Jul 152013

Given one constant criticism of the so called “#FTBullies” is that they never take on board criticism and instead shout “misogynist!” I’ve been meaning to start a page where I catalogue the reasonable criticism of bloggers and commenters at FreethoughtBlogs.com and Skepchick.org … Also other people that have their own blogs or high profile jobs and get dragged in as “#FTBullies” just because they happen to agree with one of the bloggers on those networks or even worse are feminists *spit* (Amanda Marcotte, Melody Hensley etc would be examples).

2a. Reasonable criticism of PZ and the pop-EvPsych/Evolutionary Psychology discussion at SkepchickCon

Update3: Ahh this is interesting, so PZ has got around to tackling the bits in Coynes blog post from Pinker. The post is here. Frankly it seems to me that there are fair disagreements here with a lot of strawmanning and assumption of bias from Coyne and Pinker that has unfortunately poisoned the conversation to a degree. PZ points one out in his post, “we” apparently assume there is a “blank state” when its quite obvious this has never been the case – maybe some feminists have stated this but its clear the secular feminist community don’t think this is the case. As in the updates below Coyne also assumes an “ideology” that is driving the criticism of EP, this is conspiracy level stuff and doesn’t make me look on the Coyne/Pinker side too favourably. This was my favourite part of the post as it shows “science denialism” is not the case here and sums up my own thoughts, albeit from a position of being woefully uninformed.

For the record, of course there are genetic differences in human populations! It’s an open question whether any of them make significant contributions to human psychology, however. I’m open to evidence either way.

That sums up my thoughts on EP, so far what I’ve seen is pretty terrible and asking people for examples of “good EP” I’ve got nothing. I guess given the fundamental position that psychology and genetics are linked has to be on some level true there is a possibility of EP being useful in describing that. However given psychology alone is not that good at defining behaviour and is itself often subject to criticism, it seems that taking that ill-defined base and adding an evolutionary perspective is only going to make it harder. Personally I think it remains to be seen if EP is good science or even if it can be good science, I am to be convinced still…. Of course in terms of #FTBullies PZ went ballistic and called Pinker a pinko commie misogynist!!!eleventy11. At least you can bet the #FTBullies tweeps are saying as much despite the evidence.

Update2: Haha seems PZ got around to criticising the Coyne bit of the criticism in “Update” below. Unlike me he is actually able to address the specific criticisms of his supposed EvPsych position. Not looking good and he makes the same point as I did in “Update” below, Coynes criticism is ad-hom laden in places. So unlike Stephanies critique he takes these bits apart as well, and of course screams about what a misogynist Coyne is for disagreeing with him? Err, well no actually and he even agrees with a large part of Coynes statement on what should be researched, somewhat torpedoing his assertion that PZ and the “gender feminists” don’t even want to research gender differences. Why is it that reasonable people swallow the “#FTBullies” bullshit and fight against that strawman rather than reality? Doesn’t make for good criticism, of course the baying fools of the anti-FTB brigade will find some way to make Coyne “witch of the week” to save face. Probably a commenter will say something intemperate under the post….  (Pinker criticism to come from PZ.. Update3 is on the way!)

Update: It seems Pinker and Coyne have taken over on this criticism and as the “big hitters”, unlike poor Dave below, they get the attention. Actually I’d class Daves criticism of the panel as better than Coyne/Pinkers mainly because the post includes the ridiculous “equity” vs “gender” feminist strawman and Dave actually listened to the audio whereas Pinker/Coyne used a summary from PZ to work from. Coyne also makes some extremely unsceptical assertions about how it “seems” this straw “gender” feminist “ideology” is driving the criticism of Evolutionary Psychology. He “gets the feeling” that they don’t want research into gender differences even … *eye roll*

Anyway I’m sure the #FTBullies went berserk and denounced everyone as misogynists? Well no you can see Stephanie Zvans calm measured response here. She actually ignores the ridiculous “ideology” swipes from Coyne and addresses the substance of his objections, which is what Coyne/Pinker should have done in the first place rather than assign unknowable motives to the criticism. Even if they are correct and PZ et al are in the thrall of some evilz feminist doctrine that is totally irrelevant to the validity of their arguments, as usual they stand or fall on their own merits.

