Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Promoting Evolutionary Psychology at Quillette

I pay attention to Steven Pinker's output since he is still the most well-known promoter of the pseudo-science of evolutionary psychology and in spite of his hobnobbing with racists on a professional level has still not been generally acknowledged as a racist, and thus has hung onto his respectability among the world's intellectuals and semi-intellectuals.

Pinker has every reason to keep promoting evo-psycho, it's the source of his fame. And you can reliably expect Pinker to speak up in defense of those who take his theories of female brain inferiority to the next level - attempting to use them to make public policy: from defending Lawrence Summers, who while president of Harvard and thus having some say in hiring policies suggesting at a conference on diversity and science that lady brains are just not as good at STEM as manly brains; to promoting Helena Cronin who wrote a policy paper (and later turned it into an op-ed for the Guardian) suggesting that the British government institute gender-based employment schemes based on the premises of evo-psycho; to defending James Damore's eco-psychology infused Google memo suggesting that lady brains are just not as good at STEM as manly brains and therefore efforts at diversity hiring are a waste of time.

Steven Pinker is a big fan of Quillette, an online magazine that promotes evolutionary psychology. It was founded by Claire Lehmann, which is remarkable considering Lehmann is female and it's a well-known fact among promoters of evo-psycho that lady brains have  STEM-related insufficiencies. Lehmann is also editor of Quillette, and while, of course, the vast majority of the articles she publishes are written by men, she still presumes as editor to stand in judgement of articles produced by STEM-superior man brains. How odd.

Lehmann apparently feels oppressed by Marxism. Quillette's magazine doesn't offer a search widget, but a Google of "Quillette and Marx" reveals just how obsessed she is with it. Now I've certainly had my issues with Marxists and brocialists, as I've blogged about several times. But as much as I despise Jacobin, even I don't think Marxism is as influential as Quillette seems to think. But then, when you're a libertarian probably everybody else looks like a Marxist.

It's tempting sometimes to believe that evo-psycho is finally recognized for the wishful-thinking just-so story bullshit that it is. It seems to have lost some popularity since the glory days of Pinker's The Blank Slate. And RationalWiki dismisses it, while including the best single line explanation for evolutionary psychology ever written:

EvoPsych 101: Rats and people are the same, but men and women are different.

Quillette is of course in complete agreement with James Damore and went to the trouble to enlist four proponents of evolutionary psychology to defend it, as if those four represent the only scientific opinion possible.

Quillette claims to be a "platform for free thought" but clearly some thoughts are far more worthwhile to Lehmann than others. Criticism of evolutionary psychology by scientists doesn't appear to exist in her universe.

In October of 2017 Quillette was described by Jerry Coyne another True Believer in female mental inferiority described by evolutionary psychology as "the financially struggling Quillette" so perhaps this is another indicator that evo-psycho isn't as popular as it once was. But I think we can count on the fact that some members of a group at the top of any given human hierarchy will always look for explanations for their elevated position on the hierarchy outside of chance. And innate biological superiority will always be used as that explanation.

In any case here are some sources for critiques of evolutionary psychology that you will never hear about from Quillette: