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Nov 23 2012

Another ugly example of the abuse of Evolutionary Psychology

I have to take one more slash at evolutionary psychology, and then I’ll stop for the day. But first, maybe I should give you the tells I use to recognize good evopsych from bad evopsych (oh, dear, I just admitted that there’s some respectable evopsych out there…).

Here’s an easy indicator. If it’s a paper that presumes to tell you the evolutionary basis of differences between the sexes or races, it’s bullshit. That means the author is going to trot out some prejudice about how sexes or races differ before building some feeble case from a collection of poorly designed surveys or sloppily analyzed statistics to make up a story. Unsurprisingly, those differences always fit some bigoted preconception, and always have, from Galton’s determination of the ‘objective’ degrees of feminine beauty between races to Kanazawa’s, ummm, determination of the ‘objective’ degrees of feminine beauty between races. There really hasn’t been a lot of creativity in this subfield.

If it’s a paper that compares the behavioral psychology or cognitive abilities of different species, there’s a chance it might have something interesting to say. At least there’s a possibility that the crude kinds of essays for examining the workings of the brain might be able to detect a difference of that magnitude. But don’t forget that 90% of everything is crap, so don’t assume that just because the author is discussing chimpanzees vs. humans that it’s necessarily good work.

But now, here’s the ravingly awful side of evopsych, magnified even more because it’s not a scientist trying to make an argument: it’s a floridly batty pick-up artist trying to claim that evopsych supports his hatred of women. His deserved hatred of women, I should say, because he really regards them as little more than hideously deformed animals. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…Heartiste, explaining why women hate evolutionary psychology. (Warning! You may want a bucket and damp cloth handy, to clean up any vomit. Below the fold because, well, this guy is a fucking abusive moron.)

What’s a man-jawed, fuzz-faced, beady-eyed fembot to do when her raison d’être is rendered null and void? One thing we know for certain: she won’t be happy to read studies dropping a hot, steaming deuce into her brain case.

There is a level of psychological distress more disconcerting, more bowel-evacuating, than even that of coming to realize one is hitched to a hollow ideology. Ultimately, feminists are afraid of what evolutionary psychology has to reveal because feminists are afraid of attractiveness standards, and of unchangeable attractiveness standards in particular. Because, you see, in the arena of sexual marketability, it is men who are the sex with more options to improve their dating market value. Women are, for the most part, stuck with their desirability, or lack thereof, the moment they are conceived. Outside of expensive, radical cosmetic surgery the effectiveness of which is questionable at best and monstrous at worst, the average woman will not be able to make herself more beautiful and, hence, more likely to snag a high value man anytime in her life. She can only lower her mate value by, for example, getting fat, old, burdened with bastard spawn or facially disfigured.

Wow, I’m so glad I’m a man and don’t have to worry about getting fat and old, and that the only thing of worth in my existence might be my “mate value”.

But wait…he didn’t explain why women fear evopsych so much. In fact, he didn’t say much of anything other than insult all those horrible, yucky women who are doomed to decay. He really doesn’t have much to say about the science, actually, because he doesn’t understand science himself.

Like this:

The question of evolutionary psychology’s status as a hard science is not something of much relevance. All that matters is whether or not its findings make sense. And compared to competing humanities and “soft science” fields, evolutionary psychology makes a lot of sense. It, and not “cultural conditioning” theories, best explains the patterns of human behavior anyone can see in action every day if they aren’t up to their eyeballs in denial, or striving for social status points over their SWPL frenemies.

(I have no idea what SWPL means. Don’t worry about it; any pick-up artist site will be richly larded with acronyms and bizarre terminology to fit their pseudo-scientific ideology, so it really doesn’t matter.)

There’s another phrase that real scientists use to describe accepting a science because it “makes sense”. It’s called confirmation bias. It’s something we generally oppose, and try to rule out. To a particularly ignorant layman like Heartiste, though, it is instead a virtue to be embraced.

