Back around the 11th of July, I saw a few comments by a guy named Myles Power, a science youtuber, who was quite irate that Rebecca Watson criticized evolutionary psychology five years ago. There were the usual vaguely horrified reactions implying how annoying it was that some mere communications major would criticize an established, credible, true science like EP, and how she was prioritizing entertainment over scientific validity (not all from this Power guy; Watson is a magnet for the same tiresome bozos making the same tiresome complaints). So I told him that no, her criticisms were not off-base at all, and then a lot of scientists consider EP to be poor science. I also gave him a few links to consider.
— (((PZ Myers))) (@pzmyers) July 11, 2016
He saw them, and acknowledged it.
@pzmyers This may take me some time to get back to you :)
— Myles Power (@powerm1985) July 11, 2016
@pzmyers This may take me some time to get back to you :)
He did not get back to me. Instead, he came out with a video titled
Rebecca Watson’s Dishonest Representation of Evolutionary Psychology. It did not use a single scrap of the information I sent him. Not one bit. Furthermore, he just made this excuse.
@thedxman I am also doing the ground work in organising a google+ debate with PZ and a Prof in EP from a reputable university.
— Myles Power (@powerm1985) July 14, 2016
I am also doing the ground work in organising a google+ debate with PZ and a Prof in EP from a reputable university.
Say what? He wrote that on the 14th. Not once has he contacted me about “organizing” a debate. One would kind of think that contacting both of the principals in this planned debate would be the very first step in organizing it. Do I get to say “no”, are is he just assuming that all he has to do is contact the esteemed EP professor and then I’ll self-evidently fall into line? I’m not at all impressed with Myles Power’s honesty so far.
So then I watched the video.
It does not start well. In the first minute and a half, he talks about the universality of many human facial expressions, like anger or happiness. It’s irrelevant. Critics of EP are not disagreeing with the existence of evolved human traits. Humans evolved, the brain evolved, but that does not imply that every human behavior is the product of natural selection. Some behaviors are, others are not. The problem lies in sorting out which is which, and the assumptions and methodology of evolutionary psychology can’t do that.
Power then presents a summary of the domain of evolutionary psychology.
Evolutionary psychology is a theoretical approach to psychology that attempts to explain useful mental and psychological traits — such as memory, perception, o[r] language — as adaptations, i.e., as the functional products of natural selection.
Does anyone else see the problems with this definition? Myles Power doesn’t. Maybe you can help him out.
The obvious flaw is the assumption that all useful mental traits are adaptations. This is not necessarily true. In fact, the central problem in this version of EP is that it simply sails right past all the difficulties in determining whether a trait is a product of selection. According to EP, it just is, and to question that makes you the equivalent of a creationist. Apparently, only because evolutionary psychologists don’t understand any of the other mechanisms of evolutionary biology. Their shortcut is this naive idea that if a behavior exists, it is necessarily an adaptation.
There’s another flaw in the definition, and it’s one that Power indulged in in his opening: the EP bait-and-switch. They are going to explain evolved human traits, and a core premise of EP, the EEA, or environment of evolutionary adaptation. We were shaped by the environment humans lived in 10,000 and more years ago. But look at that list: Memory? Perception? Invertebrates have those. You’re not going to work out the origins of those by giving questionnaires to undergraduates. Language might be a bit more appropriate, but it’s a bit peculiar to deny the existence of antecedents in non-humans, and to claim that the biological substrate for language reached its completed form 10K years ago.
But then, Power is a chemist. Maybe he’s had no exposure to modern evolutionary biology.
At 1:50, we get another common refrain — the criticisms of EP are all based on accusations that it promotes gender stereotypes, racism, and classism, and they’re all straw men. No. I criticize EP because it is a lazy, invalid discipline built on a fallacious foundation. However, all that keeps it going and popular is because it does validate cultural stereotypes, over and over again. The fact that Rebecca Watson points out the fallacies of EP is treated as reason to call her dishonest.
