Friday, March 4, 2011

The hysterics of evolutionary psychology.

It seems that a large chunk of evolutionary theorists and biologists are getting on the bandwagon of trashing EP as a pseudoscience.  And seriously, it's about time.  That this pseudoscience continues to get public funding is appalling on a number of levels.

However, today, I have to call shenanigans on my fellow journalist Elizabeth Landau at CNN for writing this  credulous piece about research done by highly controversial evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa from the London School of Economics and Political Science. I realize that science journalism might not be your thing, but understand that when someone finds a correlation you don't have to blithely publish his half-baked ideas on how those correlations might have evolved. Also, if you're going to get a quote about the evoltionary signifgance of a trait, don't get it from a fucking leadership professor, find an actual evolutionary biologist. Most universities have them, don't be lazy. They'll probably tell you that this guy is utterly and totally full of shit, at least when it comes to his speculations on evolution.

Hey, sometimes it's nice to have balance in your articles, don'tcha think?

Also, for fuck's sake, do your fucking homework, yeah? Give your readers background on the 'scientist' publishing the story by telling them who he is. It really is relevant. For example, did you know he wrote a blog post titled 'Why Modern Feminism is Illogical, Unnecessary and Evil?' Or that he argued that we should have nuked the entire Middle East after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks? In the eyes of some of your more moderate readers, this might have dinged his credibility just a hair, huh?  Also, he thinks Asians are intrinsically less creative and worse at science, despite, you know.. well, check out his photo. Stuff like this lets your readers be informed, and that's what the whole enterprise of journalism is about, right?

Why is this irresponsible bullshit? Because it makes the actual theory of evolution look like a bunch of shit you can  make-up over drinks at the local pub. It's not, it's actually kinda complicated. Also, it's a fairly fundamentally wrong interpretation of evolution (check out the abstract of the article linked in the first paragraph by Ian Tattersall).

And P.S., Liz (may I call you Liz? I know you work for CNN and all, but wherever did you get that J-school degree from?) statements to the tune that people with high IQs tend to be liberal are fucking incendiary, so make sure the guy making them isn't a giant toolbag with a history of bad research methodology.


  1. More awesome evolution (not evolutionary psychology though) from your fav author:

  2. Argh, I tried to get the original article from Nature, but it costs $35 to access it. At first blush - since I'm at work and haven't had a chance to read the whole thing - it seems that at least the experiments they're working on are reproducible, unlike a lot evolutionary psych studies that fall apart when other researchers attempt to reproduce them.

  3. $32, actually, It's titled: "Human-specific loss of regulatory DNA and the evolution of human-specific traits"

    Little less sexy then the headline.