dionysus1999: (tick)
I was looking up the Carnotaurus based on a TV show I was watching and noted it has characteristics that make it a good example of the limits of scientific knowledge.

Carnotaurus knowledge is based on one specimen found in Argentina.  And check this out, it was inside a hematite concretion.  I didn't know that hematite, a form of iron ore, could be formed by sedimentation.  But it happens around springs and other areas with suspended minerals.  And thanks to the relatively unique preservation of Carnotaurus we also know the texture of its skin!

I couldn't explain how a dinosaur fossil was preserved in iron ore if I didn't know that iron ore can be formed by sedimentation.   Loons probably use this as an example that paleontologists don't know what they are talking about.

Scientists can also make educated guesses on basic morphology of related species, which is the case with Carnotaurus.  This does not rule out revisions based on new fossil evidence.  The more specimens we have of this critter the more accurate our educated guesses become.

There's nothing better than primary evidence, like bones.  Geological stratification is a complex topic,  but while the rocks can be confusing, they don't lie.   Opponents of evolution have only to find fossils in the "wrong" strata to disprove evolution.  Unfortunately for those opponents, over 200 years of paleontology has yet to find this type of inconsistency.

Science is structured to be self-correcting.   Yesterday's Lysenkoism is today's Evopsych and tomorrow's Psychohistory.    Without the controls of peer review and criticism we get stuck with propaganda.

Lysenkoism wasn't science, it was ideology.   Any evidence that refuted Lysenkoism was suppressed.  Eventually the science of genetics was allowed to be practiced in Russia again, because otherwise they'd have continued to fall behind the rest of the world.

Similarly, evolutionary psychology is a current darling among some who enjoy the comfort of its' 1950's version of reality it values above all others.   Evolutionary psychology is a valid subject of study, but in my mind seems to fall in the same field that anthropologists study.

Anthropologists study current and past human civilizations by either direct observation or digging.  Evolutionary psychologists poll college students.  Which of these forms of data would you suspect has more validity?

Evopsychs like twin studies, even though we know much of the twin study data is faulty.  Evopsychs love gender differences, but their research seems to get lost in the static of cultural relativity.  They spend time trying to show that rape is a valid reproductive strategy without considering the ramifications of their research.

Evopsych folks attempt to explain gender and racial differences through evolution.  They then get branded as misanthropes and racists.  Why are we picking on them?  Evidence, or the lack thereof, is the main problem, along with models of behavior.  One of the tasks of a researcher is to illustrate you've ruled out other hypotheses that have better fit for your subject.

So when you start with a hypothesis that men make more money than women because they are more evolutionarily fit, you better do your homework.  By which I mean sifting through the mountains of data collected by anthropologists over centuries.   I'm still not convinced much of what evopsych tells us is inherited isn't just cultural bias.  In fact, it's obvious to many that most evopysch research starts with a cherished opinion and the researcher merely cherry picks evidence to support discredited opinions on the poor, women and minorities.  Social dogma, similar to the religious dogma we see with creationists.

I don't see any evopsych people working closely with primatologists, which to me seems an obvious place to start to tease out cultural versus inherited characteristics.  If I was a department chair I'd challenge the evolutionary psychologists to go back to first principles.  You can't bake a cake without flour.  You can't call youself a scientist when the evidence you claim supports your theories is suspect.   And like that sad lump of material that people try to pass off as gluten free cake*, evopsych isn't well respected.  Something's missing, and all the college student polls in the world aren't going to correct it.

I'll even throw a "bone" to the evopsych folks.  Take a good look at the research that says that women were the primary cave painters.   You've got primary evidence in the form of artist hand impressions.  Just don't go out beyond what your data suggests.   This still doesn't explain gender pay differences, for instance.

* I've had some decent gluten free desserts, just don't call it cake. :)


Feb. 11th, 2013 10:58 am
dionysus1999: (amy)
I find it interesting that the Center for Inquiry, a skeptical organization, is hosting several talks on evolutionary psychology.

Evolutionary psychology is the ugly step-sister of cognitive science.  The foundations of this sub-discipline are rotten, based on jokers and junk science.  Far as I can tell those who have come after are either apologists or justifiers of conservative beliefs.  

Like proponents of intelligent design, evolutionary psychologists reverse the normal order of inquiry.  They have "facts", like men make more money than women, and try to justify this "fact" with evolutionary evidence.   The main problem is that we have little information regarding the crucible in which our species was formed.  What's most interesting to me is that they seem to think the 1950's was the pinnacle of human development, and act as though any deviation from those particular norms are abberations.   As you might imagine, EP has it's share of racists, misogynists and homophobes as researchers.

Evolutionary psychologists lack perspective.  As with global warming denialists, they cherry pick their data and ignore data from other fields, anthropology being one of the most relevant for evolutionary psychology.  Anthropology has much to say regarding human behavior, ignoring people like Margaret Mead is a good way to make yourself look like a fool.


Bat slap

Oct. 12th, 2012 08:40 am
dionysus1999: (Default)

I shamelessly borrowed this from Boing Boing. Evolutionary psychology is a crapfest of bad research, and that's not just my opinion, it's the facts. http://www.badscience.net/category/evolutionary-psychology/


dionysus1999: (Default)

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