63 comments

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  1. 1
    teejaykay

    Just reading Heartist (my brain keeps reading it as Bastich) and the comments on the blog made me see red like no male bovine has ever seen. I’ll just put it like this:

    Why can’t you just look at a person and see a person, regardless of gender or ethnicity, for crying out loud? I mean come on, we’re all human. Aside from cats, rats and other pets using the keyboard to plan world domination.

  2. 2
    Ing

    So Evopsyche is just the facts and not scientific racism/sexism in a new hat…and if you disagree it’s because you’re a stupid emotional woman?

  3. 3
    Inaji

    feminists are afraid of attractiveness standards, and of unchangeable attractiveness standards in particular

    What an idiot. Notions of beauty are always changing. Always have. As for attractiveness, that has less to do with looks than idiot thinks.

    I have no idea what SWPL means.

    Neither do I.

  4. 4
    katenrala

    Oh yay the “feminists are ugly; therefor they are wrong” canard.

  5. 5
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    I can’t find any relevant meaning for SWPL on Google other than STUFF WHITE PEOPLE LIKE.
    It doesn’t seem to work in the context of the above pile of shit…

  6. 6
    joed

    The Mismeasure Of Man (Revised and Expanded)
    By Stephan J. Gould. W.W. Norton Co. NY, NY. 1996.

    Excellent information on the history of the creation by Caucasians of the modern idea of “race”.

  7. 7
    Martha

    God, this man is awful. But he did make me look up SWPL, which is just another form of liberal bashing.

    SWPL = white educated liberal bohemian

    So what the heck is a bohemian? Wikipedia aptly defines “bohemian” as a word of French origin, “first used in the English language in the nineteenth century to describe the untraditional lifestyles of marginalized and impoverished artists, writers, musicians, and actors in major European cities. Bohemians were associated with unorthodox or antiestablishment political or social viewpoints, which were often expressed through free love, frugality, and/or voluntary poverty.”

    But modern bohemians aren’t necessarily impoverished. In fact, being college educated, they are usually wealthier than regular middle class white people, and many SWPLs are downright rich. BIGLAW is full of SWPLs such as Heather Eisenlord. Consequently, there is a great deal of overlap between SWPL values and upper middle class values.

    SWPL is actually an acronym for “stuff white people like” which was coined by Christian Lander who founded the blog of the same name, Stuff White People Like. In his blog, Christian wrote post about stuff that “white people” like, which includes things such as farmer’s markets, sushi, knowing what’s best for poor people, and the Ivy League. The blog was so well done that people initially thought that the author was Asian, but it turned out that the author was a member of the very class he was mocking.

    SWPL can be used interchangeably as a noun or a verb.

    SWPL should be pronounced “swipple” but never written that way.

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=SWPL

    Yuck.

  8. 8
    katenrala

    I wish I knew what people aligned against anti-oppression movements for women and female persons think they have to gain. Equality and the end of oppression for women and female persons would help men and male persons from being victims, albeit their fault, of an unfair society too.

    For any material, sexual, and emotional benefit that some men and male persons get out of an unfair society that I can think of, I can think of even more men and male persons would benefit of a equal and less oppressive society, and if they were as rational as they claim to be, of which I know they’re not, they’d have know they’d have more to gain from a better society.

    It’s just very difficult to break people out of early indoctrination, in this example that there have to be winners and losers in an undefined game we’re all supposed to play. They’re also trained that those choosing not to play the game or to change the “rules” are losers or cheaters and that is somehow a moral or objective wrong.

    I don’t know the legitimacy of the studies, but I’ve seen reports that say that people, most people of all biological types and gender expressions and minds, think t important to get more than others get even if it means you’ll get less overall than getting less than others but more, like preferring to make $75,000 a year if everyone else makes $50,000 over instead of accepting $150,000 if everyone else makes $200,000. That’s a mindset that I don’t understand, but it may not be a legitimate study.

  9. 9
    Inaji

    Martha:

    God, this man is awful. But he did make me look up SWPL,

    Oh. Thanks for looking that up. Interesting how these idiots simply cannot manage without shoving every single person into a handy, labeled box. Rationalization through stereotype.

  10. 10
    xmaseveeve

    Isn’t it amazing that bigots are always multi-prejudiced?

