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    Evolutionary Psychologists Say Left-Wing Cultural Relativists Are Out To Get Them
    By Hank Campbell | July 18th 2013 06:00 AM | 53 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

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    A few weeks ago, I made note of evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller (Evolutionary Psychologist Geoffrey Miller Has His Own Grad Student Criteria - Weight) and his odd claims about what makes a successful grad student.

    He claimed that obese women - errr, sorry, people, but since over 70% of psychology grad students are women we know what he meant - wouldn't have the discipline to complete grad school. You know, because they eat too much.

    Now, this was a little silly on multiple fronts; to begin with, we have to chuckle at the idea Miller invokes that psychology is all that hard and it takes some steely determination to survive it. Maybe it is harder in grad school, but producing a paper after that is as simple as surveying psychology undergraduates and invoking a correlation. I get about 50 such psychology papers sent to me with a request for coverage every week. Psychology is relatively new but some clearly exploit that; the methodology can be sketchy, there needn't be a null hypothesis and you can ignore the placebo effect. When you can't be bothered to do surveys you can just do what Marc Hauser and Diedrik Stapel did and make stuff up.(1) Secondly, I know a few scientists by now and I know as many really fit ones as I know obese ones - though most scientists, like most people, are somewhere in between. Their determination to be smart is not correlated to determination in all walks of life - most scientists would never make a goofy assertion that their diet hinders their ability to complete an intellectual task.  Evolutionary psychologists, though? Well, obviously that isn't even the silliest claim we will see from them this year.

    Miller, of course, scrambled to explain away his Twitter comment, insisting it was part of an experiment. That seemed to satisfy the NYU public affairs office, where he is a visiting scholar - it's apparently okay to "Jim Crow" fat people in academia north of the Mason-Dixon Line -  but the University of New Mexico, the actual school where he has tenure and is stuck with him for life, was less amused. No one else believed his offensive statement was part of any elaborate experiment, even inside psychology, where 'you can't prove it isn't an experiment' is a decent defense of a spurious claim.

    Because California is a hotbed  of 'I will call your work legitimate if you call mine legitimate' academics, a commenter on Reddit even noted that people in the discipline refer to the prevalence of rampant untestable assumptions throughout the modern field as the "Santa Barbara Church of Psychology" while discussing an article by Annalee Newitz at i09 that puts it more bluntly, titling her piece "The rise of the evolutionary psychology douchebag".

    Miller, notes Newitz, "is the poster child for evopsych douchebaggery. Previously, he has spoken up about how he loves the idea of a Chinese eugenics project to make people smarter. Though Miller was involved in this project (he donated some of his smart DNA for testing), he had actually misunderstood its aims and misrepresented them as eugenics. In fact, the project was aimed at studying genetic markers of intelligence. Miller is also famous for saying, based on almost no evidence, that evopsych reveals that lap dancers get better tips when they are ovulating."

    These guys are not killing psychology any more than Drs. Oz, Chopra, Weil And Gupta - the Four Horsemen of the Alternative - are killing medicine. But they sure are not helping. It's difficult to imagine a vast left-wing conspiracy against them, though.

    Well, Annalee, you can't prove they aren't getting better tips while ovulating, can you?

    And that is the problem. But insiders in evolutionary psychology don't see it that way. A common complaint - and it has some merit in principle before they get silly with it - is that left-wing biologists (translation: almost all of them, in academia) don't want biology to have any functions, because it might be argued that rape could be genetic or that black people can have lower IQs, which is a very un-liberal, non-politically-correct idea, we are to deduce.  Satoshi Kanazawa even came right out and said we had evolved to dislike black women, which was so ridiculous and used such a blatantly unscientific foundation that even Psychology Today said it was too kooky for them. His employer declared he was not allowed to publish else anything without their approval. Biologists crapped on him for misusing biology to promote his social nonsense. 

    So they have a point that science academia is attacking them - it's just that what 'the left' has to do with it is a mystery - or the right either. It just happens there are no right wing biologists so 'the left' is invoked.  And they are correct, most of the attackers are on the left politically. One book author critical of evolutionary psychology did claim a belief "that human social behaviors are correlated with our human genes is largely held by people who are right wing politically" (Anne Innis Dagg in "Love of Shopping’ Is Not A Gene: Problems with Darwinian Psychology" cited by Joe Quirk), but that was the only one, at least that is mainstream or sold any books. Maybe some crackpot at Think Progress believes it too, but no one with a clue does. History instead shows that the belief in the supremacy of genes has always been on the left. The early progressives, who not only accepted genetic determinism but made it part of the nation's legislative and judicial policy, including forced sterilization and special labor classes in school for non-elites, were unfailingly left wing. Evolutionary psychologists are far left even for academia so it is obviously not politics that makes biologists turn on them.

