them to be sociable sometimes but I can’t care less about winning. One of my very competitive (female) friends told me she hated playing dominoes with me because I’d win so often, without really caring about winning. I’d be chatting the whole time and not even paying close attention to the game, while she was trying so hard not to be distracted and to strategize, and then I’d suddenly win but not even care that I’d won. She wouldn’t have minded me winning so much if I’d cared about winning — because then I’d at least also care when she beat me — but her victories felt hollow to her because I was equally happy whether I won or lost.

    About the fair bargaining mentioned in the article — I’ve also never wanted to “win” anything I wanted if it meant someone else was unhappy. I feel more rewarded by others’ happiness than I do by getting some particular “thing” I’d like to have. It’s funny because I’ve always seen this as a more feminine trait — but now I’m wondering if it’s the testosterone. I’ve had two different people advise me to get assertiveness training; they said my demeanor caused people to take me less seriously. I never actually went through training, but one thing I DID learn was that I needed to quit being so quick to apologize whenever anyone got offended with me.

    Whenever a relationship I care about is disrupted, it’s my natural tendency to care more about restoring the relationship than about being “right.” When I was younger, this led me to always be ready to “admit” to being in the wrong even when I hadn’t done anything wrong — but as I matured, I started seeing how unhealthy this was and what unhealthy relationships it created. The other person often saw no need to examine their own attitudes and behavior (they might in other relationships but they wouldn’t bother in their relationship with me), and they’d treat me worse and worse. So now, even though I still care about relationships, if I see that someone I care about is being unreasonable, I share my perceptions about what’s going on and I step back to allow them a chance to examine the situation.

    Again, it’s fascinating to me to realize that I may be like this not “in spite of” my high levels of male hormones — but actually BECAUSE OF them. It seems likely that my hormonal imbalance has enabled me to see more of the big picture and empathize more with the “other” than I would if I’d been endowed with a more feminine distribution of hormones. And since it didn’t interfere with my ability to be a wife and mother, it’s all good. 🙂

    Like

  54. Goober December 22, 2014 at 03:30 #

    Hardly anything to do with behavior? Seriously? Are you even listening to yourself?

    So if I augmented my testosterone your argument is that wouldn’t change my behavior at all?

    Despite years of medical research proving that to be false?

    Evolution demands that human males and human female are different in very measurable ways. The difference in pressures and consequences of reproduction are too different for evolution to have not impacted gender in multiple ways.

    Like

  55. Noor December 22, 2014 at 03:45 #

    I don’t think I disagree that much then. What I’m critical of is the way most of contemporary evopsych works, by saying brains are ‘wired’ a certain way because of X specific behavior that was in reality hardly universal. Few behaviors are truly universal across cultures. There are a few ‘wired’ instincts humans have, but I’m skeptical how far they can be used to gauge behavior in humans.

    You’re quoting me rather out of context there. I don’t mean “hormones have…hardly anything to do with human behavior”. I was saying that since sex hormones have existed in vertebrates for millions of years, they didn’t evolve *specifically* to help human gendered behaviors.

    The whole “testosterone = aggression” thing is exactly why feminists believe maleness to be about violence and why if we performed eugenics to eliminate all men and maleness we’d have no more violence, by the way.

    Like

  56. Noor December 22, 2014 at 03:52 #

    That was supposed to be a reply to physicist, especially the quoting me out of context part, but I ended up putting it as a reply to yours which was latest.

    Like

  57. Noor December 22, 2014 at 04:14 #

    Also, if someone is acting more aggressive and confrontational, and you concluded it was because of testosterone, that is exactly what I’m critical of. It can be a factor, but you’d be grossly oversimplifying it, and sounding more pop psych than anything else.

    Like

  58. physicist December 22, 2014 at 07:04 #

    “I was saying that since sex hormones have existed in vertebrates for millions of years, they didn’t evolve *specifically* to help human gendered behaviors.”

    Sorry for mis-reading you. The point stands that hormones change behavior, hormone levels and hormone response are at least partially heritable, and behavior is a valid axis for evolutionary selection.

    “Few behaviors are truly universal across cultures.”

