Frank writes:

< I was puzzled while watching the Golden Globes (for a few minutes) by the 
apparent conflict between the themes of "Me Too" and "Time's Up"(?) and the 
very provocative display of women's bodies. >

“I’ll stop using my sex appeal as a weapon when you stop using your hands as a 
(Why should I compromise for the greater good when you won’t?  That is the 
worst victimization..)

From: Friam [] On Behalf Of Frank Wimberly
Sent: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 4:27 PM
To: The Friday Morning Applied Complexity Coffee Group <>
Subject: Re: [FRIAM] the pseudoscience of evolutionary psychology?

This is not particularly relevant to Dave's essay but was stimulated by his 
questions about physical attraction between genders.  I was puzzled while 
watching the Golden Globes (for a few minutes) by the apparent conflict between 
the themes of "Me Too" and "Time's Up"(?) and the very provocative display of 
women's bodies.  I wonder if Jacques Lacan's insight that "Man's desire is the 
desire of the other" is relevant.  In this case: women want to be desired but 
not to be possessed or seduced.  Note that their bodies are on display to 
who-knows-how-many strangers. A warm, affectionate relationship with that 
number of men is not possible.  On the other hand, maybe it's a question of 
asserting alphaness among women.  I don't presume to know whether either 
speculation is the case.

Frank Wimberly<>

Phone (505) 670-9918

On Feb 14, 2018 3:42 PM, "Prof David West" 
<<>> wrote:
Until this week I was blissfully unaware of Jordan Petersen. Two hours of 
YouTube research later my beta male mellow has been well and truly harshed. Be 
that as it may, the area of "evolutionary psychology" is interesting and I 
would like to respond to Nick's request to discuss it further.

I apologize in advance for the length of the post.

At the outset I would assert that Peterson's assertions have nothing to do with 
evolutionary psychology as I understand it because the 'evolution" in question 
is biological evolution. The grounds for this assertion will follow a bit of 
story telling.

Once upon a time there was a context (we will call it Nature, or Gaia if you 
want some personification) and a homogeneous population  of organisms. Nature 
provided a plethora of distinct and distinctive niches; into which the 
organisms flowed and began to exploit. Most often each niche required some kind 
of particularistic change in the organism occupying that niche and voila - 

if the niche were static, if Nature was static and unchanging, we would have 
diversity but no evolution. The diversity could mask itself as 'evolutionary' 
just because adjacent niches could marginally idiosyncratic requiring 
marginally idiosyncratic adaptations and we have finches with different beaks.

Evolution requires either: change in the niche or differential efficiency among 
the organisms (otherwise homogeneous) occupying that niche. If the rate of 
change in Nature is slow enough or the efficiency gradient is not too steep, 
the conditions are created for adaptation over time. True the finches 
adaptations occur over time, over generations of finches, but one more element 
is essential for evolution as I understand it — an increase in complexity.

It is this 'adaption over time' along with 'increasing complexity' that naive 
people like me take to be "evolution."

Our most primitive ancestors were a product of this kind of evolution - 
biological evolution.

Our most primitive ancestors almost certainly had a "psychology" given that the 
only requirement to develop one is sufficient "self awareness" (sorry Nick) to 
differentiate between 'this' and that' with 'this' very rapidly becoming "I" 
and 'that' becomes anything and everything else.

Now "I" and 'other' is kind of lonely. and probably not a good adaption or 
evolutionary move, so gradations of 'Other' ensue and we have the foundation 
for "Us" and "Them" and "Other." This allows basic social organization and 
interaction of the sort we still see in primates and would have seen in among 
our most ancient ancestors.

The closest approximation to what was, would be the few hunter-gatherer 
societies known to cultural anthropologists and the recreations that arose when 
archeological findings were compared to extant hunter-gatherers. It would not 
be unreasonable to assume that the 'psychology' of these ancestors was the 
product of biological evolution as much as the physiological evolution.

So - first test for Petersen: were "alpha males" present in those societies? If 
yes, then he has some, minimal, grounds for asserting evolutionary 
psychological roots for his current claims.

Unfortunately for him, the answer is no. The closest approximation would be 
'leadership' roles. But those roles were - as near as we can determine - both 
situational and ephemeral. Herd of bison walking by? The most experienced bison 
hunter assumed leadership and organized the band to run them over a cliff. Hunt 
over? So is the leadership.

The only person in the group that had lifetime status as a result of 
specialized ability was the shaman and SHE was definitely not an alpha male.

