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    Evolutionary Psychology Can't Be Wrong, Says Evolutionary Psychologist
    By Hank Campbell | December 14th 2011 12:14 PM | 87 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    If a crime occurs, asking the criminal what happened is unlikely to give you the most accurate picture of events.  This is why police interview the victim first.    So an evolutionary psychologist outlining how great evolutionary psychology is has to be taken with a grain of salt; no one becomes a professor in a field and then decides it is a lot of woo.

    Scientists are inclined to give it a break because they cleverly use the word 'evolutionary' in the name and if they don't look at the actual claims they use the words in context and assume there must be something to it; other psychologists give the people in their field a break because they believe all publicity is good publicity; Satoshi Kanazawa and Marc Hauser were rock stars in psychology because they were popular so evolutionary psychologists ignored the sketchy data.  And since it is a social field, virtually anything can be rationalized.  Want to believe we evolved to like a certain type of car grill? Well, evolutionary psychology can throw out a science-y explanation.

    Evolutionary psychologists insist they are using the same rigor as biologists and just want to explain the brain, but what they are really doing is rationalizing cultural positions and hoping to map that to a biological topology. Dr. Michael Price, Ph.D., lecturer in the psychology department at Brunel University, West London and co-director at the Centre for Culture and Evolutionary Psychology, wrote a whole article on Psychology Today discussing that there should be no confusion that the brain has evolved and adapted - yet it's kind of a straw man because I can't find anyone who contends the brain did not adapt.   What evolutionary psychology contends instead is that social constructs are biological; if I like girls with blonde hair, women evolve to have blonde hair. And that means with the advent of Miss Clairol, actual blondes may die out.

    I am not trying to pick on Price, his article is pretty middle of the road in its claims and well written, though maybe a little heavy on the neuroscience-envy side.  I am completely convinced he is convinced evolutionary psychology can't be wrong but what evolutionary psychology needs is the same kind of internal accountability biology and physics have.  Want to claim life may have started in arsenic?  You'd better have rigorous data.   But if you want to claim the brain evolved to 'solve problems' no one in evolutionary psychology even blinks.

    Social psychologists have started to demand more accountability; the downfall of Diederik Stapel occurred because young researchers who thought they were entering a science field discovered the biggest people in it were treating the discipline as some kind of hustle.  Evolutionary psychology has not done that; external people went after Kanazawa and Hauser first.  Yet in evolutionary psychology they will still contend that taking turns evolved, that Maslow's heirarchy of needs was really a sex pyramid, or that atheists And liberals evolved to be more intelligent and it has an air of truthiness to them so they let it go.  The idea that neural circuits became specialized to solve adaptive problems sounds interesting enough but has no actual evidence of any kind and thus is philosophy, not science.  So most of evolutionary psychology resorts to finding a social construct, interviewing college students, and finding a way to make everything about sex.  

    There is hope, of course, but as I said, the first step is accountability - telling us how evolutionary psychology can't be wrong is not constructive.  Showing us how it is right and calling out the charlatans is good for everyone, though.

    Comments

    Gerhard Adam
    He's actually being somewhat contradictory:
    ... EP is based does not assume that all organismal traits are adaptations. It actually assumes that many traits are non-adaptive

    ...acknowledging that the brain evolved by natural selection is just a first step to understanding what the functions of mental adaptations actually are.
    The problem here is that despite the claims, it is impossible to argue that a trait that is non-adaptive was selected for.  In other words, the default position must always be that it is purely coincidental and plays no role whatsoever in anything.  Therefore, any EP discussion that actually "assumes that many traits are non-adaptive" is a complete waste of time, since by being non-adaptive, there are no conclusions that can be drawn from their existence.

    I suspect one of the other reasons for this position is that to claim that these traits are adaptive, then one is forced into the realm of genetic proof, which is even more difficult.  After all, this is about survival and not whether you happen to think that blondes are more attractive than brunettes.

    Unless a specific trait actually has a survival advantage, then it is hard to argue that it was selected for.  After all, what would be the basis for selection?
    Mundus vult decipi
    "So most of evolutionary psychology resorts to finding a social construct, interviewing college students, and finding a way to make everything about sex. "

    Modernities church ladies, wearing high heals called evolutionary psychology!!!!! too funny. Humanity majors or synesthesian's, pretending to be aspergers scientist's aren't they special...:D..... I of course am a humanities major so I tend to think we are twiddle heads but I blame this on the aspergers crowd of hard science. What we need is a scientific study of science!!!!. Then we can create yet another -ology that is truly accurate and call that (x)ology. after that we can have another study and call that new field (y)ology and so on and so forth. Appears that academics has an infinite set of (XYZ...) ologies it has yet to explore.

    Hank
     What we need is a scientific study of science!!!!
    Postmodernism was, thankfully, killed when an actual scientist wrote a bunch of buzzword gibberish and put it an esteemed 'peer reviewed' philosophy journal a decade and a half ago.
     Postmodernism was, thankfully, killed when an actual scientist wrote a bunch of buzzword gibberish and put it an esteemed 'peer reviewed' philosophy journal a decade and a half ago.

    I wonder. Have you read Social Text's response to Sokal's revelation that it was all a hoax? It doesn't sound like a meme on the verge of extinction. It has that much in common with creationism.

    Hank
    I know it isn't completely dead, it occasionally springs back to undead life - (Paul Feyerabend - "Science's Greatest Enemy" Attacks From The Grave) - you just never see it given any serious credibility. When some nutty humanities type starts babbling goop it is stopped quickly with, "Postmodernism?  Really?" and then they go back to babbling about modern art and making nonsensical Proust references.
    Along the lines of serious credibility, I just left a rambly question/comment regarding Feyerabend's conversations with "credible" Lakatos on your Feyerabend article/post, if that thread isn't too dormant.

    And regarding the credibility of evolutionary psychology, I would target more criticism at the peer review system, science-wide. Not that I have any great alternatives in mind, but I don't think EP is the only field where publication of over-interpreted and poorly tested results persists.

    ...And just to comment at a safe little distance on the discussion happening below--maybe I missed it, but I would've expected two things to have come up by now:
    1) Niko Tinbegen's "Four Why's"--because it's important not to confound "why" in an evolutionary/phylogenetic sense with "why" in a developmental/physiological/psychological sense. Is EP missing them in its fundamental approach?
    2) Comparative Method--because comparative cognition research has produced some pretty careful studies on things like "how to approach studying evolution of spatial memory across different species/families." (Some good research & reviews by Sara Shettleworth, for example)

    ...not to suggest in any way that "comparative cognition research" = "evolutionary psychology." Although I'm not entirely sure if/how researchers, the media, & everyone here draws the line between evolutionary psychology and other types of psychology that incorporate evolutionary theory. (Or, conversely, between evolutionary biology that incorporates psychological theory/phenomena?) If it's just a matter of how anthropocentric and/or social-phenomena-focused the research is, that's a pretty fuzzy line.

    exactly my point. I always found post modernism rather funny in it's attempt to give us an "objective perspective" that everything is subjective. Apparently the only thing that isn't subjective is the post modernist's perspective. Dennett makes a bit of a post modernist statement in regards to the nature of self as he is both inclined to recognize that the self isn't localized neurologically and at the same time claim the self is a fictional character hodgepodged together by parts of the brain. A rather fascinating circularity to his reasoning but he's clearly aspergers so it doesn't surprise. Aspergers tend's to be as mechanically disembodied materialism as much as synesthesia trends towards emotional immaterial disembodiment in the two culture spectrums of science and religion.

    I don't see the circularity there. Or the reasoning, really. It's just two claims next to each other with no obvious implication going either way, let alone both ways. I don't think the two statements are contradictory either. I think what Dennett means by saying that the self isn't localized neurologically is just that there is no single point or region of the brain that integrates information from all the other regions into a single stream for the self to experience (For instance Descartes thought that the tiny pineal gland in the middle of the brain was the seat [maybe antenna?] of the soul/mind/subjectivity/self). It doesn't mean that the self or consciousness isn't caused by the brain or it's functionally distinct parts. It's more about the computational architecture of the brain, and that it uses parallel processing with no fancy 'CPU' part that serially compiles information and hands your self a red folder for your daily briefing. At least that's what I think his position is, and I don't see any conflict.

    MichaelTaft
    "...but what they are really doing is rationalizing cultural positions and hoping to map that to a biological topology."

    We know that evolution happened, and that human beings evolved. It stands to reason that a large part of our behaviors and brain function is (at least somewhat) determined by evolution. So which parts are cultural constructions and which parts are biological ones? If you already know the answers to this question (based on what?), then let us all in on them, because it's an important topic. 



    I think god created the universe and earth in six 24 hour days. god did it. nothing can adapt. its impossible. why cant you just believe in jesus christ and be saved dummys! sheez get smarter and mabey you will find that religion and politics go well. (what would you think of this?)

    blarg! jesus christ! lobve the guy yay matthew 6:10!!! respect the jesus! BE THE CHURCH! EVOLUTION DOESNT EXIST ITS ALL IN YOUR HEADS MAN!

    Gerhard Adam
    It isn't a matter of knowing the answers, but largely of knowing which answers aren't possible.  This is where evolutionary psychology usually makes a wrong turn.  You cannot postulate that some trait has been selected for, and then not demonstrate that it is adaptive in some way.  It isn't simply a matter of what someone may like today, or some simple behavior.  It must be demonstrated that such a trait materially affected human survival, such that it could be selected for in the first place.