So he throws in some excerpts from Rebecca’s talk, “How Girls Evolved to Shop”, and the first thing he does is agree with the first part: she uses an example of EP that was commissioned by a shopping center, and Power thinks it is a good example of
how the media warp and distort science to sell newspapers. He doesn’t seem to recognize that it is also evidence of a source of pervasive bias, that there is real incentive for scientists to fit data to a cultural stereotypes…which ought to make one more critical of EP, and less likely to accept its conclusions as valid.
But no, Power wants to deny the implication that scientists could be prone to media manipulation. This study doesn’t count, apparently. Widely reported newspaper articles written by evolutionary psychologists about ridiculous conclusions of evolutionary psychology do not count as examples of bad EP — Watson did not plumb the scientific literature sufficiently deeply.
Here’s some unsurprising news for you: neither does Myles Power. He doesn’t address any papers in EP that he would judge worthy.
Then he complains that Watson claims that EP argues that the human brain hasn’t evolved in 10,000 years…which they do, of course. But Power argues that no significant amount of evolution could have possibly occured in the last few millennia. OK, maybe lactose tolerance. Maybe a few nucleotide changes (did I mention that he’s not an evolutionary biologist or population geneticist?), but it wasn’t enough time for anything important to have occurred. Except, you know, agriculture and urbanization and multiple sweeps of disease.
But there’s also another implicit assumption in what he’s saying: that the only changes that count are biological. Perhaps he ought to stop and think about the fact that maybe, what evolved was a general biological substrate for unspecified complex behavior, and that all those details evolutionary psychologists love to spin adaptive scenarios for aren’t genetic at all. Studying something as malleable as human behavior is not a sound foundation for making evolutionary inferences.
He declares that it only took 2 nucleotide changes to generate lactose tolerance, but
that really pales in comparison to the amount of changes you would need to change complex behaviors. Do tell. How many does it take? How many were involved in the many behavioral changes that occured in the switch from the hunter/gatherer lifestyle to life as a farmer?
Shouldn’t this tell you right away that all of psychology isn’t determined by your genes, and that maybe the methodology of EP isn’t going to be able to tease apart the causes?
But brace yourself for
the most shockingly dishonest part of Watson’s talk, in which she cites VS Ramachandran’s paper, “Why do gentlemen prefer blondes?”, which was published as a satire of evolutionary psychology in the journal Medical Hypotheses. But it was a satire, Power explains, so it wasn’t fair for Watson to discuss it. Except, of course, that Watson plainly states that it was a satirical paper to mock the poor basis in evidence of EP work, and the silliness of their just-so stories. What it’s saying is that these flaws in EP are widely known among scientists, and that even genuinely highly reputable neuroscientists like Ramachandran are acutely aware of the problems. What Power needs to do is stop and think and realize that he’s not just arguing with Rebecca Watson, but with VS Ramachandran…and he’s oblivious to the implications.
Instead, Power claims that Watson is implying that the entire field was taken in by this mockery. Nope. He is basically claiming to have read Rebecca Watson’s mind, and determined that she believed this satire had fooled all evolutionary psychologists. But I know this is not the case — I’ve actually talked with Watson about evolutionary psychology, and understand her position from the evidence of that mundane means of sound and language, rather than telepathy.
Watson explained that about the paper in her talk, and joked about the fact that it got published. Power then explains what Rebecca Watson is really saying: she’s
saying that the entire field was taken in by this mockery. She is implying that it got published in a good journal, and she’s basically making evolutionary psychology look bad. That’s an awful lot of mind-reading.
No, again. I’m familiar with the response by evolutionary psychologists to that paper. It was not equivalent to the Sokal hoax (and Watson did not say it was), in which a paper fooled credible reviewers in a field; it was open satire of their ideas, and evolutionary psychologists saw it as such (and they didn’t like it). Power then states that
to imply as Watson did that this somehow fooled them is incredibly dishonest. Except Watson did not imply that. All the dishonest implications are being drawn by Power.
