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    Should Evolutionary Psychology Evolve?
    By Gunnar De Winter | July 22nd 2011 07:28 AM | 39 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Evolutionary psychology is a field that examines human psychological traits through evolutionary glasses. Most human psychological traits are considered adaptations, the functional products of natural or sexual selection. This is tidily summarized in a quote from Cosmides and Tooby, two of the founders of the field:

    Our modern skulls house a Stone Age mind.

    The field, however, is quite controversial. Proponents tend to explain every aspect of the human psyche through evolutionary adaptation, whereas opponents often express the criticism that these are ‘just-so stories’. Between these two positions, of course, many more moderate ones are possible.

    Now, a publication in PLoS Biology argues that evolutionary psychology itself should adapt to the knowledge gained from new findings in a variety of fields, ranging from evolutionary biology to cognitive neuroscience. Firstly, the authors identify the four basic tenets of evolutionary psychology.

    • The environment of evolutionary adaptedness (or EEA). Basically, the idea that our modern psychological mechanisms have evolved in response to stable features in the environment of our ancestors (assumed to be the African Pleistocene savanna). 
    • Gradualism. According to evolutionary psychologists, our minds are built from co-adapted gene complexes that are unable to respond quickly to changes.
    • Massive modularity. Since different adaptive problems require different solutions, the mind is assumed to consist out of different modules, eahc dealing with a different problem.

    • Universal human nature. The evolved computational programmes in our brains produce a universal human nature.

    Then, the authors continue with a reassessment of these four basic tenets in light of new evidence. For example, they quote evidence that the EEA wasn’t nearly as stable as previously thought, but rather a very variable environment, challenging the notion that our modern psychological mechanisms were formed in a stable EEA.

    Continuing, evidence is presented that there has been substantial genetic change in human beings, even in the last 50,000 years. There is even evidence suggesting that recent human evolution has been affected by human-induced changes in the environment (such as diet, or living conditions). These rapid changes are a challenge for the gradualism, as interpreted by evolutionary psychologists.

    To challenge the idea of universalism, the authors cite evidence stressing the ‘malleability’ of the human brain, meaning that experience affects neural circuitry and gene expression in that remarkably complex center of the nervous system. The influence of development is equally stressed, as is the view that the human brain is built through continuous interplay between the individual and the environment. Gene-culture coevolution is also mentioned, signifying that cultural practices could have influenced selection pressures on the human brain.

    Finally, massive modularity is questioned, through the existence of domain-general mechanisms (such as associative learning, which is fairly widespread in the animal kingdom), and through the broad involvement of diverse neural structures in many psychological processes.

    After this reassessment, the authors offer some advice on how evolutionary psychology could adapt to all this new evidence.

    • The evolution of a character can be evaluated through the construction and testing of population genetic models, estimating and measuring the responses to selection, exploring the covariation of phenotypic traits or genetic variation with putative selective agents, and so forth, much as evolutionary biologists do.

    • The new evidence suggests that human beings experience less adaptive lag (being adapted to an environment in the past, and not to the present one) than previously supposed. An examination of the relationship between evolved psychological mechanisms and reproductive success in modern environments might help in elucidating this. Analyses, optimality models and gene-culture coevolutionary models could also be used to research whether or not current human behavior is adaptive in present-day environments.

    • The hypotheses of how the brain works can be compared to (cross-cultural) neuroscientific research, to see if this supports the hypotheses. Also, the genetic influence on brain formation and functioning could be involved here.

    • Through the use of developmental genetics and psychology, the unlearned roots of cognition might be detected. This could also help in understanding how culturally and individually dependent concepts emerge.