    This is not a good argument against evolutionary psychology. Species evolve to match their environment, so if behaviors are subject to evolution, we should see (non-cultural) variation in human behavior which follows ancestral environments. Indeed, we do:

    Note that culture too can be part of the environment, and can select for different evolved traits. A funny meta-genetic example of this is the cultural selection in Asia for male-line descendants of Genghis Khan.

    “What I’m critical of is the way most of contemporary evopsych works, by saying brains are ‘wired’ a certain way because of X specific behavior that was in reality hardly universal.”

    I suspect that you have been exposed to a straw-man of evolutionary psychological thinking. The much more common (and controversial) argument made by evolutionary psychologists is that human behavior is not universal, but has evolved to vary (a little) by ethnicity, as different ethnic groups inhabited different environments. Few claim that X behavior is universal.

    In addition, evopsych proposes that cultures have evolved to take advantage of human sexual dimorphism. Clearly, men and women are psychologically and physiologically different, and these differences evolved because they assisted in reproduction and child-raising. We see this in every mammalian species, and in our nearest cousins. By looking at different cultures, we can see that different roles were assigned to the sexes according to their strengths and according to the constraints imposed upon them by their environments. Polygamy thrived where resources were plentiful, etc. Difference between the sexes is universal. Their roles are not.

    Of course, gender activists read the last paragraph and see it as normalizing gender roles. Race activists take issue with the paragraph before that. They make the mistake of assuming that the existence of gender roles means that everyone must follow them, or that the existence of race would normalize racism. They elevate politics above the truth. Evolution does not have a purpose, history doesn’t care, and human rights are distinct from both of them.

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  59. physicist December 22, 2014 at 07:47 #

    > “Also, if someone is acting more aggressive and confrontational, and you concluded it was because of testosterone, that is exactly what I’m critical of.”

    Are you trolling? Show me where I made that conclusion. Did you mis-read the quoted abstract from the paper about iguanas?

    The point was that hormones change behavior. Hormone production and response are heritable.

    Like

  60. Spaniard December 22, 2014 at 13:53 #

    I will. 🙂

    Like

  61. That_Susan December 22, 2014 at 14:14 #

    What’s interesting to me is that even though hormones do influence behavior, they don’t necessarily influence behavior in the WAYS that many would assume. I.e., high testosterone may actually make a person more cooperative and NOT more violent.

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  62. physicist December 23, 2014 at 06:18 #

    That is a good point, Susan.

    I’m not actually qualified to know the current literature on testosterone at this moment, but I attended a talk about oxytocin in 2012. The gist of it was that, in addition to that “comfortable with him” pair-bond feeling, oxytocin is also involved in pregnancy and post-childbirth bonding to children, increasing social trust, and reducing fear. All of these had caveats, but I don’t remember exactly what they were.

    There is a branch of biology called “systems biology”, which attempts to derive every aspect of the living organism “from first principles”. We finally became able to make predictions with systems biology approaches in 2008: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v441/n7090/full/nature04768.html.

    Like

  63. That_Susan December 23, 2014 at 15:40 #

    The abstract you linked to, about the relationship between unregulated immune response and inflammatory disease, is very interesting. I recall a class where I learned that autoimmune diseases like asthma are much more prevalent in the developed world where there’s good sanitation and our immune systems don’t have to deal with as much serious stuff as people in developing countries have to deal with.

    Like

  64. Noor December 24, 2014 at 10:16 #

    I didn’t say you made that conclusion. I didn’t even say it was true of all evopsych, even.

    What I am skeptical of is the way most evopsych today works. “Women like pink because berries” has everything I’m talking about – making up stories about behaviors that were hardly universal and ignoring other possible explanations, and especially the history of gendered colors.

    Hormones influence behavior certainly (and really, find me one single place where I’ve denied that) but in humans there are dozens of other factors that apply, and saying “testosterone increases spatial ability” is too often used the wrong way. It may be a strawman, but it’s what evopsych is associated with more now.

    Part of my point is that in other animals, where the female was environmentally suited for the hunting role, that still did not end up increasing testosterone amounts relative to males. And it’s that where the evolutionary influence is not as relevant.

