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Jan 20 2011

THIS is how feminists should critique science

By actually investigating the merit of its claims. And we have two wonderful examples of that over at Slate. Amanda Schaffer takes down the evolutionary psychology study that claimed ovulating women become more racist to avoid rape, and Emily Yoffe points out the pitfalls of a study claiming women walk unsexily when ovulating to reduce rape.

Notice how they don’t resort to building up straw-men, using emotional arguments, automatically disregarding something because it doesn’t fit with their ideology, asserting that scientific findings make moral judgments, claiming the whole field of evolutionary biology is bunk, or slinging around nonsensical pejoratives like “Dude Science” or “Bro Scientists.”

Other bloggers, take note at these great examples.

Please. If I hear someone seriously use the phrase “Dude Science” again, I’m going to lose my mind.

37 comments

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  1. 1
    UrbanWildCat

    I thought “Dude Science” was drunk guys blowing stuff up in microwaves…

  2. 2
    WhatPaleBlueDot

    I was so confused by the articles discussing this. Not only is it terrible science, but I’ve seen conflicting studies claiming that women are more likely to find strange men attractive when ovulating (think, infidelity as a way to increase genetic diversity). I was particularly suspicious when they threw in the ever-lovely HOMG BLACK MEN!!! part. Good grief.

  3. 3
    breadbox

    With any luck, it’ll become that once again.

  4. 4
    Aaron Harmon

    I always thought the evolutionarily psychological cause of rape was that humans often use violence or intimidation to get what they want without regard to those they want to take it from, just like other animals do. Kind of like the causes of theft and murder and war. Maybe I am looking at this too simplistically.

  5. 5
    Creative Pseudonym

    Dude Science? I’m sure that could be used to describe my cooking.

  6. 6
    jose

    Yes, yes you are.

  7. 7
    BEG

    But, but, but… If they could debunk it like that, then it was dude science, was it not?*Ducks & runs*

  8. 8
    Katherine

    Dude Science?

  9. 9
    Cole Kleinschmit

    Don’t forget to add “Pornulated” to that list.

  10. 10
    John Moeller

    Definitely. But what do I know, I’m just a pornulated dood scientist.

  11. 11
    the_Siliconopolitan

    Duuuuuude. Science!

  12. 12
    Givesgoodemail

    “Other bloggers, take note at these great examples.”Gee, you don’t have anything Twisty in mind, do you? Seriously, don’t sweat her. I used to read her stuff when she had interesting things to say, but that was in the distant past–she just whinges for the sake of whinging now.

  13. 13
    LadyAtheist

    Wouldn’t women who lay back and accept the inevitable be more likely to reproduce and pass on their inability to avoid rape? Sheesh. At least if they’re going to associate racism with behavior they should point to the white fear of black men taking their wimmin. The American South is pretty fertile ground for tribalism/racism being a reproductive adaptation for MEN.I’m a classical musician, not a biologist, but even I have at least a smattering of understanding of the role of reproduction in ummm reproduction. sheesh

  14. 14
    Craig Smith

    Not exactly. Rape also generally confers a lack of concern for anything other than the sex – ie, do you rape someone to have healthy children? Not likely.Producing offspring is not enough to make a gene stick around within a species. That offspring has to be capable of survival until it can reproduce, or it’s genes don’t get passed on.Keep the bullshit out of science pl0x, we’ve got plenty of bullshit between religion and politics, methinks.

  15. 15
    quantheory

    Emily Yoffe said exactly what I was thinking.As for “dude science”, you’re clearly unaware that everyone interested in evo psych is a straight white guy who spends his free time bonding with other men over something vaguely implied to be misogynistic. Probably porn, complaining about women, and surfing. Oh, and is from America. Maybe California.

  16. 16
    Azkyroth

    Of course not.Though those are probably disproportionately represented among the ones who make up just-so stories for why male and female humans just can’t help behaving according to modern Western gender role prescriptions and then, when their narratives are subjected to scrutiny or demands for supporting evidence, handwave by accusing their critics of dogmatically denying the possibility that any kind of innate behaviors might exist or be influenced by evolution.

  17. 17
    FUG

    What’s wrong with saying “Dude Science”?

  18. 18
    Bropistemology

    Did you just use a tremendously long and strained run-on sentence to set up exactly the kind of straw man that Jen is bemoaning?

  19. 19
    Azkyroth

    No, I used a grammatical sentence punctuated and constructed in a fashion consistent with actual speech rhythm and intonation, which may be longer than you’re accustomed to fitting on construction paper in crayon, to describe and criticize a common brand of actual idiot who habitually wears the evo-psych banner and pops up to insist that anyone criticizing specific evo-psych claims is rejecting the entire field for ideological reasons. See for instance here, here, and numerous examples from pretty much every Pharyngula thread on the subject ever, for starters.

