A reflection: Evolution has a circular definition. Evolutionarily, it does not want to code more then necessary and is largely in favor of learning from external stimuli. When talking about evolution and evolutionary tendency, I wonder how culture has come to where it is now. Does everything have an evolutionary explanation? Were phones invented in order to be able to keep in contact with kin and be able to quick resources for danger? Is Tinder playing on the evolutionary desire for offspring or the culturally infused desire for a mate? Probably both. I also often wonder, now human beings are multiple generations down the line, how do we know who isn’t our relative? Does this coincide with more inclusive behavior? Is feminism maladaptive in an evolutionary sense? I cannot imagine equality in such things as access to resources like health care could be maladaptive, for men or women. I’m getting off point… When talking about threat, it does make think of irrational fears. Irrational fears must be maladaptive, however still there are countless phobias without real threat.
“[M]en and women differ in the content of gossip they spread about their rivals, with men focusing more on deficiencies in athletic and professional prowess and women focusing more on appearance and sexual conduct (Buss & Dedden, 1990; Campbell, 2004).”I think we should be really careful with these types of claims. I don’t quite buy that culture should be subsumed into the domain of evolutionary psychology. While I’m sure evolutionary psychology plays a role in shaping cultures in different regions under different conditions, it would be silly to reduce a humongous area of academic pursuit to a handful of terms in the psychology literature. I don’t know the details if the studies cited above, but I think it is fairly safe to say that they are not impervious to critique from anthropology.
So the main issue I have with this is that just because something has predictive power, doesn’t make it true. X may entail Y, but P also entails Y, so does Q, etc. So how do we know if it’s X and not P, Q, R, etc? It seems to me like this results in a lot of post-hoc explanations as well, especially because of the existence of “noise”. It allows for basically anything to be the result of adaptations or noise and fall under evolutionary psyc. Evolutionary psyc is also interesting to think about from the point of view of Fodor, who made a point about empiricism and neuroimaging. I imagine that if neuronal localization bugs the empiricists, evolutionary psychology must drive them nuts!Evolutionary psyc is also strange because it seems to want to provide teleology: “Knowledge of the human liver, for example, would be incomplete without understanding its evolved functions (e.g., to neutralize toxins)…” In fact, clearly, ultimately all teleology boils down to adaptation for XYZ purpose, which is funny because as humans we can change our purpose, even to the point of starving ourselves. I also admit of a bias in myself, which is free will – I refuse to give it up to mechanistic explanations. Yes, I may have a tendency to do so and so, but ultimately I choose. And sure, I’m terrified of spiders, if being near one means that, for instance, I could magically end a war in X, then I would do it. That having been said, this paper did bolster my understanding and appreciation for evolutionary psychology and I will definitely be returning to it often.
The biggest issue with this article was their insistence on avoiding over-generalization in respect to specialization of behaviours and genetic evolution, yet they turn around and make grandiose generalizations about human behaviour, for example, the assumption that learning and behaviour are linear exercises and should net linear "outcomes." For example, the case is made that homosexuality is an indicator of "Darwinian paradox" because it does not increase one's chances of reproductive success. However, there is little exploration of the fact that for example, homosexuality is not exactly a modern phenomenon, and that there in fact are many species of currently existing animals whom exhibit homosexuality. For example, and I will try not to fixate, the both female and male bottlenose dolphins exhibit homosexual behaviour, and their genus, Tursiops, have been dated back to at least 5 million years ago. This is all to point out that while the article does admit the field of evolutionary psychology is particularly young, they have also rested their case on the validity and legitimacy of evolutionary psychology on a number of poorly chosen examples/cases, in which they heavily rely on social conventions and generalized patterns of behaviour (such as how men and women gossip, or why people experience depression) exhibited in present day middle class U.S.. In addition, perhaps mentioning the aspect of 'noise' at the beginning with very little subsequent elaboration was used to account for more than what 'noise' warranted and fill in some of these gaps. I do appreciate their enthusiasm in uplifting the potential merits of evolutionary psychology, but perhaps the question and answer section is underdeveloped, premature, and overly invested in convincing the reader.