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Dec 03 2012

Oh gob, evo psych again?

You may have already heard that Ed Clint, a guy who has been dedicated to bashing Skepchick and Freethoughtblogs for over a year, has cloaked his biases in a pretense of objectivity and written a long critique of one of Rebecca Watson’s talks, accusing her of being a science denialist and anti-science because she so thoroughly ridiculed pop evo psych. The excesses and devious misrepresentations in that post were painful to read, as was the revelation that Clint is throwing away his career by jumping on the evo psych bandwagon in graduate school (I frequently advise students on good disciplines to pursue in grad school; bioinformatics and genomics have a great future ahead of them, as does molecular genetics and development, but evolutionary psychology is one I would steer them well clear of, as a field that has not and will not ever contribute much of substance. The good papers in evo psych are the ones that use the tools of population genetics well and avoid the paleolithic mumbo-jumbo altogether).

Fortunately, Stephanie Zvan has already torn into his ‘analysis’, showing that it’s mostly misplaced and misleading. I’m relieved, because I’m going to be tied up for a while, and I found Clint’s response to be extremely irritating.

One think that particularly rankled is that Clint puts up a pretense of being objective and that his criticisms are nothing personal; bizarrely, he even puts up a photo of himself taken with Rebecca Watson as if that were evidence that he’s not biased against her. What he doesn’t mention is that he’s been sharpening an axe since the “elevatorgate” episode; together with a disgruntled ex-FtB blogger who left in a bizarre huff over not getting enough respect, he founded a competing network (which is fine, of course) which they proceeded to stock almost entirely with writers with an an anti-FtB and strongly anti-Skepchick slant — I’ve had to laugh at the lineup which looks largely drawn from the ranks of the Slymepit, a notorious anti-feminist/anti-Rebecca Watson hate site, and my list of banned commenters. And looking at the people who comment there, again, they seem to be largely driven by hatred of Watson and feminism in general.

Again, that’s fine — we have biases here at FtB, too, in that we tend to be pro-feminist and when we founded it, I specifically told Ed Brayton that we needed to be sure to include more than just old white guys like us — but what isn’t fine is to lie about your motives. Any day, I’ll prefer open antagonism from an avowed enemy than fair and dissembling words from an Iago.

For example, after telling people to avoid insults in the comments, this is what Clint has to say:

Although PZ’s behavior is unfortunate, I would urge a modicum of compassion. I believe he lashes out because he feels so small and vulnerable, and because he is. I can think of few other reasons for such unprovoked barking. He is making a mistake in coming after me. He will be wounded by it. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, and that we could just have a calm chat about it.

Condescending and smarmy, isn’t he? Ick. He won’t call me names, he’ll just call me “small and vulnerable.” Man, I despise that kind of sliminess.

I’ll follow up on Stephanie’s post later this week, when my schedule calms down, and what I intend to do is dig into the substantive flaws in both Clint’s hatchet job and in that awful discipline of evolutionary psychology. Seriously, in the reviews Clint recommended to give the background on what evo psych is, I was appalled — do these people have any understanding of modern evolutionary theory at all? I think the answer is clearly “no.”

239 comments

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  1. 1
    Blake Stacey

    One thing I’ve noticed: EvoPsych fanboys always appear to be at least twenty years behind the times when it comes to any technicalities of evolutionary theory or the mathematical modelling of evolutionary processes.

  2. 2
    johnkowalski

    I’d suspect there might be something related to “evolutionary psychology” as a rigorous study of how memes propagate.

    But that’s not biology.

  3. 3
    frankboyd

    I found Clint’s response to be extremely irritating

    As in: citing papers, peer reviewed studies and so on instead of throwing temper tantrums about science you don’t like. Which, if at least some of the bloggers on that network are to be believed, is your typical modus operandi…

  4. 4
    a3kr0n

    It’s a shame someone feels the need to write a “long critique” about anyone. You would think he could find better use of his time.

  5. 5
    PZ Myers

    Err, no. As in citing papers that don’t address the point, or that have flaws that he overlooks.

    Any idiot can cite papers. The question is whether they can cite them appropriately.

  6. 6
    ChasCPeterson

    If you think there is any hope for a scientific understanding of human social behavior that does not include an evolutionary perspective, then you are sadly deluded.
    And I mean more than lip service. Oh, no, we’re not blank-slaters! We acknowledge a biological component to human behavior! We just go out of our way to ridicule any such hypothesis because we’re so objective and sciency!
    How about sticking to discussion of actual, specific claims instead of the tiresome old broad brush?

  7. 7
    PZ Myers

    No, no…long critiques are fine and worth doing. It’s disturbing when they’re long critiques with a hidden agenda, which is the case with Clint.

  8. 8
    Gregory Greenwood

    frankboyd @ 2;

    As in: citing papers, peer reviewed studies and so on instead of throwing temper tantrums about science you don’t like. Which, if at least some of the bloggers on that network are to be believed, is your typical modus operandi…

    Evo-psych isn’t simply ‘science we don’t like’ – it is, for the most part, laughable pseudo-science that betrays a staggering lack of understanding of evolutionary theory. Not only does it directly bring rigorous biological science into disrepute by the tendency of its advocates to maintain a pretense of objectivity while failing to achieve basic levels of intellectual honesty, but it is also the first port of call for bigots seeking to justify their prejudice by trying to drape a cloak of faux-scientific credibility over their rank misogyny.

    It really is no different than the attempts of YECs to misuse thermodynamics to claim that it is them, rather than evolutionary biologists, who are the ‘true scientists’. There are any number of con-artists and schiesters who are quick to abuse the reputation and public cache of science to further their own agenda, and it is entirely legitimate to call them out for doing it.

    It is not a ‘temper tantrum’ to point out that the emperor is not wearing any clothes.

  9. 9
    Gregory Greenwood

    Although PZ’s behavior is unfortunate, I would urge a modicum of compassion. I believe he lashes out because he feels so small and vulnerable, and because he is. I can think of few other reasons for such unprovoked barking. He is making a mistake in coming after me. He will be wounded by it. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, and that we could just have a calm chat about it.

    I get the distinct impression that Clint needs a stepladder to mount that high horse of his.

  10. 10
    PZ Myers

    If you think there is any hope for a scientific understanding of human social behavior that does not include an evolutionary perspective, then you are sadly deluded.

    Where ever do you get that idea? You think I don’t appreciate an evolutionary perspective?

    My problem with evo psych is that taking one set of speculations about our paleolithic past, and gluing them together with a set of speculative interpretations of psychology studies with a crude caricature of evolutionary theory, does not suddenly produce data. You cannot infer from speculation about how the past operated to reach conclusions about how the present works; you could, though, analyze in detail present conditions and infer from that something about how we evolved. Evo psych too often works backwards.

    I’m also put off by the unjustified use of arguments about molecular genetics to bridge a psychology study to evolutionary interpretations. You’ve got to study a gene to talk about a gene; you don’t get to talk about a behavioral trait for which you lack such a concrete mechanism and prattle on about its inheritance.

  11. 11
    Inaji

    Chas:

    If you think there is any hope for a scientific understanding of human social behavior that does not include an evolutionary perspective, then you are sadly deluded.

    There’s plenty of scientific understanding of human social behaviour, Chas, which doesn’t rely on a handy pseudo-science which is generally used to confirm biases.

  12. 12
    Doug Hudson

    Certainly there is an evolutionary component to human social behavior, but that component is likely to be small at this point. For one thing, humans are capable of adapting to a tremendous range of environments (compare the Inuits to the Australian natives, for example), and social behaviors based on environment would seem to dominate over behaviors based on evolutionary history.

    This is particularly true once humanity became capable of altering the environment on a large scale. Take the pyramids or other massive structures of early agricultural civilizations–much less likely to be the result of evolutionary pressures as environmental pressures (or lack there of).

    Which is not to say that studying how the process of human evolution may have given rise to certain social behaviors is a waste of time–it’s not. BUT, such study must be done very carefully, with an awareness that environmental and social factors are likely much more influential than evolutionary factors.

    The big problem for evo-psych is the tendency to take some modern day social behavior and try to link it to proto- and early human behaviors as an “evolutionary trait”, overlooking the massive differences in environment between then and now.

  13. 13
    chigau (違う)

    Is the wikipedia article on evopsych fair and accurate?

    [modus operandi is generally italicized.]

  14. 14
    frankboyd

    “Evo-psych isn’t simply ‘science we don’t like’ – it is, for the most part, laughable pseudo-science that betrays a staggering lack of understanding of evolutionary theory. ”

    According to you. On the other hand, the editors of Nature and Science seem to think there’s something there, the former carefully reviewing the arguments pro and contra, and both publishing papers in the field.

    I’m sure that all the editorial boards of these journals are just stuffed with people who are just like YECs, but fortunately we have you, yes, you Gregory Greenwald, to hand to set all those boring science journals straight!

    No, no…long critiques are fine and worth doing. It’s disturbing when they’re long critiques with a hidden agenda, which is the case with Clint.

    Oh dear. Well, I do hope nothing here has a “hidden agenda”. That’d be just awful, wouldn’t it?

    Any idiot can cite papers

    I can think of at least one who apparently can’t.

  15. 15
    Inaji

    On the other hand, the editors of Nature and Science seem to think there’s something there

    Hahahahahahahahahahahaha…oh my.

  16. 16
    jimi3001

    I’m beginning to think that psychic phenomena must exist & that Rebecca Watson must be emitting an aura that only affects jerks. How else can so many people get so worked up about one person who says such reasonable things? Watson speaks, jerks react – you can’t explain that.
    Ooh maybe I should write this hypothesis up in an evo psych paper…

  17. 17
    Rey Fox

    Something tells me that GOB would be an evo-psych proponent.

  18. 18
    PZ Myers

    Ah, such naive innocence. To think that getting published in Nature or Science means your paper must be important and true! I haven’t been that deluded in 30 years.

    You’d think these guys would figure out that if they’re criticizing one scientist for being totally wrong about their favorite cherished theory, that should tell them that being a scientist can’t possibly make you automatically right, and that there can be questionable opinions in the scientific community.

    (By the way, I was published in Nature once, a long time ago. I guess that paper must have been really, really good. And I must be really SMART, S-M-R-T, SMART.)

    Also by the way, Frankboyd, I do have agendas. But they tend to be extremely blatant, lit up like a christmas tree, and I tend to be proud of them. I don’t lie and try to imply that, for instance, Ed Clint is my good buddy pal and I couldn’t possibly bear any distaste for his two-faced approach.

  19. 19
    Holms

    Condescending and smarmy, isn’t he? Ick. He won’t call me names, he’ll just call me “small and vulnerable.” Man, I despise that kind of sliminess.

    That shit is classic passive agressiveness. ‘Oh no I’m not being insulting towards you, I’m just describing you!’ <== classic tosser excuse.

  20. 20
    Blueaussi

    I believe he lashes out because he feels so small and vulnerable, and because he is.

    So’s a blue-ringed octopus, and you sure don’t want to go poking at one of them!

  21. 21
    jose

    We are confusing things. Concretely, we are identifying respected contributions to science with evolutionary psuchology. Ed Clint does that in one of the 25 claims when he says Darwin did evopsych himself.

    There is an ocean of difference between Darwin’s book about the expression of emotions and what evolutionary psychologists are doing. It is fine to say emotions are psychology, and we express them this way and not that way because of atavisms. The difference is the stuff Darwin is studying is clearly delimited, clearly defined, very concrete, it has a ton of evidence behind his idea, and it doesn’t overreach into wild conclusions. It is thoroughly well researched, with a meticulous attention to detail like everything Darwin did; damned good scholarship, good science.

    The comments over there have also thrown around Pinker and his Blank Slate to defend evolutionary psychology. Well, Pinker is arguing against the tabula rasa idea in the book (meaning the idea that psychology is 100% cultural), which is emphatically not the point evolutionary psychologists make. Darwin’s book on emotions is evidence enough that evolutionary biologists do not hold the tabula rasa view (sociologists are a different group of people!), so mentioning Pinker in this discussion is misguided.

    And it isn’t Darwin either. Evolutionary biologists love Matsuzawa and Jane Goodall and and their research on qualities we long thought were uniquely human but turns out they aren’t. They love to talk about the evolution of morality, the evolution of politics, of culture, of the artistic sense, etc. But these are topics evolutionary psychology hardly covers. There is instead an obsessive focus on gender roles. And I can’t recall any other field in which popular articles with over a hundred citations are downright embarrassing with their statistical study.

    You want to claim those are only the bad ones? Fine: find better editors, then. Police yourselves and fix your errors before we do. Start publishing more quality science and less garbage. That’s the only way to clean your name.

    Meanwhile, over at the peer-reviewed Journal of Evolutionary Psychology… more appalling, completely evidence-free studies! The pain, when will it end?

  22. 22
    Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD

    I’m looking forward to an AGM and dinner this week where the after dinner speaker is talking about how charlatans and con artists etc. misuse the First Law of Thermodynamics to fool the scientifically illiterate. Most focused on energy production ‘schemes’.

  23. 23
    ChasCPeterson

    There is instead an obsessive focus on gender roles.

    Can you support this opinion? Seems to me it’s more the critics of the field who exhibit that obsession.

    And I can’t recall any other field in which popular articles with over a hundred citations are downright embarrassing with their statistical study.

    Don’t bother letting the rest of us in on what you’re talking about. Keep it vague so nobody can check your assertion.

    Meanwhile, over at the peer-reviewed Journal of Evolutionary Psychology… more appalling, completely evidence-free studies!

    All I can see is the abstract (btw, the name of the journal is Evolutionary Psychology, not The Journal of…), but as far as I can tell, that paper 1) proposes a plausible hypothesis, 2) derives explicit predictions from that hypothesis, and 3) (purports to) test the predictions with observations of “the characteristics of primitive and modern sports”.
    See that last part? The observations? That’s evidence.
    So what’s so “appalling”?

  24. 24
    Anthony K

    If you think there is any hope for a scientific understanding of human social behavior that does not include an evolutionary perspective, then you are sadly deluded.

    True. Without the ancient wisdom of evopsych, how would we understand PZ’s behaviour?

    I believe he lashes out because he feels so small and vulnerable, and because he is.

    Thanks, evo psych!

  25. 25
    frankboyd

    Ah, such naive innocence. To think that getting published in Nature or Science means your paper must be important and true! I haven’t been that deluded in 30 years.

    Well, we have here two models:

    1) if something is being technically reviewed in the most prestigious journals in the world, there may be something to it,

    or,

    2) We should ignore it utterly because some bloke with no evidence says so on his blog.

    Hmmmmm…. Tough one.

    By the way, I was published in Nature once,

    Read it. Nice book review. Or do you mean the second-author paper?

  26. 26
    ChasCPeterson

    Thanks, evo psych!

    yeah, that’s just regular old-fashioned Freud-type psych. Of the armchair variety.

  27. 27
    Anthony K

    yeah, that’s just regular old-fashioned Freud-type psych. Of the armchair variety.

