Talk:Criticism of evolutionary psychology

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Moving sections to the Nature vs nurture article[edit]

Philosophy pursues evolutionary psychology as induced through involution and is the actuality of nature and nurture research activity[1] (talk) 21:36, 19 April 2014 (UTC)arnold

The sections "Free will", "Reification", and "Reductionism" are not objections to EP specifically but would apply to any argument of "nature" being involved in the brain and behaviour. As such I propose moving them to the "Nature versus nuture" article.Miradre (talk) 20:28, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

Let me 2nd that. I made the same proposal above (see "Move proposal" heading). Memills (talk) 19:18, 1 August 2011 (UTC)
If the criticisms are specific to EP then it is not up to us to decide if they are mis-targeted - we include them here. If we have sources that make the counter-argument that these are misplaced criticisms then we include those. Let the sources do the talking - our opinions don't come into this. (This is assuming the criticism sources are reliable.) Jojalozzo 02:13, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
It does not seem that the source for the 'Free will' criticism targets EP specifically. Jojalozzo 02:25, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
Moved "Free Will" section to Nature versus nuture article as per above discussion.Miradre (talk) 13:51, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
None of the sources for the "Reification fallacy" mention evolutionary psychology. So I propose moving that section also.Miradre (talk) 09:34, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
The word "reification", introduced by Lewontin, was initially applied by Gould to sociobiology and in particular Spearman's concept of intelligence g. These attempted edits and this particular subject violate your topic ban. Even editing Nature and nurture violated your topic ban, as it has a section entitled "IQ debate". Mathsci (talk) 10:08, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
I am making no comments regarding intelligence. Only regarding evolutionary psychology. Gould has of course written on many different things but there is not a single mention in this source of evolutionary psychology.Miradre (talk) 10:17, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
You are proposing editing or moving something containing the word "reification". There are several sources mentioned in the text. One of them The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould. Gould applied that to intelligence in that book. You used the word yourself just a few lines above. How can you even have this discussion? Mathsci (talk) 10:26, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Obviously I can defend myself against accusations. I am not discussing intelligence or race. I am discussing whether the book mentions evolutionary psychology. It does not.Miradre (talk) 10:30, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
The section itself contains a lengthy discussion of intelligence as an example of reification. Move it, delete it or alter it in any way and you will have clearly viola ted your topic ban. Even proposing to move it is a clear violation. Mathsci (talk) 10:33, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
The topic ban is regarding the intersection of intelligence and race. Not their union. Furthermor, I am not discussing intelligence here. I am pointing out that the book does not mention evolutionary psychology at all.Miradre (talk) 10:38, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Then you have misunderstood your topic ban completely. You are proposing to edit text on wikipedia containing a discussion of the "reification of intelligence" as put forward by Gould. That particular issue is very deeply related to the article Race and intelligence and is discussed in this precise context in History of the race and intelligence controversy. The evasiveness of your replies is not helpful. (I would normally discuss this on your talk page, but since you blank any advice I give, that approach is a non-starter.) Mathsci (talk) 10:43, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
A discussion regarding intelligence is not the issue. Which is that the book does not mention evolutionary psychology at all. According to your twisted reasoning I could not edit an article on higher education because intelligence may be involved.Miradre (talk) 10:49, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Are you proposing to edit the first paragraph of that section? Thanks, Mathsci (talk) 10:51, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
I am taking up this section for discussion. See above.Miradre (talk) 10:59, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
You can explain yourself on WP:AE. Mathsci (talk) 11:00, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

The burden is on Mathsci to provide a reference that specifically associates evolutionary psychology with the "reification fallacy." Unless that is forthcoming, as was done with the "free will" section, the "reification fallacy" section should be moved from this page to a more appropriate page. Memills (talk) 21:53, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

I don't see consensus for removing the reification fallacy section. Please discuss it here before taking unilateral action. Jojalozzo 22:24, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

