Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Greetings Pharyngulites

I don't know why, according to sitemeter, somebody linked to my blog from the Pharyngula post comment thread "I Get Email" - and I have no intention of visiting Pharyngula to find out. I don't have time to defend my honor on a comment thread.

Although I'm sure the majority of people who post comments at Pharyngula are nice folks, there is a core group who hangs out there all the time - seemingly 24/7 some of them - who constitute a ruling party, and who attack anybody found not to adhere closely enough to the party line.

That is why I found myself the target of fantastically nasty personal attacks when I dared to suggest that it was pointless, at best, to make an issue out of the fact that some scientists hold religious beliefs. You can read more on my thoughts on that in the January 2010 archives of this blog.

Although since Richard Dawkins is mentioned in the "I Get Email" post, perhaps it's about my argument with Dawkins last autumn over his support for evolutionary psychology. I had to bail out of that early, unfortunately, since I had a deadline to meet and had to learn PHP quickly - on top of my day job. I don't get paid to opine, like Dawkins.

I am certainly not alone in my disparagement of evolutionary psychology - plenty of scientists find it sorely lacking as a research strategy (to use a term coined by anthropologist Marvin Harris) - and the refutation of EP goes back to Stephen Jay Gould at least. The EP crowd often claims that Gould should be ignored on the subject because he had left-wing politics. But nobody could claim that Gould was anti-science. Perhaps this is why Dawkins felt the need to share a story with Pharyngulites (it's in the Pharyngula archives) about how Gould snubbed somebody - the only witnesses to this snub being, apparently, Dawkins' informant and dead defenseless Stephen Jay Gould.

So unlike many of the Pharyngula commentariat, I don't hero-worship Dawkins - his support of the work of the biggest EP ninnies Helena Cronin and David Buss I find especially galling. Combine that with my "accomodationist" tendencies, and well, I just don't see the point in enduring so much hostility from a bunch of semi-anonymous strangers.

If you're curious about me, or have questions, feel free to email me at nancy at mergatroyd dot org.