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  #41  
Old 11 April 2013, 01:04 PM
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Brad from Georgia Brad from Georgia is offline
 
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I'm reminded of a quite sexist Woody Allen line:
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Q: Do you find women with big breasts attractive?
A: Yes, up to a point. Then it gets funny.
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  #42  
Old 11 April 2013, 03:17 PM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
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And one of the aspects that I think is similar to creationism is the idea that humans are suddenly no longer subject to evolution. In fact that's pretty much directly a creationist argument - animals evolved, but people are special.
...
No scientist criticizes evo-psych because she doesn't humans evolved or are still evolving. Rather, we think that in many cases to speculate on the evolutionary causes of behavior, one first needs to demonstrate:

(1) Does the behavior have a biological basis? Or is it learned?
(2) If (1) does it have a genetic component? Or is there some other basis such as prenatal hormonal milieu, or even infectious disease?
(3) If (3) then there are a host of other questions, even if you knew which genes are involved. Are the traits subject to selective pressure? Do you even know the trait was selected in the first place (not always obvious in that variances can spread by things like genetic drift or founder effect without being selected for). Even if a gene that correlated with a behavior was selected do you know that the behavior itself was being selected or was it a "bystander" in the selection of that gene for some other reason?

It just seems to scientists in other fields that evo-psych research too often "jumps ahead" without setting the basic groundwork.

Nick
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  #43  
Old 11 April 2013, 03:25 PM
Ryda Wong, EBfCo. Ryda Wong, EBfCo. is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
That's essentially the argument you were using in the post I quoted, and it's a bad argument regardless of what you're actually talking about or using it against.
The problem is, Richard, that there is no reason indicated in the research to assume any sort of evolutionary factor.

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And one of the aspects that I think is similar to creationism is the idea that humans are suddenly no longer subject to evolution.
Except I never, ever said that. However, in this case, as in many cases with things attributed to evolutionary origins, there is no actual proof that evolution per-programmed humans in that way.
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  #44  
Old 11 April 2013, 03:27 PM
Ryda Wong, EBfCo. Ryda Wong, EBfCo. is offline
 
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Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
Like Richard W's comment, I find it a bit disturbing that people supposedly supporting science would criticize a whole field (in which they've never even published) based on the works of a few crackpots in that field.
If it were just a few crackpots, I'd agree. But it's not just a few, nor are they considered crackpots in their field.

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Perhaps more disturbing is the suggestion that something other than evolution has created human behavior without explicitly defining what that is.
Huh? We know quite well that socialization is integral to forming human behavior. Shoot, socialization is integral to forming canine behavior and primate behavior and the behavior of a whole host of species.
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  #45  
Old 12 April 2013, 01:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Ryda Wong, EBfCo. View Post
If it were just a few crackpots, I'd agree. But it's not just a few, nor are they considered crackpots in their field.
Besides that, since when has it been a requirement that you must have published a paper in a particular field of science before you're allowed to criticize the conclusions someone else reached?
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  #46  
Old 12 April 2013, 01:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Ryda Wong, EBfCo. View Post
If it were just a few crackpots, I'd agree. But it's not just a few, nor are they considered crackpots in their field.
On what basis do you make these assertions?
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Huh? We know quite well that socialization is integral to forming human behavior. Shoot, socialization is integral to forming canine behavior and primate behavior and the behavior of a whole host of species.
Socialization is either a mechanism or a behavior itself. The mechanism by which traits are transferred has little to do with whether something is evolutionary, i.e. constrained by natural selection. Evolutionary is not synonymous with genetic. Nor do social and learned mean "not evolutionary". (In point of fact, the constraints of natural selection were discovered long before the mechanism or even the most basic rules of genetics were even known.)

