The bad fruits of Social Darwinism are well known. Less well known are ongoing negative influences of modern Darwinian ideas on human behavior.
How Do You Correct Behavior Based on Fake Science?
Have you been led to believe that men are naturally more promiscuous because sperm cells are cheap? that women are more choosy because eggs are costly? It’s all bunk. Phys.org just published the following headline: “Data should smash the biological myth of promiscuous males and sexually coy females.” That’s strong wording: smash, myth. New findings are teaching the opposite: men can be coy, and women promiscuous. But both ideas, being based on Darwinian ideas that people are just animals, can have unspeakably horrible consequences for marriage, family, and civilization.
The article is merciless in its attack on this myth:
These ideas, which are pervasive in Western culture, also have served as the cornerstone for the evolutionary study of sexual selection, sex differences and sex roles among animals. Only recently have some scientists – fortified with modern data – begun to question their underlying assumptions and the resulting paradigm.
If Thomas Kuhn were still living, he would have here a great new illustration of his theory of paradigm shifts and scientific revolutions. The article fingers Charles Darwin himself as the mastermind of this fake science. His disciples took it and ran with it.
These simple assumptions are based, in part, on the differences in size and presumed energy cost of producing sperm versus eggs – a contrast that we biologists call anisogamy. Charles Darwin was the first to allude to anisogamy as a possible explanation for male-female differences in sexual behavior.
His brief mention was ultimately expanded by others into the idea that because males produce millions of cheap sperm, they can mate with many different females without incurring a biological cost. Conversely, females produce relatively few “expensive,” nutrient-containing eggs; they should be highly selective and mate only with one “best male.” He, of course, would provide more than enough sperm to fertilize all a female’s eggs.
Surely this notion was tested, right? The article explains how Angus Bateman, a botanist, ran some experiments one time in 1948 on fruit flies (not human fly-by-nighters). Telling a whopper from this miniscule test, he alleged that the promiscuous-male-choosy-female scenario “was a near-universal characteristic of all sexually reproducing species.” In 1972, Robert Trivers amplified on the idea, talking about males’ “cheap investment” in sperm. Read the following quote, and think about what sexually active guys in dorm rooms are supposed to think about normal behavior after evolutionary biology class:
In other words, females evolved to choose males prudently and mate with only one superior male; males evolved to mate indiscriminately with as many females as possible. Trivers believed that this pattern is true for the great majority of sexual species.
The problem is, it isn’t true! The article explains many counter-examples. Men have just as much reason to be careful about their sex cells. It’s not the number; it’s the biological cost, the article explains. Semen contains many compounds that are expensive to produce. Men can run out of sperm. Consequently, males have every reason to be “choosy” about mating, too. Think of the consequences of poorly-tested bad ideas:
The problem is, modern data simply don’t support most of Bateman’s and Trivers’ predictions and assumptions. But that didn’t stop “Bateman’s Principle” from influencing evolutionary thought for decades.
Now get this: the article—still founded on evolutionary notions that people are just animals—makes matters even worse. Based on the latest Darwinian notions about sex, the article claims that females tend to be just as promiscuous as males. Think about how that will influence college students!
If you think nobody teaches “Bateman’s Principle” any more these days, look at another post on Phys.org that came about the same time, like two ships passing in the night. Steiner Branslet writes about “One night stand regrets.” Another study supposedly shows that women have more regrets than men about casual sex. Look what it’s based on:
“Women and men differ fundamentally in their sexual psychology,” says Professor Buss. “A key limitation on men’s reproductive success, historically, has been sexual access to fertile women. These evolutionary selection pressures have created a male sexual mind that is attentive to sexual opportunities.”
The quality of one’s sexual partner in short-term relationships plays a lesser role biologically for men. Assuming women did not avoid having sex with them, men who ran from woman to woman and got them pregnant would have scored best in the evolutionary race.
Sounds like Bateman’s Principle, right? Sure. Men just act the way evolution makes them act. “Female choice—deciding when, where, and with whom to have sex— is perhaps the most fundamental principle of women’s sexual psychology,” says one of the evolutionists in the article, referring implicitly to the views of Darwin, Bateman and Trivers. How about the guys? “These evolutionary selection pressures have created a male sexual mind that is attentive to sexual opportunities.”
Take these quotes and apply them to the dormitory. Think of all the blessed effects on marriage and family down the line; after all, “Culture does not change biology,” this article admonishes. We can’t fight natural selection. Nor should we.