But here’s the thing: Ramachandran’s paper was supposed to be outright mockery of a ridiculous hypothesis. Except, of course, that you can find other, serious papers on the same topic. Swami and Berrett tested it by dyeing a women’s hair different colors and having her sit in a nightclub. A University of Westminster study looked at how well blondes and brunettes scored on an attraction scale. A Guardian journalist, Carole Jahme, seriously produces a list of adaptive explanations for blonde hair.
There are higher numbers of females born blonde than males and retention of blonde hair into adulthood is a sexually selected indicator of fitness in females.4 Caucasian blondes are usually slightly higher in oestrogen than brunettes and are likely to exhibit other infantile sexually selected traits (indicating low levels of testosterone) that are considered desirable by males, for example finer facial features, smaller nose, smaller jaw, pointed chin, narrow shoulders, smooth skin and less body hair, and infantile behaviour such as higher energy levels and playfulness.
Another possible reason for Nordic gentlemen preferring blondes is to assure their paternity. The genes for blue eyes and blonde hair are recessive, meaning both parents must have the genes for them to be expressed in their offspring. So it has been proposed that blue-eyed men prefer blue-eyed women as mates because they have some degree of certainty over fatherhood. A blue-eyed male with a brown-eyed mate would not have the same assurance the resulting brown-eyed infant was his child and therefore worthy of a slice of the mammoth he risked his life trapping and slaughtering and then spent days dragging back across miles of icy tundra.
Power might have a point if this satirical story weren’t also the subject of a great deal of serious evolutionary psychology speculation.
I have to include one more example: this article titled
Do Gentlemen Prefer Blondes?. It’s just more garbage, but what makes it most relevant is that a heck of a lot of Power’s commenters are recommending that he follow up with Gad Saad, author of that article, and a very vocal evolutionary psychologist. Also amusing is how those commenters also demean Rebecca Watson for her communications degree, while ignoring the fact that Saad is a professor of fucking marketing, who knows nothing of biology.
Finally, Power makes another exercise in mind-reading: he claims that
the only reason she was having a go at this particular branch of psychology is because it conflicts with her ideology. That’s a clear attempt to smear her motivations, not her evidence, and given that Power could not cite any reasonable studies based on evolutionary psychology, it’s clear that that’s the only tactic he’s got for his emotional defense of bad science.
He’s also annoyed that she was applauded by an audience of skeptics, who are supposed to question everything they hear. Unless it’s evolutionary psychology. True skeptics do not question that, I guess. And once again, he questions Watson’s motivations, that she wanted
to produce something that is so anti-science, that blatantly only exists because this branch of science conflicts with their dogmatic view on life. Now that is the dishonest bullshit.
And he goes further to present a pre-emptive defense.
The fact that I am a chap, I am white…I am doing rather well financially, and I’m straight…if these are reasons why you think that the things I’ve said in this video should be discredited, you need to stop for a second and have a think about what you are saying, and think is that really a good reason to dismiss what I’m saying.
Poor man. He’s worried that he’ll be persecuted for being a straight white man with a stable job. After all, that’s the only possible reason someone might disagree with what he’s saying. Not because of his rhetorical fallacies, his ignorance of evolutionary biology, his irrational defense of a field he also knows little about, or the fact that he’s pandering to a mob of MRAs who have been hating on Rebecca Watson for years, and are probably thrilled to have another opportunity to throw more slime her way.
I could also point out that I’m a straight white man with a stable job, so I’m not likely to think his color or sex or finances represent insuperable flaws. But it’s not necessary.
I will say that this is the first of his videos I’ve seen, and I’m unlikely to watch any of the others, if this is the quality of his reasoning and the kind of audience he is aspiring to. I’m also pretty damned unlikely to participate in this debate he claims to have been organizing for me.
FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says
I’m no evolutionary biologist so I suspect that I may be over-simplifying this. My take away is that at present there is no robust method to seperate genetically influence behaviours from environmental ones. That seems such an obvious and profound problem that surely it’s the main focus of EP?
I certainly know that some well respected professors in the field are bunk. Some at my university taught the “women like pink because berries, men like blue because fishing” or whatever “theory” back when I had to take that class for my major.
Joe Rogan did multiple podcasts with Gad Saad.
