Human beings through all their history and definitely today still have demonstrated a selective consciousness. This selectiveness is caused by the fact that the brain is not able to gather all the available information it comes across, it has finite capabilities. As a result there have been evolved efficient unconscious mechanisms that favour the choosing of the most important information. This importance emerges generally speaking according to how much they favor our existence and our reproductive success and most of the times is not rational. As I mentioned in Lifestyle on Science, the three basic mechanisms that are used are called delete, distort and overgeneralise. For example, when you are hungry you notice food very easily and ignore other facts at that time. When you are homeless you are not in a situation to notice a cheap advertisement for vacation in Hawaii. When you need to believe that your boyfriend or girlfriend is not cheating at you, in case s/he does, you automatically delete the evidence that proves it. All of these are results of designed adaptations that work in the unconscious level because this way they are very efficient. The time that the stimuli needs to reach consciousness would have been enough to find us killed and, of course, the ones that tended to evolve this trait have long been gone…
I mentioned the above because I have noticed them happening inside the field of Psychology which should have been the first to recognise them and do the best to avoid them. When Darwin first published the “On The Origin of Species” it indeed contained the theory of Natural Selection even though Darwin have been travelling for two years with the Bingle trying to understand more on his strange views. Of course this is not enough as an evidence. But this was back in the second half of the 19th century. Now is 2013 and technology has much more evolved, as well, plenty of brains have given their lives to find evidence. Paleontology, zoology, anthropology, genetics, neuroscience etc have so many findings that don’t provide any space for one to just declare that is a theory. Especially from “scientists” that have nothing better to propose…
The offensive environment exists even in the highest scientific levels. Leda Cosmides has had a profound impact on the field of psychology. Yet after doing a dissertation that has since been cited thousands of times, it took her 5 years to get an academic job. In a recently filmed interview, she tells the story of evolutionary psychology’s beginnings. But this is what my whole point is. The name theory that came from Darwin has still been preserved without being questioned with the purpose to just blame the sector , which actually is not a sector because everything is first and foremost evolutionary. So they just ignore everything that has the word evolution inside. This means that in between has taken place a delete or distort in their brains about the fossils from multiple ages all around the world. These mechanisms work because their existence in the very end is harmed, it’s hard for a human being to see wrong in things s/he has been studying for years and has committed his/her life to them. The Social Psychologist Dr. Robert Cialdini described this phenomenon in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion at the 3rd chapter: Commitment and Consistency: Hobgoblins of the Mind.
Any way, with all the above I am not talking about a specific example, these are general observations. However, due to my selective observation as a human I can easily spot when something like this happens. Regarding my latest article, Why Intelligence is Sexy I came across a facebook conversation below my article, shared by a facebook friend. So I thought that it would be a good idea to share it with you and explain how I see the arguments. What mostly concerns me is that you make your own judgements above my views.
The three girls, as well the boy, are social psychology masters graduates so they are supposed to have proven knowledge and experience in the sector of psychology and science in general.
Here is the first comment of Jess. Later you will understand that she was very spontaneous in her action and I’m sure she regretted it. Watch, she doesn’t talk about evidence. Instead she makes a vague blame without at least the single respect to the author that has given a few hours of his time to write it for free and hundreds of other hours to understand. Don’t forget, Jess is a psychologist and the author is not, he has one degree in mechanical engineering and one economics. I am sure this makes her angry.
Not to mention about her unbelievable disrespect on a prominent Psychologist with a so influential work such as Dr. Geoffrey Miller on whose research the article was based. Specifically his book The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature.
Niki did the natural thing, proposed that she can go to the blog where is the appropriate place to explain her points by presenting arguments, of course.
In the first comment, Jess now states that is afraid that Evolutionary Psychology will cause discriminations but she doesn’t say how she disagrees with the findings so she obviously gets out of topic or maybe proves that she doesn’t have any valid counterevidence. She also informs us that she is a very busy scientist without taking into account if anyone cares about it.