Shortly after the emergence of the "I" came language and, very importantly, 
story. The ground is set for an alternative, mostly complementary, form of 
evolution — cultural evolution. Instead of waiting to evolve fur, like the 
polar bear, so we could inhabit the arctic, cultural evolution led us to 
wearing the polar bear's fur instead.

Here Petersen might, but I doubt it, find some antecedents for his absurdities. 
  -- unless it has happened in the last decade no one has ever been able to 
explain why 'men hunt and women gather', a pretty universal division of labor 
in hunter-gatherer and antecedent cultures.
 -- why have all cultures (excepting one small group on the south of the Black 
Sea a few thousand years ago) been patriarchal? (There are lots of matrilineal 
cultures, but that is different.)
-- why, according to anthropologist Maria Lepowski, is there only one culture, 
in historical times, based on sex/gender equality. (The pre-WWII Vanuatu.)
  -- why, statistically speaking, are men attracted to women having the 
appearance of fecundity (physical symmetry, developed breasts, width of pelvic 
girdle, hence hips) and women are attracted to men with the appearance of power 
(fame, money, social position, all being secondary indicators).

Don't shoot the messenger for the last one. Merely reporting what was learned 
in a year long university course in sex and gender across cultures - historic 
and prehistoric.


On Wed, Feb 14, 2018, at 9:20 AM, Pieter Steenekamp wrote:
It may be difficult to quantify evolutionary psychology, but that does not mean 
it is pseudoscience. Like string theory that's also difficult to quantify, the 
scientific method is also applicable to evolutionary psychology.

I support the view as expressed in
"Just as Darwin's theory of natural selection was almost immediately perverted 
to justify cruel bigotry (Social Darwinism, eugenics), so evolutionary 
psychology is readily twisted to buttress prejudice. This does not make 
evolutionary psychology wrong, any more than the brutality of Social Darwinism 
made evolutionary theory wrong, but it does suggest that claims rooted in it 
should be assessed very carefully, both by those reading them and those writing 

On 13 February 2018 at 23:07, uǝlƃ ☣ 
<<>> wrote:
I remain fascinated by the neoreactionaries (most of whom have ceded their soap 
boxes to their alt-right offspring).  And Google's tendency to promote fringe 
garbage ( 
landed Jordan Peterson in my Youtube recommendations awhile back.  Based on the 
videos Youtube recommended, he sounded like a typical right-wing 
pseudo-intellectual.  But when I noticed Sam Harris taking him seriously, I 
thought I'd look a little closer.  Sure enough, the majority of his online 
lectures spout fairly reasonable (albeit justificationist) rhetoric ... a lot 
like Harris and fellow right-wing flirt Jonathan Haidt, both of whom appeal to 
our xenophobic friends for differing reasons.

I'm reminded of the argument I made on this list some time ago that, although I 
believe open source is necessary for pretty much all things, it *facilitates* 
nefarious action by obscurity.  Because your library (e.g. RSA backdoors or 
JavaScript cryptocurrency miners) has so much code in it, and is just one 
library in a gamut of libraries you invoke, there's absolutely no way you can 
*trust* that stack ... even if it's FOSS and gets lots of eyeballs.

Peterson, Harris, and Haidt, rely on the overt reasonability of 90% of what 
they say in order to Trojan Horse the racist or otherwise questionable content 
of the other 10%.  Sure, they make a *technical* effort to weight their 
assertions.  And that's laudable.  (Slate Star Codex and Alexander's ilk do 
this well with their "epistemic status" rating, displayed fairly prominently 
most of the time.)  But this raises the reason I'm posting this to FriAM.  The 
quote from the Alternet article is (should be) provocative:
"Devotees of the pseudoscience of evolutionary psychology are fond of this 
particular maneuver: locate some behavior in the more ancient branches of the 
tree of life and project it forward across eons to explain little Johnny 
pulling little Susie’s pigtails, or the collapse of Lehman Brothers, or the 
Holocaust, or whatever. In any case, I like to imagine the diaphanous, 
energy-based extraterrestrials in their invisible starships, so unutterably 
alien that they gaze upon man and lobster and can’t tell them apart."

In particular re: Peterson, I've actually *used* (although mostly jokingly) the 
alpha- beta-male (false) dichotomy at cocktail parties ... to justify why I, as 
a proud beta male, am a wallflower.  But now, I'm worried that (like the many 
memes I learned from my libertarian friends) it's not merely a useful fiction, 
but complete garbage:

☣ uǝlƃ

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