April 30, 2009

WHICH MAKES IT EXACTLY LIKE REGULAR DARWINISM:

Stone-Age thinking: Evolutionary psychology applies the tenets of Darwinism to human thought and action, with major implications for public policy. But critics say it presents untestable, headline-grabbing myths as fact (Melanie Newman, 12 March 2009, Times Higher Education Supplement)

Why women have better sex with rich men," said a recent headline in The Sunday Times announcing the latest research from Daniel Nettle, reader at Newcastle University's Centre for Behaviour and Evolution.

Nettle investigated the relationship between the frequency of Chinese women's self-reported orgasms and their partners' characteristics, using data from 1,534 women recorded in the Chinese Health and Family Life Survey.

He found that 121 women said they always had orgasms during sex, 408 had them "often", 762 "sometimes" and 243 rarely or never. Once other variables were controlled for, including women's age, health, education and happiness, the frequency of orgasms increased with the income of their partners.

Nettle acknowledged that the result could be "an artefact of reporting bias", but he said the findings could be interpreted to mean "more desirable mates cause women to experience more orgasms ... consistent with the view that female orgasm has an evolved, adaptive function".

"Many will object to the idea that women are hardwired to be gold-diggers," The Sunday Times article said. Steven Rose, professor of biology at The Open University, is among them. He describes the study as "frankly, an intellectual embarrassment that does no credit to the authors, referees or journal". [...]

As one of the discipline's founders, Leda Cosmides, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, put it: "(It) is an approach to psychology in which knowledge and principles of evolutionary biology are put to use in research on the structure of the human mind."

But Rose argues that the theory's hypotheses are similar to Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories and are incapable of being tested. Therefore, evolutionary psychology can be used - or exploited - to explain any response to a given situation and to argue that modern ideals and historical inequalities have adaptive origins.


Mr. Rose has such an easy time seeing how the critique of his own cult applies to another. Self-criticism is too much to ask of a true believer.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 30, 2009 8:24 AM
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