  11. 11
    Inaji

    Katenrala:

    I wish I knew what people aligned against anti-oppression movements for women and female persons think they have to gain.

    I wouldn’t stress over the motivations of this particular idiot, who fancies himself a pua (pick-up artist). He’s been regularly featured at Manboobz.

  12. 12
    evilDoug

    Before reading the idiot, I wondered. Having read the idiot, I wonder even more.
    Are you using “take one more slash” in the English sense of slash? As in, “Watch my beer. I gotta go for a slash.”

    “Aside from cats, rats and other pets using the keyboard to plan world domination.”
    In a choice between cats, rats or any other small or large furry, feathery, slick or scaly entity and that turd dominating the world, I gladly take any of the former. Each day I loathe humanity a little more than I did the day before – nice linear progress. Now, because of that Arschloch, I’m going to have to change my Y axis to logarithmic.
    ~~~

    but wotthehell
    little archy wot
    thehell
    its cheerio
    my deario
    that pulls a
    lady through
    exclamation point

    I’m sorry, Mahitabel, I don’t think it does anymore.

  13. 13
    Socially Extinct

    Martha: The blog was so well done that people initially thought that the author was Asian…

    Ha! Stereotype, much?

  14. 14
    teejaykay

    #12

    I have four fancy rats. They’re much more affectionate than cats, although they will steal your food. While you’re eating it. They’ll even play dentist.

    And they love yooouuuuuuu, no matter who you are, unlike Heartist.

  15. 15
    Inaji

    teejaykay:

    I have four fancy rats.

    Got ya beat by twenty. :D They are wickedly brilliant little folks.

  16. 16
    teejaykay

    Caine:

    They are, aren’t they, and yes, you’ve got me beat there! Most me and the missus had was six, and that was confusing enough. Damned things are too curious and quick for the humies trying to keep them in check.

    I’m sorry about Merlin. :/ Our does usually only nip at each other. Otherwise healthy, mycoplasmosis notwithstanding.

    (Well, ain’t this taking it off-topic?)

  17. 17
    Inaji

    Ha! Stereotype, much?

    Perhaps you should take it up with the authors of the definition, at Urban Dictionary.

    What exactly is the point you’re attempting to make? That one stereotype usage cancels out others? Doesn’t work that way.

  18. 18
    Inaji

    Teejaykay:

    I’m sorry about Merlin. :/ Our does usually only nip at each other. Otherwise healthy, mycoplasmosis notwithstanding.

    Oh, thank you. Such a bite is a rare event, especially as the major fighters are the girls. (Sorry, evo-psych!) Merlin is doing well, back to chasing the girls all over the place. (Which may well be why he was bitten in the first place.)

    (Well, ain’t this taking it off-topic?)

    Yep, but who doesn’t love ratties? :D

    /derail

  19. 19
    Socially Extinct

    Ew Caine, that was some pernicious context carnage you did there with my comment.

    But I do hear that 2 Wongs make a White.

  20. 20
    mesh

    @8,

    “I wish I knew what people aligned against anti-oppression movements for women and female persons think they have to gain.”

    It’s precisely as you say – to these people it’s a zero-sum game. They see equality as a code word for the oppression of the natural winners. One popular sentiment you often see from this crowd is “what about the menz????” because if you devote too much attention to a women-specific issue, why, that’s evidence that the feminazi campaign just diminishes mens’ problems as part of their plot to subjugate the gender.

    It’s also, as you point out, a matter of pride, of having more than what everyone else does. You see the natural order of the world is for women to be won by the pickup artists as trophies as testament to their manliness. If the uppity bitches start behaving like they’re individuals then that takes away from the manhood of the alpha males. Before you know it the world’s baby supply will dwindle away as women withhold access to their vaginas, it will no longer be socially acceptable to proposition women in secluded spaces, and you’ll have strong women characters in movies!

  21. 21
    Amblebury

    There is a level of psychological distress more disconcerting, more bowel-evacuating, than even that of coming to realize one is hitched to a hollow ideology.

    Realising your bilious musings have just appeared on an enormously popular blog, frequented by highly intelligent, articulate people, and a fuckton of derision is headed your way?