2. Reasonable criticism of PZ and the pop-EvPsych/Evolutionary Psychology discussion at SkepchickCon

Disclaimer: I have a lot of reading to do here to really understand this field. While it is clear a lot of pop-EP is total bullshit, Ed Clint and other EP proponents agree on this so that is safe ground, I cannot talk to the whole field. That is clearly a difficult proposition as any large scientific discipline is going to have a wide variety of researchers and areas of research so to dismiss the whole thing requires a lot of knowledge! Rebecca Watson was accused of dismissing the entire field by Ed Clint, and I actually think his post was mostly worthy of being in this section as “reasonable criticism” if he hadn’t included the hyperbolic science denialism accusation thoroughly debunked by Mark Hoofnagle. In fact Rebecca Watson changed her talk to align with Ed’s criticism and without the childish accusations it could have been a bit of bridge building criticism.  So in conclusion I think this criticism is reasonable in its framing but that doesn’t mean its right, I really need to go off and read a LOT more to be able to conclude on that point.

So on to criticism, there was an EP panel at CONvergence in the SkepChickCON stream for which there is audio here.  On that post a blogger I’ve not heard of before, Dave Allen, links to his criticism of the panel here.  I comment on there because I’d like to see him put the criticism to PZ on Pharyngula, obviously Dave will be ripped apart by the vicious Pharyngulites for daring to disagree and hung and dried as an inveterate misogynist /sarcasm.  But seriously it seems he has a lot of valid points and its frustrating to not be able to address them myself due to lack of knowledge. Also the criticism that is being brought to PZ is, err, not particularly interesting in anything other than its surreal stupidity.

For Rich Sanderson getting peoples attention is his one and only aim as he is incapable of reasoned criticism and unfortunately he succeeds, even if those people proceed to laugh at his incredibly delusional rantings. Hence this is part of the reason of this whole ongoing blog post – reasonable criticism gets ignored while the Rich Sandersons float to the surface bringing their stench with them. I’d much rather see Dave Allen’s criticism be addressed than Rich’s, although I did enjoy laughing at Rich with everyone else ;-)

BTW some other posts to read that I never noticed! Dave links to this and this as debunking of PZs EP posts from earlier in the year.

1. Reasonable criticism of Melody Hensley

Anyway I can start with reasonable criticism of WIS2, unlike anything Vacula managed, Melody Hensley being the “#FTBully” in question. (Definitely not anything Ron Lindsay said as comparing people to North Korean dictators does not count as reasonable)

One thing the Slymepitters come out with is almost true as it feels shitty picking out criticism of Melody when she gets so much unwarranted harassment from the assholes at the pit and on Twitter. I don’t want to be adding to pressure on her when she gets so much from them, reasonable or not. However its so rare for her to get reasonable criticism its worth showing how it actually works. I’m not sure if Melody has seen any reasonable criticism online of her actions before!


Brilliant post that shows how shutting up and listening is sometimes paramount when you are speaking to someone who is often erased from the conversation, ignored and their needs disregarded in preference to the privileged majority.  I really feel for Melody here as while she handled this case badly she was under tremendous pressure to avoid criticism of the conference. Its easy in my position to say she shouldn’t have been defensive when dealing with the complaint and should have “Shut up and Listened”… I know that this “#FTBully” will take it on board and improve the conference for disabled people next year. Also CFI as a whole needs to re-evaluate their accessibility provisions, both online and in meatspace as that experience was not acceptable.

UPDATE: As @aratina points out below Melody took the reasonable criticism to heart, weird how that works!

Will add more above the fold as I come across them…. Feel free to let me know if you see any.

 Posted by at 7:16 pm

  28 Responses to “Page-o-Reasonable Criticism of the #FTBullies”

  1. That really sucks. Accommodating people with disabilities is imperative (and the law). That post by hofstader about their terrible treatment also kind of whiplashes the slimepit spin on Rebecca Watson by showing she does care about people.

  2. And surprise surprise, looks like Melody won’t be putting the blame on the people who felt mistreated:

    Tweet by Melody
    Whole experience got me to think about things I never thought about. Promised to fix this problem & I will.

    • Err… I shouldn’t have said “felt mistreated” because Hofstader specifically wrote that it wasn’t that they felt mistreated but that they felt invisible like a robot or a rock in a stream.

  3. This kind of reasonable criticism doesn’t really look bad though, because Melody will look at her actions and see what she can do about them. This is the pinnacle of virtue!

    Maybe it would be worth looking closely at, and explaining why we don’t care about charges like dogma or divisiveness. Reasonable criticisms which are ignored because of faulty premises (ie, that divisiveness is always bad, or that there is no evidence for feminists, therefore DOGMA!) and not simply because of who the critics are.

