Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Evolutionary Psychology

I'm not a big fan of evolutionary psychology as I generally encounter it online.  The greatest sin, I think is treating evolutionary success as some sort of moral endorsement.  A close second is that absolutely annoying tendency to produce unfalsible, "just so" narratives for why the particular trait the writer is already invested in must have been advantageous to our early hominid ancestors. Working from the conclusion to build a narrative rather than looking at the facts and letting them lead one to the conclusion. 

Still, just because I give the practice little to no credence doesn't mean I don't recognize the value a certain segment of the population ascribes to these "just so" narratives.  I'm not proud and am more than willing to meet people on their own intellectual battlefields in order to advance my causes.  So while I'm no fan of evolutionary psychology narratives, I've constructed one for the benefit of those in the audience who do value them. 

Some people seem to have taken the bizzare standpoint (often used against any sexuality besides 1 man 1 woman to make a baby), that pedophiles are evolutionarily "wrong" because they don't reproduce.  Well, there are a few benefits from the point of view of pedophilia as a reproductively viable strategy. 

Consider that our species suffers from a very prolonged maturation period, during which we accumulate information and experience.  Our bodies do not reach full maturity for a ridiculously long time as compared with other animals.  This extended period of childhood means more time and effort must be spent protecting and rearing the young. 

As a result, individuals with tendencies that draw them to spend more time with children will expend more such time and effort.  As a result, the offspring of these individuals (or if they have none, the offspring of their siblings which carry their genes as well) are more able to survive to adulthood, and learn essential skills due to the increased expenditure of resources on those children by the adult in question.  The more children carrying your genes that survive to adulthood, the more viable it is as an evolutionary strategy. 

To take a somewhat more extreme track:

Neoteny, or pedomorphism is the process whereby an organism retains traits from its immature stages into sexual maturity.  Humans are a neotenous species, resembling juvenile great apes more than we resemble the adults.  The brain plasticity that pushes us out ahead of the curve in terms of mental ability is a side-effect of that process.  We see the same thing in other neotenous species (comparing dogs with wolves for example), it's just more pronounced in humans.

With domesticated animals, neoteny tends to be a side-effect of our selective breeding choices.  With humans not having anyone selectively breeding them, that only leaves the one option for how those traits were selected for.

1 comment:

  1. You were sending KP through messenger app and confessed to collecting lots of it. Disgustingmy hopen the FBI catches on to you