  22. 22
    scooterskutre

    Yep, but who doesn’t love ratties? :D

    FERRETS!!! Don’t let them loose together in the same room, it’s a disaster, and doesn’t turn out well for the rat.

  23. 23
    Inaji

    scooterskutre:

    Don’t let them loose together in the same room, it’s a disaster, and doesn’t turn out well for the rat.

    Yes, I know. I think ferrets are adorable, too, but rats win with me. You shouldn’t ever have rats and mice in the same room, doesn’t turn out well for the meeses. Very gory.

  24. 24
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    I wouldn’t stress over the motivations of this particular idiot, who fancies himself a pua (pick-up artist). He’s been regularly featured at Manboobz.

    Hah, my thoughts while I was reading the OP was something like:

    “Oh ew, pick up artistry, creepy, yeah, makes sense that they’d just loooooove the bullshit evo psych but how would that justify their hatred… oooooooh, it’s the Heartiste formerly known as Roissy. Now it all makes sense.”

    That’s pretty damn disconcerting.

  25. 25
    Rutee Katreya

    I don’t fear evopsych, I mock it. I can see why the sad, pathetic Heartiste confuses them, but still…

  26. 26
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    It makes me sad that shartiste’s bullshit seems pedestrian by now. :/

  27. 27
    imkindaokay

    So his entire thesis is destroyed if there exists even one attractive feminist? Which there … obviously does…

    <blockquote You shouldn’t ever have rats and mice in the same room, doesn’t turn out well for the meeses. Very gory.

    Unless you’re at NIMH!

  28. 28
    imkindaokay

    blockquote fail whoops

  29. 29
    Inaji

    imkindaokay:

    Unless you’re at NIMH!

    True, true. :D

  30. 30
    katenrala

    I have to apologize for asking a grossly ignorant question and for being a unworthy timesink and delineating mental failure; nails on chalk.

    I’ll think harder about basic behavior before typing.

    Sorry

    Thanks for answering me, mesh.

  31. 31
    John Morales

    [meta]

    katenrala @30,

    I have to apologize for asking a grossly ignorant question and for being a unworthy timesink and delineating mental failure; nails on chalk.

    What?

    (It wasn’t, and you weren’t)

  32. 32
    Inaji

    Katenrala:

    I have to apologize for asking a grossly ignorant question and for being a unworthy timesink and delineating mental failure; nails on chalk.

    You do not have to apologize for anything. Your question was not ignorant and you most certainly are *not* in any way unworthy, a mental failure or nails on chalk.

    I apologize if I came across as being dismissive, that was not my intent at all. Here at Pharyngula, we’re all too familiar with the manner and morals of a wide variety of mras, puas and the garden variety of misogynist assholes. It can be easy to forget that others don’t share that familiarity.

  33. 33
    Enkidum

    Holy fuck. I read about 300 words, tops, of that Heartiste post, and looked at the titles of the previous and next post.

    And it’s just basically a giant steaming turd of fuckwittery.

    So, yeah, you really shouldn’t think the things H does, because they’re really fucking stupid and awful.

  34. 34
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Well, looking around me it looks like all kinds of people get laid. Young and old, fat and thin, rich and poor, black and white, “pretty” and “ugly”.
    And some people don’t, through no fault of their own, because life isn’t fair.
    And some people don’t get laid and it’s 100% their own fault becuase they’re revolting assholes.
    I’ll leave it to the readers to make guesses which group Heartist belongs to.

  35. 35
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    @27:
    Among the many ways his argument falls apart..? Assuming all feminists are women.

  36. 36
    G Pierce (Was ~G~)

    Even if gender roles and sexist behavior were all genetic, isn’t that just the naturalistic fallacy anyway? Don’t know if the science truly supports it but many believe we genetically crave high calorie foods. Somehow I doubt this PUA will tell all the young ladies he fancies for their thin figures that evopsych proves they should stop fighting the urge to eat ice cream all day and fatten up already like mother nature intended.

