September 25, 2007 | David F. Coppedge

Did Evolution Hardwire Our Instincts?

Jeanna Brynner in Live Science is claiming that evolution hard-wired our brains to pay attention to people and animals more than to inanimate threats.  This is based on a paper by evolutionary psychologists at UC Santa Barbara.

The researchers say the finding supports the idea that natural selection molded mechanisms into our ancestors’ brains that were specialized for paying attention to humans and other animals.  These adaptive traits were then passed on to us. “We’re assuming that natural selection takes a long time to build anything anew and that ’s why this is left over from our past,” said study team member Leda Cosmides, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)….
“Having this pop-out attentional bias for animals is sort of a vestigial behavior,” said study team member Joshua New of Yale University’s Perception and Cognition Lab.

For accepting these claims at face value without laughing, Brynner wins Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week along with the perpetrators at UCSB.

Strange that evolution did not create a fear of falling coconuts or poison mushrooms.  Evolution also must have taught us that bear cubs and tiger cubs are cute, even when the mother is snarling a few yards away.  Maybe in a few million years, evolution will finally get it right that electrical outlets are dangerous (if any people remain that survive electrocution).  Maybe then our brains will have gotten it straight that we shouldn’t step in front of speeding vehicles, and that most spiders are harmless and cute.  Long before then, Brynner and the UCSB scientists will have comfortably retired with no fear of falsification.
    Isn’t evolutionary psychology wonderful?  It can explain anything.  All you need is a good imagination and some funding.  Let’s try some intelligently-designed shame on the Darwinian mythmakers to see if they evolve any sense.

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Categories: Dumb Ideas, Early Man

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