Paleo Logic + Evolutionary Psychology ≠ Modesty
October 10, 2011 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Predictors of Being Cheated On: For Women, Predictors of Being Cheated On: For Men, Is Tanning Even Attractive?, The Semiotics of Meat, Sexual Selection Reversal: The Rise of Male Choosiness, Three Ways to Get Academic Journal Papers and Scientific Studies for Free, Big Butts and Breasts: What Sir-Mix-A-Lot Got Wrong About Beauty and Attraction and many more interesting, opinionated, and divisive essays found at Evolvify.

To give you an idea of what you're getting into, here's an excerpt from the about page:
Credentials: None. All I’m working with is a pocket full of library cards, an internet connection, a meager 130ish IQ, and Openness in the top decile. Will Hunting said that all it takes to get a Harvard level education is $1.50 in library fines. If that was the case, I’d earn about 6 degrees per month.

Be forewarned, the author touches on: diet, vegetarianism, obesity, sexism and evolutionary theory.
posted by Telf (65 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Paleo Logic + Evolutionary Psychology = A gigantic steaming pile of bullshit speeding toward you!
posted by The Whelk at 10:30 AM on October 10, 2011 [30 favorites]


Can someone add the "evolutionarypsychology" tag?
posted by benito.strauss at 10:35 AM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


What Sir-Mix-A-Lot Got Wrong About Beauty and Attraction

But Mr. Mix-A-Lot cannot lie. And you other fellow scientists can't deny. My faith in science is greatly shaken.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:38 AM on October 10, 2011 [24 favorites]


Your decile is open. Ha! Made you look!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:40 AM on October 10, 2011


But does he cover declawing circumcised cats?
posted by desjardins at 10:40 AM on October 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


"I like big butts but in retrospect I may have been misinformed" really doesn't have the same cadence to it.
posted by mhoye at 10:41 AM on October 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


I just read the Male Choosiness post. I'm skeptical of his claim that the legal structure of child support has completely altered the dynamics of male-female relationships. It really doesn't help that the only source he cited was Kanye West's "Gold Digger."
posted by naju at 10:43 AM on October 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


So, some big problems in the first two link's analysis.

According to the links, "The MIDUS Study asked respondents if their spouse had ever been unfaithful." I would expect that men with a more "agreeable" personality would be more willing to admit to a researcher that their spouse cheated on them. Plus, spouses would be more likely to admit cheating behavior to an "agreeable" man. Likewise, I would expect that women with a more "open to new experience" personality would have the same experiences. This says nothing about actual rates of cheating. How would many people even know whether their spouses cheated on them? Do detection rates approach 100%?

Also, the small (but statistically significant?) negative correlation between age and reported cheating shows that the data reflect some of the usual pitfalls of self-reports. The longer you live, the more likely your spouse will cheat on you, right? You don't magically become uncheated-upon as you age.
posted by ferdydurke at 10:43 AM on October 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


It seems like tindersticks would be a better name for the site and the post.
posted by Diablevert at 10:44 AM on October 10, 2011


oh man, just yesterday i was lifting weights alone at the gym and these two young men near me were talking about how fascinating and great evo psych is, doing the whole "see women are like this and men are like this and finally we have science to give us the just so stories we need to be like baby, don't blame me when i cheat on you or want to!" and my grar angst meter rose, giving my lifts more energy, ha. went home to my husband and told him disgusted. also reminded me of my early 20s when you could not fucking escape it, and my mind boggles at how long i dated men who fervently took to it as a kind of religion. so glad not to deal with it as often anymore, and it's tricky biting one's tongue about it, the whole if you want to even play on that stupid level the findings aren't remotely that clear cut (females in the animal kingdom and sexual deception and cuckholding, ahem), aaand you don't want to work on such a stupid limited low axis anyway (that quote about wrestling pigs)...

reminds me of someone on mefi linking to evo psych bingo, ah. sometimes you have to laugh or you'll cry/tear your hair out/stab yourself with a fork.
posted by ifjuly at 10:45 AM on October 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


I love studies that AT THE FRIGGIN' END say "The data themselves provide no reliable causative link."