    Most such correlations are rarely made.  In a recent post, an attempt was made to generalize human fear of snakes in exactly that manner.  Yet, even a cursory examination of the data suggests that regardless of human fear, it hasn't actually changed human behavior towards snakes, so it can hardly be argued that it materially affected human survival in any way.

    If survival is unaffected, then it cannot be selected for.  Hence, evolutionary psychology tries to draw a correlation using "evolution" despite having demonstrated nothing except a loosely anecdotal piece of data.

     "We know that evolution happened, and that human beings evolved. It stands to reason that a large part of our behaviors and brain function is (at least somewhat) determined by evolution."
    Actually that's just a circular argument.  For something to be selected for, requires that it had some adaptive advantage, not merely that it "evolved".  In fact, a strong argument can be made against such a position, since presumably the reason for the development of the brain, in the first place, was precisely to avoid having to "evolve" behaviors.   Instead, such an organ exists precisely so that it can be adaptive, after the fact and consequently suggests that behavioral learning systems and culture are much more significant influences that genetics.
    Mundus vult decipi
    "Most such correlations are rarely made. In a recent post, an attempt was made to generalize human fear of snakes in exactly that manner. Yet, even a cursory examination of the data suggests that regardless of human fear, it hasn't actually changed human behavior towards snakes, so it can hardly be argued that it materially affected human survival in any way."

    What data show human fear of snakes being impotent to change behavior? My ex girlfriend would barely enter my house after being told that we found a rubber snake outside and my roommate left it upstairs in his bedroom. She was so terrified of snakes that the thought of possibly seeing a known fake gave her stress. If we were ever outside and the slightest suggestion of a potential possibility of there being a snake within a 5 mile radius made her run to the car.

    Now this is anecdotal but if you agree that humans are afraid of snakes, and that snakes are probably one of the most agreed upon fears we have (perhaps with spiders and deep water), then why do so many people waste all that energy going into hormone-induced fight-or-flight and jumping up onto chairs screaming bloody murder if it actually has no effect on their chances of avoiding fanged death. It would actually hurt their fitness because of all of the rest of us, those zen enough to see that 'resissstance isss futile' (thank you), the ones that managed to survive (at the same rate as the fearful) would have all the excess metabolic resources that the ophidiophobes spent on freaking out. With this they could work on having an average of (bs figure->) .0042 more grandchildren than their snake-fearing counterparts and would start to dominate the population. Ineffective fears would be selected against, as would unthinking brains, unpumping hearts, etc.

    Gerhard Adam
    First of all, if you look at the study, the point was giant snakes and how they supposedly predated on human beings.  The problem with that scenario is that the people that were "frightened" and supposed prey, would go out and hunt these snakes.  So it was a tad inconsistent, so say the least.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    It stands to reason that a large part of our behaviors and brain function is (at least somewhat) determined by evolution. So which parts are cultural constructions and which parts are biological ones? If you already know the answers to this question (based on what?), then let us all in on them, because it's an important topic. 
    'If you can't prove it didn't, then maybe it did' logic is unsatisfactory; I can't prove we are not descended from Xenu, yet people who claim such a thing are not in the science world.  Obviously we do know that brains evolved yet the examples I listed in the blog are all peer reviewed studies in EP journals.  Which one of those uses a level of rigor that would be acceptable in any science field?  Not a single one.  The burden of proof to be called science is not to be unable to be perhaps true, it is to be shown to have an evidence basis.  As I said, claims that neural circuits evolved in response to cultural issues is interesting, it just has no evidence.
    Gerhard Adam
    It is readily demonstrated that many traits that have cultural consequences have biological roots (i.e. the facial expression of emotions).  These clearly cross cultural boundaries and can be successfully argued as being adaptive to human social groups. 

    I understand that "fitness" addresses both survival and reproduction, but for a trait to be selected for, also means that it must materially affect that outcome in such a way so that those that fail to possess the trait are at a disadvantage and ultimately eliminated.  Using anecdotal concepts like "opposites attract" is no basis for concluding that this is triggered by a genetic desire for diversity and thereby improving the gene pool.  It could just as readily occur because "opposites" tend to not have many things in common and therefore have fewer points of conflict.  Without evidence, they are simply "just so" stories.

    BTW, I'm using the example of "opposites attract" as the kind of topic often selected by evolutionary psychologists as having some deeper basis for existence.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank wrote, "...the examples I listed in the blog are all peer reviewed studies in EP journals"

    If you mean the three examples about taking turns, Maslow's hierarchy, or atheists and liberals: none of those articles were published in EP journals. The taking turns article is in an evolutionary biology journal. The Maslow article is in Perspectives in Psychological Science, one of the top journals in all of psychology; And the atheists research is published in Social Psychology Quarterly, a journal in, well, social psychology. It seems you have a weak grasp of not only what evolutionary psychologists claim, but what the journals are!

    Hank asks, "Which one of those uses a level of rigor that would be acceptable in any science field? Not a single one."

    Turns out, all of them were published in non ev psych journals. But I haven't heard from you how these articles fail to have an acceptable amount of rigor? Please explain the methodological problems with the turn taking paper.

    That's what I thought.

    The main pseudoscientific odour in evolutionary psychology comes from their practic to treat love and hate as objective matter of fact. What would solve the problem is if evolutionary psychologists accepted free will as a valid hypothesis. One could make selectionist explanations of how free will evolved. For example organisms with a sophisticated capability to go alternative ways (free will) have an advantage of surprise in attack for predators, and unpredictability in escape for prey, over organisms that roboticly act on environmental and genetic input. Acknowledging freedom has the benefit of leaving questions about what did the deciding a subjective issue. So an organism may go one of alternative ways in freedom, and subjectively we may decide that such a choice was hateful or loving. But by asserting scientific certitude over what love "really" is, the evolutionary psychologists make themselves look like nerds who scientifically try to find the answer on what to say and do on a date.

    Gerhard Adam
    Except for the problem that there is no such thing as "free will".  Your simple view of making choices hardly qualifies.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Except for the problem that there is no such thing as "free will".

    Yes there is.

    ...
     
    See! I can make metaphysical assertions too. 

    What would be true to say is that there is no satisfactory definition of free-will in terms of physics - or more generally any mechanistic paradigm. But that makes the question of whether it exists impossible to answer by physics. All the rest of the flaff is about finding observables that are adequate proxies for free-will itself. Since you can't put free-will into the physics, the proxy will only ever mimic free-will in some respects. Usually randomness is good enough in physics. A feeling of having made a choice (as determined by asking the subject)  is useful in the mind-sciences. This isn't or shouldn't be, anything to do with deus ex machina nonsense.

    Syamsu can postulate free-will which has survival value: "unpredictability in escape for prey, over organisms that roboticly act on environmental and genetic input" but then the free-will entity is redundant, randomness will do just as well. 
     

    Randomness does as well if it is understood to refer to the fact of a decision turning out one of alternative ways in the moment. But randomness may then not be understood to say anthing about what did the deciding. Instead evolutionary scientists must simply acknowledge this as the border beyond which questions about what ought and ought not apply, where they have no business. So to say they should acknowledge a spiritual domain as what does the deciding, just like creationists, but leave the question what is in the spiritual domain, whether it may be empty, or that love and hate are there, a matter of subjective opinion.

    If I wished to persuade materialists that their paradigm is inadequate and therefore cannot be said to be a true account of reality I might well argue similarly :)

    But this is a science site and you launch a raid "over the border" at your own peril!  



    "Except for the problem that there is no such thing as "free will"."

    "Yes there is.'

    Oh my gosh, sounds like my theology classes!!!! Now that was a load of horsh**. The upside it gave me a good nose for Horse***t to say the least. "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin"!!!!! The question freewill-determinism is only valid to two parties that agree that the assumptions are true. It's a bit like two people standing inside the hull of a sinking ship arguing if the water is growing or the airspace is shrinking.


    Even if you missed the fact that I was "calling" Gerhard on his metaphysical dogmatism, surely
    "This isn't or shouldn't be, anything to do with deus ex machina nonsense" must have given you a clue? 

    Let me guess, you didn't read that far.
     

    Standing in front of a lion, would you like evolutionary psychologists to posit that freedom is real, and provide you with intelligence on how to use your free will to escape from the lion? I think it would provide practically useful information if evolutionary psychologists proceeded on a hypothesis that freedom is real. And you could also use some more cultivating of subjective opinion towards the spiritual domain that decides things, mr horse....

    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but putting together some arbitrary mishmash of concepts doesn't answer any questions nor resolve any issues.  You want to conflate intelligence with "free will" and somehow make them dependent on what evolutionary psychologists posit?  What kind of nonsense is that?

    Take all the freedom you like, if you think it will help.  However, the real world dictates that learning is what is necessary and there's not a shred of evidence that indicates that any amount of freedom will make up the difference (unless you want to bet your life on dumb luck). 

    Moreover, if you want to depend on the spiritual domain, then you're barking up the wrong tree on a science site.  Regardless of what you may believe, don't bring it up within the context of some mystical survival process.  It's simply annoying.

    There's little more irritating than listening to people claim how the spiritual world provides them protection, while people that are truly suffering from all manner of horrors in the world are apparently not good enough to warrant the spiritual attention to relieve their suffering.  Funny how there's always a spiritual guide to help someone avoid getting hit by a car, but when it comes to protecting a family from being butchered by rebels or mercenaries, then it's just tough luck, eh?  It's rubbish. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    By denying freedom is real, you deny the spiritual domain as what decides, and consequently you force opinions to a conclusion by evidence, destroying the freedom neccessary to express any emotion.