    Like

  65. That_Susan December 24, 2014 at 14:26 #

    I agree with not jumping to conclusions about the specific WAYS in which hormones influence behavior. At the same time, testosterone tends to get such a bad rap that I like seeing theories that highlight some positive aspects — but I agree that more work needs to be done to test those theories.

    Below, I’ve linked to an interesting article that I’ve just read about male-female brain differences. One thing mentioned at the end of the article is the suggestion made by some that girls be pushed into sports so that they can develop better spatial ability, too.

    While I’m all for encouraging children of either sex to play sports when they want to, I’m really against pushing anyone into anything that they don’t really want to do — mainly because I was pushed into sports between the ages of nine and ten due to counselors being concerned about all the time I was spending in the imaginary worlds that I’d created.

    Playing sports didn’t pull me out of my imagination — it just meant I got hit in the head with the ball, or else got startled when I saw it flying at me in the outfield, and rather than even trying to catch it, I’d knock it away from me. My teammates and coaches were always so angry with me, and I hated having them angry and really wished I didn’t have to be there. It was great when my parents finally gave up on that.

    I wonder why there’s no corresponding push to take athletic boys off the playing field and make them walk around in a quiet room and daydream? But wait — there is a huge push to drug them so they’ll sit still in class!

    http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/how-male-female-brains-differ

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  66. Noor December 28, 2014 at 15:21 #

    I skimmed that video, but it seems to be decades old and not very scientific, and I can’t find much more information on the topic elsewhere, so I’m not inclined to take it seriously. I follow Kenan Malik’s definition of race as social representations of specific aspects of genetic variation, but I’ve also never found anything convincing that ethnicity affects much more than disorders, and even at that it’s only a partial clue.

    I do believe gender roles evolved out of survival in older societies, but I’m skeptical they’ve had much of an effect on shaping the human brain today as you seem to be claiming, other than perhaps an instinct to protect women more. Race and sex only seems to affect the rest of the body, and the brain is affected by those, but they aren’t ‘wired’ in like some basic survival instincts are – instincts of predators have been around as long as vertebrates have, and modern humans aren’t too affected by those either.

    My problem with a lot of contemporary evopsych is the kind that makes up stories about ancestral environments to explain some complex psychological phenomena, and frequently acts as if humans are like dogs bred to act upon their instincts. If this isn’t what you’re claiming, and you’re simply claiming hormones affect behavior, that’s fair enough, and I don’t disagree there.

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  67. Noor December 28, 2014 at 15:21 #

    Indeed. I’d like it if we could do without gender, in the sense that it shouldn’t affect expectations and let trends happen as they come, but I have to admit that trends shape expectations as well. For example I don’t think it’s entirely wrong to assume and buy dolls for a baby girl, but as she grows up her preferences should be taken into account and if she displays a clear dislike for dolls, yeah, you’d be an ass if you continue to get her girly stuff anyway. Same goes for boys and trucks or trains, on the bet that most boys will like those than not, but also pay attention and if they show little or no interest, don’t push anything on them either way. (Also relevant is how strong the trends are – if only 60% of girls prefer dolls and 40% were tomboys, it would obviously be a better idea to get gender-neutral toys at first.)

    Same with sexual orientations – it’s fine to assume at first that someone is straight as most people are straight, but if you’re doing something specific like setting up a date for someone, you might be kind of an ass if you don’t ask first. It’s a bit of a fine line, but it’s a good idea to be aware of that and try keeping assumptions to yourself.

    That sucks that you were pushed into sports. (Also, if spatial ability is a side effect of testosterone, pushing girls into sports wouldn’t improve that, certainly not over a few decades.) I pretty much did horrible in most of my PE/gym classes, but I was fortunately raised without any gender expectations at all really, and I was into both sparkly pink Barbies and mathematics and science. This video nails a lot of my thoughts too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZqHxw-E2Y4

    Like

  68. that1susan December 28, 2014 at 20:21 #

    I really liked that video about toy preferences, and I found it very interesting to learn that the general female preference for dolls and the general male preference for gadgets held across cultures and even across SPECIES, and I agree pretty strongly with just respecting individual children’s interests and not trying to force girls or boys with conventional play preferences into unconventional play, as well as not trying to force girls or boys with unconventional play preferences into conventional play.