Tell me that at the beginning and save me some time...
posted by HuronBob at 10:46 AM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


It really doesn't help that the only source he cited was Kanye West's "Gold Digger."

That's Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx. At least it was peer-reviewed.
posted by griphus at 10:46 AM on October 10, 2011 [48 favorites]


I'm skeptical of his claim that the legal structure of child support has completely altered the dynamics of male-female relationships.

Oh, is this what Scott Adams is up to lately?
posted by trunk muffins at 10:47 AM on October 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hunting said that all it takes to get a Harvard level education is $1.50 in library fines.

...Will Hunting was also a fictional character created by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

And Ben Affleck was in Gigli, so I tend to take most of his assertions about things with a bit of a grain of salt.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:49 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ben only did Gigli for JLo. So obviously, this guy knows what he's talking about.
posted by rich at 10:51 AM on October 10, 2011


notice how evo pysch always causes the gender roles of the 1950s to be not just admirable but natural and correct?
posted by The Whelk at 10:53 AM on October 10, 2011 [21 favorites]


You can't argue with math.
posted by yerfatma at 10:54 AM on October 10, 2011


Ben only did Gigli for JLo. So obviously, this guy knows what he's talking about.

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day....

(On a serious note - Ben never said anything about Evopsych. I was talking about the "I can get just as good an education by simply going to the library" claim the guy was making.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:54 AM on October 10, 2011


a meager 130ish IQ, and Openness in the top decile.

I use paleolithic insights as a logical framework for making optimal decisions

Anti-National: The nation-state is a modern artifact of evolved in-group/out-group psychology

This guy sounds like a horribly self-appreciating asshole.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:59 AM on October 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


I use paleolithic insights as a logical framework for making optimal decisions

::bashes this guy's skull open with a mammoth femur::
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:02 AM on October 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


If you're going to quote a movie to explain yourself maybe don't pick one whose origins are so suspect.

Paleoplagiarist?
posted by kinetic at 11:02 AM on October 10, 2011


I bet he wears a fedora.
posted by desjardins at 11:03 AM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Man this just reads like Pick Up Artist stuff for less creepy guys.
posted by The Whelk at 11:03 AM on October 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yep, he also sends banjos anonymously.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:08 AM on October 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


The problem with evo-psych is that it seeks to justify some really obvious observations with important-sounding (but often specious) logic.

The threat of legally-mandated child support makes me less-likely to sleep with women who would keep an unplanned pregnancy. No shit, sherlock.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:13 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, terrific, BullshitFilter. Shouldn't this be posted to The Brown?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:16 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mix-A-Lot just put the “importance” of waist and hips in the wrong order.

Who understands those rap guys? They only put the important of waist and hips in the wrong order so that she looks like a total prostitute, ok?
posted by three blind mice at 11:20 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


desjardins, I bet he wears a trilby that he thinks is a fedora.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:20 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Funny how certain personality types are drawn to evolution as an excuse to avoid evolving. More like DEvolutionary Psychology. Just skip it. Skip it good.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:23 AM on October 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Whoops, embarassing typo in my description:

...and many more interesting, opinionated, and divisive unifying essays found at Evolvify.

Fixed it.
posted by Telf at 11:25 AM on October 10, 2011


Re: the Mix-A-Lot article:

'Hips' is not a synonym for 'butt.' Very different butts can hang on similar hips.
posted by TheRedArmy at 11:25 AM on October 10, 2011


If liking big butts is wrong, I don't want to be right.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:36 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you're going to quote a movie to explain yourself maybe don't pick one whose origins are so suspect.