Is there any legitimate scientific work being done in EP, or is the whole field meaningless speculation?
There seem to be too many variables.
PZ Myers says
There is legitimate work done on evolution and behavior.
If it’s under the label of EP, though, it’s tainted by a collection of false premises.
That Rogan and Saad are copacetic explains a lot. They’re both assholes.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
Evidently either he or someone with the same name stood for the Manchester Central MP seat as a UKIP party member. Might be senior rather than junior who is the UKIP asshole based on pictures off Google. There is a definite family resemblance.
Chigau alert!!! Raven is writing some boring stuff. Don’t read it!!! It has facts in it.
PZ basically wrote what I would have. Having long ago decided evo-psych was almost all garbage. Which BTW, many biologists agree on.
But this stuck out as rather stupid even by evo-psych standards.
1. Powers has no idea how many changes it would take to change a complex behavior. Neither does anyone else. He is making an assumption here that it is many simply because we don’t know. This is the Fallacy of Argument from Ignorance.
2. It’s likely to be completely wrong.
3. We have a clade of apes. Human, two species of gorillas, two species of chimpanzees. They all differ a huge amount in behavior. To take the most obvious example, the common and bonobo chimps are closely related, interfertile, young to each other, and yet have vastly different behaviors in mating systems, social systems etc.. This tells you that behavior differences are evolutionarily very rapidly changeable.
There are many other examples. Reproductive isolation in very closely related vertebrate species is often behavioral. Since these species recently arose one can assume the behaviors also recently arose and quite rapidly.
!. Far as I know, the animal work is mostly OK, that is often called Sociobiology.
2. Where it falls apart is with humans. And we have an idea why.
Human behavior is very flexible with wide limits.
It makes it hard to assign a genetic basis to any traits or behaviors they look at.
Evo-psych has yet to deal with their central problem.
ck, the Irate Lump says
ck, the Irate Lump says
Sorry, blockquote fail.
I always wonder about people who say things like that. Have they never even seen berries? Most are green, orange, red or dark purple, not pink.
See, my question is whether they’ve heard anything ever about the norms before their lifetime. Wasn’t so long ago that pink was the boy’s color and blue was the girl’s.
We had a wonderful woman visit us recently. During on conversation, my 12-year-old daughter turned down iCarly or Wizards of Waverly Place, and stormed into the kitchen. Hand on her hips, she demanded of the 54-year-old woman: “wait….you like Star Trek AND The Three Stooges???”
My friend chuckled, perhaps blushed, and confessed that yes, she did.
My daughter hissed the accusation: “that’s a very modern mutation, women just don’t do that.”
My friend lowered her eyes and stammered: “I know, it’s wrong, perhaps I am a mutant.”
My daughter replied: “please tell me that you don’t ask people to pull your finger when you’re ready to fart.”
I’m tellin’ ya, the behavioral evo-psych of wimminfolk evolves from one Taylor Swift concert to the next. I have 8 million years of primate evolution under my belt, and i still don’t understand those wimminfolk. But neck rubs must be adaptive, because they seem to like them.
Raven, you mention the wildly different cultural practices of chimps and bonobos, but we don’t even know if those are evolutionary traits or not. To my knowledge, nobody has raised a baby bonobo among chimps, or vice-versa. It would be pretty interesting to find out, although perhaps the chimp would do better among the bonobos. chimps can be pretty brutal to outsiders.
I’ve always thought it would be interesting to introduce a chimp who has learned sign language into a wild tribe of chimps. Would she teach it to others? Would the language become naturalized among them? How would chimp behavior change if they had a more abstract way to communicate among themselves? How would they interact with their neighbor, non-signing chimps?
Artor, we are talking species specific behavior between chimps and bonobos.
Although there is a literature on chimp culture and archaeology.
Not to insult chimps too much, but they are mentally much simpler than us. We are the ones that build space ships and…nuclear weapons.
People have looked at behavior in chimp bonobo hybrids but the data is more suggestive than conclusive. It’s hard to do, there aren’t very many of either left.
I did spend a few minutes seeing what was known about behavior and genes. It seems that one single gene is enough to create two species by reproductive isolation.
