Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bye Bye, Mr. Kanazawa

My series below is over, but it seems truly worthwhile to contrast two quotes from Kanazawa's blog posts, because I find them an excellent summary of what is ultimately wrong with Evolutionary Psychology.

First, here he talks about the supremacy of biology over all social sciences. Indeed, the post is titled "Social Sciences Are Branches of Biology." I quote:

That, unfortunately, is the sorry state of social sciences today. Social sciences in the 21st century are where physical sciences were in the 17th century. Social scientists believe in the firm separation between human sciences (social sciences) about the behavior of human species, and nonhuman sciences (biology) about the behavior of all other species in nature, governed by entirely different sets of laws and principles. It would be a huge step forward in the history of science to break down this wall as well, and subsume social sciences under biology.

I will conclude this post with another favorite quote of mine from Weinberg.

The reason we give the impression that we think that elementary particle physics is more fundamental than other branches of physics is because it is.

The reason we give the impression that we think that evolutionary psychology is more fundamental than other branches of social and behavioral sciences is because it is.

Emphasis is mine.

The second quote I want to bring up is the one where Kanazawa happily admits that he has not taken any biology classes since high school:

As an aside, Mr. Lal was trained in mechanical engineering and currently works as a software engineer. He does not have any background in psychology, let alone evolutionary psychology, and has not taken any biology class since high school. (But then again, neither have I.)

Emphasis again is mine.

Let's put these two ideas together: First, all social science are really just biology, but the foremost of them is Evolutionary Psychology. Second, one of the official propagandists of Evolutionary Psychology admits that he hasn't actually studied biology.

That sounds pretty troubling.