Saturday, January 06, 2007

Evolutionary Psychology (in caps), string theory, verification, falsification

Evolutionary Psychology (as distinguished from evolutionary psychology, Greg Bryant and others) strikes me as having a number of parallels to string theory in cosmology.

Both were proposed in initial form a number of years ago and about the same time.

Both, despite their adherents, have made little progress on the Popperian issues of verification or falsification. Both seem likely to make little more progress in the future.

Both have drawn more scrutiny, questions or even setting aside or rejection from non-adherent scientists in their respective fields, the longer this has been the case.

Specific to Evolutionary Psychology, when it tells its “narrative stories” (whether you call them “just-so stories” or not), it is usually the case that an alternative narrative is readily available, that sounds equally valid, if not nearly so, or maybe even more so.

And, that gets back to the verification issue. Since Ev Psych is the “claimant,” the burden of proof is on it.

As for the likelihood of this, we really know little of the unconscious mind. Dan Dennett’s opus, “(Dan Dennett’s) Consciousness Explained,” or Steven Pinker’s “How (Steve Pinker’s) Mind Works” aside, all they have told us about is the conscious mind, for the most part.

Work with fMRIs and the next investigative tools beyond that, combined with well-crafted thought experiments, probably will take a couple of decades to reveal enough additional serious light on the semi/sub/un-conscious mind for us to even seriously talk about verification of some Ev Psych claims.

And no, I don’t think I’m setting up a straw man.

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