    I know we have all been over these things before, but a third party blog could be a good place to hash that stuff out even if you are our tame trollolol ;-)

    • Ha, tame! Grrr….. Anyhoo if there are posts like Ed Clints that were reasonable BUT included a bit of completely unreasonable criticism I may well include them. Especially as Rebecca took on the reasonable bits of Ed’s critique… In hindsight would have been a great one.

      I don’t want to go back and cherry pick tho as I’d like to pick out reasonable criticism *before* it is responded to and see how the putative #FTBullies react to it. Even no reaction would be considered a win by me as “just disagreement” is supposedly characterised by the “FfTB” crowd screaming misogynist.

      So the posts that are out and out daft, like Shermers witch hunt post, well they are at times so out there they are not even wrong. For that we need a Page-o-Unreasonable Criticism, that would be a LOT of work! :-D

      • Ha, tame! Grrr…

        Yeah, probably should have put post-post-ironic scarequotes around that…. ;-)

        …pick out reasonable criticism *before* it is responded to…

        Bangerang. Quick off the draw, with our hands on the floor. I don’t envy you that commitment, but kudos if you can make it happen.

        …so out there they are not even wrong.

        Yeah, its pretty depressing; especially when delivered with the straight face of the genuinely deluded. It would be time badly wasted.

    • Please consider this as all the future thanks for making corrections on my behalf.

  4. My test comment

    EDIT: Managed an edit… Success!

  5. If you’re serious about getting up to speed on EP I would recommend Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate which I’m currently in the process of reading myself and, to a lesser extent, his How the Mind Works. Particularly considering Jerry Coyne’s recent article on the EP Panel wherein he quotes Pinker for his responses to some of PZ’s comments thereat.

    However I might forewarn you that the first book is subtitled The Modern Denial of Human Nature which seems to be precisely what PZ and company are engaged in doing in their criticisms of EP.

    And finally and relative to your “hung and dried as an inveterate misogynist/sarcasm” comment, if I’m not mistaken Dave has commented on this post of yours in the Pit so I expect, if PZ has any integrity at all (a doubtful conclusion), PZ would ban Dave for commenting on Pharyngula. More truth than sarcasm in your comment.

    • Really put off looking up Pinker given the derp Metaburbia favourably quoted him and I see he pops up spouting the ridiculous “equity” vs “gender” feminism straw man on Coyne’s blog post. If I can get a free copy somewhere I may give it a go …

      Dave can comment on the Slymepit, I and many others who comment there have and not been banned for it. If he calls himself a Slymepitter or engages in the usual dog whistles from there then he’d probably get banned. From what I’ve seen he appears to be able to argue without descending into Slyme-myth-talk so he should get away with it. I wouldn’t have guessed he was posting over there, the subject is correct (Anti-Pz/FTB/etc) but the attitude is one of a reasonable person. Maybe he doesn’t have the motivated reasoning of the majority of the pit, you should troll encourage him to comment there. Might work in your favour if he gets banned ;-)

      • WTF is your comment doing totally out of order? Bloody WordPress…

      • Really put off looking up Pinker given the derp Metaburbia favourably quoted him ….

        “Even the devil can quote scripture.” You might want to try divorcing the content from the speaker, the tool from the tool-wielder. But I suppose that might require you to dig deeper than you want to – or are prepared to do; might require you examine your pre-judgements, your prejudices.

        As for your the ridiculous “equity” vs “gender” feminism straw man, I think PZ has poisoned your mind, and no few others, with his insistence (1) that that is a false dichotomy. While that might be somewhat of false dichotomy of Christina Hoff Sommers, Pinker’s view seems quite clearly to be cognizant of a great many nuances and variations. You might check out this on-line version of his chapter from that book on Gender here (2) to make up your own mind. And while PZ seems to have read The Blank Slate, at least according to that post of his, I figure he can’t have read it very closely if he thinks it is “terrible for its black-and-white version of the nature/nurture argument”.

        Maybe he doesn’t have the motivated reasoning of the majority of the pit, you should troll encourage him to comment there. Might work in your favour if he gets banned.

        Maybe that’s true. But you might want to check out a comment by Skep tickle last December on Pharyngula (3) which led to PZ banning her “with extreme prejudice”, and ask yourself whether she was using “dog whistles” and “motivated reasoning”, or whether PZ was just being a dickhead.