    The authors conclude:

    None of the aforementioned scientific developments render evolutionary psychology unfeasible; they merely require that EP should change its daily practice. The key concepts of EP have led to a series of widely held assumptions (e.g., that human behaviour is unlikely to be adaptive in modern environments, that cognition is domain-specific, that there is a universal human nature), which with the benefit of hindsight we now know to be questionable. A modern EP would embrace a broader, more open, and multi-disciplinary theoretical framework, drawing on, rather than being isolated from, the full repertoire of knowledge and tools available in adjacent disciplines. Such a field would embrace the challenge of exploring empirically, for instance, to what extent human cognition is domain-general or domain specific, under what circumstances human behaviour is adaptive, how best to explain variation in human behaviour and cognition. The evidence from adjacent disciplines suggests that, if EP can reconsider its basic tenets, it will flourish as a scientific discipline.

    Reference

    Bolhuis, J.J.; Brown, G.R.; Richardson, R.C. and Laland, K. (2011). Darwin in Mind: New Opportunities for Evolutionary Psychology. PLoS Biology. 9(7): e1001109. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001109. (Click here for the article)

    Comments

    Compared to evolutionary psychology, Freudian psychology is rigorously scientific.

    Hank
    The authors in that PLoS Biology editorial - and we need to distinguish that it is an editorial - pick the tenets of evo psych they happen to like.  And that is the problem; any evo psych person can just pick their own. 

    The foundation of actual evo psych, not the idealized form they discuss (think communism in reality versus communism in theory) is wanting to talk about sex and then desiring science legitimacy for whatever conclusion they come up, like that liberals have prettier daughters or the grill of your car tells us about your personality - both were "peer-reviewed" evo psych studies.  The two biggest scandals in psychology recently - Hauser and Kanazawa - are both evolutionary psychologists.   Fortunately, a number of fine researchers have had enough of inclusion and tolerance and have turned on these people because they do shoddy work and make all psychology look bad.

    Hfarmer
    To an extent that's a problem with all psychology (and other social sciences).  I don't know of one area of that science in which it's basic principles can be listed and counted like one could with, say, chemistry.  At best they can observe outside behavior, measure brain activity, and make educated guesses about what goes on in there. How precisely can one even define the variables in psychology? Not very precisely at all.   That alone makes writing "laws" or axioms nearly impossible.  
    That is why I defend people like Kanazawa, or Bailey, or for that matter Freud.   Psychology is on the boundary between pseudo science and science what's regarded as legit in that field looks allot like what is regarded as crackpot.  (i.e. "The human brain hasn't evolved since leaving Africa"... beggs the question "Why wouldn't African women rate high on sexual attraction no matter what?"  Given their axiom all men should be hard wired to be down with the sista's.)   Those guys are at or near the same level as anyone in their field, which is all it's fair to compare them too. 

    A particle physicist can point to experiments that involve a gazillion particle collisions, and a great deal of accuracy and precision to each measurement.  The best I have seen in psychology involves maybe 1000 questionaires or studies of a few dozen people in laboratory conditions.   There's no comparison between the precision of those two fields. 

    When we hear the word "science" the expectation is for the precision of something like physics or astronomy.  Each field should be compared against it's own standards.   Psychology as a whole needs to evolve before evolutionary psych can be singled out. 
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Gerhard Adam
    Psychology as a whole needs to evolve before evolutionary psych can be singled out.
    Regardless of the status of psychology on its own, when one introduces "evolutionary psychology" there are already well established requirements that must be met before it can be included as a science of any type.  The use of the term "evolution" establishes certain criteria that must be met.
    Each field should be compared against it's own standards.
    No, each field needs to be compared to a scientific standard.  Should parapsychologists be assessed against their own standards?  How about creation science?  There is either a standard of what constitutes science, or we're all wasting our time. 

