Best books on Evolutionary Psychology

November 4, 2015


Chris Nickels for NPR

There’s been a lot of kerfuffle on the intertubes about the value of evolutionary psychology, the field that studies the evolutionary roots of human thought, language, and behavior. I want to weigh in here with my answer to the question posed in the title, and my answer is, “Certainly not!”

Now I am known as a critic of evolutionary psychology, and I have been quite critical. For example, I’ve published two scathing critiques (one with Andrew Berry) of Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer’s unfounded theories of the adaptive significance of rape (see references below). I have gone after the popular distortions of evolutionary psychology that appear in the press or books (e.g., my comments on David Brooks’s New Yorker article “Social animal”—an article subsequently turned into a dreadful book). And I have criticized some evolutionary psychologists for failing to police the speculative excesses of their colleagues. But I’ve never maintained that the entire field is worthless, nor do I think that now. In fact, there’s some good stuff in it, and it’s getting better.

I have seen evolutionary psychology begin to mature with its criticisms and disclaimers of its more radical exponents (e.g., Satoshi Kanazawa), and its increasing concentration on evidence and testability rather than just storytelling. Although I don’t keep up with it as much as I once did, I do teach some of it in my introductory evolution class. I have to admit, though, that as the field has evolved, I’ve become less critical of it as a whole. That is, I think, as it should be!

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Source: whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com

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