Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Flash: Once Again, People Smarter Than You Prove the Examined Life is a Mirage, You Deluded Puppet of Your Selfish Genes

So the proliferation of complex human behaviors, caught up in intricate webs of culture and learned behavior, which appear with regularity in our mass media outlets as being now explained by "some researchers" as having a simplistic "Just-So" evolutionary story to explain them, begins to tire the reader. But I can't resist this most recent one.

"People Argue Just To Win, Scholars Assert." (I'm sorry, who did you say asserted? Oh, "scholars." Thank you.) Yes, yes, you thought the Areopagus and Demosthenes, the Ciceronian orations, the French salons, the great Church Councils, all of that was tied up with complicated motivations bearing on politics, religion, and the great ideas of human history. Put those books away: it's just a spasm of our brain chemistry, acting out over and over again a primordial urge to evolve through debate smackdowns.

I would try to put into words the hundred things wrong with this way of thinking, but since it wouldn't be an attempt to apply reason to the badly thought out, only my genetically hardwired attempt to assert dominance over you, opinionated reader, I will leave it where it lies. Let me just observe, since I can't resist, that I'm charmed by the evolutionary psychologists of the article who are trying to convince me through their well-laid-out reasoning that I ought to believe their story.


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