    Something doesn't have to be scientific to be useful or workable.  However, it's attempts to take non-scientific data/ideas and make them appear scientific that create the problem.,  It's useful to remember that mathematics isn't a science either, but it would hardly be considered useless.
    Given their axiom all men should be hard wired to be down with the sista's
    This statement is a good example of misunderstanding psychology and evolution.  Even animals don't respond that simplistically (which is why breeding in captivity may be impossible for some).  Yet, somehow such attitudes are often expressed when exploring human behaviors, as if mental processes are a simple "If a, then b" kind of relationship.  It's silly. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hfarmer
    "The scientific standard", what standard would that be?  If physics, the most rigorous and logical of sciences is that standard then only it and chemistry are actually science and everything else is quackery.    That cannot be right.  Please describe what that standard is.
    Relationships of if a ==>b  are often correct.  There is a reason simple Boolean logic can allow computers to simulate the world. 
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Gerhard Adam
    One of the major problems with evolutionary psychology is even putting those terms together.

    After all, evolutionary typically refers to something that occurs through replication and natural selection, whereas psychology refers to a particular state of mind.  To take a particular mental condition and try and extrapolate that this has "evolved" is largely a leap of faith, which is why most of these papers sound ridiculous.

    In fact, I would argue that humans have probably changed very little in the past 50,000 years as far as mental capabilities.  While there may be huge numbers of changes that have occurred as a result of culture, education, etc.  They are not evolutionary since they are not directly heritable in that sense.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I think Wikipedia aptly describes here the all encompassing role that psychology and psychologists think they can play to evolve more or less any area of 'psychological' behaviour :-
    Psychology is the science of behavior and mental processes. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establish in general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society. In this field, a professional practitioner or researcher is called a psychologist, and can be classified as a social scientist,  behavioral scientist, or cognitive scientist. Psychologists attempt to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior, while also exploring the physiological and neurobiological processes that underlie certain functions and behaviors.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    I don't have a problem with that definition, but to extend it to include "heritable" and "evolution" would be a stretch.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Well, unfortunately psychology can easily be extended to include 'heritable' and 'evolution' while it is 'exploring the physiological and neurobiological processes that underlie certain functions and behaviors'. Psychology is a science of almost meglamaniacal dimensions, a bit like particle physics.

    I don't like a lot of things about psychology and I have a degree in it. One thing is for sure though and a lot of people will be surprised to know this, many psychologists do not have any qualifications to act as counsellors and even nowadays most psychology degrees do not contain any counselling units at all, which is why I am now doing a second degree majoring in counselling.

    Many people go to psychologists looking for counselling and wonder why they are then given a barrage of personality tests, assigned a label or mental disorder out of the Diagnostic  Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) followed by six sessions of an often rather myopic conditional behaviour therapy (CBT) and they often receive no counselling at all for their underlying problems. 

    I think that it should be compulsory for all psychologists (and psychiatrists) to be given a psychological assessment every few years that they are in practice, a bit like airline pilots are given annual medical tests, because I count psychologists amongst some of the most dangerous people I know (and I know quite a few dangerous people). Psychologists are especially dangerous when they are counselling without training or when they are given positions of power to decide people's fate within the judiciary and/or mental health system. They can prevent a child from having access to her mother or father for example as the recommended outcome of a custody battle and this decision can be made on a whim by the psychologist 'expert', with little scientific evidence to support it and yet these decisions are often in place for years and are very difficult and expensive to appeal against, in the cases that I have witnessed.

    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Well, unfortunately psychology can easily be extended to include 'heritable' and 'evolution' while it is 'exploring the physiological and neurobiological processes that underlie certain functions and behaviors'.
    I don't mean arbitrarily.  Most psychology has a tough time just relating to neurobiology, let alone introducing evolutionary components.


    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Most psychology has a tough time just relating to neurobiology, let alone introducing evolutionary components.
    I don't know why you say this? I have just had to redo 6 psychology units because my original psychology degree is more than 10 years old and I was surprised at how little had changed and/or developed much over the years, except for the neurobiology which is now better understood and is studied and researched in much greater detail by psychologists these days. 