    Apologists for evolutionary psychology in biology, like Richard Dawkins, are on the left as well. As Quirk, author of "It’s Not You, It’s Biology: The Science of Love, Sex  &  Relationships" puts it in his Humanity + article:
    Hop on Google.video and watch the kindly old environmentalist E.O. Wilson discuss his Pulitzer Prize-winning book On Human Nature Does he seem like a guy with a secret agenda to justify rape? Are Wilson, Pinker, Dawkins, Wright et al. funded by a secret cabal of right wing conspirators? Or is it the other way around? Maybe it’s not evolutionary psychology, but its critique, that is driven by ideology.
    So they have a minor point, in that it isn't right-wing ideologues engaged in derision of evolutionary psychology, it is the left. They just attribute way too much to it, as evolutionary psychologists tend to do about car grills and messy offices and that taking turns is due to evolution too. Ed Clint at Skeptic Ink even believes it is the super politically correct people on the left - including the Rebecca Watson who became notable for correlating an elevator pick-up with rape - that are most critical, even calling her a flat-out science denialist for not accepting a genetic basis for her clothes shopping behavior. Right wing people like to see ivory tower types get a little comeuppance here and there, so maybe conservative pundits will defend this silliness on occasion to fire up the liberal base, but if you ask a mid-west farmer if they have a genetic disposition in how they shop for cow feed, they are going to look at you like you are claiming to be from outer space.

    No, it is instead that the biologists deriding evo psych do so because the claims and conclusions aren't evidence-based. Is it possible that the common political makeup of social science participants and their conclusions are dismissed by left-wing scientists because the social science they are criticizing is not very good science, if it is science at all? 

    Of course it is possible and exceedingly likely. Biologists are always under attack by someone in politics. A decade ago they felt like they were under attack by right-wing people over human embryonic stem cell funding limitations but they absolutely are under attack by left-wing people when it comes to genetics right now, so they are used to all sides tag-teaming them every other decade. They are not scrambling to make new enemies.

    What biologists are doing is generally going after whoever goes after biology - including social fields that want to hijack science to make spurious social justice charges that liberals in science would otherwise believe in.

    NOTES:

    (1) I know, I know, Stapel was a social psychologist, not an evolutionary one. Good luck finding a difference where it counts. Both attempt to rationalize behavior by claiming epigenetic voodoo - now that they heard of the term epigenetic.

    Comments

    MikeCrow
    but if you ask a mid-west farmer if they have a genetic disposition in how they shop for cow feed, they are going to look at you like you are claiming to be from outer space.

    Classic, someone should give you a real job writing for TV, maybe on "The Big Bang", or better yet for the guys who made Sharknado!
    Never is a long time.
    Hank
    "Sharknado" was classic comedy so that is the best compliment I could get. I might like Sheldon to wear a Science 2.0 t-shirt, though.
    MikeCrow
    You should send them a note and a t-shirt, this site is a perfect site for the show.

    Imagine Sheldon getting into it with Sascha! Classic Godzilla vs Mothra
    Never is a long time.
    Hank
    I wouldn't even know who to send it to - sending it blindly would just mean some producer's kid gets a free t-shirt.
    MikeCrow
    Bill Prady, Sheldon complaining on Sascha's reality isn't real would be great.
    or David Saltzberg, he's the science consultant for every episode.
    You live in Ca, make the trip to visit the set :)
    Never is a long time.
    Hank
    So you sent me the name of the producer who will give my t-shirt to his kids.  Thanks!!  :)

    Anyway, no, I don't care about having the t-shirt on their show. I remember one he wore, the Flash or something, but I bet it didn't sell any Flash comic books.
    MikeCrow
    Writer and Producer ;)
    Never is a long time.
    John Hasenkam
    Evol Psych vs. Left wing relativists? Well at least it is a fair fight. :) 
    BTW Hank there is increasing pressure in psychology demanding much more stringent standards. 
    Hank
    Sure, in articles where I was critical of those people (above) I noted that they were unfailingly tripped up by young researchers who thought they were getting into a science field and discovered that the current generation of senior researchers treated the discipline as some kind of con job. 