Really, Myles Powers is an idiot chemist. He is dishonest and lies a lot. This isn’t scientists doing science.
This is a pity. I generally like Myles’ work. However, he does seem to be one of those who finds RW infuriating above and beyond any reasonable criticism that could be leveled against her.
He generally seems to have, wisely, stayed away from the whole Skeptic Wars on youtube and elsewhere. But perhaps osmose-ed some of its attitudes towards her regardless.
There’s been a bit of a resurgence in EP among UK skeptics I follow in the last year or so, with several shows hosting different guests on the subject. Most of it was those real ground floor kind of topics like “Why do people hate EP? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ We’re Just Asking Questions about the biological origins of behaviour? What could possibly be wrong with that?”, like the field innocently fell from the sky last week, as well as rehashing Tooby and Cosmides checklist of misconceptions about EP and so on (misconceptions driven by so, so many things said and done by actual evolutionary psychologists).
It’s probably coincidental, but it did give the impression the movement was on a bit of PR drive over there and/or had swayed a lot of new people with its rationalist truthiness (which I have to admit it does possess quite strongly. )
Skatje Myers says
Considering they would not immediately recognise the signs, and teaching another that this particular sign means “bring me a cookie/show me your nipples/etc” probably wouldn’t be very effective unless they can utilize that sign at a researcher who will gladly acquiesce to their request when they try this newly learned sign… my entirely speculative opinion would be that it wouldn’t work. Most of the research on sign language in non-human apes is rife with dishonesty and substantial lack of transparency of data that would allow anyone other than those financially- and emotionally-invested to provide an assessment of.
What drives the sloppier pseudoscientific versions of evo-psych is real simple.
Rich white male privilege.
It’s just social Darwinism with a new name.
The basic conclusion is that what is happening now, is ordained by…god. Oops, I mean evolution.
Rich white males rule because of evolution and women are good at making sandwiches because of…evolution.
Republicans and Loonytarians love it and that tells you its ideological roots.
I felt it quite dishonest from the getgo of mp to criticize four year old talk without somehow making sure that Watson still holds these stances and have not changed her mind after she gave the talk. Is this that mra reasoning that feminist just wont change their views even if presented new compelling information because reasons? Had to block mp’s page when he got angry because Watson just called him out and did not prove him wrong because he is so rational and not pandering at all for the antifeminist. Has it been all along like this?
Mike Smith says
This is a sub issue but it’s late and I’m not sure I am understanding the blue eye thing for paternity.
If we are talking 10k ago among the Norse isn’t most of the population going to be blue eyed???? If so how does the selection pressure work? It doesn’t seem like a very robust assurance for paternity. I mean sure it removes the x% of the Vikings that have brown eyes but if blue were selected in this way it be self defeating. It’s only adaptive in that way in a population with mostly brown eyes…which doesn’t fit the population you are trying to explain.
This is going to drive me bonkers. What am I missing?
Mike Smith says
I don’t like EP. I’m a classical liberal. Yeah for strawmen!
SC (Salty Current) says
Individual mammoth hunting and sharing only with the nuclear family sounds super efficient.
PZ Myers says
I think I need to add a filter to block the phrase “classical liberal” — it’s grossly dishonest. When people call themselves a “classical liberal” it’s always to hide the fact that they’re actually, in modern parlance, a conservative.
PZ Myers says
Miles Power has ‘apologized‘.
This is nuts. You “test the water” by contacting an opponent and talking about a debate without even hinting to the second party that you’re going to do this? Makes no sense. More likely, he responded to @thedxman with something that would make him seem to be open-minded and willing to pursue other perspectives, despite having done absolutely nothing to contact me.
Pink, originally a rare and expensive color, was used in the 18th century to project wealth and luxury. The Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf is a good example:
They referred to it as “peach blossom,” and it was not considered “girly” at all. Construction was overseen by the prince-elector Charles Theodore.
So many of these norms are utterly arbitrary. Much of this comes from cultural ignorance, not even scientific ignorance.
