Is evolutionary psychology a deeply flawed enterprise?

#11
elte Offline
Quote:  Is evolutionary psychology a deeply flawed enterprise?

Evolutionary psychology accounts for why humans tend to be superstitious or religious.
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#12
Syne Offline
(Mar 15, 2018 05:43 PM)Secular Sanity Wrote:
(Mar 15, 2018 05:22 PM)Syne Wrote: Maybe go ask momma SS to hold your hand so you can post on big bad scary subjects.

I could be wrong but I think MR may be older than me.  I think he handles you just fine on his own.  In fact, whenever I peek in on your little squabbles, I think "Oh, yeah!  Who's your daddy, Syne?"
So just moral support in the trolling, huh? Rolleyes
Any thoughts on evolutionary psychology?
(Mar 15, 2018 05:58 PM)Magical Realist Wrote:
Quote:Again, any thoughts at all about evolutionary psychology?

I've long been a believer in evolutionary psychology. Witness the relentless tribal politics and venom-spitting of your tiny spastic reptilian brain...

So nothing substantial, just an excuse for more trolling. Rolleyes
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#13
Yazata Offline
It seems to me that human beings' evolutionary advantage is behavioral rather than speed, armor, poisonous toxins, sharp teeth, ability to fly, hide or fight. Our evolutionary specialization paradoxically isn't a specialization at all, but rather broad adaptability, an ability to plan, scheme, organize and invent tools to meet any challenge we've faced so far.

It's just foolishness to argue that evolution has no important role to play in human behavior, which is intrinsic to our species' extraordinary relative success.

Consider language. Human beings come direct from the factory with an innate ability to learn and use natural language. (No other animal does to anything like the same degree.) But the particular natural language babies adopt depends on their environment. I'm inclined to think that many other human behaviors work the same way. We most emphatically do not begin life as 'blank slates'. Instead, we come equipped with internal behavioral templates that populations in different environmental circumstances can improvise around, where the details of how that works out in practice is dependent on social environment. We speak different languages, we organize our societies differently, we use different tools and techniques, we adopt different conceptual schemes. Another example of that is probably ethics. The details are obviously environmental and learned, but the broader human pattern seems to be similar everywhere.

There are those who are deathly afraid of the idea that behavioral traits might have an innate biological component. That would suggest that forced social change might not be as effective at bringing about a permanent utopian reshaping of human nature as some might hope.

To be fair, there are more technical criticisms of evolutionary psychology as well. Most of the critics claim to not be attacking the idea of biological evolution itself. Many of them claim to be enthusiastic about the application of evolutionary thinking to psychology and behavior. So what is it that they are criticizing?

In some cases what they criticize is how some of the more prominent evolutionary psychologists construct their arguments. There are complaints that evolutionary psychology hasn't led to any new observable predictions. Instead, evolutionary psychology provides an explanatory framework for observations that have already been made. But that kind of procedure is criticized as mere construction of "just so stories", explanatory narratives that sound good but typically aren't testable. (Actually a great deal of evolutionary theorizing falls prey to similar criticism.)

http://www.iep.utm.edu/evol-psy/

Bottom line: I disagree most emphatically with any suggestion that evolutionary psychology is "junk science". That doesn't mean that it's immune from criticism or that it can't be improved.
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#14
Syne Offline
(Mar 16, 2018 05:02 AM)Yazata Wrote: There are those who are deathly afraid of the idea that behavioral traits might have an innate biological component. That would suggest that forced social change might not be as effective at bringing about a permanent utopian reshaping of human nature as some might hope.

To be fair, there are more technical criticisms of evolutionary psychology as well. Most of the critics claim to not be attacking the idea of biological evolution itself. Many of them claim to be enthusiastic about the application of evolutionary thinking to psychology and behavior. So what is it that they are criticizing?

In some cases what they criticize is how some of the more prominent evolutionary psychologists construct their arguments. There are complaints that evolutionary psychology hasn't led to any new observable predictions. Instead, evolutionary psychology provides an explanatory framework for observations that have already been made. But that kind of procedure is criticized as mere construction of "just so stories", explanatory narratives that sound good but typically aren't testable. (Actually a great deal of evolutionary theorizing falls prey to similar criticism.)

http://www.iep.utm.edu/evol-psy/

Bottom line: I disagree most emphatically with any suggestion that evolutionary psychology is "junk science". That doesn't mean that it's immune from criticism or that it can't be improved.

Yeah, social engineering is doomed to failure if behavior is fundamentally evolved and innate.
Like any social science, evolutionary psychology is less rigorous than many other fields. But in the field of psychology, it offers a unified framework for universal human behaviors where psychology itself only seems to offer piecemeal, and rather ad hoc, explanations for each behavior/disorder individually.

Evolutionary psychology is still in its relative infancy.
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