        1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/08/21/well-i-guess-im-not-a-feminist-then/”;
        2) “_http://www.pasadena.edu/files/syllabi/txcave_18360.pdf”;
        3) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/21/an-experiment-why-do-you-despise-feminism/comment-page-1/#comment-518836”;

  6. I’m not sure PZ’s critique of Coyne amounts to much. There is some obviously fallacious stuff about PZ’s reply, for example when he says:

    “When criticized, evolutionary psychologists love to run away from their discipline and hide in the safer confines of more solidly founded ideas. Here’s a perfect example:”

    And then goes onto quote Coyne – who isn’t an evolutionary psychologist. So, perfect example how?

    PZ still seems to think the premises of the field are fatally flawed – but he doesn’t display any knowledge of the premises. Maybe he’ll get round to that when he takes on Pinker, but I have serious doubts. His claim that EPs make observations from single populations isn’t particularly right. A study might use a particular set of participants – but any findings will only be advanced tentatively at such a stage (unless the authors are actually unethical). It’s only after some attempt has been made to show universality that the study’s notions are going to be taken seriously by others in the field.

    PZ calls it a “cop out” of Coyne’s to not allow for the fact that PZ recognises that developmental plasticity and innate predilections do not necessarily rule one another out. But why should Coyne do that seeing as PZ has been saying stuff like “plasticity is *everything* and that should be the take home message for Evolutionary Psychologists” when talking about EP up to this point?

    The rest – as Chas says in the comments – too vague.

    Stephanie’s response isn’t much of a concern to defenders of EP unless she’s able to talk about the nature of the conclusions drawn from the papers that use students as participants. If they are wild – then yes, that could be a problem. If they are tentative or part of a wider body of knowledge then no problem. Pinker is, I guess, talking about the stuff that informs textbooks and high quality pop science books – replicated studies and meta-analyses. Stephanie is, I guess, talking about the bleeding edge of the field. She presumably misses the fact that those conclusions are likely to be tentatively held until some more effort to show universality is undergone.

    (I would argue that reading actual scientific papers isn’t the best way to get your head round a field – you need to get the textbook knowledge and then read the papers).

    Also, in failing to concede that PZ’s response in print was much the same message as the content of his section of the panel I think Stephanie does Coyne and Pinker a disservice.

    Mark’s critique of Ed falls short of a debunk. Firstly they agree on a fair few issues, but most of Mark’s negative reaction to Ed seems based on his assumption that Rebecca accurately reports on her source material.

    She does not. Most of the stuff she cites as examples is either somewhat or mostly at odds with what she says it is about. A couple of times she flashes up newspaper pages or scientific papers that have precisely nothing to do with what she attributes to them.

    She also doesn’t seem to know which French king was the 14th Louis – but that’s a personal gripe.

    • Well it seems your criticism of the criticism all comes under the remit of “reasonable”. Whole point of this blog post is to pick out reasonable criticism as some people at a certain forum seem to like to make it their aim to paint all criticism as part of an evilz “call out culture” … This has the effect of allowing any criticism from PZ et al to be dismissed as part of this imagined pattern of behaviour and lowers the quality of debate. Just look at the reaction on Twitter to PZs criticism, doesn’t matter how measured he was (For him) the criticism will be dismissed. Even though Coyne’s was full of ad-hom and vague unskeptical calls to straw motives.

      As for Rebecca and her presentation there were errors, she thanked Ed and modified her talk to incorporate the corrections and make it clearer she was aiming at Pop-EP not all of EP. So subsequent talks have these corrections in them. Not exactly the behaviour of a science denialist? for me that debunked Eds claim better than Mark Hoofnagle ever could have as science denialism is a pattern of behaviour not a one off talk with factual errors in it.

      • I can’t recall Rebecca thanking Ed, not to his face anyway. She claimed to have addressed a handful of the errors he attributed to her – the ones she couldn’t plausibly deny such as saying that a particular researcher was from a particular university when he wasn’t and so on. She certainly didn’t address all his objections. Her understanding of what amounts to pop and non-pop EP seems weird to me. Most of the time she just talks about EP whether her topic is pop or genuine psychology. The one time she mentions pop-EP is to indulge in the whole Pleistocene brain thing PZ and co mentioned so much.

        The science denial charge? I don’t know if I would go that far but there are points in her talk where she seems to fundamentally misunderstand certain scientific principles. For example there are a couple of times where she basically runs through someone’s formation of a hypothesis, but does so mockingly and seems to joke with the audience about it. But why? Certain hypotheses might well be a bit wild. So what?