Afterwards, she suddenly finds time but only for a start. For a few pieces of “valuable” information… Even though we are expecting to see an opposite evidence, once again she just doesn’t like EP because she is afraid that the equality on gender roles will be affected. It’s like showing a preference to chocolate or strawberry, whatever tastes better. Or maybe knives should be banned because some people have used them to kill other people. She characterises evolutionary psychology as theory. Like philosophy. Maybe she can go and jump from a building because gravity is also a theory. Once again I notice a delete, a distortion and an overgeneralization of a whole sector of knowledge full of experiments. Moreover, what is heteronormative? Another unproved label they taught her to say every time she comes across evolution…
Notice Jess’s comments all the time. She never even implies about seeking the truth.
Jess mentions that proofs never exist without discrimination. Well, that was not the point. Niki explained that a scientist seeks the truth and shouldn’t be ignoring any evidence. And mostly that s/he should try to not pose discriminations in his/her findings. Not that s/he thinks that s/he knows the ultimate truth. She insists calling Evolutionary Psychology a theoretical framework. This time Niki explains to her better why it is not. Also, Niki reminds to her but I think she actually informs her about how Evolutionary psychology works and why it is not so much differentiated from Biology, as Jess would prefer to happen.
Lastly, Jess now finds that psychology is subjective but in her first comment was sure that the article is wrong in many points…
You cannot see any comment above Niki’s because when I took the pictures Jess had already deleted it. I cannot prove it but I can just describe what she said. She called the article as a pop article which of course is not an official publication but she just wanted to underestimate it due to lack of arguments. This was definitely an ad hominem. That’s why Niki replies that there exists too much reference to characterize it like this. I don’t know about you but personally I care about the other one’s arguments and proofs and not if s/he has the label of a psychologist or of an astronaut.
Jess mentioned that there exists much counterevidence against Evolutionary psychology so Niki for the second time recommends her to visit the blog.
Moreover, Jess had once again mentioned more or less that the psychologist should choose the good evidence and avoid the bad evidence for the good of ethics. Her reason was that she wants to help people because she cares too much about them. Well above all, I don’t think that is very helpful neither ethical a scientist not to inform people about basic psychological traits that too possibly contain… It seems to me that Jess never thought about science the way Niki explained and to me sounds very obvious. If this was another case I wouldn’t even bother to mention: “You should have been aware that the chief characteristic which distinguishes the scientific method from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself, supporting a theory when a theory’s predictions are confirmed and challenging a theory when its predictions prove false.”
Here the baton is in the hands of Anne who obviously came for help after Jess’s withdrawal. After liking Jess’s comments was shocked. The real shock in this case is that Anne, like Jess, seems to not be aware of the basic definition of the scientific method . l couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw them, both, stating clearly that they pick the evidence they prefer.
Anne mentions some other things that to me seem out of discussion. About fMRI, I think she means that it is valid but not completely factual. Yeah, ok, we said that, and she doesn’t look to have a problem that EP is using fMRI.
Then she mentions that a scientist should care about his influence or contribution to society. Well, I’ll make some guesses. About the influence; Maybe she means that a scientist should not come to findings that people will not like. What I told you about the shock I had when I saw that there exist these mentalities in science? About contribution; well, I don’t think that Evolutionary Psychology doesn’t contribute with its findings. It has very well contributed to me and, as far as I am concerned, to millions of other people. The sentence about writing for themselves cannot leave me with any guesses of what she meant.
I also didn’t understand her most shock but maybe it was because she didn’t read thoroughly Niki’s previous comment. Or maybe a bell rang. That’s why Niki explains that to her once again. I cannot understand what are her reasons to believe that Niki and EP don’t want to understand and help people.
Lastly comes the best. Anne is sorry that Niki who favors some EP findings is unaware of how to positively contribute to people! That’s funny. And of course I don’t think that Prof Hegarty would teach his students to ignore evidence.
OK, Anne here starts with a contribution to the scientific knowledge. From now on will exist sciences that try hard to be objective and sciences that on purpose avoid researching on subjects that people don’t like to hear. I don’t think that her succesful psychologists would enjoy reading this. It’s undeniable that her practical application of epistemology is similar to mine as a pilot. She isn’t even aware of how should a scientist acquire knowledge.
