Talk:Evolutionary psychology/Archive 3

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Merging external links into a new section

The external links for academic societies and journals would be better suited in prose form in a new article section, perhaps one to two paragraphs long. I don't know what you would name it, but "Societies and publications" might work. Viriditas (talk) 04:56, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

Social cognition

I would like to help edit this article. I am not an expert in EP but a very keen student. I am concerned about the initial sentence, and I am requesting editors views. My point is that the opening needs to be not only simple and reader-friendly but also uncontentious (if that is possible). At present it reads:

Evolutionary psychology (EP) attempts to explain psychological traits—such as memory, perception, or language—as adaptations, that is, as the functional products of natural selection or sexual selection.

Is it fair to say that memory, perception and thinking are traditional aspects of cognitive psychology that focus on questions of mechanisms? These three aspects of cognition are basic to how we perceive the world and also subject to natural selection but there are proponents of EP who maintain that the focus of EP should be on strategic functional questions about behavioral decisions, in other words social cognition, which is a higher order of cognition more specific to our behavior. From my reading it seems that there are different EP schools of thought on this. If I am correct then surely the article should start off with a less contentious sentence? What are people’s views on this? If you agree with me then I would like to suggest that, as EP is explained in considerable detail within the article, it can start off as gently as possible with a very simple and reader-friendly sentence (providing, of course, it is not so diluted as to be actually misleading or uninformative). I have selected a few possibilities from the literature (see below):

  • The study of the psychological adaptations of humans to the changing physical and social environment, especially of changes in brain structure, cognitive mechanisms, and behavioral differences among individuals.
  • The study of the way in which a variety of higher mental functions may be adaptations, formed in response to selection pressures on human populations through evolutionary time.
  • A theory of human behavior that incorporates the effects of evolution.
  • The study of the psychological adaptations of humans to the changing physical and social environment, especially of changes in brain structure, cognitive mechanisms, and behavioral differences among individuals.
  • The study of the evolved cognitive structure of the mind.
  • The study of human cognition and behavior with respect to their evolutionary origins.
  • The study of how our minds have evolved, and the traces left by that evolution.
  • The study of the phylogenetic history and adaptive functions of the mind. (Pinker, 2002, p. 51)
  • The evolutionary analysis of human behaviour.

What about the last one - any other suggestions? Granitethighs 10:09, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

EP is of course, not about mechanism per se but function. That said, it can lead to hypotheses about mechanism. I quite like "The study of human cognition and behavior with respect to their evolutionary origins." but that is just me. Dbrodbeck (talk) 11:45, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks DB. I see this article has become stymied and assume there were clashes over different academic approaches to the topic. I would really like to see it rejuvenated and as an "outsider" with editing skills I think I can help by gently improving readability. Perhaps in the process some of the points of disagreement will diminish. Please excuse my presumption but I would like to give it a try. I would like to pass other suggestions by you shortly.Granitethighs 20:53, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
There were lots of clashes, though that seems to be the past. Anyway, I may have overplayed the idea about function, as noted of course evolutionary theories are about function, but, they can make concrete predictions about mechanisms, so like the idea of modularity. Thought I would clear that up. Dbrodbeck (talk) 00:06, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Article suggests that alot of altruism is due to evolved memes rather then genes

Science article: Markets, Religion, Community Size, and the Evolution of Fairness and Punishment. Joseph Henrich, Jean Ensminger, Richard McElreath, Abigail Barr, Clark Barrett, Alexander Bolyanatz, Juan Camilo Cardenas, Michael Gurven, Edwins Gwako, Natalie Henrich, Carolyn Lesorogol, Frank Marlowe, David Tracer, and John Ziker Science 19 March 2010: 1480-1484.

I don't know if anyone wants to incorporate this paper's findings within the article. Its a major paper in a respected journal that shows that altruism is related to our level of market incorporation and our willingingness to perform third-party punishment is related to the community size that we live in. Both findings are inconsistent with the idea that genes simply determine our level of altruism, and instead suggests that shared ideas or memes are required. (talk) 17:13, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

Related disciplines

Within the text of the article there are various sections discussing and describing disciplines related to EP. There is a general tackling of the topic in the introductory matter and then a small section on sociobiology later and other mentions of other disciplines as they emerge in the text. I think it would greatly improve the article if all this was put together (to get the bits together as much as any other reason). This would also serve to orientate those readers new to the topic but who are not quite sure where EP fits in with similar and related topics. The following is a first attempt at doing this. It takes up space but I figure if done well (I need some help here) it can replace quite a lot of the existing text (some of which is unreferenced). Could someone work with me on this?

Related disciplines

The content of EP has derived from, on the one hand, the biological sciences (especially evolutionary theory as it relates to ancient human environments, the study of paleoanthropology and animal behavior) and, on the other, the human sciences especially psychology. Evolutionary biology as an academic discipline emerged with the modern evolutionary synthesis in the 1930s and 1940s,[1] although it was not until the 1970s and 1980s that university departments included the term evolutionary biology in their titles. Several behavioural subjects relate to this core discipline: in the 1930s the the study of animal behaviour (ethology) emerged with the work of Dutch biologist Nikolaas Tinbergen and Austrian biologists Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch. In the 1970s two major branches developed from ethology. Firstly, the study of animal social behavior (including humans) generated sociobiology, defined by its pre-eminent proponent Edward O. Wilson in 1975 as "the systematic study of the biological basis of all social behavior"[2] and in 1978 as "the extension of population biology and evolutionary theory to social organization".[3] Secondly, there was behavioral ecology which placed less emphasis on social behavior by focusing on the ecological and evolutionary basis of both animal and human behavior.

From psychology there there are the primary streams of developmental, social and cognitive psychology. Establishing some measure of the relative influence of genetics and environment on behavior has been at the core of behavioral genetics and its variants, notably studies at the molecular level that examine the relationship between genes, neurotransmitters and behavior. Dual inheritance theory (DIT), developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s, has a slightly different perspective by trying to explain how human behavior is a product of two different and interacting evolutionary processes: genetic evolution and cultural evolution. DIT is a "middle-ground" between much of social science, which views culture as the primary cause of human behavioral variation, and human sociobiology and evolutionary psychology which view culture as an insignificant by-product of genetic selection.[4]

  1. ^ Sterelny, Kim. 2009. In Ruse, Michael & Travis, Joseph (eds) Wilson, Edward O. (Foreword) Evolution: The First Four Billion Years. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Ma. 978-o674031753. p. 314.
  2. ^ Wilson, Edward O. 1975.Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Harvard University Pre ss, Cambridge, Ma. ISBN 0-674-00089-7 p.4.
  3. ^ Wilson, Edward O. 1978. On Human Nature. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Ma. p. x.
  4. ^ Laland, Kevin N. and Gillian R. Brown. 2002. Sense & Nonsense: Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behavior. Oxford University Press, Oxford. pp. 287-319.

Granitethighs 01:08, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Continue copyediting?

I have incorporated the above text since it does not seem to have offended anyone. I have also made the statement of principles as simple as I can. I would like to do more editing - for example there is now repetition in the explanations of what EP is. Also there are some eccentricities in this particular article like citing, or rather naming, in the lead a whole lot of practitioners of the discipline: this could be done I think in a simpler and more digestible way for the reader. There is a bit more possible copyediting too ... what do you think? Granitethighs 12:05, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

I like what you have done so far, keep it up! Dbrodbeck (talk) 12:13, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

Suggest working on adding topics (below) on the EP Temp page to the EP Main page

I think it is time to start fleshing out some of the additional topic areas noted on the EP Temp page (see link at the top of this page) and adding them to the main page. I'll start doing so -- others' help with these new contributions would be appreciated.

  1. 7 Areas of research
   * 7.1 Survival  (already there)
   * 7.2 Mating (already there)
   * 7.3 Parenting (add)
   * 7.4 Kinship (add)
   * 7.5 Group living (add)
  1. 8 EP as an integrative paradigm for psychology (add)
   * 8.1 Cognitive psychology (add)
   * 8.2 Social psychology (add)
   * 8.3 Developmental psychology (add)
   * 8.4 Personality psychology (add)
   * 8.5 Clinical psychology (add)
   * 8.6 Cultural psychology (add)

Memills (talk) 16:46, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

Is a short introduction really required?

Evolution is discussed in the Evolution article, do you really need to add an extra section to introduce evolution again in this article, couldn't it just be put in a link in the see also section? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ollyoxenfree (talkcontribs) 04:17, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

"Explains" or "examines"

There seems to be a bit of an edit war going on as to whether or not the word "explains" or "examines" should be used in the first sentence of the introductory paragraph:

Evolutionary psychology (EP) [explains/examines] psychological traits—such as memory, perception, or language—as adaptations, that is, as the functional products of natural selection or sexual selection.

Using the term "examines" is more appropriate, IMO. Using the term "explains" seems a bit presumptuous. Certainly, there are those who would contest the notion that EP actually "explains" what it purports to, (i.e., "psychological adaptations"). There is a certain POV "ring" to such a claim. However, it would not seem so controversial to state that EP "examines" psychological traits in such a manner. Whether or not EP actually "explains" what it does indeed "examine" from a particular perspective should be left up to the reader to decide and not merely presumed in the article's opening statement. Thus, using the word "examines" would be more conducive to NPOV. EPM (talk) 14:37, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

How about "would explain" or "describes" or " be"? It's about how EP refers to "psychological traits"; not what it does with them (i.e. "examines") — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ekimiheart (talkcontribs) 07:48, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

How about "proposes to explain" or "seeks adaptational explanations for ..." ?·Maunus·ƛ· 18:51, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

Recent edits by User:Ekimiheart

The recent edits Ekimiheart (talk · contribs) have several problems that mean that they cannot be introduced in the form that Ekimiheart wants. They are out of encyclopedic style, containing much hyperbole and editorializing about the way evolutionary psychology relates to other branches of psychology. It also refers to wikipedia which isnot permissible. It seems that Ekimiheart has much knowledge about and interest in the topic, but we require attention to the encyclopedic style of the material included as well.·Maunus·ƛ· 19:51, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

RESPONSE: First, let me apologize for not knowing that you cannot refer to Wikipedia in an article. But I wanted to use a definition of "hard" and "soft" science to make my point and felt it would be more appreciated if I use the definition from Wikipedia in doing this. I could have easily found another definition on the web for the same purpose. But, given that Wiki articles routinely link to other Wiki articles, I didn't see the problem in doing so and then using what was said within that article to make my point. How would this have been done to be in compliance with the expectations of Wiki editors? Is it just that I said "Wikipedia" in the article, and could have done what I did exactly had I not said "Wikipedia"? I'm all ears, as this should certainly be an easy issue to rectify.

Now more to the meat of the issue: To make this discussion of what I had inserted productive, it is imperative (especially when dealing with a science site) to be specific. To use general terms like "encyclopedic style", "hyperbole" and "editorializing" does little good without specifying the particular phrase or word choice that is the problem. It would allow me to simply assert "I did not use hyperbole" --and where does that leave us? So let us start with "hyperbole". Could you specify a particular phrase where you perceive hyperbole being used? I do know I took pains to admit the current limitations of the new science through use limiting words such as "attempts", "merely", "limited", etc. (I might gently remind the editors that simply describing an elephant as "large" is not hyperbole.) I don't assert what EP does ---only what it is attempting to do, in overview, within the larger context of natural science. And, it would disingenuous to obfuscate the fact that EP is, at least, attempting to do very "large" things.

Two additional points I probably should make at the outset.

First, I thought my comments were consistent with both the "revolutionary" aspect of Wikipedia (Be Bold!); but also with the proper placement within an "Overview" section --the term directing one to go beyond mere description (as is the character of each opening section) to a deeper "putting it all into the larger perspective" approach. This is especially important for the new science given the intense confusion regarding its logical placement within the broader Natural Science category of Biology (i.e. as a branch of Primatology).

Second, I had sent the EP Overview page including my edits (and before it had been reverted) to Frans DeWaal, who is one of the most well-known and respected primatologists in the world (and who has written extensively about Evolutionary Psychology and its connection to Primatology). He read through my comments and found them "very interesting". He apparently didn't see any particular inappropriateness about my description of the science in an Overview page of an encyclopedic article.

I eagerly await a response, but I have never gone through this process before so I might come off as rather awkward at the outset. I'll probably do "what just isn't done", many times over before I get the gist of this.Ekimiheart (talk) 18:53, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

Fair enough, you did nothing wrong by being bold. What you did wrong was only to keep reinserting the material without engaing in discussion. The basic principle of how to be bold is to respect the cycle of Bold-Revert-Discuss. You wrote:
Evolutionary psychology (EP) is the first psychology that attempts to proceed, undeviatingly, from the base premise that human beings are primate animals and, as is true of all biological organisms, subject to the laws of Darwinian evolution. Tautologically, it is defined as the science of the human primate brain and, in turn, understands itself to be a branch of Primatology (and, thus, of Natural Science) as opposed to being a branch of traditional, “soft”, human science psychology. As Wikipedia correctly defines ”hard” as “perceived as being more scientific, rigorous, or accurate’, in conjunction with the fact that science always moves in the direction of becoming more “rigorous” and “accurate”, the dichotomy of “soft” science vs. “hard” science was never meant to be a permanent feature of science itself, but rather a transitional one. In overview, EP is merely a terminology representing the beginning movement of this transition towards its completion. Although EP’s ability to make successful predictions about the nature of human primate behavior is, as yet, fairly limited (as is also true, for example, of the limited predictive power of the natural science of Meteorology), it’s framework as a branch of natural science will, necessarily, seek to incorporate all of the psychological sciences under its rubric and to end the transitional division of “soft” and “hard” science.
In the previous I have marked in bold face each phrase that is unnecessarily using editorializing to direct the reader to understand the topic from a particular viewpoint. This is not how articles in encyclopedic style is written - the article should neutrally and factually state what the topic is, not try to convince the reader that a particular viewpoint on the topic is preferable. Describing the discipline as "the first psychology that...", or its goal to do something "undeviatingly" is also hyperbole that serves to paint the discipline in a particular light, that is not neutral. Regarding Frans de Waal's response that really doesn't mean anything at all - teachers typically tell their students that their ideas are "very interesting" when they are Not even wrong, but the professor can't be bothered to argue, I know I do. I think the whole point about hard and soft science is out of place - there is nothing particularly hard about evolutionary psychology compared with other kind of psychology or social science. ·Maunus·ƛ· 19:46, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

Interesting article

"Stone age solutions to depression"

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Phenylalanine (talkcontribs) 22:17, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

Nice short definition

"evolutionary psychology. Founded in the late 1980s in the ashes of sociobiology, this field asserts that behaviors that conferred a fitness advantage during the era when modern humans were evolving are the result of hundreds of genetically based cognitive "modules" preprogrammed in the brain."

So you experts may want to add "EP studies behaviors that conferred a fitness advantage during the era when modern humans were evolving" or something. Anyway, IMHO good article explaining EP and what is wrong with it. Or maybe this link belongs to controversies page? Please do as you feel right and remove this.

I do not really like anything that says pre programmed. It could be worked on though. I am not sure that newsweek is a useful source either, perhaps an intro book would be better? Dbrodbeck (talk) 15:20, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

recently expanded controversy section

I thought we went through this 3 years ago, but anyway... New material has been added, please take a look. My view is that the material added, a philosophical criticism of a science, seems to put too much weight on the view of philosophers (I think I said such a thing a few years back). What do others think? Dbrodbeck (talk) 13:13, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

Hello. That is just 2-3 sentences. That section is about controversy and was already too meager. Are there more notable controversies? Another thing is that it is really rare for philosophers to arrive at consensus on something! So, this is really notable :-) --DoostdarWKP (talk) 13:17, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Dbrodbeck. This issue has already been been discussed at length. Further, it is an overstatement, without apparent empirical support (e.g., a representative survey of philosophers) that EP is 'deeply flawed."
Compare with this statement from another philosopher (already in the Controversies main page):
"In his review article Discovery and Confirmation in Evolutionary Psychology (in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Psychology) Edouard Machery concludes:
"...there is little reason to endorse a principled skepticism toward evolutionary psychology: Although clearly fallible, the discovery heuristics and the strategies of confirmation used by evolutionary psychologists are on a firm grounding."
Another example: Dan Dennett, a prominent philosopher, is, of course, a strong proponent of EP.
Bottom line is this -- this article is about the science of EP, not about the opinions that some philosophers may have about it pro or con.
Again, the appropriate place for any objections by philosophers, or other non-science fields, is in the EP Controversies main page. Memills (talk) 06:26, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
There are two independent statement: (1) There is NOT a broad consensus among philosophers of science that evolutionary psychology is a deeply flawed, (2) There are philosophers who support evolutionary psychology.
The article in the Stanford Encyclopedia says that both (1) and (2) are true: "I said in my introduction that there is a broad consensus among philosophers of science that evolutionary psychology is a deeply flawed enterprise but there are proponents of evolutionary psychology among philosophers of science." And the author cites Edouard Machery, Clark Barrett, Robert Arp as examples.
By citing Edouard Machery and Dan Dennett, you have simply shown statement (2) is correct (in fact, we have 4 philosophers by now). You have not shown that (1) is correct. To claim that (1) is correct, you need a reliable source that summarizes the view of the dominant majority rather than speaking of one's own viewpoint (and the article in the Stanford Encyclopedia does exactly that).
And lastly, the claim that psychology and philosophy are completely separate spheres of knowledge without any interplay is inaccurate. Philosophers are looking at evolutionary psychology from their own perspective. And their view is part of the "evolutionary psychology" package. And obviously exclusive inclusion of the view of the practitioners of "evolutionary psychology" makes the article systematically biased, because those who have devoted their life to evolutionary psychology are among those who were already convinced that it is important in the first place. You cannot expect someone who does not share such a conviction to become a practitioner in "evolutionary psychology". --DoostdarWKP (talk) 10:00, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Again, this issue was thoroughly explored about 3 years ago, and a general consensus was reached that non-science based criticisms of the field (philosophical, religious, political, etc.) would be explored quite generously on the EP Controversies Main Page, while the main EP Main Page focuses on empirical findings (both corroborative and disconfirming). This has been the consensus for other science based disciplines on Wikipedia. Memills (talk) 17:13, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, there is a difference between philosophical, and the rest "religious, political, etc." And naturally speaking if there is a controversy section here, it should summarize what is included in the main article. I am not saying that we should go into details but there is nothing wrong with mentioning the existence of a controversy. And consensus can change.
Honestly to me this sounds like censorship. --DoostdarWKP (talk) 08:28, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
Of course it can change. However, it does not seem to have changed. I see why scientific criticisms fit in a different category than others, but those using other methods of inquiry (including philosophy) do not belong in a science article. Dbrodbeck (talk) 13:21, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
I disagree that this article should not include even one sentence in the controversy section about the view of philosophers. At the top of this page, it even says that "This article is within the scope of the WikiProject Philosophy, which collaborates on articles related to philosophy." --DoostdarWKP (talk) 13:48, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
I doubt that any evolutionary psychologists added this. Evolutionary psychologists do not consider their discipline a philosophy any more than geological scientists would consider their discipline to be a sub-field of philosophy. Memills (talk) 19:27, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
I just thought I should note that "philosopher of science" can be used as a synonym for "scientist", in the same sense that "science" was once called "natural philosophy", and a "PhD" is a "Philosophiae Doctor". My interpretation of the term in a bit of context would be "person who sees significant value in application of the scientific method", which seems to fit with what the philosophy of science page describes. Thus, it implicitly sounds like the quotee's objection to the field of evolutionary psychology is that he feels it does not apply the scientific method appropriately. That said, I have no idea what comprises evolutionary psychology, who is being quoted, what justification the quotee has for his opinion, or the issues to which the quote might be referring. I therefore can't form a valid opinion of my own, but widespread failure to apply the scientific method appropriately would definitely be a significant issue with the soundness of a scientific field, e.g. the controversy surrounding so-called "string theory". Ndickson (talk) 09:33, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

Exclusively, or not exclusively? (Re EvPsych's way of viewing the world)

The article states:

"Evolutionary psychology (EP) is an approach within psychology that examines psychological traits — such as memory, perception, or language — from a Darwinian evolutionary perspective."