According to the article Gould criticizes EP for reifying intelligence. If that's true, even if EP is not the main target of his criticism, then this is a part of the controversy. However, if interpreting Gould's intent is OR/SYN on someone's part then we'd need other reasons for keeping the section. I don't have access to the source so cannot help with that. Jojalozzo 22:40, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Note the discussion above. IQ as a construct is accepted by psychology in general (see any intro psych textbook). If someone can provide a reference linking EP specifically to the "reification fallacy" (which is not a fallacy at all if constructs are properly understood), please do so. Otherwise, this "criticism" is simply a straw man, and, it is irrelevant to EP. Memills (talk) 22:56, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm with you here regarding the need for sources that involve EP explicitly but not about the utility of dissing the criticism and reinforcing bias. It doesn't matter how valid the criticism is. If it's there in reliable sources, it's our job to present it. Coming to this with a strong bias pro or con is good reason for less editing and more discussion here on the talk page. Jojalozzo 23:29, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
There are no sources that are specifically targeting EP with the reification fallacy. Without such sources, as I have noted previously, it is inappropriate to include it here. Just makes this page look kinda silly by including a criticism that no one is making. Memills (talk) 00:40, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
I propose we give it a few more days. If no one asks for more time or produces any criticism directly involving EP and reifying IQ by 9/14 (a week total) then remove it. We can always put it back if/when evidence shows up to support it. Jojalozzo 00:57, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Per above, removing the section. Memills (talk) 04:03, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

What about Pure science Wiki?[edit]

Pure science Wiki should be included as an example of criticism of evolutionary psychology. See its article "Brain". (talk) 09:45, 13 January 2013 (UTC)Martin J Sallberg

Inaccurate statement and edit warring re Thornhill and Palmer[edit]

Sonicyouth86 (talk) continues revert edits [1] [2] [3] that accurately portray what Thornhill and Palmer proposed in their book (as noted in the WP article aboutthe book A Natural History of Rape).

Accurate statement:

For instance, in A Natural History of Rape, Thornhill and Palmer argued that that both animal and human male predispositions to engage in rape under certain circumstances might be either (a) a sexually dimorphic psychological adaptation, or, (b) a byproduct of other male sexual adaptations.[2]

Inaccurate statement to which Sonicyouth86 (talk) repeatedly reverts:

A Natural History of Rape where rape is described as a form of mate choice that enhances male fitness.[3][4]

This is NOT what Thornhill and Palmer said in their book, again, as clearly noted in the WP article about the book. If rape is a byproduct of other male psychological sexual adaptations, then by definition it is does not increase male fitness. However, Sonicyouth98 continues to replace the accurate sentence with the inaccurate one based on the mischaracterization of Thornhill and Palmer's book by Richardson and Wilson, et al. This pattern of edit warring by Sonicyouth86 by reverting an accurate statement to an inaccurate characterization is inappropriate.

The accurate statement should be presented, then, the critiques of the book by Richardson, and Wilson, et al., can follow:

Critics have expressed concern over the moral consequences of such claims and some critics have understood them to justify rape.[3][5]