    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    ...except for the neurobiology which is now better understood and is studied and researched in much greater detail by psychologists these days.
    OK, I'm game.  What is it that we know from neurobiology that let's us predict or explain the psychology of an individual?  I can fully appreciate that our knowledge has increased regarding brain biochemistry, neural pathways, and all manner of information regarding the role of various brain regions.  Perhaps you can provide an example of how improved neurobiology has changed something in psychology?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    OK, here's an example of why improved neurobiology has changed how these psychologists perceive suicidal hehaviour, it is a  research paper called 'THE PSYCHOLOGY AND NEUROBIOLOGY OF SUICIDAL BEHAVIOR' by Thomas E. Joiner Jr., Jessica S. Brown, and LaRicka R. Wingate :-
    Abstract. Suicide is a leading cause of death, but it is not well understood or well researched. Our purpose in this review is to summarize extant knowledge on neurobiological and psychological factors involved in suicide, with specific goals of identifying areas particularly in need of future research and of articulating an initial agenda that may guide future research. 
    We conclude that from both neurobiological and psychological perspectives, extant research findings converge on the view that two general categories of risk for suicide can be identified: (a) dysregulated impulse control; and (b) propensity to intense psychological pain (e.g., social isolation, hopelessness), often in the context of mental disorders, especially mood disorders. Each of these categories of risk is underlain at least to some degree by specific genetic and neurobiological factors; these factors in general are not well characterized, though there is emerging consensus that most if not all reside in or affect the serotonergic system. 
    We encourage future theorizing that is conceptually precise, as well as epistemically broad, about the specific preconditions of serious suicidal behavior, explaining the daunting array of suicide-related facts from the molecular to the cultural level.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Look, I don't want to be difficult, but your example leaves a bit to be desired.  In the first place, it's vague and fairly obvious (occurring within the context of "mental disorders, especially mood disorders").  That's so obvious, that most people knew that those conditions could give rise to suicidal feelings with having studied psychology.

    However, it then continues on by indicating that these factors ("to some degree") is likely characterized by genetic and neurobiological factors.  The paper then concludes that these factors "are not well characterized".

    So, basically it's stating the obvious, indicating that it's likely related to something equally obvious, and then concludes that we don't actually understand any of it. 

    OK, trying to be fair about it, I can appreciate that there's much to learn and much that we don't know.  So, I'm not trying to criticize our lack of knowledge.  What I'm being somewhat critical about is the notion that any of this neurobiological information makes much difference to the psychological conditions being evaluated.  



    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Look, I don't want to be difficult, but your example leaves a bit to be desired.  In the first place, it's vague and fairly obvious (occurring within the context of "mental disorders, especially mood disorders").  
    I linked to that paper because it showed recent genetic and neurobiological areas of psychological research that have been shown to be related to suicidal behaviour and because it also explains why future psychological research is required in these areas. 