  20. 20
    Azkyroth

    Remember back when you didn’t have to refute someone’s logic or evidence, you could just call them a Communist and boom, you won?Replace “Communist” with “male.”

  21. 21
    Azkyroth

    1) It is a response to a specific behavior pattern I’ve encountered, with nauseating frequency, from proponents of evo-psych, particularly in comment threads.2) The sentence is written the way it would be spoken.3) “Run-on” does not mean “sentence with more than 10 words in it.”

  22. 22
    ethanol

    Wait, you can’t still refute someone’s argument by calling them communist? Then why do the tea party people so often… Oh right.

  23. 23
    Katherine

    As an English Major, I have to agree with Bro. That was a run on sentence and badly written, though I’m not sure I have a strong opinion on what you were actually saying. Try:Evolutionary Psychologists are probably disproportionately represented by people who make up just-so stories for why male and female humans can’t help behaving according to Western gender role prescriptions. Then, when their narratives are subjected to scrutiny or demands for supporting evidence, they handwave any debate by accusing their critics of dogmatically denying the possibility that any kind of innate behaviors might exist, or that social behavior might be influenced by evolution.

  24. 24
    Azkyroth

    But that’s not what I was actually saying.”The ones who make up just-so stories for why male and female humans just can’t help behaving according to modern Western gender role prescriptions and then, when their narratives are subjected to scrutiny or demands for supporting evidence, handwave by accusing their critics of dogmatically denying the possibility that any kind of innate behaviors might exist or be influenced by evolution” is not a splittable entity. It is a concrete subgroup of “evolutionary psychology proponents” which is improperly defined if part of that description is shuffled off into another sentence (a subgroup which is predicted to be composed predominantly of straight white males).Don’t be such a reverse-size-queen.

  25. 25
    Aaron Harmon

    Are you being serious or joking?

  26. 26
    NotThatGreg

    Isn’t “Dude Science” the name of the next Judd Apatow flick?

  27. 27
    NotThatGreg

    So: “Though, <those> are probably disproportionately represented among [ the ones who {make up just-so stories for why (male and female humans just can't help behaving according to <modern Western gender role prescriptions>)} and then, when {their narratives are subjected to <scrutiny> or <demands for supporting evidence>}, handwave by {accusing their critics of (dogmatically denying the possibility that any kind of innate behaviors might <exist> or <be influenced by evolution>)}]“There is (weakly) another way to arrange it, which I dismiss since it would produce a tense mismatch (behaving, handwave). The split Katherine proposed yields a non-sequitur. I’d say, it’s densely phrased — but very economical given the content, and unambiguous upon proper scrutiny.[Not an English Major (though I hang out with one) but a major computer geek... We really like the {} etc in computer languages...]

  28. 28
    lomifeh

    See I hear dude science and I think the Dell guy in a white lab coat going “Dude, I blew up yer mom.”

  29. 29
    quantheory

    I find the run-on forgivable, but I’m surprised at getting such a serious-sounding answer to a bit of parody. If I had anything serious to say, it’s that it sounds silly when people shore up their arguments with silly words and insinuation/speculation about their opponents’ lifestyles? I mean, we all do it, but one does need to have some self control about slipping into ad hominems and armchair psychology/memetics.

  30. 30
    Wes

    “Bro Science” is the scientific study of the behavior of douchebags, right?

  31. 31
    Katherine

    It’s still unintelligible to your average reader, and ergo defeats the purpose of making a point.This is why I hated Critical Theory.

  32. 32
    Guillaume Loignon

    The Schaffer article relies on Coyne’s, which does pretty much what Jen said the article didnt do. Yoffe’s ends with a big dismissing of the whole field of evo-psych. Try reading the articles before celebrating their academic quality. Not that Bering’s article in Slate was good, it was awful.

  33. 33
    quantheory

    I re-read Yoffe’s article and I don’t know where the “big dismissing of the whole field of evo-psych” is. She obviously wants to dismiss those researchers’ work, and she’s very skeptical of these ovulation narratives. But you are dramatically overstating the breadth of her criticism.

  34. 34
    Sam Barnett-Cormack

    kay, first, I have to get the jocular comment off my chest… ‘dude science’ – surely this could be an acceptable term for studying the behaviour of (at least male) stoners. I say ‘at least’, because I’ve known female stoners who call each other “dude”, particularly when stoned.I will make a more serious comment once I’ve read all the stuff.

  35. 35
    zen

    I gave the benefit of the doubt that you were using Poe’s law to its fullest effect. Azkroth didn’t quite get it.

  36. 36
    zen

    Lane Myer: Gee, I’m real sorry your mom blew up, Ricky. Better Off Dead starring John Cusack, 1985

  37. 37
    Derbasementcat

    “Pornulated?”    Is that like filling a Syrnage with Pronz and injecting it intop somthing like a Turkey baster?

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