    I also took a few minutes to watch the other video that you mentioned — the one about racial differences in babies’ Apgar scores. While I don’t think the sample they showed was big enough to generalize from, if they were speaking the truth about the sample they showed being representative of what they’d seen while observing large numbers of babies in different countries, then some of the differences observed might be indicative NOT of intellectual differences, but of emotional differences based on the heavily combative past that white culture has evolved from.

    I was especially intrigued by the non-Caucasian baby (I think the baby was Japanese) who ADAPTED to having the cloth placed over his nose rather than fighting it. It made me think of some key differences between Western and Eastern religions and philosophies.

    Western ideologies tend to see the world as composed of separate individuals who need to fight and compete against each other for success, and Western religions tend to see God as a separate being from the people he created, and they present the holy life as a war between good and evil. It’s all about being the best fighter in whatever war — physical or economical or spiritual — that each individual believes that he or she was placed here to fight.

    In contrast, Eastern ideologies tend to see the world as one organism, composed of many smaller, interconnected organisms. God, or divine awareness, is the life force that runs through everything, and the holy life is a journey towards realizing that our seemingly separate existence is a lie, and that, to quote Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, “Every part of you is just another part of me” (first link below). It’s all about learning to live in unity with every other force in the universe, so the idea of adapting to an uncomfortable change rather than fighting it seems especially compatible with Eastern thought.

    I was also interested in the different levels of the “walking” reflex because my older daughter was a somewhat earlier walker (she took her first independent steps at 9 1/2 months), while my younger daughter was a somewhat later walker (she took her first independent steps at 14 1/2 months), and I found it amusing when they said on the video that crying babies were better at the walking reflex than non-crying babies, because my relatives were very critical of my parenting of my younger daughter; they felt like I needed to make her spend time in a crib or playpen rather than carrying her around and holding her all the time, because leaving a baby in a pen frustrated her and forced her to develop the skills to escape.

    The funny thing was that my first daughter — the early walker — never spent ANY time in a crib or a playpen, either. I carried and held both girls constantly until each started squirming to be let down. My older daughter simply started squirming a lot earlier than my younger daughter did. And I think they are about equal in terms of intelligence, but I would say that dd1 is more goal-oriented and less easily contented, always seeing things she’d like to improve and not wanting to waste any time in implementing her plans for change, while dd2 is more laid back and inclined to face every situation with a smile.

    If it is indeed true that white Western babies are born with a stronger walking reflex, my guess would be that it has something to do with the ways that Western religion has influenced the way that Westerners (subconsciously) view babies as being endowed with original sin — according to St. Augustine, that sinfulness was exhibited in babies’ greediness for their mothers’ milk, among other things (second link below). When parents feel like their babies’ natural, healthy desires for food and human comfort are evidences of the sinful nature that needs to be stamped out, it sets parents and children up for a very adversarial relationship right from the get-go, and over time, I suppose genes might remember and make each succeeding generation ever more inclined towards breaking away on its own as fast as possible.

    http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/1-what-sins-infancy-st-augustine-what-age-person-468210

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  69. Noor December 31, 2014 at 14:26 #

    Like I said, I don’t buy the claims made in that video as it doesn’t seem any more scientific than that study cited by GoldieBlox supposedly showing that career options of girls decreased when playing with Barbies. I’ll wait until there’s more evidence that’s got a larger sample size, but everything I’ve seen leads me to believe it’s not very likely such will ever emerge, and I find the notion that the behavior of a Japanese baby has anything to do with Eastern philosophy to be, frankly, absolutely ridiculous. Same for the claim that original sin has anything to do with babies walking faster. And, if you don’t believe aggressiveness and competitiveness are a part of Eastern culture I have no idea where to start.

    As for Eastern vs Western philosophies, the issue is far more complex and nuanced than that, but I’ll note that significant elements of the other have appeared in trends over time. I’m also inclined to point that dominant trends in Western philosophy evolved during periods of relative internal political stability (classical Greece, Enlightenment) as well as imperialism throughout, and dominant trends in Eastern philosophy evolved during periods of political instability, and both of them within the last 2000 years. You’re pretty much working off a caricatured notion of East vs West that has developed in the West over time in response to “Eastern” influences.