    So that is a reason to be optimistic. Starting in the 1970s, and getting increasingly worse since, it lost its way, but it should get better as long as the ethical young researchers who want to turn psychology into science aren't blocked out of tenure jobs by the social engineering scam artists in power.
    KRA5H
    I don't think "Sheldon" would wear a Science 2.0 T-shirt. I don't think it would be consistent with the t-shirts he wears.

    Come at it sideways instead: Interview Mayim Bialik (contact info: http://www.mayimbialik.net/contact.html) and post a flattering story about an actress with a PhD in Neuroscience, or whatever. You might not be able to get her to wear the t-shirt on the show, but she will most likely post the link to the story on her fan page, facebook page, etc..
    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    Hank
    We're not corporate media. We're not going to post a puff piece about an actress to get her to link to us. We can leave that crap to Scientific American. :)
    John Hasenkam
    What about Professor Brian Cox? He is doing a great job promoting science. Do a puff piece on him or invite him to guest post on his goals in science outreach. 
    Hank
    Hellooooo, I think that is a grand idea. There are 20,000 members here besides me, however.  So I completely agree you should interview him. :)
    Gerhard Adam
    I don't think it would really be a puff piece.  She's got a PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    There are about 25,000 neuroscientists and another 150,000 psychologists so I can't figure out why she should be singled out here - except that she is on a TV show, which means it's a puff piece. But you have convinced me that you will have a terrific interview with her and I look forward to reading it.
    KRA5H
    Then interview her about her involvement in HerWorld (http://www.devry.edu/stemready/mayim-bialik/). I'm sure you can find an angle WRT your story: http://www.science20.com/science_20/women_science_you_are_oppressed_even_if_you_are_not-81357
    Maybe she feels that women are being discriminated against in science. Maybe she wants to dispel the myth.
    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    Hank
    I think that is a grand idea. I completely agree you should interview her. :)
    Yes, doing well in grad school takes willpower that probably the average person isn't capable of. And I don't think it's necessarily a stretch to say that people who can't control their eating habits may not have the willpower to do well in school (although it's very possible people can exercise willpower better in one area of their lives over another).

    >"Secondly, I know a few scientists by now and I know as many really fit ones as I know obese ones - though most scientists, like most people, are somewhere in between."

    You could very well be engaging in confirmation bias. If this is your only real "evidence" against Miller's assertion than perhaps you need to check your own biases as well.

    The very simple truth here is that no one has actually done a study on the relationship between obese people, willpower, and grad school performance.

    >"I know, I know, Stapel was a social psychologist, not an evolutionary one. Good luck finding a difference where it counts. "

    Um, there are plenty of social psychologists who study behavior without ever resorting to evolutionary explanations. I agree there can be some overlap between social and evo psych, but saying there is no difference is just plain ignorance of both fields.

    Hank
    The very simple truth here is that no one has actually done a study on the relationship between obese people, willpower, and grad school performance.
    I'm sure someone has and it was just as rigorous as my statement. Let's face it, a study of that would be looking at grades, looking at weight and then asking them how much willpower they have. So even a study would not be a study,except in the modern sense that psychologists think studies are studies - surveys and statistics and correlation.

    On willpower, you're not using the term willpower correctly. Would most psychology grad students quit a job digging ditches after 2 hours? Probably. Does that mean they lack the willpower to dig ditches? Uhhhh, well, no. Plenty of people can't stand to sit in classrooms at all and plenty of physics PhDs would really go bonkers talking to psychology undergrads, grads and faculty all day - and that is without talking to people who need to talk to psychologists. That is not a willpower issue and weight is no more a factor in their desire to want to do it than the type of car they drive is. 
    >"Let's face it, a study of that would be looking at grades, looking at weight and then asking them how much willpower they have. So even a study would not be a study,except in the modern sense that psychologists think studies are studies - surveys and statistics and correlation."

    You don't "ask people how much willpower they have" to measure willpower. You can measure it through behavior. One common example is having people resist eating a treat they like (such as a marshmallow or cake), and then having them do a difficult cognitive task.

    The idea is that people will experience some "ego depletion" after resisting the treat - because it takes effort to restrain yourself. You could do different trials for each participant (when they are allowed to eat their treat vs. when they are told to resist) and measure the depletion in individual performance between trials.