        Also she seems not to know what an outlier is, she attributes stuff to scientists that actually come from journalists and – at times – thin air, she jokingly provides examples from myth to debunk claims that no one ever even made … and so on.

        So I’m not sure I would be so bold as to call it science denialism per se – but it has a lot in common with someone like Lord Monckton opining on climate change – and that would be called an example of science denial by some of those who defend her talk. So colour me confused.

        • First comment here thanking “everyone” for corrections, even Ed. ->

          For me it was an entertaining talk, she is not a scientist and was poking fun at pop-EP and the media’s representation and gullible swallowing of it not giving a thorough review of the state of research. That a few quotes were misattributed and some minor facts incorrect is not that important – was the overall thrust of the talk correct? Yes the media swallow pop-EP whole and more often than not its total bullshit. I’d imagine some of it goes back to sceptics like Ben Radford falling for the girls like pink crap. Rebecca wrote on that subject sometime back and Ben had to back down and apologise for falling for it.

          So who is most to blame for EPs bad reputation in some circles? The media for presenting the badly written pop-EP stuff or Rebecca Watson for laughing at how awful the research they use for their stories actually is? I’d think if I was an EP researcher I’d want to get the media to report on it properly so RW etc have less ammo.

        • Her talk was almost all misconstrued. I had a review of the first 5 mins here:


          Then up to 12 mins or so here:


          And then later to 19 mins here:


          I didn’t get to the “pink is for girls” stuff. But in short:

          Dr Yazhu Ling and Prof Anya Hurlbert are not evolutionary psychologists. Prof Hurlbert is a neuroscientist, Dr Ling is eclectic. Their study has some interesting factors to consider but it has not been warmly received by EPs. Their conclusion is that the phenomena is definitely sociocultural though they speculate as to a possible innate factor. It’s also part of a wider body of work as the two have collaborated on other papers to do with sight and colour perception. It isn’t pop-EP – it’s cog-neuroscience with some speculative analysis that might be of interest to EPers – but doesn’t seem to have got much attention (see Ed Clint’s dismissal of it, for example).

          Personally I think he’s too harsh – study may have something to say about effects of colour blindness in that for 10% of men red and green are somewhat ambiguous.

          Rebecca chucks it for wrong reasons. Sociocultural shifts in regard to fashion are irrelevant to notions of innate tendency, marketers may even be honing in on actual phenomena. Or they may not.

          So, seems like a fuss about nothing much to me.

        • You say they are not “evolutionary psychologists” … One of the first Google results for their names gives


          Evolution may have driven women’s preference for pink, according to the study published today…. [big jump] …. However, Professor Hurlbert says she could only speculate about the universal preference for blue: ‘Here again, I would favour evolutionary arguments. Going back to our ‘savannah’ days, we would have a natural preference for a clear blue sky, because it signalled good weather. Clear blue also signals a good water source’, she says.


          Hasn’t got much attention? Maybe by the true EP researchers but that was not the focus of RWs talk – pop-EP was. Widely reported as “evolutionary psychology” even by the benighted Ben Goldacre -> http://www.badscience.net/2007/08/pink-pink-pink-pink-pink-moan/

          Maybe the answer to why EP has such a bad rep is that even sceptical top cats such as Ben misreport research as being by EP researchers. (Can’t remember him being called a science denialist) Either way RW was critiquing the media’s reporting of EP, pop-EP, and this was most definitely reported as EP.

        • It’s not one of Ben’s better columns. He doesn’t point out that it is they, not he, who produce a sociocultural explanation and there’s a difference between an evolutionary psychologist and a psychologist who mentions evolution. Even if you take that as irrelevant why would a paper providing both sociocultural and evolutionary explanations be deemed EP – especially when those evolutionary explanations are advanced tentatively? It is – at most – an eclectic paper.

          Nor does he mention that – in social science at least – it’s expected that researchers indulge in a speculative analysis having drawn a conclusion.

          This is why the press release you mention uses words such as “may have” and “could only speculate”.