    You mean someone as well-versed in the relevant literature as Ed Clint can’t tell the difference between valid psychology and complete bullshit pulled out of his ass?

  28. 28
    Sili

    a disgruntled ex-FtB blogger

    Ah. So that’s what happened to him.

  29. 29
    Gregory Greenwood

    frankboyd @ 13;

    According to you. On the other hand, the editors of Nature and Science seem to think there’s something there, the former carefully reviewing the arguments pro and contra, and both publishing papers in the field.

    Where do you get this adorably naive idea that being published in Nature or Science automatically means that you are revealing some grand and important truth?

    Do you really think that being published in a journal rarefies your work to a point where it cannot be criticised?

    I’m sure that all the editorial boards of these journals are just stuffed with people who are just like YECs,…

    I didn’t actually say that. Read my post @ 7 again. In my experience, it really does pay to bother reading a comment carefully, if you mean to go on to critique it.

    …but fortunately we have you, yes, you Gregory Greenwald, to hand to set all those boring science journals straight!

    (Emphasis added)

    Ah, I see. Your problem stems from a lack of reading comprehension. The name is Greenwood. It’s right there, at the top of my post. In big bold letters and everything.

    Oh, and a free word of advice – I would lay off the sarcasm of I were you. It requires a certain panache to be able to pull it off – an attribute in which you seem to be sadly lacking – and it is painful to watch you flounder so very badly.

  30. 30
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Loftus is over in Clint’s comments hand-wringing about credentials again (boy, that’s one tired pony he’s riding).

    Also interesting—I’ve noticed a kind of written verbal tic these doods engage in when such conversations come up. They refer to each other as a lot as “Mr. So and So,” as in, “Thank you Mr. Clint, and “I appreciate that, Mr. Griffith.” It’s jarring and weird.

  31. 31
    frankboyd

    Where do you get this adorably naive idea that being published in Nature or Science automatically means that you are revealing some grand and important truth?

    Do you really think that being published in a journal rarefies your work to a point where it cannot be criticised?

    Ah, the faith-based mind of FtB on display! Something is either beyond criticism or vilest heresy.

    I said that this stuff was worth analysing and studying scientifically. As in: running experiments, checking the literature records, building cases… things like that.

    Not loudmouthed temper tantrums based on nothing whatsoever. There’s not a single reference in the above post, just a lot of ad hominem crap. “There only showing that Watson is an imbecile who doesn’t know science because they don’t like her!” Maybe. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, it has no bearing on the accuracy of the case.

    If you’re so sure it’s all baloney, go right ahead and write a solid evidence based critique, and start publishing in the major journals. I’m not holding my breath.

  32. 32
    Ing

    Thanks for pointing out out Mr. Spokesgay

    Also those of you whining about FTBorg can go here http://freethoughtblogs.com/rockbeyondbelief/2012/12/02/is-evolutionary-psychology-not-getting-a-fair-shake/ for a contrasting (read stupid) take on it.

  33. 33
    chigau (違う)

    I said that this stuff was worth analysing and studying scientifically.

    scottyroberts? Is that you?

  34. 34
    Gregory Greenwood

    frankboyd @ 30;

    Ah, the faith-based mind of FtB on display! Something is either beyond criticism or vilest heresy.

    Still having trouble with your reading comprehension I see.

    I said that this stuff was worth analysing and studying scientifically. As in: running experiments, checking the literature records, building cases… things like that.

    Odd – it seems to me that @ 2 you implied that Clint did those things, while PZ simply engaged in a ‘temper tantrum’, going on to state that this is his standard modus operendi if certain bloggers were to be believed. It was almost as if you were simply taking the opportunity to have a go at PZ while contributing nothing of substance to the discussion, which makes your later complaints of ad hominem attacks on the part of PZ somewhat amusing.

    Not loudmouthed temper tantrums based on nothing whatsoever. There’s not a single reference in the above post, just a lot of ad hominem crap. “There only showing that Watson is an imbecile who doesn’t know science because they don’t like her!” Maybe. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, it has no bearing on the accuracy of the case.

    The context of events is actually important. The campaign against Watson post-’Elevatorgate’ is nothing new. Clint is merely the latest in a long line of people whose principle complaint against her seems to be that she has the temerity to speak while being a woman, and was so mean to that guy who sleazed onto her in an elevator at 4AM that one time.

    Also, PZ was just mentioning the topic in passing because he is a little busy at the moment, and did link to a far more complete analysis over at Almost Diamonds.

    Fortunately, Stephanie Zvan has already torn into his ‘analysis’, showing that it’s mostly misplaced and misleading. I’m relieved, because I’m going to be tied up for a while, and I found Clint’s response to be extremely irritating.

    (Emphasis added)

    I am assuming that the read the linked post before starting your little rants over here… right?

  35. 35
    Kengi

    But, Justin Griffith supports Evo-Psych, so it must all be true! And he’s not sexist because he said he’s not! Right after talking about how funny it was to kick feminists in the cunt…

  36. 36
    ChasCPeterson

    Ooo, I didn’t notice I’d been Gumbied!

    You think I don’t appreciate an evolutionary perspective?

    I think you appreciate it enough to offer lip service, but not enough to break ranks with ideologues of your (our) political persuasion. Since you asked what I think.

    My problem with evo psych is that taking one set of speculations about our paleolithic past, and gluing them together with a set of speculative interpretations of psychology studies with a crude caricature of evolutionary theory, does not suddenly produce data.

    That is a crude–and ridiculous–caricature. An ignorant caricature. Show me a specific example of this claim.

    You’ve got to study a gene to talk about a gene; you don’t get to talk about a behavioral trait for which you lack such a concrete mechanism and prattle on about its inheritance.

    You have to be kidding me. You are unfamiliar with Quantitative Genetics? You think that people who study behavioral ecology in birds and insects and lizards need to shut up until somebody locates specific genes? You think that knowledge of specific genes is necessary for meaningful discussion of morphological and physiological adaptations? You think that anybody is going to identify the genes for any reasonably complex behavior in any animal very soon?
    Set as high a bar as you like, but apply it consistently, or else it’s special pleading for human exceptionalism.

    a handy pseudo-science which is generally used to confirm biases.

    you know nothing about it. You’re parroting received opinion. It’s boring as well as wrong.

    Where do you get this adorably naive idea that being published in Nature or Science automatically means that you are revealing some grand and important truth?

    Pull the reading-comprehension beam from your own eye. Nobody claimed anything like that. The glamour journals were brought up only to support the idea that EP is recognized as a legitimate scientific discipline.

  37. 37
    PZ Myers

    There is respectable work published under the banner of evolutionary psychology. It’s just that the respectable stuff seems to be an interesting fusion of genetics, molecular biology, and anthropology that identifies and quantifies measurable genetic traits. I’ve got absolutely no beef with that.

    It’s just that the ridiculous just-so stories that the more credulous evo psych people use to publicize their work in the popular press are fucking embarrassing, and there seem to be a number of ‘researchers’ who go no further than those pop psych nonsensical rationalizations, and it takes idiocy of the magnitude of Kanazawa’s for the evo psych community to rise up and police their own.

    Clint’s article is a perfect example. His outrage isn’t aimed at the people who do bad, commercially influenced hackwork for commercial interests and fluff magazines, it’s against the person who dares to expose the stupidity.

  38. 38
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    How about sticking to discussion of actual, specific claims instead of the tiresome old broad brush?

    How about proving evidence that Evo psych isn’t just a sexist’s most recent convenient excuse?

    I’ve been asking evo psycho fanbois for four years to show me this “good” evo psych and, magically, it just never appears.

  39. 39
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Isn’t FrankBoyd one of the MRA dudes with nothing but attitude when they post here? The attitude is certainly familiar.

  40. 40
    PZ Myers

    You are unfamiliar with Quantitative Genetics?

    No. I’ve read Falconer.

    You think that people who study behavioral ecology in birds and insects and lizards need to shut up until somebody locates specific genes? You think that knowledge of specific genes is necessary for meaningful discussion of morphological and physiological adaptations? You think that anybody is going to identify the genes for any reasonably complex behavior in any animal very soon?

    Wow, that’s a lot more no’s.

    I think you need to identify likely heritable traits and show patterns that are compatible with a genetic basis.

    Are you really going to tie your banner to surveys of shopping behavior in psych 101 students as reasonable? Are you going to be so defensive of the honor of a field that you’ll tangle modern GWA studies with the taint of the garbage coming out of the London School of Economics?

  41. 41
    Jackie

    Clint’s article is a perfect example. His outrage isn’t aimed at the people who do bad, commercially influenced hackwork for commercial interests and fluff magazines, it’s against the person who dares to expose the stupidity.

    That sounds eerily familiar. Now where could I have heard a similar complaint about Rebecca Watson that claims calling out shitty behavior is actually the problem and not the shitty behavior itself?

  42. 42
    Gregory Greenwood

    ChasCPeterson @ 35;

    Pull the reading-comprehension beam from your own eye. Nobody claimed anything like that. The glamour journals were brought up only to support the idea that EP is recognized as a legitimate scientific discipline.

    So you don’t think that frankboyd’s statement @ 13 that;

    According to you. On the other hand, the editors of Nature and Science seem to think there’s something there, the former carefully reviewing the arguments pro and contra, and both publishing papers in the field.

    I’m sure that all the editorial boards of these journals are just stuffed with people who are just like YECs, but fortunately we have you, yes, you Gregory Greenwald, to hand to set all those boring science journals straight!

    And @ 30;

    If you’re so sure it’s all baloney, go right ahead and write a solid evidence based critique, and start publishing in the major journals. I’m not holding my breath.

    Wasn’t an appeal to authority intended to silence criticism because ‘published in a journal = true’? And as a means to sidestep the point that evo psych is often used as a fig leaf for misogynist bigotry?

  43. 43
    Jackie

    On Clint’s comment section the usual rabble have gathered to rant about the ebils of feminism and that bad ‘ol Rebecca Watson (and her cult of wicked anti-science miscreants). But this isn’t about Clint or Justin defending sexist tripe. Oh heavens to pearl clutching Betsy no! This is about science!

    Pull the other one. It has bells on it.

  44. 44
    LykeX

    It seems to me that it might be helpful to pin this discussion down to something more specific. It easily ends up being a flame-fest with people just yelling at each other and not much productive comming from it.

    So, since an evo-psych article has been brought up (link to full text at the bottom), and has been both attacked and defended, maybe we could just discuss that article?

  45. 45
    PZ Myers

    Oops. Frankboyd was a familiar name: he was a ranter previously confined to the Thunderdome.

    Now banned for violation of parole.

  46. 46
    LykeX

    I’ve only done a quick scan myself and am in the process of a more thorough read, but I have a quick question to get us going:

    Does this guy ever get to the point of doing actual research? I’m asking because all the predictions from his hypothesis seem to be things that we already know a lot about (e.g. more men than women are sports fans).
    In order to make a proper test of the hypothesis, you’d need to get new knowledge. Otherwise, you’re just testing how well you’ve adapted the hypothesis to the existing knowledge.

    Like I said, I haven’t finished reading this yet, so maybe I’m missing this bit, but as I’m sitting here, I’m wondering about this point.

  47. 47
    doubtthat

    What portion of the evo-psych literature is most influential? In a practical sense, what do evo-psych proponents generate that will result in actual societal effect?

    The bullshit Rebecca was talking about.

    The scientific debate will take care of itself. I’m not worried about that. As with evolution and climate change and the endless subjects where science has settled their differences, what’s valuable from evo-psych will survive, and the bullshit will be stomped out—in the scientific community. The framework for dispute settlement exists and it works.

    The battle, as in the other subjects mentioned, will take place in the public square as people informed by the science will have to battle back the stupid ideas that poison the brains of the common folk (of which I am a member–I produce no unique science).

    Thus, what Rebecca is doing is not “cherry-picking” or “straw-manning” evo-psych. She’s dealing with the most societally influential product, just like proponents of evolution have to argue about young earth creationism even though its fucking dumb. Marco Rubio and countless powerful politicians buy into it, therefore someone has to have that argument. It’s not a straw man of the anti-evolution position, it’s dealing with the most influential aspect of the ignorant and perverse ideology.

    Whether or not there’s anything worth salvaging from evo-psych will be determined by the scientists. What makes it to the public needs to be destroyed.

  48. 48
    PZ Myers

    LykeX: Nope. No research at all in that paper. No testing of alternative explanations. No identification of key comparative observations that would confirm or invalidate the hypothesis. Lots of survey data about Western tv watching and game attendance and commercial revenues, all neatly wedged into his hypothesis of universality and evolutionary derivation.

    Bleh.

    Maybe one of the evo-psych proponents here can defend it, I sure as hell can’t.

  49. 49
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    the revelation that Clint is throwing away his career by jumping on the evo psych bandwagon in graduate school (I frequently advise students on good disciplines to pursue in grad school; bioinformatics and genomics have a great future ahead of them, as does molecular genetics and development, but evolutionary psychology is one I would steer them well clear of, as a field that has not and will not ever contribute much of substance.

    Sadly, you might be wrong. You’re right, of course, with regard to his career as a scientist-scholar – one of making discoveries that contribute to our substantive understanding of nature. But with regard to his career in the sense of personal advance, recognition, and reward, he could still be on the right track. He appears to be embarking on a career as a derivative hack appealing to the prejudices of the powerful, and there’s long been a demand for those. The Mismeasure of Man and Delusions of Gender are filled with them, including several who were quite celebrated in their time for their ludicrous assertions. I’d like to think that the prospects for those who flatter the prejudices of the dominant groups have slimmed in our time, but the evidence suggests they they haven’t much. On the other hand, I think we’re beginning to emerge from a period of retrenchment, so it could be bad timing on his part even in this (pathetic) sense.

    Who knows? Maybe he’ll change…

  50. 50
    Jackie

    @ LykeX,
    Discussing this article as if it exists in a vacuum is not what PZ began by doing and neither should he. Nor will I. The first thing mentioned in PZ’s post is that Ed Clint has spent the better part of a year bashing FTBs and Skepchick. He is hosted by the same site that hosts doc dropper and victim basher, Justin Vacula. His article is being hailed as a great take down of Rebecca by none other than the usual misogynists and their special snowflake friends. These things matter. Of course it is not a coincidence that when she says pop-evo psych is used to defend smarmy sexist crap, smarmy sexists come out of the woodwork to smear her and her speech.
    There have been valid criticisms of her speech. Calling her “anti-science” is not one of them. It is more of the same thing we’ve seen for ages. Why pretend it isn’t?

  51. 51
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Josh @ 29

    Mr. Polite-in-form-but-not-always-in-function. They read His book on manners: How to Present the Facade of Civility and Respect in Your Self-Congratulatory Mutual Admiration Society and Influence People.

  52. 52
    Ing

    Also interesting—I’ve noticed a kind of written verbal tic these doods engage in when such conversations come up. They refer to each other as a lot as “Mr. So and So,” as in, “Thank you Mr. Clint, and “I appreciate that, Mr. Griffith.” It’s jarring and weird.

