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Evolutionary Psychology is like Leibnitizian Optimisim [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_of_all_possible_worlds] where God is replaced by evolution. It does nothing to aid in our understanding except to reassure us that everything that is is as it should be. It's essentially an ideology of apathy.

Leibnitz's Argument goes like so:

>1. God [Evolution] has the idea of infinitely many universes.

>2. Only one of these universes can actually exist.

>3. God[Evolution]'s choices are subject to the principle of sufficient reason, that is, God[Evolution] has reason to choose one thing or another.

>4. God[Evolution] is good.

>5. Therefore, the universe that God[Evolution] chose to exist is the best of all possible worlds.[1]

FYI, Voltaire made a nice parody of this ideology in his book Candide.




It might be an ideology of apathy if, once finding a plausible evolutionary cause for psychological phenomenon, you cease the investigation. Which you shouldn't. Shutting down a line of inquiry with criticism like this does nothing to aid our understanding either - consider the idea on its merits, as (if you will..) a pure function of its premises.


There is a profound difference between magical thinking and science. Once you build scientific frameworks (such as EP is part of), you can move much faster in interesting and useful directions that may seem unrelated and yet all connect together.

For example I've used a lot of psychology (based on EP, not Freud) in constructing communities that build open source software.

And we are using this thing called the "Internet" that lets total strangers converse, at no cost. And largely built on free and open source. Amazing, huh?

If you believe that science does "nothing to aid in our understanding," and yet you are quick to profit from the fruits of the rational world that science built, that would make you rather a hypocrite.


> I've used a lot of psychology (based on EP, not Freud) in constructing communities that build open source software.

Very interesting. If it is not a secret, can you share a list of guidelines or tips?


Sure, I've written a book "Social Architecture" on this, and many articles. You can read the book freely at https://www.gitbook.com/book/hintjens/social-architecture/de.... It's also in print and Kindle from Amazon.

The psychology of collaboration is (in my model, which is of course wrong, just accurate enough to be more useful than ignorance) based on emotions that we've evolved to work together. Most of what I tested and documented over the last decade came from study of failure (most projects fail and you can learn a lot by looking into why), and experience of how to make communities that could survive the kinds of conflict we see. Actually getting a full model for the emotions took a lot longer, finished that a year or so ago.

You can see the results in e.g. the C4 process, our RFC for working together in the ZeroMQ community: http://rfc.zeromq.org/spec:42/C4/

My articles are on http://hintjens.com, starting in 2010 or so.


Thanks writing and sharing those. Very good insights there. Also sorry, didn't recognize your name at first as Pieter Hintjens (I wouldn't have asked as already had the link to the book in my bookmarks). I periodically refer to "The Toolbox" when discussing development practices at work.

In professions which are considered more rational and intellectual like programming, there is a danger of discounting the effect of emotions. Emotions are always there under the surface guiding and controlling things.

The more rational the person thinks they are the more they will rationalize their decisions. So when someone proposes using say Protobufs as a serialization mechanism, instead of Thrift, for example, might be doing it because the person who likes Thrift in the group offended them somehow. But that will never come up in the official reason, there will be some benchmark or list of point why Protobufs might be better.

Or maybe they had a fight with their family and they come to work and start shutting down a project and shuffling developers around to feel empowered, and there will always be a seemingly rational reason for it.

Thanks againg for writing that book and sharing your experience. There is just not enough of that, especially focused on open source projects. Some projects naturally converge and discover some of those principles from the toolbox, but having them written down from someone with experience is priceless.


Yes, we tend to discount emotions, our own and others'. It is amazing in retrospect given how important these are in driving us. What I learned with groups was to explicitly ask people, "how do you feel?" and then to insist until I get answers that match what people are showing, rather than saying or claiming.

Especially, "how do you feel about what person X is doing?"

It's not a gender thing or even a nerd thing, really. It's the same with musicians, for instance (I used to jam a lot), they can be really reticent about saying what they actually feel about other people.

Basically our fear of being rejected by the group, and shame at having feelings that no-one else is expressing make us unable to speak up. Since few people can debug their own emotional stacks, the fear and shame dominate, and stop the (e.g.) anger at an asshat messing up the project from coming forwards.

So actually asking people the specific question can change a lot. Mostly, I'll start with "are you enjoying this (the way things are going)?" knowing they'll admit "no" and then we can work it out from there.


This is a good observation. I've seen this happen in work situations multiple times, and I've felt those feelings as well. Which is why one of my life goals is to learn the skill of objective judgement without being influenced by emotions unrelated to the technical merits of a decision.

I believe the correct name for that personality attribute might be 'mature'.


narrator is implying that in fact no EP is part of magical thinking, not science. A view that any quick googling will back up as being not terribly controversial actually.


Many people dislike EP intensely (and have attacked its developers, such as Steven Pinker) because they are passionate (I'd say fanatical) believers that culture is what defines us, not biology. So yes, you can find a lot of hate for EP. That doesn't mean much.

If you have studied EP or even human nature at all, then you realize quite rapidly that the blank slate proponents (who claim we're born with nothing in our minds, waiting for culture to define us) are delusional in some profound way.

It is clear, and Pinker makes this argument well in his book The Blank Slate, that we're the product of biology (EP) tuned and shaped by our environment.

To claim that this, decades of careful documented research and reproducible results, is magical thinking and not science is... hallucinatory.


Not all evo-psych critics are blank slate fans. Some of us just like our science to be based on repeatable experiments. The truth in evo-psych, that humans are animals that evolved in various environments, sometimes has only a tenuous connection to the claims of evo-psych. (e.g. that any particular aspect of modern life has some sort of link to some particular aspect of life on the savanna -- how could we possibly know that?)


Well, that's not entirely true (while I do admit the nurture bunch are loud).

Some of us are skeptical on EP's results more than EP itself. I believe that is undeniable that some (or most) behavior is imprinted within our genes, animal domestication being a pretty solid proof.

That doesn't invalidate the fact that most of the time, when I read some study on the field feels more like conjectures made fit in the researcher's beliefs; some flawed logic where the consequent is used to prove the antecedent, and some dubious experiment most of the time made in other species (biological studies on other species don't translate pretty well on humans, and yet, we try the same with a less measurable parameter?) It's even worse if you happen to read some generalist media approach to EP, where EP is used to push down the editor's narrative.

In short, some of us are careful on EP not because it's not a promising field, but because these days is being used to prove everything and it's opposite.


I think everything you want from EP is available in social psychology textbooks like "The Social Animal" by Pratkanis. Unlike EP practitioners the authors actually start out with falsifiable hypothesis and then conduct actual experiments to derive their theories. A lot of people take the results of actual social psychological research and rediscover it with a non-falsifiable EP justification. That's not science, that's just taking scientific observations and reinterpreting them as the will of God or "Evolution" in this case.


> decades of careful documented research and reproducible results, is magical thinking and not science is... hallucinatory.

Right, the same careful research that helps me characterize personality disorders in my day job. You really should stop doing hobbyist research, because The Psychopath Code proves how badly it can end.


Can you tell us what's wrong with The Psycopath Code and/or the parent's arguments? I can't tell based on your comment.


It would be really useful to have an actual concrete argument of how and why, rather than vague "your amateurish book proves how bad your book is" statements.

Edit: ah, checked your comment history, you've been trolling for a while HN. Enjoy yourself, it's a weird hobby but hey. Some people like to cook and make music, and other people... they troll.

http://archive.is/5DbNQ


None of the posts in that archive are troll posts. Another false claim from Hintjens.




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