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November 12th, 2009

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08:57 pm - Fascinating sounding book
A friend of mine just recommended a fascinating sounding book to me. Here's what looks to be an excellent review of "Love of Shopping" is Not a Gene": Problems With Darwinian Psychology by Dr. Anne Innis Dagg. With an M.A. in Genetics & a Ph.D. in animal behavior, Dr. Dagg looks extremely qualified to discuss this issue, and this bit of the review already inclines me to like the book:
Dagg opens the book with what seems to be an issue of personal affront: the story that "many" animals practice infanticide as a means of eliminating the genetic competition. This claim originates in part with Craig Packer, who seemingly lost his head when Dagg dared to point out that the overall data suggested that lionesses, not lions, were apt to kill cubs, and not cubs born to other lionesses, but their own progeny, to give the remaining offspring a better chance of survival. When Packer was sent a paper to review, he sent Dagg a threatening note promising to go public with a "harsh" characterization of her as a "fringe scientist" with a "bizarre obsession." Meanwhile, Dagg's investigation of the references cited in support of infanticide among other animals, especially primates, finds them to be just as specious as the claims of infanticide among lions.
It's definitely very nice to see a biologist discuss the fact that so much of evolutionary psychology is a mixture of just-so stories and reactionary ideology that's dressed up as science. Definitely on my too read list.
Current Mood: pleasedpleased

(3 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:November 13th, 2009 05:48 am (UTC)
It'd be great to see you review it - not least because I'm lazy and in need of fresh talking points to discourage acquaintances from taking evo-psych too seriously. :p
[User Picture]
Date:November 13th, 2009 06:58 am (UTC)
I've always been really skeptical of evolutionary psychology, because its always a) seemed too close to things such as the Bell Curve, and b) has too much of an air of "This is only natural, best not to bother changing things."
[User Picture]
Date:November 14th, 2009 12:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I tend to buy into the "war is inevitable" thing, because I'm a pessimist. I'll need to buy that book, along with Ernest Taube's Good Calories, Bad Calories.

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