Can some expert on the subject please be more specific about what "from a Darwinian perspective" means? Does it imply that everything about the makeup of present-day human nature is assumed by evolutionary psychologists to be the result of natural selection, and that no other causes are tolerated? (Because if so, that is quite notable -- and if not, it's probably worth clarifying that it's not the case.) As an ignorant outsider, I for one, would be grateful to learn more about this. Thanks.Daqu (talk) 17:35, 11 January 2011 (UTC)

EP takes the same approach to the mind/brain and does general evolutionary theory to the body. For an overview, see Confer, et al., (2010) Evolutionary Psychology: Controversies, Questions, Prospects, and Limitations. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Memills (talkcontribs) 20:38, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the response. But despite my perhaps poor choice of words, I'm not asking just for my own sake but -- above all -- for the sake of the article.Daqu (talk) 17:35, 11 January 2011 (UTC)

I am having an issue with the first statement: "Evolutionary psychology (EP) is an approach within psychology that examines psychological traits — such as memory, perception, or language — from a modern evolutionary perspective." I am sure this is how EP's would view it, but it sounds as if ALL 'modern evolutionary perspectives' would necessarily concur with the approach taken by EP. In other words, it would appear that the general and less contested theory of "evolution" is being used in this sentence to bolster support for EP, which is a certain take on evolutionary ideas, focusing on adaptive selection while making certain assumptions about the 'mind' - assumptions much disputed by academics that may very well support the standard theory of evolution. Logic prevails (talk) 16:15, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

Dispute about Evolutionary psychology having the status of a science

According to Lawrence Shapiro in the Rutledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (a peer reviewed encyclopedia in Philosophy), there is a dispute as to whether this field can be considered as a science. "Critics have objected that evolutionary psychology is untestable because hypotheses about the EEA cannot be tested, that evolutionary psychology is adaptationist to a fault, and that commitment to the existence of a human nature is inconsistent with evolutionary theory." --DoostdarWKP (talk) 04:54, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

Better inform these poor folks of this: EP Research Groups and Centers. Further, Shapiro has apparently moderated his views, arguing in a 2009 book review that EP can rest on a theory of functionalism, even sans an assumption of historical adaptation, and thus "remains a sensible research program." See his book review in Metascience. Memills (talk) 06:02, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
In that article, Shapiro himself does not full heartedly support this criticism, but raises some objections about the criticism himself. But he does report that this is one of the ways that the critics criticize EP. And that's all I meant: "Some philosophers think that EP is untestable." --DoostdarWKP (talk) 07:50, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
I still have no idea why a philosopher's opinion matters about this. We have had a criticisms page, let us keep it there. This has all been discussed a lot, and there seems little change in consensus. Dbrodbeck (talk) 12:05, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. A recent book review by H. Clark Barrett makes the point that some philosophical arguments are really "language games" with little relevance to actual science. See the review here. Memills (talk) 16:03, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
That idea was first proposed by a philosopher - Wittgenstein. "Science" as a distinct undertaking and a special kin of epistemology was first defined by a philosopher - Popper. There would have been no Einstein without Spinoza. There would have been no science without philosophers like Descartes and Kant. The kind of mathematics that enable scientists to do science were developed by philosophers such as Russell, Whitehead, Gödel, Pierce and many other. The notion of a scientific paradigm, such as the one evolutionary psychology pretends to be comes from Kuhn - a philosopher. It betrays a fundamental ignorance of what science is to suggest that philosophy is irrelevant to scientific topics. ·Maunus·ƛ· 16:33, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
Word game: I came from my mother. My mother was a woman. Therefore, I am a woman. Scientific hypotheses and theories cannot ultimately be evaluated by philosophical argumentation, but by empirical tests. (talk) 20:29, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
That is neither a word game or philosophical its just silly. ·Maunus·ƛ· 21:09, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
Since the 'science' of EP actually arose from ideas produced by philosophy - particularly as it relates to theory of mind, information-processing, modularity, etc., so I think it is fair to listen to philosophers who take issue with how EP's use these ideas in their methodology. Science is much more than experimental hypothesis testing... hypotheses need to originate from somewhere... hopefully from someplace logical. Most of the critics take issue with the assumptions made by EP before they even begin the 'research' we often associate with science. Logic prevails (talk) 15:03, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

RfC: Should the view of philosophers be added in one sentence to the controversy section

The discussion is about inclusion of the following text in the controversy section of this article: According to Stephen M. Downes in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "There is a broad consensus among philosophers of science that evolutionary psychology is a deeply flawed enterprise."[1]. Two editors believe that this should not be included, even in one sentence in the controversy section of this article because philosophy is not part of the science, and of a previous consensus not to do so. Discussion can be found at Talk:Evolutionary_psychology#recently_expanded_controversy_section. DoostdarWKP (talk) 13:43, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

  • Add: I think this is clearly a notable viewpoint - as long as it is attributed to Stephen M. Downes and any counter viewpoints are also presented I think it should definitely be included. (It could for example be mentioned that Dennett and Dawkins are among those who do advocate it)·Maunus·ƛ· 13:48, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Do Not Add We have an article on this, but the main article is about a science, scientific criticism is fine here. If we add philosophy here perhaps we should add every other non scientific criticism as well? As an aside, an RFC, after such a short time strikes me as a tad extreme but so be it. Dbrodbeck (talk) 13:56, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

.*comment I don't believe there is any sensible way to distinguish sharply between scientific topics and other topics. And even if there were, philosophy of science would still be relevant to scientific topics. Thirdly there is no reason I can see that evolutionary psychology should be considered more scientific than othert kinds of psychology. And yes, according to our policies when we treat the topic of Evolutionary psychology we should include all relevant viewpoints- not just the "scientific" ones, whatever that is supposed to mean.·Maunus·ƛ· 17:10, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

  • comment psychology is a science. I do not consider EP any more or less scientific than other things in psychology, I am sorry if it came off that way. Dbrodbeck (talk) 17:26, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
  • comment Then I don't understand your problem - would you really argue that philosophical criticisms of Psychology are irrelevant? I think that would be a fairly radically positivist viewpoint.·Maunus·ƛ· 17:32, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
  • comment I'm leaning toward adding, because in general the (online) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a very well-written and well-edited website. But I would be even more strongly in favor if *also* a response to that article could be mentioned, (and/or linked to and/or quoted) by some leading exponent of evolutionary psychology -- if such a response has been published in a reputable venue. My reason for this opinion is that controversies in this and related fields are often influenced by "political correctness" rather than careful independent thought. (I don't know enough about the subject to even have an independent opinion of my own re whether in fact evolutionary psychology is seriously flawed.) But I certainly believe that philosophy of science can be extremely relevant to controversial areas of science. It is definitely an error to insist that philosophers of science are in general ill-informed about the subjects of their philosophy, or that such discussions are typically "unscientific".Daqu (talk) 07:55, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Do Not Add

As I noted in the previous section above:

This issue was thoroughly explored about 3 years ago, and a general consensus was reached that non-science based criticisms of the field (philosophical, religious, political, etc.) would be explored quite generously on the Evolutionary Psychology Controversy page, while the Evolutionary Psychology Main Page focuses on empirical findings (both corroborative and disconfirming). This has been the consensus for other science based disciplines on Wikipedia.

Further, the specific passage that is being argued for inclusion here is not based on any empirical evidence (e.g., a survey of philosophers), and it is contradicted by other philosophers who believe that EP is on a "firm grounding." The debate among philosophers may be interesting, but it is not appropriate for the Evolutionary Psychology main page. However, it would be appropriate for inclusion in the Evolutionary Psychology Controversy page. Memills (talk) 18:36, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

  • Do not add As explained above, it is not appropriate to list cherry picked views of some people who have no relevant scientific credentials. If some official body of philosophers were to hold a conference and issue findings, we might reconsider. But if a historian made a statement that a broad consensus of historians did not believe in evolutionary psychology there would need to be a compelling reason to include it; same for a philosopher. Johnuniq (talk) 00:38, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Do not add Firstly, there is doubt about the "consensus" referred to. Secondly, the expression of generalized opinions in this way is not productive: much better to express clearly argued evidence-based views. If the evidence "against" EP is clear then the rest will follow automatically.Granitethighs 07:48, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Add This statement is from a respectable professor and published in a respectable academic source, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, an encyclopedia that summarizes the views of philosophers. The author himself says that there is a minority who thinks otherwise. Even Edouard Machery, a proponent of EP, that was quoted above confirms that "Evolutionary psychology remains a very controversial approach in psychology" and then of course rejects this situation; he does not deny the very fact that this enterprise is controversial; he thinks it is ill informed, but one may ask what is he reacting to in the first place? Memills claims that the statement in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is exaggerated but has not (so far) provided any quotation from any philosopher that would describe the view of the dominant majority; he has just claimed without any proof - so far. Anyone familiar with history books, for instance, knows that statements like "Most historians", etc are common there and of course historians don't come together to issue a common verdict! This is a strange demand indeed. It is the responsibility of the publisher and the reviewers of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to verify this; and after all it would be most embarrassing for the author himself to make such a claim about the view of his own academic community. It is none of our business to claim that the sentence is wrong unless we can bring another quotation that describes the view of the majority and contradicts this. Editors should not act based on speculations without having a solid quotation from a peer-reviewed respectable publication. The main claim here is that "Philosophy" is not part of the sciences, and hence their views should be excluded. But the question of whether EP's basic is a flawed enterprise or not, is not a scientific one; it is a philosophical one for one can test and falsify particular statements inside a field but one cannot test how useful a whole field is; whether "this field is going to answer these questions" is a meta-scientific statement. Even if we ask scientists to answer this question, their answers will be "the views of some scientists" and not "part of science". Furthermore, one can replace the word "scientist" with the word "academic", if it is simply a matter of distinguishing them from religious and political authorities that some may consider "ill-informed".--DoostdarWKP (talk) 09:25, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
    distinguishing them from religious and political authorities that some may consider "ill-informed"
    As opposed to philosophers of science, who have no training in evolution and no training in psychology? Johnuniq (talk) 09:43, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
    The article says re philosophers of science, "For philosophers of science —mostly philosophers of biology—evolutionary psychology provides a critical target". Philosophers of biology are ill informed?--DoostdarWKP (talk) 09:47, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment The statement "There is a broad consensus among philosophers of science that evolutionary psychology is a deeply flawed enterprise." is very close to Weasel words. It is not the sentiments I object to but its lack of productive value - if this statement goes in then it needs justification. Granitethighs 09:35, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
comment the problem is that some editors say that we should exclude all philosophical views. I am asking for one sentence only to say that the controversy exists, and yet there is opposition to adding that one sentence. If we can have more the one sentence, we can go into details and of course I would prefer that too. --DoostdarWKP (talk) 09:47, 9 January 2011 (UTC)'
comment But why insist that it go on the EP Main page? Go ahead and insert it in the EP Controversies page where the issues can be further fleshed out. Otherwise, the main page becomes cluttered with philosophical, rather than scientific, pro-con args. Memills (talk) 18:32, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
I am just asking for one sentence. Or two, without any details. If you want to avoid the term "consensus" I am fine with it. We can just say "Many philosophers think ... although X and Y think otherwise." I am really open to compromise. And then one sentence saying that the main criticisms of the field is that (not sure if these are the criticisms of philosophers or everybody): 1. evolutionary psychology is untestable because hypotheses about the EEA cannot be tested 2. evolutionary psychology is adaptationist to a fault 3. commitment to the existence of a human nature is inconsistent with evolutionary theory --DoostdarWKP (talk) 04:54, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
  • comment I generally agree with the perspective offered by DoosdarWKP. I do not understand how proponents of EP can dismiss statements made by philosophers on grounds of them not coming from 'scientific' paradigms. Firstly, it should be noted that part of the controversy involves claims that EP is itself at times 'un-scientific'; if true, this would put it on the same playing ground with philosophers looking to make logical attacks on it. Secondly, many proponents of EP fail to realize that the assumptions they make (before doing their 'science') are philosophical ones (specifically, 'philosophy of mind'). Assumptions of a 'modular mind', for example, are for the most part philosophical positions - they are not scientific statements in the sense that EP's would like them to be. The 'science of EP,' is therefore part science and part philosophy; philosophers have a right to take a position here. And while the details can be ironed out in the 'controversy' page, I think it fair to have a short statement here about the position that the majority of philosophers take. As it stands right now, the article is written nearly all in favor of EP, which serves a bias of its own that is not reflective of the general academic (e.g. psychological or philosophical) community. Logic prevails (talk) 12:14, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Do Not Add

From a critical thinking perspective, the proposal under discussion basically combines two fallacies: An argument from authority (noted guy Doe says P, so P must be true) with an argumentum ad populum in the quoted assertion (many guys believe that P, so P is true). As long as this quote from Mr Downes does not include an argumentation or demonstration of why and how evolutionary psychology is a "flawed enterprise", it will just remain fallacious rhetoric. Moreover, as already pointed by others, there is a specific article dedicated to controversies about EP. Even if the quote wasn't a fallacy, its place would obviously be on that page. This said, I do find a bit unsettling that the intro of the evolutionary psychology article doesn't mention its controversial aspect: When a special page is dedicated to controversies generated by the topic of the article, a minimum would be to have the wikilinked word "controversy" in the intro. But that's admittedly another story... --Doctorcito (talk) 17:47, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

  • comment Doctorcito, I kindly disagree with your claim of a logical fallacy. If you are saying that such a statement needs to be accompanied by "an argumentation or demonstration of why and how evolutionary psychology is a 'flawed enterprise,'" then it is also reasonable that statements on this page, made in favor of EP, be accompanied by the same. For example, let's take the following statement from the introduction: "Adaptationist thinking about physiological mechanisms, such as the heart, lungs, and immune system, is common in evolutionary biology. Evolutionary psychology applies the same thinking to psychology." Should this not come with a thorough explanation as to why they believe this is possible? To be brief, it would seem to me that the entire article makes huge assumptions while it presents a view sympathetic to the EP position - it is not unfair to mention, here or there, that there are criticisms of these views. And if an entire field (i.e. philosophy) is for the most part critical of it, then that should be mentioned somewhere. Logic prevails (talk) 12:14, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Add per Maunus. This is a fairly extremist view, but worth including if properly attributed. I'd like to point out that philosophy of science deals with questions such as if something can be called science. It's not "just philosophy". Tijfo098 (talk) 08:09, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Add. Yes, it's pretty close to meaningless. It doesn't even try to explain why philosophers of science don't like EP. It doesn't acknowledge that philosophers of mind sometimes embrace EP. It's just another "vote" against EP promoted by the people who don't like EP. It doesn't inform the reader about EP (the purpose of this page). But frankly the success of EP is so solid now that I'm inclined to let the losers in the EP/no-EP debate have a little extra leeway. If this is the best they can do, OK, let them have their sentence. Leadwind (talk) 14:42, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

describe EEA?

The article defines EEA without describing it. The Human evolution page doesn't describe it either. How big were the bands? What tools did they use? What social structure is presumed? That sort of thing. What is the environment that we evolved for? Would that be on some other page? Leadwind (talk) 02:22, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

Good point, we need something there. Not sure if directly on this page, but somewhere for sure. Dbrodbeck (talk) 03:01, 23 January 2011 (UTC)
Let's build out the EEA section here, and if it gets big enough we can spin it off onto its own page. Leadwind (talk) 17:38, 23 January 2011 (UTC)


It's important to address the criticism that EP has received, to dismiss it if nothing else. Since criticism of EP gets coverage in our commonly accepted reference texts, it should get coverage here, too (per WP:WEIGHT). And if we don't address the criticism then we don't have a chance to tell the reader that EP has won out against the critics. Leadwind (talk) 14:38, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

It hasn't.·Maunus·ƛ· 14:40, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
Well it has pretty much within psychology anyway, if you look at any intro text you will see a section, or chapter on evolutionary psych. Dbrodbeck (talk) 14:42, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
Maunus, EP has won out. A solid mainstream source, Encyclopedia Britannica, says as much. And that's what tertiary sources are best at: telling us which side enjoys predominant support. University-level textbooks are other good sources for this sort of high-level review of the field. If you think that EP is still "unproven" or whatever, find a disinterested secondary or tertiary source that agrees with you (per WP:WEIGHT). Leadwind (talk) 14:55, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
Could you direct me to where exactly the Britannica says this. As far as i can see it doesn't even have an article on EP, the article on psychology doesn't mention EP, the article on Steven Pinker doesn't even mmention it - it is only mentioned in the article on "instinct" and the article on Social behavior in animals which spends more time discussing sociobiology to which it is is overtly critical when it mentions EP it says "the relatively new discipline of EP can easily go too far in extnding evolutionary explanations to human behavior". Not exactly what I would take as a sign of having "won out". In any case the fact that it has become a mainstream discipline, which admittedly it has, doesn't mean that it has "won out" against its critics. As Suplizio (2006) writes it has largely ignored criticisms from other fields rather than engage with them.·Maunus·ƛ· 12:24, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
Please check out any (well pretty much any) current introduction to Psychology textbook. There are sections on EP. The most recent edition of Myers' Psychology in fact makes a point of mentioning the increased coverage of EP. Dbrodbeck (talk) 13:03, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
Thius means that EP exists - not that it has "won out against its critics" - as you see even the encyclopedia britannica is critical of EP. This is another recent critical book: Evolutionary Psychology as Maladapted Psychology By Robert C. Richardson. MIT Press ·Maunus·ƛ· 13:05, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
"Psychology" by Daniel Schacter, Daniel Gilbert and Daniel Wegner (2007) dedicated 3 out of 800 pages to EP - half of which is made up of criticism. It certainly doesn't givce the impression that EP has won out. This was just the first Psychology textbook I found, i didn't pick it out especially.·Maunus·ƛ· 13:16, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
In all fairness, it seems like a good idea to cite this book, both the positive and the negative. Tertiary sources, such as university-level textbooks, are really good for describing the current state of an academic debate. Leadwind (talk) 15:05, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────There seems to be considerable exaggeration from some editors in this thread about how well evolutionary psychology is accepted among psychologists, not to mention how well accepted it is among other scientists who study human behavior. Try checking a source list I maintain to share with other Wikipedians for some leads to sources. Some other good sources are also mentioned above in this thread. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 23:41, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

Maunus, would be be able to summarize the three pages in that textbook covering EP? Not just find the stuff that you agree with, of course, but objectively summarize the 3 pages? Seems like that book would be a good source for us. Also, as you apparently have access to the textbook, could you see how it treats various issues that are part of the EP debate? For example, does it agree with Gould's charge from the 1970s that humans have no inborn predispositions toward any particular personality? Does it agree that gender is a social construct and that there are no built-in psychological differences between men and women? Does it agree that socialization is a general-purpose training system in which the child is a recipient (as opposed to the EP story, by which the child unrolls successive, built-in self-programming modules in order to pick up language, identify kin, learn social roles, etc.)? If you've to a top-notch source, let's use it. Leadwind (talk) 15:22, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
Yeah i can do that - Im a little short on time, but Ill see if I get get to it within th next ciuple of days.·Maunus·ƛ· 17:39, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

What "Psychology" by Wegner, Schacter & Gilbert says about EP

Actually the book has less than the 3 pages I said it had - the second page is taken up by an unrelated infobox, and only the first paragraph of the third page is about EP. The authors divide the topic into 1. the history of the evolutionary framework in psychology Darwin/James/Galton - examples of EP hypotheses of adaptive motivation for modern psychological traits - description of the critique of EP as generating untestable hypotheses - and an example of the ways in which EP has worked to get around that problem. It does not suggest that EP has finally convinced its critics, but it does state that it is developing and gaining momentum as a subdiscipline within psychology.

"Evolutionary psychology explains mind and behavior in terms of the adaptive value of abilities that are preserved over time by natural selection. Evolutionary psychology has its roots in Charles Darwin’s (1809–82) theory of natural selection, which inspired William James’s functionalist approach. But it is only since the publication in 1975 of Sociobiology, by the biologist E. O. Wilson, that evolutionary thinking has had an identifiable presence in psychology. That presence is steadily increasing (Buss, 1999; Pinker, 1997a; Tooby & Cosmides, 2000)." (p. 26)

"Critics of the evolutionary approach point out that many current traits of people and other animals probably evolved to serve different functions than those they currently serve. ... Complications like these have lead the critics to wonder how evolutionary hypotheses can ever be tested (Coyne, 2000; Sterelny & Griffiths, 1999). Testing ideas about the evolutionary origins of psychological phenomena is indeed a challenging task, but not an impossible one (Buss, Haselton, Shackelford, Bleske, & Wakefield, 1998; Pinker, 1997b). Evolutionary psychologists hold that behaviors or traits that occur universally in all cultures are good candidates for evolutionary adaptations." (p. 26-27)

This is pretty much the core of what they say about EP - they present a couple of examples of how EP has linked psychological traits with adaptive functions, and they mention that "evolutionary psychologists are becoming more inventive" in their attempts to test adaptive hypotheses. One example is studies that link certain psychological or physical traits to reproductive succes directly. It is clear that the main criticism they see is the fact that adaptive hypotheses are difficult and often impossible to test - they say as much. This is what has prompted critiques of EP being simply a framework for generating just so stories rather than an actually scientific endeavor. If the article mentions just one critique of EP then this should be it - just as. The possible ethical implications are not nearly as important.

Thanks. That's very informative. I see that the authors venture no criticism of EP themselves and give EP the last word on testability. I'm still curious to see how the authors treat, say, gender differentiation in the rest of the book. Do they ascribe to the model that psychological differences between men and women are all learned (as John Money said)? Or to the model that men and women have built-in differences (as EP says)? Leadwind (talk) 13:06, 31 January 2011 (UTC)


Folks keep hating on the information I added from EBO, which says that EP has been criticized. From comments, it sounds like editors think I'm criticizing EP, but read the material again (or read it in the original on EBO). It's a demonstrable fact that critics have accused EP of being a right-wing conspiracy. We can neutrally state as much. EP is at the point at which it's safe to acknowledge the criticism because EP has won out. Let's not hide from the fact that EP has been criticized. Let's embrace it. The academic left has been trying to shout down EP for 30 years and has failed. That's a story worth telling.

Maybe my wording could be clearer, but let's work with the concept rather than accept only half the material I added from EBO. Leadwind (talk) 14:48, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

Look, the way you write this it does not seem as if you are interested in providing actual neutral descriptions of the controversies, but it reads very much as if you are on a political quest. I hope very much that this will not be apparent in what ever you wish to write. The criticisms against EP are not just of a political nature - it isn't simply leftists out to get the social darwinists - there are fundamental critiques of the way EP handles data form other disciplines and how it articulates itself as a science. These critiques are reported fairly in psychology textbooks like Schacter, Wegner and Gilbert's and in Encyclopedia Britannica - wikipedia should not somehow try to paint a picture of EP as having won out against the leftists or even that it has succesfully defended itself against it - not untill mainstream sources state that it has. We cannot just take Pinker, Tooby, Buss and Cosmides' word that they have succesfully defeated the political correct liberals - we need reliable sources to say that this is the consensus - the sources I have reviewed do not give this impression but rather states clearly that the criticisms are still open. The fact that there are criticisms doesn't discredit EP as a discipline or mean that it doesn't exist - most of the same criticisms also apply to Sociobiology which is also a very lively field of research. You are not doing evolutionary psychology a favor by trying to make it look as everybody agrees that it is the holy grail of psychology.·Maunus·ƛ· 14:07, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree, I think that quickly pointing out and pointing out the dismissal, and then showing a link to the controversy article is not bad at all. Dbrodbeck (talk) 17:35, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
"wikipedia should not somehow try to paint a picture of EP as having won out against the leftists or even that it has succesfully defended itself against it - not untill mainstream sources state that it has." I think I agree. EB is a commonly accepted mainstream source that pretty much says as much. It was an open question in 70s and even into the 80s. But even Gould wound up (coyly) admitting he was wrong about people not having inborn predispositions. Leadwind (talk) 15:00, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
This is not what I can find in EB - could you show me what it is EB says about EP?·Maunus·ƛ· 16:05, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

The particular passage in question seems to be the third from the bottom of the Encyclopedia Britannica (EB) article. It reads:
"One of the key criticisms of human sociobiology is borne of fear that the findings will be used to effect unfair or immoral policies. Examples include use of social Darwinism to justify discriminatory practices, economic policies that benefit relatively few at the expense of many, genocide, eugenics, and legal systems that fail to protect the vulnerable segments within populations. These potential problems suggest the need for deep ethical consideration of the implications of evolutionary psychology. Such an approach would investigate how results might be used ethically, to benefit society, or unethically, to cause harm."
Morton Shumwaytalk 22:02, 27 January 2011 (UTC). (A little more context seems useful here. The EB article referenced in the last paragraph of the WP article lede is "social behaviour, animal." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 23 Jan. 2011 ([[2]]). Morton Shumwaytalk 02:09, 28 January 2011 (UTC).