Why is it suspect? There's no evidence in that article except that they never had a repeat success. The world is filled with authors that never had repeat successes. That doesn't make them fakes.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:53 AM on October 10, 2011


"Paleo" thinking is all wrong and based on wishful thinking. Now, in the Pliocene, there is plenty of evidence that australopithecines (Plios) not only circumcised but declawed obese saber tooth tigers with clamshell razors by hand, feats thought unthinkable today due to our dependence on muscle-sapping carbs. Pliocene fossils show that our Plio forebears suffered from many bone breaks which healed extremely quickly due to their mostly meat and Maxim magazine based diet. Also they had retractable forearm claws. Fossilized excreta left from what we can only assume were Plio pick-up artist tutorials, indicate that Plios' social organization consisted of a fraternal hivemind unit, quantifiable as a "bros". Small incremental inventions, like tales about the past which lured gullible newcomers to the tribe, may have taken at least 2-3 bros. worth of brainpower.
posted by benzenedream at 11:54 AM on October 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


the only part of anything paleo I can get behind is the only working a few hours a day and spending the rest of time socializing, laying about, and making huge complex oral histories about the Huge Crystal Spider God you met after eating That mushroom.
posted by The Whelk at 11:56 AM on October 10, 2011 [17 favorites]


Don't forget bone-in steaks big enough to tip your car over and live-bird intercoms. I always wanted a live-bird intercom.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:58 AM on October 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's a living.
posted by box at 12:30 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seems like a lot of self-absorbed navel-gazing masquerading as clever social-science opinionating, but that could just be me....
posted by Lynsey at 12:41 PM on October 10, 2011


I just read the Male Choosiness post. I'm skeptical of his claim that the legal structure of child support has completely altered the dynamics of male-female relationships. It really doesn't help that the only source he cited was Kanye West's "Gold Digger."

I though you were joking about Kanye. I really wish you had been.
posted by nooneyouknow at 12:54 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Funny how certain personality types are drawn to evolution as an excuse to avoid evolving. More like DEvolutionary Psychology. Just skip it. Skip it good.

Dude's lucky he isn't working in a coal mine.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:54 PM on October 10, 2011


This is bullshit but it's kind of entertaining bullshit, in a "spot the fallacy" game sort of way.

As for who wrote Good Will Hunting, I think Matt Damon and Ben Affleck did, and that Affleck contributed more than we'd think. It was Damon's short story, but ever since then, Affleck has shown himself to be surprisingly competent as a writer/director, and I think he's got a talent for it that we don't generally acknowledge because of all the other shit.

Oh, and Kevin Smith probably gave them a shitload of notes, but if Kevin Smith could have written that movie he would have. (Note: Good Will Hunting hasn't aged well in many respects, but it was exactly where the zeitgeist was at the time.)
posted by Navelgazer at 1:21 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Some legal structures are such that males are liable for 18 years of financial investment set against 9 months of biological investment by the woman."

Because most women just drop the spawn and wander off. It's not like women are liable for 18 years of financial investment too.

(Or does that just not count because that's how God intended it?)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:38 PM on October 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is on that line between scholarship and clever wankery that's neither.
posted by fuq at 2:20 PM on October 10, 2011


Hmm. Fallacious appeals to nature or naturalistic fallacy? I'm glad to have finally found a site that doesn't make me choose.
posted by klangklangston at 2:41 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


"You see women evolved to be like this, but men evolved to be like this, amirite?"
posted by Kitty Stardust at 3:00 PM on October 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't even understand what the hell they are talking about here.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:16 PM on October 10, 2011


The longer you live, the more likely your spouse will cheat on you, right? You don't magically become uncheated-upon as you age.
This would be pretty conclusive evidence of bad data in a longitudinal study, but not a cross-sectional study such as the one linked to. You don't become un-cheated-upon as you age, but you may be more likely to be cheated-upon (or more likely to find out about it, or more likely to be willing to report it) than previous generations were.