    When I promote the idea of being a good and decent human being, I don’t have to refer to evopsych musings to justify it. Being on the side of justice and respect for people as individuals rests on its own merits.

  37. 37
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Ultimately, feminists are afraid of what evolutionary psychology has to reveal because feminists are afraid of attractiveness standards, and of unchangeable attractiveness standards in particular. Because, you see, in the arena of sexual marketability, it is men who are the sex with more options to improve their dating market value. Women are, for the most part, stuck with their desirability, or lack thereof, the moment they are conceived.

    Erich Fromm talked about the the emergence of the marketing personality, a product of consumer capitalism. People come to view social interactions in terms of market exchange (and believe everyone always has) and to see themselves and others as commodities. Evo psych, like Social Darwinism, provides pseudoscientific support not just for sexism and racism but for capitalism and its culture.

  38. 38
    No One

    Why anyone would even consider fucking Heartiste is beyond me.

  39. 39
    a3kr0n

    All it took was the first sentence for me to know he’s a weasel:
    “man-jawed, fuzz-faced, beady-eyed fembot”

  40. 40
    dustinarand

    ~G~
    You’re absolutely right. There’s how the mind works, and then there’s how one ought to behave, and the most that the former can ever do is inform the determination of the latter. It cannot control it.
    More generally, I would hate to see what constitutes the only really promising research paradigm for understanding how the mind works – evolutionary biology – dismissed out of hand because some cracks at the periphery would rather use it to try to justify their bigotry.
    If you are interested in how the brain has evolved and how it functions, I’d recommend Origin of Mind: Evolution of Brain, Cognition, and General Intelligence, by David Geary. Also check out The Pyschological Foundations of Culture by Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, in The Adapted Mind (Cosmides, Tooby & Barkow, Eds.).
    The evolution of the brain also has a great deal to tell us about the nature of religious belief, which is of more than passing interest to most of the readers of this blog. A couple good books on the subject are In Gods We Trust by Scott Atran, and Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought, by Pascal Boyer.
    Another good book to read, on the whole debate over how the mind works versus how we want it to work, is The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker.

  41. 41
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    And as Fromm talks about in this interview with Mike Wallace, the marketing orientation can have devastating psychological consequences. If your sense of self worth is derived from demand for your product (you), and no one’s buying, you come to feel worthless.* This can lead to desperate attempts to mold yourself into what you think is a more saleable product on the current market or to trick people into buying, but it doesn’t rid you of the feelings of worthlessness and resentment.

    *I love the line about “If the handbag could think…”

  42. 42
    Pierce R. Butler

    But don’t forget that 90% of everything is crap…

    Which brings us to Butler’s Corollary: Sturgeon was an optimist.

    This summer I read Sex and War: How Biology Explains Warfare and Terrorism and Offers a Path to a Safer World by Malcolm Potts & Thomas Hayden, which might be categorized as a feminist take on evo-psych.

    Potts is a doctor who’s spent most of his career treating women in war (& aftermath) zones, and pondering why such things happen. So he’s out of his field when dealing with evolution and psychology, but he doesn’t try to take his argument too far, focusing primarily on intra-species aggression.

    We see a common pattern of lethal attacks for territory and resources, conducted mostly by young-adult males against out-group individuals or smaller groups, in chimpanzees and humans. It’s not hard to see how this behavior benefits a family of chimps in the Congo rain forest, nor how this persistent pattern sometimes advances individuals but harms society among their hairless cousins.

    Perhaps those more knowledgeable will shoot this down, but I’d like to tentatively offer it as an example of evolutionary psychology (a phrase used only once, iirc) with useful conclusions.

  43. 43
    Rey Fox

    The question of evolutionary psychology’s status as a hard science is not something of much relevance. All that matters is whether or not its findings make sense.

    Quite the rigorous thinker, this one.

  44. 44
    Mike

    The only valuable information I got out of reading the first sentence (There isn’t a death frightening enough to force me to read more)is that I’ll never ever go to that blog again. Sometimes you read people who think differently to hone your arguments, this guy is only good for anti-emetic research.