    Half a million people in the world commit suicide every year and millions more attempt suicide, so this behaviour adversely affects a lot of people. More neurobiological and genetic psychological research could be very beneficial in helping us to understand the risk factors involved, what more do you want?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Am I being too vague and you want me to be more specific? In the paper they identify the candidate genes that have been studied and need more research :-
    In recent years, one gene that has received much attention is the serotonin transporter gene. The serotonin transporter (5-HTT) maintains control over the availability of serotonin in the synaptic cleft. In humans, 5-HTT is encoded by one gene (SLC6A4), located on chromosome 17q12. The transcriptional control region of this gene, denoted 5-HTTLPR, has been identified as having a polymorphism consisting of a 44 base pair insertion or deletion.  Studies to date examining the link between these various genotypes and suicidality havegenerally shown mixed results. A recent study that followed 103 suicide attempters over the course of a year found that having the s allele increased the risk for subsequent suicide attempt, and that the frequency of the s/s genotype rose as the number of suicide attempts rose. Additionally, subjects carrying the s/s genotype had significantly higher scores on a measure of impulsivity (Courtet et al. 2004).
    Perhaps the most commonly studied gene with relation to suicidality is the tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH) gene. TPH is the rate-limiting enzyme in the synthesis of serotonin, making it an obvious candidate for speculation regarding suicide. This gene is located on chromosome 11q7, and two polymorphisms in particular have been studied: A218C and A779C. A meta-analysis of the association between the A218C polymorphism and suicidal behavior (combined attempted and completed suicides) found that presence of the 218A allele was significantly related to increased risk for suicide (Rujescu et al. 2003a). Other studies (e.g., Bennett et al. 2000, Pooley et al. 2003) have examined the A779C polymorphism and its relationship to suicide, with mixed results. 
    A third serotonergic gene that has been examined in relation to suicide is the 5-HT2A receptor gene. A polymorphism has been identified on chromosome13q14.1–14.2 and has been labeled T102C. This gene has come into question based on findings that suggest abnormalities in the 5-HT2A receptors in suicidality(discussed below). However, the polymorphism in question has shown no functional relationship with the receptor, with one study (Du et al. 1999) showing no association between genotype of the T102C polymorphism and 5-HT2A receptordensity. Given these results, it is not surprising that most studies to date have found no association between the T102C polymorphism and suicidality (see Arango et al.2003 for a review). However, these findings should not be taken to mean that the5-HT2A receptor gene has no effect on suicidality. It is more accurate to say that we have not yet identified the polymorphism that regulates the effect of the 5-HT2Areceptor gene on suicidal behavior.
    Finally, one gene that has only recently been studied with regard to suicide is the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene. The COMT enzyme is responsiblefor degradation of catecholamines (dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine). Apolymorphism on chromosome 22q11 codes for COMT activity and is composed of two alleles, the H allele and the L allele, which trigger high or low COMTactivity, respectively. As with most other research on candidate genes, results have been mixed. One study (Russ et al. 2000) identified no difference in COMT genotype between patients at high risk for suicide and controls. However, other studies have suggested that the COMT gene is associated only with violent suicide.To summarize, twin and family studies of suicidality have clearly shown agenetic component to suicidal behavior. Current research estimates the genetic contribution to suicidality to be between 30% and 50%. This genetic risk for suicidality appears to be partly independent of risk for mental illness and other psychological stressors.
     With advances in the study of the human genome and readily available procedures for genotyping, several candidate genes for the transmission of suicide risk have been identified. The serotonin transporter gene, the TPH gene, and the COMT gene have all shown links to suicidal behavior. The effects that these genes may have on impulsive and violent behaviors have only begun to be assessed and are a promising area of future research, as they maybe the mechanisms through which the genetic risk is expressed. It is also important to note that suicidal behavior is not simple enough to be caused by any one gene, and haplotype analysis—the analysis of the effects of multiple genotypes in combination—may help to differentiate levels of genetic risk.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    I don't have a quarrel with the research, genetics, or neurobiology.  My question, is what possible relevance does this actually have to psychology or counselling?  How does identifying a gene relate to psychology?  How does understanding the chemical pathways relate to psychology?

    I'm seriously asking these questions, because while I can appreciate that the knowledge would be useful I don't understand what this actually has to do with psychology.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I don't think you understand what psychology is. Psychology is 'the science of behavior and mental processes'That's like asking what does understanding the Higg's mechanism have to do with particle physics?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Not at all.  I can appreciate that it's useful information and that it's worth knowing, but it's more akin to a surgeon needing to understand genetics, or a pilot understanding fluid dynamics.  It's good background information, but it doesn't materially affect how the individual does their job.