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Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter View Post
Besides that, since when has it been a requirement that you must have published a paper in a particular field of science before you're allowed to criticize the conclusions someone else reached?
No one said it is.
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  #47  
Old 12 April 2013, 02:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Nick Theodorakis View Post
(1) Does the behavior have a biological basis? Or is it learned?
Learning by biological systems is always biological. The question doesn't even make sense.
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(2) If (1) does it have a genetic component? Or is there some other basis such as prenatal hormonal milieu, or even infectious disease?
(3) If (3) then there are a host of other questions, even if you knew which genes are involved. Are the traits subject to selective pressure? Do you even know the trait was selected in the first place (not always obvious in that variances can spread by things like genetic drift or founder effect without being selected for). Even if a gene that correlated with a behavior was selected do you know that the behavior itself was being selected or was it a "bystander" in the selection of that gene for some other reason?
What's that got to do with whether it's evolutionary or not?
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It just seems to scientists in other fields that evo-psych research too often "jumps ahead" without setting the basic groundwork.
I find it extremely hard to believe that the whole field (or even the majority) is corrupt. Yes, it is exactly like the suggestion that all climate science is hopelessly biased. What actually happens is that these scientists are being held to a different standard than other similar sciences because people assume that "evolutionary" means genetic and that genetic means "hard wired" and therefore difficult to over come, etc. They think that making a suggestion that some trait is a result of the constraints of natural selection has some "meaning" or value judgement beyond that. (To be fair, so do a few scientists in that field, especially when they speak or write publicly, rather than in their actual published papers.) Natural selection is just an ordinary constraint on all biological systems. It doesn't necessarily mean anything beyond that.
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  #48  
Old 12 April 2013, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
On what basis do you make these assertions? Socialization is either a mechanism or a behavior itself. The mechanism by which traits are transferred has little to do with whether something is evolutionary, i.e. constrained by natural selection. Evolutionary is not synonymous with genetic. Nor do social and learned mean "not evolutionary". (In point of fact, the constraints of natural selection were discovered long before the mechanism or even the most basic rules of genetics were even known.)
I think you might be confused on the issue. Nobody is claiming that humans having societies or the ability to learn are the results of anything but evolution. What Ryda, myself, and other critics of evolutionary psych are criticizing is the claim that specific individual variations in societies are the result of genetic evolution. To use myself as an example: the reason I'm able to read and write is because I belong to a species that has a brain that evolved for higher abstract reasoning, memory, and some other traits that weren't evolved in other species. The fact that I read and write English, as opposed to German like my paternal great-grandparents, or Gaelic, or Mandarin, or any other specific language is not a product of evolution, it's a product of my having been born and raised in a country where English is the primary language and my having never been taught anything more than a few terms worth of Spanish in high school. If I'd been raised somewhere else on the planet, where a different language was dominant, or had received more education in learning a secondary language, there's no evolutionary reason I shouldn't be able to read, write, or speak another language.

That's the problem that evolutionary psychology is most heavily criticized for: too much of what's done in it starts off with the assumption that a specific variation in a trait is the product of natural or sexual selection via a single specific path without actually showing that there's more evidence for that explanation for why trait X exists than any of the other possible traits.
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  #49  
Old 12 April 2013, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
Learning by biological systems is always biological. The question doesn't even make sense. What's that got to do with whether it's evolutionary or not?I find it extremely hard to believe that the whole field (or even the majority) is corrupt.
Climate change wasn't accepted because a bunch of climate scientists said so and everyone went along with it. The idea that the Earth's climate is changing as a result of human activity was based on close to a century's worth of observations about average temperature changes, the changing concentration levels of different gasses in the atmosphere, the different natural and artificial sources emitting those gasses, experiments on how those different gasses absorb various wavelengths of infrared radiation, and tests to see what other variables could be affecting average global temperatures.

