LINK: Most of EvoPsych is pseudoscience

by polymathwannabe1 min read8th Dec 201518 comments


Personal Blog

The evolutionary origin of human behavior is doubtless a valuable scientific field, but the way the research is currently being conducted raises several concerns.

By request from readers, I've added some excerpts:

EvoPsych’s most common failing is its fallacious methodology, often consisting of not even acknowledging the need to describe, much less pass, any adequate falsification test. 

(1) This is most commonly the case in its frequent failure to even confirm that a behavior widely exists cross-culturally [...]
(2) EvoPsych also rarely finds any genetic correlation to a behavior [...]
(3) More problematic still is the rarity of ever even acknowledging the need to rule out accidental (byproduct) explanations of a behavior [...]
(4) And one of the most common confounding factors for creating accidental behavior effects will be the sudden radical changes in our environment caused by civilization and technology.
[...] This makes EvoPsych almost impossible to practice as a genuine science. What it wants to know, is almost always simply impossible to know (at least currently).
First, EvoPsych imagines such a vast repertoire of evolved stimulus-response psychological mechanisms as to require a vast genetic apparatus that simply isn’t found in the human genome.
Second, [...] EvoPsych needs to test the non-adaptive hypothesis for any claim first. It should not be assuming every human behavior is a product of biological adaptation.
(1) The evidence actually suggests human evolution may operate at a faster pace than EvoPsych requires, such that its assumption of ancient environments being wholly determinative of present biology is false.
(2) “Neuroscientists have been aware since the 1980s that the human brain has too much architectural complexity for it to be plausible that genes specify its wiring in detail,” 
(3) “The view that a universal genetic programme underpins human cognition is also not fully consistent with current genetic evidence.”
(4) “Human behavioral genetics has also identified genetic variation underlying an extensive list of cognitive and behavioural characteristics,” thus challenging any claim that certain traits were adaptively selected for—when clearly, after tens of thousands of years, the variance was clearly adaptively selected for.
(5) “The thesis of massive modularity is not supported by the neuroscientific evidence,”
(6) “Evolutionary psychologists rarely examine whether their hypotheses regarding evolved psychological mechanisms are supported by what is known about how the brain works.”
(7) EvoPsych needs to start doing experiments in social learning, to see what can and can’t be unlearned by a change in culture and cognition, so as to isolate what actually is biological, and what is actually instead just picked up [...]
(8) [...] such studies do not test the evolutionary hypotheses themselves [...] by failing to rule out plausible alternative explanations for all of its results, EvoPsych has actually failed to prove anything at all.
Personal Blog