The most dramatic place I've seen that difference is in attempts to measure age-related cognitive decline: following the same group of people you don't see test performance peaking until they're in their 50s or 60s, but the Flynn effect results in some types of test scores decreasing before age 30 in cross-sectional studies.
posted by roystgnr at 3:33 PM on October 10, 2011


evo pysch always causes the gender roles of the 1950s to be not just admirable but natural and correct?
I'm reminded of the "you believe in survival of the fittest" charge that creationists sometimes levy against evolution in general; the ambiguous double-meaning of the phrase "believe in" hides an underlying false assumption that every descriptive theory must also be a prescriptive ethic.

It's as if the Theory of Gravity were to be discredited because it could be misinterpreted to mean "you should push people down the stairs so that you're doing what gravity wants", rather than "there's a natural danger here that we should be aware of whenever we're at the top of the stairs".
posted by roystgnr at 3:41 PM on October 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


That's a pretty cool idea! I can be Gravity's little helper!
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:01 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Whelk: “notice how evo pysch always causes the gender roles of the 1950s to be not just admirable but natural and correct?”

roystgnr: “I'm reminded of the ‘you believe in survival of the fittest’ charge that creationists sometimes levy against evolution in general; the ambiguous double-meaning of the phrase "believe in" hides an underlying false assumption that every descriptive theory must also be a prescriptive ethic. It's as if the Theory of Gravity were to be discredited because it could be misinterpreted to mean ‘you should push people down the stairs so that you're doing what gravity wants’, rather than ‘there's a natural danger here that we should be aware of whenever we're at the top of the stairs’.”

Well, it's a bit more nuanced than that. Unlike scientific theories, evo psych is quite often presented with a moralistic tinge, a la "this is how our brains miraculously came up with a way for us to survive! So all those things that seemed unjust or wrong are actually just right in the context of evolution!"

But, to be fair, you're right. Moralistic arguments aren't really arguments against the ontological validity of evolutionary psychology. The chief argument against the truth evolutionary psychology is that it's scientifically incoherent.
posted by koeselitz at 4:10 PM on October 10, 2011


"... against the truth of evolutionary psychology..."
posted by koeselitz at 4:14 PM on October 10, 2011


Man, I know the site in the OP is a joke, but Metafilter really does not do evolutionary psychology well at all. Do we really believe that researchers in that field subscribe to the naturalistic fallacy (what is natural is good) when even popular writers like Steven Pinker go out of their way to caution lay readers not to conflate "is" with "ought" and to explain that evo-psych is not a moral framework? An unbiased reading of the literature suggests that it is evolutionary psychology's critics that more often make the mistake. There are real methodological challenges involved with doing research in this field, but most of the time these are not what are discussed when EP is brought up around here.
posted by AceRock at 4:54 PM on October 10, 2011


Do we really believe that researchers in that field subscribe to the naturalistic fallacy

Two, nauseating, words my friend: Satoishi Kanazawa.

Four more, even more nauseating when used in context with the above: London School of Economics.

The prosecution rests, your honour.

I would humbly submit your statement should be modified to: "Metafilter The media and society at large really does not do evolutionary psychology well at all [And metfilter responds to such armchair misogyny with an almost prehensile rage]."
posted by smoke at 5:54 PM on October 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


I can't look. How many horses does this person put before the cart? How many times is the question begged?

You don't need a Harvard education to come up with good ideas, but you do need a few years of focused education just to know what questions to ask, and where to find some answers to questions you didn't even really know about.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:10 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


AceRock: “There are real methodological challenges involved with doing research in this field, but most of the time these are not what are discussed when EP is brought up around here.”

Indeed. One such difficulty is the fact that what science has known as "evolution" since Darwin and "evolutionary psychology" are fundamentally at odds.

Evolution, as it is know by science, involves the natural selection of various physiological traits from generation to generation. It is bolstered by the clear observation of said traits and by the general body of knowledge of genetics which we've amassed. The idea that psychological development – which is very complex, and which no evidence has ever indicated is linked in a direct or simple way to genetic traits – is a naturally selected trait is a misunderstanding of what "evolution" means. This is understanding, as "evolution" has become a popular term and concept in the last hundred years. And it's understandable that sociologists and economists and various members of the "soft sciences" would be drawn to this confusion of a scientific concept; it is nice to believe that one is adding rigor to one's work by grounding it in "scientific" ideas.