Bill Buckner says
Men like blondes, because blonde women go gray signaling the end of fertility, and so no seed need be wasted.
Mike Smith says
I have no idea how classical liberal is used in non-philosophical discourse. When I use I mean I follow the classical liberal tradition that runs through Locke, Hume, Smith, Mill, Gauthier, Mack , Pettit etc. My views are as far as possible from both Rawls AND Nozick. I’m mostly deeply influenced by the proto-liberal Hobbes.
If you don’t know those names get reading. I don’t tell you the contours of biology. Don’t tell me the contours of my field.
And for the record we probably agree on 90% of the practical issue if not the ultima justifaction. Two quick examples: our permissive gun laws are greatly I’ll designed and it is a huge glaring problem. Second, the social safety net is no where near robust enough for thus country. Its only j font think social welfare is a matter if right; it’s just prudence.
We are only likely to disagree on means. For example I think minimal wage laws are ill advised; it far more sensible to require all companies must pay everyone with xtimes if each other. Ie. The CEO can only make 10x more than the lowest paid worker.
Mike Smith says
J font = I don’t
Man I’m tired
The Koch brothers refer to themselves as “classical liberals.”
Chomsky described the problem in Government in the Future:
Mike Smith says
I feel re are getting off point so I will content myself to point out that Chromsky can be labled a…dun dun dunnnnn….libertarian and leave this thread. Ttfn
My thoughts are summed up by twisitng the words of Rodney King around, and redirecting them at the slime chuckers:
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Funny thing, one of my kids has blue eyes, the other one has brown eyes. I am very sure they have the same blue eyed father. The brown eyed child really looks like her dad…
Well… if you want to go with “profound changes”, then all you need to do is look at single gene errors, resulting in known disabilities. But… this is the logic equivalent of taking a working machine, and hitting it several times with a hammer, until some of the parts break. The changes are noticeable *precisely* because they cause major behavioral changes, of the sort that result in someone being *unable* to exhibit the full range of human behaviors, or at least to do so easily, or well.
What these jokers are claiming to explain as “genetic” is the equivalent of trying to work out why, to use a computer analogy, your favorite program is showing the wrong color background, or new information, as of the last update, by looking in the Windows system registry, or worse, the physical machine’s bios. Though, no doubt this bunch would claim that, ah, well, someone “evolved” the software, so.. the fact that it *is* software, optional, unnecessary for the machine to work in general, or even of the OS to do so, etc. is somehow irrelevant to the idea that nearly everything humans do is also “installed” later on, over top of the biological equivalent of the physical hardware, as well as, in most cases, on top of what ever cultural OS got stuck in there.
Its elephants all the way down with some, most, maybe all, of these people…
It WAS frustrating to see Myles Power, someone I’m a long time subscriber and fan of suddenly produce such an uncharacteristically unskeptical video – well it wasn’t sudden – the video mirrors his earlier blog post on the topic – that was when PZ first reacted to him on twitter. But both that blog post and the fact his only reaction to feedback was his cis white male disclaimer at the end were both surprising. He has wonderful work, which I really recommend, debunking all sorts of quacks from AIDS and vaccine denialists, to bloggers like the Food Babe, as well as anti-GMO proponents. Basically a lot of good and much needed work and even more commendable since he usually goes the painstakingly long route of actually reading all those quacks’ books, their cited papers and claims methodically, exposing contradictions in their logic and misrepresentations of even the minimal conclusions their bad pseudoscientific papers can actually show (eating roundup makes male rats live longer). And I was like: Fuck, he didn’t do any research, calls Rebecca dishonest because vague something, something she’s going against evolution so she’s like creationists! Rebecca Watson has literally exactly the same kind of debunking pseudoscience and bad science YT channel as he does, has made videos about many of the same topics as he has (literally almost all of the same topics with a slightly different focus: more sociology and less chemistry) and then he produces this garbage.
Not being a biologist I felt perhaps I’m showing confirmation bias here because the EP I’ve seen has been crap, but I still don’t get what went wrong apart from Myles having probably read a bunch of pro-EP articles and then after seeing Rebecca’s video he suffered a skeptical brain fart. So yeah Myles is a generally nice chap, skeptical and doing a lot of good science-promoting work but seems to have hit a fundamental blind spot here.
