Monday, July 23, 2007

Incorrectness, Political and otherwise

A couple of weeks ago, I flagged this article from Psychology Today, which attempts to assign evolutionary causes to some of our more hegemonic behaviors because it was just interesting on so very many levels. Then, as per usual, I never got back to it, and Broadsheet and Echidne Of The Snakes beat me to the trenchant analysis. One of the things the latter pointed out, which is totally true and I wish I'd noticed right off, is this. From the original article:
The implications of some of the ideas in this article may seem immoral, contrary to our ideals, or offensive. We state them because they are true, supported by documented scientific evidence. Like it or not, human nature is simply not politically correct.
And from Echidne:
Whenever I see the kind of argument presented as here, I know that something smells off. Real scientific articles don't say that they are going to "tell the truth." That's just not the way science is written.
(Your second hint that something is rotten here is, natch, that this meticulously researched article is appearing in that bastion of academic rigor, Psychology Today. But that's as may be.)

I have to admit, I'm pretty interested in the principle behind Evolutionary Psychology (or, as Echidne points out, since apparently capital-E Evolutionary capital P Psychology has been hijacked by right-wing pseudo-scientists, I should say that I'm interested in small-e evolutionary small-p psychology). I have, in this very blog, claimed that the hegemonic bastardry of the world is due to the kind of bastards our ancestors were. So other than the fact that I'm calling the resulting behavior out as bastardry, I'm constructing the same sort of argument as Satoshi Kanazawa Ph.D. How embarrassing.

I suppose what I didn't see in constructing my first argument (I was writing about Honor Killings, if you don't want to click the link again) is that it might well only be the construction of the original dogma that builds on the evolutionary fear of reproductive failure. After that, you'd probably have to consider all kinds of rules of mob behavior, which could correlate with sources both evolutionary and social, when examining the actual act of publicly stoning a woman to death--there are all kinds of studies showing we'd do insane and violent things in mobs that we'd never dream of doing on our own. Of course, that has its own set of correlations--but that's a topic for another time.

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