    You are promoting a hollywood stereotype of a scientist as calculating and emotionless.

    Gerhard Adam
    I have no use for some abstract discussion about a spiritual domain as if it were a real phenomenon to be dealt with.  If you choose to believe it, then that's your prerogative.  Similarly, whatever people choose to believe that helps them in whatever manner is certainly theirs to do with as they please.  However, when it is presented as something that has an "objective" scientific existence that influences the world we live in then I require evidence.

    If you think that's emotionless, then I have no idea what you're talking about because what else should science be?   Should we allow our personal beliefs, emotions, and bias' to determine how the world operates?  Are we to deny that there is anything that can be learned about the universe?

    Your claim about "freedom" is frivolous and is an argument that can lead no place positive when it is objectified.  I don't know what your point is about emotions, but it is misplaced.

    If your argument is purely spiritual then you're on the wrong web site.  There's little more annoying than someone that professes to hold the "knowledge" of what would constitute such a spiritual domain if it existed.  Such is the domain of personal belief and I don't begrudge that but, anyone claiming more intimate knowledge than that is inevitably wrong.
    ...you deny the spiritual domain as what decides...
    This statement makes no sense, except to argue that we are simply slaves to some external influence over which we have no knowledge or control.  This is an improvement over "robotic" actions?
    Mundus vult decipi
    We are talking past each other, because you don't understand how freedom works. I guess we have to wait untill informatics takes over science, that things consist of information, to get rid of pseudoscience.

    Gerhard Adam
    Good luck.  I suppose you don't actually have an explanation of "freedom" as you see it, eh?
    Mundus vult decipi
    I did explain already...... I get to pose as a professor about freedom, alternatives and choice, and I am smart about forces too, cause and effect, and my subjective judgement is also highly cultivated ofcourse, because of creationism

    Campbell's critiques of Evolutionary Psychology are way off the mark. I've been involved in the field since it started about 20 years ago. There's been a steady increase in theoretical sophistication, empirical power, and interdisciplinarity. I've reviewed about 200 journal papers in the field, and recommended rejection on about half, because they don't live up to the rather high standards that are now in place. I've also reviewed a lot of papers in other areas of psychology, and their standards for theoretical coherence and empirical support are almost always lower than in Ev Psych.
    Also, Satoshi Kanazawa and Marc Hauser may have gotten a fair amount of popular press attention with their work, but they've never been very well-cited or had much influence on mainstream Ev Psych.

    Hank
    The field certainly needs some maturity.  When I was young I would hear earnest people endorse the wonderful tenets of Communism, for example, and when its many actual flaws in practice were noted they would reply, 'that's not real Communism.'

    Except things are defined by the people who do them, not a subjective wish and so it goes with evolutionary psychology - regardless of what you want to believe it should be the people doing it are pretty terrible.  I am thrilled that in 20 years a hundred quality papers have come out - would you have published any of the peer-reviewed studies I noted, or any of the thousands just as suspect, that rely on  questionnaires of college students to make silly pronouncements?  I hope not.  But the field is what it is and your comment means you should be spending time continuing to clean up the quality inside the field rather than worrying about outside criticisms - 'we're better than most of psychology' isn't really an endorsement.

    I'm not a one-trick pony against EP - one of my favorite books this year was EP - I am against woo.  EP just happens to publish a lot of it.  Keep up the good work fixing that.
    Hank wrote, "...would you have published any of the peer-reviewed studies I noted, or any of the thousands just as suspect, that rely on questionnaires of college students to make silly pronouncements?"

    Of all the studies you noted, which ones relied on questionnaires to college students? The taking turns paper certainly didn't. The Maslow article is theoretical and puts parenting at the top, not sex as you keep saying. The Kanazawa work is based on pre-existing large databases that used tens of thousands of non college subjects. The car grill experiment is a perception task with no questionnaire. At least pick studies that follow your weak stereotype.

    In any case, a more nuanced critique might serve you. What exactly is it about questionnaires that you think is the problem. If you think that is the primary source of data for EP, then you only seeing a fraction of the work out there. And why are you not critiquing psychology in general about questionnaires with college students since the rate of psychologists overall in using them is the same or higher than EP?

    Gerhard Adam
    ...why are you not critiquing psychology in general about questionnaires with college students since the rate of psychologists overall in using them is the same or higher than EP?
    Well, regardless of how bad questionnaires are, it isn't nearly as bad as attempting to draw "evolutionary' conclusions based on the responses of modern day humans.  There's no doubt some serious work being done in evolutionary psychology, but unfortunately most of the stuff that is in the media is nonsense. 

    However, rather than just go with my personal bias.  Why not present one significant insight that evolutionary psychology has provided us?  It's value should be quite readily visible from such an example.

    Mundus vult decipi
    The adaptationist approach to the behavioral sciences have provided countless insights.

    Evolution has long been implicated in the kluge-like design of perceptual systems, most notably in vision - this long before EP was coined, but still perfectly aligned with EP's adaptationist approach. EP is rapidly altering dominant perspectives in all areas of psychology including cognitive, social, and developmental psychology - many areas that before had either very little theoretical and computational rigor, or none at all. EP is the source for many predictable domain specific learning effects and memory functions, altering how we view the nature-nurture debate, and how we approach areas ranging from psycholinguistics to conceptual structure to person perception. EP is where well-documented error management effects have been shown that have provided unique insights into slope perception, auditory looming, predator detection, animate agent perception, and miscommunication between the sexes, among others. EP is the theoretical foundation of the many documented behavioral changes across the ovulatory cycle as well as the predicted perception of those changes by men and women. EP has revolutionized how we understand voice production and perception, scent perception in mating contexts, physical and behavioral attractiveness, interpersonal deception, emotions in general, and models of cooperation. EP is the source for many seminal insights into discriminative parental solicitude, sex differences in mating strategies, and cognitive systems underlying social exchange. Darwinian medicine, an EP movement, is revolutionizing how we view mental illness and the evolution of disease. EP is the force that provides psychologists with tools to make unique predictions that no other perspective affords. EP is not just about sex surveys - the characterization of EP in this way reveals a serious lack of familiarity with the research content and theoretical work that has happened in the last 20 years.

    Gerhard Adam
    Sounds to me like EP is claiming credit for all manner of work that has existed long before the "discipline" even existed.  As I said before.  No marketing.  Just give me a solid example of work that is unique to the domain of evolutionary psychology (not something that has been worked on in the neurosciences for decades) that is "revolutionary".

    Mundus vult decipi
    Did you only read the first sentence? I was framing the role of evolution in psychology: the fact is that vision scientists have been working under largely the same assumptions for nearly 100 years. That is not saying that EP deserves credit. The rest of that paragraph is loaded with specific contributions from EP not attributable directly to previous work. But a lot of EP does involve the reinterpretation of previous research. That's how paradigms shift in science.

    But OK, here's one solid example. This short paper summarizes two unique EP findings: neurocognitive systems functionally specialized for reasoning about social exchange and hazards.
    http://www.psych.ucsb.edu/research/cep/papers/Detect_cheat.pdf

    Gerhard Adam
    The paper you linked is simply a counter-argument to the Buller-Fodor hypothesis and a criticism of their book. 

    You're the one that used the term "revolutionary", so show me something that is spectacularly unique to evolutionary psychology.  How about some basic questions like the evolution of cooperation?  After all, if there's a method to detect cheaters, then presumably there's a good explanation for why we cooperate in the first place and the need for such a system.
    Mundus vult decipi
    The paper describes briefly the enterprise of research examining cheater detection and hazard detection - two foundational areas of research unique to EP. Yes, it is a critique of Buller, but the example you asked for is in there with a framing about what constitutes a good scientific theory. Look at the citations and find the papers - you want me to spoon feed it to you? I get paid to teach EP, why would I do it for free here?

    You clearly are not familiar with the literature at all. You wanted an example of solid research from EP that revolutionized an area - here are two (not to mention the huge list I provided that you have conveniently ignored). Research on reasoning was spinning its wheels trying to explain the content effect on reasoning tasks, and social contract theory and hazard management theory cleaned it up quite nicely. These explanations were derived directly from adaptationist logic. And yes, there is an explanation for why we cooperate and why these cognitive adaptations have the features they do. Read their work for details.

    Campell says "I can't find anyone who contends the brain did not adapt." But then he says "The idea that neural circuits became specialized to solve adaptive problems...has no actual evidence of any kind and thus is philosophy, not science."

    So, Mr. Campbell, unless I'm failing to grasp an incredibly nuanced distinction between claiming that the brain did not adapt and objecting to the scientific hypothesis that the brain is wired to solve adaptive problems, I think that I can find someone who contends the brain did not adapt - you.

    Gerhard Adam
    ...I'm failing to grasp an incredibly nuanced distinction between claiming that the brain did not adapt and objecting to the scientific hypothesis that the brain is wired to solve adaptive problems,
    You can't be serious.  What makes you think that the evolution of the brain relates specifically to the ability to "solve adaptive problems"?  In the first place you'd have to specifically define what you even mean by an "adaptive problem" and then you'd have to demonstrate that our brain is "hard-wired" to have solved it.  More importantly, where's the basis for claiming a genetic link?

    It seems that it isn't the nuance that is escaping you at the moment.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Alright, I think I see the confusion. When you read "solve adaptive problems," you imagine a homunculus in the brain standing at a chalkboard saying, "hmm, how can I figure out who to copulate with? hmmm..."

