Saturday, June 02, 2012

the political agenda of the evolutionary psychologists

Promoters of evolutionary psychology theories like to chant "is-isn't-ought" when defending their beliefs that women are "naturally" more monogamous than men, or that rape is an "adaptation" or that women can't feel sexual attraction for men who don't have more money than they do.

What they mean is that just because they are identifying the true evolved natures of people it doesn't mean they are saying we should, for example, not arrest men for raping on the grounds that rape is "natural."

The only problem with this is that promoters of evolutionary psychology invariable make the leap from is to ought.

Here is Richard Dawkins' good friend Helena Cronin suggesting in a policy paper to the British government that men ought to be ensured jobs with longer hours and less access to children - and presumably better pay - than women so that they will be more marriageable  - she turned the policy paper, originally called "The Evolved Family" into an op-ed in the Guardian, "Pity the Poor Men."

Here are Thornhill/Palmer suggesting that rape victims ought to be counseled that in fact rape is just part of nature. Nicely debunked and reported here by FAIR.

For the most part prominent EP boosters avoid saying what they really think about women and non-whites, but it usually isn't a problem with non-whites. The primary focus of EP is to demonstrate the inferiority of female mental faculties only - as when Simon Baron-Cohen claims that females are "empathizers" and males are "systematizers" - something that has not been found in actual empirical testing of infants by Elizabeth Spelke and others. Here's Spelke debating Steven Pinker about it. Pinker was the most prominent defender of Lawrence Summers who claimed, per evolutionary psychology theories, that women are just not as good at math and science as men

Although Richard Dawkins pretty much gave the game away by going on the record last summer during "elevatorgate"  with what he really thinks about women and their stupid concerns for safety, or their daring to complain about sexism so long as Muslim women are out there being mutilated.

Like any promoter of evolutionary psychology, Razib Khan is obsessed with proving that women are completely different from men in every way due to evolution and not due, in any way, to culture. You can see Khan here, trying to downplay female infidelity because women are, per evolutionary psychology theory (and affirmed by Richard Dawkins on a Pharyngula thread in 2009) supposed to be more monogamous than men.

And here is Khan telling men what they ought to feel about female infidelity:
* Yes, I’m making a normative assumption here that if you’re male you should be displeased if you find out that children whom you assumed were your biological offspring turn out not to be. If, on the other hand, you think it’s fun and adds more zest to your life, you’re just kind of weird.
Well to be fair he said "you should" instead of "you ought to."

But unlike most evolutionary psychology promoters, Khan is as concerned about proving race-based inferiority as gender-based inferiority.

Khan and his buddies, like Steve Sailor, are worried that Dawkins and Pinker aren't quite on-board the sociobiology of race sufficiently - and when they find there is some agreement, they are thrilled. And they tell us about it. Which is very convenient for those of us making the case for right-wing bias in promoters of evolutionary psychology.

Here's Khan giving Richard Dawkins approval for acknowledging the "usefulness" of race and for attacking affirmative action.

Khan is quoting from Dawkins' "The Ancestor's Tale":
It is genuinely true that, if you measure the total variation in the human species and then partition it into a between-race component and a within-race component, the between-race component is a very small fraction of the total. Most of the variation among humans can be found within races as well as between them. Only a small admixture of extra variation distinguishes races from each other. That is all correct. What is not correct is the inference that race is therefore a meaningless concept. This point has been clearly made by the distinguished Cambridge geneticist A.W.F. Edwards in a recent paper “Human genetic diversity: Lewontin’s fallacy.” R.C. Lewontin is an equally distinguished Cambridge (Mass.) geneticist, known for the strength of his political convictions and his weakness for dragging them into science at every possibile opportunity. Lewontin’s view of race has become near-universal orthodoxy in scientific circles
Lewonton and Stephen Jay Gould are the boogie men of evolutionary psychology, and the favorite way for promoters of evolutionary psychology to attack them is to point out that they had left-of-center politics and claim that it polluted their scientific work.

Here's Pinker in an email to me in 2005, during an exchange about Summers (bold emphasis mine):
Dear Ms. McClernan,

...The criticisms of Stephen Jay Gould have been extensively addressed in my writings and others, and I believe they stem more from his political ideology than from the empirical literature.

Steve Pinker
Johnstone Professor of Psychology

But if you have right-wing opinions well - it bothers EP boosters not at all. Khan is an Unz Fellow. Unz is the publisher of The American Conservative.

Here is Khan promoting an Unz historical research competition on his science blog.

Pinker completely approves of Razib Khan - as I blogged about months ago, Pinker points to Khan to defend him against a book review.

Shameless. Hypocrisy.