    Cargo cult professionalism

  53. 53
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Ah, the faith-based mind of FtB on display! Something is either beyond criticism or vilest heresy.

    Non sequitur much? This is something you thought was clever and wanted to get out there, but you couldn’t find an appropriate statement to which this would be a logically consistent (if incorrect) response?

    The faith (belief-only) -based mind returns your gaze in a mirror.

  54. 54
    jose

    I like the sports one because it does a neat little trick many studies do, not only in evopsych but in many different fields. Instead of making an observation, coming up with an idea, predicting something new that wasn’t there before and testing the prediction and using that to find new data and new effects (that’s why you want to predict stuff – to continue digging further!), they stick to the data they already have, so in that sense, their predictions are not predictions at all because they already know what they should find.

    Practical example: I look out the window and see the ocean. Now I put my scientist hat on and conduct an analysis of the air. Based on the elements found in the air, humidity levels, temperature, etc. I use oceanography and meteorology research in my study, and I make the prediction that given these numbers it’s very likely we’re going to find a massive body of water nearby. Behold, prediction fulfilled!

    The author of the study on sports does this. His predictions (athletes have high social status, men watch sports more than women, etc.) are already known and he doesn’t suggest any other use. Apart from that, the worldwide popularity of mostly female sports like rhythmic gymnastics, 50/50 sports like swimming, and sports with very significant female participation like tennis are not accounted for at all; plus a thousand and one more problems you can spot by reading the thing.

    Just opening one page at random, I read about the reasons he thinks men watch sports: “Men who watch other men play sports can inexpensively learn about the abilities of potential allies and rivals.” There. You don’t just like basketball – you’re actually trying to figure out how the hell Kobe gets so much more sex than you. Yup. The other 4 “explanations” are equally bizarre.

    You can publish this stuff if you like, just please don’t use Darwin’s The Expression of Emotions or Pinker’s Blank Slate as a shield because it’s deeply unfair for those good contributions.

  55. 55
    ChasCPeterson

    I think you need to identify likely heritable traits and show patterns that are compatible with a genetic basis.

    Sure, OK.
    Who decides what’s “likely” to have a (partially) genetic basis? A lot of it is pretty straightforward extrapolation of stuff we know about other animals.

    Are you really going to tie your banner to surveys of shopping behavior in psych 101 students as reasonable? Are you going to be so defensive of the honor of a field that you’ll tangle modern GWA studies with the taint of the garbage coming out of the London School of Economics?

    um, no? But of course, I’ve never tried to defend the honor of the whole field. Instead, what annoys me into commenting is the facile wholesale dismissal of the whole field based on misrepresentation, ignorance, and ideology.

    It’s the approach I defend. Human psychology and behavior are aspects of our biology (as well as culture), they evolved, and there’s nothing wrong with trying to figure out how.

    That said, I’m willing to examine specific claims skeptically. Maybe somebody could supply a link to this notorious shopping study that keeps coming up?

    No research at all in that paper.

    what? No original data, perhaps, but plenty of scholarship.

    No testing of alternative explanations.

    yuh-huh. There’a a long section reviewing purely cultural explanations (which are dismissed as incomplete because they have no evolutionary component…OK, that’s a mite circular), and most of the paper is arguing for a particular evolutionary hypothesis (intrasexual selection) over another (intersexual selection).

    No identification of key comparative observations that would confirm or invalidate the hypothesis.

    you missed the list of predictions? You didn’t read the paper?

    Lots of survey data about Western tv watching and game attendance and commercial revenues

    which are merely the behaviors putatively explained…

    all neatly wedged into his hypothesis of universality and evolutionary derivation.

    The universality was not part of the hypothesis, but was rather asserted by reference as a starting point.

  56. 56
    ChasCPeterson

    Practical example:

    Deeply stupid.
    There is nothing wrong with using already-existing data to test competing hypotheses, which is what the guy tries to do in the sports article. The whole point was that his explanation is more congruent with these patterns that ‘everybody already knows’ than another one.

  57. 57
    ChasCPeterson

    Cargo cult professionalism

    What the fuck does that even mean?
    Maybe they’ve never met and find, as I do, the default first-name-basis of the blogosphere to be weird.

  58. 58
    Anthony K

    Maybe they’ve never met and find, as I do, the default first-name-basis of the blogosphere to be weird.

    I remember when this blog was about science, not ‘maybes’.

  59. 59
    TerranRich, Yet Another Atheist

    I predict that if they find the default first-name-basis of the blogosphere to be weird, then they will refer to each other by “Mr.”. Oh, look, prediction confirmed. Did I science right?

  60. 60
    Winterwind

    Any idiot can cite papers. The question is whether they can cite them appropriately.

    The devil can cite papers for his own purpose!

    - The Skeptic of Venice, Shakespeare

  61. 61
    Martha

    @51: “Cargo cult professionalism” made me laugh aloud. I like it even better now that I know it confused Chas!

  62. 62
    gijoel

    Evo pysch, the thinking man’s phrenology.

  63. 63
    Nick Gotts

    I had difficulty finishing the paper because I was laughing so much – and this is the sort of piffle the EP crowd want us to take seriously? As LykeX and PZ have already noted, there’s fuck-all actual hypothesis testing in it – no predictions of novel, counter-intuitive findings are tested, as far as I could see. Rather, it’s the usual EP approach of taking commonplace observations and constructing a just-so story to “explain” them. But even within this framework, there’s some amusing stupidity. To give just a few examples:

    1) A startlingly clear counter-example to one of the main “predictions” is simply ignored:

    This hypothesis predicts that (1) the most popular modern male sports require the skills needed for success in male-male physical competition and primitive hunting and warfare

    By far the most popular modern male sport is soccer. Did our male Paleolithic ancestors, in that famous “Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness” kill their prey, and rival males, by kicking or heading inflatable balls at them? If so, this strategy appears to have died out among recent foraging societies.

    2) The use of completely unsupported anecdote as if it were evidence:

    National Basketball Association Hall of Fame player Wilt Chamberlain claimed that between the ages of 15-55 he had sex with 20,000 women (i.e., 1.37 women per day for 40 years) (Chamberlain, 1991). Even if Chamberlain exaggerated his sexual exploits by a factor of 1000, he still had 4 times the number of sexual partners as did the median male aged 15-44 in the USA (i.e., 5.4 sexual partners per lifetime)

    Now even if Chamberlain was telling the truth, this isn’t scientific evidence. But what if, in fact, Chamberlain never had sex with a woman? We have, in the nature of the case, no evidence whatever other than his boast. Even if he was regularly seen taking women into hotel rooms, how do we know he didn’t just ask them not to reveal that his reputation was completely unfounded, and he was actually asexual, exclusively gay, or impotent?

    3) If the “lek hypothesis” is right, we would surely expect very little variation in men’s interest in spectator sport: the hypothesis implies that psychological characteristics producing such interest would be subject to strong directional selection, which is expected to reduce heritable variation. But casual observation indicates that there is in fact enormous variation. Of course, this could be cultural in origin – but then, so could the sex difference in interest that is central to the “lek hypothesis”.

  64. 64
    Nick Gotts

    What the fuck does that [Cargo cult professionalism] even mean? – ChasCPeterson

    It’s really rather simple, Mr. Peterson. The feature of cargo cults referred to is the construction of “airfields”, “control towers” and so forth, in the expectation that copying the outer form of these things would produce the same results as the originals. The charge of “Cargo cult professionalism” implies that the people referred to are copying what they think are the marks of a professional scientific discussion, in the belief that this makes their own discussion scientific.

  65. 65
    TerranRich, Yet Another Atheist

    Now I have Agent Smith’s voice in my head. “MrrrAAAAAAnderson…”

  66. 66
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    “Cargo Cult professionalism” is clearly an evolutionary development for people who hope to someday obtain status to start practicing with the faux forms of it that the people with REAL status have used as both camouflage and a way to detect imposers. See: Tooby, J. & Cosmides, L. (2005). Conceptual foundations of evolutionary psychology. In D. M. Buss (Ed.), The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology (pp. 5–67). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    Cargo-cult Evo-psych is AWESOME! Hyphen!

  67. 67
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    A lot of it is pretty straightforward extrapolation of stuff we know about other animals.

    Like how the winner of Top Chef: Vervet is almost always female. Definitely genetic.

  68. 68
    adamyakaboski

    Well, we have here two models:

    1) if something is being technically reviewed in the most prestigious journals in the world, there may be something to it,

    Just as a side note homeopathy made it into Science so the entire argument that something may be to it is a bunch of crock.

  69. 69
    chigau (違う)

    ohno
    not the vervets…

  70. 70
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    That’s right. I went there.

  71. 71
    Nick Gotts

    That said, I’m willing to examine specific claims skeptically. – ChasCPeterson

    Can you point us to an example of your doing so, Mr. Peterson? Because if you’re not sceptical about the famous vervet study, I find it hard to imagine what EP tripe you would be sceptical about.

  72. 72
    Inaji

    SC:

    That’s right. I went there.

    At least you didn’t wander into bonobos territory.

  73. 73
    Jadehawk

    Like how the winner of Top Chef: Vervet is almost always female. Definitely genetic.

    *snort*

  74. 74
    Jadehawk

    By far the most popular modern male sport is soccer. Did our male Paleolithic ancestors, in that famous “Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness” kill their prey, and rival males, by kicking or heading inflatable balls at them?

    something something teamwork something something coordination of hunting parties something something.

    What I’m far more interested in is the evolutionary purpose of cricket.

  75. 75
    Anthony K

    What I’m far more interested in is the evolutionary purpose of cricket.

    It’s a modern form of ritualised combat.

    Shit, that’s a cultural explanation that doesn’t include an evolutionary aspect. Well, that’s not going to cut it, so let me add:

    Clearly, those cavetrobrianders who were better at adapting those traditions brought from caveengland by cavemissionaries outcompeted those cavetrobrianders who did not.

  76. 76
    SC (Salty Current), OM
    There is instead an obsessive focus on gender roles.

    Can you support this opinion? Seems to me it’s more the critics of the field who exhibit that obsession.

    From the articles (reviews, etc.) in the four 2012 issues of EP LykeX links to above, I counted* 7 of 14, 6 of 13, 10 of 19, and 4 of 9 that were explicitly about gender and mating, for a total of 27 of 55. About half, that is, explicitly focusing on this topic in the title. I didn’t include the sports article because the gender focus isn’t explicit in the title, but that clearly has a similar focus, and others I glanced at seemed the same way, suggesting that the percentage is likely quite a bit higher. That’s a pretty strong interest in one specific area within the broad potential field of evolutionary psychology, and appears even more obsessive in that they’re fixated on looking for differences, distinctions, and oppositions rather than human commonalities.** The percentage of gender-difference-focused articles would presumably be far higher if we looked at popular sources – the “studies,” books, and arguments that get promoted in popular culture. I don’t think the claim that the focus on gender roles comes from the critics of EP rather than its practitioners, promoters, and popularizers is supported by the evidence. And even if it were the case, the vehemence (and silliness) with which claims about sex differences are defended by EP proponents clearly points to a strong personal and political interest in those claims on their part.

    *A very rough count that may be in error.

    **There’s even one “Evolutionary Psychology is Compatible with Equity Feminism, but Not with Gender Feminism: A Reply to Eagly and Wood (2011)” that recycles the same sexist rhetoric (which parallels the racist rhetoric) we’ve seen since the nineteenth century. It’s telling that a representative of a so-called scientific discipline is publishing such a patently political piece in one of its journals.

  77. 77
    chigau (違う)

    something something teamwork something something coordination of hunting parties something something

    And this doesn’t work for ‘gathering’ because the women-folk basically just wander through the woods until apples or something fall on their heads.

  78. 78
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    It’s telling that a representative of a so-called scientific discipline is publishing such a patently political piece in one of its journals.

    By which I don’t mean at all to suggest that political arguments have no place in the scientific literature. In fact, I think people should be more clear with themselves about their political commitments and how those affect their scientific work. “We’re about objective, disinterested science and have no political agenda; that’s why we’re writing about how our field isn’t compatible with this form of feminism” comes across as disingenuous, to put it mildly.

  79. 79
    Jadehawk

    don’t be silly chigau. the obvious reason it doesn’t work for gathering is that gathering is more like hanging out at the mall than like coordinated running after a leather ball. obviously.

  80. 80
    LykeX

    The whole point was that his explanation is more congruent with these patterns that ‘everybody already knows’ than another one.

    And that’s all well and good, but you still haven’t actually tested the hypothesis, nor has a test been proposed. I think this is exactly the kind of thing people mean when they talk about “just so” stories.
    Coming up with an explanation that fits what you know today is easy. Coming up with one that fits what you’ll find out tomorrow is science.

    A few questions I’ve thought of:

    What exactly is the proposed time line? The author talks about hunter-gatherer societies at one point and the 1936 Olympics at another. It seems that the exact argument and time references changes constantly. I can’t help but feel it’s very hand-wavy.
    I’d like to see a clear timeline detailing exactly when the various developments are supposed to have taken place.

    If sports are developed based on the skills necessary for success in hunting and warfare, where are all the sports based on the skills of sneaking and ambushing?
    How come sports are so abstract, removing the emphasis on using the terrain to your best advantage? If this is a later formalization, then when did that happen?

    From the article:

    If sport evolved to function as a way for men to evaluate the qualities of potential allies and rivals, then selection should have favored the expression by male athletes of the traits that historically led to success in male-male physical competition and primitive hunting and warfare.

    Very true. However, wouldn’t these traits also be favored simply because they’re useful in hunting and warfare? I.e. if sports had no evolutionary importance at all, wouldn’t we see exactly the same thing?

    From the article:

    The male spectator lek hypothesis predicts that champion athletes in sports requiring the skills most needed in male-male physical competition and primitive hunting and warfare obtain the highest status and earn the highest salaries and winner’s purses

    Why? Isn’t the point simply to win the contest and thus prove yourself worthy of respect and mating opportnities? What’s with the cash prizes? This strikes me as clearly a development that has nothing to do with evolution and everything to do with the commercialization of sports.

    Page 12 is quite confusing to me:

    While women generally find high status men sexually attractive champion athletes seem to be especially attractive to them

    Success at combat sports in this and other societies may be simultaneously (1) used by men to evaluate potential allies and rivals because most combat sport spectators are men (i.e., intrasexual selection) and (2) an intersexually selected signal of quality used by women, or their male relatives, when choosing mates

    The observation that champion athletes are sexually attractive to women does not
    falsify the male spectator lek hypothesis of sport. Women generally prefer men with high status who display markers of testosterone and good genes as short-term mates. These same traits are also correlated with high status among men. Champion athletes have these physical characteristics and obtain high status by their performances.

    So, do women pay attention to sports or not? Do they find athletes attractive because they’re successful athletes? Because they’re respected by other males? Because they’re wealthy? Because they’re physically attractive? Because they have high testosterone levels?
    Is the author speaking about behavior today? A thousand years ago? Ten thousand years ago?

