Debunking evo psych

Sharon Begley in Newsweek: "These have not been easy days for evolutionary psychology. For years the loudest critics have been social scientists, feminists and liberals offended by the argument that humans are preprogrammed to rape, to kill unfaithful girlfriends and the like. (This was a reprise of the bitter sociobiology debates of the 1970s and 1980s. When Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson proposed that there exists a biologically based human nature, and that it included such traits as militarism and male domination of women, left-wing activists—including eminent biologists in his own department—assailed it as an attempt "to provide a genetic justification of the status quo and of existing privileges for certain groups according to class, race, or sex" analogous to the scientific justification for Nazi eugenics.) When Thornhill appeared on the Today show to talk about his rape book, for instance, he was paired with a sex-crimes prosecutor, leaving the impression that do-gooders might not like his thesis but offering no hint of how scientifically unsound it is."

Seems to me the truth lies somewhere in between. Yes, eco psych doesn't explain everything -- social pressures account for a lot, and nurture does matter in addition to nature -- but it's a helpful counterpoint to the argument that everyone is born tabula rasa and any pathologies can be traced to upbringing.

I wonder what the evo psych people would say about homosexuality...

Add new comment