And there's the rub. For more than 30 years, left-leaning academics -- notably residing in the humanities and, to a lesser extent, the social sciences -- have been strongly opposed to using evolutionary theory to help make sense of human behavior, in part because their professional training emphasizes the role of social learning and cultural traditions, and -- perhaps even more -- because they fear the possible findings. Do racial differences imply genetic distinctions that might argue against social equality? Are women fated for kitchen work and childbearing, not high-level physics? And even if the science is more nuanced than that (which it certainly is), will the simpler message drown out the details and provide ammunition for social regression?
Friday, July 25, 2008
Michael Shermer calls the unfortunate tendency of liberals ("the left") to resist the application of evolutionary biology to human beings 'liberal creationism'. David P. Barash, a psychologist at the University of Washington, takes up exactly this theme in a recent LA Times op-ed entitled "Monkeying with evolution":