    I’m seriously confused as to what the exact argument is, here. It seems to me like it’s changing form one moment to the next.

  81. 81
    LeftSidePositive

    But this isn’t about Clint or Justin defending sexist tripe. Oh heavens to pearl clutching Betsy no! This is about science!

    Pull the other one. It has bells on it.

    Yeah, and Justin is engaging in some AMAZING argument from authority and shifting of the burden of proof, and doesn’t seem to be able to even describe in his own words why he considers his pet studies to be valid! (But he’s getting *really* petulant if one simply asks him what he considers valid and why!) But his appreciation of these studies couldn’t possibly be because they validate his subconscious sexist assumptions about the world or comfort him in a massive status-quo bias…NO SIREE!!!

  82. 82
    DLC

    Right. . . Rebecca Watson is a (insert insult here) because Evo-Psych! ***Yawn***

  83. 83
    echidne

    I agree with LykeX as to the confusion about the level(s) on which analysis is carried out in many EP studies. But a bigger problem for me is the way one can define almost anything as an evolutionary adaptation, provided that it is common enough. There’s a teleological aspect to the explanations which can be disconcerting.

    For instance, anyone who has waded through a lot of evolutionary psychology would have predicted that their rigid and simple basic models would offer women as the group most likely to watch male sports. All that “looking for the best genes”, “females always choose” and so on. To get the opposite argument, the one which fits reality better, sounds much weaker to me within that ep theory.

    The problem is that almost anything that is at all common *could* be an evolutionary adaptation. But if that’s the case, then the basic theory becomes an oddly pliant structure. Anything can be stuffed into it. So we get studies which completely contradict each other but which are still both admitted into the wider structure.

    A separate problem in many of the studies is that alternative hypotheses are not properly tested. Often proximal causes are completely ignored, especially the effect of cultural evolution.

    Finally, many of the basic causal assumptions seem to have had relatively little testing. If the basic story goes correctly, then men of the type women prefer should have left much more progeny. But the examples I see quoted are about either Ghengis Khan (who used violence and war as a “mating tool”) or certain Islamic rulers with large harems (and nobody would argue that the women in those had much choice at all).

    This is not trivial because the whole thing about passing one’s genes on underlies much of ep.

  84. 84
    jose

    Also curious the absence of non-competitive sports (surf, climbing, rafting, footbag…) Oh well, we could go and quote the entire paper sentence by sentence if we were that interested. I only want to make clear how much more lax, to the point of sloppiness, the standards are compared to the literature for the rest of the topics related to evolution.

    There is a good example in that journal (I’m tired of being a grouch). They take on an earlier paper that studied… ahem… how men got the hots by smelling t-shirts of women on their period. Yup.

    Just a question… omg why??? Anyway, they correctly thought that the t-shirt made the men think of women, and maybe it was this imagination of the women, and not literally the sweat what pumped up testosterone. Now this is an idea with a useful prediction that allows you to find out new stuff. Let it be an example of good methodology, even though the topic is a little weird. The prediction is this: if the sweat itself is not causing the effect, men will not get the hots if we use it isolated, with no t-shirts. So that’s what they did and indeed, the men were not aroused (not amused either, I imagine). And so the previous evopsych study was debunked. So kudos James J. Roney and Zachary L. Simmons for a concise, focused study.

    Again, even if the mechanics are good science… how does someone even come up with the claim that attraction may be governed by some stuff in the sweat of women on their period? I don’t even…

  85. 85
    echidne

    On the relationship between not accepting evolutionary psychology (in its present form) and not accepting evolution. The two are the same only if my reluctance to accept horoscopes means that I don’t believe us to have any predictive abilities about the future.

    Ep is not as bad as horoscopes but it is based on a fairly large number of assumptions, and if we are to swallow ep we have to swallow those assumptions.

    The most important ones are

    1. The idea that we walk around with stone age brains. This assumes that evolution takes a long time and that no actual psychological evolution could possibly have occurred in any less distant past. An assumption, not a proved fact, this one.

    2. The idea that many behaviors are hard-wired and not susceptible to change. This is also an assumption, and one which at least as far as I know doesn’t have much support from genetics etc.

    It is this part which is employed to argue for the unalterable shape of sex roles and so on. I’ve sometimes imagined the ep studies which would have been published before women entered higher education in any large numbers. That characteristic would have been deemed as caused by an evolutionary adaptation: Education allowed men to compete in dominance and thus it allowed them to attract more partners or better partners. But because ep wasn’t around then, we are now told that our current societal arrangements are evolutionary adaptations.

    3. The box describing where and when those hypothesized evolutionary adaptations happened is essentially empty. We don’t know what the group size of our ancestors was, we don’t know how often they came into contact with other human groups, we don’t know if they had permanent sexual partners or not, we don’t know how they got their living (in comparison to climate, land fertility etc.), we don’t actually even know what the gendered division of labor might have been. Because of this emptiness, any particular aspect of modern life can be imagined as possibly being an evolutionary adaptation, of value at an unspecified place in those unspecified times.

    Just one example of that: Ep usually argues (or has argued extensively in the past) that women are attracted by the resources a man has, men by the youth and health of a woman.

    So what *were* the resources of men, in that area of evolutionary adaptation? If the groups were nomadic, it’s highly unlikely that they could consist of hoarded food or other objects. The most likely explanation is that the resources were largely embodied in the men, making them roughly equivalent to what ep believes men desire: Young and healthy individuals, strong enough to work.

    That the attraction of the resources attached to man in our more recent history might have a lot to do with the proximal cause of women having been limited to marriage as the major way of making a living also gets sorta skipped over in those theories.

  86. 86
    leerudolph

    LykeX, in post 59, asks “where are all the sports based on the skills of sneaking and ambushing?” You evidently don’t pay attention to the International Capture-the-Flag Federation. (Also, curling.)

  87. 87
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    The male spectator lek hypothesis predicts that champion athletes in sports requiring the skills most needed in male-male physical competition and primitive hunting and warfare obtain the highest status and earn the highest salaries and winner’s purses

    Golf?

  88. 88
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The male spectator lek hypothesis

    I thought Leks were for birds and herbivores, not insectivores and primates. So, what is the relevancy of the Lek hypothesis to reality?

  89. 89
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Ummm… maybe I missed it, but doesn’t “sport” select for a very small class of really awesome athletic Alpha males and giant numbers of soft, weak, passive Beta male viewers?

    Evo psych is stupid.

  90. 90
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Maybe they’ve never met and find, as I do, the default first-name-basis of the blogosphere to be weird.

    Or, maybe it’s weirder than that, considering how the “Mr. So and So” is laid on thick in this type of conversation but not in others. Maybe it’s so odd and striking because they’re on a first-name basis with other bloggers most of the time except when topics come up that require puffing-up of Credentials and Manly Professorial Wisdom.

    Cut the crap Chas. You don’t address people by “Mr. Last-Name” either in the blogosphere. Doesn’t matter whether you like it or find it weird; it’s twee and silly. Conventions change. Time moves on.

    But you knew that. Or, you did before you became the resident contrarian fucker.

  91. 91
    carlie

    The male spectator lek hypothesis predicts that champion athletes in sports requiring the skills most needed in male-male physical competition and primitive hunting and warfare obtain the highest status and earn the highest salaries and winner’s purses

    Er, what? Lekking is a feature of female selection-dominated mate choice, not male competition.

  92. 92
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Yeah Carlie? Well lek this. Or something?

  93. 93
    AtheistPowerlifter

    Ugh…I don’t understand all this. I didn’t watch Watson’s talk (because I find any Psychology talk extremely fucking boring)…but I made the mistake of reading some of the YouTube comments (yes, I know, I know…but it’s like smelling the old milk carton in the fridge…you know it will be awful but you just. have. to.).

    I don’t get it. What is it about her that causes such a response? Is it really just because she made a comment about how a certain man acted? Is it because she’s confident? Or something? Baffling.

    I’ve only read a couple of her posts and seen one or two of her lectures. I agreed with some, disagreed here and there – same as anything else I read and/or watch. I’m curious what it is about her that causes such vitriol in others (are there really that many idiots?)…I just don’t see it myself. She’s not fabulous as a speaker and writer…yet she’s pretty good. MUCH like anyone else.

    I was bullied in junior high/high school (it’s okay, it actually ended up making me stronger – so fuck them). I actually asked my Uber Bully (needs to be capitalized) once – Why? He thought about it and said – “You have a face that begs to be punched into a new and interesting shape”. Now – notwithstanding the fact that he stole this line from Stephen King – his comment floored me. I realized there was absolutely nothing I could do to change his outlook.

    Maybe some similar phenomenon going on here? Maybe when an asshole decides he doesn’t like you…well, that’s it? I feel sorry for some of these people.

    AP

  94. 94
    Winterwind

    Nick Gotts (formerly KG):

    By far the most popular modern male sport is soccer. Did our male Paleolithic ancestors, in that famous “Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness” kill their prey, and rival males, by kicking or heading inflatable balls at them? If so, this strategy appears to have died out among recent foraging societies.

    Typical selective feminist liberal bias. You are ignoring the fact that by far the most important skill in soccer is the ability to sustain a minor bruise and subsequently fling oneself to the ground while writhing in throes of mortal agony. This behaviour would clearly have selective advantages in the Paleolithic because predators shun prey that appear to be injured or dying. Clearly men have an evolved tendency to exaggerate their injuries in order to protect themselves from predation. Women would not have evolved this trait because they were at home gathering vegetables.

    Evolutionary Psychology: 1, Science Denialism: 0.

  95. 95
    justinvacula

    @6 PZ: address the criticisms rather than raising irrelevant objections and poisoning the well. You’re showing a tremendous lack of skepticism and critical thinking when you’re focusing on the person raising criticisms instead of the criticisms themselves.

    It matters not whether Ed has a “hidden agenda.” For all we know or care, Ed Clint can be an advocate of executing people with physical disabilities. This does not matter whatsoever when considering his objections to Watson’s talk. He can be a horrible person and still be on-target with his criticisms.

    I suppose, though, all criticism is hate or some sort of ‘hidden agenda.’ That’s been the story on this network for months as we all know.

  96. 96
    katenrala

    My education is in the arts, drawing and digital media specifically but with whopping doses of history of the arts and in theatre as theatre was my minor, both courses tracing things back all the way to the Assyrians and Sumerians and farther to the oldest artworks left in the world, and I know that current cultural behaviors and social trends have to do with our cultural history, not all the evo-psych as I’ve been exposed to, which is a lot considering I read so many science and biology fora and blogs.

    Evo-psych tries really, really hard to hypothesize and “explain” why people behave the way they do today by proposing evolutionary mechanisms as the explanation as to why people, almost exclusively western white people, are the way they are.

    Unfortunately a trip down the cultural history lane will show that people have changed a lot from cultural and societal influences and were reflections of there times for periods much shorter than evolutionary scales work at, with people changing in less the time it takes to produce a generation.

    Hell evo-psych was used just what 40 years ago to explain why black people are disadvantaged in society and now tries to explain why women and female persons are disadvantages, but always puts the men and male persons on top of the social ladder, and turns men and male persons into people who just want to fuck all the time and all that bullshit. Too much essentialism about a species that more fluid than any other as I am aware.

    I think the attacks on women and female persons are the biggest tell that evo-psych as it currently is today is mean, sexist, and bullshit. Evo-psych provides a lot of “scientific” cover today for MRAs and racists.

    And they still can’t get over “Elevator Gate,” being unable to accept that certain behaviors are creepy as fuck and threatening since it’s all about a man wanting to mate in their eyes and rebuking creepers goes against the natural order to them.

  97. 97
    justinvacula

    @95 – Is is that the case that Watson’s detractors “can’t get over Elevatorgate” or is it the case that Watson and her cadre keep bringing it up? Last I checked, Watson published in Slate — just to mention one occurrance — about the ‘issue’ and keeps talking about it.

    And sorry, not all women see certain actions by men (or men themsleves “creepy as fuck” or “threatening.” I’m sure that there exist women who — regardless of what you think about the alleged elevator ‘proposition’ for coffee (or whatever else) and regardless of whether the behavior is acceptable to you — would love to be hit on in an elevator and have sex at a conference. Last I heard, you know, Surly Amy says she wants people to have sex at conferences (see her interview with Marcotte), but apparently it’s only from ‘approved persons’ in approved scenarios…but, you know, that’s not objectification of men or anything.

  98. 98
    sirbedevere

    #45 LykeX:

    In order to make a proper test of the hypothesis, you’d need to get new knowledge. Otherwise, you’re just testing how well you’ve adapted the hypothesis to the existing knowledge.

    Just made me want to stand up and applaud. Thanks.

  99. 99
    katenrala

    About calling people by their actual names: isn’t it more respectful to call people by their chosen handles, what they named themselves for certain interactions in certain circles rather than using the names fate and culture handed to them?

    I hate being called “Mr. My Surname” but it happens too much even when I give a person my chosen name in real life. I ain’t no mister nor do I like either half of my family, being abusers save my mother and uncle, enough to be referred as one of them.

  100. 100
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I suppose, though, all criticism is hate or some sort of ‘hidden agenda.’ That’s been the story on this network for months as we all know.

    And what is your “hidden agenda” TROLL. Speak up, or forever hold your peace….

  101. 101
    katenrala

    Justinvacula @ 96

    You ain’t worth a response from me.

    May someone with more tolerance for you might reply.

  102. 102
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)
    If you think there is any hope for a scientific understanding of human social behavior that does not include an evolutionary perspective, then you are sadly deluded.

    Where ever do you get that idea? You think I don’t appreciate an evolutionary perspective?

    He, of course, doesn’t have that idea. It’s one of the classic “tells” – when pushing a specific bankrupt idea, accuse people who point out its bankruptcy of a blanket, a priori denial of the entire class of ideas to which yours belongs, rather than defend it, because it cannot be defended, and to engage with the facts is to be dragged inexorably to the conclusion that women are not, in fact, inferior by nature and one’s privileged position in society is not, in fact, inevitable and just.

    Evo-Phrenologists are no exception.

  103. 103
    weatherwax

    justinvacula @96

    “I’m sure that there exist women who — regardless of what you think about the alleged elevator ‘proposition’ for coffee (or whatever else) and regardless of whether the behavior is acceptable to you — would love to be hit on in an elevator and have sex at a conference”

    Especially after you’ve listened to them talk for hours about how aggravating non-stop propositions are. Women really dig it when you ignore them.

    “Watson and her cadre keep bringing it up? Last I checked, Watson published in Slate — just to mention one occurrance — about the ‘issue’ and keeps talking about it”

    Because the rape and death threats keep coming.

  104. 104
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Last I heard, you know, Surly Amy says she wants people to have sex at conferences (see her interview with Marcotte), but apparently it’s only from ‘approved persons’ in approved scenarios…

    You could just abbreviate that to “consent,” you know.

  105. 105
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Seriously, Vaccy, why do you find the idea of consent being required for sex so threatening? Is it because you realize no one would ever mate with you without being coerced into it?