  45. 45
    hypatiasdaughter

    Not an expert, but I have read that the primary “attractiveness standard” is symmetry of features – which are presumed to represent the health of the individual and an ability to produce healthy offspring. And this cuts both ways – men look for it in women and women in men. After that, what constitutes beauty is mostly cultural.
    The fact that men get an easier ride on “attractiveness” IS largely cultural. Most societies put power and wealth in control of men – so a woman has to ally herself with a man in order to get enough to ensure their survival and that of their offspring. She literally must trade her looks for bread.
    Guys like Heartiste hate the idea that cultural change could equalize women’s access to power and money. They would be put on the same footing as women and get a dose of their own medicine.

    What I would like to know about these studies (and one reason I always take psychological studies with a grain of salt), is HOW were the questions asked. If you asked me to rate a series of pictures based on their “attractiveness”, I would probably use the common social standards.
    If you asked me which pictures I PERSONALLY found most “attractive”, whom I would prefer to meet or date, I would pick the more exotic or oddball ones. Perhaps it is evolution’s way of preserving genetic variation?

  46. 46
    Greta Christina

    …feminists are afraid of attractiveness standards, and of unchangeable attractiveness standards in particular.

    You know what I think is especially hilarious about this? These folks claim that attractiveness standards in women are objective and unchangeable. And yet, when confronted with feminist women who are extremely attractive even by the most stringent standards of conventional beauty, they’ll insist that “no, she’s not attractive, she’s a dog.”

    In other words: Their defense of the proposition that attractiveness standards in women are objective and unchangeable? It wholly depends on a completely subjective judgement, with goalposts that move at close to the speed of light.

    And it’s also the case that, while some feminist women get dismissed for being ugly (“she just hates men because she can’t get one”), others get dismissed for being pretty (“she’s just a slut and a bimbo who gets by on her looks”). And some women get targeted with both.

    Oh, and if there’s anyone who doubts that some feminist women are conventionally attractive: When Naomi Wolf published “The Beauty Myth,” reviews and interviews overwhelmingly responded with, “But she’s so beautiful!”

  47. 47
    iknklast

    If you asked me to rate a series of pictures based on their “attractiveness”, I would probably use the common social standards.
    If you asked me which pictures I PERSONALLY found most “attractive”, whom I would prefer to meet or date, I would pick the more exotic or oddball ones. Perhaps it is evolution’s way of preserving genetic variation?

    That’s the question my husband always asks when he’s asked if a woman is attractive. Most of the fare that Hollywood puts on display for him leaves him cold. And the first thing he wanted to know about me before we were introduced is if I could hold an intelligent conversation about interesting things. He loves the fact that I have a Ph.D. and read about a range of topics besides just my field. We can talk about things. Heartiste obviously is afraid a woman might be smarter than him, so he shuts them down with the sheer force of brute ugliness…I have a brother 100% like him, so I’ve heard this swill all my life. For a while, I almost believed it, but it didn’t fit the women I knew, even those who had spent their life subordinate to men and preached that. They were intelligent, but chose to hide it. So I managed to salvage my own sense of self in spite of all the woman-hating I was brought up with (my mother and my sisters would agree with Heartiste 90%, in spite of their incredibly capable intellects).

  48. 48
    l. nicolcabe

    I can’t help but be amused by one statement: “burdened by bastard spawn.” Isn’t one of the measures of evolutionary success, in evopsych anyway, reproductive success? That’s the whole reason for this bs about beauty standards, right? Because ultimately you want to screw pretty people, and screwing equals babies. So if you’re ugly but you still have lots of “bastard children” then you win the evolution game despite the attractiveness standards, right?

    I know he doesn’t see any of his logical fallacies and that’s the point of the tear-down, but this one seems like an especially big error.

  49. 49
    The Mellow Monkey

    I can’t help but be amused by one statement: “burdened by bastard spawn.” Isn’t one of the measures of evolutionary success, in evopsych anyway, reproductive success? That’s the whole reason for this bs about beauty standards, right? Because ultimately you want to screw pretty people, and screwing equals babies. So if you’re ugly but you still have lots of “bastard children” then you win the evolution game despite the attractiveness standards, right?