    So, since you mentioned that psychology is "the science of behavior and mental processes", what exactly does that mean?  Are you able to diagnose problems in brain chemistry?  Prescribe medications?  How does this differ from behavioral neuroscience?
    That's like asking what does understanding the Higg's mechanism have to do with particle physics?
    Well, I don't suspect that most psychologists are involved in researching the brain's mechanisms, as opposed to neurobiologists, then it seems this is more akin to the relationship between a physicist, a mechanical engineer, and a mechanic.  Each obviously benefits by more general knowledge, but you generally don't find the mechanic teaching that subject in Physics 101.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    So, since you mentioned that psychology is "the science of behavior and mental processes", what exactly does that mean?  Are you able to diagnose problems in brain chemistry?  Prescribe medications?  How does this differ from behavioral neuroscience?
    Here's a link to an Australian Government website that explains just a few of the many different ways that psychologists can be employed and tasked and that list doesn't include many of the less admirable jobs such as Government Propagandists skilled in promoting government agendas and even wars like Iraq and Aghanistan, Torturers and Gambling Psychologists in the gaming industry. 


    All of the 'pokie' machines and gambling venues are carefully designed by psychologists to ensnare as many people and create as many gambling addictions as possible. 11% of the entire infrastructure in Australia, including roads, hospitals, and education is paid for by problem gamblers who also have very high bankruptcy and suicide rates. The website lists the following jobs and related jobs but there are many more jobs and areas where psychologists are employed :-
    Clinical Neuropsychologist, Clinical Psychologist, Counselling Psychologist, Educational and Developmental Psychologist, Forensic Psychologist, Health Psychologist, Organisational Psychologist, Sport and Exercise Psychologist, Public Relations, Personnel Officer, Anthropologist, Career Adviser, Criminologist, Market Researcher, Marketing Officer, Rehabilitation Counsellor, Social Worker, Sociologist, Youth Worker

    And they list the following tasks :-
    • conduct therapeutic interviews and provide counselling
    • give psychological tests and assess the results to identify the source of problems and determine treatment
    • research psychological aspects of topics such as study motivation, teaching skills, occupational behaviour, working conditions and organisational structures
    • provide follow-up services to groups and individuals for support and evaluation purposes
    • evaluate the results of programs aimed at improving personal and organisational effectiveness
    • construct tests to assess and predict mental and emotional states, as well as performance
    • conduct academic research.
    Hopefully that answers your question?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Helen, I get all that.  My point was that it seems like psychology wants to take on the trappings of science (such as neurobiology) without actually doing any of the work or research that such actually entails.  I don't have a problem with the work that psychologists may do, but I do have a problem with them making their profession out to be more than it usually is.

    I do know several psychologists, but I certainly haven't been dazzled by any sense that they understand biology or neuroscience in any more significant way. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    My point was that it seems like psychology wants to take on the trappings of science (such as neurobiology) without actually doing any of the work or research that such actually entails.
     Neuropsychologists for example, definitely do scientific research,  MRI scans are also revealing more and more about how the brain works and how much we still don't understand about human behaviour or have completely misunderstood about the mental and neurobiological processes in the past. I was doing an on-line exam at my university recently which asked which areas of the brain were involved in certain behaviours and it incorrectly marked me wrong on one question because one of the answers had only recently been discovered using MRI scans, they corrected it later after i pointed this out.

    There are many 'scientific' psychological research projects happening all over the world, the problem is that psychology covers such a broad spectrum that inevitably there are going to be some forms of psychological research at the end of the spectrum that don't appear very 'scientific' or are just plain bad or 'just-so stories'. Likewise, not all physicists are physics researchers and there are plenty of bad physics teachers and bad physics research projects too probably, especially when by their own admission they are generating new forms of energy in particle colliders that are not yet measured let alone understood, in known earthquake zones like Japan.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    ... and what's the psychological term for "putting your foot in it again?"  I sure hope you understand psychology better than you understand physics.

    In any case, I still don't see psychology as much science (which is not saying the same about neuroscience).
    Mundus vult decipi
    If you stand outside and try to look at what is done, the question soon becomes "where are the tests", or equivalently is there anything more than "just so stories"?

    That this would be defensible (as on the border of crackpot!?) is laughable. That it needs laws (or even worse, axioms!?) is not the question. Other biology is difficult but has managed theory, prediction and test (say, of phylogenetic trees) as all fecund natural sciences.

    Until this is observed, there is an aspiration of science. But no more.