    The dominant trend is that large dominating empires *across the world* promote cultures of competition or hierarchies, but that shouldn’t be any surprise. As for Eastern cultures leaning pantheist and Western leaning monotheist, you have to remember that again, across the ancient world from the Americas to Europe to India to China, polytheism was dominant. Personalizing the forces of nature was common throughout and still is in rural places, which simply don’t really exist in the West. One factor as to the pantheism vs monotheism difference could be that the idea of a single personal God was a good way to control people by claiming to represent him, and perhaps Eastern cultures simply didn’t happen to come across that to use for political gains, as they already had a well-established culture of accepting hierarchies. Even then, consider that central Asia managed to accept Islam as the dominant religion centuries ago, even though the environment is much the same as the rest of China, which has been atheist/pantheist for a long time now. Trying to single out a factor, even many trends, in something based on human behavior, is far harder than pulling out a single reason as to why the Earth’s landscape is the way it is – a combination of chance interacting with laws of physics in different settings, which themselves have been influenced by the past, in thousands of different ways.

    Environment only influences culture in some cases today, such as in some rural places where self-sacrifice and caring for family is a virtue, where materialism cannot exist due to the struggle for survival. Environment has also influenced things in the change from tribes to civilization and accumulation of resources, as well as diets that can affect physical traits like height, but I’ve never found any evidence that any of this is linked at all to human behavior. You’d also think instincts would show up often within families, or that African-Americans would have better jungle-hunting instincts, but I’ve never found anything indicating such either. The few instincts we do have can be traced back to long before humans came about, which is why I find any attempt to define human instinctual behavior as being influenced by ancient environments to be nothing short of utter bullshit.

    Like

  70. that1susan December 31, 2014 at 15:45 #

    I realize that whenever a person generalizes about anything, it can come off like that person sees the world in “caricatures.” I’m aware that I was oversimplifying, and also that there’s competiveness in Asian cultures. The main point I was trying to make is that there are very different ways to interpret an observation such as one child walking earlier than another, or one child struggling when a cloth is placed over his face while another child relaxes and adapts to the situation.

    Our own cultures play a huge part whether we see struggle or adaptation as more positive, and now that there’s more interaction between different cultures, I actually hope our societies will grow to a place where we can value BOTH. The struggle vs. adaptation spectrum makes me think of the Serenity Prayer, which was originally written by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and later adapted and used by Alcoholics Anonymous — “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    While I agree with you that there’s no way to definitively prove how various ideologies evolved and influenced human culture and development, I still find it helpful to imagine different possibilities and look at things from different perspectives. So I’ll keep doing it.

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  71. Noor January 1, 2015 at 23:01 #

    My issues with that caricature is not just that, but it seems to be based off the parts about the ‘East’ that has only managed to catch on in the West and become popular, such as Buddhism and Taoism versus say, Confucianism, or the even-lesser known philosophies that have shaped the far East just as much. (Now on one hand I could say that perhaps these caught on because they were opposite to western culture, or the opposite, that they caught on because western culture already was ready for those things.)

    To ‘oversimplify’ when saying that Eastern culture leans pantheist is one thing. To say that these pantheist cultures have anything to do with a Japanese baby supposedly ‘adapting’ is more along the lines of making up connections out of the stars in the sky and filling in a whole long story about why it looks that way, and that too when at least one of those stars has been proven to be an optical illusion.

    Again, these speculations on babies’ behavior have absolutely no scientific validity and go against most of what we know. The instincts babies have have been around for long before humans have been around. That’s my point – that instincts in human babies are found throughout most advanced mammals, they didn’t evolve in response to relatively recent human environments or anything. The fact that monkeys show similar toy preferences by gender goes against any argument that these gender differences were shaped by human environments also, but rather they are primarily effects of sex hormones that have been around for millions of years in more primitive creatures.

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  72. that1susan January 2, 2015 at 19:36 #

    It sounds like you feel like people should have an extensive and in-depth education on a specific topic, before commenting or attempting to engage in a dialog on it. For me, thinking out loud — especially by getting my forming thoughts onto paper and participating in online discussions with others, is one path I like to take towards educating myself — though of course, it’s not enough by itself.

