A Response to PZ Myers

Jesse Marczyk in Psychology Today:

Jesse-marcSince my summer vacation is winding itself to a close, it’s time to relax with a fun, argumentative post that doesn’t deal directly with research. PZ Myers, an outspoken critic of evolutionary psychology – or at least an imaginary version of the field, which may bear little or no resemblance to the real thing – has criticized it again. After a recent defense of the field against PZ’s comments by Jerry Coyne and Steven Pinker, PZ has now responded to Pinker’s comments. He incorrectly asserts what evolutionary psychology holds to as a discipline, fails to mention any examples of this going on in print (although he does reference blogs), and then expresses wholehearted agreement with many of the actual theoretical commitments put forth by the field. I wanted to take this time to briefly respond to PZ’s recent response and defend my field.

Kicking off his reply, PZ has this to say about why he dislikes the methods of evolutionary psychology:

PZ: That’s my primary objection, the habit of evolutionary psychologists of taking every property of human behavior, assuming that it is the result of selection, building scenarios for their evolution, and then testing them poorly.”

Familiar as I am with the theoretical commitments of the field, I find it strange that I overlooked the part that demands evolutionary psychologists assume that every property of human behavior is the result of selection. It might have been buried amidst all those comments about things like “byproducts”, “genetic drift”, “maladaptiveness” and “randomness” by the very people who, more or less, founded the field.

More here.