TO me that does not at all read as a statement that EP "has won out" or that the criticisms levelled against it are unfounded - on the contrary it clearly acknowledges that EP has potentially unethical implications that should be adrssed by its practicioners. In any case it is a very fair dexcription of ONE of the criticisms - not at all does this statement cover all of the critiques that have been presented towards EP.·Maunus·ƛ· 00:30, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
The conclusion for that section reads: "The real danger lies not in the scientific findings of evolutionary psychology but in the failure to recognize that scientific findings should never dictate ethics and morality. Policies that affect the rights, opportunities, and dignity of human beings occur within the moral rather than the scientific realm of human endeavour." In other words, EP poses no "real danger." Also, read the entire section. It starts with John Money's view that gender is socially constructed, a view that did not pan out scientifically or personally for the boys that were raised as girls under his direction. Then it says that, despite the difficulty, EP has featured solid studies on a number of issues. It brings up the criticism but then says that EP isn't a danger. To me, that treatment represents a solid win for EP. Try finding such a positive assessment of, say, John Money's idea that gender is socially constructed in any mainstream, neutral, authoritative source.
Per WP:WEIGHT, we use commonly accepted reference texts (e.g. EBO) especially to identify the majority viewpoint, especially when there is a variety of opinion on an issue. The majority viewpoint is that EP is on solid ground scientifically and ethically. If you dispute this, then find a commonly accepted reference text that says something different. Leadwind (talk) 15:15, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
I disagree with your assessment of its general treatment of EP as being positive. It does suggest that the ethical concern is not a decisive criticism against EP but it accepts it as a valid concern. It doesnt deal with any of the other common critiques. The article also isnt about EP but aboue Social behavior in animals and it treats sociobiology more than EP. This is a very marginal source and your representation of it is tendentious.·Maunus·ƛ· 17:41, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
The following text in the lead of the article is nonsense and needs to be removed: The real danger, however, is not from evolutionary psychology itself but from a failure to recognize that scientific findings should not dictate morals or ethics.
There are several alarming faults with this: (1) The WP:LEAD is a summary, not a place to introduce new factoids. (2) The text points out that it is not relevant to the subject because it says that the "real danger" is not from the topic of this article. (3) The text is an obvious opinion and (if it were usable, which it's not), it would have to be presented as an attributed opinion. Finally, one might consult WP:DUE: the source is a feel-good high-altitude overview titled "social behaviour, animal", and is not suitable for cherry picking some choice text for commentary on evolutionary psychology.
The preceding sentence in the lead is dubious and should be fixed or removed: Evolutionary psychology has been controversial, with critics accusing it of supporting unfair or immoral policies, much as social Darwinism once did.
Again, this fails WP:LEAD, but the main problem is the pathetic source for commentary on this topic. If it is true that "critics" suggest evolutionary psychology supports unfair or immoral policies, there should be several other sources (preferably sources which address the topic of this article rather than the broad scope of "social behaviour, animal"). The EBO source uses the text "unfair or immoral" in connection with human sociobiology, for example, social Darwinism—the text is not used in connection with the topic of this article. Johnuniq (talk) 03:33, 29 January 2011 (UTC)
Agree with above.
The following has been repeatedly inserted and removed from the Overview section:
Evolutionary psychology has been controversial, with critics accusing it of supporting unfair or immoral policies, much as social Darwinism once did.[1] The real danger, however, is not from evolutionary psychology itself but from a failure to recognize that scientific findings should not dictate morals or ethics.[1]
As noted, the Overview section should be a brief summary of the field -- the above paragraphs is a bit much for that section.
Evolution itself is a far more controversial, hot button topic given the "intelligent design" (ID) movement -- yet there is no mention of ID or creationism in the Evolution page Overview. Further, here, the initial sentence is inflammatory in that the casual reader might likely mistakenly infer that EP researchers themselves support "unfair or immoral policies" (how many times need it be repeated that this is a straw man -- EP researchers do not commit the Naturalistic Fallacy, and that they are well aware of it?). And, as noted above, the EBO passage does not support the actual statement.
If we cannot reach resolution among the few editors who are in disagreement here, I suggest we again go to a wider review. Memills (talk) 03:53, 29 January 2011 (UTC)
I actually agree with the removal inspite of having added it back - I only added it back because I thought the rationale given by the IP was insufficient. I do think that the article as a whole, including the lead, needs to better summarise the various recurring criticisms of EP, but the paragraph inserted by Leadwind isn't the right way to do it. ·Maunus·ƛ· 09:51, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

Would someone kindly propose what we should say in the lead about the controversy over EP? If you don't like my attempt to summarize the controversy, please suggest an alternative treatment. Leadwind (talk) 17:03, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

What controversy? You need a secondary source with a work focusing on evolutionary psychology and written by someone known to be an authority in the area (they would need knowledge of evolution and psychology and evolutionary psychology). Has any actual work conducted by reputable researchers come up with any remotely controversial suggestion from work in the evolutionary psychology field? I say "actual work" to distinguish what has actually happened from what commentators think might happen. Johnuniq (talk) 00:44, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
There are lots of Professionally published critiques of Evolutionary Psychology, most of them do not concentrate on the ethical issues, but the issue does noneteless underlie it to a significant degree, although more serious criticisms also abound. Also "eugenics" did actually happen and it was advocated by many of the scholars that Evolutionary Psychology sees as its founders - e.g. Galton. ·Maunus·ƛ· 01:01, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
I see that the article lists works back to Darwin as steps leading to EP, but my opinion is that what is now known as EP is completely different from stuff which happened before, say, 1970. I very much doubt if any current EP workers read Darwin or Galton for other than historical interest. Yes, Galton thought that eugenics would be useful, but that was over a hundred years ago! EP has nothing to do with eugenics or any other misguided sociological mumbo jumbo. Johnuniq (talk) 02:26, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
I am glad you are so sure of that, however several scholars have expressed the connection to eugenics as a problem. It is a notable critique and it will go into the article.·Maunus·ƛ· 17:19, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
I am not here to whitewash EP. All you have to do is find a plausible source. Johnuniq (talk) 00:35, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
I think we need to distinguish between two things: first, criticisms of EP. I think most of these date EP to a movement that developed largely in psychology and to a much lesser but notable extent in anthropology after the initial controversy over sociobiology died down. I think that the main thrust of these criticisms is that they are inappropriate uses of Darwin's and Neo-Darwinian theories, and that they ignore established research (usually by anthropologists) that conflict with their arguments. Second, attempts to explain why, if it is such bad science, does EP have such a strong toe-hold in US (and increasinly in UK) social sciences. Here is where I think the claims about 19th century eugenics is brought in; some people make a larger argument about a deeply entrenched bias in Western culture to explain human differences in terms of inherited traits, and the reason for this bias it is argued is the West's use of race to justify colonialist projects. Why there is such a deeply entrenched bias in Western culture is a question for historians and to a lesser extent anthropologists and sociologists, but it is a historical question and thus inevitably an interpretation. That there is such a bias is something that EPs usually challenge, but I will give some purely anecdotal evidence I bet most readers will find familiar: someone is good at something or shows a strong interest in something (playing the violin, chemistry, race-car driving, whatever) and it turns out that his or her parents were enthusiasts or even professionals in the same thing. Whenever I have heard of such a case 9and it is also often in advertisements i.e. perhaps fictional) the next line is, "It must have been in his (or her) genes." Obviously, based solely on the evidence provided, the environmental explanation is as likely as the genetic one. Yet, I have never heard this kind of example being presented followed by "It must have been his environment." That is evidence of cultural bias, and it shouldn't be hard to find examples. This must have some explanation, but explaining this is a separate question from "Why do so many scholars reject EP" or "What are the most common academic criticisms of EP?" Slrubenstein | Talk 23:49, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

Misleading Introductory Definition

The current introductory sentence is misleading. It reads: "Evolutionary psychology (EP) is an approach within psychology that examines psychological traits — such as memory, perception, or language — from a modern evolutionary perspective." There are many critics of EP who are evolutionists and who would also claim to work from a "modern evolutionary perspective." The way it is currently worded suggests that belief in evolution naturally supports EP - a claim that critics would suggest is unfounded. Logic prevails (talk) 15:15, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

I have been trying to edit the problematic sentence and it keeps coming back. For those looking to keep it, please present a logical rationale for doing so - one that would also consider the above criticism. Logic prevails (talk) 19:58, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

I think the burden of proof is on you to give an explanation as to why it is better. I like the idea mentioned in WP:CYCLE. The 'by generating hypotheses' strikes me as clumsy and wordy. It has also been this way, if memory serves, for a very long time, showing consensus. Dbrodbeck (talk) 20:10, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
I do not know if the wording is appropriate or acceptable to others but it seems better to me because it addresses the issue that I presented above. To be clear: I am a psychologist and I would claim to work from a 'modern evolutionary perspective,' but I do not support the view held by EP. The current sentence would suggest that anyone working from a 'modern evolutionary perspective' should agree with the tenants of EP. This does not follow. I also do not agree with there being a link here to the 'evolution' page, which again seems to implicitly suggest that a belief in evolution should support a belief in EP.
If others have a problem with the definition that was there for a long time, perhaps this could be useful. The opening bit of that paper could be instructive. Dbrodbeck (talk) 20:15, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
I understand your frustration in seeing the page going unchallenged for a long time, but that should not be reason to maintain the status quo. If you believe that my criticisms are unfounded or that belief in evolution necessarily supports EP, please state your case. I looked at the Cosmides and Tooby introduction - I would be happy with their definition. Logic prevails (talk) 20:49, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
I just don't see how the old sentence says what you think it says. Indeed, is looks like what one would see in an intro psych book. It is much more concise, I think, as I said before. The stability of that bit for a long time shows WP:CONSENSUS. I think we need more than one editor that does not like a part of an article before we change it. That said, we could of course work on a new one, and the C and T paper is a nice place to start. Dbrodbeck (talk) 20:59, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
Viewing this as an outsider, I agree: I don't see how the old sentence says any such thing as "suggests that belief in evolution naturally supports EP."
In this context, "evolutionists" and "belief in evolution" are loaded language, mostly used by those who tend to a creationist belief. Those that a creationist might label "evolutionists" are more likely to describe themselves as biologists or zoologists or paleontologists, and so on. I believe my fingernails grow, because I routinely see the evidence, but I believe it would be ponderous to announce that as central to my belief system. I feel much the same way about evolution: I don't say I "believe in" it, but I do accept the overwhelming evidence for it.
Long story short, my agenda-sense is tingling here. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 21:08, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
Indeed, evolution need not be believed in. It just is. Dbrodbeck (talk) 21:12, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
Here are a couple of examples that are not intended to be logically sound arguements, but may help you get the general 'flavor' of what I take issue with:
"EP examines (human psychology) from perspective X"
"Logic_prevails examines (human psychology) from perspective X"
"Therefore, Logic_prevails uses an EP approach" [which is not true]
Another issue:
"perspective X is generally uncontested and seen as scientifically sound"
"EP looks at things from perspective X"
"therefore, EP should be generally uncontested and seen as scientifically sound" [also not true]Logic prevails (talk) 21:22, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
You are correct in saying that they are not logically sound arguments, not even close. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 21:32, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
As you pointed out, I never said they were, so I am not sure what additional point you might be trying to make here. Look, in order to understand how these links 'do not follow logically,' it requires one to know a fair bit about the various terms (knowledge the casual reader might not have)- unless one goes through great pains to spell it all out, the wording is in danger of making certain 'suggestive links'. That's all I am saying. Logic prevails (talk) 21:49, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
I generally give the casual reader credit for not overthinking things, which is what it takes to make the flavorful connection you described above. That said, simpler is better in technical writing, which is what a Wikipedia article generally amounts to. I remember one item from a list I was given in in Rhetoric 101, which said something like, "It is a mistake to think everyone has been discussing your issue around the water cooler."
That is to say, most people are looking for an accessible overview in a lead paragraph, and do not have time to parse hairsplitting circumlocutions. Rule #1 of technical writing is "consider the audience." Corollaries of that are, ask what the audience is looking for in your text, realize that they do not usually have time to read it all, and so make sure that the early verbiage is simple and crystal-clear. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 22:08, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
The sentence that LP wants to change is just fine as it is. Those who like evolution but hate EP don't use evolution to explain psychology. EP does that. Leadwind (talk) 02:19, 23 January 2011 (UTC)
Actually Leadwind, there are plenty of folks who do use evolution to explain human psychology while also rejecting the methods used by EP. Most of these folks would argue that nature may have selected more domain-general and flexible neurobiological systems, while EPs stick to their belief that nature selected domain-specific information-processing mechanisms or modules. You prove my point exactly - that people may fallaciously conclude that EP is just the application of evolutionary principles to the human mind, when there are actually multiple ways one could do so. Logic prevails (talk) 21:23, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
I think "examines from an evolutionary perspective" is a very vacuous and imprecise definition - it doesn't tell the reader much about how EP actually does that. I am not sure LP's suggestion is the best improvement - I'd suggest looking at descriptions of EP in psychology textbooks or Psychology handbooks or encyclopedias - I think they will be more precise than what we have here and actually define what makes EP different from simply being any evolutionary approach to Psychology.·Maunus·ƛ· 09:21, 23 January 2011 (UTC)


Someone in a thread above asked: "What controversy? You need a secondary source with a work focusing on evolutionary psychology and written by someone known to be an authority in the area (they would need knowledge of evolution and psychology and evolutionary psychology)."

My source is Pinker. He promotes EP, and he wrote a whole book documenting the controversy. The controversy is real, and proponents of EP know that the controversy is real. We should describe it. My latest two lines (summarily deleted) were based on his work. The book is, as requested, "a work focusing on evolutionary psychology and written by someone known to be an authority in the area."

That said, this article is in sad shape. It has an overview section, which no article should have. The lead is supposed to be the overview (see WP:LEAD). It also has an anemic section on the controversy. And the controversy page is even worse.

Listen, I understand how hard it is to summarize a contentious issue, but we have solid sources that describe the controversy, so we can describe it, too. If we stick to solid sources and summarize what they say, we can't really go wrong. Leadwind (talk) 16:39, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

I wouldn't use Pinker's description of the critiques against EP, he always completely misrepresents his critics - for which he has also been criticized. The critique's should be sourced to the critics nopt to apologists.·Maunus·ƛ· 17:21, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
Regarding this edit which added "The findings of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology disturb a large number of scholars and have elicited heated controversy. Because evolutionary psychology emphasizes the innate aspects of human behavior, critics have accused its proponents of promoting racism, sexism, and biological determinism.":
Fine, if a source wants to embarrass itself with the misguided suggestion that EP has something to do with racism etc., by all means cite it. It's a big world, and I'm sure that somewhere there is someone who claims to pracise EP and who uses it to proclaim racism and other stupid things—my disdain is for the suggestion that there is any plausible suggestion that EP since 1970 or so has actually made any "finding" that could reasonably be claimed to promote bad things. The fact that a lot of humans are racist is a pretty big clue that there is something going on which makes some people that way, and only a misguided critic would worry if an EP finding were to suggest that racism has some evolutionary background (explaining exactly what causes a particular disease does not mean we accept that the disease is "natural" and has to be accepted). However, obviously that's just my opinion and if the criticism can be reasonably written and sourced, it should be added to the article.
It would be helpful to read WP:LEAD and observe that what goes in the lead is a summary of some section in the article. That section has to make sense. If a source is going offer a critique of "findings of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology", there has to be a brief explanation of what "findings" are being described. Also, it really is not useful to conflate sociobiology with EP. Johnuniq (talk) 00:51, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
John, I'm trying to report about the criticism. I'm not trying to criticize EP. The sentences I added about criticisms and racism describe the criticism, which is a real and notable thing. But the first step would be to write a controversy section because this article doesn't really have one yet. Leadwind (talk) 12:57, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
Maunus is right that accounts of the defense should come from defenders, and accounts of critiques should come from critics. Most critics of EP I know of just reject it as junk science. A good exmple is Tim Ingold's comment on Francisco Gil White's EP article in Current Anthropology. But I think there is not an awful lot of academic criticism of EP - for the simple reason that there was a vigorous debate about sociobiology and most social scientists figure that most criticisms of sociobiology apply to EP and thus do not need to be rehashed. There is the volume edited by Ashley Montagu, the book written by Marshal Sahlins, and a short book by Lewontin called Biology as Ideology and between these works there is not much more that needs to be said; continued discussion (I think most believe) just becomes repetitious. Slrubenstein | Talk 23:38, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
There still is discussion and I think that good critics do not reject it but engage it with actual arguments -some of which as you say are simply rehashes of earlier sociobiology discussions. A recent example is Richardson's "Evolutionary Psychology as Maladapted science" that critiques EP's ability to generate and test hypotheses at length and from a similarly evolutionary point of view, others who still actively engage the argument is Suplizio who has shown that EP effectively ignores arguments and data from other disciplæines rather than engage with it.·Maunus·ƛ· 00:15, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
Just to clarify, I have no problem with sourced criticism of EP. However, it has to better than the EBO stuff, and as I mentioned above, it should have encyclopedic value: if some "findings" are criticized, we need a brief outline of the findings in question. Currently, the only mention of findings is in the lead with a vague but positive statement.
Of course a "controversy" section is not really encouraged in the encyclopedia because it just acts as a coatrack where passers by add on cherry-picked and undue material. However, we have to start somewhere, and appropriate material could later be merged into more general "responses" or "findings" sections. If a criticism regarding racism is included, it should include some indication of what EP has asserted that could conceivably be criticized: Has an EP proponent been acknowledged as racist? Has an EP finding claimed that racism is good? Johnuniq (talk) 00:18, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
The notion that EP's openness to the possibility that psychological variation accompanies biological variation within the human species has been linked to notions of racism and sexism - one piece of evidence for the notability of this critique is that E. Hagen[3] devotes an entire section to discussing whether or not EP is racist and Sexist. He concludes that if it is sexist or racist to believe in the possibility that there might be real psychological differences between the sexs or races then EP is both. ·Maunus·ƛ· 00:53, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the link. I have scanned the article which I found interesting and totally in accord with the opinions I have expressed here. I slowed down and carefully read the section "Is evolutionary psychology racist or sexist?"—the author is clearly rubbishing the notion that EP might be racist or sexist. Ultimately, EP will become accepted science, or will be rejected as unhelpful/wrong. That outcome will depend on EP's use in explaining and predicting useful aspects of behavior. I liked and totally agree with the author's comment "if you tell the judge that your genes made you do it, she can tell you that her genes are making her throw you in jail". About the only real criticism is that it is too early to conclude whether EP is "right" or an unhelpful approach (come to think of it, that applies to a lot of psychology!). Johnuniq (talk) 02:55, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
The author is a proponent of EP - he is not giving an unbiased summary of critique against EP. He is "rubbishing" the criticisms, but that is because he disdagrees with them not because they are wrong or that they are not "real criticisms". I pointed you to that source to show that EP is actively defending itself against claims of racism/sexism and that that of course means that that critique is notable and should be included in the article.·Maunus·ƛ· 15:36, 2 February 2011 (UTC)

Another critiqueby Susan McKinnon. I think that if we introduce such critiques there is something we have to be very careful about. Defenders of EP often respond to critics like SM that they are using political concerns to criticize science, regardless of the scientific validity of the research. But I think people like MacKinnon are arguing instead that when scientists study human behavior their science is actually often non value-free, and moreover that there are other scholars whose research is precisely on the ways forms of knowledge and forms of power can be intertwined. That is, as I interpret them, she is not claiming that EP should be disparaged because she doesn't like the political implications of the conclusions, but because it is actually bad science. In other words, advocates and critics of EP have two conflicting visions of what valid scholarly research on certain human problems is, on academic, not political, grounds. At least, that is how one side of the debate views it. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:26, 2 February 2011 (UTC)