    You do realize that this level of self-awareness is basically treason against your Troll Nation, right?

  106. 106
    justinvacula

    @103 Who’s mentioning consent? I’m not. You are. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about certain women having perceptions of men as creepy while other women don’t have those perceptions of the same men.

    …and by the way, one need not mention elevatorgate again and again if these alleged rape and death threats keep coming in you know. It’s possible just to focus on them.

    @104 – I’m sure you’d object if I made a comment like that to a woman, but I’m sure it’s perfectly OK for you to make it to a man. Funny you should bring up my sex life anyway which you, of course, know nothing about.

  107. 107
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Dear god, Justin fucking Vacula:
    There’s a rock with your name on it. Crawl back under it and quit assaulting people with your stupidity.
    I am sick and tired of people like you who fail to recognize the sexism within our society. You know damned well the issue Rebecca had with being hit on in an elevator in the middle of the night in an enclosed space with someone she neither knew nor trusted after she’d had a talk about shit like that. If you’re not going to educate yourself on sexism, kyriarchy, patriarchy, and rape culture at least do the world a favor and stop spewing your bile.
    You are an anachronism.
    A disgusting throwback to a time when women “knew their place”. The world is passing you by. Humanity is becoming more accepting. More tolerant. Someday I hope the world will be rid of religion and rid of sexist dinosaurs like yourself.

    Go back to your favorite MRA site or the Slymepit. You belong with the dregs of humanity.

  108. 108
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I’m talking about certain women having perceptions of men as creepy while other women don’t have those perceptions of the same men.

    In other words, typical MRA evidenceless bullshit, put together with ignorance, attitude, and fuckwittery. You have nothing cogent to say.

  109. 109
    weatherwax

    justinvacula @105

    “one need not mention elevatorgate again and again if these alleged rape and death threats keep coming in you know. It’s possible just to focus on them.”

    Good point, and in fact exactly what Ms Watson tends to do. Elevatorgate is only mentioned when the whole sordid story is being introduced to a new audience, like in the Slate article. It’s the people condeming her who bring up Elevatorgate non-stop.

  110. 110
    anteprepro

    I’m sure that there exist women who — regardless of what you think about the alleged elevator ‘proposition’ for coffee (or whatever else) and regardless of whether the behavior is acceptable to you — would love to be hit on in an elevator and have sex at a conference.

    Therefore, we must assume that all women are for it and dismiss the reservations of any women who are disturbed about being given such a proposal in confined quarters, alone, late at night.

    Surly Amy says she wants people to have sex at conferences (see her interview with Marcotte), but apparently it’s only from ‘approved persons’ in approved scenarios

    “Approved” in this context is a rather suspicious spin on consent .

    but, you know, that’s not objectification of men or anything.

    “What about the menz!!?” meets complete illogic. Or, meets it a second time, in a second place, and pretends that they are strangers.

  111. 111
    justinvacula

    @107
    Sorry, ‘Nerd,’ not all women think alike. Not all women are attracted to the same people. Not all women consider certain people to be ‘creepy’ or some behaviors to be uncouth. Do you honestly believe that ALL women would think x person is ‘creepy’ because of event y?

    In the case of the alleged elevator incident I am sure some women, if put in that same position, would have gone back to the room for coffee or otherwise have not felt uncomfortable or whatever.

    Hell, if a woman propositioned me in an elevator at a conference I might even oblige…but of course that’s just my male privilege and I’m blinded or otherwise part of the patriarchy or something…and all of the women would would like to be propositioned in an elevator are similarly gender-traitors or whatever name Melody Hensley likes to use.

  112. 112
    Ing

    PZ, can we just stake Count Vacula here?

  113. 113
    Ing

    As a side note, I have grown to be amused at how Chas’s people skills and cultural intelligence takes a nose dive when certain topics come up or certain people speak.

  114. 114
    Jafafa Hots

    I am not a scientist, but I like magnets. On TV.

    So anyway, I always kinda thought that part of the purpose of journals publishing stuff is so that it CAN be criticized.

    Innit? Kinda?

  115. 115
    justinvacula

    @106

    You sound just like a theist who tells me to go look at the trees for evidence of God and just listen to personal testimony concerning the internal instigation of the Holy Spirit. Go read Aquinas, Lewis, and company and then you’re really understand theology. Until then don’t bother voicing your opinion about God’s existence!

    kyriarchy…that’s a new one.

    I’ve read some about ‘rape culture.’ It seems to be quite evident in heavily male-populated prisons…but men don’t matter as @109 seems to suggest.

  116. 116
    Ing

    @114

    Get the fuck out now.

  117. 117
    justinvacula

    @109

    “Therefore, we must assume that all women are for it and dismiss the reservations of any women who are disturbed about being given such a proposal in confined quarters, alone, late at night.”

    Not at all. Stop strawmanning. I never said all.

    So, please help me understand. Is it the case that because one woman happens to be disturbed everyone needs to bow to her desires? Shall all men behave in the fashion she desires around not just her but around all women? Am I getting this right? What, I wonder, would be the outcome if a woman is disturbed when she isn’t propositioned in an elevator? Should all men then hit on women in elevators? Your suggestion seems to lead to a contradiction here.

  118. 118
    mesh

    Just in case you needed any help understanding how your perspective comes across as asinine mansplaining…

    Not all women think alike. In the case of the alleged rape incident I am sure some women, if put in that same position, would have enjoyed it or otherwise have not felt uncomfortable or whatever.

  119. 119
    justinvacula

    Sorry @117, I’m not talking about an alleged rape incident, I’m talking about an ‘elevator incident.’

  120. 120
    Jafafa Hots

    Sorry @117, I’m not talking about an alleged rape incident, I’m talking about an ‘elevator incident.’

    That’s all you’re EVER talking about.

  121. 121
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    You didn’t answer the question, Vaccy.

  122. 122
    mesh

    Why am I not surprised that my point sailed over your head and went flying over the fucking rainbow?

    You’re invalidating the concerns of

    real, actual women

    by appealing to

    hypothetical, imaginary women

    in order to dictate to

    real, actual women

    how they

    should

    feel.

  123. 123
    mesh

    And that’s what happens when you’re distracted by someone talking to you and use blockquote tags instead of italics. =/

  124. 124
    justinvacula

    @119 If you must know, my biggest objection to the whole elevator situation concerns the aftermath of the video Watson made in which she mentioned the incident. I never really commented on it on my blog and was previously *gasp* a fan of Skepchick network. It’s not been a ‘sore spot’ of mine, really.

    I first openly expressed skepticism, as far as I can remember, concerning Watson rebuking Staks Rosch. After that, I expressed disagreement with Surly Amy concerning the rebuke of Sharon Hill for following @angryskepchick on Twitter and Rebecca’s backing out of TAM.

  125. 125
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    In the case of the alleged elevator incident I am sure some women, if put in that same position, would have gone back to the room for coffee or otherwise have not felt uncomfortable or whatever.

    Because you can imagine some women having no problem being hit on in an enclosed spot with no easy get away and because you have some fantasy about having a woman doing the same to you, it allows you to ignore the fact that Rebecca Watson said she did not want to be hit on.

    And this allows you to dismiss everything.

    This despite having to heard about the entire account.

    Lovely representation of humanity.

  126. 126
    justinvacula

    @121

    Mesh, if you’re going to consider skepticism and thought experiments as ‘invalidating the concerns of women’ I suppose there’s really no further need for discussion with you. You might as well just throw out philosophical inquiry, too, while you’re at it and, you know, the most famous thought experiment Judith Jarvis Thomson wrote concerning abortion.

    I raise hypothetical situations to show that certain suppositions are faulty.

    I’m not saying how women *should* feel, but rather am stating that not all women think alike nor do they respond to similar situations in similar manners.

    Sorry, I don’t just listen to what people say and believe it as gospel and the way things out to be. I left Christianity and don’t intend to return to that mode of thought.

  127. 127
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Does justin vacula bring anything to a conversation other than his disdain for Rebecca Watson (an PZ, Ophelia, Stephanie, or Greta). Oh, wait as he showed @114 he adds ‘what about the menz’ to a discussion about womens issues.
    Justin the Derailer Vacula.

  128. 128
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Vacula, you’re a piece of shit. Fuck you.

  129. 129
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Yeah, mesh.
    Justin left Christianity…for the men’s rights movement. He totes doesn’t tell women how they should feel. He just dismisses the justified complaints raised by some of them.

  130. 130
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Azkyroth,

    Chas’s caricatures of the criticism are lazy and annoying, but you’re wrong about why he does it. He is opposed to patriarchy and male privilege. He put in a lot of good work during elevatorgate, and he confronts sexism when he recognizes it.

    (Pre-emptive to everyone: therefore nothing. I don’t care whether you like him. Just don’t misrepresent him.)

  131. 131
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    mesh @122:
    I thought your 121 was deliberate. I rather liked it.

  132. 132
    justinvacula

    @124

    I don’t have a fantasy about being hit on in an elevator. I don’t know where you’re getting that from, but please attempt to win Randi’s million dollars while you are at it. I’m raising that as a hypothetical situation to show that not all people think alike.

  133. 133
    anteprepro

    Not all women consider certain people to be ‘creepy’ or some behaviors to be uncouth. Do you honestly believe that ALL women would think x person is ‘creepy’ because of event y?

    Not all women consider certain areas to be secure or some behaviors to be harmless. Do you honestly believe that ALL women would think x person is harmless because of event y?

    Why is it that your “Not all women” test doesn’t apply as much against propositioning people in elevators as it does for it? It applies equally both ways. Mostly because any interesting questions about people, what they think, what they do, what they are, will never be answered with an “all” or a “none”. It is almost always a matter of “few,” “some,” “many,” or “most” and almost never “all” or “none”. Yet self-styled internet philosophers tend to think they are being profound when showing “not all” or “not none” to be the case, when no-one rightly gives a fuck. There is rarely a 100% in human behavior and psychology. Hence statistics. This isn’t shit that can be easily determined via Armchair Logic from someone whose only cited evidence is that he knows some people who wouldn’t be horrified at a hypothetical elevator proposition.

    And of course, you say I am strawmanning you by saying that you want people to assume women are receptive to elevator propositioning by default. Yet you continue to defend elevatorgate, based on arguments like:

    Is it the case that because one woman happens to be disturbed everyone needs to bow to her desires?

    Apparently this is all about one woman’s desires, and submitting ourselves to whims of one woman is just not to be accepted. So, therefore, men should still feel empowered to hit on women in elevators late in the evening. Or not, because connecting your arguments to your conclusion for you is a strawman, or something.

    (Here’s another clue: The actual situation is one that justifies being disturbed. That’s a key to this, and not just Rebecca feelings on the matter. This isn’t a matter of refuting the idea that all women would feel the same way, it is about whether women who would feel that way are large enough in number, and/or whether women who feel that way are justified. The answer is obviously “yes” on both counts, and the only arguments against it have gone into the territory of flat out denying statistics regarding the incidence of violence against women).

  134. 134
    mesh

    “Philosophy without a relation to the tangible universe is like an engine without a transmission. It revs, but it will get you nowhere.”

    Clearly you haven’t left Christianity that far behind if you still believe that you can pass gas and call it skepticism. Using imaginary beings to determine how real, actual people should behave is the domain of religion. Here in the real world we prefer our ideas to have some basis in reality.

    I’ve already pointed out the problem with your “thought experiment” – it can be used to hand wave away the concerns of any victim of anything.

  135. 135
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    n the case of the alleged elevator incident I am sure some women, if put in that same position, would have gone back to the room for coffee or otherwise have not felt uncomfortable or whatever.

    Then you are a fuckwitted predator, who needs to shut the fuck up and listen to women. And your evidenceless OPINION and ATTITUDE is dismissed *POOF* for MRA fuckwittery.

  136. 136
    justinvacula

    @127
    @126

    I’m happy Spokesgay has something to being to this discussion.

  137. 137
    nms

    Justin Vacula is skeptical about the non-existence of hypothetical women

  138. 138
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I raise hypothetical situations to show that certain suppositions are faulty.

    HYPOTHETICALS ARE FOR ABJECT LOSERS. WINNERS DEAL WITH REALITY, WHICH YOU IGNORE.

  139. 139
    justinvacula

    @134

    Do you really think that all women in this universe would reject a proposition from a guy in an elevator? Come on. I don’t think you’re being serious. You can’t be. Everyone doesn’t think like Rebecca Watson.

  140. 140
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I first openly expressed skepticism,

    Skepticism of the incident, which is there not any reason to believe didn’t happen, or skepticism of her “guys, don’t do that”, which is nothing but MRA Attitude and fuckwittery.

  141. 141
    justinvacula

    @137

    Yup. Critical thinking is pointless. Let’s just believe what people say and raise no objections because if you do you must hate women and you’re invalidating their experiences. Please stop ‘hating Christians’ when you ‘invalidate their experiences.’ After all, you’re just ‘naturalistplaining.’

  142. 142
    SallyStrange

    Are we seriously doing elevatorgate AGAIN?

    Look, the only reason to hit on a woman in a similar situation to the one Rebecca Watson described is to get off on the power trip of making her feel uncomfortable. A rational person who is sincerely interested in actually fucking would use an approach more likely to result in success, i.e., fucking. Logical conclusion: only power-tripping creepazoids defend the practice of hitting on women in elevators late at night.

  143. 143
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    o you really think that all women in this universe would reject a proposition from a guy in an elevator? Come on.

    Yep, there is no reason to proposition a woman who has publically stated she doesn’t want to be propositioned. ONLY AN MRA PREDATOR WOULD THINK THIS IS APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR. No real man would, as MRA predators aren’t real men. They are potential rapists.

  144. 144
    anteprepro

    Wow. This asshole needs to be banned quicklike. I can already see a few hundred comments of blatant trolling over the horizon.

  145. 145
    justinvacula

    @141

    Of course the guy couldn’t have possibly been a shy person with lack of experience in successfully propositioning women! We must believe the least plausible situations and assign nasty motives to people we just don’t know and probably never will know.

  146. 146
    SallyStrange

    Justin Vacula, bravely leading atheists into elevators to determine exactly what percentage of women are 100% okay with cold propositions in confined spaces following explicit rejections of any sort of proposition. It’s a difficult question, you see. Definitely worth creeping out 99 out of 100 women to get the answer.

  147. 147
    nms

    I am skeptical that Rebecca Watson even exists. I believe her videos are hoaxes invented by the femispiracy after the fact in order to make Justin Vacula look foolish.

  148. 148
    justinvacula

    @143

    Sure, so all of my comments (and potential comments) are trolling while Spokesgay says “fuck you” and calls me a piece of shit. I wonder why he’s not banned. He’s told me to fuck off and die before so this really isn’t new.

  149. 149
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Of course the guy couldn’t have possibly been a shy person with lack of experience

    Why should he be propositioning a woman who publically said she didn’t want to be propositioned? Other than predation.

  150. 150
    SallyStrange

    Of course the guy couldn’t have possibly been a shy person with lack of experience in successfully propositioning women!