    Here is an example of what I mean by the brain being wired to solve adaptive problems. One adaptive problem is the selection of mates. If we were to simply mate with other people at random, we would not pass on our genes very successfully. Selection will favor gene's that program us to be attracted to features that are reliable cues to "good" mates (by which I mean people who will yield fit offspring if we mate with them). For instance, selection will favor the selection of gene's that program men to be sexually attracted to women with low waist-to-hip ratios because women with low waist-to-hip ratios also have higher conception-to-intercourse ratios, and tend to be generally healthier (meaning they have better immune systems that will be passed onto offsprin and that they themselves with likely be healthy enough to raise to offspring). Also, female's waist-to-hip ratio decreases during puberty and increases again at menopause, so a low waist-to-hip ratio indicates that a female is in her peak reproductive years.

    Thus, a predisposition to be sexually attracted to females with low waist-to-hip ratios helps males solve the adaptive problem of choosing the "best" mates (in the strictly Darwinian sense of the term, of course).

    Gerhard Adam
    I think you're reading too much into this again.  Imagine 200,000 years ago, when perhaps humans lived in small bands of less than 20 individuals.  Even if larger, they would likely be more related than not.

    As a result, most matings would likely occur between adjacent populations of individuals and would be far more opportunistic than worrying about whether someone was particularly attractive or not.  Those concepts of "good mates" suggest far more cultural influence than anything actually observed in most animal situations.

    Even in modern society, I think a strong case could be made that most males would mate with anyone that was willing, regardless of "waist-to-hip" ratios.  ... and they aren't even looking to reproduce.

    In short, humans would have had severely limited opportunities for mating based strictly on geographic distribution (and whatever culture was involved in determining where the mated couple would live). 

    This is the problem I have with viewing mate selection as an "adaptive problem".  Basically it is something that every species (except the asexual ones) engage in and while there may be a myriad number of processes involved (in addition to those we've likely invented), there is little to suggest that males are particularly picky about whom they mate with (within limits ... obviously avoiding aged or diseased females).  Similarly while females may also have certain ideas, unless there is a sufficient supply of suitable partners, it is all academic, and mating will occur on an opportunistic basis.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You make a legitimate point about men's low selectivity when it comes to mates. However, let me say a few things:

    1) We can't assume that it was easy for males to simply approach any female and mate with her. Females don't willingly mate anywhere, anytime, with anyone, which means that males generally need to do a bit of work to achieve copulation, either in the form of some type of courtship or, revoltingly, through some type of aggression. Knowing which female is "worth" which amount of effort would therefor come in handy. (By the way, I hate saying stuff like this, and truly apologize to anyone whose disturbed by it). In other words, while males should be willing to mate with women of all WHRs, they should be willing to go further out of their way to mate with females with lower WHRs. Extra sexual attraction provides the motivation to do that.

    2) Low waist-to-hip ratio distinguishes fertile women from: a) prepubescent girls; b) post-menapausal women; and c) pregnant women. These are undeniably useful distinctions.

    Gerhard Adam
    I don't suggest it was easy to approach any female, but likely that was filtered by the social group to which people belonged.  If the social group could enforce it, then some type of courtship likely occurred.  If not, then likely kidnapping occurred, ultimately decimating the original tribe.

    I would also suggest that the lack of a clearly indicated  heat cycle in women helps support the idea that she needed to be "generally receptive" because of more opportunistic mating.  While it's not likely to be a singular trait, it does suggest that humans could not engage in the more well-formed mating cycles experienced by many other animals.

    Obvious something had a severe impact on human population to bring it to the bottleneck of only having about 1,000 + breeding pairs (late Pleistocene).  This would have dramatically reduced mating opportunities and would likely have served to strengthen the social groups to be more protective of females (purely speculative on my part).
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard wrote, "Well, regardless of how bad questionnaires are, it isn't nearly as bad as attempting to draw "evolutionary' conclusions based on the responses of modern day humans. There's no doubt some serious work being done in evolutionary psychology, but unfortunately most of the stuff that is in the media is nonsense."

    First off, why would you base your assessment of a whole field on what gets reported in the media and how it gets reported? That makes no sense. Some people choose topics and frame them in unnecessarily provocative ways, but that is not the mode. You should examine that actual research and discuss that - the media is irrelevant in this regard. And the practice of reverse engineering the mind based on research with modem humans might be difficult, but to just write it off as "bad" reveals a lack of understanding how it can happen.

    Gerhard Adam
    I've asked you to point me to some specific theory credited to evolutionary psychology.  After all, if there is work that is "revolutionary" then you should be able to find some new over-arching theory that I am unaware of.

    As I said, I've read some things that are interesting, but hardly revolutionary.  However, if you want EP to gain respect, then you should also be willing to call the shoddy research when it gets reported by the media. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard asked, " What makes you think that the evolution of the brain relates specifically to the ability to "solve adaptive problems"?"

    What else drives the evolution of the brain if not solving adaptive information processing problems? Is there another force besides natural selection that results in functionally organized structure? If not, what else would natural selection work on? Adaptive problems can be identified as recurrent selection pressures that impact fitness - there is a whole literature behind how to identify and characterize them. Perhaps reading that a bit first would help you express your disagreement better.

    Try this for starters: J. Tooby and I. DeVore (1987). The reconstruction of hominid behavioral evolution through strategic modeling, W.G. Kinzey, Editor, The Evolution of Human Behavior: Primate Models, SUNY Press, Albany (1987).

    Gerhard Adam
    You are clearly failing to understand what an adaption is.  There is no question that the brain is adaptive.  It is not at all clear that any particular problem solving ability is.   This is readily demonstrated by human pursuit of science which demonstrates that the brain is quite capable of addressing problems well outside the realm of anything for which it was "selected for". 
    Is there another force besides natural selection that results in functionally organized structure?
    What are you talking about?  Natural selection is the means by which structures are differentiated IF they impact fitness.  Until you've established that connection, you can say nothing about natural selection.  You must demonstrate that whatever you're postulating is a adaptation, also has a direct impact on fitness.  If it doesn't, then it's an interesting correlation, but nothing more.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    BTW, I found this as an interesting quote:
    However, survival is not central to evolution: indeed, all individual organisms die sooner or later.  In contrast genes, - which can be thought of as particles of design - are potentially immortal, and design features spread by promoting the reproduction of the genes that participate in building them.
    http://users.telenet.be/executive.consulting.bvba1/Thesis/Cosmides%20-%202000%20-%20Evolutionary%20psychology%20and%20emotions.pdf
    So, this contradictory nonsense is supposed to be one of the foundations for evolutionary psychology?  Some simplistic adaptation of the "selfish gene" theory?  The first sentence is simply stupid and the claim of genes being the agents of reproduction simply displays ignorance about what genes are.
    Mundus vult decipi
    GA wrote, "You are clearly failing to understand what an adaption is. There is no question that the brain is adaptive. It is not at all clear that any particular problem solving ability is. This is readily demonstrated by human pursuit of science which demonstrates that the brain is quite capable of addressing problems well outside the realm of anything for which it was "selected for". "

    It sounds to me like you are the one who fails to understand what an adaptation is, and apparently byproducts as well. Showing that a system can solve some problem is not what constitutes calling it an adaptation. Predicting design features that would not be present except in the case the system was designed to accomplish a particular task, and then empirically demonstrating those design features while ruling out all possible explanatory alternatives for that feature, is the way to reveal adaptive structure.

    For a great example of this, check out Brad Duchaine's work examining prosopagnosia. Research on face processing reveals an adaptive system designed to recognize faces. The empirical journey is a perfect example illustrating the power of EP.
    http://www.faceblind.org/social_perception/papers.html

    Gerhard Adam
    I looked through many of the papers (especially by Duchaine) and they seemed to be quite good by focusing on the specifics of prosopagnosia.  However, I also noted that there was literally no mention of evolution, natural selection, nor adaptation in these articles.  I have no quarrel with such brain research.

    However, when I looked a bit further and found one that specifically focused on evolution, I got this:
    The human brain is a set of computational machines, each of which was designed by natural selection to solve adaptive problems faced by our hunter–gatherer ancestors.
    http://www.faceblind.org/social_perception/papers/duchaine01coin
    Of course, there's the obligatory section on female sexual choices in there as well, but it is largely irrelevant.  What's wrong with this statement is that (1) it suggests that human adaptation is so markedly different from every other creature as to warrant a special "device" be evolved.  This is clearly nonsense.  (2)  Most of these problems have been "solved" in numerous animals without producing a comparable brain.

    I would challenge anyone defending this statement to explain what problems human hunter/gatherers faced that were unique enough to have produced a sufficiently unique brain unparalleled by our closest primate relatives.  Without that bit of information, such a statement is pure speculation and anything that follows from it is suspect.

    Just to be clear.  My problem is not with neuroscience nor studying the brain.  My problem stems from making the quantum leap into natural selection and evolution without evidence.  Adaptation is notoriously difficult to demonstrate and yet, it seems that with a few questionnaires and some speculation, many individuals feel confident to make all manner of assertions simply because they fit their worldview.