But the fact that it's become popular to refer to "evolution" in every context doesn't mean it belongs in every context.
posted by koeselitz at 6:14 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


smoke, true, science "journalists" typically do a terrible job handling evolutionary psychology.

And to be fair to the field, Kanazawa is considered a hack by other evo psych people as well (see here)

Koselitz, I believe you are speaking from ignorance. Some of the leaders in the field are trained biologists, not just "members of the soft sciences". Richard Dawkins is a supporter of the field and even biologists who are critical of the field (like Jerry Coyne, whose advisor was Richard Lewontin, a staunch critic of sociobiology back in the day) do not think that evolution and evolutionary psychology are "fundamentally at odds" as you say. Rather, they have problems with some of the methodologies evo-psychologists use; they do not call for the abandonment of the whole endeavor.
posted by AceRock at 6:26 PM on October 10, 2011


The idea that psychological development – which is very complex, and which no evidence has ever indicated is linked in a direct or simple way to genetic traits
This is a bit misleading, isn't it? Height isn't linked in a direct or simple way to genetic traits, but that's not because "evolutionary physiology" is a scam, it's because genetic algorithms tend to come up with indirect and complicated functionality.

What's odd is that, while you've come up with another variation on a creationist talking point ("Natural selection could never come up with anything so complex! God must have done it!"), this time it's not one with an obvious non-creationist counterpart. If natural selection and design aren't responsible, what's the third alternative? The complexity of psychological behavior is evidence for evolution, not against: because the set of all coherent behaviors is an astronomically small subset of the set of all possible behaviors, to the extent that we find ourselves near that subset we ought to expect to find reasons other than random chance explaining why.

Mind you, any particular self-proclaimed ev psych reason is still much more likely to be incorrect than to be correct; it's way too easy to come up with just-so stories that sound plausible but lack support from real data. Worse, it's too easy for noise to be amplified into "data", first when scientists don't bother to publish negative results and second when journalists trumpet anything that looks like news for the human nature vs. nurture debate. When you say there's "no evidence" for behavioral genetics, I can't even tell whether that means you're unaware of the many findings of genes correlated with behavioral traits or whether you're merely denying that any such findings are more than publication bias.

Surely at least the studies finding genes influencing fruit fly behavior are pretty sound?
posted by roystgnr at 7:17 PM on October 10, 2011


notice how evo pysch always causes the gender roles of the 1950s to be not just admirable but natural and correct?

Honestly, no. To the extent that people are willing to commit the naturalistic fallacy, Evo psych (and its weaponized PUA spawn) endorses or excuses cadding around by men, and cheating on "beta" males by women as being biological imperatives. That's pretty much the antithesis of traditional gender roles, which are mostly about trying to put a lid on these behaviours by constructing taboos against promiscuity before and philandering after marriage.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 7:21 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Evoo psych is slippery stuff.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:25 PM on October 10, 2011


Subtle, Henderson, subtle.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:28 PM on October 10, 2011


Diet doesn't worry me much (I didn't land here, I'm from here, no manual), but as a fellow info-junky I lahks ya style. Pour it on.
posted by Twang at 8:14 PM on October 10, 2011


I guess nobody here likes Geoffrey Miller then...
posted by AndrewKemendo at 5:39 AM on October 11, 2011


I am so sick of people using that Sir-Mix-A-Lot song like it's cute. It's so played out! Why are people still quoting it with wild abandon?! Why are people still ENJOYING the quotes?!?! STOP.
posted by 200burritos at 8:48 AM on October 11, 2011


'Baby Got Back' isn't just on the list of Top Ten Rap Songs White People Love, it's number one.
posted by box at 8:59 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Pull over! That ass is too fat!"
posted by box at 9:01 AM on October 11, 2011


« Older It's alive!   |   As You Wish Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments