Saturday, October 20, 2012

An evolutionary psychologist is a sexist asshole - is anybody really surprised?

If you had any familiarity with the work of Dario Maestripieri you would not be at all surprised that he is a sexist asshole - being a sexist asshole is how he makes a living. Except that in Academia being a sexist asshole is given a veneer of respectability by calling it "evolutionary psychology" - the pseudo-science designed to prove that the current socio-gender hierarchy is "natural" because women have "female brains." Here is Maestripieri's article about that in Psychology Today:

He's pushing the idea from Baron-Cohen that autism is a "male" brain and so eating disorders are from a "female" brain:
Bremser and Gallup also showed that the association between empathizing and anxiety about negative evaluations is higher in female than in male college students and that, in females, this association is also accompanied by the occurrence of eating disorders, which are notoriously more common in women than in men. These researchers argued that the intense fear of becoming fat, a defining feature of eating disorders, may not be the fear of fat itself, but a fear that arises from the potential to be evaluated disparagingly by others. Therefore, just like Autism Spectrum Disorders may be the product of the combination of the extremely high systemizing and low empathizing tendencies that characterize the extreme male brain, eating disorders may be a manifestation of high negative evaluation anxiety that originates from the combination of the extremely high empathizing and low systemizing characteristics of the extreme female brain. Individuals with such brains may be hypersensitive to social stimuli and worry a lot being judged by others, including judged about their physical appearance.
First off, has anybody ever believed that women have eating disorders because they have a fear of "fat itself"? Of course it's " a fear that arises from the potential to be evaluated disparagingly by others." Only evolutionary psychology freaks could consider this a brilliant insight.

And I wonder how women could have this idea that their appearance is hugely important in how they are valued? Could it be because there are assholes like Dario Maestripieri himself saying stupid shit like this?


Well of course it's not society's fault - as Maestripieri will tell you, being concerned about how others will see you isn't a human trait - it's this weird thing that only women with extreme "female brains" do. It's the fault of their own brain evolution - certainly not sexist assholes in high positions in Academia.

Maestripieri himself is a grizzled old baldy. I couldn't believe that his Wiki page says he was born in 1964 - based on his photos I thought he was around 60.

I haven't heard if he's responded to the negative responses yet but I predict it will be all the usual justifications based on the premise that men have evolved to be gigantic douchebags. So you can't be mad at Maestripieri - he's just so manly he can't help it.

To get a sense of how ridiculous Maestripieri's sense of entitlement is, imagine if a straight female academic said something like: "I don't see any male scientists here who looks like Abercrombi and Fitch models. Don't male models want to become scientists?"

Turns out Maestripieri is kind of obsessed with supermodels:
Have you ever sat next to a supermodel on a plane? If you always fly in Economy class, the answer is probably no. Some supermodels, of course, fly only on private jets, so you'll never see them on commercial airline flights. But the few times I recognized an attractive supermodel or actress on a plane, she invariably sat in First or Business (F/B) class (the same may be true for attractive male models or actors, but I pay less attention to them). Famous people, of course, live in a special world of their own and they may have all kinds of special reasons for traveling in F/B class. But where you sit on a plane is not just about how famous you are.