    Yeah, this is one of the biggest–and dumbest–stumbling blocks in assuming that physical attractiveness is an objective trait that is selected for. Are “pretty” people more successful at passing on their genes than “ugly” people? Does the elementary school parking lot at the end of the day look like it’s populated with super models picking up their spawn? Are Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar sex symbols?

    I’d love to see some sort of study trying to apply these “objective” measures of attractiveness to parents and how many healthy children they have rather than to potential sex partners. It doesn’t matter how much people want to fuck you; it only matters if your genes are being passed on.

  50. 50
    ekwhite

    It was interesting listening to the podcast that Heartiste links to, then reading his criticisms of Amanda Marcotte and the feminists who take exception to some of the claims about gender differences from the Evolutionary Psychologists.

    Marcotte’s criticisms seem to be around the methodology of the studies, and the conclusions they draw. Her criticism, as I understand it, is “just because something is common, such as a supposed preference for blondes, does not mean it is genetically based.” Heartiste seems to be saying “the feminists don’t want to believe the truth because it is against their ideology.” He never addresses the issues Marcotte discusses in the podcast, but instead resorts to ad-hominem attacks and snarky comments about her appearance.

    In other words, he had no rebuttal to her criticisms, and resorted to name-calling instead.

    As far as evolutionary psychology, I don’t know enough about the discipline to comment.

  51. 51
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    @50:
    I do not know much either. After PZs evo psych themed day, I checked out Wkipedia to learn a bit more. What I read there supports PZs position. Still, even without knowing much about it, I find it troubling that “these are innate psychological traits unique to men and women (but not shared by both sexes) and can be traced back to our early ancestors” is used to justify archaic, sexist gender roles.

  52. 52
    gravityisjustatheory

    The other problem with the idea of beauty being evolutionarily is that humans are roughly monogamous. (Or at least more monogamous than other apes. Usually).

    So even if physical beauty was the most important factor in mate selection (and purely genetic), in a monogamous society, the beautiful people will pair up with other beautiful people and have beautiful children, then the average people will pair up and have average children, and the ugly people will pair up and have ugly children. So there would be very little overall evolutionary pressure to be “beautiful”.

    And of course, that all required a shedload of conditions that we know are false anyway, so the premis is even less defensible.

  53. 53
    mikmik

    ~G~

    Even if gender roles and sexist behavior were all genetic, isn’t that just the naturalistic fallacy anyway? Don’t know if the science truly supports it but many believe we genetically crave high calorie foods. Somehow I doubt this PUA will tell all the young ladies he fancies for their thin figures that evopsych proves they should stop fighting the urge to eat ice cream all day and fatten up already like mother nature intended.

    When I promote the idea of being a good and decent human being, I don’t have to refer to evopsych musings to justify it. Being on the side of justice and respect for people as individuals rests on its own merits.

    I love, ~G~, using their arguments against them. Wonder what their ev-dev explanation for our cerebral cortex is. Seems redundant for the ones that only think with their libido in the first place.

  54. 54
    kayden

    Tried to read Heartiste’s entire post and the comments, but had to stop pretty quickly. I shudder to think about how these women-hating men treat the women in their lives. I also wonder why he thinks that women’s only value = their looks. What century is he living in?

    There are so many accomplished women whose success has nothing to do with how attractive he (and his ilk) finds them. That must be killing him.

  55. 55
    ChasCPeterson

    If it’s a paper that presumes to tell you the evolutionary basis of differences between the sexes or races, it’s bullshit. That means the author is going to trot out some prejudice about how sexes or races differ before building some feeble case from a collection of poorly designed surveys or sloppily analyzed statistics to make up a story. Unsurprisingly, those differences always fit some bigoted preconception

    Bullshit? Always” This passage itself expresses a whopping preconception. Surely papers should be judged on their own merits or lack thereof, and not rejected out of hand because you reflexively dislike the hypotheses addressed, tested, or floated heuristically.