    I said nothing about HIM, but about people who defend the practice of hitting on women in elevators late at night. THEY are power-tripping creepazoids.

    I guess that means YOU are a power-tripping creepazoid. Funny, that.

  151. 151
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Let’s just believe what people say a

    As long as that “people” isn’t a woman. Then NO means YES. Your misogyny is showing.

    Either women are your equals and you listen to them as you want to be listened to, or you are a predator.

  152. 152
    strange gods before me ॐ

    I’m happy Spokesgay has something to [bring] to this discussion.

    Indeed, indeed.

    Besides his three earlier comments, the substance of his fourth is that you are a piece of shit, and fuck you.

    I find myself agreeing with him.

    I would add that you are so fucking stupid that when watching you comment, I experience proxy embarrassment for you.

  153. 153
    LykeX

    Is it the case that because one woman happens to be disturbed everyone needs to bow to her desires? Shall all men behave in the fashion she desires around not just her but around all women?

    No.
    Was that all?

    I don’t know exactly what percentage of women would find it creepy to be hit on in an elevator, but simply by paying attention, I can see that it’s not an insignificant number.
    So, why would I sacrifice the well-being and happiness of so many people around me just for the benefit of my preferred venue for hitting on a lady? Isn’t that kinda mean and self-centered?

    Any woman who would accept your offer in an elevator would likely accept the offer if made at the bar, right? And the women who would be creeped out by being hit on in the elevator would probably feel significantly less creeped out if it happened at the bar with other people around, right?
    So, why not just hit on the lady in the bar? You lose nothing and you provide a more pleasant experience for other people. Isn’t that nicer?

    Here’s a simply set of guidelines to help you out (no, you will not be castrated by the feminazi brigade if you don’t follow them):

    1) Try to anticipate the reactions of others. This is an imperfect art, but it can often give you the first hint about what’s appropriate. If in doubt, ask.

    2) Consider how your actions might look from another person’s view point. Remember that they can’t judge your intent, only your actions.

    3) Listen to what other people say about what they prefer and take them seriously. Sometimes, what they say will sound strange, but not everybody thinks like you. That’s their right.

    4) If you screw up, apologize and try to do better. If someone points out that you’ve screwed up, try not to get defensive.

  154. 154
    justinvacula

    @148

    How do you know that this guy even heard what Rebecca Watson had to say? What if he just stumbled into the bar and has not listened to her previous comments on this matter? I’ve gone to conferences and failed to listen to speakers before, you know, and so have others. Some people mainly socialize outside of the talks and pay no or little attention to the speakers.

  155. 155
    weatherwax

    justinvacula @110

    “Hell, if a woman propositioned me in an elevator at a conference I might even oblige…but of course that’s just my male privilege and I’m blinded or otherwise part of the patriarchy or something”

    Completely true, even though it was said in a pathetic attempt at sarcasm.

  156. 156
    katenrala

    @ 105 JustinVacula

    “I’m sure you’d object if I made a comment like that to a woman, but I’m sure it’s perfectly OK for you to make it to a man.”

    This is in reply in context to consent.

    I was raped by women, 4 of them, maybe some men and male persons would think it heaven to be dragged off by women who want to overpower, dominate, and have a physical encounter with them, but me and any normal person, fuck no.

    Consent fucking matters no matter what your sex or gender is. A woman or female person not caring about consent is as bad as men and male persons not caring about consent, they are rapists and perpetuate rape culture and while emotionally I’d love to see such people take a bullet behind the ear, rationally I wish they would be put away for life to protect the rest of us.

    You fail as a decent human being JustinVacula.

  157. 157
    nms

    Why should he be propositioning a woman who publically said she didn’t want to be propositioned? Other than predation.

    Presumably his argument is that shyness causes some men to be physiologically incapable of listening to words women say.

  158. 158
    nms

    How do you know that this guy even heard what Rebecca Watson had to say?

    I rest my case

  159. 159
    justinvacula

    @150

    …or women are my equals and we can have disagreement. I don’t find equality in the situation of ‘listen or you are a predator.’ That sounds like quite the unequal situation to me…

  160. 160
    SallyStrange

    How do you know that this guy even heard what Rebecca Watson had to say? What if he just stumbled into the bar and has not listened to her previous comments on this matter?

    You’re calling Rebecca Watson a liar? Go ahead, I know you want to. I mean, if she lied once about one thing then it stands to reason that she lied about this particular thing. Skeptimical logic will tell you do.

  161. 161
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Stupid piece of shit says,

    @95 – Is is that the case that Watson’s detractors “can’t get over Elevatorgate” or is it the case that Watson and her cadre keep bringing it up? Last I checked, Watson published in Slate — just to mention one occurrance — about the ‘issue’ and keeps talking about it.

    “Notice the present tense”

  162. 162
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Are folks here going to seriously indulge Vacula? You’re going to give him anything more than insults or ignore him? Actually let him pull this crap again and respond to him as if it will make any difference?

  163. 163
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    What if he just stumbled into the bar and has not listened to her previous comments on this matter?

    Reports were he hear her talk where she explained this. But then, sheer etiquette says don’t make women feel uncomfortable in enclosed spaces. Only a predator wouldn’t consider a typical woman’s feelings in such a situation….

  164. 164
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Of course the guy couldn’t have possibly been a shy person with lack of experience in successfully propositioning women!

    Speaking as one of those myself: no he couldn’t.

  165. 165
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Justin will disappear when PZ notices his fuckwitted posts Josh. He is already on PZ’s shitlist for good reason.

  166. 166
    BrianX

    Goodness, Mr. Vacula. You’re certainly putting a lot of effort into trying to justify avoiding looking at the world from someone else’s perspective. One might almost think you’re not a skeptic at all, the way you refuse to question your assumptions and keep misrepresenting the original issue that triggered this whole mess.

  167. 167
    SallyStrange

    So how’s your PA atheist membership rolls doing, Justin? I mean, it must be hard now that you’ve reduced your potential membership by a large chunk (I won’t say half, because I won’t make the mistake of assuming that women never support sexism).

  168. 168
    katenrala

    Oh waaah, waaah JustinVacula. A “fuck you,” even a “FYAD” has nothing on being misogynist and rampant sexist as you are.

    Cry when you get the kind of threats Watson and so many other women and female persons get from men and male persons, then maybe I and others might care.

    You can’t take an iota of what you dish, and you dish out harm to over half the human species.

  169. 169
    weatherwax

    justinvacula @154

    “How do you know that this guy even heard what Rebecca Watson had to say? What if he just stumbled into the bar and has not listened to her previous comments on this matter?”

    He’d been sitting at a table with Rebecca and others where the subject was discussed for several hours before hand. He didn’t say a word until after he’d followed her into the elevator.

    “I’ve gone to conferences and failed to listen to speakers before”

    I have no problem believing that.

    @123

    “I expressed disagreement with Surly Amy concerning the rebuke of Sharon Hill for following @angryskepchick on Twitter and Rebecca’s backing out of TAM.”

    You used her artwork without persmission, lied about it, and then you posted her address and a picture of her house on Slimepit.

  170. 170
    mesh

    Reports were he hear her talk where she explained this.

    B-but Nerd, have you considered the possibility that the man was deaf and that these people only thought he heard it? You’re not being a proper skeptic!

    But then, sheer etiquette says don’t make women feel uncomfortable in enclosed spaces.

    Everyone is different – I’m sure there is some rare, magical creature somewhere in the universe that would appreciate such behavior!

  171. 171
    BrianX

    163:

    Azkyroth, to be fair, he could have been. However, a problem with no blame attached does not stop being a problem. That’s the fundamental error all these alleged skeptics are making — someone killed by a murderer who is innocent by insanity is dead, and someone who freaks someone out in an elevator still has a freaked-out person on their hands, whether they realized they were doing it wrong or not.

  172. 172
    anteprepro

    I apologize for indulging him as long as I did (2 posts?). I didn’t recall that he is one of the plethora of Elevatorgate Addicts. But it is now clear that he is just taking the piss, regardless of his history. I’m hoping that tomorrow, there will be a splat-site with a banner reading “Nothing of Value was Lost.” One of many Christmas Wishes.

  173. 173
    justinvacula

    @152

    Points 1-4 sound quite reasonable. We do know, though, that some people aren’t able-bodied individuals and that people don’t come from ‘rich histories’ of successful relationships/dating/whatever. Some people really, really, really have a hard time with this stuff and some of these people (male and female) — I would uncontroversially assert — end up quite ‘stuck’ in relationships because of financial dependancy, low standards, or whatever else.

    Perhaps that guy in the elevator so many speak about isn’t exactly the most experienced, thoughtful individual and perhaps he even had some sort of mental diagnosis. Perhaps he hasn’t considered propositioning Rebecca at that bar because he saw the situation as intimidating? Perhaps he’s been rejected at bars before and doesn’t want to have the same experience again? Who knows?

    I’ve recently learned that toleration goes a long way. Some people are at different stages in life and don’t all have it that great as we or others may. I think it’s appropriate to tolerate certain, but not all, behaviors. Rather than assuming the worst in others, it’s sometimes best to consider another perspective and give the person the benefit of the doubt.

    I’m sure a “would you like to go back to my room for coffee” can be reasonably construed as a poor attempt at flirting from a guy who didn’t have the best plan (and might have acted impulsively) rather than this patriarchy personified evil monster amidst a climate of horrible oppression toward women (whether or not that is the case) some here and elsewhere are making it out to be.

    If I were in a situation of feeling uncomfortable concerning being propositioned (and I have been), I’d simply likely remove myself from the situation in a reasonable amount of time (like Rebecca did) and move on with life understanding that the other person might be in a different station of life than me (and I’ve done this). It’s called being compassionate and considering others, I think.

  174. 174
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Oh, and Vaccy? Any chance you’ll answer the question? :)

  175. 175
    SallyStrange

    I’m just going to pause for a moment to appreciate how deeply ensconced Mr. Vacula must be in the manosphere information bubble to have missed the part when Rebecca Watson explained that it wasn’t like she hadn’t seen the guy before, it was that he hadn’t talked to her–and that he prefaced his inappropriate advance by saying that he’d been listening to her and really liked what she had to say.

    He also qualified his inappropriate advance with the qualifier, “Don’t take this the wrong way,” which is about as effective in heading off people taking things the wrong way as “I’m not a racist but” is at making sure nobody thinks the speaker is a racist.

    Truly amazing. It’s almost like Fox News! Um… congratulations, atheist manosphere?

  176. 176
    Jafafa Hots

    while Spokesgay says “fuck you” and calls me a piece of shit. I wonder why he’s not banned.

    Because he raises a valid point.

  177. 177
    justinvacula

    @159

    I don’t know about you, but when I am at bars — even the same table as someone else — I don’t pay attention to every single word someone is saying. Selective listening and all, you know… Some bars are loud, other stuff is going on, people move from table to table, people go to the restroom, people use cell phones and electronics…

  178. 178
    SallyStrange

    I’m sure a “would you like to go back to my room for coffee” can be reasonably construed as a poor attempt at flirting from a guy who didn’t have the best plan (and might have acted impulsively) rather than this patriarchy personified evil monster amidst a climate of horrible oppression toward women (whether or not that is the case) some here and elsewhere are making it out to be.

    No no, silly. Not that dude. YOU.

  179. 179
    SallyStrange

    Blockquote blockhead.

  180. 180
    SallyStrange

    I don’t know about you, but when I am at bars — even the same table as someone else — I don’t pay attention to every single word someone is saying. Selective listening and all, you know… Some bars are loud, other stuff is going on, people move from table to table, people go to the restroom, people use cell phones and electronics…

    Please to exit epistemic closure bubble to your left.

  181. 181
    justinvacula

    @167

    I’ve been maligned by an entire community for objecting to a courthouse nativity scene while being called “the third most hated person” in my county on local radio next to two gangster judges while people attempted to interfere with my undergraduate financial aid and sent nasty letters to my parents and hate mail poured into my e-mail accounts and Facebook account while the security at the college I attended was heightened during my holiday stay at request of the college staff because of concerns about my safety…to just mention some things.

    I’m happy to ‘count the bodies’ if you are though I really don’t care to. I really wear it as a badge of honor if you must know.

  182. 182
    mesh

    Or maybe she was just speaking so low that nobody could actually hear her and were just nodding their heads politely while she mumbled.

    Justinvacula, you know that skepticism is not synonymous with denialism, right?

  183. 183
    nms

    I think we all knew that sooner or later it would come down to “Rebecca Watson overreacted because people use cell phones and electronics”.

  184. 184
    Jafafa Hots

    I’m waiting for the “legitimate rape” comment.

  185. 185
    justinvacula

    @166

    My local atheist group is doing really well. We have many active women returning to meetings, expressing satisfaction with the group, and having a great time with everyone else. I suppose they all must be sister-punishers, gender traitors, and chill girls, though as you seem to suggest.

  186. 186
    SallyStrange

    I really wear it as a badge of honor if you must know.

    I do, I do need to know. You count alienating half or so of your potential membership out of dumbassery and vindictiveness, and getting shit for it, as a badge of honor.

    That’s pretty much everything anyone needs to know about you.

  187. 187
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I’ve been maligned by an entire community for objecting to a courthouse nativity scene while being called “the third most hated person” in my county on local radio next to two gangster judges while people attempted to interfere with my undergraduate financial aid and sent nasty letters to my parents and hate mail poured into my e-mail accounts and Facebook account while the security at the college I attended was heightened during my holiday stay at request of the college staff because of concerns about my safety…to just mention some things.

    I’m happy to ‘count the bodies’ if you are though I really don’t care to. I really wear it as a badge of honor if you must know.

    Must feel good to be on the other side this time.

  188. 188
    mesh

    I’m waiting for the “legitimate rape” comment.

    Well according to the True Skeptic™ you aren’t being a proper skeptic if you aren’t conceiving of magical scenarios where inappropriate behavior magically becomes appropriate. If it seems inappropriate it’s only because you want to throw all philosophical inquiry out the window.

  189. 189
    SallyStrange

    I suppose they all must be sister-punishers, gender traitors, and chill girls, though as you seem to suggest.

    Come ON, Justin, I thought you were a skeptic! Clearly they are just socially awkward and just haven’t worked up the courage to tell you what a spectacular douchebag you are.

    Or perhaps they just haven’t heard about your dipshittery.

    The possibilities are endless! It would be unskeptical of you to conclude anything about the situation before exploring ALL of them.

  190. 190
    bargearse

    @172 & 176
    For fuck sake Vacula, how much special pleading can you pack into a couple of posts? “Maybe he didn’t hear her, maybe he was shy, maybe he had previous bad experiences.” You’ll do anything to excuse what happened won’t you? I don’t give a shit what was going through his head when he did it, honestly none of that shit matters, it was still a creepy move. Rebecca treated it as such, something to use as an example of what not to do.

    The bigger issue is not what happened in Dublin but what happened afterwards and continues to happen. How you can look at what’s happened to Rebecca & other women since then and not be disgusted I’ll never know.