That is what I have been arguing - the ethic argument is partly a red herring, that EP uses to avoid taking notice of more serious criticisms of the basic scientific merit of the discipline by writing off its critics as politically motivated. Most serious critiques by non-lay critics focus on the fact that adaptive hypotheses are extremely difficult to test, some are untestable, that it is difficult or impossible to separate adapted traits from that that have originally adapted for other functions than what they are now serving or that have been carried down because they are associated with another trait that has been positively selected, that knowledge about the Adaptive Environment that EP poses is basically fictive and that this risks leading to just-so stories and circular logics. These are the real critiques - not just a politically correct aversion to theories that try to biologize differences in human traits.·Maunus·ƛ· 16:28, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
I understand and agree with your point but I think there is a second point that people like MacKinnon are making, which is that the way sociologists and anthropologists have been analyzing these phenomena (e.g. gender difference, racial difference, sexuality) are actually more scientific than EP, and that there is a real loss when EP squeezes out that kind of more penetrating research. Slrubenstein | Talk 19:44, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
That point is echoed by Suplizio 2006 who argues that EP has routinely brushed of evidence from other disciplines such as Anthropology and linguistics.·Maunus·ƛ· 22:13, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
Maunus, "the ethic argument is partly a red herring, that EP uses to avoid taking notice of more serious criticisms of the basic scientific merit of the discipline by writing off its critics as politically motivated." That's a fine line of argument. Can you support it with a reference to a commonly accepted reference text or to a disinterested secondary or tertiary source? Leadwind (talk) 15:00, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
An example is the Psychology textbook summarised above that only treats the latter critique of EP as science and doesn't even mention the ethics criticism. It also doesn't go into the alleged political motivations of either critics or proponents.·Maunus·ƛ· 16:25, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
That is a fine example. But I have to add that Leadwind is ignoring WP policy in asking for a disinterested secondary source. "disinterested" is not one of the requirements, our requiremens is that a source be verifiable and reliable. In fact, our whole NPOV policy is premised on the idea that most secondary sources are not disinterested and moreover that what makes this a strong encyclopedia is not its seeking to provide a disinterested view, but rather multiple views. That is the whole point of our slogan, "Verifiability, not truth." What matters is not that a claim be true or factual, but rather that it be a verifiable fact that someone actually holds this view. NPOV acknowledges that in many debates (and I think EP is a good example) most of the major accounts are not disinterested but on the contrary represent some point of view. We never - never - exclude these views from an article. Rather, we strive to include all significant views, giving each due weight, and putting each view in context.
In short, while this may not have been his intention, the way Leadwind phrased his comment makes the comment itself a red-herring. Advocates of EP and critics of EP may have very different views not only of each other, but of themselves and their own positions. No matter. We just have to represnt them all, properly contextualized. Advocates of EP will never accept that Jonathan Marks's view is disinterested. So what? His view that EP is bad science is nevertheless a significant view from a verifiable source and illustrates half of Maunus's claim; the psychology textbook is in my view not a "disinterested secondary source" but it still illustrates th other half of his claim, and together these two sources illustrate Maunus's claim in a way that fully conplies with WP policy.
It is a very bad idea to raise the question of whether a source is disinterested or not, because claims that a source is disinterested may themselves be motivated by some interest. All this question can do is lead us to waste a lot of time arguing over something that verges too close to the question "Is it true?" or "Is it objctive?" - the very questions NPOV was designed to allow us to ignore. Let's just stick with policy. Is it a significant view? i it verifiable? Is the source reliable? Please do not add extraneous our counter-productive criteria. Slrubenstein | Talk 12:29, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────SLR, WP policy does refer specifically to "disinterested" secondary and tertiary sources. Lots of good editors are not familiar with that usage or the policy that it relates to. I wasn't aware of it for the longest time. But it turns out that WP:WEIGHT tells us this: "Neutrality assigns weight to viewpoints in proportion to their prominence. However, when reputable sources contradict one another and are relatively equal in prominence, describe both approaches and work for balance. This involves describing the opposing views clearly, drawing on secondary or tertiary sources that describe the disagreement from a disinterested viewpoint." So WP is explicitly telling us to find secondary and tertiary sources with a "disinterested" viewpoint. The Psychology text is a fine example of a tertiary source the describes the disagreement from a disinterested viewpoint. So is Encyclopedia Britannica. Maunus says that bad EP people use the irrelevant political attacks as a red herring, which is a fine personal conclusion for him to favor, but I'm asking him to prove it by citing a disinterested expert source. So far Maunus's reason for not wanting to mention the political controversy does not have the backing of disinterested, expert opinion. As an addendum, let me note that generally the editors who most strongly resist WP:WEIGHT are the ones who don't have the weight of expert opinion on their side. Leadwind (talk) 17:03, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

I have supplied Suplizio as one scholar who asserts this as part of the problem - you are also wrong in suggesting that I don'øt want to mention the political issues - I have argued in favor of this above. But I have also argued that this is not the most important criticism and this is backed by the Psychology textbook which mentions other critiques, but not the political one - this is exactly the argument that you are looking for - "disinterested" tertiary sources do not find the political critique sufficiently important to mention. As for Britannica there is no article on EP in Britannica - EP is only mentioned in passing in the article on Social behavior in animals - this suggests that Britannica's disinterested editors, do not consider EP to be one of the main fields of psychology that require its own article. Regarding your interpretation of "WP:Weight" the problem is that when we are dealing with critiques of other peoples research or viewpoints the definition of disinterested becomes a problem - as soon as someone disagrees with another scholars view then that view is not disinterested anymore. Pinker is actively advocating a particular viewpoint others are actively arguing against it - neither are "disinterested". Are the authors of "Psychology" disinterested? None of them are working in the EP framework - two are working in cognitive psychology which is diametrically opposed to EP's understanding of psychology...·Maunus·ƛ· 17:36, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
"you are also wrong in suggesting that I don'øt want to mention the political issues - I have argued in favor of this above" OK, my bad. Let's mention the political issues then. Leadwind (talk) 22:57, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
Leadwind, the policy means that we must describe the secondary sources in a disinterested way. There is no requirement that the secondary sources be disinterested. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:23, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
SLR, some time when this topic is relevant to a particular proposal, we'll discuss what the policy means when it refers to "secondary or tertiary sources that describe the disagreement from a disinterested viewpoint." Leadwind (talk) 02:10, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Leadwind, what do you mean "some time?" We are discussing this now. We are discussing this now because YOU brought it up. And you bring it up again, in the section below. Stop misrepresenting NPOV. Stop pushing your own POV. I am trying to help you understand our policy - why wouldn't you appreciate that? Slrubenstein | Talk 13:42, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
"I am trying to help you understand our policy - why wouldn't you appreciate that?" I don't know why I fail to appreciate your offer of assistance. I suppose I must be stupid, or ungrateful, or obstinate, or something. Leadwind (talk) 22:47, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

alternative to EP

It would help the reader understand EP if we could contrast it with another viewpoint. Can someone summarize the non-EP view? Or maybe instead we should summarize the non-EP view for each component of EP. For example, if the mind isn't the computations of the biological brain (as EP says it is), then what is it? If the brain doesn't consist of many specialized modules, what does it consist of? If language and morality didn't evolve, where did they come from? If we don't have Stone Age minds, what do we have? If our facial expressions (for example) aren't adaptations, what are they? Sometimes I hear that EP wants to replace the Freudian model of the mind, and sometimes that it wants to replace the standard social sciences model of the mind. In any event, especially if we're going to report on the criticism of EP, we should summarize the alternative view which are (reportedly) superior. Leadwind (talk) 23:03, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

Is there a coherent, scientifically valid alternative to EP? Could someone describe one? Leadwind (talk) 02:11, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

You seem to think there is one single "EP view." In fact, evolutionary psychologists propose explanations for a range of human behaviors. For example, some evolutionary psychologists have argued an evolutionary reason for male promiscuity relative to females. Most cultural anthropologists I know of reject this explanation because there is no evidence that the behavior is universal. But this is a debate over a specific behavior or pattern of behaviors and a specific explanation. If you want to know alternatives, you have to be specific about which EP explanation about which pattern of behaviors. I think one could argue that anthropology in general rejects evolutionary psychology on most matters, but this is not because anthropologists reject in its entirety the proposition that some human behaviors are instinctive and selected for by nature in the course of human evolution.. That is why you have to be precise, rather than vague. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:49, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

Well, honestly, I didn't think that anyone would be willing to offer an alternative. We'll have to look to the sources and see what we can glean from them. Leadwind (talk) 15:05, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Look for stuff by Tim Ingold, he has criticized some EP work. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:51, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Pointedly, I'm not asking for criticism of EP. I'm asking for a coherent, scientifically viable alternative. Cultural determinism, perhaps. Leadwind (talk) 19:33, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Well pointedly as it is it is also completely irrelevant. As I am sure you know there are numerous other scientifically viable ways of practicing psychology - you just happen to personally disagree that they are viable. This is a non-issue. ·Maunus·ƛ· 21:05, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Leadwind, it is not your business to ask for anything. That is a violation of NOR. You are trying to conjur up something you would like to add to the article, and then you plan on going out and looking for it? That is not how researching an encyclopedia works. We look at all significant views concerning the topic and report on them. It does not matter whether one of the views takes the form of a criticism, or some other form.
If you are simply asking for alternative approaches to understanding human behavior from a scientific view, the alternatives to evolutionary psychology are other forms of psychology and of course anthropology and sociology. But this is not th place to discuss the differences between sociology and psychology and trying to drag in sociology or anthropology just because they are different from EP is a violation of NOR, it is your own little synthesis. We don't do that. We only bring in material if it is explicitly about evolutionary psychology, or explicitly about a behavior that has been explained using EP. Tim Ingold has done both and thus is a good source to include in this article. If he doesn't perfectly match your image of what you are interested in - so what? We are writing an encyclopedia, not indulging in our own curiosities. Slrubenstein | Talk 21:04, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
"Leadwind, it is not your business to ask for anything." Really? OK. Leadwind (talk) 22:44, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

Psychology textbook

Maunus was generous enough to tell us what a university-level textbook says about EP. Let's agree that it's our current best summary of EP, and use it to build out the article, especially the lead. As a disinterested tertiary source, this text is a good resource for addressing the controversy from a neutral point of view. Or if you don't like Psychology then volunteer a better source. Leadwind (talk) 03:57, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

Maunus' helpful summary.

Leadwind, again, please do not continue to post to the EP page until consensus is reached here on the proposed prose. You have several times inserted edits that were rejected after discussion here. I suggest that you read up on some evolutionary psychology yourself. For starters, check out some of these books listed at Amazon: Memills (talk) 04:56, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
I have inserted this and I have not seen any argument that it is not notable enough for inclusion. If it is a notable enough criticuqe for an introductory textbook to general psychology, then it is notable enough for wikipedia.·Maunus·ƛ· 21:11, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Textbooks are often not "disinterested" sources. What you consider "disinterested" may just be your POV. This is why we have an NPOV policy, and Leadwind, you have to comply with it. We provide all significant views and we provide them in a disinterested way but we certainly make clear what view is being represented. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:34, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
What view are you implying this textbook has?·Maunus·ƛ· 13:50, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
The view of psychologists. This itself is significant as psychologists and anthropologists often have different views on the appropriate methods for studying human behavior, or different views as to what is and is not a universal human behavior. I am only speculating now, but I would imagine that intellectual historians and sociologists of science would have different views about EP. That is all I feel reasonably sure of. I know the field of anthropology well and virtually every introductory textbook represents a particular view within anthropology. I do not know the debates and divisions among psychologists so I cannot speak to the different views of different textbooks, but based on my knowledge of other academic fields I think it is at least a reasonable question. But I would have to rely on psychologists for the answer. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:41, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Memills, thank you for your kind suggestion. I would agree with you that any editor who wants to work on thie page would be well-served by reading one of the books you recommend. I've read Pinker and Wright, and nothing I've added to the page has contradicted either source. Leadwind (talk) 14:58, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
SLR, a Psych textbook is just the source we need for a disinterested viewpoint on the disagreement. It's a university-level textbook that describes both sides of the issue. Would you be able to suggest a better source than Maunus's? Leadwind (talk) 14:58, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Back to the suggestion that started this thread: we have a university-level textbook on the topic, and an editor has summarized its treatment for us. Let's add that material to the page. Agreed? Memill, you seem to promote a mainstream understanding of EP, so I would expect that you would want to use the most mainstream sources we have on the topic. Leadwind (talk) 15:11, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

Leadwind, yet again, this is getting old. Read a good evolutionary psychology textbook (Buss is good, so is Gaulin and McBurney). The testability issue is weak tea (see the Confer, et al., article re this).
Most any criticism directed at EP could also be directed at (physiological) evolution. Note that the Evolution page is about evolution -- it is not about the evolution-creationism controversy. This page is about EP, not about the EP controversy. The EP Controversies page is the appropriate place to review the arbbgs of the critics and to hash out the debate.
The persistence by a couple of editors to turn the main EP page into a debate page is bordering on vandalism. Let me emphasize -- the main EP page, like the main Evolution page, is about the discipline itself, not what critics think is wrong with it. Here we have a link to an entire page devoted to the EP Controversy -- your contributions to that page will be far more welcomed and appropriate at that page. Memills (talk) 18:11, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
We can not source criticism of EP to a textbook about EP - the criticism has to be sourced to a good secondary source. Schacter, Gilbert and Wener is such. It is a basic fact of wikipedia that all notable viewpoints are to be respresented. I wonder how you are going to argue that this critique is not notable.·Maunus·ƛ· 21:11, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for stating your case in such a clear manner so that I understand your objection. Not to put you on the spot, but would you be able to cite a policy or guideline to support leaving criticism out of the lead? I've done quite a number of leads, and the actual policy is that the lead should summarize the topic so well that it could stand alone as a concise summary. Now, what information goes in the summary of a topic? To answer that, we look at the commonly accepted reference texts to find the mainstream viewpoint. In this case, wherever we look we see that controversy is part of the coverage. We have no choice but to report on the controversy because Schacter and EBO both report on it. We have to cover the debate on this page because our mainstream sources cover the debate. Leadwind (talk) 18:23, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Leadwind, we can use the model of the Evolution page, as well as the Creation-evolution_controversy, as a model here. Note on the Evolution lead in there is no mention of a controversy, or conflicting viewpoints. There is only a link to the Creation-evolution_controversy in the body of the article. However, the criticisms of evolution are thoroughly explored on the Creation-evolution_controversy page. Let's use that model to structure the content here. Memills (talk) 18:35, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
It is not reasonable - those criticism have been applied specifically to EP - there for they need to be treated in our article on EP. Most of these critiques are by scientists firmly grounded in an evolutionary view of biology.·Maunus·ƛ· 21:11, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
That's reasonable, but cite me a policy or guideline or else it's just a personal suggestion. My read is that an article should reflect the coverage that the topic gets in commonly accepted reference texts. You might be right that the criticisms of EP are all bogus, but we humble editors have little choice but to report what our best sources tell us. Leadwind (talk) 18:40, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Memills, your analogy is bad because the conflict between evolution and creationism is a conflict between scientists and non-scientists. Evolutionary psychology has critics from other established academic disciplines. These criticisms belong in the article. They should be given due weight - by which I mean, they should nto dominate the article; I agree with you that an article about EP should largely be about EP. But when there is serious criticism from within the academy, it needs to be represented in the article. These criticisms, by the way, are NOT criticism of evolution; in fact, some of them argue that EP is misunderstanding or misapplying evolutionary theory. So we are talking about a debate among scholars who accept the theory of evolution, concerning how and what it explains about contemporary human behavior. You cannot exclude this legitimate debate. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:52, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
I guess my question is, why choose that book in particular (the Schacter et al one). I am sure it is a fine book, Dan Schacter is a really smart guy. But, there are many psych books, at the intro level I mean, that spend quite a bit more time on the subject. I know, for example, that Myers' intro book spends more time on the topic than the Schacter et al one. Dbrodbeck (talk) 19:02, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
We can include their views also.·Maunus·ƛ· 21:11, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Leadwind, no, it's not just a personal suggestion, it is a reflection of Wikipedia policies.
An area of far greater controversy than EP is evolution itself. The fact that the Evolution page and the Creation-evolution_controversy are structured as they are is no accident -- I'm sure took a very long time of Wikipedia policy back and forth to evolve (sorry) to its current form. Again, do report what your best sourced critics of EP say, but the best place to debate it is on the Evolutionary_psychology_controversy page.
Slrubenstein, there are folks who are scientists (Behe, for one) who are anti-evolutionists. The entire "Intelligent Design" movement characterizes itself as a scientific discipline. However, there is no mention of either in the lead in to the Evolution page, but links are provided in the body of the page to other pages that either explore the controversy, or the specific topic areas. The debate re cultural determinism (SSSM) and nature-nurture interactionism (Integrated Model, or EP) is indeed relevant to EP, and I have no problem including a general mention of it in the EP main page. But the main EP page should not be turned into a tit-for-tat debate page. Memills (talk) 19:08, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Yes it should - because that is what the field is like. Read WP:NPOV and you'll understand how it works.·Maunus·ƛ· 21:11, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Dbrodbeck, we're using Psychology because it's a reasonable source that a local editor has access to and that he kindly summarized for us. Conveniently for our purposes, it tells both sides of the story. If there's a better source, let's cite it, too. Leadwind (talk) 19:32, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
MEM, please cite the WP guideline or policy that supports keeping a summary of the debate off the main page. Leadwind (talk) 19:32, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
I think this issue is beyond resolution among the editors here. Think it is time to take it to external review. Memills (talk) 20:10, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
What do you mean by external review?·Maunus·ƛ· 21:11, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
OK, an external review is fine. It would be better if you could name a policy or guideline that supports your interpretation, but if you want to escalate the conflict first, OK. That said, who deleted the contested information again? Was that you? If it was you, that was a violation of 3RR. Leadwind (talk) 20:41, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

I think Leadwind is right to ask for reference to policy before going to an RfC. Memills, you continue to make a false analogy. The reason ID is not discussed in the Evolution talk page is because no mainstream evolutionary scientist considers Behe's claims as scientifically valid, and it is clear that manor proponents of ID are motivated by religious belief. This is not the case for criticisms of EP which as I said already are firmly within the academy. Behe has no mainstream support from any academic discipline that is concerned with human evolution. However, EP does face criticism from mainstream academic disciplines that are concerned with explaining human behavior. Your analogy simply does not hold up. Slrubenstein | Talk 20:58, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

We need a reference to policy that would justify not including the critical content - so far I have seen none. Simply removing sourced criticism is POV pushing and in conflict with several of our core policies.·Maunus·ƛ· 21:11, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Please propose some sensible criticism, not blogosphere stuff like "with critics accusing it of supporting unfair or immoral policies". Re evolution/creationism, Slrubenstein's statement is correct: creationist views are not canvassed at Evolution because that would violate WP:DUE and WP:ONEWAY. In Evolutionary Psychology, there are scientific differences of opinion, and per WP:DUE they should be explored in this article (however, the article has to focus on saying what EP is before attempting to rubbish it). Johnuniq (talk) 22:22, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
You obviously haven't read the edit that is being discussed or properly understood any of the arguments I have made earlier on this page. ·Maunus·ƛ· 23:10, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
We're proposing reporting the debate as summarized in Psychology. It's not blogosphere stuff. Maunus summarized it here.

Regarding "with critics accusing it of supporting unfair or immoral policies", one of the most common criticisms accuses EP of sanctioning rape or other forms of mistreatment of women. There are tons of academic sources expressing that point of view -- here is a pointer to some of it. Looie496 (talk) 22:45, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

I think you misrepresent th review. An exemplary quote:
As a biologist, psychology looks to me as a discipline without standards, professionally bankrupt, harboring a clique of dumbly insensitive bigots. TP do not violate the standards of their discipline, they exemplify it. Not only have TP corrupted and misused biology, so too have many other evolutionary psychologists. Indeed, one of the book's chapters focuses solely on another evolutionary psychologist, D. Buss, whose writings distort sexual selection theory to claim biologic support for sexist gender stereotypes .... Reactionary psychologists are ignorant of science, yet are with disturbing success appropriating biology for repressive ends. As a biologist, I say no! I want my science back!
This by the way coms after a long list of problems with the book. My point: the review does not criticize the book uner review for sanctioning rape; it criticizes the book for being unscientific (and fraudulently claiming to be scientific). This is a good example of the value of more discussion of problems with EP as pointed out by other academics - contrary to memills position. By the way, I am not questioning the use of the psychology textbook Maunus has also brought forward as a useful source, and I hope nothing I have written is mistinerpreted to suggest otherwise. A range of scientists have raised profound questions about the scientific merit or even standing of different works of EP, some psychologists, some in adjunct fields, and all are relevant to this article. Slrubenstein | Talk 00:14, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
I just wanted to note that I have been following the debate here and cast my vote with the positions stated by Manus and Slrubenstein. I do not want to trash talk, but MeMills, I think you have been unfairly protecting your favored view without a sound argument. For the record, I also want to state that I am a psychologist and university professor. So for those looking for a psychologist who uses evolutionary concepts to explain the human mind (while rejecting EP), well... I am one. And in my advanced courses I use EP as an example of how Darwin's notion of 'natural selection' can be carelessly misapplied. Logic prevails (talk) 01:06, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Since we're trying to achieve balance, and not just root for our respective sides, I've added the rest of Maunus's helpful summary to the lead. This information has helped place the theory in the history of science, so thanks, Maunus. Leadwind (talk) 01:37, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

SLR, you say, "I think Leadwind is right to ask for reference to policy before going to an RfC." It's nice to see that you agree that editors should refer to policy (or at least that _other_ editors should). Leadwind (talk) 16:51, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

majority viewpoint from encyclopedia britannica

According to WP:WEIGHT, we use commonly accepted reference texts to establish majority viewpoints, and we use disinterested secondary and tertiary sources to cover disagreements with balance. EBO is a commonly accepted reference text and a disinterested tertiary source. Therefore, we should be happy to use it to establish the majority viewpoint on EP, and to help us strike the balance between those who say we're robot ape-men and those who bravely defend egalitarianism against biological determinism (or something like that). I propose that we do what we did with the Psychology textbook and add the highlights of the EBO entry on EP to this article. I'm no professor, but I'm well-read, and I don't see any glaring errors in the EBO entry. Since it's online, it has the virtue of letting every editor follow our link and see for themselves that no tricky POV-pusher has skewed this page's representation of EP. I'd like to think that we can sort of agree to use the EBO article without reading it first because of its pedigree, but I wouldn't be surprised if one or two editors might be harboring a POV bias and can't decide whether to support my proposal until they have given the Encyclopedia Britannica their personal seal of approval. So here's the link: Evolutionary Psychology. Leadwind (talk) 01:58, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

