Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sharon Begley smackdown of evolutionary psychology

Newsweek science writer Sharon Begley pens an often wickedly funny critique of evolutionary psychology this week, and I blog about it briefly on Science's Origins blog (see the blog for the link as well as more about Begley, one of the best in the business.) Begley laments that the theory that modern human behavior, ranging from rape to mate choice to warfare, has its origins in Stone Age evolutionary adaptations continues to be very popular in the mass media despite what she argues is dwindling scientific support for it.

My blog is preceded by a detailed and thoughtful post by my colleague Ann Gibbons on the disturbing implications of paying a finder's fee to the discoverers of the "Iceman," aka Ötzi, the 5300 year old mummified Neolithic guy from the Tyrolean Alps. Ann's post was prompted by an earlier one from yet another colleague, archaeology writer Heather Pringle, in her "Beyond Stone and Bone" blog for Archaeology magazine.

EP update June 30. A very interesting critique of Begley's critique on the Huffington Post by evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson. (Wilson, by the way, is the son of Sloan Wilson, author of the 1950s classic novel "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.")

Science Friday. Swine flu hits hogs in Argentina. A ScienceInsider post by my colleague Martin Enserink.

No charges for UC Santa Barbara professor. reports that William I. Robinson has been cleared by a faculty committee in the case involving emails to students comparing Israeli actions with those of the Nazis. A victory for academic freedom, not to mention the truth. But Robinson's supporters say it isn't over, because the university needs to be held accountable for the chilling effects of pursuing Robinson in the first place. Here is more from the Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB.

Clarence Thomas says strip those students. Some U.S. Supreme Court cases are close, 5-4, some are unanimous, and some in between. But when there is an 8-1 decision upholding Constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure, is it hard to guess who the one dissenter is? Apparently not, as anyone could have divined (I certainly did before reading beyond the headlines) that Clarence Thomas would be the one vote in favor of school officials who strip-searched Arizona teenager Savana Redding, suspecting her wrongly of harboring some contraband pills. Here's a guy who is still kissing the asses of the people who nominated and supported him for the high court, even when he no longer needs to--or, perhaps that is not fair, perhaps he is just a right-wing ideologue all on his own initiative. Either way, we can look forward to the day when he is always in the dissenting minority...

1 comment:

Anne Gilbert said...

It's about time someone pulled the rug out from under the sleazier and sloppier assertions of that discipline called "evolutionary psychology". Kudos to Sharon Begley. But she's not the first; there have been critics, some of them are, believe it or not, actually scientists!