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Posts Tagged "evolutionary psychology"

Bering in Mind

The Lustful Human Animal: Cultural Differences in Sexual Harm and Consent

Most of us are convinced that we excel at being clearheaded, humane thinkers when it comes to sex. We appeal, and admirably so, to notions such as harm and consent. But since most of us aren’t anthropologists, we W.E.I.R.D. people (the anthropologist Joe Henrich’s apt acronym for “Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic”) often assume [...]

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Bering in Mind

Getting a Little Racy: On Black Beauty, Evolution and the Science of Interracial Sex

A few weeks ago, Satoshi Kanazawa, a blogger at Psychology Today who was already notorious for his dubious claims about racial differences, especially with respect to intelligence, proclaimed on the basis of a bizarre data analysis that Black women are “objectively” the least attractive females of all the races. Objectively, mind you, which implies that [...]

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Bering in Mind

Homophobia Phobia: Bad Science or Bad Science Comprehension?

Two columns ago, I discussed evolutionary psychologist Gordon Gallup’s theory about the possible adaptive function of homophobia, or, more broadly defined, negative attitudes toward gay people. Central to his position—which, he assures me, has not since wavered—is that homophobic responses "are proportional to the extent to which the homosexual [is] in a position that might [...]

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Bering in Mind

Why do funny ladies like the ladies? The over-representation of lesbians in comedy

Recently I noticed a queer pattern—something that appears, for whatever reason, to have eluded serious academic consideration. Jerry Seinfeld might have opened up this can of worms by saying, "Have you ever noticed how female comedy is dominated by lesbians? Not that there’s anything wrong with that." Not all comediennes, of course, find men as [...]

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Bering in Mind

If Darwin were a sports psychologist: Evolution and athletics

Surprisingly little evolutionarily informed research has been done on our species’ strange love affair with sports. Why do we care so much about such arbitrary and ostensibly functionless displays of physical and mental prowess? Although data derived directly from evolutionary hypotheses are scant, theories abound. In a recent issue of Perspectives in Biology and Medicine [...]

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Bering in Mind

God’s in Mississippi, where the gettin’ is good

At some point over the course of this human life of yours, you may have noticed that wherever there is a trail of woe, God is curiously afoot. At least, since God is often seen both as the cause and the cure of misfortune, the belief in God seems especially likely to be stirred up [...]

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Brainwaves

Why We Need to Study the Brain’s Evolution in Order to Understand the Modern Mind

In the September 17th issue of The New Yorker, Anthony Gottlieb analyzes Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature, a new book by David Barash, a psychology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. Gottlieb’s article is more than just a book review—it’s also the latest in a long line of critiques of evolutionary [...]

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Context and Variation

5 Ways to Make Progress in Evolutionary Psychology: Smash, Not Match, Stereotypes

(Alternate, Twitter-sourced titles: “5 Ways to Prove Darwin Wasn’t Crazy,” “Shut the Eff Up and Science Already,” “5 Ways Psychology Needs to Evolve.”) Evolutionary psychology, the study of human psychological adaptations, does not have a popular or scientific reputation for being rigorous, even though there are rigorous, thoughtful scientists in the field. The field is [...]

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Context and Variation

2012 Best of Context and Variation

This here blog is many things — ladybusiness explainer, bad science outer, and a place where I reflect on higher education and the academic life. Today is the last day of the semester here at the U of I, there’s a lovely dusting of snow on everything, and it seemed like a nice time to [...]

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Context and Variation

Hot for Obama, But Only When This Smug Married Is Not Ovulating

obama-public-domain-images-p

You all must forgive me for this blog post. You see, I am in my premenstrual phase, and so with all my insane-o premenstrual symptoms I simply cannot access the part of my brain that makes political decisions. Perhaps when I get through the devastation and physical wreckage we ladies like to think of as [...]

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Context and Variation

Under the Influence: Naomi Wolf, Biology, and Why We Are More Than Our Vaginas

A women's symbol with a fist inside, a classic feminist symbol.