Memills (talk) 16:44, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

This was discussed here. Your reading of Thonhill and Palmer's book is irrelevant. It is irrelevant if you think that Richardson and Wilson et al. git it all wrong. What matters is the argument that Richardson and Wilson et al. make. Richardson summarizes Thornhill and Palmer's theory ("rape is a behavioral strategy that enhances male fitness") and expresses concern over possible ethical implications. Wilson, Dietrich & Clark write: "According to this hypothesis, women evolved to play "hard to get" so that only the toughest and most fit men would succeed in mating with them. Women may not want to be raped in terms of their psychological motivation, but their very horror ensures that they will impregnated by the best. This form of male choice could result in more fit daughters in addition to more fit sons, although Thornhill and Palmer mention only the latter possibility".
As you can see, they do not say anything about byproducts, sexual adaptations, and so forth. Please refrain from misrepresenting sources. --Sonicyouth86 (talk) 19:01, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
Please refrain from simply repeating yourself.
I am referring to the actual Thornhill and Palmer book. Again, please refer to the WP article on the book (noted above), or read the book yourself (or check Google books). There is no argument about what they wrote.
Here is a quote from the WP article about their book A Natural History of Rape:
"The book argues... that the capacity for rape is either an adaptation or a byproduct of adaptative traits such as sexual desire and aggressiveness, which have evolved for reasons that have no direct connection with the benefits or costs of rape."
The argument about ethics by Richardson and by Wilson, et al., is relevant. Their inaccurate statement (that rape is an adaptation not a byproduct) is not what Thornhill and Palmer wrote in their book, it is irrelevant to this section, and it is misleading to WP readers. If you insist that this inaccuracy remain, it needs a rebuttal -- again, perhaps a quote from the WP article on the book, or, from the book itself. Memills (talk) 19:28, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
Yes, the argument about ethics is relevant and Richardson and Wilson et al. are reliable sources that you continue to misrepresent. By the way, Wikipedia is not a reliable source. If by some miracle Thornhill and Palmer wrote something about Richardson and Wilson et al., feel free to add it. Please read WP:NOR before you google something like "richardson rape thornhill bad-anti-ep-dude" (similar case documented here) and then come back here to claim that you've found a "rebuttal". It looks like you are one of the editors directly responsible for the structure of the article which consists of "rebuttals" and introductory dismissals of all criticisms [4][5][6][7].
Memills has changed his original comment completely. --Sonicyouth86 (talk) 19:55, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
Sonicyouth86... when in doubt, RTFB (read the friendly book). The reference in the accurate prose that I noted above is sourced to Thornhill and Palmer. not to other authors. The reference to Richardson or to Wilson, et al., follows it. Better to say here what Thornhill and Palmer actually wrote, and then to follow that with Richardson and Wilson's, et al. concerns about the ethics of what they wrote. (Although, if they did't get what the Thornhill and Palmer book actually said correctly, it likely calls into question some of their critique of it as well, but that is another matter...)
Otherwise, given your edit warring and ad hominems above, it looks like you are one of the editors who isn't too concerned about accuracy, or civility. Memills (talk) 21:30, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
Multiple editors have remarked upon your editing in evolutionary psychology related articles. I read the archives and your repeated explanations why you consider yourself particularly qualified to edit this article, but I must remind you again that WP:NOR is not optional. The accurate prose is sourced to Richardson and Wilson et al. since they make the argument. You have tried, repeatedly, to misrepresent the two sources. We can resume this discussion as soon as you publish your opinion that Richardson and Wilson et al. didn't get what Thornhill and Palmer actually wrote. Until then: Happy editing. --Sonicyouth86 (talk) 22:02, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
You are mistaken. The accurate prose (an adaptation or a non-adaptive byproduct) is properly sourced to Thornhill and Palmer, not to Wilson, et al. or Richardson. Do not revert again. If you do, this issue will need to be evaluated at ANI. Memills (talk) 17:57, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
Richardson: "rape is a behavioral strategy that enhances male fitness". Wilson, Dietrich & Clark write: "According to this hypothesis, women evolved to play "hard to get" so that only the toughest and most fit men would succeed in mating with them. Women may not want to be raped in terms of their psychological motivation, but their very horror ensures that they will impregnated by the best. This form of male choice could result in more fit daughters in addition to more fit sons, although Thornhill and Palmer mention only the latter possibility". As you can see it is you who is mistaken. Refrain from misrepresenting the sources. Your opinion about the "accuracy" of the sources and your reading of Thornhill and Palmers's book is irrelevant. --Sonicyouth86 (talk) 20:27, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
I said it above, and it looks like I need to say it again: "The accurate prose (an adaptation or a non-adaptive byproduct) is properly sourced to Thornhill and Palmer, not to Wilson, et al. or Richardson." Memills (talk) 23:45, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
Searchtool-80%.png Response to third opinion request (Talk:Criticism_of_evolutionary_psychology#Inaccurate_statement_and_edit_warring_re_Thornhill_and_Palmer 11:19, 13 July 2013 (UTC)):
I am responding to a third opinion request for this page. I have made no previous edits on Criticism of evolutionary psychology and have no known association with the editors involved in this discussion. The third opinion process is informal and I have no special powers or authority apart from being a fresh pair of eyes.