That's a hell of a lot different than taking a small group of women, showing them some pictures of different naked men, checking how long they look at each of the pictures, and saying that because they spent more time looking at pictures with larger dicks than pictures with smaller dicks, it shows that humans have bigger dicks than other primates because as a whole, female humans chose better hung partners. As I said earlier, it fails to show that there's an actual correlation between women looking at images of well endowed men longer and actually choosing well endowed men as partners for procreation, that this is a phenomenon that is widely seen across women in other cultures and it has a genetic component, and that women preferring well endowed mates actually constituted a significant factor in reproduction: were Betty and Wilma both choosing Barney, or was the larger and stronger but smaller in the family jewels department Fred simply not giving Wilma a choice in who her caveman was? None of those questions appear to have been answered.
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  #50  
Old 12 April 2013, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter View Post
Climate change wasn't accepted because a bunch of climate scientists said so and everyone went along with it.
Neither is evolutionary psychology.
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That's a hell of a lot different than taking a small group of women, showing them some pictures of different naked men, checking how long they look at each of the pictures, and saying that because they spent more time looking at pictures with larger dicks than pictures with smaller dicks, it shows that humans have bigger dicks than other primates because as a whole, female humans chose better hung partners.
Yes that summarizes this paper. That's why PNAS, easily in the top five most prestigious science journals in the world, has published this work. They really fooled them! Maybe you should actually read the paper before you criticize it. I read it and I was going to critique until I found out that people are willing to criticize it based on nothing but a blurb in the paper and their own prejudices about a whole field of science (a field which, by the way, these scientists aren't even members!).

Last edited by ganzfeld; 12 April 2013 at 08:22 AM.
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  #51  
Old 12 April 2013, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter View Post
What Ryda, myself, and other critics of evolutionary psych are criticizing is the claim that specific individual variations in societies are the result of genetic evolution.
Where was that claim made? What specific claim are you talking about this time? And why shouldn't specific "individual" variations be attributed to evolution? That's what Darwin did with the finches!
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  #52  
Old 12 April 2013, 08:20 AM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
 
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Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter View Post
What Ryda, myself, and other critics of evolutionary psych are criticizing is the claim that specific individual variations in societies are the result of genetic evolution. To use myself as an example: the reason I'm able to read and write is because I belong to a species that has a brain that evolved for higher abstract reasoning, memory, and some other traits that weren't evolved in other species. The fact that I read and write English, as opposed to German like my paternal great-grandparents, or Gaelic, or Mandarin, or any other specific language is not a product of evolution...
The languages themselves evolved, of course, both as "language in general" and then (through different mechanisms) into the variety of languages we see today. But you're right, there isn't much reason to think that there's an "evolutionary advantage" to speaking German in one area but English in another. Except in so far as being able to communicate with those around you means you're more likely to find a partner, of course. I still don't see why the very idea causes such scorn.

I think what might have confused me is that the objection was introduced in a thread which seems to have nothing to do with explaining cultural differences between societies, though. It's about research into a physical characteristic of humans as primates; the proposed mechanism would work in theory; and (regardless of the quality of this particular study) the way to find out whether it's a good model that fits reality is to carry out experiments. I get the impression this would have been criticised regardless of what the actual experiment was.

Quote:
That's the problem that evolutionary psychology is most heavily criticized for: too much of what's done in it starts off with the assumption that a specific variation in a trait is the product of natural or sexual selection via a single specific path without actually showing that there's more evidence for that explanation for why trait X exists than any of the other possible traits.
But on the basis of this thread, as soon as somebody starts to look for evidence they're criticised for the very idea of doing so. There was another thread recently in which somebody criticised a piece of statistical analysis for being "biased" because they had started out looking for evidence of a particular correlation - rather than, apparently, looking about randomly to find patterns. This was taken as an "assumption" that the idea was true, rather than as the starting hypothesis that was being tested. If any study that looks for evidence for a specific hypothesis is criticised on the basis of "assuming" that the idea is true, then you can't win. This seems a fundamentally unscientific criticism.

As I said originally, this seems only to happen because some groups have various ideological objections to the very concepts. They don't even want people looking at these areas, because they object to what they misunderstand to be the implications.