    This kind of research on willpower is well-known. And while it may have never been used in this specific context, it's certainly plausible, even if I'm sure there would be other quirks to figure out methodologically.

    Do you seriously think all psychology research is just surveys?

    >"On willpower, you're not using the term willpower correctly. Would most psychology grad students quit a job digging ditches after 2 hours? Probably. Does that mean they lack the willpower to dig ditches? Uhhhh, well, no. Plenty of people can't stand to sit in classrooms at all and plenty of physics PhDs would really go bonkers talking to psychology undergrads, grads and faculty all day - and that is without talking to people who need to talk to psychologists."

    Yes, a part of willpower is doing things you don't necessarily want to do. Same with many aspects of graduate school.

    Gerhard Adam
    Yes, a part of willpower is doing things you don't necessarily want to do. Same with many aspects of graduate school.
    OMG.  It's hard to fathom such difficulties from the perspective of ordinary citizens that all love their jobs, and love their personal situations, and may have to deal with wars and other hardships.  My God, the hardships endured in graduate school must require truly extraordinary willpower.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Do you seriously think all psychology research is just surveys?
    Of course not, but do you seriously think the ratio is not at least 5:1? And that even the 1 is more often than not imaging studies that are underpowered and lack any standard for measuring what brain responses mean?  You are either a psychology grad student who can't look at the field objectively or you don't yet see the pitfalls I am addressing. 

    The good news is, if you are psychology grad student, you have more willpower than most people so you will figure it out.
    Gerhard Adam
    Yes, doing well in grad school takes willpower that probably the average person isn't capable of. And I don't think it's necessarily a stretch to say that people who can't control their eating habits may not have the willpower to do well in school (although it's very possible people can exercise willpower better in one area of their lives over another).
    It's possible?  Why is it that these people that are so "above average" don't see the obvious?
    Mundus vult decipi
    "if you ask a mid-west farmer if they have a genetic disposition in how they shop for cow feed, they are going to look at you like you are claiming to be from outer space."

    If you ask a midwestern farmer how his combustion engine works, he'll probably look at you the same way. How in any way does that have anything to do with the topic you're discussing? Just because a non-academic doesn't understand or particularly care about something, doesn't mean it's not a pertinent subject/field.

    And you've vastly confused the decisive issues here. It's not a matter of political ideology. A Stephen Pinker or Sam Harris might as well be Neoconservatives as far as the social justice warriors are concerned. Actually, social justice warriors would probably more commonly compare people with such views to Hitler...

    It's more a matter of innate/nature versus tabula rasa/nurture on one hand (think Stephen Pinker versus whatever marginal nurturist theorist you want), as well as a tension between relativism/objectivity (think Sam Harris saying we have objective methods to say that Western culture might be more conducive to human flourishing than jihadist cultures) on the other. I'll admit, many studies in evolutionary psychology are inherently silly, but that doesn't represent the current disagreements in academia about the subject. More on that topic - evolutionary psychology is still far from a mature science, obviously, but it can still be effective as a heuristic tool (an intuition pump, if you're feeling quirky) for thinking about issues in social science. Just as it took hundreds of years to actually bring evolution into a legitimate hard science ( the time from Lamarckian evolution until a mature/modern genetics), as the evidence was bountiful, but it took "something" more to actually finally quantify it and bring it all together. We have tons and tons of aggregated data available about human behavior, and it's just a matter of how to interpret it.

    Many in the objective/innate camp simply try to connect the dots between concrete public policy data and possible genetic correlates - meaning association and not causation, of course - (Charles Murray, Stephen Pinker), which is hardly the same as making sweeping generalizations about human sexual behavior based on a survey of undergraduates. I agree that the more absurd psychologists are ruining it for everyone basically, but that doesn't effectively represent the current tensions over genetics.

    I do definitely understand your cynicism about social science, but it's important to get the important details in the debate correct, because there is a strong intersection between public policy and these kind of intellectual ideals. And it'd be nice if more objective and data-based methods are employed, rather than Progressive Utopian dreams about how society should be...and in that sense, I think that even though you term many people "leftists", they approximate conservatives in their more empirical stances towards their disciplines.

    I get that blogs are just personal rants, but, do you expect anyone to take you seriously by outright lying?