An overall explanation presumably lies in the fundamental differences between men and women.
The study results support theories of parental investment and sexual strategy: men and women have throughout generations invested differently in their relationships and any children that resulted.
We’re talking evolution psychology here.
Of course, if humans are more than mere animals, the whole conversation is fake science. We have comprehensive instructions from an all-wise Creator on how we are are to choose our sexual behaviors. But to the consensus, that doesn’t qualify as science. They feel we must derive our sexual ethics from the blind processes of natural selection, which couldn’t care a whit about morals.
Other Darwin Fake Science with Evil Fruit
Bateman’s Principle is not the only example of fake science that corrupts culture. Here are more interested readers can investigate:
Social Darwinism in 2017. Can you get away with racism today? Evolutionists appear to have no qualms. In a PNAS paper entitled, “Selection against variants in the genome associated with educational attainment,” no less than 15 evolutionists claim that Icelanders with less education have more kids. “The rate of decrease is small per generation but marked on an evolutionary timescale,” they say. “Another important observation is that the association between the score and fertility remains highly significant after adjusting for the educational attainment of the individuals.” Figure this conundrum out: “This is thus a striking case where a variant associated with a phenotype typically regarded as unfavorable could nonetheless be also associated with increased ‘fitness’ in the evolutionary sense.” Well, if that’s the case, might as well go with the flow. Quit school and have more sex. Darwinism is as Darwinism does.
Myth-busting Neanderthal narrative takes decades. A lengthy piece in the New York Times shows how long it has taken to overcome what CEH calls “historical racism,” the myth that fossil humans were “other” than human. That’s why we give them other species names, like Homo neanderthalensis. NY Times reporter Jon Mooallem interviews the work of Clive Finlayson at Gibraltar who shows many reasons why “Neanderthals were people, too.” He tells how Frenchman Marcellin Boule in 1911 propagated the Neanderthal myth of stoop-shouldered, beetle-browed imbeciles on their way to the cave cookout. “A lot of what he said was wrong,” Mooallem finds from Finlayson. “Still, Boule’s influence was long-lasting. Over the years, his ideologically tainted image of Neanderthals was often refracted through the lens of other ideologies, occasionally racist ones.”
LGBT tales. The inverse influence of culture on science is a fascinating area of philosophy. Check for it in a book review in Science Magazine this week, where Sheri Berenbaum wrestles with the normality of deviant gender roles while reviewing Cordelia Fine’s new book, Testosterone Rex Myths of Sex, Science, and Society (Norton, 2017). Approach this quote like a qualified observer of social influences on science, paying attention to Berebaum’s use of culturally-popular buzzphrases as she plays the academic “On the one hand this, but on the other hand that” game:
I welcome and applaud Fine’s efforts to ground policy in science and to spotlight the false reasoning and dichotomies that appear in popular books and some policies (such as single-sex education). I also recognize (and regret) the long history—and present—of using biology to justify inferior treatment of women. This no doubt contributes to resistance to evidence of biological differences among those seeking gender equality.
The challenge is not to dismiss biological explanations of sex differences but to articulate clearly their implications. We can accept that biology contributes to behavioral sex differences and simultaneously argue that gender inequalities are not intractable. Rather than rejecting biological differences, we must seek to reveal the nonsense in the arguments that brain and behavioral sex differences justify discrimination, segregation, and differential treatment of the sexes.
Shocking but true. At Live Science, Jonathan Sadowsky of Case Western Reserve University tells about “the wild history of electroconvulsive therapy.” Early shock treatments were horrifying to watch; modern ones are milder, he says. While not directly tied to Darwinian theory, this article assumes the brain is merely a physical organ, and that shocking it with electrical impulses can help with “mental illnesses” that are assumed to be mere biological abnormalities. While some forms of depression have biological causes, what about mental illnesses that have a spiritual root or stem from true guilt? The following quote shows how scientific thinking is often tied to the culture of the day. This example is from the 1950s. Are scientists today culpable of such “medicalizing behavior”?
At that time, ECT was also used as a “treatment” for homosexuality, then considered by psychiatrists to be an illness. This was not a major part of ECT practice, but this is not a comfort to gay people who received the treatment, for whom it could be traumatizing. The psychiatrists who used ECT in this way sincerely believed they were trying to help sick people, which serves as a warning against “medicalizing” behavior, and assuming that this will reduce stigma. This use of ECT did not last, in part because there was no evidence it did alter anyone’s sexuality. But it survived in the social memory of the therapy.