  191. 191
    katenrala

    @ 172 JustinVacula

    Oh now elevator guy [might] have a mental illness. Psshaw

    Do you have a mental illness or are mentally disabled? Is that your excuse too?

    I’m autistic and commentators on many forums are always pointing out that I lack social skills, well duh yeah I lack social skills, but I know right from wrong and creepy and predatory from leaving others at peace and know that too many men and male persons are in fact predatory being that history and the present show this to be true. I am also very depressed and have PTSD, both mental illnesses.

    If you are a allistic neurotypical, the fact that you can’t understand how bad it is that too many men behave means that as normal as you are, you just plain suck when it comes to people, suck far more than me who is defined medically and socially as being defective.

    I am also physically disabled and have no right arm, yet I and the majority of disabled people are not creepers and listen to what women have to say about their experiences with men and male persons.

    That you are suggesting that elevator guy, a predator, is disabled in some way and that is the reason for his behavior is straight up ableism

  192. 192
    justinvacula

    @191

    Predator – n.
    One whose potential advances are rejected by a woman

  193. 193
    LykeX

    Perhaps that guy in the elevator so many speak about isn’t exactly the most experienced, thoughtful individual and perhaps he even had some sort of mental diagnosis. Perhaps he hasn’t considered propositioning Rebecca at that bar because he saw the situation as intimidating? Perhaps he’s been rejected at bars before and doesn’t want to have the same experience again?

    Perhaps he was an alien in disguise. Let’s try not to speculate our asses right out of our pants, huh?

    Besides, I’m less concerned with why he did it than with whether he should have. Do you agree that his behavior was inappropriate?

    I’m sure a “would you like to go back to my room for coffee” can be reasonably construed as a poor attempt at flirting from a guy who didn’t have the best plan

    I agree. So what?
    If all you’re trying to do is argue against elevator-dude being an evil, woman-hating misogynist, then fine: Mission accomplished.

    However, the critique of his actions still stand and the recommendations to the larger community about how to act in elevators in the future are still valid.

    As the saying goes; intent isn’t magic. It doesn’t really matter how nice a guy he really is. He might very well have had all sorts of reasons for doing what he did. He might not have had the slightest idea that he was in any way inconveniencing anyone.

    But he still did. And that’s still a problem.

  194. 194
    justinvacula

    @185

    I objected to the courthouse nativity scene because it was the right thing to do; an Establishment Clause violation needed to be addressed. The hate which was directed at me — involving real-life implications in my community — is a badge of honor because it demonstrates how irrational people can behave and serves as a great example of why religious ideologies can be harmful.

  195. 195
    katenrala

    @ 191 JustinVacula

    Fine. Sexual predator and potential or actual rapist as you are so dense.

    Hey look the dictionary says: “A rapacious, exploitative person” if you need to do the whole dictionary defense gambit, a defense losers use.

  196. 196
    katenrala

    @ 193 JustinVacula

    So you did something right; is that supposed to erase your huge wrongs?

  197. 197
    BrianX

    @193:

    And now you’ve become what you fight.

    I say this knowing it probably falls on deaf ears (blind eyes?), but you’ve proven yourself guilty right here of cherrypicking data, oversimplifying a complex situation, and assuming your conclusion, and by your reputation apparent frequent ad hominem attacks. You’ve shown no indication that you have any interest in understanding the issues involved and have engaged in a whopping degree of denialism about women’s real life circumstances. In short, you’re a BAD SKEPTIC. You fail at skepticism.

    It’s an easy problem to solve, of course, but when you’re as dug in as you and your fellow travelers are, I don’t have any particular reason to believe that you personally can fix it.

  198. 198
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    justin:

    I’m happy Spokesgay has something to being to this discussion.

    That Josh expressed his disdain for you in one post does not discount his contributions across FtB over the years.
    While I’ve heard of your contributions to the Atheist movement-to which I do commend you-everything I’ve read of you here at FtB has been utter shit. This obsession you have with Rebecca Watson is disturbing. Your near mythic hatred of FreeThoughtBlogs is irrational and unjustified. Your inability to recognize the insidious sexism within American culture, as well as dismissing the concerns of women, and your *active* contribution to the repression of women (doubting what Rebecca or Surly Amy say on the grounds of what you call being a skeptic, while I would say HYPERskepticism) are *all* I’ve read of you here.
    It sickens me that you contribute to the status quo.
    It saddens me that you’ve contributed to the rift in the Atheist movement. The shit you’ve said about harassment boggles the mind. Your contributions to the animosity and tension continue in this thread.
    Until you renounce your antifeminist ways-
    Until you stop supporting mens rights-
    Until you recognize the harm that you are causing and apologize to all the people you’ve slighted-

    You.
    Are.
    The Enemy.

    You deserve all the disdain and scorn you’ve received.

  199. 199
    SallyStrange

    @185

    I objected to

    I object to your fucking crappy communication skills, which gave rise to the misunderstanding in the post I am quoting from. Also your sexism, as evidenced by your stupid comment about how predators are just guys who get rejected. Pure loserdom right there–straight from the depths of MRA delusion.

    Never answered how it was you managed to miss crucial information about an incident about which you obsess. Never acknowledged that it was YOU, not elevator dude, who is being held up as an exemplar of sexism. Your level of intellectual honesty is actually disappointing me, and I assure you, my expectations were not high.

  200. 200
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    katenrala:

    So you did something right; is that supposed to erase your huge wrongs?

    I think he was expecting a cookie.

  201. 201
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    JV at #131:

    I don’t have a fantasy about being hit on in an elevator. I don’t know where you’re getting that from, but please attempt to win Randi’s million dollars while you are at it. I’m raising that as a hypothetical situation to show that not all people think alike.

    Where the fuck dd I get the idea that this was a fantasy?

    Well, fuck, right here!

    JV at #110:

    Hell, if a woman propositioned me in an elevator at a conference I might even oblige…but of course that’s just my male privilege and I’m blinded or otherwise part of the patriarchy or something…and all of the women would would like to be propositioned in an elevator are similarly gender-traitors or whatever name Melody Hensley likes to use.

    Nothing psychic about it. I will not apply for Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge.

    Santorum-for-brain, please, ignore everything. Ignore all of the woman who also share Rebecca Watson’s dislike of being hit up on in an enclosed place. Please keep saying that because not all women are like Rebecca Watson, it really is not a big deal.

    Please, keep telling women that their concerns are not fucking important.

    And please, keep whining about Josh’s rough words for you. If that was all he did, you might have a legitimate complaint.

    You are scum. I would no more trust you than I would trust a priest with a young child.

  202. 202
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Josh:

    Are folks here going to seriously indulge Vacula? You’re going to give him anything more than insults or ignore him? Actually let him pull this crap again and respond to him as if it will make any difference?

    I get where you’re coming from, really. I imagine you’re tired of dealing with him. You’ve battled with the shitstain before.
    However, I think his misogyny needs to be challenged. Especially here. Pharyngula is supposed to be a safe space. Allowing his particular brand of excrement to go unchallenged diminishes what makes this place important. I don’t want this environment to become toxic because of people like him.

  203. 203
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    For anyone interested, Ed Clint has made an appearance over at Rock Beyond Belief.

  204. 204
    mesh

    Not to mention that the more you encourage them to dig the more clear the vacuity of their position becomes to readers. Sometimes it takes seeing someone defending the indefensible for others to reconsider their stance.

  205. 205
    toddsweeney

    I have to say, I find you creepy as hell, justinvacula.

  206. 206
    Winterwind

    Possible reasons for the behaviour of elevator guy (a guide for Skeptics):

    1. He was shy around women, so he thought following one into a confined space would be a good form of exposure therapy.

    2. He was selectively hearing-impaired.

    3. He had a hitherto unknown autism spectrum syndrome in which he could not understand that women had states of mind.

    4. During the part of Rebecca Watson’s talk when she spoke of unwanted sexual attention, the air molecules in his part of the theatre underwent a special quantum event rendering them unable to conduct sound waves.

    5. He was a non-native English speaker. He was raised among the Fore Highlanders of Papua New Guinea, in whose language the phrase, “I dislike being hit on all the time at conferences. I’m tired now and going to bed,” when uttered by a married woman, indicates that she is sexually receptive and desires to be propositioned by all healthy males in the immediate vicinity.

    6. He was a time traveller from a dystopian future ruled by intelligent machines, in which the only hope for humanity is a child born of an illicit tryst between him and Rebecca Watson, in that very elevator.

    Reasons for doubting the veracity of Rebecca Watson’s version of events (Another guide for Skeptics):

    1. Evolutionary psychologists have shown that women’s performance on episodic memory tasks varies with their oestrogen levels. Until Watson tells us about her menstrual cycle we cannot judge whether her recollection is accurate.

    2. She has no scientific qualifications and her degree is in communications. Memory is highly reconstructive and only people who have taken courses in science/critical thinking can be believed prima facie when making claims about their experiences without corroborating evidence.

    3. She was probably just making it up for attention. She’s not even that hot.

    4. She was just trying to make men feel bad for having penises and wanting to stick them in everything.

    5. She was mean to that Stef McGraw, who is younger than her and has a more attractive waist-to-hip ratio.

    6. She was diagnosed with narcissitic personality disorder by commenters on several blogs. Her compulsive need for attention, lack of empathy and manic tendencies make her a danger to the entire skeptical community, which she is manipulating for her own selfish and cultish needs. If given the chance, she could be the next Hitler.

  207. 207
    katenrala

    Winterwind @ 205

    3. He had a hitherto unknown autism spectrum syndrome in which he could not understand that women had states of mind.

    (I know you are making a joke and calling out bullshit with your post, but I have to say something about this line both in self defense and in defense of other autistic people simply because similar is said of us so often and in full sincerity. I do not mean anything negative about you, and if you are in fact are autistic, that’s great and I’m highly interested in interacting with other autistics in all venues.)

    Autistic people do understand that others have their own states of mind and it’s a pernicious and ugly stereotype that states that we do not understand others’ states of mind, don’t possess a theory of mind, or don’t feel empathy, among other garbage.

    Some of us may not “feel” certain emotions, such as myself, the way I’ve had allistic neurotypical people describe how they feel emotions, but even those who don’t feel know the emotions exist and know the concept of particular emotions and can intellectualize the emotions we don’t feel.

    A couple of the emotions I don’t feel, the classic and bad stereotype and thus I don’t like to admit it: is empathy and its close cousin sympathy, but I can put myself in the state of mind necessary to make up for that lack of feeling and act appropriately and compassionately just as if I really did feel those emotions, and my behavior has nothing about manipulation. I also have to admit I don’t get “that psychic thing” as I call it in which I’ve observed often allistic people acting as if they are actually capable of reading each others’ minds. They don’t notice what they are doing as I guess it’s a normal aspect of allistic behavior, but I certainly notice it. It’s completely baffling.

    Many autistic people will inform allistics that their ideas about autism are bunk, unfortunately autistic people tend not to be listened to, even when reporting our own experiences. Allistic people instead listen to what the “experts” say about us, even though those experts are not autistic and cannot know what goes on in our heads the way we intimately know what goes on in our heads.

    5. She was mean to that Stef McGraw, who is younger than her and has a more attractive waist-to-hip ratio.

    Is her waist-to-hip ratio 1:1.618? (hate that “golden/divine” ratio)

  208. 208
    PZ Myers

    Oh, I’m sorry, Justin Vacula. I guess I wasn’t clear enough.

    SLYMEPITTERS CAN FUCK OFF.

    You are not welcome here. Banned.

  209. 209
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Once more, PZ cannot stand up to a rational and skeptical critique of his feminist dogma.

    At least that is what the santorumheads will be whining.

  210. 210
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Vacula, you’re a piece of shit. Fuck you.

    “What do we want?

    Deeper rifts!

    When do we want ‘em?

    Now!

  211. 211
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    I love waking up to big bold red letters that ban slymepitters :)

  212. 212
    anteprepro

    PZ Myers awoke from his slumber in depths of the Atlantic to turn a slimepitter back into slime? A Christmas Miracle!

  213. 213
    PZ Myers

    Good god. Who the fuck cares what elevatorguy was like? Vacula’s speculations are the height of ignorance: they are attempts to excuse a behavior he did not observe using claims that contradict the accounts. I was there in the bar in Dublin; it was a quiet bar late at night, and while I was engaged in conversations with other people, I had no problem hearing Rebecca a few tables away. She has also said specifically that no, he wasn’t “shy”, he wasn’t “autistic”, he wasn’t awkward or embarrassed — he was quite straightforward and bold.

    But he doesn’t matter. No one has engaged in a witchhunt against him, we’re not interested in arresting or harassing him — but they, those assholes who haunt the slymepit, have been on a long, tedious, shrill crusade against Rebecca Watson, the woman who dared to ask guys to not hit on her.

    And that’s why I’ll be banning on slymepitter who pops their tiny little microcephalic heads up here. They’re not people I want to associate with, ever.

  214. 214
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Justin Vacuous stuck to the typical message of the Slymepit:
    1. I’m a true skeptic [*snicker* selective self-serving skeptic only]
    2. Be skeptical of what RW said [sorry, the evidence says she was correct in what she claimed, and saying "don't do that guys" was a totally mild response for the absolutely inappropriate proposition]
    3. We Immature Frat Boys can hit on females anywhere, anytime [sorry, adults know better and understand context, so by saying that, you are tacitly acknowledging aren't to be trusted, making your word toast, and your word should be treated as skeptically as you want RW's word to be taken]
    4. Make ridicule and derision their main selling point [sorry, evidence, not attitude, will be listened to]
    5. Try to pretend their OPINION is worth listening to [nope, skeptical of everything you say]

  215. 215
    ChasCPeterson

    It’s just an initiation ritual.

    (These may well have originated on the sports-crazy Pliocene savannahs of Africa when men were men if not idolized athletic heroes but boys would be boys and women gathered the shit they used to make sandwiches out of back then and nursed their mostly-doomed children while kind of feebly waving the particular pelt-pennants of their tribal rugbyish-soccer-with-the-skulls-of-the-peoples’-enemies team/franchise. At the big tournaments they’d be getting like eight clams for a domestic beer.)

  216. 216
    vaiyt

    Perhaps Elevator Guy was Rebecca Watson.

  217. 217
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Anyone who actually thinks for themselves and visits will see it is not even close to what you claim it to be.

    No, they see that we have an accurate description of those closed minded pseudo skeptics who hate women. Only a fellow misogynist would think otherwise.

  218. 218
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    dpitman, don’t quit your day job. Your inane attempt to sound serious and ironic shows how pathetical you are at humor.

  219. 219
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Please, dpitman, point out that data that JV used.

  220. 220
    anteprepro

    Another idiot spouting off. Less of a Christmas Miracle.

  221. 221
    chigau (違う)

    dpitman

    I’m confused.

    yup

  222. 222
    Dunc

    Is it ironic the wording used describing yourself on the dungeon page sounds just like a description of the christian god?

