Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Survival of the Sexiest: How Evolutionary Psychology Went Viral

Within the academy, many of [Evolutionary Psychology]'s methods have been questioned and even discredited. Yet even as academics continue to point out its flaws, the mainstream media have increasingly accepted evolutionary psychology as a mode of explaining human behavior ... Many scientists rejected sociobiology for its lack of methodological rigor. The Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould described Wilson’s work as a series of Just So Stories, after Rudyard Kipling’s volume fancifully explaining phenomena like “How the Tiger Got Its Stripes.” Gould’s point was that the new discipline created fictional origin myths, projecting modern ideas onto an imaginary past. Without hard evidence of how our prehistoric ancestors met and mated, how could scientists make claims about the evolutionary basis of our behavior? ... By the early 1980s, sociobiology desperately needed a rebrand. Evolutionary psychology rose to the task ... An entire discipline now existed to tell the cold, hard truths about human nature, and the public was ready to listen. In the early 1990s, evolutionary psychology went mainstream. more

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