Thursday, September 29, 2011
Evolutionary Psychology: Vacuous or False?
J.B.S. Haldane famously quipped that "I would lay down my life for two brothers or eight cousins." If this simple mathematical relationship really captures the essence of altruism, then we should find that people are just as willing, on average, to lay down their life for their sibling as for their child. Of course, that is obviously false. What we are left with is studies showing that foraging robots obey the relationship! So, what is true about evolutionary psychology (in this regard) has been known for a long time: "Blood is thicker than water" and so on. What is novel about it is falsified with about a minute's thought.
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