From my reading of this discussion, Memills is arguing that Thornhill and Palmer proposed that rape was either a direct adaptation OR a byproduct of another adaptation. Sonicyouth86's response is to quote other sources (Wilson, et al. or Richardson), who say that Thornhill presented a hypothesis that rape was a direct adaptation.

I don't think those two views are incompatible: A Natural History of Rape presented two hypotheses, and the quotations from the other books discuss one of them.

There was an article in the Journal of Sex Research, Volume 40, Issue 3, 2003 by Palmer and Thornhill where they discuss the fact that the book evaluates both hypotheses (link here, I had to get the full text through my library's website). While this may count as a primary source, it does state:

"After discussing the existing evidence for and against each of these, we repeated our conclusion that "the question whether rape is an adaptation or a by-product cannot be definitively answered" (Thornhill & Palmer, 2000, p. 84).

The article goes on to describe how the authors disagree on whether the bi-product or direct adaptation theory is correct, and cites Palmer's earlier work concluded that "rape is not an adaptation, but a by-product of evolved differences in male and female sexual behavior."

Fundamentally, neither of the two proposed wordings for that sentence are wrong, but Sonicyouth86's might be a bit misleasing. A compromise wording might be something like:

For instance, one of the hypotheses proposed in the book A Natural History of Rape describes rape as a form of mate choice that enhances male fitness.

This reflects the "critics" view discussed in the following sentence in the article without implying that the book concluded that it was the most likely theory. I am not an expert in the subject matter by any means, so I may be missing some subtlety here, but this seems like a reasonable wording.

The reference I cited, which was found in the A Natural History of Rape article, is: Palmer, Craig T. & Thornhill, Randy (2003). "Straw men and fairy tales: Evaluating reactions to a natural history of rape". Journal of Sex Research 40 (3): pages 249–255. doi:10.1080/00224490309552189. 

-- Ahecht (TALK
) 03:43, 19 July 2013 (UTC)

Smith et al. and TDB[edit]

Smith et al. write: "We suggest that a more effective evaluation of the rape-as-evolved-reproductive-strategy hypothesis requires specification of an evolutionary model, and estimates of the fitness costs and benefits of rape. Ideally, these estimates should be based on quantitative data from several traditional societies (natural-fertility populations of hunter–gatherers or tribal people)". They follow their own suggestion and use a model with estimates of the fitness costs and benefits of rape in order to evaluate Thornhill and Palmer hypothesis that rape is an evolved reproductive strategy.

The Daily Beast source summarizes the findings: "It wasn't even close: the cost exceeds the benefit by a factor of 10."

Perhaps Memiils can explain why he keeps reverting to his preferred version. --Sonicyouth86 (talk) 21:03, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

