Category Archives: evolutionary psychology

The sociological religion of no biological differences between the sexes

As a biologist, I’ve learned that there are two related issues that are taboo for academics to discuss openly. The first is the issue of “races”—or genetic differences between human populations. Cultural anthropologists tell us that races are “social constructs.” Well, there’s a bit of truth in that, insofar as there is no finite number of […]

The evolutionary level of human violence

There’s a new paper in Nature about the level of intraspecific violence in humans and other species, written by José Maria Gómez et al. (free reference and download below).  The question is how often members of single species kill each other in the wild, and whether humans are outliers. It’s already gotten a lot of attention in the press, […]

Slate author suggests that we stop idolizing chimps and model our society on bonobos

When someone sent me the title of this Slate piece, “Why do we idolize chimps when we could be imitating feminist bonobos?“, I was sure it was a parody—perhaps from The Onion. But no, I don’t think so—or else it’s parody that isn’t good because it’s so close to seeming real without a hint that it’s […]

Why is red nail polish so popular?

Walking to the store the other day, I found myself bored and unable to brain. Then a woman passed me wearing sandals (it’s summer up here, after all) and bright red toenail polish. That gave me something to do: I decided to count the colors on the feet of all the women who passed me […]

My conversation with Gad Saad

On Gad Saad‘s new videocast, “The Saad Truth” on Larry King’s network (, I talked with the affable Lebanese/Canadian psychologist for about 75 minutes. The original video is here, but it’s also on YouTube, which I’ve embedded. As always, I can’t stand to watch it; maybe you can. Saad, as I’ve noted before, is a […]

Why do we holler when we’re hurt? My dubious evolutionary-psychology hypothesis

We’ve all noticed and experienced the phenomenon that when we’re hurt, we yell. When we stub our toe, hit our thumb with a hammer, or burn ourselves, we often let out a bloodcurdling scream. People who are pushed off buildings do it, too—at least in the movies. Yet when we experience intense pleasure, we don’t […]

Evolutionary psychology, sexual dimorphism, and ideology

(Note to non-biologists: “sexual dimorphsim” refers to any trait or behavior that differs between the sexes, like the ornamented tail of the male peacock, the brighter color of the male painted bunting—and of many birds—and the bower-building behavior of male but not female bowerbirds.) There are some science-friendly folk (including atheists) who simply dismiss the entire […]

Steve Pinker on the evolutionary significance of music

Eloquent as usual, and speaking in perfect, publishable paragraphs, here’s The Pinkah on The Really Big Questions podcast, discussing the evolutionary significance of music. (The bit is about 9 minutes long.) Pinker argues that in fact that music is not an evolutionary adaptation, but a spandrel: a pleasurable byproduct of some other adaptation. What’s the “enabling” adaptation? In […]

Are primates hard-wired to be scared of snakes?

Posting will be light today as there’s a Horseman afoot (see next post), but I wanted to call attention to a paper that’s of some interest. It can even be construed as a decent bit of research on (horrors!) evolutionary psychology. The paper by, Quan van Le et al. in Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA […]

Another lame attack on evolutionary psychology

Someone called my attention to a short post about evolutionary psychology at Pharyngula: Well, ignoring the obligatory and customary reference to “douchebags,” I was curious about the article that inspired this post. Clicking on the link, I found a piece at the science/tech site io9 called “The rise of the evolutionary psychology douchebag” by Annalee […]