I must have been taking a nap a couple of years ago. I just found this interesting discussion of EP by a psychologist, and I agree very much with it.
Evolutionary psychologists believe that the human mind works much like the body… that it is an information-processing system, with pre-specified psychological programs (or environmentally-triggered ones), adapted much like the rest of the body, to meet specific problems in our evolutionary past. Others, including myself, disagree with this definition of the human mind. While I would certainly agree that evolution had a profound role in shaping lower-level modular systems, including autonomic nervous system responses, reflex arcs, immune systems, complex motor control, systems related to sexual arousal, and so on, it does not make sense for us to assume that our more complex social behaviors were shaped in the same way, or that they would even depend on lower-level domain-specific systems that evolutionary psychologists so frequently assume to be the ‘ultimate’ causes of behavior. Neurobiologists Panksepp and Panksepp point out that while evolutionary psychologists may interpret psychological data in a way to fit with their preferred theory, the philosophical assumptions that are the foundation of that theory are not at all consistent with what we know about human neurophysiology.
There’s also a longer paper associated with the argument. I liked this bit:
Evolutionary psychologists appear to be living in the Land of Oz –implicitly suggesting that when our genetic sciences mature, we will someday look behind the Wizard’s curtain to find DNA proof supporting their modular hypotheses. However, there is reason to suspect that we will uncover what we should have always guessed—and this is where the computer analogy does ring true—it was not nature that selected these modules, but humans who put them there, crafting stories that were so good, they would even fool themselves of the truth.
I still shake my head in disbelief every time I run across an evolutionary psychology paper. Fortunately, they don’t get published much in the kind of journals I read, so I don’t encounter them often.