I also asked him what “ideology” he was talking about after he several times vehemently denied it was anything to do with feminism. No response, I’m going to have to ask him again, since it just sounds like he’s parroting criticisms to the tune of “RW is blinded by… dum Dum DUUUUM… IDEOLOGY!!!”
Oh btw @dxman is my twitter handle in case anyone didn’t get it.
* @thedxman… don’t even know my own twitter handle..
I remember reading, several years ago, a book called Evolving God by (primate) anthropologist Barbara King, where she laid out a pretty compelling case for the evolution of religious behavior by doing comparative analysis of the behavior of modern apes and examining archaeological evidence from extinct hominin relatives. This struck me as a more rigorous vector for a potential study of EP than doing psychology-ish studies on college students. EP often seems to me like putting down a single point and trying to draw a line through it, when you know you can’t define a line without at least two points.
Stephanie Zvan says
This nonsense again? Even at the time, Rebecca said that she was critiquing pop evo psych and media coverage of the same, said she was tweaking her talk to make that more clear before giving it again since not everyone understood that, and said in an interview that there was probably sound work being done in evo psych even if she wasn’t aware of it. What possible purpose does this video serve?
SC (Salty Current) says
If you mean Chomsky, no, he couldn’t. He’s an anarchist. We don’t call ourselves libertarians in the US because the pro-capitalist movement has taken and distorted the word. (Variations on libertari@ continue to be used in European countries, where the word’s meaning hasn’t been distorted in this way.
PZ Myers says
#32: He may be a “generally nice chap”, but this was the first I’d heard of him, the first of his videos I’ve seen, and I would actively run away from any effort to ever get me to watch another. It’s clear he’s been infected with the same pathogen that poisoned Thunderf00t, an irrational contempt for women.
#37 Actually his videos are very good. Not comparable to TF in any way shape or form. It’s really weird neither you nor Rebecca have heard of him. Presumably he’s being bombarded by many of the usual anti-RW assholes, since he just tweeted her calling him a troll several hours into her Overwatch twitch stream.
mercury in vaccines
C.S. Strowbridge says
I agree. He’s usually really good at this, but I think he’s out of his depth when it comes to EP. It is impossible to be an expert on all fields of science, so you need to be extra careful when you are out of your field. Hopefully he will correct his mistake here. He’s corrected mistakes like this in the past.
Rob Grigjanis says
Is there a political label that hasn’t been distorted, demonized or poisoned in the US?
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
That’s easy to be out of one’s depth with EP. Unless you can tell a difference between a genetic adaptation, and a cultural adaptation, one essentially makes any decision presuppositionally. Which is the problem of many in the field, as they presuppose genetic adaptions without showing the gene loci, and the adaptations may really be cultural, needed to keep the tribe together. Cultural adaptations will go quickly through a population, whereas genetic adaptions can take millennia.
The MRA types like to use EP to show females are subservient to men. They fail.
@Rob Grigjanis #41
Can this be about Myles’s video/blogpost? We’re trying to engage in discussion on who’s the biologist and who’s the best Skeptical™ concerning pop science!
@Stephanie Zvan #35
Yeah, she’s talked about EP multiple times. In a perfect world, Myles would be sent the relevant links, would revise his position on EP based on biologist feedback (PZ’s and others’), we’d all laugh at the misunderstanding and Myles could make another video explaining, clarifying and apologising for his mistake.. with perhaps some great insights on the actual scientifically relevant evidence and data “good EP” has produced. Yey.
PZ Myers says
You have an idealistic view of the world, I’m afraid. Power will not back down, I predict. That bit at the end in which he tries to cover his ass by preempting criticisms with that crap about being white, straight, male tells me exactly where his brain is at: stewing in its own juices of privilege, unaware of how stupid that sounds.
I’ve also browsed through the comments on that video. He has an audience of assholes, which is not a good sign.