The encyclopedia Britannica does not have an article about Evolutionary Psychology - evolutionary psychology is only mentioned in passing in the articel about Social behavior in Animals - this is not an acceptable source - the source should explicitly be about the topic that we are covering. ·Maunus·ƛ· 02:29, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
If you want to keep a high-quality source off the page, you should probably cite a policy or guideline that says we should keep it off the page. I cite WP:WEIGHT in favor of inclusion. Can you point us to the "can't cite subsections of long articles" policy? Leadwind (talk) 03:25, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Here's another reference to evolutionary psychology on EBO: read online. Presumably, EBO is pretty close to the moderate, mainstream viewpoint; and we should include this material, too. Leadwind (talk) 03:33, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Leadwind, Maunus is right. There are much better sources on EP than Britannica. I'd look at work by Jonathan Marks and Tim Ingold, especially his comment to Gil White in the Current Anthropology article - some of these are explicitly about evolutionary psychology. You say "presumable," and your presumption counts for nothing. As Maunus says, EBO has no article on EP. Why aren't you looking at mainstram major peer-reviewed journals? Slrubenstein | Talk 10:52, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
You wouldn't happen to be able to point us to the policy about not citing material in a subsection of an encyclopedia article, would you? If WEIGHT says to include this material, what policy says to exclude it? Leadwind (talk) 13:09, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
There isn't a policy against citing - it however WP:RS strongly suggest that the reliability of sources also depend on how directly they treat the topic and on the context of the information. In this case the context you are taking the information is not the same as the context you want to use it in - since we are not describing social behavior in animals here. As Slr says there are much more useful sources than the Britannica. ·Maunus·ƛ· 13:29, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Maunus, "we are not describing social behavior in animals here." We're not? What do you think a human being is, a fungus? In any event, what does WP:RS say that pertains to not citing the Ev Psych section of a Social Behavior article? Leadwind (talk) 14:14, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
We are describing "Evolutionary psychology" - not social behavior in animals - that would be a different article.·Maunus·ƛ· 14:39, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
If all we do is re-publish stuff from another on-line encyclopedia, why would anyone ever read Wiki9pedia? They could just read Encyclopedia Britannica? They way to become a great encyclopedia is not to tell people what other encyclopedias say, it is to do better research than our competitors. More to the point - toing to anothe encyclopedia may be how a high school student would research a school paper, but it is not how grown-ups conduct real research. There are a host of reliable secondary sources on evolutionary psychology including reviews of EP books published in major anthropology, sociology, as well as psychology journals, and articles in major peer-reviewed journals like Current Anthropology or Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. The advantage WP has over other encyclopedias is that we can constantly represent the most current scholarly research. Let's play to our strengths rather than EB's weaknesses. leadwind, why do you keep harping on one of our competitors? Why can't you do real research? Slrubenstein | Talk 13:35, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
You know what I'm going to ask, but I'll ask it anyway: could you name a policy or guideline that supports your interpretation? If not, maybe you should petition to change policy to match your outlook, and then you would be right. Leadwind (talk) 14:14, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
How about we stick to this policy: WP:CONSENSUS.·Maunus·ƛ· 14:39, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Consensus is great, but we're supposed to use policies and guidelines to reach consensus, and you can't cite a policy to back up your opposition to the cited material. The last resort of an editor who is on the wrong side of policy is often to cite "consensus" and then simply refuse to consent to the changes he opposes. But that's not good editing. After all, you don't have consensus to delete the cited information any more than I have consensus to add it. Leadwind (talk) 14:56, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
WP:NOR states that "To demonstrate that you are not adding original research, you must be able to cite reliable published sources that are both directly related to the topic of the article, and that directly support the material as presented." You are citing encyclopedic articles that are explicitly about other topics and which only happen to mention the topic of this article in passing. This definitely borders on WP:NOR and violates WP:CHERRY by taking claims out of context. Secondly the claim that the socalled "standard social science model" is in fact a standard model used in social sciences is the POV of evolutionary psychologists. Social scientists do not use the term standard social science model themselves nor do they believe in cultural determinism as the EBO article implies. By using this statement taking out of context you are representing the EP's critique of other social sciences as if it were fact - this is a huge breach of NPOV. Interestingly the source you cite go on to criticize the assumptions of EP regarding innateness

"Pinker’s book on the language instinct and his later book, How the Mind Works (1997), belong to a field known as evolutionary psychology. This is a movement that views the human mind as designed by natural selection. As a result, it opposes the standard social science model, according to which the mind is a general-purpose cognitive device shaped virtually in its entirety by cultural influence. In contrast, evolutionary psychology argues that the mind consists of a number of functionally specialized modules. This organization acknowledges the existence of selection pressures that acted on human Paleolithic ancestors living in small hunter-gatherer societies. Although the term instinct is lightly used in the writings of evolutionary psychologists, it is pervasively implicit in the sense of inborn propensity or innate structure. Because evolutionary psychology can be viewed as genetic reductionism that ignores the intricacies of individual development, it is vulnerable to the kinds of criticism that comparable nativist views such as that of Lorenz have been subject to in the past. There is plenty of evidence that genes can influence behaviour. However, the question of how they do so is at issue. In the past this question either was not addressed or was assumed to involve specification of developmental outcome without any contribution from interaction with contextual factors, such as might result from experience. However, this assumption fails to acknowledge the complexity of the developmental process. At all levels—from the gene in its matrix of microcellular structure to the grown organism in its physical and social environments—interaction is the rule, which can be revealed only by developmental study. Evidence of genetic basis, which has been furnished by selective breeding and by functional correlation implying natural selection, is silent about how a behavioral trait is realized in individual ontogeny (the development of an organism from conception to adulthood)."

·Maunus·ƛ· 15:14, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

OK, let's not cherry pick. Let's summarize what EBO says just like we successfully summarized what Psychology says. Instead of cherry picking, let's go to EBO, search for Evolutionary Psychology, and summarize what EBO says about EP. You know that I'm happy to report on criticisms of EP, just as you (presumably) are happy to report its successes. Leadwind (talk) 16:16, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
The Britannica doesn't write anything about EP - it writes something about "instinct" and "social behavior in Animals" - it mentions EP nothing more. It is using a source that is not about EP to describe EP that is cherry picking - not just taking the quotes of of the critical context. ·Maunus·ƛ· 16:43, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Of course EBO covers EP, just not in an article called EP. You know what I'm going to ask, don't you? Where's your policy that supports not including this information? If you don't want to refer to policy, isn't that a tacit admission that you don't have policy on your side? Leadwind (talk) 16:49, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Here's the [diff] that Maunus and I are currently disagreeing about. Strangely he prefers no citation whatever to citing EBO. He also unilaterally removed the word "impressive" from a sentence, even though that's what the source says and it's the meat of the statement. Leadwind (talk) 15:06, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

I do not need to petition to change a policy or guideline. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. That says it all. The fact that it is an encyclopedia means we do not need a policy or guideline saying it is an encyclopedia. If you want to contribute to an encyclopedia, you have to know how to do research. Simply to copy material from one online encyclopedia to another is one of the stupidest ideas I have ever hears. Moreover, the idea that research on an academic topic means reading books and articles published in peer reviewed journals is just so obvious that if we ever had to write a policy or guideline to say this, we might as well just throw in the towel. Leadwind, if you need a policy to tell you to use common sense and to do serious research, I have to say, I doubt that such a policy would really help you. You either take the project seriously or you do not. If you take it seriously, you do not need policies to tell you this stuff. Do you need a policy to tell you to plug in your computer before turning it on? Slrubenstein | Talk 15:23, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
A single policy in your favor would be better than your longest and most common-sensical argument about why you don't need policy to be in your favor. Leadwind (talk) 16:10, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Since Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy there is not a policy to cover every situation. The issue is a simple matter of good content, and the matter has been very well explained above: EBO does not have an article that focuses on EP, and Wikipedia is more than a summary of another encyclopedia. I am also reluctant to do some serious work on this issue, but that is what is required. Johnuniq (talk) 22:25, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

The fundamental controversy: The Standard Social Science Model (SSSM, cultural determinism) vs. the Integrated Model (IM, including EP)

The controversies above are basically derivative of the conflict in the social sciences between cultural determinism and nature-nurture interactionism. It is easy to find references to academic authorities trashing others on the opposite side, even in textbooks and reference sources. The Stanford University Anthropology Department actually had to split apart at one time to separate these warring factions. However, the ping-ponging of these claims/counter-claims is not what this main EP page is about.

It would be appropriate to give general mention the SSSM vs. IM controversy on the EP main page. However, the specific claims/counter-claims are more appropriately hashed out on the Evolutionary_psychology_controversy page, which, obviously, is entirely devoted to those issues. Memills (talk) 06:41, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Once again Memills, you misconstrue your own field and misrepresent your critics. If you are going to carelessly lump your adversaries into pushing 'cultural determinism,' then you might equally lump yourself into pushing 'genetic determinism.' But that would misrepresent both sides... EP is not an integrated model in the way that you were led to believe by Buss, Pinker, Tooby and Cosmides, and others... it cannot offer the 'revolution in psychology' that they preach.
It's not that we critics doubt that the human mind was shaped by evolution and natural selection... what we question is the assertion that EPs know 'what it was' that nature selected. Logic prevails (talk) 10:23, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Yes, ME Mills, that is a 100% misrepresentation. There are multiple ways of envisioning the human psyche as springing from evolution without that involving discrete modules, or without it most human behavior being understood through adaptations. You just keep fighting a strawman set up by Pinker.·Maunus·ƛ· 14:07, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Let's just stick to policy i.e. NPOV and V. That the conflict is between SSM (or cultural deerminsim) and EP may well be the view of evolutionary psychologists and could be reported as such. To my knowledge it is not the view of critics of evolutionary psychologists, at least not the ones I am familiar with. Tim Ingold and Jonathan Marks wholehaeartedly believe in neo-Darwinian evolution and "integrating" evolutionary theory into their science; if I understand them correctly their criticism of EP is that evolutionary psychologists misunderstand evolutionary theory, misunderstand human behavior etc. i.e. their criticisms are not so easily summed up in a slogan. But when we represent the debate, we have to be clear about how critics of evolutionary psychology represent themselves, and their criticisms of EP. Slrubenstein | Talk 10:48, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Exactly. To represent critics of EP as 'cultural determinist' is utterly unjustified, unless you can find reliable sources that demonstrate that they describe themselves as such (you won't). AndyTheGrump (talk) 10:57, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

I think mentioning the critics, and then mentioning the response from say someone like Pinker, would be a reasonable approach. References are needed though, rather than cherry picked ones. The problem with say going to an intro book is what intro book. So, yeah something from those mentioned might do fine I think. Dbrodbeck (talk) 12:11, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

We should mention the critiques - not just the critics.·Maunus·ƛ· 13:23, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Yes, this is what I meant to say. I have no problem with critiques and responses, done in a well referenced and concise manner. I would prefer these come from people in the behavioural sciences, preferably psychology. Dbrodbeck (talk) 13:44, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Robert Richardson is a philosopher of science and has published extensively about the history of psychology - his Evolutionary Psychology as maladated Pschology published at the MIT press should be a good source for a pro-evolutionary scientific critique, Suplizio's "Evolutioinary psychology the academic debate" (2006) shows that the modularity hypothesis is contradicted by findings from the fields of biological anthropology, linguistics and developmental psychology. ·Maunus·ƛ· 14:07, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Request for peer review

To get more input on the issues discussed above, I have added a request for peer review of these issues. Memills (talk) 06:02, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

I wish that was how we used peer review, but it isn't. Wikipedia uses the term "peer review" to pertain to simple suggestions for article improvement of quality articles outside of complex content disputes like this one. What you are looking for is an RFC. Please consider removing the peer review and following the instructions for the RFC through the link. Viriditas (talk) 07:52, 9 February 2011 (UTC)


It looks like I went and confused the POV battle that you people were having. There used to be clear demarcations between those who hate EP and want to report on the controversy and those who love EP and want to exclude the controversy from coverage. Then I went and muddied the waters by saying we should report both the criticisms and the successes, using (per WP:WEIGHT) commonly accepted reference texts and disinterested secondary and tertiary sources. Now everyone's angry. Once again, I ask my fellow editors to set aside personal views and just follow WP policy to give this engaging topic the treatment that WP wants it to get.

Personally, I'm familiar with both sides. In college, I was taught from John Money's infamous textbook in which he misused the tragic life of David Reimer to argue that gender was socially constructed and not genetic. Indeed his case study proved his point with little room for doubt. I can deconstruct any behavior into cultural determinism as adeptly as the next 1970s liberal. Until it turned out that Money's case study was contrafactual, and that Reimer's life proved, if anything, that the opposite of Money's socialized-gender theory was true. I'm chagrined to have been duped, and now I buy into ev psych because it has actual evidence backing it up.

The success of ev psych has made the debate murkier. Just like creationists who now adore dinosaurs (once rejected as a paleontologist's fevered dream), the opponents of ev psych now acknowledge the power of evolution in shaping human culture and psyches. Even Gould, who once proudly denounced the idea that any individual human could have inborn predispositions for one behavior or another, had to accept that we each really do have genetic, heritable predispositions, the sort of thing that natural selection presumably acts on. All without ever admitting that his ev psych opponents had ever taught him anything. So now the opponents of ev psych proclaim the very tenets of ev psych (natural selection working on genetic predispositions) on one hand and denounce it on the other.

And the way to cut through this tangled web of shifting accusations and assertions is to follow WP policy: turn to our commonly accepted reference texts and our disinterested secondary and tertiary sources, then use them to guide out treatment of the topic. Is that too much to ask? Quite possibly. Leadwind (talk) 17:11, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

"Even Gould, who once proudly denounced the idea that any individual human could have inborn predispositions for one behavior or another, had to accept that we each really do have genetic, heritable predispositions, the sort of thing that natural selection presumably acts on." Well, I think we now have the prize-winner for the dumbest thing ever written on Wikipedia. Gould never denounced the idea that any individual human could have inborn predispositions for one behavior or another. Never. Gould was one of the world's leading authorities on evolution. He believed in genetics and human evolution decades before anyone evn thought up "evolutionary psychology."
Leadwind, as with all scientific topics, NPOV is not going to be achieved here by "balancing" people who love or hate it. It describes a collection of psyschologists. They publish work in academic presses and peer-reviewed journals. This work is reviewed and debated in peer-reviewed journals. Our task is simply to provide a good account of this literature. Your autobiographical anecdote is neither here nor there and if you ever begin contributing anything productive to this article (e.g. something from a peer-reviewed journal) I will be thrilled.

And please, you have now been presented with enough evidence that this is not a debate as to whether human beings evolved through a variety of natural processes including natural selection. No one debates this (that you keep referring to an Encyclopedia Britannical article that does not exist, and ignore the book reviews and articles from peer-reviewed journals, shows that you are just making this stuff up) No one questions that humans evolved and have genes. Some scientists actually research human evolution (no Evolutionary Psychologists though - none of them have any training in evolution or genetics, and have made no contribution whatsoever to our understanding of human evolution or genetics) and others research human behaviors (and here to, the major "evolutionary psychologists" have made no real contribution ... Stephen Pinker is a linguist and has yet to demonstrate that any grammatical features are genetically determined). You once asked what the "alternative" to EP is. I guess the most concise answer is: science. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:22, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Pinker is not a linguist - as any linguist who has read his books about language can attest - his PhD is in experimental psychology.·Maunus·ƛ· 17:59, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

My mistake! I thought he was a Chomsky protege. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:22, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

He's a linguist in the sense of somebody who has published numerous peer-reviewed papers on problems in linguistics (focusing on language learning), and he buys into many of Chomsky's ideas, though perhaps calling him a protege would be overstating it. Looie496 (talk) 18:56, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
SLR, you say "Gould never denounced the idea that any individual human could have inborn predispositions for one behavior or another. Never." Really? Never? What do you think he meant in 1976, in Ever Since Darwin, when he advanced the concept of "biological potentiality, with a brain capable of a full range of human behaviors and predisposed to none"? That's how well evolutionary psychology has proved itself, that today opponents of ev psych reject as ridiculous Gould's arguments against ev psych. You can't believe that Gould would say anything that ridiculous. Why not? Because 30 years of research reveals Gould's arguments to be ridiculous. If you want to take back your insult about the dumbest thing ever written on Wikipedia, I'd accept it, in light of the years on collaborative editing that you and I have enjoyed on other pages. Leadwind (talk) 19:28, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

He was referring to "brain," - you simply said genes. Of course genetic deects can predispose behavior. As for the brain, we still have very impartial information about the brain and even fMRI research draws on relatively small samples with results that are open to interpretation. I know of no brain research that contradicts Gould. There is no research by evolutionary psychologists that demonstrates that evolved differences in the brain predispose people to different behavior. Slrubenstein | Talk 20:31, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

To be fair in at least one description of EP by a proponent I have read that the EP broke from sociobiology exactly because they wanted to get rid of the tendency to try to prove that individual psychological differences are evolutionarily determined, but that they are rather focusing purposely on the universals - those things for which we presumably are all evolutionarily adapted. That means of course the EP is not trying to explain differences in individual behavior by posing evolutionary adaptive hypotheses - but that they are only interested in looking at those traits that we all have in common. (the only differences that they argue for are sex based differences - which seems to be those with the strongest possibility of being biologically grounded - afterall the anatomical/genetic differences between xy and xx people are statisically more significant than any other possible division of humankind)·Maunus·ƛ· 21:18, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Seriously? You're saying that Gould meant that we have genetic predispositions but that they're not mediated through the brain? So when male hormones masculinize a fetus's brain, the brain's predispositions aren't changed? If masculinizing the brain doesn't change the brain's predispositions, why masculinize it in the first place? In any event, my point is that this is a controversial topic with lots of competing points of view, so to do this page right we should stick really close to WP policy. Can we agree to stick close to policy? Is that too much to ask? Leadwind (talk) 20:56, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Yup, let's just follow policy. That will take less tim thn detailing all the flaws in what you just wrote. If you have a reliable source that shows that this is a significant view among neuroscientists (and I mean, concerning humans, not rats or rhesus monkeys, and that demonstrate a clear link to a specific behavior), by all means provide the source. Slrubenstein | Talk 21:22, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Thank you. As you well know, pointing out my errors doesn't teach me anything, so thanks for skipping that part. You would like me to find a good source, but for what viewpoint? The viewpoint that men exhibit more masculine behavior because hormones masculinize their brains in utero? Another good one is how certain sorts of traditionally masculine behavior are encouraged or otherwise affected by changes in testosterone in the blood stream. If you think that evolution shaped human social instincts, then I don't know what it is about EP that you're even challenging. Remember, the people who first really hated EP were the people like I used to be, people who thought that gender was just an invention and any science that grounded gender in evolution couldn't possibly be true. So what is it about EP that you don't like? Leadwind (talk) 22:13, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
It is interesting when I talk to EPs about evolution and the brain... they often have the same reaction... "we seem to agree on so much... what the hell is your problem!?" The problem can be seen in where we disagree. The examples you just gave Leadwind, are relatively uncontested examples of how genetics and biology make males and females different... but the biological influences are not universal. There are certain parts of our CNS that are more influenced by genes than others... EPs seldom make these distinctions based on the limitations of our actual biology. Read some of the critiques from Jaak Panksepp, an affective neuroscientist, to understand why this is problematic. Logic prevails (talk) 15:03, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
Logic, thanks for your answer. Could you be more specific? Can you name something that EP says but that neuroscientists generally dispute? That seemed to be where SLR was going. If we all agree that we evolved social instincts, what is it that EP says that's wrong? It must be something important that people really care about, because EP generates a lot of hostility.
SLR, you seemed to be headed somewhere, and I'm still curious as to what specific errors you think EP makes. Leadwind (talk) 16:09, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
Modularity for one thing - is specific to EP as opposed to other theories of the mind and is not supported by data from neuroscience.·Maunus·ƛ· 16:57, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
Maunus, thanks. It's hard to believe that people get angry about the degree of the brain's modularity, but modularity is key to EP. If neuroscientists say that the human mind is modular, score one for EP. If not, score one for the non-EP. Anyone have a reference that shows how modular or plastic the mind is? And while we're looking that up, there must surely be other objections to EP. Leadwind (talk) 19:27, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
I think what upsets people is their feeling that a lot of the science (particularly as it relates to the underlying neurobiology) is neglected, oversimplified, or misinterpreted to suit whatever hypothesis someone wants to push. Leadwind, I would direct you again to read Panksepp (some references are in the EP controversy page). Neurobiology cannot be summarized easily if one is to truly understand it, but an extremely oversimplified version would suggest the mind is made up of both domain-specific lower level circuits and domain-general higher-level (e.g. cortical) circuits. This does not include whatever complex interactions may be happening between the two and how some circuits are especially plastic and capable of adapting to meet the demands of ones local environment. Logic prevails (talk) 20:10, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
Leadwind, in response to me, you write, "The viewpoint that men exhibit more masculine behavior because hormones masculinize their brains in utero" ... well, what do you mean by "masculine behavior?" But ys, this is one thing where I would like to see substantiated research, and not just speculation. As to your desire to understand objections to EP, others on this page have already provided many, besides the modularity problem. Be that as it may, this is not a chatroom, but a page to discuss improvements to the article. It doesn't matter what you or I personally believe. But what I do take exception to is your insistance that a valid criticism of EP must take the form of an "alternative." As I already said, most of the criticisms of EP take the form of criticisms of specific claims made by evolutionary psychologists. That is because this is how science normally works. What EP's call standard social science is pretty well-established. It does not deny that human beings are the product of evolution, but it does indeed document the degree to which human behaviors are learned and modified through social processes. That all humans (leaving aside ones with congenital birth defects) are born with a capacity for language and that this capacity is the product of human evolution is questioned by no social science. That differences between Quichua, French, Hebrew, and Basque cannot be explained by genes or natural selection is also well-established. The main problem I have seen reported concerning evolutionary psychology is that many behaviors they claim universal are demonstrably not (this speaks to a good point Maunus made earlier about the difference between EP and sociobiology). That their arguments for evolutionary explainations for social behaviors are simply lacking evidence is another. If EP wants to prove that culurally variably behaviors are in fact universal, or that cultural behaviors are inherited rather than learned, it bears the burden of providing the evidence. But these arguments are fought out on a case-by-case basis for obvious reasons. Slrubenstein | Talk 21:04, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────This really should be simple. You guys think EP is bunk. I ask why. Then you guys are supposed to list all the stupid, irresponsible, overreaching things that EP says. Then we find out whether those things are true or false, and with that information we could all agree on whether EP is right. But we're hung on the list of errors that EP makes because you critics are holding back. So far, "modularity" is the one aspect of EP that you're all willing to attack, but even Janksepp likes some degree of modularity. I can tell you for certain that an abstract topic such as modularity doesn't get people angry, and EP makes people angry. So please lay it out for me. If EP is wrong, I want you to prove it to me so I can correct myself. This should be a simple question for those of you convinced that EP is wrong: "What does EP say that's wrong?" Could you write a sentence that represents something EP claims but that is false? If you offer such a sentence, then we'll be able to add that straight to the page, like "EP claims X, Y, and Z, which is roundly disputed by neuroscientists," or something.

