A New Thought

No I don’t mean a new thought in the history of humankind, I mean something just occurred to me that I had personally never thought of before.

One of the most common objections to the concept of evolutionary biology is the hostility to the possibility that personality traits, to some degree, might be innate rather than learned. For the opponents of this sort of study, the main issue is that it seems to fly against the concept of free will as if acknowledging a genetic effect on personality traits or behavioral tendencies were the same as saying that the genes control the mind absolutely (witness the pejorative terms used by that camp biological reductionism, genetic determinism, etc.) One of the most prevalent and enigmatic arguments, however, seems to be a rebuttal of one that the evolutionary biologists (to my knowledge), have never made. The common form of it goes something like this:

I’m not much bothered by people who think there are unless they are using it to defend that all women are whores, that women all love being in the kitchen and pumping out children, or that men have to rape because it’s just in their biology, or, you get the point.

That was an example I pulled from an online argument but it is highly representative of arguments I have seen against evolutionary biology. I would like to draw attention to the last part of it because no evolutionary biologist, to my knowledge, has ever asserted that men have to rape because it is in their biology or that (the other common straw man argument) that men should then be exculpated from such behavior if it can be proven that rape is a behavior for which there has been an evolutionary advantage in some instances.

This fallacious idea that evolutionary biologists are laboring toward a pro-rapist agenda is so persistent and I never was able to figure out why until it occurred to me that it is psychological projection. Since it is those in the nurture camp who so often use their concept of socialization to explain social ills (he was raised wrong, that’s all she knows, etc.), they naturally presume that their opponents are contriving their arguments for the same purposes. It does not occur to them that science is properly the study of how things work rather than how to spin findings so that they become a convenient backup to our pre-existing social positions to wit, science as alibi. This should never be done because if social considerations presuppose the course of science, then certain fields of study will become sacrosanct and others will be regarded as profane, even blasphemous. This type of hamstringing of science has been tried before, by like the Pope or something back in the olden days. It wasn’t helpful. The end.

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