Yeah, that’s so logical. I don’t know any feminists who are in favor of circumcision, but this goon has his false preconception of what feminism entails and you aren’t going to talk him out of it.
FOR SCIENCE! Right. This person doesn’t understand statistics or variation at all.
You want to claim he’s done good stuff in the past? Don’t care. He’s just another clueless twit with regressive social ideas.
He’s self-corrected in the past. That hundreds of “anti-SJW” trolls have descended on his video (and among all those horrible comments Myles has responded twice, once on a “ginger” comment, once on a definitions of emotions), as they do with any video mentioning Rebecca Watson, Anita Sarkesian, or feminism in general is to be expected. Hopefully he’ll see through the bullshit. As one who’s come from that stew of privilege and have to climb out of it myself every so often I’m still hopeful. Otherwise it’s Trump and Putin and WWIII and ditching the whole multicellular-life experiment and letting the bacteria and algea get back to doing their thing unimpeded.
PZ Myers says
I’ll believe it when I see it. So far, everything he’s said in that video demonstrates that he’s one with the bacteria and algae.
Regarding the question of chimps and being raised by the other species of chimp, some study has been done in body language regarding dogs and cats. For many traits, dogs and cats engage in opposite behaviour: A cat lying on his back and showing his belly is not showing submission but rather trust, the opposite of a dog. Cats put their ears back when they are aggressive, dogs when they are submissive. Dogs wag their tails to show more positive emotions, cats wag their tails when they’re upset. Not everything, of course, but there is a “cat” language and a “dog” language.
But some studies have looked at dogs and cats raised in mixed environments and found that they learn to code-switch. The dog that was raised around cats will use body language more like cats when with cats and more like dogs when around dogs and vice versa: Cats raised around dogs will display more like dogs when around dogs.
Which only goes to show that it’s really hard to tease out the biology from the environment when it comes to behaviour.
That’s where all this “nonbinary gender” stuff gets you. Everyone knows cats are girls and dogs are boys. Cats and dogs together!?! What were they thinking!
Dyslexic DNA says
It’s starting to look like Myles just wanted the publicity. He’s now bragging about getting criticized by both Watson and PZ, but hasn’t actually bothered to come up with anything more substantive than “Yay, they’re talking about me!”.
He probably figures he can get a following out of the anti-Watson crowd, and figures that riling up PZ is a good way to get their attention.
David Marjanović says
A? He wants a , and at the same time accuses other people of being too much like creationists? :-D
So, first, as mentioned above, neither mammoth-hunting nor inheritance of eye color work this way. On top of that, the allele for blue eyes is younger than the last continental mammoth! And then it jumped to fixation very quickly: it seems that all Mesolithic Europeans west of the steppe had blue eyes – and dark skin. Start here for example if you’ve missed the excitement of the last 3 years!
Why are you insulting bacteria and algae? I’m not even entirely joking, bacteria and algae are awsome. I don’t like the idea of using organisms as insults.
DrSteve660 . says
I am not qualified to comment on whether Myles Power got it wildly wrong or not on evolutionary psychology, and I note he has since attempted a reply to his critics. But it would not be the first time he has spectacularly screwed up when trespassing into an area where he has not done his homework. He produced a video titled “The science of circumcision” in which he manages to get just about every medical scientific fact either completely wrong, or presented in a misleading way. He appears to have just Googled up any old intactivist nonsense and then parroted it uncritically. He even repeats the “10000 to 20000 nerves myth” which is ironic, given that his specialism is HIV/AIDS denialism and the 20000 nerves myth came out the arse (that’s “ass” to you Americans) of an HIV/AIDS denying quack called Paul Fleiss and published in that ever so reputable scientific journal “Mothering”. Oh the irony! He has since admitted he got it wrong on UTIs & HIV but has ignored the many other errors pointed out to him, and the video is still attracting views and misleading people. For someone who fancies himself as a skeptic and science educator he has displayed a shocking lack of critical thinking, or even basic fact-checking, on this issue, and a reluctance to face up to the harm he has done to the psychological well-being of circumcised males, or to a vital weapon in the war against HIV in epidemic settings.