A review of responses from EvPsychers about theories of addiction shows that they can't think about psychology - because people on the savannah didn't do so.


The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, December 21, 2010. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.

EvPsychers don't believe in psychological insight - cavemen didn't need it!

I have a theory: People like EvPsych because they have no psychological insights, and they can pick up bite-sized ideas issued by evolutionary psychology in place of being able actually to think about the determinants of human behavior. (Chris Ryan analyzes the TV talk-show shock-jockiness of Kanazawa and his ilk here - note that Saad and Kurzban - who Kanazawa makes clear is a friend and fellow bullshitter - would never do so.)

Here's how I see this occurring in EvPsych terms - back on the savannah, people only had to pay attention to (a) getting food, (b) getting laid - so why they hell would they need to be able to think about human psychology? So why should EvPsychers?

Which brings me back to my critique of Kanazawa's claim that smarter people get drunk more (for which he provided no evidence) with the data that better-educated people binge drink less. We have divergent theories of substance excess and addiction. Mine is psychological - people with a better grip on their worlds drink more often, but are less subject to excessive and loss-of-control drinking; Kanazawa's big idea (so big that he capitalizes it as the Hypothesis) - smarter people seek more novelty and thus get drunk more.

Noting that the Hypothesis doesn't jibe well with data about drunkenness and addiction, I'm afraid I was a bit dismissive of the smart-drunk Hypothesis - and all of EvPsych - calling it bullshit!

This set off a series of responses following the "bullshit" post, beginning with one by Robert Kurzban in his blog at epjournal.net. But, as I noted about a series of such comments, all of the commenters throw up their hands -- they can't really evaluate my claims versus Kanazawa's - why even try? Who knows why people get drunk? That's like trying to figure out how people think and act - who can do that?

From Kurzban:

". . .my point here is only about Peele's apoplectic screed about evolutionary psychology being bullshit. I DON'T CARE, for purposes of this post, IF THE IDEAS HE'S CRITICIZING ARE RIGHT, WRONG, OR EVEN INCOHERENT."

Here is the first response to Robert's comment at EPJournal, from H.J. Smith:

"I have to agree with you that he comes across as someone who is angry at EvPsych. Is his criticism of Kanazawa's article correct? I DON'T KNOW; I HAVEN'T READ THE KANAZAWA PIECE."

As I claimed, EvPsychers have no theories of actual human behavior, any insights about what smart people are like or who is likely to binge drink and get drunk - they only have EvPsych theories - abstractions generated from fantasies about primitive humans they imagine roaming the savannah.

Which leads to two further comments - one, by Suzanne (who has commented on my personality before - she seems drawn to me), as follows:

Submitted by Suzanne on December 20, 2010 - 8:13pm.

Apparently Kanaza's work has been heavily criticized by his peers. If you bothered to do any research you'd know that by now.

I never really knew what an extreme egocentric sounded like until someone pointed out that you are one.

It's all about ego with you. Your work doesn't even seem to matter to you except in a secondary way. Pretty bizarro. [That's me!]

I responded:

Submitted by Stanton Peele on December 21, 2010 - 12:26am.

I am pretty egocentric, but I am alert enough to the outside world to know - after all this discussion - Kanazawa's name. (When you were writing it, you didn't notice the absence of a "z" and thus the loss of an entire syllable? This reminds me in Robert Kurzban's first blog post about my post, his calling me "Steele.")

[In his original post in EPJournal, Kurzban referred to me as "Steele" - not only can EvPsychers not focus on competing ideas, they can't even get the participants straight!]

I make out from your comment ("Apparently Kanaza's work has been heavily criticized by his peers") that (a) you think this proves he is full of shit, like I said, (b) you are incapable of reaching this conclusion through your own reading of his work.

On the other hand, every one of the commenters here or at HuffPost avoids criticizing or even evaluating Kanazawa's post (see my Q.E.D. above), indicating that, despite his low repute (according to you) he is beyond reproach by EvPsychers.

The only question remaining, given your view (or is that your view) of Kanazawa's work, is why PT blog readers eat it up - he is, I think, PT's most popular blogger. Would you care to hazard an explanation for this popularity?

Thanks for your excellent points, Suzanne - at least I think those are your points. Write back if you want to clarify what YOU think of Kanazawa's work. (You do have to admit, although I suffer from egocentricity, at least I stake out a clear intellectual position!)

And, finally, a comment from PT blog's own inimitable Gad Saad (I love that name!):

You remind me of a rabbi that I recently met who welcomed me into his home by stating (I am paraphrasing): "I am unsure what your evolutionary-based research is about given that evolution has been repeatedly proven to be false." He thinks that evolution is all BS and you think that all EP is BS. I should hook you guys up with one another, as you strike me as kindred spirits. ;)

So, let me summarize Gad Saad's views: (1) evolutionary psychology is inviolable science like evolution (making Saad and Kanazawa like Darwin), (2) I'm an ignoramus who must deny evolution since I think EvPsych is bullshit, (3) I should hang out with evolution deniers, like HIS rabbi!

(Oh, in an earlier comment, Saad admitted, "I did not read Dr. Kanazawa's post so I will not take any position on its veracity." Why cloud a discussion of theories by actually considering them in light of evidence?)