Meanwhile, I guess we should go find out what neuroscientists say about modularity. Leadwind (talk) 13:34, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

Where di I ever say "EP is bunk?" Leadwind, get this through your head: THIS IS NOT A CHATROOM. WP is not about what editors think. This is not an argumnt. In the academy, EP is a minority view; its proponents say as much when they point to a standard social science model, You may have your personal reasons for wishing to know what the "alternative" is to EP but that is not our job. What is our job is to provide all significant views. As to general critiques, several other editors have already provided links to or names of important peer-review published articles. My point is that real scientific debate concerns specific studies. The question is, what studies have avtually com out of EP in peer-reviewed journals, and how have they been received? In the US, the premier journal is Science, in the UK, Nature and when napolean Chagnon published a sociobiologial argument for male aggression it was promptly rebutted by other scholars. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:16, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
OK, EP isn't bunk. That's progress. And I'm not chatting. I'm trying to agree on what we should add to the page. It's harder to document how EP is wrong if you critics won't explain to me how it's wrong. But we're back on the gender topic, so that's promising. It sounds like you think we could add something like: "Explanations that attribute greater male aggression and criminality to ancient, evolved behavior strategies have been disputed by the majority of scholars, who instead attribute it to current sexist cultural influence" or something like that. If we could find a source that said that, it would sure be worth adding to the page, don't you think?
Mental modularity, evolved male aggression... is there anything else that EP gets wrong? Leadwind (talk) 14:29, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

Leadwind, where did I ever say EP isn't bunk? Slrubenstein | Talk 16:06, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

Either way, Maunus is correctly urging us to focus on improving the article. You seem to be saying that our coverage of EP could be improved with a statement such as: "Explanations that attribute greater male aggression and criminality to ancient, evolved behavior strategies have been disputed by the majority of scholars, who instead attribute it to current sexist cultural influence," or something. So help me out and suggest what wording you'd like for this statement. Leadwind (talk) 16:16, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
No, I am saying our coverage of EP can be improved by presenting whatever claims come from peer-reviewed journal articles, and presenting the views accurately (there is a world of difference for a scientist - and our readers - between "established" and "probably" or "likely;" betweeon "is" or "seems to be" or "may be), and presenting such views in context. Slrubenstein | Talk 16:42, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

gender in EP

Logic, you said, "The examples you just gave Leadwind, are relatively uncontested examples of how genetics and biology make males and females different."

This article should probably describe the ways in which physiology confirms evolutionary psychology, such as the uncontested way that inherited traits affect gender. After all, even the people who oppose EP acknowledge that EP is right about this much: men and women are different biologically, not just physically but psychologically. I know it's controversial, and that's why it's important to state the clear case. While this information is hardly contested today, it was hotly contested as late as the 80s. Even editors who oppose EP presumably agree with it this far, so there should be no objection to documenting this finding. There's nothing about it in the lead. What should we say? Leadwind (talk) 19:35, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

I would say that these less controversial findings were discovered independently of EP and its favored methods. Logic prevails (talk) 20:18, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
To say that the idea that "men and women are different biologically, not just physically but psychologically" was "hotly contested as late as the 80s" is a rather strange construction. It may well have been contested in the 1980s, but it is a very old idea, pre-dating science itself, and generally held to be a 'scientific fact' until relatively recently. The suggestion that EP somehow 'discovered' this (how?) is stretching credulity. AndyTheGrump (talk) 20:28, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
OK, but if gender differences are part of our evolved psychology, we should talk about it here, on the "evolved psychology" page. Leadwind (talk) 20:35, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
It may be standard within the EP field to phrase things that way, but it doesn't accord with the facts: some gender differences may be "part of our evolved psychology". It is this over-enthusiastic interpretation of evidence that gets others involved in such debates so wound up. You cannot simply state that 'gender difference' is a consequence of evolution, given the overwhelming evidence of how culture plays such a strong part in defining gender roles etc. AndyTheGrump (talk) 21:14, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
If this was truly a page about "evolved psychology", then yes Leadwind, I might be sympathetic to your suggestion. But this is a page about "evolutionary psychology", which involves a very specific METHOD of applying evolutionary ideas to explaining the human mind and certain key assumptions about what the mind is. Logic prevails (talk) 21:45, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
Andy, there are of course a ton of gender differences that aren't evolved and result from culture. But right now we're talking about what Logic mentioned: "how genetics and biology make males and females different." If you dispute that genetics and biology make males and females different, then that's an interesting discussion, but maybe you can take Logic's word for it that this is basically uncontested. If you think that genetic and biological differences got there without evolution, then that's also an interesting discussion. If the page said, "Gender roles are heavily influenced by culture, but the innate differences between men and women represent evolved adaptations," on what grounds would you object? Leadwind (talk) 13:47, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Yes, but what are the "innate differences"? The fact is that EP seeks to assert that there are psychological differences between men and women that are due to genetic factors, without demonstrating the causal mechanism. Instead, EP looks at current behaviour etc, and seeks to explain it in terms of past evolutionary history. As a scientific process, this is fundamentally flawed while it relies on the assertion that differences are innate to 'prove' that they are the result of past evolutionary pressures. I dare say that in some cases this may very well be true, but EP provides no method whatsoever to determine in which cases. Until a direct linkage between individual genes and individual 'behaviours' can be demonstrated, the entire methodology is little more than speculation. This is hardly confined to EP of course, and you could say much the same about 'cultural' explanations from the social sciences. The difference however is that EP is making assertions that look on the surface to be based on the physical sciences (genetics etc), while providing no actual evidence from the physical sciences to back this up. It is to be noted of course that there is a strong political element to this too, in that supposed 'genetic' differences are often used to justify inequalities - it seems no accident that EP has gained strongest support in the United States, which has a high level of social inequality. Explanations that differences are genetic are all-too convenient as a justification for maintaining such inequalities, and while EP (or at least mainstream EP) only argues for genetic differences relating to gender, others may see it as a convenient explanation for differences regarding 'race' - the net result is that a speculative methodology which presents itself instead as hard scientific fact acts as a convenient cloak for a particular social outlook. This really isn't a strong foundation on which to build understanding of the complex ongoing interactions between biology and culture.
I note that there are other criticisms directed at EP too, based on the problematic way it assumes that there can be 'a gene' for 'a behaviour' - this isn't really something I know enough about to discuss in detail though, and I'll leave that to those who understand more. AndyTheGrump (talk) 14:29, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Andy, thanks for bringing up the inequality issue. I know that when I was a fan of the SSSM, the inequality issue was my biggest objection to a biological understanding of human psychology. So let's address that head on in the article, shall we? The idea that there is a "gene" for each "behaviour" is also totally bogus, and we should point that out. If we inform the reader that such a simplistic view of genes and behaviour is untenable, we'd be doing them a service. As for which difference between men and women are innate, I think that for starters we can limit ourselves to those that, as Logic says, are relatively uncontested. There's a direct link between the Y-chromosome, male hormones, and male brain structure and function. Men don't have moods that swing monthly along with hormone levels the way women do, and that's partly a physical difference in the brain linked directly to the genes. The male brain is masculinized in utero (before socialization). The only real dispute here is whether these difference evolved as adaptations (per EP) or whether they appeared by some process other than natural selection. If you can find a non-evolutionary explanation for where these innate difference come from, I'd be mighty obliged. In any event, I think we're off to a good start: modularity, aggression, gender differences, genes for behavior, and social inequality. We can turn to our best sources and find out whether EP is on the right side or the wrong side of each issue. Leadwind (talk) 14:47, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

Maunus deleted my comment, above. Boy howdy, that was a rude surprise. Back when I was trying to get criticism on the page, he and I worked together. Now he doesn't even want anyone to read what I have to say.

As if to demonstrate that I really am trying to work on the page, I took Andy's lead and added something about social inequality. You see, this discussion is actually leading to new information on the page. It's not just a general discussion about the merits of EP. Though I can understand why opponents of EP would like to steer clear of anything that looks like a measured, careful assessment of its merits. Leadwind (talk) 15:38, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

"Men don't have moods that swing monthly along with hormone levels the way women do, and that's partly a physical difference in the brain linked directly to the genes." Actually, you'll find that not all women have "monthly mood swings", and I'm fairly sure I've seen evidence somewhere that there is a strung cultural aspect to this. In any case, unless it could be demonstrated that these 'mood swings' gave some evolutionary advantage, I can't see what it would have to do with EP - or do you have a source that says otherwise? AndyTheGrump (talk) 01:29, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
When I step back and look at this, I cannot help but laugh. Leadwind, you cannot take findings that the neurobiologists, geneticists, and biologists discovered, and then pretend that it was an idea that came from EP. Why doesn't EP get up off their butts, learn something about neurobiology, and do the damn research themselves, instead of having more legitimate fields do their homework for them? Logic prevails (talk) 10:02, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
Logic, Maunus and others have pointed out that this isn't a chat room, and we're trying to focus on actual improvements to the page. Leadwind (talk) 15:10, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
Andy, I can look for a source to back up the idea that the inherent, gender-based brain differences are evolved. In the mean time, you could help me look it up if you could provide the alternative. Biologists today look to natural selection to explain the presence of complicated physiological processes in organisms. How else other than evolution would humans develop gender-based brain differentiation? If you doubt that the difference evolved, how would it have gotten there? If you answer me that, I can try looking up both explanations and see which one gets more respect. Leadwind (talk) 15:10, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
I think we'd do better to stick to the issue, which is the validity of EP as a scientific method. I don't see any purpose in getting into side issues of how I understand human evolution. Instead, it needs to be demonstrated how EP makes verifiable scientific statements - and this needs at minimum to include showing that the assumptions on which it is based - that X, Y or Z is inate, that X, Y or Z is universal, and that X, Y or Z occurs because of past evolutionary pressures. Unless and until this is proven for a specific case, it is still just supposition. AndyTheGrump (talk) 15:35, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
If you can't suggest a mechanism other that natural selection that would lead to male/female brain differentiation, then I can't do the research to compare the evolution explanation to an alternative. Evolution would seem to win by default. Leadwind (talk) 15:34, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
I'm not asking you to compare anything to anything. I'm asking you to show where EP has made verifiable scientific statements. 19:51, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
could we please stick to discussing how to improve the article. Leadwind pointed it out above and then proceeded directly to idle chitchat. We are not here to discuss the validity OR findings of EP. We are here to write the article.·Maunus·ƛ· 23:56, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

"warrior" gene

Is there a "warrior gene"?

This looks like a clear case of a direct link between a single gene and behavior. It also demonstrates that there's no such thing as a simple "gene for aggression" (like Andy was pointing out), just genes that interact with other genes and individual experience to affect levels of aggression. Would this web site be an RS, or could someone cite the original paper? Leadwind (talk) 15:55, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

We need to find the original article, and weight its standing within the scientific community. Be that as it may, one paper alone is not enough to establish a clear link for anything; at most, this is an argument that a few scholars have proposed. It is hardly accepted scientific fact, regardless of your desires that it be. Slrubenstein | Talk 16:08, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
Here's the original article online. It seems to bear directly on the issues we want to address on the page. Leadwind (talk) 16:23, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
the link is dead.·Maunus·ƛ· 16:31, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
Also strictly speaking this research is in the field of Behavioral genetics not EP.·Maunus·ƛ· 16:33, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
Most of the authors are political scientists. Although they call MAOA a "warrior gene," according to them the evidence is that "Earlier studies found that mice with MAOA knockouts were more aggressive than their normal counterparts or mice with MAOB knockouts (which regulates different neurotransmitters);" this suggests that MAOA may be linked to human aggressivity, but they do not cite experimental studies involving humans. They do report a link between MAOA and verbal aggression, but no ressearch looking at behavioral aggression, which is what they wish to test. They are testing is whether amounts of the enzyme produced affect how much hot-sauce participants wish to give to an nuknown person who is reported to have either taken 20% or 80% of their valuables away. They find no significant difference when 20% is taken from them, and a significant difference when 80% is taken away. They are very clear that the hot sauce is ordered only when the 80% is taken away, so they see this as evidence that environment has a moderating effect; they are explicit that they are not looking at aggression per se, but aggression in response to a provocation (they use the word provocation). They say that the distribution of alleles is typical of western populations; the 78 male university students include members from all US-recognized ethnic categories and the study provided no information about the relationship between ethnicity and continental origin and the frequency of the allele and they are not really making any kind of evolutionary argument. Now, I am not political scientists, so I do not have the training they have, but I would ask, is this measuring aggression, or a sense of justice? And, is it really measuring "behavioral aggression" as opposed to verbal aggression, since the partiipants are not actually forcing or tricking someone else to eat hot sauced, but just saying that they would like to do this. I think the real issue is that this was published recently and not enough time has passed for there to be enough attempts to reproduce the experiment or similar studies. The PRoceedings have not published any other articles on a "warrior gene" so it doesn't look like this concept is very well-established among behaviroal scientists. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:20, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
Actually it has been reviewed by other scholars, such as here - Behavioral Genetics in Antisocial Spectrum Disorders and Psychopathy: A Review of the Recent Literature by Tracy D. Gunter, M.D.*, Michael G. Vaughn, Ph.D.y and Robert A. Philibert, M.D., Ph.D.z Behavioral Sciences and the Law 28: 148–173 (2010). But I propose that this discussion is not relevant to the topic of EP - since these studies are not conducted or commented on by evolutionary psychologists.·Maunus·ƛ· 17:35, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
Some comments above have referred to obtaining points from papers. Generally, however, primary sources should be used mainly for further reading, and secondary sources should be used for verification of results stated in the article. It is not our role to cherry pick items from papers we select to highlight here. While offering my thoughts, I support recent efforts to avoid undue general discussions on this page, and I want to again state that I am not here to oppose all criticism of EP—I was opposing specific criticism which is no longer in the article. Johnuniq (talk) 01:10, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

Let me just point out that our article on Monoamine oxidase A (the full name of MAOA) contains quite a bit of useful information, including a discussion of the "warrior" aspect. Looie496 (talk) 01:12, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

OK, someone challenged me to demonstrate that there really are genes that affect behavior in a known way, so that's why I found this paper. The warrior gene shows that Gould was wrong when he said that brains don't have predispositions toward behaviors, and it shows that the evolution of personality traits is more than speculation. Now that I've found the evidence I was challenged to find, I understand that this evidence is no longer welcome, and I suppose I can live with that. Finding good information to add to the page is my goal, but I failed again. My consolation prize is seeing the opponents of EP retreat from one piece of scholarly work after another. Leadwind (talk) 15:31, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
I am pretty sure you are misquoting Gould or taking him out of context. He certainly never suggested what you claim he is suggesting. Your source? Slrubenstein | Talk 18:17, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
Much as I hate idle chitchat, you probably deserve an answer. The quote comes from Gould's 1976 column in Natural History, cited in Pinker 2002. Leadwind (talk) 15:23, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

A good source for criticism

"Alas, Poor Darwin" edited by Steven Rose and his wife is an entire book dedicated to criticism of Evolutionary Psychology. Evolutionary Psychologist Robert Kurzban assesses it like this: "What makes APD worthy of attention is not that it introduces new criticisms of the field of evolutionary psychology. What makes it noteworthy is that it accumulates a cornucopia of old criticisms, recycled and rehashed, in one place. Other sources, both scholarly and popular, have leveled the same accusations, made the same mistakes, and presented the same distorted picture of the field and its practitioners."[4] This suggests that this book is a good place to start if we want to look at the recurring criticisms of EP, by its most vocal critics. He outlines five major criticism that I think also need to be mentioned in the article here: EP is a form of genetic determinism, EP thinks every aspect of human behavior is an adaption, it generates untestable hypotheses, it focuses on providing distal or ultimate explanations rather than proximate explanations that are often more informative (i.e. the difference between answering the question "Why did Joe kill his wife after she slept with Bill?" by saying "because jealousy is an evolutionary adaptation" (distal) and by saying "because he felt betrayed and desparate" (proximate)), and lastly the critique that Evolutionary claims cannot be divorced from their possible political consequences. I haven't gotten my hands on the book yet, but I will work on that. Meanwhile I think that from the critique by Kurzban I can glean some of its attributes: it probably is too shrill and selfrighteous and I think that Kurzban is probably reacting mostly to this which is why some of his dismissals of its arguments read weird - for example he just find the difference critique of the preference for distal and rather than proximate arguments to be "odd", and he doesn't even engage with the notion that all research has political implications. In any case I think it be a good source to look at.·Maunus·ƛ· 16:03, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

That's an interesting list of criticisms. Does it really criticize EP without ever saying that the conclusions of EP are false? Is it true that the opponents of EP have gone from denying that it's true or even possible (e.g., Gould saying that human brains don't have predispositions) to saying that it's unproven and bad? If so, that's a curious development. And what are we to make of Rose not attacking modularity? Isn't that a soft spot in EP? Furthermore, why are we trusting Rose as an expert? He's one of the classic defenders of the SSSM, which even our local anti-EP editors acknowledge is no longer a tenable position. Isn't he one of those guys that's been after sociobiology and then EP since the 1970s? Didn't he say that IQ wasn't heritable, and that "theorists" such as Mao demonstrate that the only thing in our genes is our ability to construct our own social systems? Can't we find an expert who didn't make up his mind about EP 30 years ago? On the pro-EP side, we can find all sorts of current scholars who are doing original work with the material that EP has generated (Wright, Wade, Ryan & Jetha). Does the anti-EP side have so few takers that we need to retain a dated champion of the SSSM as our expert? I wouldn't mind adding these criticisms to the page, but I'd prefer that they came from a contemporary scholar, rather than from a 1970s-era cultural determinist. Leadwind (talk) 15:19, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
"Furthermore, why are we trusting Rose as an expert? He's one of the classic defenders of the SSSM, which even our local anti-EP editors acknowledge is no longer a tenable position." First of all, if SSSM is not a "tenable position" (reliable source please?) it may be because it is a straw-man construction of EP advocates. The rest of this sentence is a non-sequitor. Of course Rose is an expert. Trust goes along with truth, and wikipedia is about verifiable views, not truth. That he may be a defender of SSSM does not mean we exclude him from the article - that woulod be a clear violation of WP:NPOV. We are required by this policy to provide alternate, even opposing, views. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:15, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
I came to this talk page expecting that the opponents of EP would be fans of the SSSM (same as I used to be). But the editors here who think EP is bunk insisted that the SSSM is a straw man and that no one really buys into the idea that culture is autonomous and that it can act on the plastic human brain without reference to any human nature beyond the physical realities of eating, sleeping, and eliminating waste. I was assured that informed people understand that humans have evolved instincts that shape our behavior to this day. But now all of a sudden the champion chosen to criticize EP is none other than the 1970s era advocate of the SSSM. The best critic of EP is Rose? And he can't even muster an attack that says EP is wrong (just distasteful, less useful, and unproven)? This is the best you can do? In any event, WP:WEIGHT says that you cover a disagreement in accord with how the disagreement is treated in secondary and tertiary sources that describe it from a disinterested viewpoint. Rose has never offered a disinterested viewpoint. We can cite this book for sure, but in line with how the disinterested sources cover the disagreement. Leadwind (talk) 15:17, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

The Evolutionary theory section

Does this article really need a large section (including a huge table that completely breaks up the article and impairs readability) about the generalities of evolutionary theory. I think not, a small summary would suffice, but even that seems to go off topic in an article that is specifically about Evolutionary Psychology, not about evolution. ·Maunus·ƛ· 16:23, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

I agree. My comment in the above section was only meant to reflect my belief that the field needs to stand on its own merits and substantiate its own claims. It is not the theory of evolution applied to the mind - as proponents often suggest. The table that you mention pulls the less controversial theory of evolution into all of this, which should not be confused with EP (a SPECIFIC WAY of applying evolutionary ideas to the mind). Even if we look at that table, there are clear errors of misrepresentation. Darwin did not conceptualize evolution in the way that it is depicted in this article. For the record, I have read the 1859 original facsimile of Origin of Species from cover to cover, and nowhere do you see Darwin saying anything to the effect of: "The bodies and minds of organisms are made up of evolved adaptations designed to help the organism survive in a particular ecology (for example, the fur of polar bears, the eye, food preferences, etc.)." Logic prevails (talk) 18:09, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
I don't see any table about "the generalities of evolutionary theory." I see a table about the essential building blocks of a sophisticated understanding of human social evolution, "neo-Darwinism." The table squares very nicely with the reading I've done (Dennett, Dawkins, Wright, Pinker, etc.), and it shows how the neo-Darwinian paradigm slowly developed to the point at which, with the publication of Sociobiology, it could finally address the complex issues of evolved human psychology. The SSSM was in place before 1950 (Marx, Boaz, Skinner). The theoretical work to challenge the SSSM developed over the following 25 years. Why did Edmund Morris's Naked Ape fail to win academic support to the evolutionary viewpoint in the 1960s? Because the theoretical foundations for Morris's analysis had not yet been laid. Evolutionary psychology isn't a retread of social Darwinism. Why not? In part because of the theoretical advances documented on this table. Leadwind (talk) 00:14, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
It doesn't matter how well it squares with your readings- it matters that it is off topic for an article the aim of which is to explain what evolutionary psychology is, not about essential building blocks of human social evolution.$ Not all research about human social evolution is evolutionary psychology. You seem to have the misconception that this page is about evolutionary explanations of human behavior - it isn't it is specifically about the discipline of Evolutionary Psychology, not about behavioral genetics, not about social evolution, not about socio-biology. just EP.·Maunus·ƛ· 00:18, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
"The table squares very nicely with the reading I've done (Dennett, Dawkins, Wright, Pinker, etc.)" Then the table should be referencing those authors (EPs) and NOT Darwin. It should also be in a section describing EP and NOT general evolution, as this is a gross misrepresentation of evolutionary theory in ways to fit the claims of EP. This is part of the argument... that the authors you mentioned grossly misrepresent evolutionary theory - period. Logic prevails (talk) 09:58, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
These are the neo-Darwinian developments on which EP is based and that EP writers specifically refer to. These aren't just unrelated extensions of evolutionary theory (e.g., punctuated equilibrium). Even the textbook Psychology calls out Darwin by name as providing the first steps toward EP. Leadwind (talk) 14:57, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

genes & behavior, race

Dr. Mills keeps deleting the material I added about genes & behavior and about race. Let's talk about that here. Dr. Mills? Leadwind (talk) 00:06, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

It doesn't seem terribly important to include in my opinion - as I said earlier EP does not generally work with differences between populations but with universals for all populations. Most EP research doesn't adress questions of race or geographically distributed differences. I would tend to opt for MEmills solution, leaving it out.·Maunus·ƛ· 00:10, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
I agree, that stuff, to me at least, is pretty fringey. Dbrodbeck (talk) 00:17, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
Well, someone other than me specifically brought up race, so I added something on race. But I agree that there are more important topics to cover. Leadwind (talk) 14:52, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

Adding section headings and material from Discussion Temp page

There is a great deal topical material that needs to be added to the main EP page. Some major outline headings have been languishing on the Discussion Temp Page Talk:Evolutionary psychology/Temp for years. I have added a few of the section / sub-section headings, and added some material under each. This initial material is either from the Temp page, or from other wikipedia articles. The text of these sub-sections needs to be fleshed out, with a particular focus on contributions by evolutionary psychologists.

