Category Archives: evolutionary psychology

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 […]

A defense of evolutionary psychology (mostly by Steve Pinker)

I’ve been known for a while as a critic of evolutionary psychology, particularly when it first began as “sociobiology” in the Seventies.  At that time there was a lot of unsupported speculation being bruited about as “science” (i.e., human males evolved to have “rape modules”, a view that I criticized strongly). But over the decades, […]

A modest proposal: testing the Cinderella Effect

One of the most prominent results of evolutionary psychology research is “the Cinderella Effect,” made famous by the work of Margo Wilson and Martin Daly (you can find one of their summary papers here). Although I don’t pretend to be an expert on the extensive literature on this phenomenon, it’s pretty much what the name […]

Bonkers evolutionary psychologist explains why he’s not an atheist

If you’ve read anything about evolutionary psychology in the popular press, you’ll know about the infamous Satoshi Kanazawa. Although he’s a reader in Management at the London School of Economics, he’s published several books and a bunch of popular articles purporting to explain the evolutionary roots of human behavior.  I say “purporting” because he is […]

Is evolutionary psychology worthless?

There’s been a lot of kerfuffle on the intertubes about the value of evolutionary psychology, the field that studies the evolutionary roots of human thought, language, and behavior. I want to weigh in here with my answer to the question posed in the title, and my answer is, “Certainly not!” Now I am known as […]

The Better Angels of Our Nature?: Black Friday

If you’re not an American, perhaps you don’t know about “Black Friday.” That’s the Friday after Thanksgiving Day (which falls on Thursday), and that Friday traditionally marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Many stores open at midnight or early in the morning, and have incredible bargains, like waffle makers for only two dollars. […]


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