Sunday, July 07, 2013

Tumblr Lysenkoism

Jerry Coyne:

No, the fundamental premise of evolutionary psychology is absolutely sound: our brains, like the rest of our bodies, are the product of evolution and natural selection over the past six million years, and some of our current behaviors reflect that evolution.  To deny that is ideologically motivated nonsense. To parse out the evolutionary component of such behaviors is the goal of evolutionary psychology.

As a layman, of course, that's pretty much how I've always looked at it. It seems like a potentially useful field of inquiry, and the fact that it could be bent to reactionary ideological purposes, like many other concepts, should be neither here nor there. Truth-seeking is a much longer game than electioneering. But progressive ideologues, of course, are just as happy to make selective use of science for their short-term political goals as their mirror-image brethren are. We saw last winter what happens when an evolutionary psychologist actually takes the time to directly engage with an agenda-pushing social media demagogue, and now, if you want to collect the whole set, you can click the link and see Coyne enlist Steven Pinker's help in enumerating the ways in which Peezie Myers is an ideological gasbag.