Let's spend a tad more effort on the main EP page to describe what evolutionary psychologists actually say, rather than what their critics say they say. Memills (talk) 05:19, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

Sounds good. Leadwind (talk) 14:50, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

genetically determined to be culturally determined

Robert Wright offers an intriguing take on the genes-v-culture debate (in Moral Animal). While the cultural determinists (Marx, Boaz, Skinner, Rose, etc.) portray the individual as being passively shaped by culture, Wright describes the developing individual child as actively seeking out cues from the social environment to construct its own brain circuitry, language, social role, and personality. This active role on the part of the self-indoctrinating individual is most clearly seen with children picking up language. An infant doesn't just "like" baby talk. An infant actually rewards adults who use baby talk (by smiling, staring, looking so darn cute) to elicit more baby talk from them. Far from having language pressed upon it, the developing child seeks out linguistic cues from the environment in order to construct its own neural circuits accordingly, and the clever little devils start when they're still in the womb. Wright argues that much the same process happens with other aspects of one's social identity. In this view, culture isn't our way to transcend the genes' instinctive imperatives but rather culture is the genes' extended means for satisfying those imperatives. In the old debate between genes & culture, this approach seems notable. Leadwind (talk) 15:54, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

Leadwind, we can agree on some things. :-) This gene-culture co-evolution is pretty much the mainstream view now in EP. For a very intriguing talk on this general topic, go to and search for Susan Blackmore -- she gives a stunningly good presentation. Memills (talk) 17:39, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
Uh, Boas, was not a cultural determinist. Anyone who says he is just hasn't read Boas 9or, read him very selectively). His main argument was that race and culture cannot be reduced one to the other. As to the argument that humans played a role in their own evolution, why not cite Clifford Geertz's famous essay "The Growth of Culture and the Evolution of Mind" (which came out in 1973 in The Interpretation of Culture and is of course incredibly dated. One thing Boas was a stickler for was empirical evidence, and if he were alive today he would judge EP entirely on that basis, so who knows what he or Geertz would make of all the great advances in paleoanthropology and neuroscience. But Geertz's essay at least shows that they certainly cared about evolutionary dynamics. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:10, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
WHile Slr is right on Boas, nothing of this has any relation to EP untill some reliabel source discusses this research SPECIFICALLy in relation to EP. This is not a forum to drag forward our favourite readings on the relation between nature and nurture - it is about Evolutionary psychology. ·Maunus·ƛ· 23:51, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
OK, we'll add some gene-culture co-evolution, then, since that's mainstream EP. Leadwind (talk) 15:07, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

Once and for all not all evolutionary approaches to human behavior and cognition is EP

This article is not simply a depository for information about evolutionary theory in relation to human behavior and cognition - it is only about the particular research that has been generated within Evolutionary Psychology - not in sociobiology, not in cultural ecology, not in behavioral genetics and not in cognitive biology or evolutionary anthropology, nor in generative linguistics. Evolutionary Psychology is a particular school of thought connected to names like Tooby, Buss, Cosmides, Pinker etc. Stop trying to turn this article into a general museum of human social and cognitive evolution. We are here to describe the discipline of Evolutionary Psychology, what is its history, its core assumptions, its major proponents, the most notable studies and findings, and the most notable critiques that have been levelled against it. Nothing more.·Maunus·ƛ· 02:56, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

Indeed. As I noted above, these sections need to be reworked and fleshed out from a specifically EP perspective. Good reference sources for these topics include the textbooks by Buss, "Evolutionary Psychology" (a new 4th edition will be out next month), and Gaulin and McBurney's textbook (also titled "Evolutionary Psychology," 2nd. Ed.). Memills (talk) 04:32, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
So can we get consensus to take out all of the parts with heavy citation of the Non-EP research? Logic prevails (talk) 09:40, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
Yes. For it to be EP, it must be a study that claims to be EP. For it to be about EP, it must be a source claiming to be about EP. For it to be a criticism of EP, it mube (1) either be a criticism that says it is criticizzing EP, if in general, or (2) must be explicitly aimed at a specific study that identifies itself as EP. Slrubenstein | Talk 11:19, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
Ok, there seems to be a fair consensus to prune material that is not directly related to EP, maybe some of our EP specialists would be better at formulating the sections detailing history of the discipline, basic assumptions (including what differentiates it from sociobiology, behavioral genetics, evolutionary anthropology etc.), and the section about the most significant practicioners and studies. ·Maunus·ƛ· 12:41, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
I believe that MEM said they need to be fleshed out, not removed. When I read books about EP, the authors often treat the evolved nature of language (Pinker, Diamond, Wright). Leadwind (talk) 15:03, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
We can quote Pinker on language when he is writing about it in the context of EP. Diamond is not an evolutionary psychologist or a linguist. I don't know who the Wright you refer to is. MEmills said flesh out what EP says about language not what other disciplines say about it. Chomsky is not an evolutionary scientist or a psychologist. UG is irrelevant for EP, other than when Pinker argues that Chomsky and generativists have provided evidence for the modular mind (which is of course still rejected by non-chomskyan linguists and neuroscientists). Fleshing out doesn't entail adding information discriminately. ·Maunus·ƛ· 15:08, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
Much as I hate to indulge in chitchat, it's worth knowing that Wright is Robert Wright. The book in question is The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology (1995). In my experience, it's the single best book for explaining what human life is about. If you could bear to read a book about EP, this is the first one I would recommend. Leadwind (talk) 15:28, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

major topics to cover: gender, status, aggression, unconscious communication

We discuss gender differences under Mating, but psychological dimorphism could be its own, big section. This aspect of EP is perhaps the most dramatic and certainly one of the most controversial. While EP focuses on how humans are all the same, the differences between men and women compose different sort of universal.

We hardly discuss status, but status hierarchies are universal in social ape societies (and we're the most social ape of all). Chimps and bonobos are able to manage complicated, shifting political alliances without words or promises, just as our ancestors presumably did until they evolved speech.

Aggression is another rich topic. Clearly men, in particular, are built to be aggressive.

The three above topics all have the virtue of contrasting EP sharply with the SSSM, in which gender is constructed without reference to instincts, aggression is an emergent property of societies but not an individual instinct, and status is said to be a bad product of a non-utopian social system.

A fourth topic might be unconscious communication. In our ancestral environment, we didn't speak, so all our communication was nonverbal. This is where we learned to size each other up and work our way through social groups: threatening, sharing, grooming, flirting, etc. It's where women evolved their amazing "mind-reading" abilities. We also evolved ways to affect and be affected by each other through chemicals: women choosing mates based on MHC, men spiking their semen with bonding hormones, counter-aggression signals in tears, bonding hormones released through cuddling, etc. These evolved, chemically mediated behaviors demonstrate that important social interactions and exchanges have a biological reality operating under the radar of conscious awareness. The SSSM has no way of explaining how culture could train people to put socially active chemicals in their bodily fluids. Leadwind (talk) 15:46, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

I do not like where this is going... Logic prevails (talk) 15:53, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
It makes sense to have a section on gender differences, since this an area that has been investigated by EP - the article already has such a section. It doesn't make sense to argue for including one topic or the other without presenting sources as Leadwind is currently doing. ·Maunus·ƛ· 16:04, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
That's fine, as long as the work presented is that done by EP. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Logic prevails (talkcontribs) 16:29, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

section on language?

We mention language but don't have a section on it. Whether evolution evolved is a hot topic (thanks to Chomsky). A common demonstration of the power of evolution is that infants learn speech (an evolved trait) spontaneously, while children can only learn reading and writing (not an evolved trait) through arduous drill. Language seems to be a good demonstration of EP principles: its modular, innate, and recently evolved. We even have a unique FOXP2 gene that appeared about 50 thousand years ago, corresponding roughly with the "great leap forward" and the appearance of behaviorally modern humans. Seems to be relevant to evolutionary psychology. Leadwind (talk) 16:02, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. I think it should be a subheading of one of the main research areas -- probably most appropriate under the Survival sub-heading (or, more radically, under the Cultural Evolution / Memetics sub-heading). Memills (talk) 17:41, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

Uh, no. "Language seems to be a good demonstration of EP principles" is a classic violation of WP:NOR. But have any evolutionary psychologists actually done any research on language evolution? I do not mean speculation based on Chomsky, whose research really has not held up? If so, then of course it should be included. However, Deakins' analysis of the evolution of language would have to be included then - he is a sharp critic of Chomsky and proponents of modular brain evolution. The Symbolic Species. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:00, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
Does EP deal prominently with language? I know Pinker does work with language in evolutionary contexts, but the question is not wheter language shows something about EP, it is about whether EP is concerned with language. The FOXP2 stuff is completely irrelevant since this is not a finding of EP but of evolutionary geneticists·Maunus·ƛ· 23:53, 14 February 2011 (UTC).
Leadwind, you need to stop piling evolutionary literature into that article that is not directly related to EP. Firstly, Jared Diamond doesn't write about Ep, and secondly he hasn't a clue about what Chomsky is actually arguing. Don't cite him on linguistics he is not a reliable source on that. Pinker, and some of the publications he's done with Hauser and Fitch, is probably the closest thing to a reliable source on the Ep view of language. We need to find out how to present this stuff and it will certainly not be by simply presenting Pinker's conclusions as if they are just a factua matter - his ideas are highly contested by neuro and psychologinguists and evolutionary anthropologists. Chomsky is not an evolutionary psychologist, he doesn't care a fig about how UG evolved - he just states that it did and that linguists should study it. He has published 1 evolutionarily slanted article which was cowritten by Hauser and Fitch where they argue that the LAD is an adaptation. Fitch is the one who has shown that the descended larynx is not a requirement for speech and much less for language. Most evolutionary linguists and anthropologists believe language to have evolved from signed communication rather than vocal communication. ·Maunus·ƛ· 02:48, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
Diamond might not be an EP researcher, but his Third Chimpanzee certainly treats EP. Leadwind (talk) 15:06, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
That is a popular book, not a scholarly work, also being published in 1991 it predates the establishment of EP as a distinct field. Also it doesn't mention "Evolutionary Psychology" even once.·Maunus·ƛ· 16:11, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
You seem to treat EP as if it were invented in 1992, but researchers were doing EP before that. But 1992 is when EP was formally defined and named. The name "evolutionary psychology" was given to work that was already being done. They didn't call in EP before 1992 because that terminology hadn't been coined, but a rose by any other name is still a rose. Now if EP were a religious sect that got founded by 1992, that would be different. But Adapted Mind didn't start EP; it named and defined it. People were doing EP before it was called that. EP isn't a religious sect with clear borders as to who's in and who's out. It's an approach to psychology that different researchers pursue in different ways and even under different rubrics. Our sources ground EP in the work that was being done before EP was named, so we should, too. Like our sources, we should cover EP broadly. We're not smarter than our sources, are we? Leadwind (talk) 15:56, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
Of course there was no EP because it was named and defined as a separate field. Just like there were no communists before Marx even though people sometimes practiced similar political forms. You will need a VERY good source to suggest that something is EP that didn't call itself such. Our sources do not include findings by sociobiology, behavioral genetics etc. There is simply no way that you can include studies into this article that is not explicitly identified as perrtaining to evolutionary psychology in a reliable source (i.e. studies that either selfidentifies as EP or that subsequent EP'ers identify as anticipating approaches defined by EP). What you are saying is nonsense.·Maunus·ƛ· 16:06, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
You are the one who keeps saying that your ideas are supported by sources - why don't you start producing some sources that actually support your viewpoints - present a source that defines Third Chimpanzee as EP then we can talk, before that it is futile. EP is defined by a particular concept of the mind as a modular computational device, works that treat evolution of human cognition but do not explictly identify with this concept of mind are not EP.·Maunus·ƛ· 16:10, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

Misrepresentations or Incorrect Sources

The section under "general evolutionary theory" (in the table) desperately needs fixing. Again, it is inappropriately using Darwin as a reference source - he did not necessarily support what the table says. The language is misleading. Take this:

"The bodies and minds of organisms are made up of evolved adaptations designed to help the organism survive in a particular ecology (for example, the fur of polar bears, the eye, food preferences, etc.)."

In his 1859 book, he may have been referring to bodies, but nowhere in there does he even speculate about the 'mind.' The closest he comes, is in his chapter on animal 'instincts,' but even here, he is careful to also include discussion of the acquisition of what he calls 'habits' - essentially, learning. The above statement (and the one below it) paint him as an evolutionary psychologist, which he was not. Also, Darwin was careful not to use language such as "designed to," implying that he knew what the adaptations were for. He would occasionally make speculations, but when he did so, he backed up these speculations with painfully detailed observations of physical specimens. Logic prevails (talk) 16:30, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

Darwin was indeed the first evolutionary psychologist. Note the quote from him in the main article, as well as his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Again, for those of you who have not yet read an introductory EP textbook it will save us all a great deal of time, and we can avoid some edit wars, if you take that on as a first task before doing heavy editing on the page. I really do mean that sincerely, not as an insult, but as a constructive suggestion. Again, good EP textbooks are "Evolutionary Psychology" by Buss (new 4th edition out next month), and Gaulin and McBurney's textbook by the same name. Memills (talk) 17:01, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
Edify me Memills, as to how his quote supports the EP definition of the human mind.Logic prevails (talk) 17:21, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
Darwn was not an evolutionary psychologist. He lived and died before evolutionary psychology existed. EPs may certainly claim that he was an evolutionary psychologist, and if you have a reliable sources saying just that (not referring to Darwin, but saying Darwin was an evolutionary psychologist) then we can say some EP's hold the view that Darwin was an evolutionary psychologist. Of course, Boas and Gould also identified as Darwinians, and the discipline of anthropology is rooted in Darwinian thought, it just interprets and applies it differently. Maybe this is like saying that Marx was both a Trotskiest and a Stalinist! Slrubenstein | Talk 18:42, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
Our best, neutral sources specifically name Darwin as laying the foundation for EP. He specifically names psychology as a field that he foresaw being revolutionized by his theory. Leadwind (talk) 19:09, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
That's fine, but it needs to be made clear that this is EP's position, and not necessarily Darwin's. Again, there are plenty of ways that one can imagine an evolutionarily informed version of psychology that has nothing to do with the version that EP came up with (e.g. assuming a computational theory of mind). Darwin is being mis-cited, which should not be allowed to happen. If you want to cite some EPer interpreting Darwin in this way, then that's fine, but do not present this stuff as if it came from him, because it most certainly did not. Logic prevails (talk) 21:49, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
What exactly did Darwin say? Can you provide the quote? i didn't even think psychology existed back then. But even if he thought it would change psychology, he did not predict how and did not propose EP. Let's be truthful about Darwin. You should show him some respect. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:18, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
It's not what he said per se, but what he did not say. Again, my concern is that statements are being made (see above) and Darwin is being used as a supportive reference where he should not be. Memills, are you going to answer my question... tell us how Darwin's works support the EP definition of the mind? Where does he say that he envisioned an evolutionary informed psychology based on an computational theory of mind? Logic prevails (talk) 01:55, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
Logic, this is my point. People who put words into Darwin's mouth are showing no respect for his science. Slrubenstein | Talk 10:57, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
Slr, I thought you were directing those first two questions to me. My mistake. Logic prevails (talk) 12:15, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
SLR, yes, let's show Darwin some respect. Something we can all agree on. You're asking for a quote. You mean other than the one that's in the body of the text already? Darwin's belief that all mental faculties were products of evolution was revolutionary. The Times of Edinburgh correctly pointed out that such an understanding would challenge our very ideas of morality, etc. Wallace rejected Darwin's position and claimed that the prosocial behaviors of humans were proof of divine faculties not generated by natural forces. Next, Freud misinterpreted evolution (everyone did back then), identifying bad urges as instinctive (the id) and good urges as learned (the superego). He was like Wallace, except that the good stuff came from society, not God. Boaz, Mead, et al went a step further than Freud, identifying both bad and good behaviors as cultural, with practically no place for a robust human nature. This culminated in the 70s with the idea that even gender differences are arbitrary social constructions. But ev psych has finally brought us back to Darwin's original vision: that human psychology derives from natural selection, both the good parts (love, friendship, sharing) and the bad parts (competition, aggression). Leadwind (talk) 16:05, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
There is no quote in the article, or outside of it, that identifies Darwin as an evolutionary psychologist - in the same way as calling Marx a Stalinist is ridiculous. There is a quote by Darwin in the article that evolutionary psychologists have been inspired by to create a particluar approach to understanding the relation between evolution and cognition - they cannot retrospectively define Darwin as an Evoluitionary psychologist any more than I can define Jesus as a marxist because he preached egalitarianism. As for your ideas about Freud, Boas and Mead and what they thought that just shows that you are really not sufficiently well into anthropological literature to be making claims about it.·Maunus·ƛ· 16:17, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
@Leadwind: uh, yes, I mean other than the quote in the article. That the brain is a product of human evolution is not in question. What the "mind" is is rather more complicated. Boas and Meas and others certainly thought that universal mental capacities were the result of human evolution of some sort (when Boas was at his prime, biologists were just starting to rediscover Mendelian laws and give a name to "gene"); they were not concerned with why all humans have language (surely something to do with evolution) but with the significance of the differences between English and Kwakiutl grammar, problems which to my knowledge no evolutionary psychologist has yet to contribute to. By the way, you get Freud all wrong. He did not equate id with bad behaviors and superego with good behaviors. He did identify id as you say with instinct, but further distinguished between the life instinct (which is good) and the death instinct (which is bad, at least most would say). The superego is (according to Freudians) a repressive force. I suppose if you are in love with repression you would then conclude that this makes it "good." Freud di not think so. He claimed it was sometimes good, often necessary, and sometimes bad. More importantly: Freud believed that humans are born with instincts and drives and that these inherited forces interact with the environment in complex ways to produce the finished person. Would any evolutionary psychologist disagree with this? Freud of course wrote a lot of things that many today reject, but if anything he seems to be on your side in that he believes any complete psychology must start with those instincts and drives of the organism that are inherited. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:28, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
I agree with all of the above... I will only add that Freud drastically changed his views toward the end of his life, moving away from inherited instincts and drives... unfortunately, his later work is hardly ever discussed within undergraduate psychology programs. At any rate, let's leave Freud out of this. And unless we can cite Darwin as saying things that support the EP method of applying evolutionary concepts to the mind, I would prefer to leave him out of this as well. Logic prevails (talk) 20:20, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
Our secondary and tertiary sources that discuss EP from a disinterested viewpoint include Darwin in the description of EP, so we have to as well. As for Freud, yes, my rough characterization was unfair. Freud was indeed "on the right track" as far as EP was concerned in that the mind is a place of inner conflict, including unconscious conflict. But no one's grasp of evolution was that strong, and the idea that we'd evolve a death instinct, or a nearly universal inclination for boys to want to have sex with their mothers, doesn't pass muster. For Freud, instincts were crude. For EP, they can be extremely subtle. Leadwind (talk) 14:51, 17 February 2011 (UTC)


Leadwind inserted the following:

"Researchers look to existing hunter-gatherer societies for clues as to how our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived.[2] Unfortunately, the few surviving hunter-gatherer societies are different from each other, and they have been pushed out of the best land and into harsh environments, so it is not clear how closely they reflect ancestral culture.[2]

I reverted it with this edit summary: "Any source for a single 'ancestral' culture? No, obviously not - this makes no sense". I think I was correct - it is nonsensical to suggest there was a single "ancestral culture" - that all our H-G ancestors evolved within the same cultural complex (or even the same environment). I'm not sure what "unfortunately" has to do with anything either. I've no wish to get into an edit war, so can someone please try to rewrite this in a way that makes more sense (assuming this isn't what the source is actually claiming - I've not got access to it, but it seems unlikely).