Moreover, talking about epistemology, if everything is subjective after all then subjective is also subjective! But let’s not enter into the field of epistemology too much and especially into the debate of relativism vs absolutism. Anne not only seems to not be aware of this, but her knowledge of epistemology is proved to be limited to the name.
Did you see Niki mentioning that she doesn’t care about ethics? On the contrary she had written that after we look at the findings, the ethologists and the societies should try to use them in favor of people. Moreover, Niki mentioned that a finding has by any means to be presented. The discrimination is when we hide existing research under the carpet or we on purpose don’t take it into account.
When Anne mentioned that many people become invisible through EP I was convinced that she has never read about it thoroughly neither of evolution. Actually she came without having done her homework. Niki’s explanations are good but I could add others. The whole nature is differentiated. Dogs have different traits than cats. That doesn’t make the one better than the other. Yes, human females have some differences in the brain structure than males which makes them more capable in some situations and less capable in others. That doesn’t imply that they are better or worse in general. Concerning homosexuality, you can read my article Is Gay Natural? where you will read some serious findings and then we can discuss if you notice so much of heteronormativity (a term unexplained by Jess) in it. Biology, as well, regards all humans irrespectively of colour that have the same genetic code. I don’t think Anne was aware of all these.
Anne also has the wisedom to have a clear concept in her mind about the social reality we are experiencing. So she is in the position to question the assumptions of EP. She should have known that many of these assumptions have been questioned in the labs, already, and if she was aware of them she could improve as a psychologist. Well, the truth is that most people believe they have clear knowledge of the reality they experience. The brain needs a schema, it’s a human tendency. And most of the times they acquire it from social conditioning…
I see Anne mentioning all the time that science is subjective when this was never the case. I believe that this is her way of rationalizing why she keeps ignoring so much of evidence. At the same time even if she finds science subjective, she is convinced that EP is wrong. Same as Jess…She mentions epistemology when as I many times mentioned she clearly ignores basic rules of it. That she cannot be choosing the evidence she prefers.
Lastly, she takes out the bazooka and opposes Niki with the horrible ghost of the “many succesful psychologists”. Maybe Niki should fear that. Or maybe invoke, too, the “succesful psychologists” that agree with her. But she didn’t bother because she doesn’t need it. Anne doesn’t take into account that a use of such technics is a straight proof that her substantial arguments are limited.
It is definite that Jess and Anne are “wired” to Popular Psychology as a set of rules and mentalities. And this doesn’t let them to be open to new knowledge that would be helpful to them. They both use popular but unproved labels about EP. Jess likes the label discrimination so much. First she says that EP causes discrimination and then she says that Evolutionary Psychologists present proof that has come from discriminative research! She also calls EP a theory and heteronormative. They both are very generous and repeat that they want to help people. Anne is more emotional and feels sorry that Niki will contribute in a negative manner towards the society like every fanatic opposer of evolution would say. Anne, as well, finds EP not falsifiable. It’s her own way of calling it a theory.
The reason they never talk about seeking the truth is that they both want to have an excuse to ignore Evolutionary Psychology without understanding that this way they tarnish their image irreversibly. They have somehow attached “their” psychology to the “good ones” and EP to the “bad ones”. That’s why Anne predicts the negative contribution of Niki on society. That’s why Jess reacted so spontaneously and wrote the first comment. They react on Niki like she is on the opposite tribe. The ones that are with Anne and Jess will contribute positively to the society and the satanic favors of EP will spread the malice. That’s far above the sci-fi level and comes from the natural tendency to participate in tribes (tribalism) and follow unquestioned axioms. So they claim that if someone is so helpful towards the humanity like them has every right to avoid studying EP.
Fact in science means data, not absolute certainty but “confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.” A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of such facts. The facts of evolution come from observational evidence of current processes, from imperfections in organisms recording historical common descent, and from transitions in the fossil record. Theories of evolution provide a provisional explanation for these facts ~Steven Jay Gould (1981)