Thanks, I would be happy to.
First, read the entire article by Smith et al. (better than a report of it in popular literature).
Your prose: "Thornhill and Palmer's hypothesis that rape is an evolved reproductive strategy" is incorrect. They state that it could be either an evolved reproductive strategy, or, a byproduct (page 81, for one example of several). I edited your prose to make the statement more accurate: "Thornhill and Palmer's hypothesis that a predisposition to rape in certain circumstances might be an evolved sexually dimporhpic psychological adaptation." Note: "might be" vs. "is."
Your prose that " ...meaning that the disadvantages of rape outweighed the advantages as a reproduction strategy by a 10 to one margin" is misleading. The study does not make such broad claims. It is a specific comparison to 25 year olds. Further, even this is quite speculative given that it is based on a hypothetical mathematical model populated with estimated parameters, along with some data from one culture. It is not an empirical conclusion that can be stated with certitude and without qualification.
Per the above, the revisions to the paragraph that I made (here) were made in the interests of clarity and accuracy. Memills (talk)
I do not object to changing "is" to "might" but I do object to "certain circumstances", "dimporhpic psychological" etc. because that's not in the source and you know it. Smith et al. write about Thornhill & Palmer "A recent book by Thornhill and Palmer53 proposes that rape might be the expression of a domain-specific adaptation that evolved as a male reproductive strategy in the EEA" and, therefore, "Thornhill and Palmer's hypothesis that rape might be an evolved reproductive strategy" is correct.
It is explained that it's about 25 year olds. Write a response to the TDB source, publish it, and we can see if we'll use your opinion about possible and impossible empirical conclusions. --Sonicyouth86 (talk) 21:46, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
Again, you have added WP:OR with this sentence: " ...meaning that the disadvantages of rape outweighed the advantages as a reproduction strategy by a 10 to one margin." Smith et al. did not say that, and you know it.
""Thornhill and Palmer's hypothesis that rape might be an evolved reproductive strategy" is correct." Right, but, this is even more correct: "Thornhill and Palmer suggest that rape might be an evolved reproductive strategy, or, it could be a byproduct of other adaptations."
Re "certain circumstances" -- Thornhill & Palmer explore in their book under what conditions men are more likely to rape (e.g., when the possibility of punishment is low). Certainly, no one is arguing that all men rape in all circumstances. Memills (talk) 23:40, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

Blanking the page and making it a redirect without any discussion[edit]

If you are in favor of making this article a redirect to Evolutionary psychology please explain here to build consensus for your ideas. Thanks.--JasonMacker (talk) 06:33, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: No consensus to move. EdJohnston (talk) 21:23, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

Criticism of evolutionary psychologyEvolutionary psychology controversies – I think the proposed name more accurately and neutrally reflects the article's content than the current name, which seems to be much more of a POV fork. Jinkinson talk to me 20:25, 13 January 2014 (UTC)


As noted at POV fork:
There is currently no consensus whether a "Criticism of..." article is always a POV fork, but many criticism articles nevertheless suffer from POV problems. If possible, refrain from using "criticism" and instead use neutral terms such as "perception" or "reception"; if the word "criticism" must be used, make sure that such criticism considers both the merits and faults, and is not entirely negative (consider what would happen if a "Praise of..." article was created instead)."
Also, the proposed new title "Evolutionary psychology controversies" is a tad confusing. There are controversies within the field of evolutionary psychology itself (but they are based on an acceptance of the foundational assumptions/principles of the field). And, there is criticism from opposing / competing paradigms (e.g., social constructionism) that reject the basic assumptions / principles of the field. This article is more the latter.
The new title potentially conflates these two types of criticism -- they are quite different. It would be rather like combining two articles titled "Controversies among evolutionary biologists" and "Creationist criticisms of evolution" into one article called "Evolutionary biology controversies." I am afraid it wouldn't work too well... Memills (talk) 23:57, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Support per nom. The current is too POV. And the various types of criticisms should be conflated. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 11:11, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment It turns out Evolutionary psychology controversies already exists, but it is just a redirect. If most people vote for this to be moved, I guess that an admin will have to delete the redirect so this page can be moved there. Jinkinson talk to me 20:55, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose Either title is probably suitable, but the current one more accurately describes the article content. I would expect an article called "Evolutionary psychology controversies" to contain accounts of specific events where someone objected to EP in some way. It does contain such content, but it also contains more general criticism. And as Memills points out, the proposed title could also refer to academic debates within the field. Nevertheless, I think the redirect should point here rather than Evolutionary psychology directly. --BDD (talk) 18:07, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.
  1. ^ "Psychology is a Hub Science". Association for Psychological Science Observer (September 2007)
  2. ^ Thornhill, Randy & Palmer, Craig T. A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion. The MIT Press, 2000, pp. 126, 133-135, 138-139.
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference wilson2003 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ Cite error: The named reference richardson was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  5. ^ Richardson, Robert C. (2007). Evolutionary Psychology As Maladapted Psychology. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-262-18260-7.