As a side issue, I'd also ask just how much research into "existing hunter-gatherer societies" has been done by proponents of EP? AndyTheGrump (talk) 20:12, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

There has been a lot of research on contemporary hunter-gatherers, and Leadwind is right that most anthropologists now are very skeptical of drawing analogies between them and paleolithic people. Some archeologists e.g Binford tried to reconstruct past HG lifways using material remans, so one should check American Antiquity. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:15, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
I'm well aware of the research, and the scepticism about the applicability of using this to draw analogies. My point was that Leadwind was making a rather dubious generalisation. As you say, most of the research has been done by anthropologists - I asked whether any had actually been done by proponents of EP. Leadwind's wording seemed to imply that it had. AndyTheGrump (talk) 22:25, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
Have any evolutionary psychologists done research on hunter gatherer peoples? If so who and which publications resulted? Or have some Evolutionary psychologists used research done by social scientists among hunter gatherers to supprt their own claims? Then where did they do this and in which context. This topic does not become relevant for this article before it is shown that it has relation to Evolutionary psychology.·Maunus·ƛ· 22:44, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
Wright is reporting on EP, and he's my source for this information. Conjecturing about the EEA is key to EP because that's where (according to EP) we refined our latest social instincts, such as pair bonding (not present when we were still in the chimp/bonobo branch of great apes). If someone has a source that contradicts Wright, I'd love to see it. Leadwind (talk) 15:45, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
What does wright say? has he done research on hunter gatherer societies? Whose research is he quoting? ·Maunus·ƛ· 16:20, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
I cited what Wright says, above. He doesn't say anything about H-Gs that I haven't read elsewhere. Do you have some reason to doubt it? EP researchers use case studies done by anthropologists, such as Mead. It's ironic, of course, to use EP to reevaluate anthropological reports. Anthropologists typically emphasize how different one culture is from another, while EP researchers look for underlying similarities (e.g., men older than the women they marry, men more prone to crime and violence, distinct gender roles, etc.). Leadwind (talk) 15:13, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
"Anthropologists typically emphasize how different one culture is from another, while EP researchers look for underlying similarities". No. Just plain wrong. Not even worth arguing about... AndyTheGrump (talk) 15:18, 17 February 2011 (UTC)


From the article:

Genes are not the only replicators subject to evolutionary change. "Memes" (e.g., ideas, rituals, tunes, cultural fads, etc.) can replicate and spread from brain to brain, and many of the same evolutionary principles that apply to genes apply to memes as well.

Really? But this is precisely what Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict argued, when they developed the culture concept. They simply use the term "cultural trait" rather than "meme," and "diffuse" or "share" instead of "replicate." If evolutionary psychology ends with memetics, then it sounds like evolutionary psychologists are shrugging and saying "I guess cultural anthropology was right all along." It certainly sounds like there is a whole range of shared behaviors that are not inherited biologically and thus not the product of natural selection acting on the genome. If they mean that natural selection can act on learned behaviors, well, cultural anthropologist Julian Steward wrote volumes on just this idea in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

Or maybe memes really are different from cultural traits. But if so, I have to ask: has anyone demonstrated the scientific validity of the concept? Mendles laws of inheritance make possible a quite precise scientific assessment of genes. Do we have anything comparable for memes? The passage says "memes replicate." Well, we know how genes replicate, using mRNA - this is observable in laboratory condistions. Is the same true for memes? Sounds like the New Coke. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:39, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

This is all correct, but the real question is what do memes have to do with Evolutionary Psychology? And which sources support that connection?·Maunus·ƛ· 20:51, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
Well, I think it is fair to wait a bit for an explanation, otherwise I will delete it. Slrubenstein | Talk 21:07, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
You're kidding, right? Stranger and stranger... Memes go back to Dawkins (1976), E.O. Wilson (On Human Nature), E.O. Wilson and Lumdsen's book on gene-culture co-evolution. More recently Boyd and Richerson explored cultural evolution. Susan Blackmore wrote the Meme Machine, and recently gave an outstanding TED Talk. EP is a broad field -- it includes investigations of how ideas (memes if you prefer) are adopted by individuals, how they spread and evolve within and between cultures, and if, and how, they might interact and coevolve with genes. Evolutionary psychology doesn't include an investigation of how the mind gets, evolves and transfers its contents? Cue up the Twilight Zone music... Memills (talk) 06:20, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
Not kidding. TED talks, fun though they are, do not meet our standards for sources. I do not recall Dawkins identifying memes with evolutionary psychology. If you have a reliable source - a peer-reviewed journal article or can provide the citation from The Meme Machine that explicitly identifies mems with evolutionary psychology, by all means, add th appropriate citation to the section in the article. Wikipedia articles can include the most ridiculous ideas, as long as they are relevant, express a significant view, and come from a reliable source. I do not question that Dawkins and Blackmore express significant views, so we do not have to get into any argument there. I do question whether this is relevant, and am asking for a reliable source saying this is evolutionary psychology. If you can provide the source, that is all it takes to end this discussion. Slrubenstein | Talk 08:08, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
Ok, I did the ground work - The Introduction to Evolutionary Psychology by Workman and Reader has a chapter on Evolutionary PSychology and Culture where they discuss memetics at large - they even on page 365 acknowledge that these ideas are "strikingly similar to those of cultural relativist Margaret Mead and Franz Boas". It seems that EP do consider memetics to be of importance to their field even though it is rooted out side of the discipline strictly speaking.·Maunus·ƛ· 14:09, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
Also interestingly the introduction dedicates half of the introduction to answer some of the common criticisms: panadaptionism, reductionsm, political incorrectness, determinism, the difficulty of evaluating evolutionary hypotheses. ·Maunus·ƛ· 16:06, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
Amazing what folks here will find when they actually open an evolutionary psychology textbook. They all deal with many of the issues (including cultural evolution, gene-culture co-evolution, etc.) and criticisms of EP that often appear here as if EPers have not heard or considered them. Thanks Manus for checking out an EP textbook. I highly recommend other editors do so before editing this page. It would save us all a great deal of time. Memills (talk) 17:41, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
Memills, I assume you are being playfull, although this sounds snide. The whole point of my comment was that the article's present account of memes is not sufficient to distinguish this theory from basic anthropology. This is not an attack, but a call for a truly adequate account of the idea. maunus raised the question of whether memes are actually part of EP and you certainly should not be snide about his original comment. It would be good practice if as people add material the people who add the material also add the appropriate sources. If you knew of good sources, why did you not add them yourself? Slrubenstein | Talk 21:33, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
You Professors ought to know how this works: When you submit an article for peer review and the reviewer says "where do you get this information from, I think you need to cite a source here" you don't tell them to go do the work for you and find the source. It is pretty standard procedure in academics that thos who want to forward an argument need to provide the people whom they are trying to convince of its validity. The burden of evidence is on the one who wants to add material, not the one who is challenging it or requesting citations.·Maunus·ƛ· 03:34, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

Do not remove foundational material

Maunus, please do not remove foundational material. The passages you have deleted have been stable parts of this page for years. Review the Evolutionary Psychology textbook by Buss -- there is coverage of all of this material. EP theories are derivative of many of these broad and mid-level theories. This page should accurately present what EPers believe is their discipline, not a narrow construction of it. EP is more than just Tooby and Cosmidies -- it is a broad spectrum of researchers from a variety of disciples that use foundational evolutionary theory as a basis for understanding human nature and human behavior. It covers a wide spectrum of topics and there are divergent approaches within the field. A good place to get the sense of this is at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES) website -- this is the primary organization for EPers in the U.S. Note the HBES self-description: "HBES is a society for all those studying the evolution of human behavior. Scientific perspectives range from evolutionary psychology to evolutionary anthropology and cultural evolution; and the membership includes researchers from a range of disciplines in the social and biological sciences." Memills (talk) 17:16, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

"Review the Evolutionary Psychology textbook by Buss -- there is coverage of all of this material." - great, then quote Buss. "EP theories are derivative of many of these broad and mid-level theories." - This is untrue Memills, for the last time - EP is not the theory of evolution applied to the mind. " is a broad spectrum of researchers from a variety of disciples that use foundational evolutionary theory as a basis for understanding human nature and human behavior." No it is not... again, there are plenty of ways to apply evolutionary theory that has nothing to do with the computational information-processing definitions of the mind. Also, this page is about EP, and not HBES, so I am not sure why you are bringing that into the discussion. Logic prevails (talk) 18:01, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
That EP is "Darwinian" is a claim EPs make and we should include that claim in the article. But it is only a iew (in the sense that WP articles are always accounts of views). We would be violating NPOV and NOR to present it as anything else. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:44, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
Our best neutral sources call it Darwinian. We have little choice but to follow suit. Leadwind (talk) 19:06, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
It is certainly a darwinian approach, but not "the".·Maunus·ƛ· 21:19, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
For the last time, LogicPrevails, let EPers define their own discipline. Or, are you going to do it for them? Memills (talk) 20:45, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
But EP'ers can't define their discipline as something that others also define their discipline as doing. I think it is a very bad use of space to use the article here to give a general summary of Darwinian evolution - we have an excellent article about that elsewhere. We should focus explicitly on how leading EP'ers have formulated their discipline in relation to Darwinian evolutionary theory, including sources of inspiration in Sociobiology etc. but not simply in a way that says "Ep uses evolutionary throeyr- evolutionary theory is this" that is misleading and uninformative.·Maunus·ƛ· 21:19, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
Sure Memills, I'll let EPers define their own discipline - but I won't let let them distort reality or re-write history without causing a fuss. Logic prevails (talk) 21:44, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
At some point, you need to ask yourself: why you are here? Is it to accurately present the discipline, its theories and findings, as a service to the public? Or, do you feel that the entire discipline is wrongheaded from the get go, and you feel a need to set things straight? Quite different motives. Memills (talk) 00:57, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
The question goes both ways. One might also ask oneself if one is here to advertise a theory that one has a personal interest of showing in the best possible light, or to give a balanced and nuanced treatment of problems as well as successes... Or alternatively we could just concentrate on the content and how to improve it by following policy. ·Maunus·ƛ· 03:47, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
This is a sidebar discussion Memills, but I will make my agenda clear. Yes, I believe the entire field is wrongheaded from the start, but that is neither here nor there. My wanting to be here stems from my wanting the information to be accurate. I started with the EP controversy page - I was disgusted by how one-sided and misinformed the page was. It is such a mess, I have almost stopped trying to contribute there - you kept reverting the changes anyway, without engaging in any kind of rational discussion or defending what you were doing. You ignored (and continue to ignore) the concerns that people present about your wanting to add or delete information. If anyone has a bias without argument, it would be you. This page, it would seem to me, is about you presenting your discipline; I am not disillusioned about that. But it would seem that you have a difficult time not misrepresenting sources or pulling unrelated disciplines into all of this. Again, this is about presenting accurate information for the public. As a university professor with an ethical obligation toward academic integrity, you should understand that. Logic prevails (talk) 01:45, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
  • One more problem with the table section - it is sourced to a conference paper given by Professor Mills in 2004, this means that the information is not strictly speaking verifiable. And it also means that we have to take it on faith that those particular formulations of evolutionary principles are in fact seen by EP'ers in general to be "central Concepts". I don't know if this material was added by Professor Mills himself, but it seems likely given that the paper is not publicly available - if this is the case then it is also in conflict with the WP policy on selfcitation. I would suggest that if the "central concepts" are indeed central to EP then we can find a better source, preferably a tertiary one, that provides the same information. And we can certainly also present the information in a way that doesn't signal that Darwin, Hamilton, Morgernstern et al. provided direct support for evolutionary psychology - since there was no such thing when they were writing. In short we need a good source to state which material is foundational and which concepts are central. Currently this is not very well sourced.·Maunus·ƛ· 03:42, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
Our sources routinely list these scientists as laying foundational work for EP. If you can find a source that contradicts anything here, please share it. Leadwind (talk) 15:47, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
You have the burden of evidence backwards. You need to produce a Realiable source that backs it if you want to keep it in the article. Poorly sourced material can be removed on sight. I am being polite by giving you a chance tyo produce sources before I remove it. ·Maunus·ƛ· 16:18, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
Maybe this would a good topic for an RfC. I can verify most of the rows on the table from another source, and I could probably verify the remaining rows with a little work. But we already have a source for the entire table, and it's relatively easy for us to verify that it's an accurate representation of Dr. Mills's work. Furthermore, no one has offered any expert reason to question even a single line of that table. If the table is weakly cited, then opposition to the table is even more weakly cited. Leadwind (talk) 15:33, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
You really don't get our most basic policy of WP:V do you? Let me spell it out for you: inclusion of material requires a reference to a reliable source - reliable sources must be verifiable - that means that every one can go and look at the spource and see that it support the claims it is used to support in the article. A conference paper is not verifiable because nobody can go and take a look at it - there fore it is not a reliable source. Personal communication is never a reliable source. Editors shouldn't even consider including citations to their own work if its published in peer reviewed journals, they have to wait until someone else decides to use it as a reference. This is REALLY BASIC policy!·Maunus·ƛ· 21:25, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
We do not need an 'expert' to tell us that Darwin's 1959 book does not say what the table says he does. I have the book right in front of me - you can borrow it from your local library and verify for yourself. But as Manus said, that's all beside the point, as policy does not allow self-citation. Logic prevails (talk) 09:41, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
Logic, "policy does not allow self-citation." Could you cite that policy for us? We have a table that is sourced. It's not the best source, but we don't have any source anywhere in the world that contradicts it. We want to keep it and have a mediocre source. You want to remove it and have no source contradicting it. How about a friendly RfC? Leadwind (talk) 16:01, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
Yo are NOT GETTING IT which is now causing me to seriously quetion your WP:COMPETENCE. The table itself - not just its contents- must be sourced to a reliable source. It is currently not. WP:SELFCITING strongly cautions against citing one self. WP:RS does not allow unpublished conference papers. There are TWO strong policybased reasons not to admit MEMills conference paper as a source. We do not need a contradictory source to remove claims that are not backed by reliable sources. Read and understand policies please otherwise continuing this is futile.·Maunus·ƛ· 16:10, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
It is the composition of the table it self not just the single points that need to be sourced.·Maunus·ƛ· 16:20, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
It's my impression that the table has survived past challenges, so maybe an RfC would be a good idea. Leadwind (talk) 14:59, 19 February 2011 (UTC)

anyone up for a break?

We've been pounding away on this article for a good while now. We've suffered through the typical problems found in a POV battle on WP: the summary deletions and reversions, the insults, the evasions, stubbornness. Maybe we could give the article a rest for a week or so. Ultimately, we all want to do right by WP and be fair to each other, but a POV battle puts a strain on civility. A temporary cease fire might do us good. Leadwind (talk) 15:42, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

There is no POV battle here - unless you refer to your own pov. This is a battle between those who who understand how articles are written in wikipedia, how topics are defined and how sources are used, and those who don't (you primarily) - since professors Mills and Brodbeck seem to have a clearer idea about what EP is and isn't and how to support claims about it. By all means do take a break and start reading up on policies such as WP:V and WP:SYNTH and finding sources that back up your claims. We'll keep working in the meantime.·Maunus·ƛ· 16:26, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
Folks, it may be a good time to take a break. Rather continuing with the explosion of edits made by just a few of the same editors, who appear to be at an impasse on even definitional and foundational issues, perhaps it is time to step back, cool down, and see what others have to contribute.
I've got a demanding day job -- I'm sure most of you do too. As some of you know, I've taught an undergraduate course in EP for a couple of decades. I have found it distressing how the page remains stable for months on end, and then someone who has recently read an article or book critical of EP comes on over to the page and tries to educate the unfortunate folks who have been so misled / misinformed by this *obviously* false theoretical paradigm. The page is then reworked by a few editors, some with either a meager understanding of the field, and some who have perhaps a long standing alternative theoretical ax to grind (and feel quite entitled grind it on the main EP page itself, not on the EP controversies page). Some have a certain degree of chutzpah to edit a WP page that covers a broad scientific discipline without having first cracked open an undergraduate textbook on the science. (Opps... I forgot we were arguing over whether it even *is* a science....)
So, why do so few academics make contributions to WP? Well, there is part of the answer.
The Association for Psychological Science (APS) is making an effort to help out. However, I'm afraid that Wikipedia itself may be partly to blame for not encouraging the development of boards of volunteer experts in a scientific/technical field to serve as arbiters of edit wars, and to oversee the general quality of articles.
It doesn't serve WP, or its readers, well when those who work in a discipline come across the associated WP page and don't recognize their own field. No one wins an edit war in that situation. Memills (talk) 06:00, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
This is an unfair characterization of the recent discussion at this page. Several editors, not just one (and I am not including myself) have come here, not as POV warriors, but as editors who are simply insisting that we follow WIkipedia policy: that is, to include all significant views on EP from reliable sources, and not to include original research. This might frustrate some people who may think Wikipedia is an easier venue to publish original research that may very well make it through the sometimes tedious and often long process of peer-review, but the fact remains that WP is not a place to publish original research. This is necessary for us to hold to a minimal standard and far from driving academic editors away, it should make the project more acceptable to academic editors. Be that as it may, most of the comments I have seen have either called for removing OR, especially SYNTH (material that comes from sources that are not explicitly representing or about evolutionary psychology), and adding views from established and reputable scholars who are explicitly critical of evolutionary psychology. This too should be welcomed by any academic editor as a hallmark of science is self-questioning, debate, and holding claims accountable to observational data. NPOV and NOR are well-established policies at WP and there is no need to edit war. There is not even any need to question the point of view of individual editors. The views of individual editors are irrelevant, as long as they are complying with policy.
It is a simple matter of fact that a good many established scholars have published articles that are critical of evolutionary psychology, and adding these views can only enrich the encyclopedia. I fail to see how anyone who has faith in the evidence supporting and power of EP would be afraid of adding such material, but frankly, the fears and anxieties of other editors are not my problem. From a policy perspective, there is simply no question about including this material. It is not part of some crusade to change anyone's mind, it is part of an efort to make this article better by complying with policy. Editors acting in good faith, regardless of their personal beliefs, should be able to work together to include these views. The only matter for discussion is how to incorporate them into the article, which begins with a conversation about structure. ny editor acting in good faith should be able to participate in such a discussion.
Calls for a break, or to back off, appear to me to be nothing more than WP:OWN. Sorry, but the bedrock principle of Wikipedia is that it is the encyclopedia anyone can edit. Academics and non-academics can work together; people with strongly contrasting views can wok together; and our core policies of NPOV, V, and NOR provide a framework for doing so. If Leadwind or Memills sees any edit that appears to violate NPOV, V, or NOR, I sure hope they will bring up that concern on the talk page. That is the path to collaborative editing. Hoping a few people will disappear is not. Slrubenstein | Talk 08:34, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
As an academic professor myself Memills, I find it equally distressing that people like you have been teaching this theory (apparently for decades) without understanding the weaknesses or its inherent assumptions and without taking the time to understand your critics (your comments here show that). I find it even more distressing that another academic would so carelessly mis-cite the research - including Darwin's Origin of Species. Since we both know that undergraduate students will not take the time to read its 490 pages, they will likely accept your version; I now question whether you even took the time to read it.
I have been more than patient in asking you to answer questions that would clarify your statements and sources - when you have spoken up (e.g. stating your glib characterization of your critics as social determinists), you were quickly dismissed as you showed the editors that you were either not well read or were presenting illogical arguments. Most of the time, however, you have chosen to not answer requests to accurately source your contributions. Now you want a break. If anyone has fears or anxieties Memills, it is you. Logic prevails (talk) 10:15, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
Hey now, please, no personal attacks. Comment on content, not on editors, please. Dbrodbeck (talk) 12:24, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
"There is no POV battle here"? I think that we should be able to agree that this is a POV battle underway, even if each side thinks they represent the angels and it's only the other side that is so biased. Leadwind (talk) 15:03, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
I would agree that the editors here have different points of view, though I do not think that to be a problem. It seems to me that it only becomes an issue when a point of view is being pushed without being fair to the other side, or when information is not adequately sourced. Logic prevails (talk) 15:18, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
Or when people say mean things to other editors. That could be seen as a problem, and a sign of a POV battle. Leadwind (talk) 15:27, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
What kind of person would insist that this is a POV conflict, when they are merely asked to provide an appropriate source? Slrubenstein | Talk 17:28, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
LogicPrevails -- you have already admitted that you think EP is a terribly flawed theory. Your edits, and those of some others here, appear motivated to show the world that this is so. The goal here is to make sure that this page presents EP in a way that EPers themselves would say is an accurate description of their discipline. When folks continue to edit the main EP with a clear POV against it, rather than fully flesh out their arguments against it on the EP Controversies page where such debate about fundamental and definitional issues is entirely appropriate, sometimes borders on vandalism.
EPers come to the table with a set of fundamental assumptions -- and then they go on to describe their discipline, their research, and their findings (both corroborative and dis-confirming). Deleting foundational material that EPers use to direct their theory and investigations because others believe those basic postulates are incorrect makes the page incomplete and inaccurate. This not a Controversies page where every basic theory and postulate is challenged at each and every turn by those with fundamentally different perspectives. Memills (talk) 18:13, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
I do not disagree Memills, but when you describe your discipline, you need to use appropriate sources... and when you describe your critics, you need to describe them accurately (e.g. not coloring them all as cultural determinists). These are the only issues I have had on this page. Logic prevails (talk) 18:25, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────SLR, "Calls for a break, or to back off, appear to me to be nothing more than WP:OWN." There's no need to be uncharitable. Maybe it just looks like things are heating up, and I thought we could use a break. Editing gets less productive when editors are worked up. Leadwind (talk) 16:31, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

It can only be up to any individual editor, to take a break when they feel they are too personally invested. To tell another editor they should take a break is inappropriate and unconstructive. If editing has bcome less productive, the solution is to analyze how more careful adherence to policy can help. I was for example stunned to see you demand that Maunus explain his point when he had just provided citations to two verifiable sources. Identifying verifiable sources is complying with policy. Ignoring them is not in the spirit of collaborative editing. Ask yourself why at that moment you did not take a break to read the two articles, or simply to accept the sources and move on. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:40, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
I wasn't trying to tell anyone anything. Things were heating up is all. This topic really gets people worked up. Leadwind (talk) 14:52, 19 February 2011 (UTC)
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