Readers of this blog are likely already aware of Naomi Wolf’s book Vagina: A New Biography. I’m late to the party, because it just seemed wrong to pile on a feminist more senior to me who, though misguided, is at least working towards equality for women. But the more I read, the harder it has [...]

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Context and Variation

Here is Some Legitimate Science on Pregnancy and Rape

Trigger warning: discussion of violence against women and graphic mention of miscarriage.

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Context and Variation

Your Ability to Handle Your Environment is Correlated with your Hormones

Ziomkiewicz et al 2012 Figure 1 showing HAPS women have higher estradiol and an earlier progesterone curve than LAPS women.

Natural selection acts not on a behavior itself, but on the factors that produce that behavior, and/or the outcome of that behavior. So if we want to have an evolutionary explanation for a behavior, it’s important to understand both what drives it and its consequences. We also need evidence that this behavior (or again, what [...]

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Context and Variation

There Will Be Blood: Follow Up to Skeptically Speaking Podcast

Keeper and Diva cups. And yes, I recommend you try them! Image by Greencolander.

  As many of you have already heard, I was a guest on Skeptically Speaking a few weeks ago, on the topic of why women menstruate. PZ Myers tackled the evolutionary perspective first, and then I got to answer audience questions and talk a little about my own research. Because I think it’s important for [...]

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Context and Variation

Blogging While Female, and Why We Need a Posse

20120122 CCDG scrimmage jamline setup square crop

Twin City Derby Girls, lining up at the start of a jam to support their jammer. My other posse. Photo courtesy of Alex Wild. The women in scienceblogging session at Science Online this year was very different from last year. More people were venting, and what they were venting was scary: stalkers, rape jokes, physical [...]

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Context and Variation

Interrogating Claims about Natural Sexual Behavior: More on Deep Thinking Hebephile

Graph demonstrating that girls who begin giving birth as young adolescents have lower reproductive success in relation to total parity

In his SciAm post addendum (scroll to the bottom), Jesse Bering has been very gracious. This post really isn’t about that now-infamous advice column, but about broader ways to interrogate claims people make. This post is another way of thinking about Sci and my #scio12 session on “Sex, gender and controversy” (see our other session [...]

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Context and Variation

Sex, Gender and Controversy: Scicurious and Kate Clancy’s Science Online 2012 Session

Scicurious and I are leading the “Sex, gender and controversy: writing to educate, writing to titillate” session on Thursday (at 2:45pm, room 1cd) at Science Online 2012. Despite the fact that the discussion at #scio12 will only be an hour long, we managed to fill a two hour Skype conversation with our thoughts and ideas [...]

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Guest Blog

The Data Are In Regarding Satoshi Kanazawa

A Hard Look at Last Week’s "Objective Attractiveness" Analysis in Psychology Today If what I say is wrong (because it is illogical or lacks credible scientific evidence), then it is my problem. If what I say offends you, it is your problem."—Satoshi Kanazawa Satoshi Kanazawa has a problem. It is hard to believe that it [...]

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Observations

Evolutionary psycho-logy: Commandeering genetics to explain why Obama really is a Muslim

Okay, here’s one for the annals, something that is going to make it even more difficult for evolutionary psychology to get the respect the field thinks it deserves. A controversial academic from the London School of Economics has recently penned a blog post for Psychology Today called "If Barack Obama Is Christian, Michael Jackson Was [...]

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Talking back

Evolution Did Not Snap the Brain Together like LEGOS

Evolutionary psychology has typically tried to identify the piece parts of human cognition shaped by the rigors of natural selection. New questions have arisen in this contentious discipline about what exactly is on that parts list—or whether the list itself really exists. One of the foremost debating points centers on whether the brain consists of [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Neil DeGrasse Tyson makes an excellent point, but Larry Summers is still right

A part of former Harvard president Larry Summers's speech continues to be misunderstood (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

  This is a guest post from my friend Chris Martin. Chris (chriscmartin.com) studied psychology and music at Davidson College, human-computer interaction at Georgia Tech, and psychology at the College of William and Mary. He is currently in a sociology doctoral program at Emory University, where he primarily conducts research on psychological well-being, but also [...]

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