    Hank
    Until this is observed, there is an aspiration of science. But no more.
    Comments like this almost motivate me to create a Like button.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Until this is observed, there is an aspiration of science. But no more.
    The same could almost be said about the Higgs boson. 

    A 'like' and a 'dislike' button here would be great and very pro science I think, as it could provide more data to analyse and hypothesise about!

    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Hank
    You're correct (about a Higgs - I kid about a like button, I can't see how it adds any value beyond ego for a commenter) and one of the critiques of America is that we are losing our leadership position in HEP if we don't continue to fund new, expensive higher luminosity projects and I have never been convinced.   Sure, we want to chase the mysteries of nature and the Standard Model is one of those but that doesn't mean every time someone needs $8 billion we should spend it.

    I obviously get that sometimes in science what you don't find is important and not finding a Higgs has value also - but not finding the Higgs is not how European scientists got their government to fund the thing, nor was 'leadership' in physics.   Abstract leadership means nothing to most of the population and therefore elected officials.
    Gerhard Adam
    I can't see how it adds any value beyond ego for a commenter...
    ... and what could possibly be more valuable?  :)
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Come on, if 300 people clicked dislike every time I made a comment that would also add value wouldn't it? It might even shut me up.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    It could backfire and encourage you instead.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Well it would if every comment I made received a like and/or you got the dislikes :~)
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Perhaps that's the main difference.  I try to be correct and/or accurate.  If someone doesn't like that, it doesn't particularly bother me.  I already know that too many people only "like" what agrees with their prevailing viewpoint.  In that regard, I certainly wouldn't expect many "likes" from my posts.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    It's a waste of time because it would be meaningless.  On something like Facebook, there are 300 million people and you have to be a member and on their friend list to like something - it's two barriers to entry.   We already have more features built in than every other science site and few people use three quarters of them.    It is probably true that we could have slapped up Wordpress like Scientific American or Discover and done just as well.
    Gerhard Adam
    Yeah ... all that work just to have my ego bruised .... it's not worth it :)
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hfarmer
    I wonder what evo Psych would say about this?  A very easily testable neuropsychological effect.   This is about a illusion called the McGurk effect.
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Gerhard Adam
    Not sure there's much to say, especially from an evolutionary point of view.  Specifically this is also discussed by Antonio Damasio in his new book and deals with the mapping functions the brain performs (in this case auditory and visual).  Part of the point is that the visual may be "more important" because if we fail to hear something, we can potentially surmise what was said anyway by "reading lips".  This "mapping" is also apparent when we watch someone with the sound off, because our brain fills in the dialogue from our visual mapping (depending on how good we can interpret it).

    I'm also not sure why the video made a point about "trusting" our senses, since that should be apparent to everyone that they aren't particularly reliable in any absolute sense.

    From an evolutionary perspective, I'm not sure that it's the least bit relevant to anything.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hfarmer
    It's relevant to ask what an evolutionary psychologist would say about the effect illustrated in the video.  What is the evolutionary reason for it?  Why trust our eyes more than our ears, in the environment that our ancestors came from?
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Gerhard Adam
     What is the evolutionary reason for it?
    That's simple.  Because it works; nothing more, nothing less.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I'm with Gerhard on this one. Things exist (or not), without any evolutionary reason for it. With evolutionary theory you can try and reconstruct their evolutionary history. But if you want to know how they work, then you need cognitive psychology or neuroscience. This is what the PLoS authors are saying in the last section of their paper, when they talk about Tinbergen's 4 whys etc. I agree with them, that EP often confounds these logically distinct questions, and tries to answer questions about mechanisms with evolutionary considerations. Obviously, that won't work. What you might do is use evolutionary considerations to generate hypotheses about mechanisms, but these need to be tested, and quite often they prove to be wrong (almost literally quoting the PLoS paper here). I like the PLoS paper, and I'm not surprised that it tops the 'most viewed' table at the moment!