    I think we differ in that I see a lot of value in making and considering hypothetical conjectures, and you seem to think the only points worth discussing are established facts.

    Again, I’m not at all convinced that ethnicity has any influence whatsoever on babies’ Apgar scores. Maybe I didn’t make that clear enough. I was trying to introduce the possibility that IF there are differences, there are other possible interpretations behind those differences other than the (in my opinion, Western, industrialized) assumption that behaviors contributing to early independence (such as pre-walking behaviors) are ALWAYS superior to behaviors contributing to early interdependence or dependence, and that actively resisting an undesirable circumstance is ALWAYS superior to adaptation.

    Since I haven’t seen enough evidence to conclusively determine whether these differences even exist, I’m talking more about what I see as a good protocol for interpreting our observations in the event that we, at some point, DO see a large amount of compelling evidence of these differences. I suspect that you see this sort of a conjecture as a complete waste of time, but I don’t. I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

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  73. Noor January 2, 2015 at 22:41 #

    Not quite. I’m no historian myself, but I’m not going to ignore it when someone corrects me or points out how my statements or guesses are resting on false premises.

    You wrote several paragraphs about how race could affect behavior and culture, I pointed out several times the bullshit assumptions that your speculations rested on and provided counter-examples, you fail to acknowledge that at the very least, and instead go on about how it’s all speculation.

    You can certainly make conjectures, but based upon premises that we generally know to be true. You can make all sorts of guesses upon the shape of the universe. You cannot ‘hypothesize’ that the Earth could be flat, and when someone points out all that we know that goes against that model, just retreat back into the safe fortress of it all being a ‘conjecture’.

    If you only said *if* that was the case that ethnicity affected babies’ behavior and you don’t actually see the evidence for it, then I misread you and I apologize. However if someone spent several paragraphs writing about possibilities based on a flat earth and avoiding my pointing out the problems with a flat earth model, without reinstating that they do not actually buy the flat earth model, you can perhaps see where I’m coming from.

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  74. that1susan January 3, 2015 at 12:08 #

    I probably hadn’t made it clear enough that I didn’t see the tiny sample in that video as any kind of reliable evidence.

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  75. Edward Clint February 16, 2015 at 02:35 #

    I am lead author of that paper, and the same person this post’s author cited twice above. If you’re going to say “evopsych resembles creationism” you probably should not cite an evolutionary psychologist, me, in your supporting evidence.
    My co-authors and I did suggest testosterone side effect is a possible cause for that particular sex difference and we cite some supporting evidence, but we do not evaluate that hypothesis specifically. I think it has a fair chance of turning out to be true, but the question is rather open yet. In some species in that paper, the animals have no sex difference in spatial ability, even though the males have testosterone. Why? Who knows. It does not mean the side effect hypothesis is wrong, it just means there is more to the story waiting for us to find.

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  76. that1susan February 16, 2015 at 17:24 #

    Yes, it’s kind of like what was discovered in the research on testosterone that Noor mentioned earlier. I think Noor actually posted the link that I’m adding below. Whereas high levels of certain hormones may produce very predictable behaviors in simpler organisms, humans are very complex, such that our hormones interact with our thoughts and observations of our surroundings, so the behavior of one person with high testosterone can be very different from the behavior of another with that same level, depending on each person’s reasoning abilities and thinking style, not to mention whatever experience each person has had of similar situations, including the experience of seeing how their parents and other important people handled similar stuff.

    Speaking of testosterone, I’m currently engaged in a discussion over at the Kings & Queens Return site (this particular discussion is titled “How To End Slavery 101), in which one commentator said there was proof that black people had higher testosterone than white people, and that high testosterone caused people to be more violent and could interfere with their ability to be as successful as whites.

    This made me angry, but I tried to respond in a reasoned way by citing this article and explaining that people were more than just the sum of their genetics and hormones. This actually does tie in in an interesting way with J.B.’s book “The Fitness Test,” in which a whole society has been constructed around the premise that genetics is the sole basis for human ability and behavior.

    http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1946632,00.html

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