    As a continued example from the same source:
    Women’s motivation for engaging in sex and their criteria for choosing sexual partners change in theoretically principled ways during fertile and non-fertile phases of the menstrual cycle. Not only do peaks in women’s sexual desire occur most frequently during fertile phases [69], but their preferences also change at ovulation. Although mate preferences in females are designed to  assess a man’s willingness and ability to invest in her offspring, as well as his genetic quality (e.g. heritable disease resistance), one would expect cues indicating genetic quality to be weighted more heavily when the probability of conception is highest. During fertile phases,women find testosterone-related facial characteristics, which may honestly advertise immunocompetence, more attractive than they do during non-fertile phases [70•,71•].  Moreover, this preference shift is more extreme for women contemplating short-term matings [70•]. Similarly, women prefer the scent of men with other, nonfacial markers of genetic quality during fertile periods, but have no systematic preference during non-fertile periods [72,73•,74].
    Once again, the problem here is that these conclusions are all drawn without having any representative individuals for whom these behaviors might have been adaptive.  To draw such conclusions is to attempt analyzing the behavior of a wolf pack by looking at the puppies in your living room.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    Also, let me clarify the problem around "adaptive" and "adaptation".  These are not the same concept.  From Sober (The Philosophy of Biology):
    "A trait is adaptive now if it currently confers some advantage.  A trait is an adaptation now if it currently exists because a certain selection process took place in the past.  The two concepts describe different temporal stages in the trait's career - how it got here and what it means for organisms who now have it.  A trait can be an adaptation now without currently being adaptive.  And it can be adaptive now, although it is not now an adaptation (for example, if it arose yesterday by mutation)."
    Elliott Sober, The Philosophy of Biology, p. 85
    As a result, this is often the problem associated with many of the claims made in EP, where some historical statement is being made that simply can't be known.  It doesn't matter how much it "looks" like it works, if it is unknowable, then no conclusions can be drawn. 

    Mundus vult decipi
    By the way, I'm perfectly willing to acknowledge bad research that gets popularized in the media and flies under the banner of EP. Of course, but I don't evaluate the theoretical validity of a field based on some people doing lousy work in it. Hasty generalization.

    Hank
    Frank Xu sent me a link to a piece by Prof. Robert Kurzban of Penn, who doesn't think much of this article.  He makes some decent enough points (and I wanted to link to him because, obviously, a key tenet of Science 2.0 is to get more scientists writing and the way to do that is send them traffic on their sites or bring them here, so they know people read them) but his problem is the same one we face when dealing with people who work in politics; instead of acknowledging what everyone else can see as flaws and working to fix it, he simply circles the wagons around his party - in this case evolutionary psychology.  I never said EP has no value, he simply finds articles where I ridicule studies that have no value and lament that evo psych seems to have no interest in corralling its kooks and says I am wrong for saying that has no value.

    Psychology is not the only field beset with issues as it seeks to have science legitimacy - well, regain it, in the case of psychology, since it was once regarded as scientific by everyone.  Anthropology has almost been completely been taken over by people with an agenda, sociology is beset much the same way and even astronomy has become known for hyped up claims about life on other planets every other month in order to get attention. Experimental physics, on the other hand, which was once a crazy amount of hype when they needed funding for the LHC, has quietly got down to business and let the results generate the excitement.  EP can do the same thing, they just have to do as I said; be harder on their own people who make them look bad and not simply go after anyone critical of stuff everyone - including people in EP - know is rubbish.
    MikeCrow
    You left out climatology ;)
    Never is a long time.
    Hank
    I only picked one field overrun with hype that is now trying to come back; sure, we could have picked climatology, where once almost any study that had likable results was rationalized under a "they are on our side against Republicans" umbrella but which made them look bad when shoddy methodologies were noted.  It certainly typifies the problem; 10,000 terrific climate scientists have to battle a PR problem now. Anyone in business knows it is much harder to regain a disgruntled customer than it was to gain them in the first place and voters are the customers.  

    Psychology used to be considered as solid as any social science but starting in the 1980s they seem to have lost their minds.  And their credibility.  The media can take some of the blame but the aspects of psychology not holding their own accountable and instead turning the guns on anyone critical is the problem. As always, my belief is that the youngest generation - those who went into the field believing they were engaging in science and found older researchers (starting in the '80s) treating it like a dodge will call them out and reclaim it. 
    MikeCrow
    I know, I was only giving you a hard time.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    It's interesting that this comment was made in criticizing your post:
    The reason Campbell gets confused here is the usual reason that people who haven’t read anything in the field get confused; they see “genes” in the neighborhood of something about behavior, and he thinks that this is what evolutionary psychology is all about. (Hint: search for the word “genetics” in the Tooby/Cosmides primer.)
    http://www.epjournal.net/blog/2011/12/four-useful-tips-for-our-friends-at-science-2-0/
    What makes this so interesting, is that it specifically links to the primer which was the subject of my article "What's Wrong with Evolutionary Psychology?" where I was criticized for referencing a work that was "older" or not representative of the field as it stands today (despite the status of the authors). 

    One poster offered this comment:
    Picking apart one casually written (and fairly dated) introductory work by picking out generalist sentences?
    http://www.science20.com/comments/78848/Re_Whats_Wrong_Evolutionary_Psychology

    So, apparently when the primer is being criticized then we're over-reacting, however when it suits, then it can be referred to it to illustrate how little we understand EP.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    I also found this bit interesting in the critique of Hank's article:
    ...but what’s interesting here is what he takes to be an example of evolutionary psychology. His link there is to his post about some research in behavior genetics – not, in fact, evolutionary psychology – by John Jost – not, in fact, an evolutionary psychologist.
    http://www.epjournal.net/blog/2011/12/four-useful-tips-for-our-friends-at-science-2-0/
    Apparently evolutionary psychology gets to decide which particular claims are part of it's paradigm versus those that aren't.  So, it isn't enough to have a study claiming a genetic (biological) link to behavior (psychology).  It seems that it can only be evolutionary psychology when it is actually said to be evolutionary psychology, despite the fact that the majority of cited papers are not written by "evolutionary psychologists". 

    Apparently John Jost - Professor of Psychology, NYU and Bradley Duchaine - Associate Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences (Dartmouth), are in two entirely separate fields.  Can you spot the evolutionary psychologist?

    You can't know the players without a program apparently.

    NOTE:  It is not my intent to disparage either of the two named individuals, but rather to use them to illustrate how "fuzzy" the definitions and credentials are of individuals that may or may not be considered to be evolutionary psychologists. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Mr. Adam,

    I have replied to your critique of the primer on my blog, evolutionary psychology. Your rhetorical question here, about spotting the evolutionary psychologists, speaks to the point. No, you don’t need a program; what you need is expertise. With due respect, you are insufficiently familiar with the theoretical contours of the discipline and the axes of scholarly debate to understand the relevant categories. Those with such expertise can easily distinguish the two, as the commenter below indicates, though I agree that boundaries are fuzzy. (This particular case is not in the gray area, however.) This is really a minor point, but speaks to a larger one. From your comments and your post about the primer, it’s clear you don’t really have expertise in these areas, which is fine, except when you write posts about it; your errors – not to mention aggression – are a disservice to your readers. I would welcome your comments on work in my field, evolutionary psychology, but only after you have informed yourself sufficiently that you can educate, rather than mislead those who visit your blog. (I have indicated some sources in my post you might find useful, and I’ll be happy to suggest some more if you wish.) Your current practice is disappointingly short of this. Both you and Mr. Campbell write for a site about science. A key, if not the key trait for scientists is humility, the recognition that we might be wrong. This applies to me as well, of course. But in your remarks you show here a confidence about matters that you little understand; you both can and should do better.

    Rob Kurzban

    Hank
    No, you don’t need a program; what you need is expertise. With due respect, you are insufficiently familiar with the theoretical contours of the discipline and the axes of scholarly debate to understand the relevant categories.
    Appeals to authority don't help much here.  Don't get me wrong, expertise obviously matters - but only in a field where there can be actual reproducible science.  A bunch of experts on astrology writing peer reviewed articles on astrology also claim critics lack the expertise to understand their work.  That isn't really true.  In a universe of string theory, I am The Pope.  You don't agree I am The Pope?  Well, you lack expertise in physics so you are unqualified to refute that.   You see the problem with your logic; it allows obvious woo to pass through a cultural filter as 'maybe' scenarios for evolutionary psychology while conveniently blocking any criticism.

    As Gerhard noted, the guidelines most cited by proponents is 60% meaningless jargon but you say it takes a certain expertise to understand it - other people in EP have stated the document is old and therefore its weaknesses are invalid.  Which is it?

    In physics or biology when someone writes mumbo-jumbo (in physics, it is most often mathematical goobledygook, in biology it is 'there is no fossil for...') they get clobbered too. I suppose someone here in EP would criticize woo in the field more except 100% of the EP researchers who signed up to write wanted to do surveys about sex.  That's it. Obviously if you are doing serious work that doesn't want to be just surveys of college students, and you want it to reach a million people a month, we want you to put it here.

    Humility on the part of people who criticize EP is not the problem, a lack of standards within EP is the problem. Just because you have standards does not mean the field does.
    That you would claim that people in EP have rejected the primer after I pointed out below that the only person doing so was not in EP is clear proof that you aren't interested in learning about EP or representing it honestly to your readers. No matter how clearly the truth is laid out in front of you, you continually attend only to the portions that you can misrepresent to promote your agenda. This is dishonest and antithetical to science. You should be ashamed.

    I would love to continue to correct yours and Mr. Adam's misrepresentations and misunderstandings, but it is clear now that you aren't interested in learning. You can lead a Science 2.0 blogger to water....

    Hank
    The key question is, have you ever corrected the many misrepresentation and misunderstandings of people inside EP?  If not, then the point I made stands; the field lacks credibility because people spend their time defending it from outside criticism of its woo rather than demanding good science inside.
    Gerhard Adam
    I found your comments interesting, although a bit on the "shape-shifting" side since you elected to not use the primer as the means of defending it.