    Hank
    So you contend that obese people are less likely to be able to get graduate degrees in psychology or that left-wing people are in a conspiracy against psychology, or both?
    No, your lie about Kanazawa saying humans evolved to dislike black women. Did you even bother to read his post, or was it just easier to write that drivel?

    Hank
    Sure, I read it. I wrote the article on it. And the London School of Economics and Psychology Today, where he wrote his nonsense, agreed with me that his methodology was nonsense. Siding with him is...you. 

    If you would like to go through his 'data' and issue a step by step explanation about how he was right, by all means do it. We'll make goat noises at you too.

    Regardless of your fawning over a guy who clearly is a clown (and always was - we made fun of him long before the rest of the world did), nothing in this was a lie - which means either you don't even know what simple words mean or you are instead interested in using hot-button verbage for emotional effect. If it is the latter, how very psychology-y of you.
    I asked you a direct question. Where did Kanazawa ever say we evolved to dislike black women. Can you do that? If he wrote it, you're not lying. If he didn't, then you're a liar.

    Hank
    Now you are just being silly. So your next argument will have to be that only heterosexual men evolved to dislike black women, because they all have higher testosterone (unsubstantiated nonsense in an article chock full of it) and "higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive."

    Really, I admire your willingness to defend the man and his 5-second analysis of an Add Health survey. But you prove the point that when it comes to woo claims, evolutionary psychology checks itself out of rationality.
    Of course I wasn't arguing anything, or defending one. I asked you about your lies. Directly. You change the subject. I ask you again, directly, and you change the subject.
    Did he EVER write that humans evolved to dislike black women? No. And you know it. That is a lie. People who tell lies are liars. That is the point. That is the only point.

    Hank
    He said that black women evolved to be ugly and that is why we dislike them. If you want to scream "LIAR" you had better go read his crackpot article again. Because you are (a) making a case based on no evidence to (b) defending someone you know is not even remotely close to being a scientist and only got called out because he stepped on ground so goofy even other psychologists wouldn't stand with him. There must be some compelling reason you are defending him but I can't figure out if it is because you are in the KKK or you go to lunch with him.
    Now you're claiming that Kanazawa wrote that "black women evolved to be ugly"? That is a little different now isn't it? It isn't true of course, but its different. So, he never wrote that we evolved to dislike black women. Also, he never wrote that black women evolved to be ugly.
    Again, I'm not defending anyone. I"m asking you if you read the things that you claim he wrote, or if you're just making them up.
    I'll give you another change. You claim that Kanazawa wrote that black women evolved to be ugly. Are you going to stand by this claim?

    Gerhard Adam
    Also, he never wrote that black women evolved to be ugly.
    Unless you want to parse the meaning of "ugly", he certainly did.  So, if you're inclined to suggest that "less attractive" is not on par with being called euphemistically ugly, then perhaps you're one of those that insists that people aren't obese, but rather they are "plump".

    There's little doubt what Kanazawa meant when he wrote it, and he was an idiot for doing so.  So unless you're objective is to simply explore all the possible meanings of words, then your point seems unnecessarily contentious if you aren't actually intending to defend him.

    In any case, it appears that you are probably wrong anyway.
    “Why Are Black Women Ugly?” (2011) was a blog post that Satoshi Kanazawa wrote for Psychology Today. He is an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics (LSE).
    http://abagond.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/satoshi-kanazawa-why-are-black-women-ugly/
    Mundus vult decipi
    My first question was about the claim that Kanazawa wrote we evolved to dislike black women. Campbell claimed that Kanazawa wrote that. I asked where. Campbell changed the subject. After being asked again Campbell stated that Kanazawa wrote that black women evolved to be ugly. Can you point to where Kanazawa wrote that black women claimed that black women evolved to be ugly?

    Gerhard Adam
    Unless the link I posted is wrong, then he wrote it in the title of his blog.  That's why I provided the link.
    Mundus vult decipi
    The problem is when science--or what passes for it--gets hijacked for political purposes by any side of the political spectrum. The Nazis built their racist ideology on distorted views of genetics and natural selection. The Communists promoted Lysenkoism on distorted environmentalist views. The same nature vs. nurture debate continues in the present academic fight.

