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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Evolutionary psychology vs. evolution as a fact

With the neo-Darwinian synthesis, Darwinism became a simple, elegant theory in science that might - or might not - do what is claimed for it.

Is Darwinism the explanation of finch beak changes in the Galapagos? Maybe. (There are opinions pro and con about that.)

Is it the explanation for certain beneficial mutations in the malaria parasite? Apparently, yes.

Does it explain why the giraffe has a long neck? Apparently no.

Does it explain why men cheat on their wives? Huh? Who let YOU in here, creepazoid? I SAID we needed someone to keep a watch on the door!

I think that after Behe's Edge of Evolution, the legitimate questions revolve around what Darwinism can be shown to actually do, in the restricted sphere where we can be quite sure it is doing anything at all.

One reason I came to realize that Darwinism’s power had been blown out of all proportion was the relative unwillingness of evolutionary biologists to detach themselves from the florid arguments of evolutionary psychology. Normally, people in their position will be anxious to cut loose from cranks.

With some sensible exceptions such as Larry Moran and Jerry Coyne, they didn’t cut loose, and there was one obvious reason why they didn’t. They don't want the books balanced. They don’t want any accounting of what Darwinism can actually do.

Now that I have read Edge of Evolution I think I pretty much know why.

It's too bad if we have to admit that we really don't have a good theory of how evolution happens, but apparently we really don't.

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