    While you may find my comments about the brain as computer to lack an understanding of the "computational theory of mind", let's remember also, that the primer used this logic:
    Organisms that don't move, don't have brains.  Trees don't have brains, bushes don't have brains, flowers don't have brains.
    This was their "computational theory of mind", to which I was commenting.

    Also, your comment about "natural selection" failed to mention what was actually being criticized.  Once again, from the primer:
    Principle 2. Our neural circuits were designed by natural selection to solve problems that our ancestors faced during our species' evolutionary history.
    What exactly is the scientific basis for your claim that you even know what problems our ancestors faced, let alone which neural circuits were "designed" by natural selection? 
    ...I think what Adam (incorrectly) believes is that Tooby and Cosmides are using the term “solve problems” in the same way that the term is used in lay language
    Oh, I think you know quite well how that phrase was meant in Principle #2.
    This very basic error is quite revealing, given it’s widely known that selection tends to reduce or eliminate fitness-relevant heritable variation...
    However, it is equally true:
    Organisms do the reproducing; genes direct development and provide the heritability on which response to selection depends.

    George Christopher Williams, Natural selection: domains, levels, and challenges.  p.10
    -------------------------------------------------
    Evolution by natural selection requires that the evolving trait be heritable.

    In short, evolution by natural selection requires that there be heritable variation in fitness [Lewontin 1970].

    Elliott Sober, Philosophy of Biology, p 9-10
    While you were certainly free it criticizing my comments, I also noticed that you didn't actually quote anything from the primer that I had targeted. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    It would make sense that a paradigm gets to define what it is, wouldn't it? I can forgive mistaking a behavioral geneticist with an evolutionary psychologist, especially if one isn't a psychologist and thus isn't familiar with either field. Tooby and Cosmides's primer actually does a good job of explaining the difference. By the way, a few seconds of googling the person you cited as dismissing T and C's primer was a computer programmer--not an evolutionary psychologist, not even a psychologist. I suspect you'd find that most evolutionary psychologists would stand by the primer, though probably recommend something more formal if you are seriously interested in learning about the field.

    The individual work cited, however, is so far outside the scope of EP that it suggests you actually don't know much about the field and perhaps should take Kurzban's advice seriously. Evolutionary psychologists typically don't concern themselves with determining heritability of traits for two reasons. 1) Evolutionary Psychologists are explicitly concerned with determining whether "traits" (this may not technically be the best word, but a better word is escaping me at the moment, so I will continue to use it) are adaptations (this is defined in the primer, but it's entirely consistent with the definition provided above). Adaptations are expected to be species-typical, and therefore there isn't expected to be variation (on the crucial, and therefore interesting dimensions, at least). So venturing to study the extent to which variability in an adaptation can be attributed to variability in genes (heritability) doesn't make much sense. So while highly adjacent fields, behavioral genetics and evolutionary psychology are somewhat opposite, in a way. 2) Heritability doesn't tell you anything about functional design--what evolutionary psychologists are interested in. Granted, adaptations are usually expected to have low heritability, and demonstrating this can be meaningful. But evolutionary psychologists typically are more concerned with knowing what the features of a human mental trait (behavior, affect, cognition, etc.) are--what activates it, how does it manifest, etc. Knowing a trait's heritability tells you none of this.

    As far as not being able to know about our history...again, check the primer. Or something more formal, if you're seriously interested in learning about the field. We know a lot about the past. We know women had to invest much more in offspring than men. We know women were only able to get pregnant a few days out of the month. We know men were, on average, larger than women. We know that humans hunted animals. We know that humans lived in small groups. We know that humans engaged in warfare. We know the sun was above the land (which has bearing on perception). We know that there were periods of darkness each night. We know that resources (ex: fruits) were clumpy. We know many other things. And all of these have important consequences for psychology from an evolutionary perspective and provide the foundation for a fruitful science.

    As far as the brain arguments... No one in evolutionary psychology argues that the human brain is so unique because of face processing. Primarily because, as psychologists, evolutionary psychologists are interested more in behaviors, affects, cognitions, etc. Not the physiology or anatomy of the brain. Perhaps you should talk to a neuroscientist? And before I am accused of claiming the brain isn't important to psychology, I want to point out a distinction between being concerned with how activity in the brain is associated with behaviors, affects, cognitions, etc. and being concerned with the features of the brain as a subject of study on its own. But secondarily, evolutionary psychologists wouldn't make this claim because they would all agree that there are numerous adaptive problems faced uniquely by humans and all of these contributed to the uniqueness of the human brain. They would also agree that in domains where humans and non-human animals faced similar problems, one might expect analogous adaptations in both species. As would all evolutionary sciences.

    Finally, I can assure you that evolutionary psychologists aren't any more interested in hype than other scientists. People usually cite people like Kanazawa as evidence that evolutionary psychology is just interested in a) promoting an agenda and b) getting fame. While this might be true for Kanazawa, I can assure you (as Geoffrey Miller did above) that Kanazawa is not representative of the field. I'm relatively new to EP, but I can't recall a single instance in which Kanazawa was cited as a legitimate source. Nor have I ever turned to his work to answer a question.

    If you're interested in reading about the field's basic foundations and whatnot, I'd recommend these two papers:

    http://www.psych.ucsb.edu/research/cep/papers/pastpresent1990.pdf

    http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/Group/BussLAB/pdffiles/evolution...

    Gerhard Adam
    A perfect example of presumptive nonsense:
    We know women had to invest much more in offspring than men.
    Based on what?  This is usually simplistically assumed because of the 9 month pregnancy.  However, it should be intuitively obvious that this is hardly the "cost" of raising offspring to the point at which they are viably reproductive.  Therefore, this kind of nonsense is usually touted because it is presumed that men have no investment to make beyond the sex act.  This is shallow and foolish thinking. 

    So, I will call you on this statement and ask for evidence that it is true.  Since you stated it as if it were self-evident, I will further assume that it shouldn't be difficult to demonstrate it (not simply its "truthiness").
    As far as not being able to know about our history...again, check the primer.
    Oh, I've already look at it.  I found the biology rather quaint.
    http://www.science20.com/gerhard_adam/whats_wrong_evolutionary_psychology-81398
    And all of these have important consequences for psychology from an evolutionary perspective and provide the foundation for a fruitful science.
    ... and all of these things were also present in numerous other animals with equally adaptive capabilities, so (once again), what is your basis for concluding that human psychology solved any particularly novel problem?
    Heritability doesn't tell you anything about functional design--what evolutionary psychologists are interested in.
    This is perhaps one of the most interesting and yet incoherent statements I've ever heard.  I can't imagine how something can be selected for and "evolutionary" and yet not be heritable.  It must be a miracle.
    Knowing a trait's heritability tells you none of this.
    Are you daft?  It tells you whether it can be selected for and therefore whether it can even be called adaptive or part of evolution.
    As would all evolutionary sciences.
    What exactly does the "all" refer to in this sentence?  Unless there was more than one Darwin, there aren't multiple versions of  "natural selection".
    Evolutionary psychologists typically don't concern themselves with determining heritability of traits for two reasons.
    One of the most interesting comments made, so far.  It's little wonder that evolutionary psychologists don't understand anything about evolution.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Ah! You did catch me. My wording was imprecise. I was referring to minimum obligatory investment. You are absolutely correct; men can and do invest after birth. Though you would expect them to (and do find them to) be less likely to do so than women though. I'd recommend checking out Buss and Schmitt's Sexual Strategies Theory paper for both a more in-depth discussion of this and an example of what benefit EP has to bring to psychology as a whole, as this in particular has been extremely fruitful for research. I haven't read your review of the primer; I intend to soon though.

    Evolutionary psychologists don't necessarily assert that the problems they study are unique to humans (except in the cases where they are. like semi-concealed ovulation). This was the point of the claim about analogous adaptions. In areas where the problems aren't necessarily novel, we might expect similar adaptations in non-human animals. This is why EP is so heavily informed by non-human animal studies. I don't see why the problems should have to be unique in order to be studied. If, however, your point was that EP could benefit from greater attention to phylogenetic data, I couldn't agree with you more. There has been some discussion of this within the field, but not nearly enough.

    Evolutionary sciences, by the way, would be sciences that are informed by Darwinian evolution. I'm beginning to suspect you are being intentionally dim and therefore dishonest, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt and believe you are just concerned with precision.

    Many adaptations aren't heritable... Again, one doesn't expect variation in adaptations (or their presence; i.e. they are fixed) nor much variation in associated genes. Just as "having a stomach" isn't heritable because everyone has a stomach and everyone has (roughly) the same genes associated with "having a stomach". Therefore, psychological and phyiological adaptations typically have low heritabilities. Keep in mind, evolutionary psychologists study adaptations evolved as a result of PREVIOUS environmental conditions--not adaptive traits that are currently rising to the level of adaptation. These, of course, would be heritable. Because evolutionary psychologists do not study current evolution (because, again, evolutionary psychologist are interested in the nature of modern behavior, which will be more the result of past evolution than current [although the extent of this is debatable]), they also don't focus on whether traits are currently being selected for/against. Therefore, heritability is generally not of interest.