    Yes, it is. Quite obviously deliberately so. I believe this is known as “sarcasm”.

    Keep that in mind when unfairly planting labels and hurling insults you socially inept fool.

    Actual LOL.

  223. 223
    Chris Clarke

    Will the person who removed dpitman’s paragraph break key please return it? Thank you.

  224. 224
    Anthony K

    Oh, he was just really excited about all his little ‘gotchas’.

    If you were about to win the Nobel Prize in VALID Concerns About PZ’s Behaviour, I’m sure you’d be too excited to worry about paltry issues like punctuation, coherence, etc. too.

  225. 225
    Anthony K

    Anyone who actually thinks for themselves and visits will see it is not even close to what you claim it to be.

    I’ve been there, and I’ve read the lies they’ve posted about me. (Some aren’t actually lies. Some are just evidence that the ‘pitters are complete fucking credulous morons, when it isn’t a woman writing.)

  226. 226
    Louis

    Really? Elevatorgate AGAIN? REALLY?

    Fuck me quite deftly, the slymepitters et al. really do not learn fast do they?

    Louis

  227. 227
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Fuck me quite deftly, the slymepitters et al. really do not learn fast do they?

    I think I spotted their problem, the l-word.

  228. 228
    ChasCPeterson

    sorry, Marjanovićing back to #62 (I have some serious procrastinating to do, so sue me)

    By far the most popular modern male sport is soccer. Did our male Paleolithic ancestors, in that famous “Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness” kill their prey, and rival males, by kicking or heading inflatable balls at them?

    miss the point much Nick Mr. Gotts? The “skills needed for success” are things like speed, endurance, eye-hand (or in the case of the sport you cherry-picked, -foot) coordination, strength, alertness, general health, teamwork capability, improvisation ability, and the intelligence needed to execute or envision multiple strategies. Not just spear-throwing and head-conking as you seem to imply here. Animals assess each others’ strength and health in a variety of ways and this much of the hypothesis is far from implausible.

    there is in fact enormous variation. Of course, this could be cultural in origin – but then, so could the sex difference in interest that is central to the “lek hypothesis”.

    leaving aside your facile prediction and your own reliance on casual observation, the idea is to try to figure this out. Default panculturalism (plus lip service) is at least as stupid as the strawperson of panadaptationism. Of course variation is cultural (by definition of ‘culture’), and highly dependent on historical accident and proximate variation in social environments. It’s also what’s predicted and expected for complex, polygenic phenotypic traits. That is why anecdotes and predictions like ‘all men would be just exactly the same’ are stupid and irrelevant.

    The charge of “Cargo cult professionalism” implies that the people referred to are copying what they think are the marks of a professional scientific discussion, in the belief that this makes their own discussion scientific.

    Got it.
    Maybe so. I agree that it came off stilted and weird in this context (though I have not noticed the recurring pattern that so annoyed Josh Mr. S.)(it might have been worse if Clint had called him “Sgt. Griffith” ’cause I know that’s another of Mr. S.’s little peeves).
    It might just have been exaggerated politeness or respect being shown to a prospective ally approached tentatively for the first time. In that respect it closely resembles the bowing, submissive posture adopted by chimpanzees that…oops)

    if you’re not sceptical about the famous vervet study, I find it hard to imagine what EP tripe you would be sceptical about.

    Tell you what, Mr. Gotts, if you can accurately summarize anything–even one single thing–that I actually said about the famous vervet study, I’ll discuss it further, if that’s really what you want. Otherwise: it was more than 3 years ago. I said everything I had to say about it then, at least twice. Please shut the fuck up about it already.

    From the articles (reviews, etc.) in the four 2012 issues of EP LykeX links to above, I counted…

    Thanks for the data. That is indeed a large proportion, and I withdraw my insinuation otherwise.

    they’re fixated on looking for differences, distinctions, and oppositions rather than human commonalities

    They’re asking different questions than you think they should. They’re looking for commonalities within–and therefore differences among–subsets of people instead of among the whole kumbaya world of the old Coke commercials. I understand.
    Part of the reason is because some questions are regarded as or treated as more interesting than others within a field. Part of the reason is that the specific case of sex differences has a rich literature of theory and comparative data behind its hypotheses, more so than most other (generally more complex) aspects of behavior. And part of the reason is that statistical hypothesis testing takes commonality as the null hypothesis and therefore predictions of differences can be supported much, much more confidently.

    the vehemence (and silliness) with which claims about sex differences are defended by EP proponents clearly points to a strong personal and political interest in those claims on their part.

    Turnabout, eh? I see what you did there.
    You should have stuck to conclusions from data instead of shoehorning in this unsupportable and specious opinion.

    here’s even one “Evolutionary Psychology is Compatible with Equity Feminism, but Not with Gender Feminism: A Reply to Eagly and Wood (2011)”

    ouch. Yikes.
    Yeah, that does sound pretty bad.

    Coming up with an explanation that fits what you know today is easy. Coming up with one that fits what you’ll find out tomorrow is science.

    Sure, I can’t argue with that.
    Plausibility ought of course to be only the first, heuristic step toward trying to learn more. For several legitimate reasons listed above, learning more about human prehistory is very difficult. Maybe plausibility is as far as many such investigations can get. That doesn’t mean that such questions shouldn’t be asked and investigated. Acknowledge that a scenario is plausible but circumstantial and move on, but there ought to be a place for clearly labelled heuristic hypothesizing. I don’t think the sports-evolution guy is trying to claim any more than that.

    Isn’t the point simply to win the contest and thus prove yourself worthy of respect and mating opportnities? What’s with the cash prizes?

    The author is insinuating that in the current social environment, having a lot of money itself increases mating opportunities. Cultural variation, see.

    anyone who has waded through a lot of evolutionary psychology would have predicted that their rigid and simple basic models would offer women as the group most likely to watch male sports. All that “looking for the best genes”, “females always choose” and so on. To get the opposite argument, the one which fits reality better, sounds much weaker to me within that ep theory.

    See, you don’t know what you’re talking about. The intersexual-selection hypothesis of female mate choice is no more rigid, simple, or basic than the intrasexual-selection hypothesis of male-male competition. Nor are they mutually exclusive. They both date back to the same book by the same guy, one Charles Darwin.

    I only want to make clear how much more lax, to the point of sloppiness, the standards are compared to the literature for the rest of the topics related to evolution.

    That I accept as probably a fair cop. (What about compared to the literature for the rest of the topics related to psychology?)(Or sociology?) Like Marjanović sez, from a zoologist’s perspective, the closer you get to humans, the worse the science gets.

    how does someone even come up with the claim that attraction may be governed by some stuff in the sweat of women on their period?

    maybe someone knows something about other mammals?
    And as I suspected, it was during ovulation, not menstruation. No possible link to reproductive success there, forget about it.

    On the relationship between not accepting evolutionary psychology (in its present form) and not accepting evolution.

    In what cornfield did you find that strawfigure?

    Golf?

    Swinging a club? Easy one. And every foursome is a microlek of competing individuals. Armed with clubs.

    doesn’t “sport” select for a very small class of really awesome athletic Alpha males and giant numbers of soft, weak, passive Beta male viewers?

    I never figured you for a PUA.
    But no, not in general. Your parochialism is showing.

    the “Mr. So and So” is laid on thick in this type of conversation but not in others.

    So you say. I haven’t noticed it.

    Cut the crap Chas. You don’t address people by “Mr. Last-Name” either in the blogosphere.

    Well, yeah in fact I often do, but still. It was weird in this case, I agree. I was being reflexively contrarian.

    But you knew that. Or, you did before you became the resident contrarian fucker.

    hmm. When you’re right you’re right. That was unecessary.
    (Although if maybe I am a resident contrarian, it’s my wife who’d be the resident contrarian fucker. But only occasionally since the separation.)

    Lekking is a feature of female selection-dominated mate choice, not male competition.

    Which is why he’s calling this other but related thing he made up a “male spectator lek” instead of just a “lek”.

    when pushing a specific bankrupt idea, accuse people who point out its bankruptcy of a blanket, a priori denial of the entire class of ideas to which yours belongs

    I did nothing of the kind. You can see what I actually said right there where you quoted it.

    to be dragged inexorably to the conclusion that women are not, in fact, inferior by nature and one’s privileged position in society is not, in fact, inevitable and just.

    Are you talking to me? Assuming the answer is yes, since you’re ostensibly addressing a quote by me: Fuck you. I was dragged inexorably to those conclusions three decades ago. Nevertheless, I insist that trying to identify biological underpinings to human behavior is a legitimate scientific undertaking and that blanket dismissal of such attempts by uttering the magic words ‘Evo Psych’ is irrational and stupid.
    By the same token, it bears repeating that neither am I issuing blanket approval or defense for whatever somebody wants to label with that rubric.

    Ing @#112: As a side note, have a nice day.

    sg @#129: thank you

    …Vacula, ffs…EG ffs?…

    Perhaps Elevator Guy was Rebecca Watson.

    Jack Rawlinson has still not yet confirmed or denied.

  229. 229
    ChasCPeterson

    hoo! eight-&-a-half-screener!

  230. 230
    Anthony K

    Chas, this:

    At the big tournaments they’d be getting like eight clams for a domestic beer.

    Made me howl.

  231. 231
    mcallahan

    Well those last 226 comments were certainly entertaining. You can always rely on bringing up Rebecca Watson to generate a shitstorm of comments. It’s sad that out there there are still people so clueless like .J Vacula. I can only guess that he is so young that he has never known a woman. Otherwise he would “get it” about elevatorgate. He reminds me of some of my nephews. It is getting tiresome to rehash elevatorgate all over again but it has to be done because JCs are still out there and still as clueless as ever. I concur with the banning. You can only take so much stupidity that no reasoning can dampen. To never admit you could be wrong is good for YECs but for the science community, it’s poison.

  232. 232
    chigau (違う)

    Chas
    13 screens on my netbook.

  233. 233
    Nick Gotts
    By far the most popular modern male sport is soccer. Did our male Paleolithic ancestors, in that famous “Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness” kill their prey, and rival males, by kicking or heading inflatable balls at them? – Me

    miss the point much Nick Mr. Gotts? The “skills needed for success” are things like speed, endurance, eye-hand (or in the case of the sport you cherry-picked, -foot) coordination, strength, alertness, general health, teamwork capability, improvisation ability, and the intelligence needed to execute or envision multiple strategies. Not just spear-throwing and head-conking as you seem to imply here. – Mr. Peterson

    Oh come off it. First, I didn’t “cherry-pick” soccer. I used the author’s own criterion – popularity; soccer is overwhelmingly the most popular male sport. Second, it doesn’t fit the hypothesis, which is that the most popular sports should be those that are closest to the skills required for “primitive hunting and warfare”.

    there is in fact enormous variation. Of course, this could be cultural in origin – but then, so could the sex difference in interest that is central to the “lek hypothesis”. – Me

    leaving aside your facile prediction and your own reliance on casual observation, the idea is to try to figure this out. Default panculturalism (plus lip service) is at least as stupid as the strawperson of panadaptationism. Of course variation is cultural (by definition of ‘culture’), and highly dependent on historical accident and proximate variation in social environments. It’s also what’s predicted and expected for complex, polygenic phenotypic traits. That is why anecdotes and predictions like ‘all men would be just exactly the same’ are stupid and irrelevant. – Mr. Peterson

    I used casual observation to show that the author cherry-picked the casual observation that happened to fit his hypothesis, and ignored anything that didn’t. I have never said anything, anywhere, that could possibly be interpreted by an honest interlocutor as “panculturalism”. No, variation in general is not by definition cultural, and since you can’t possibly have meant that it is, I don’t understand what you meant by that clause. I’m glad you agree that the use of anecdotes (such as that about Wilt Chamberlain) as if they were evidence is stupid. I didn’t say, “all men would be exactly the same”, and it’s rather dishonest of you to suggest by your use of quotation marks that I did. However, it is, surely, a prediction of evolutionary theory that heritable traits subject to strong directional selection will have low variance – and the whole paper rests on the idea that interest in spectator sports has been so subject. If, on the other hand, it isn’t such a trait, then you would expect wide variation, which is what you find.

    Please shut the fuck up about it [the vervet study] already. – Mr. Peterson

    Nope – that you could take such tripe seriously (which is all I need to remember) is just too neat an illustration of your irrationality in this area.

  234. 234
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    Okay. I asked this question on Stephanie Zvan’s page, but no answer, so I’ll ask it here.

    Why the fuck do we care what evo psych even has to say about gender roles? It’s the only thing I ever see about evo psych – “women like to shop because…” “women are attracted to…” “men are…” – it’s all sexist bullshit and it’s all built around this ridiculous hunter/gatherer type of meme.

    So the big question is – why do we fucking care? Why should we give a rat’s ass if women are conditioned evolutionarily to enjoy shopping more than men? Why should we care if anything in our evolutionary past makes it so men are more aggressive than women?

    It’s just another way to put people in boxes. I hate boxes. I want to destroy all boxes. Everyone is unique. Life is not dictated by our genes. Even if we found out all these magnificent evopsych bullshit articles were true, so the fuck what? Do we hereby prevent women from having jobs or doing stuff they’d rather do because it’s in their genes? What about trans*persons like myself?

    What does it fucking matter?

  235. 235
    LykeX
    Isn’t the point simply to win the contest and thus prove yourself worthy of respect and mating opportnities? What’s with the cash prizes?

    The author is insinuating that in the current social environment, having a lot of money itself increases mating opportunities. Cultural variation, see.

    Which would mean that he should adjust for that when evaluating the success of athletes. The whole point of his hypothesis, if I understand it at all, is that athletic success in itself gives higher reproductive success. As such, the money earned only acts as a confounder.

    Golf?

    Swinging a club? Easy one. And every foursome is a microlek of competing individuals. Armed with clubs.

    This illustrates part of the problem. If you’re willing to say that golf is simply club-swinging, then why isn’t knitting simply training for hand-eye coordination? Why isn’t clothing design considered an extension of camouflage technique?
    I’m lacking a rigorous standard for evaluating these things. It’s all too easy to fit the data to what you already believe.

  236. 236
    BrianX

    Katherine #233:

    We care because it’s a somewhat influential form of pseudoscience like global warming denial. People actually write policy based on these things; evo psych hasn’t quite gotten to that stage yet, and we want to make sure that it doesn’t.

  237. 237
    echidne

    On the relationship between not accepting evolutionary psychology (in its present form) and not accepting evolution.

    In what cornfield did you find that strawfigure?

    In the original piece this piece refers to. ““Science denialism at a skeptic conference”.”

  238. 238
    Lofty

    I wander by to find a justin vacuum has been created…;-)

  239. 239
    PatrickG

    Life prevents me from really getting into comments that often, so this comment is very late and rather pointless … but I just had to add this.

    Justin Vacula @ 105

    Who’s mentioning consent? I’m not. You are.

    /spittake

    Can we haz “Who’s mentioning consent? I’m not” meme yet?

    @ Lofty: Would that be a vaculum?

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