    And, of course, what this kind of critique always (heh) ignores is data. If differences are demonstrated between sexes or ra geographically disparate populations, then certainly evolutionary and even–gasp–adaptive hypotheses are never ridiculous a priori. Human behavior evolved, period. We know a lot about evolution and about the evolution of animal behavior and we are animals. Panculturaliam is at least as wrong as panadaptationism. Complex phenomena have complex explanations, and even if it’s mostly bathwater, you have to hold on to the baby.

    Unless your motivations are primarily political, in which case your preconceptions are showing.

  56. 56
    Ing

    Oh look our resident scientific sexist is here to defend truth and hard science against all those political emotional mushy headed liberals. What a surprise.

  57. 57
    Colin J

    Unless your motivations are primarily political, in which case your preconceptions are showing.

    Political: Always what the other guy is doing.

    I love the term “politically correct”. If you say something’s correct you don’t have to argue against it. But if it’s political… well, it’s clearly bad and wrong.

  58. 58
    vaiyt

    Bullshit?

    Overwhelming past evidence indicates so. No reason to presume otherwise until the homework is shown to be made.

    Why should we give credit to the umpteenth just-so story about how there’s evolutionary pressure on African-Americans to drop out from school and get arrested? This is stupid.

  59. 59
    thalwen

    While I don’t completely reject the idea of evo-psych, evo-psychers tend to mostly be PUAs who are trying to look smart by doing rigorous research watching the Flintstones (and wanking). Scrolling down the comments (until I became quickly nauseated).. not a smidgen of scientific or anthropological debate or input, just a bunch of “Marcotte and feminists are icky and have cooties.”
    Besides the seething misogyny, evo-psych is badly tainted because, like Creationists, they start with their conclusion, that human society is fixed at the hunter-gatherer model, and that their hunter-gatherer model is accurate and the result is lots and lots of bullshit.

  60. 60
    bradleybetts

    “Because, you see, in the arena of sexual marketability, it is men who are the sex with more options to improve their dating market value. Women are, for the most part, stuck with their desirability, or lack thereof, the moment they are conceived.”

    …What? That doesn’t even make sense. In any way. Women don’t change as they get older? They can’t work out or put weight on or whatever they want to do? And what, men don’t get older but are allowed to work out? I’m confused. This idiot is making no sense.

  61. 61
    bradleybetts

    These people depress me. OK, it makes sense that men and women will have evolved to think differently, on account of the fact that we have evolved to fulfill different roles. What does not make sense is the assumption that one of these ways of thinking would be superior to the other. If the assumption that the two genders do think differently is correct, and it would on the face of it appear to be supported by the numerous studies saying women are statistically better drivers and better at multitasking etc. etc. and men are statistically better mathematicians etc., then at most it’s going to mean that women are generally better at some things than men, and men are generally better at some things than women. There’s no way in hell that the logical conlusion is to assume that one gender is totally and completely superior to the other at every task.

    It certainly wouldn’t lead to the conclusion that women are stuck with their “level of attractiveness” from birth. That doesn’t even make sense. Does this guy find a newborn as attractive as he does a twenty year old?

  62. 62
    bradleybetts

    @hypatiasdaughter #45

    “The fact that men get an easier ride on “attractiveness” IS largely cultural. Most societies put power and wealth in control of men – so a woman has to ally herself with a man in order to get enough to ensure their survival and that of their offspring. She literally must trade her looks for bread.
    Guys like Heartiste hate the idea that cultural change could equalize women’s access to power and money. They would be put on the same footing as women and get a dose of their own medicine.”

    This made me think. I think most people would agree that todays generation of young men (I’d count myself as one of them at 22 years old) are less traditionally masculine than older generations in the sense that we tend to be more rigorous about personal grooming and appearance. These days it’s not only acceptable but expected that a young man will use hair product and will put some effort into clothing and general appearance… all the things my father’s generation would count as effeminate qualities. The rise of the “metrosexual”. Do you think this could be a sign of what you are talking of above?

  63. 63
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Prove it, Chas. Stop just repeatedly and endlessly telling us we’re wrong about EP and PROVE that it’s worth is beyond merely toilet paper.

    Unless YOUR motivations are primarily political, in which case your preconceptions are showing.

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