    I'd also like to take a moment to genuinely thank you for your criticisms. Reading these forces me to be explicit about EPs arguments, which helps me learn more about the field. Criticism can also (when well-informed) point out areas where EP does flounder. Being an inherently inter-disciplinary field, feedback from people from diverse backgrounds is especially valuable. So while it may seem that evolutionary psychologists are dismissive of critics, I can assure you they do genuinely welcome criticism. I think the frustration comes because critics generally aren't honest about what the field actually claims (and studies), which only wastes everyone's time.

    Gerhard Adam
    Though you would expect them to (and do find them to) be less likely to do so than women though.
    Sorry, but this is something you can't possibly know.  All you know is what our current social patterns are, but to discuss it within an evolutionary framework is over-reaching.  Even if you could comprehensively survey the field over the past 10,000 years you wouldn't have enough information to argue what our ancestors "investment" was, so this is patently false.
    Just as "having a stomach" isn't heritable because everyone has a stomach and everyone has (roughly) the same genes associated with "having a stomach".
    Of course it's heritable.  Why would you make such a statement?  This suggests that you want to argue that genes that are conserved and fixed within a population are no longer "heritable".  This makes for a very strange interpretation of natural selection.  You make another statement:
    Many adaptations aren't heritable
    This also flies in the face of biology.  Heritability is the ONLY means by which biological information can be passed from one generation to the next.  If it isn't heritable then it cannot exist in the next generation.  There are equally many things which may be "transmitted" through learning (behavioral systems) and culture.  In addition, we also have additional issues with epigenetics as a means by which the genes may be modified in how traits are manifest.  All of these will play a role in which information gets passed on and which traits may be manifest.  However, it is all heritable, because that's the "information transmission" system. 
    ...psychologists study adaptations evolved as a result of PREVIOUS environmental conditions--not adaptive traits that are currently rising to the level of adaptation.
    Except that they don't know what the PREVIOUS environmental conditions were.  This is precisely what makes such claims so difficult to assess and yet it appears that simply making assumptions is often considered sufficient to support such a claim.
    So while it may seem that evolutionary psychologists are dismissive of critics, I can assure you they do genuinely welcome criticism.
    I certainly hope so, because there's far more at stake than a few careers.  Every time some whack job story gets published it advances the public perspective that science is simply about making up stories.  Retreating to a position claiming that "expertise" is required, is simply gibberish.  Every time the public hears about how our "fear of snakes and spiders" is evolutionary, or how the various sexual strategies play out, it creates another silly impression about rationalizing modern human behavior based on stories of a supposed past.

    It's no different here.  If someone thinks that my criticism is unfounded, then speak up with REAL evidence.  There's absolutely no question that natural selection has played a role in the formation of the human brain, and in directing human behaviors.  However, such information will not be found by people making trivial assumptions and lacking rigor.

    If you want an important evolutionary psychology question ... here's one:

    What major change must have occurred about 10,000 years ago to change the trajectory of human culture from a tribal society to the rise of the city-state (this generated a path to a more eusocial existence from which all modern human technology - division of labor - originates).  In short, while we are primates, the major unique difference between us and other primates is our eusocial nature.  However, that is rarely addressed, instead we get trivial comparisons as if we are still fundamentally chimpanzees.

    I realize that this may not necessarily be the most important question to EP, but it illustrates the kind of insight I would expect from such a field.  Not something that purports to tell me how modern women view sexual encounters or whether its genetic that we fear snakes and spiders.

    Mundus vult decipi
    I believe you are confusing heritability with heredity. Heritability is the extent to which differences between individuals can be attributed to differences between their genes. NOT whether or not a trait is inherited from the previous generation. I'm not even sure how one would interpret heritabilities-this trait is 70% passed from parent to offspring...? Because heritability explicitly concerns differences between individuals, adaptations--which are present in all individuals in essentially the same form (all individuals have stomachs)--adaptations are not typically heritable (or rather, have extremely low heritabilities). They are, however, inherited. I would suggest you read up on behavioral genetics; this might enlighten you both on heritability and the distinction between EP and behavioral genetics.

    You are correct that we cannot survey behavior throughout human history; if this is the standard you set for identifying adaptations, you must have deep problems with psychology and biology. By identifying the extent to which current behavior shows the features one would expect of an adaptation evolved to solve a particular a behavior, one can conclude that the behavior in question is an adaptation. If a behavior shows features that both a) contribute to the solution of an adaptive problem and are b) unlikely to have occurred by chance, there is cause to believe that behavior is an adaptation. If you find this controversial, you again must have deep problems with biological and psychological research alike. If this is the case, I would suggest reading Williams 1966.

    And, as I argued before, we know plenty about previous conditions. Other than my one mistake, you didn't have much to say about any of those (or the correction)... If you deny that these are both known and important, you must have many problems with psychology and biology alike.

    I'd also like to point out that evolutionary psychologists don't just tack on stories to behaviors we already know about. Evolutionary psychologists develop hypotheses from evolutionary theory and then test these in the laboratory. So, new behaviors (or features of behaviors, or affects, or cognitions, or etc.) are predicted a priori and then demonstrated. And they are concluded to be adaptations only if a) the behaviors show the features predicted a priori and b) the features cannot be accounted for by alternative (ultimate) explanations. If you need proof, I would suggest looking through Evolution and Human Behavior. The hypotheses are usually in the introduction, not the discussion. There is REAL evidence out there. Plenty of it. But you need to understand where it comes from to understand it, which requires reading about the foundation of the field. You don't have to be an expert, you just have to be honest and not misrepresent the claims you're reading.

    And that is a very interesting question and perhaps someone will attempt to answer it some day, but this isn't really within the scope of EP. You must remember that EP is psychology. What it seeks to do is explain and describe psychology. Describing what sparked this change would be useful only insofar as it can explain aspects of psychology.

    What I don't understand is what you mean by a "trivial comparison" or how EP treats us as if we are "fundamentally chimpanzees". These are claims that demand evidence.

    Gerhard Adam
    Mea culpa

    You're absolutely right that my use of the term heritable was inappropriate as discussed.  My apologies.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I really admire people who can apologise when they realise that they were wrong. I also think that the title to this article is hilarious.
    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, I'm not sure these points have been mentioned yet, but:

    One way that we can strongly infer that females invested more in their offspring then men is that women have breasts that swell with milk when they are pregnant. Men do not produce milk. We know that it requires a lot of metabolic resources for women to produce that milk. We can safely infer that infants normally consumed their mother's breast milk for AT LEAST the first 2 years of their lives, with data from primatology and anthropology suggesting that nursing offspring up until ages 4 and 5 may have been common. Obviously, the required investment from females consists not only in them producing the milk, but in holding the baby while it fed.

    Now, you could say, "Fine, females gestate and lactate, but maybe males made investments of equal magnitude in other ways." But, honestly, 9 months of pregnancy, 1 time going through labor (which is dangerous even in the modern world), and at least 2 years (probably considerably longer) of producing milk and nursing the baby - that's pretty difficult for men to match.

    Also, that "females do more direct child care" is on Donald Brown's list of human universals, which means that in every "primitive" (I hope the term does not offend you) society for which the relevant data has been collected, the women take care of children more than men. Of course, this sex difference in childcare is also found in all other great apes (yes, even bonobos).

    So, as you can see, the argument that females invest more of their time and energy* in their offspring is based on more than just observations of our current social patterns.

    Now, one final point I want to make is this: If it were the case that evolutionary psychologists were incorrect in their belief that females invested more in their offspring than males throughout a long stretch of human's ancestry, THEN THIS FALSE BELIEF WOULD LEAD TO FALSE EMPIRICAL HYPOTHESES ABOUT SEX DIFFERENCES. Yet, ev psychologists have actually been quite good at predicting sex differences using reasoning that involves this assumption about parental investment.

    Gerhard Adam
    In many respects you're correct, but you're overlooking the fact that the male is engaged in significantly riskier behavior during this same period.  After all, without the male contribution, the female would starve.  The male risks injury (and potentially his life) depending on the circumstances, to ensure that offspring survive.  This could range from as simple as hunting accidents, to skirmishes with other tribes, to warfare.

    Similarly, we see such investments by other animals with varying results.  Since females rarely survived in isolation, it is safe to assume that using an animal like a bear is not a comparable model.  Perhaps something like the big cats (i.e. lion) might be more appropriate.  In those cases, the male only has to ensure he doesn't get killed.  Otherwise another male simply enters the scene, kills the young, and brings the mother into heat.

    While these are hardly comparable circumstances, but point remains, that men have the greater liability ranging from the uncertainty of their paternity to the reality that they (and their offspring) are ultimately expendable should another male attempt to take over.

    So, I would argue that "costs" is a much more difficult thing to quantify than you've mentioned.

    NOTE:  I will agree that regarding male "cost", there is a much more significant probabilistic aspect to it, so that some males may have to invest very little, while others might be at extraordinarily high risk.  In females, the costs would tend to stay comparable throughout. 

    I don't believe it's a coincidence that many tribal societies had a tradition of brothers marrying other brother's wives in the event of such a death.  So, it would bear considering what the likelihood was of a male living to see his offspring reproduce (as compared to females) - neglecting disease.
    Mundus vult decipi
    This is a much more sophisticated treatment of the claim than your initial reaction to it, which was to call it "foolish" and "shallow," and imply that it rested only on "current social patterns." So we're getting somewhere.

    The points about indirect investment in the form of hunting and protecting the family from enemies is legitimate, but, unlike gestation, the labor-process, and lactation, which are all done exclusively for the good of the offspring, hunting and fighting have adaptive benefits that go above and beyond the benefits to the men's offspring (e.g. acquiring food for oneself, earning a good reputation, gaining contested resources, etc), so we need to be careful about giving these behaviors too much weight as parental investments.