    Hank
    I agree with most of what you write but there is only one side of the political spectrum in psychology. So I am not sure that is telling the story, since psychologists are on the same side of that spectrum as biologists, who are a lot more balanced than the social sciences but still far out of the political mainstream or even the hard sciences.
    Yet, there is also the human tendency to divide into a new political spectrum when there is only one side of the political spectrum. When there is only the political left, it generally fragments into the moderate left (the new right) and the far left. I guess that can go for the political right as well. Any thoughts on that?

    Hank
    Left and right isn't telling a story for just the example you note. In Science Left Behind I did my best to advocate for a triangle, with an issues for each person being some point interpolated between nodes that represent freedom and fairness and excellence. And then people could assign an importance to that topic, maybe 1-10. But it doesn't resonate as evil as left-good, right-bad or vice versa.
    I can't respond until I read your book. Stay tuned.

    Mr. Campbell,

    Except that I wrote about Watson, nothing you said about me is correct. The words "politically correct" or similar do nor appear in my writing, nor have I ever criticized EP opponents as such. I also did not call her a denialist because of her disagreement with a study about shopping. Instead, I used common criteria of denialism (cherry picking, conspiracy theories etc..) and provided evidence for each. I also correct some of her many mistakes to illustrate her ignorance of science and inept research skills (which are also consistent with many denialists).

    And so far as I know, no study has suggested anyone has genetic predispositions to shop. It's interesting you suggest that talking to a person (a farmer) would register strange looks at the idea they have some or other innate behavior because Dr. Kruger's study (which I assume you refer to) was based on asking people about their preferences, and reporting what they said. The thesis was not that we're "evolved to shop" but that we evolved skills and preferences that helped our ancestors survive and that those things influence the ways we might go about shopping. And even this is just one paper with one hypothesis which may be entirely wrong. I don't care who believes it or not. As I write this I am at an evolutionary psychology conference where I've presented a poster about my own research. I tested an adaptationist account, and found no support for it. I spent last night telling lots of people about how my hypothesis turned out to be wrong. So what? This is how science is done.

    What makes you a denialist is declaring it wrong without the testing, and (in Watson's case) without ever having read the paper in the first place.

    I would ask you to please correct the inaccurate statements about me.

    regards,

    Ed

    Hank
    I wrote one sentence that mentioned you and you are saying it is all inaccurate - but then you say you don't care whether anyone believes you about a biological function for shopping. Which makes what I wrote seem pretty accurate.
    As I write this I am at an evolutionary psychology conference where I've presented a poster about my own research. I tested an adaptationist account, and found no support for it. I spent last night telling lots of people about how my hypothesis turned out to be wrong. So what? This is how science is done.
    I completely agree. But if you don't think you are a rarity, you don't see as many papers a week as I do.  Now, I get that the exact same criticisms you might make with friends at a bar are different when an outsider makes them - everyone in science does that. It doesn't make the criticisms less valid.
    Gerhard Adam
    The thesis was not that we're "evolved to shop" but that we evolved skills and preferences that helped our ancestors survive and that those things influence the ways we might go about shopping. And even this is just one paper with one hypothesis which may be entirely wrong.
    The problem I have with suggesting a hypothesis like this is that even the framing of the basic premise appears to be seriously flawed.

    When one mentions "skills", the first question should be ... what is the basis for presuming that these are heritable rather than learned?  Instead the presumptive position is to assert some evolutionary selection pressure, which clearly makes little sense.  There isn't much basis for assuming that humans skills regarding locating objects, foraging, etc. are any different [or better] than almost every animal in existence, so there is little basis for presuming that such capabilities have a heritable component.

    After all, there are numerous animals that would seem to benefit from such a trait and yet we find that invariably almost all of them must be taught such skills by their parents.  This would seriously raise the bar in requiring a demonstration that such a skill is in fact, sufficiently important so as to exert a fitness benefit on those that possess it.  Yet, such a claim would be nearly impossible to demonstrate and modern day activities would be impossible to correlate to hunter-gatherer behaviors from which such presumably originated.

    In short, it is a hypothesis that begins by seriously flawed assumptions and has no business even becoming an assertion until some very significant questions are explained and answered.

    That is the problem I have with a large number of EP claims.  In short, the hard work of establishing the basis for making the claim seems to be glossed over.

    As for who believes it?  You should care, and you should care a great deal, because such hypotheses don't do anyone any favors when they have holes large enough to fly a UFO through.