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Besides that, since when has it been a requirement that you must have published a paper in a particular field of science before you're allowed to criticize the conclusions someone else reached?
Well, Ryda does frequently point out that she's better at spotting anti-female bias in texts (which I'm sure she'd be the first to explain, doesn't just mean "things written down on paper" - if somebody tried to critique what she was saying on the basis that it wasn't written down on paper and therefore she couldn't analyse it textually, I don't think she would be impressed). This training has apparently given her experience of the different forms of bias, and means she's better at noticing them than others.

On that basis, I'm probably better at spotting anti-scientific arguments than she is. And the arguments she's using are pretty much the same as those of creationists, climate change sceptics and so on. They're ideological arguments that don't address the science at all.

I haven't mentioned Nick's arguments, because those do at least appear to be addressing scientific aspects. For example, if the evidence that human penis size is larger relative to body size than other primates is weak, that would obviously undermine any attempt to explain the "fact". It seems on the face of it that there is evidence, though. It may be that the change happened earlier, before the human lineage split from other chimpanzees.

(There's no law about the order in which people have to look for evidence for things either. If two or more separate bits of evidence are needed, you can look for them in whatever order you want. And I get the impression that people would be criticised for looking for either of these bits of evidence anyway.)

I haven't read Nick's links so I can't tell whether they're the equivalent of "intelligent design" trying to raise what look like scientific objections - but I doubt it; let's assume that they contain actual scientific objections to aspects of this field. That doesn't mean that Nick and Ryda are arguing on the same side, though. Creationists also pick up on any (real) scientific disagreement about aspects of evolution in order to claim that "even scientists disagree" and therefore the whole thing is invalid.
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  #53  
Old 12 April 2013, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Richard W View Post

I haven't read Nick's links so I can't tell whether they're the equivalent of "intelligent design" trying to raise what look like scientific objections - but I doubt it; let's assume that they contain actual scientific objections to aspects of this field. That doesn't mean that Nick and Ryda are arguing on the same side, though. Creationists also pick up on any (real) scientific disagreement about aspects of evolution in order to claim that "even scientists disagree" and therefore the whole thing is invalid.
The first two are criticisms of specific evo-psych arguments. The first
is a criticism by a biologist about a certain blogger named Heartiste, who tries using evo-psych to advise guys how to get laid. The second is a criticism of some work by the evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa. As far as I know, most mainstream evolutionary psychologists think Kanazawa's work in the field isn't very good, and I can't imagine they'd care much what a pick-up artist thinks, so I don't think those posts raise doubts about evo-psych in general.

The last is just advice in general for the field, and not really raising doubts about it entirely.
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  #54  
Old 12 April 2013, 10:03 AM
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Thanks for explaining that, Steve!
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  #55  
Old 12 April 2013, 12:25 PM
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I wonder if women preferred men with bigger penises in ancient Greece, during the time in which depictions of the idealised male usually didn't have much to speak of in the crotch department...?
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  #56  
Old 12 April 2013, 01:31 PM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
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Originally Posted by A Turtle Named Mack View Post
... the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) offers an explanation: Women are attracted to penises, and the bigger the better.

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/51469938/n...h-mens_health/
Does the study even demonstrate what people say it said?

"The most important trait of the three being tested was body shape. Specifically, women liked to see the right shoulder to hip ratio in their potential paramours. In fact, nearly 80% of the variation in attractiveness could be accounted for by this one characteristic. Height and penis size did add a bit to the equation, but only about 6% and 5% respectively."

http://stochasticscientist.blogspot....ing-about.html
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  #57  
Old 12 April 2013, 09:33 PM
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Well, yes, that's one thing I was going to point out before the thread became a sideways attack on any research that suggests any evolution of human behavior. But it's important to note that those components had already been studied in previous work. Plus, it doesn't matter whether it's 5% or 1%. What matters is whether it's statistically significant. (For the purposes of our argument, it also matters whether it's enough to force evolutionary changes.)

The study isn't without its flaws but it also has 56 references, many of which support the evolutionary hypothesis. I'm sure all of those published, peer-reviewed papers are just junk science by crackpots and chauvinists, though.
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