Evolutionary psychologists are very butthurt about the new Scientific American

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/08/29/evolutionary-psychologists-are.html


Not seeing the problem. What am I missing?


I’m confused, again.


Male chauvinist piggery is not confined to software writers.
“Evolutionary psychologists” and the like often seem influenced by rather stereotypical views (Jay Gould being a counter-example). Psychology has been seriously affected by the belief of so many psychologists that white English-speaking students are typical of the human race. Research into animal communication and intelligence has been affected by the idea that humans and other mammals are essentially different in some magic way. Even the notion that the Earth may be the only inhabited planet still hangs around simply because of Christian exceptionalism.
Recent research seems to be heading down the direction that whereas many psychologists thought that human brains ran on tubes and were either made by IBM or Fujitsu, it now turns out that they don’t, and the entire series of assumption about how things have evolved is flawed. It could be a phlogiston moment. Plus, the guy Google sacked - they were right to do so.
This wasn’t intended to be a derail so much as pointing out that in the past traditionalists have opposed people promoting new ideas in rather extreme ways, but they get very hurt if someone dares do it to one of them.


Pushback from traditionalists at something in a scientific journal that points at ideas they don’t like and are going wit hthe tried and true ‘well you’re favoring a conclusion and are now looking for facts to support that.’

Knee-Jerk reaction is ‘wow how many dogwhistle terms can you cram in.’ However i totally agree with the overall thrust you’re getting at; humans are not special and different than other animals outside of the fact we are more complex on a neurological level.

While Google was right to sack the guy, how they did so was wrong as it was an HR issue that got turned into ‘let’s trot this guy out publicly to shame him.’ However that is an argument for a different thread.




“To varying extents, many of us are biological hybrids on a male-female continuum…New evidence suggests that the brain consists of a “mosaic” of cell types, some more yin, others further along the yang scale. These findings have far-reaching implications beyond just updating the biology textbooks. They have particular bearing on issues of personal identity, health and the economic well-being of women.”

Given “biological hybrids” and "“mosaic” of brain cell types, the “issues of personal identity, health and the economic well-being…” might well apply also to men. Look at the two Wachowski “brothers”, now both transgendered, and now (assumedly) happy.


There are a lot of miserable old men about who have conformed to what they see as traditional male roles all their lives. My father in law was one of them. My father is not. Anecdotally, I notice that ex-Navy personnel seem to have less trouble in this regard, possibly because on shipboard all the “women’s” jobs were done by men, including cooking, cleaning and mending clothes. Currently it’s the Royal Navy that has led the way in gender equality, and admirals were among the very first to condemn Trump on transgender issues.
Not science, purely anecdotal.


There are only two types of video games.

Anti-progressive gamers. Closely related to the above, these trolls were radicalized over the course of the #GamerGate hate movement. They really like video games, and they really hate social-justice warriors, gay people, and feminists, all of whom they’re pretty sure major movie and game studios are “pandering” to with things like all-female screenings of Wonder Woman. You’re likely to see them talking about the trans community a lot (and repeating the words “there are only two genders” constantly). Elsewhere on Reddit, you’ll find them in gaming subreddits, or /r/KotakuinAction, which was the home of GamerGate.

Most common words: SJW, snowflake, pandering, tumblr, feminist, triggering, GamerGate, virtue signalling

the link for “triggered the alt right” says 1) the song bothered everybody 2) the right wing in general was bothered, not just the alt-right for the trans-friendly presentation.

Pinker is right to criticise the editorial, it does not honestly represent the science on these issues, the fact of the matter is that biological sex is binary, the only “spectrum” outside of this binary represents ~1%.

And as Jerry Coyne points out in the article Pinker links to, this has nothing to do with civil rights or social justice:

But so what if there is a “binary”? The equal rights of women and transgender people, as well as intersexes, should have nothing to do with a supposed “spectrum” of either biological or socially-constructed sex. People should have equal rights and and opportunities because, morally, one can’t justify giving any person’s or group’s interests precedence over those of anyone else. Equal rights do not depend on biology.

There’s nothing new in the science here exploring the edge cases of biological sex, and it’s a total straw man to say that evolutionary psychologists are denying that science, they’re just being honest about its place in the bigger picture, not contorting the science to fit in with their political ideology.


There is a growing body of evidence that confirms that men and women are much more alike than different. As with race, small differences have been magnified and twisted into beliefs that have historically been used to subvert and control.

Apparently this new information is disturbing to certain groups and people, who are invested in the focus on differences.


I think this is also important, and I think it would keep some of the heat off the scientific debate which could then continue in nice and boring way - the conclusions of that debate should have nothing to do with anything. Most people should not care.

It reminds me of the “sexuality is not a choice.” Maybe it isn’t, but so what if it were? Would non-orthodoxly-hetero folks be entitled to any fewer rights if it weren’t innate? Not bloodly likely.


All I took away from that was “Who designed that set? It’s terrible!”

Oh? Explain HOW the editorial “does not honestly represent the science on these issues”; that assertion needs a lot of evidence you aren’t supplying.

Sorry, but that’s known as a “silly lie”. Didn’t read the SA in question, eh?


And the other type?


Exactly, and increasingly it does look like choice (and various other social factors) does come into play along with biology there as well.

These arguments always contain massive amounts of straw, evolutionary psychologists are not biological determinists, they just believe that biology is a factor in human behavior, and that the degree of it’s influence can be discovered scientifically. Now, I’m somewhat sceptical about the second part of that, but no more sceptical about the ability of evolutionary psychologists to uncover the truth than I am of social psychologists or sociologists doing the same (and probably less so to be honest).


In denial

I’ve seen estimates up to 10%, but as you say the science isn’t there, mostly due to historical lack of funding. Fortunately that’s finally changing.


Men are women with a penis. The rest is irrelevant.