Punish nations with carbon penance. Nature’s editorial this week says, “Base the social cost of carbon on the science.” The very title assumes that science can speak definitively on something as global as climate a hundred years from now, when we can’t even predict the weather 15 days out. New unknowns and revisions come out weekly, as we have reported (1/18/17); just today, Phys.org said that humans, not climate, caused the extinction of megafauna in Australia 45,000 Darwin years ago. While not tied to Darwinian evolution directly, this editorial shares the assumptions of scientism and millions of years. Nature’s anti-Trumpism comes out again in the article, accusing the new US president and his appointees of “disregard for science” even though the Editors acknowledge, “There is, of course, plenty of room for debate.”
Fake science and false certainty. In closing, we should consider the views of a Worldview op-ed column in Nature: “Anita Makri argues that the form of science communicated in popular media leaves the public vulnerable to false certainty.” Yet she argues that scientists should “Give the public the tools to trust scientists.” Mouthing Pontius Pilate, she begins, “What is truth?” Of the two groups she works in that are concerned with truth (scientists and journalists), she believes that journalists are doing a good job (despite all the evidence for fake news in the mainstream media, complained about by conservatives, like Breitbart News; see also Breitbart’s report on BBC’s admission they’ve been biased; meanwhile, New Scientist is overtly publishing a very biased and unscientific series, “Resisting Trump”). But “Scientists need to catch up, or they risk further marginalization in a society that is increasingly weighing evidence and making decisions without them.” Science is “losing its relevance as a source of truth,” she worries.
Yet further reading reveals her faith in scientism. The only purveyors of fake news are the conservatives, she suggests with a link to another Nature story accusing Breitbart News of that. To Makri, scientists don’t tell lies; they just don’t have all the facts yet. Scientists may have gaps in their knowledge, but it will eventually catch up to the truth, because in scientism, science works as a truth generator in due time—the most reliable truth generator in the world. “Current debates about truth are far from trivial,” she ends. “More scientists and communicators of science need to get involved, update practices and reposition themselves in a way that gets with the times and shows that science matters — while it still does.” In other words, scientists don’t have a truth problem; just a talking points problem (echoed in Nature’s interviews with three scientists about how to solve “post-truth predicaments”). One wonders what would be these “experts“‘ responses to the paradigms above about promiscuity, Neanderthals, electroshock therapy, racism and the other matters that have really hurt real people under the guise of “scientific truth.”
After the historical and current examples we listed above, do you trust scientists when it comes to their pronouncements about how people should live and behave? Jesus said it succinctly with timeless wisdom: “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15–20). A species puts out what is in its genes.
One scientist wrote a letter to Nature that bears quoting. “Beware of scientists wielding red pens,” he titles his comment about censorship.
By inviting scientists to take their ‘red pens to the Internet’ and grade online sources of science reporting, Phil Williamson implies that science is the primary and final voice in public discussion (Nature 540, 171; 2016). This disregards other ways in which people make sense of their lives through political debate, social context, personal connections or beliefs (see also D. Sarewitz Nature 522, 413–414; 2015). It stems from the naive myth of science as a disinterested producer of neutral truths.
Science has a delicate relationship with society. Both have the right to speak and both shape one another — for better or worse. Governance and government rely increasingly on a science that is embedded in socio-political arenas populated by scientists, policymakers and citizens, among others. Not every expertise is equally credible, but a democratic society should allow each one to have a voice.
To discredit them online may feel like defending the honour and public status of science, but it is a form of censorship. Science cannot impose its truths through power play — it must convince through symmetrical and open conversation.
Whoa! Did you get that?
In that second link, Sarewitz had said this:
Scientists are not elected. They cannot represent the cultural values, politics and interests of citizens — not least because their values may differ significantly from those of people in other walks of life. A 2007 study on the social implications of nanotechnology, for instance, showed that nanoscientists had little concern about such technologies eliminating jobs, whereas the public was greatly concerned (see ‘A matter of perspective’). Each group was being rational. Nanoscientists have good reason to be optimistic about the opportunities created by technological frontiers; citizens can be justifiably worried that such frontiers will wreak havoc on labour markets.
Unfortunately, such voices of reason are often drowned out by Big Scientism.