    Mundus vult decipi
    John Hasenkam
    Here's one for you Hank. Positive Psychology is one of my favourite hates. Off topic here but relevant to the general disaster that pervades so much of psychology. This is atrocious. See. 
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/2013/07/16/death-of-a-theory/#more-4146


    British psychology student Nick Brown and two co-authors have just published an astonishing demolition of a top-ranked paper in the field ofpositive psychologyThe Complex Dynamics of Wishful Thinking

    Hank
    Thanks, I hadn't seen that before. I think we have only had one positive psychology person sign up here and write. Nonlinear fluid dynamics? A positivity ratio based on physics to explain emotions? Nothing needed to end like psychology of the first decade of the new century. It was full-on unchecked nonsense.
    KRA5H
    Thanks John for the link. I'm actually a fan of Neuroskeptic, but lost track of his blog. glad to find neuroskeptic posting over at discover magazine.
    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    This is for your new article, where I cannot leave a comment for some reason.

    "But marijuana has become a political issue and it has fallen along predictable political lines; if you think cigarettes should be banned and marijuana legalized, I know how you vote. And therefore the people suddenly presenting nonsense statistics, dubious medical claims and sociological woo are seemingly doing it because they want to stick it to right wing people who are against pot. That's not science, people."

    How fucking ignorant can you be, Hank? What the hell is your problem anyway?? Every single word of this paragraph is beyond ignorant, totally ridiculous.

    "has become" a political issue??? When was it not a political issue? Anytime since 1937? No, didn't think so. It was banned for political reasons, asshole.

    "fallen along political lines" more TOTAL ignorance. Many MANY conservatives, republicans, members of the christian right etc etc support reform in cannabis laws. This support is growing all the time. Meanwhile tons of liberal left folks have totally ignored the development of the police state which was started and well established because of the drug war, long before the Patriot act (when many of them started suddenly to care).

    And causes IQ to drop? This was debunked as was already explained to ignorant people like you on this website. But keep spreading lies.

    Seriously, what is your deal? You have to be Mr. Science Left Behind so you make shit up? To what purpose? Doesn't this go against your purpose?

    Personally I am glad lots of kids are exploiting the loophole. Good for them. Much smarter than taking the chance to have their lives derailed.

    Not to mention all the science that does support medical use which I won't even go into. You are worse than Drugmonkey.

    Hank
    How fucking ignorant can you be, Hank? What the hell is your problem anyway?? Every single word of this paragraph is beyond ignorant, totally ridiculous.
    Thank you for making my case about unhinged advocates ignoring the evidence so nicely. But you should yell at the New York Times - they are the ones who published the piece by the lifelong Democrat who says Democrats have become decidedly unscientific about marijuana.

    By all means, enjoy it. I have no issue with that. But there is no valid medical reason to legalize it, so the only reason it should be legal is because cigarettes and alcohol are - the supposed medical justifications are pure rubbish and you screaming obscenities at me doesn't change that, it just make the case that only crackpots need to believe in it so much they yell at anyone who notes the obvious hypocrisy of it all.
    There was nothing unhinged at all about my response. Given your stupidity, it was restrained. Again with a new load of b.s. - "so the only reason it should be legal is because cigarettes and alcohol are" - what the hell?? Is this your ignorant opinion or the imagined opinion of those awful Democrats? Let's hear your real sciencey reasons why it should be illegal.

    You are the one who has some serious issues. Why do people write about issues they know nothing about? Are you still upset about not being one of the cool kids in high school or something??

    here is an example of a totally unhinged remark:

    " But you should yell at the New York Times - they are the ones who published the piece by the lifelong Democrat who says Democrats have become decidedly unscientific about marijuana."

    why would I "yell" at the NYT about your post? Can't you take responsibility for what you write?

    Hank
    You're a goofball. Learn to be either civil or correct - and develop some reading comprehension - and you can try again. 
    " But there is no valid medical reason to legalize it"

    And the correct term is "life the prohibition against it". We have a 10,000 year history with the plant. It has been illegal for a tiny fraction of that time.

    And if it relaxes some people (not in dispute) and calms the stomachs of some people
    (not in dispute) and stimulates appetite (not in dispute), well there's plenty of medical reasons right there, unless you are an uptight control freak.

    the best solution would be total federal lifting of the prohibition but with uptight bloggers like you and Drugmonkey spreading lies about IQ it will take longer than it would otherwise, so I support young people exploiting medical laws 100%.

    "lift" the prohibition, sorry