          To see what impact it has had on the field you’d need to see how it has been cited. It hasn’t been cited much, and those papers that do cite do not seem to have much to do with EP (though frustratingly I can’t the page to work properly, so maybe later papers tell a different story):


        • I agree its not an EP paper from what I can see. Point is its presented as such in the popular press, also the speculative evolutionary part of the psychology paper is presented as fact by the papers. Hence pop-EP has a bad rep and hence why RW attacked it. A lot of the criticism seems to be talking past each other as there is clearly pop-EP that is very worthy of attack. To then take that justified attack and say its an assault on all EP is a stretch. Especially when PZ said in the CONvergence panel that he sees EP as a dead end and it should be scrapped! Seems some ppl are happy to say the whole field is a dead loss… You are not short of people actually saying its all bunk :-)

          So what is good EP? I know PZ says he’s never seen a good paper, but what is EPs best foot? Where has it clearly demonstrated an innate behaviour that is consistent across multiple populations? Where is the null hypothesis of culturally conditioned behaviour ruled out? What practical benefit has been achieved through EP research? I’ve seen nothing yet myself so those are all questions to me that undermine EP – although again I’ve not done the reading to be able to assert with any authority. For other fields its not even in question though, so do I take the relative infancy of the field into account or assume that PZ is right and its all hogwash?

        • Hehe I certainly see why ppl focus on pop-EP … Its a pretty easy target. I,err, came across this today. Discussed as ridiculous by a number of feminists on Twitter etc.

          One point stuck out for me I was pretty sure the suckup theory was bollocks and proven so ages ago. Although seems while most studies have shown no correlation one did show greater jiz retention. Obviously that is not necessarily going to lead to greater fertility, but it might. Then a recent one seems to totally blow it apart -

          Not to mention the WEIRD and methodological issues in the paper. Seems very easy to find crappy EP day to day on the internet. Not good EP.

        • Apologies for delay in reply – I was working on another couple of responses that can be seen here:


          and here:


          I hope I cover some of your queries there, but I will supply short answers to some questions you raise here:

          “So what is good EP?”

          Stephen Pinker’s How the Mind Works, The Language Instinct.

          David Buss’ Evolution of Desire, EP the new Science of the Mind.

          Sarah Blaffer Hrdy Mothers and Others.

          “I know PZ says he’s never seen a good paper, but what is EPs best foot?”

          How would he recognise one seeing as his understanding of the field is limited to broad misconstruction?

          But as I say in the blog, it isn’t particularly useful to try and understand a field from the papers alone. Until there is some realisation on the part of the reader as to what the underlying ontology and epistemology are.

          For example …

          “Where is the null hypothesis of culturally conditioned behaviour ruled out?”

          Why would that be a null hypothesis? Sometimes psychological phenomena are a combination of sociocultural and innate inputs. Sometimes neither (as is the case with individual difference).

          When you ask questions like that it’s clear you don’t know much about psychology.

          An easy example – on average Inuit wear heavier clothing than equatorial tribespeople.

          This is sociocultural, but also a matter for EP, because we have natural inclinations to keeping our bodies at a comfortable temperature.

          “Where has it clearly demonstrated an innate behaviour that is consistent across multiple populations?”

          Cross culturally children imitate the facial expressions of others within minutes of birth.

          Cross culturally people crave energy rich foods high in sugar, protein and/or fat, and are adverse to foods that are bitter.

          Cross culturally women bear the costs of childbirth and are more discriminating in regards to sexual habits than men are.

          Whilst preferences for weight in a female mate vary cross-culturally preferences for a certain waist-to-hip ratio are shown.

          Cross culturally and on average men are shown to outperform women in tasks relating to thinking about 3d space – whilst women outperform men in tasks involving linguistic cleverness.

          I mean, how long and varied do you want this list?

          “What practical benefit has been achieved through EP research?”

          What about bolstering the following line of argument:

          People are mammals and we should think through the ethical implications of the fact that it is women who bear, nurse and disproportionally raise children. One ought not to assume that the default human being is a man and that children are an indulgence or an accident that strikes a deviant subset. Sex differences can be used to justify, rather than endanger, woman-friendly policies such as parental leave, subsidized childcare, flexible hours and stoppages of the tenure clock…
          - Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate, page 358.

          ” For other fields its not even in question though, so do I take the relative infancy of the field into account or assume that PZ is right and its all hogwash?”

          I would say neither.

          An argument in social science is what it is. I don’t particularly invest in stuff like whether or not a female orgasm leads to increased chance of pregnancy. That’s one hypothesis amongst many. If it fails I don’t see that as a problem for EP – it’s just a hypothesis.

          If people like PZ want to throw out the baby with the bathwater because some stuff strikes him as bad or unwholesome (and note that he has yet to provide much example of something that can be said to be both representative of the field and irrefutably nonsensical) then presumably he’ll be able to offer a sociocultural explanation for things such as the phenomena I cited earlier as cross-cultural.



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