    Gerhard Adam
    Actually if your point is about evolution, then one must question why men do those things and whether they are really "beyond the benefits" of the offspring.

    Men carry anywhere from a 50% to 100% metabolic liability just by being males due to their larger size and increased calorie requirements.  This also did not occur by accident.

    My point is that natural selection doesn't tend to be arbitrarily wasteful and energy attainment/consumption are usually pretty good limiting factors in determining the viability of any particular adaptation.  Therefore, since there are plenty of species where the females rear the young without male intervention, we must assume that for human males to remain around, then there is either a comparable investment, or a rather compelling reason that they do so.

    We already know that humans don't develop as quickly as many of the other animals, so that even in those cases where females rear their young alone, the human investment is probably comparable or still longer than most of those animals.  In addition, humans have a huge social structure, such that even in tribal societies child rearing was not a singular parental investment.  All of these factors need to be considered, and I'm not convinced that there is any basis for claiming that a female's investment is any more significant than a male's.
    ...so we need to be careful about giving these behaviors too much weight as parental investments.
    I think we need to be careful in reading too much into these behaviors that don't appear to play a role in parental investments.   Life is about surviving to reproduction and then ensuring offspring survive to a comparable level.  So, it needs to be considered whether ANYTHING can be considered to NOT ultimately be either a survival or parental investment?

    Consider whether any of the points you made, (acquiring food for oneself, earning a good reputation, gaining contested resources) are meaningful without the context of a social group and attaining a family status within that group.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Ah! You successfully identified a crack in my reasoning and pried it wide open. If you look at my earlier post, I put an asterisk next to the phrase "time and energy" but I forgot to indicate what the asterisk meant. What I meant to clarify is that the technical definition of parental investment is not "time and energy spent behaving altruistically towards offspring" (which, I admit, my post seemed to imply). Rather the right definition is closer to "the extent to which an individual forgoes opportunities to bear new offspring in order to rear existing offspring" So, for instance, if a father forgoes an opportunity to look after his offspring to go flirt with some other female, that would be a clear instance of a behavior that should not count as parental investment.

    In other words, parental investment is the sacrifice of reproductive "quantity" for "quality." Defined this way, I think we can more easily see that females do more parental investment than men. I should have introduced this point earlier on.

    (Btw, I'm just an undergrad at a school where none of the professors teach EP, so I'm doing to best I can without much expertise. lol)

    Gerhard Adam
    So, for instance, if a father forgoes an opportunity to look after his offspring to go flirt with some other female, that would be a clear instance of a behavior that should not count as parental investment.
    This is only true if the offspring survives.  If the offspring fails to survive, then it is simply a failure.  This would presumably be maladaptive since it represents a decline in fitness.  So, we must conclude that such a practice could either (1) not have been very prevalent since offspring did survive, or (2) the male's investment was sufficient to ensure the survival of the offspring.

    If it is the latter, then we have to explain why human society developed into the direction of long-term male support despite there (presumably) being no biological requirement to do so.  This seems counter-intuitive.  So, once again, it seems that the only conclusion we can reasonably posit at this point is that males did invest enough to ensure survival of their offspring and that they were a necessary element of that survival.  Those factors together seem to support what we see in most human societies today.

    NOTE:  This could be off-set by a greater social infrastructure which would have placed less dependency on the male (or female) investment by ensuring that the group itself participated in the survival of offspring.  However, if that case, then all fitness arguments are suspect since they are no longer pertinent to the genetic donors alone.

    In short, if the point is that men can reproduce more frequently than women and still have a minimal investment to ensure offspring survive, then this would have to be demonstrated as having been a viable strategy for men to pursue.  It isn't enough to speculate that they "could have", but it must be demonstrated that "they did".  Bear in mind, that it isn't enough to argue that they could provide for children, but they also had to provide for the mothers.  So for every child, it adds two additional people to feed and care for. 

    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard, be reasonable.

    Females lactate; males don't. It's safe to infer that infants normally breastfed until they were AT LEAST 2 years old, and there is data from primatology and anthropology that suggests that nursing up until ages 4 and 5 may have been common among our primitive ancestors. Producing breast milk is highly taxing on female's metabolic resources. Females go through labor; males don't. Even with modern medical technology, giving birth is dangerous: can you imagine how dangerous it must have been in the wild? That females do more direct child care than males in on Donald Brown's list of human universals, which means that this is the case is every single society, including primitive ones, for which the relevant observations have been recorded. This sex difference is also found in every other great ape (and, I would guess, all primates, though there may be some exceptions).

    Now, you'd be right in pointing out that we do not KNOW with 100% certainty that females invested more in their offspring then did males, but you have to admit that the evidence suggests that this is very, very, very likely to be the case.

    Woops - sorry. I didn't intent to post that last comment (from 2:38 AM), it was a draft of an earlier one.

    I'd just like to commend you, Ian, and the few other people I've seen posting on this page in defense of EP. I'm amazed at the patience you have displayed countering what seems to me a hasty and ill-formed attack on the discipline. I won't speculate on the motivations for this (this is the last place I'd wanna speculate:) but the original poster seemed to have trouble coming up with examples egregious enough to fit his points - that EP is dominated with weak or unverifiable claims and ideology hiding in the murkiness of social sciences. So instead we get gripes about frivolous-sounding research or a disgraced scientist or an easy attempt to deflate efforts in the field by making the study of sex (which is of course a very silly thing and something for teenagers to giggle about, not an influential force on human biology and certainly not something that has any bearing on the evolution of our nature and psychological drives and motivations and social structure) out to be some hackneyed crutch over-represented in literature. Anyway I've been having a tough time reading comments from people who seemed to have more of an ax to grind then genuine interest or curiosity in the subject. And I just wanna say great job to those of you wiling to engage honestly and charitably with one another and not letting anybody make this easy.

    Hank
     frivolous-sounding research or a disgraced scientist or an easy attempt to deflate efforts in the field by making the study of sex (which is of course a very silly thing and something for teenagers to giggle about, not an influential force on human biology and certainly not something that has any bearing on the evolution of our nature and psychological drives and motivations and social structure) out to be some hackneyed crutch over-represented in literature.
    That's a good way to describe it.  It's easy to do studies because they are surveys but it says nothing about the human condition.  You ignore the alarming number of studies that are nothing but (a) psychology undergrads getting extra credit or (b) undergrads who got paid - basically, almost all of them.  This field has yet to say anything about human biology, it even tells us little about college students.  At best, it tells us something about psychology students who need extra credit or 30 bucks.
    Gerhard Adam
    ...an easy attempt to deflate efforts in the field by making the study of sex (which is of course a very silly thing and something for teenagers to giggle about, not an influential force on human biology and certainly not something that has any bearing on the evolution of our nature and psychological drives and motivations and social structure)...
    Oh there's little doubt that sex is a significant force, but you don't develop any insights into our evolutionary past by examining modern day dating behaviors. The simple question of sex, itself, hasn't been successfully answered, so you'll have to excuse me if I seem a bit skeptical.

    It's still amazing that given the huge complexity of human social behaviors and the obvious evolutionary trajectory that has given rise to one of the most unique divisions of labor in all of biology, the discussion still behaves as if humans live as singular breeding pairs that have to individually contend with surviving.  What rubbish.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Nice writing Gerhard, Hank you are only hitting the very tip of a money tree iceberg of the pharmacological world here. The CEO of Merck once said, "we will own the nervous system", Where you start is with psychiatry, and psychology and you start in the education system first. You have to get that in alignment with your interests and most certainly EP perfectly lines up with Pharmacological companies mantra on how they conceptualize the brain or mind. Get alignment in academics and you then have society following along.

    So EP is much uglier than simply being bad science. it's not as much a plot, it's just behavioral-ism of primates is all. Rat's Go down one path and there are treats, they go down another path there are no treats so of course all of the rats are going to choose the treat path. :D Money can and does fuel science but that paradigm can be easily flipped and science can be used as a way to fuel money. It's easier to spot what is bogus when someone is pushing a pseudo scientifically proven product on some info commercial, Its much harder to spot when it's pumped through academics and credentials but multi multi billions of dollars a year and some smart people can buy an industry a lot of influence to say the least. It's not so much a conspiracy but simply collective social behavioralism caused by money in a feedback loop between academics and Corporations.

    While time is always an issue for everyone, there are a surprising number of good questions for Hank that have gone unanswered. This is one:

    Hank wrote, "...the examples I listed in the blog are all peer reviewed studies in EP journals"

    If you mean the three examples about taking turns, Maslow's hierarchy, or atheists and liberals: none of those articles were published in EP journals. The taking turns article is in an evolutionary biology journal. The Maslow article is in Perspectives in Psychological Science, one of the top journals in all of psychology; And the atheists research is published in Social Psychology Quarterly, a journal in, well, social psychology. It seems you have a weak grasp of not only what evolutionary psychologists claim, but what the journals are!

    Hank asks, "Which one of those uses a level of rigor that would be acceptable in any science field? Not a single one."

    Turns out, none of them were published in ev psych journals. But I haven't heard from you how these articles fail to have an acceptable amount of rigor? Please explain the methodological problems with the turn taking paper.

    Hank?

    Open the dictionary and use only the words within the dictionary to define a given word. You will find yourself running in an endless circle with no substance. We are always sandwiched between epistemically bounded regions. We can push those regions as far back as we like but they will never vanish. More simply; it is impossible for a system to have complete predictive knowledge of it's own workings.