Shorter Michael Shermer

Hippieses, we hatesssss them.

PZ Myers provides a summary at Pharyngula, but Rebecca Watson provides a detailed rebuttal at Skepchick.

n.b. For those who don’t already know, Shermer’s default stance on most issues is Randian/Objectivist/Libertarian. The commentors on both PZ’s and Rebecca’s posts take copious potshots at this stance.

Categories: culture wars, ethics & philosophy, parties and factions, Science

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6 replies

  1. I read the original, and all I could think was “does this bloke have a point, or is he saving it for Christmas?”. I mean, it’s a string of accusations, no real justification for any of them, and neither a suggestion on how things could be improved, nor a call for discussion. So he’s apparently gone directly to polemic, without passing Go or collecting his $200.
    Of course, I sort of lost interest when he pretty much stated that disagreeing on the notion of evopsych was somehow evidence of an anti-science mindset. Mostly because I spent most of the first semester of last year doing two psychology units, both of which harped on damn near incessantly about the steps involved in the scientific method… and reading most evopsych makes it clear said method certainly isn’t involved in its creation.
    (I should make it clear: I differentiate between evolutionary psychology and evopsych. Evolutionary psychology, as far as I’m concerned, is the serious study of the action of natural selection on the biochemical and neurological processes of the brain, and thus on the way that the emergent mind functions as a result. Evopsych is the use of pop psychology to explain how the human mind apparently stopped evolving approximately fifty thousand years ago, and how any perceived social and cultural change since then is just an illusion because our “caveman” natures will always win out.
    Evolutionary psychology could possibly give us insights into the nature of consciousness itself, and may provide some very useful pointers in the quest to create artificial intelligence – or to be more accurate, artificial personalities. Evopsych tends to be extremely conservative, and appears to exist to explain that the attitudes of Victorian era Anglo-Saxon Protestants on topics such as race, gender, and culture are clearly good and true and right.)

  2. Scientists don’t like evpsych because it’s bad science!
    There are so many deliberate distortions in that article (I’m not buying that they’re just honest mistakes) it’s hard to know where to even start.

  3. I’m really glad to see some refutations of that piece. I tried to read it yesterday and got so frustrated I had to stop. I find it very problematic when people argue that the only reason anyone might be against nuclear energy or genetically modified crops (or, rather, genetically modified crops developed within a particular political and economic system, for profit) is because they’re “anti-science”.

    • Hm. “Cultural creationists” who supposedly reject any biological explanation for human behaviours? But he can’t name one?

  4. That Conversation piece was embarrassing. Like, I’m not sure whether to feel sorrier for SJ Gould, or the vast majority of the world’s living evolutionary biologists. The man’s been dead for over ten years, and he is apparently still the reason sociobiology’s descendants (itself descended from Social Darwinism) can’t get a break? All the troubles of the last ten years have been because we’ve all sworn an oath on his grave to keep up his mission?
    It couldn’t possibly be because as Megpie demonstrates, you need to know only a little about the scientific method to see what a crock it is? It couldn’t possibly be because however much we disagree with SJG’s politics, we can agree with him in this critique because he happened to be right and we have reached the same conclusion?
    (It’s not an article of faith with me that male and female intelligence is more or less the same genetically. It’s the freaking null hypothesis. You need to make a strong case against that null hypothesis, and no-one AFAICT has, because culture gets so strongly in the way. To the extent culture can be removed, there is no evidence for sex difference, at least the studies I’ve seen. I’ll also point out while I’m here that the search for genes for high intelligence has been a big dud so far. Many genes can cause lowering of intelligence, but no-one has found much of any evidence for genetics underlying variation at the high end.)

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