what women want

Ha! Got your attention! (& no, nothing to do with Mel Gibson.) What I really wanted to do was draw your opportunity to this post by PZ, over on Pharyngula. He’s talking about explanations offered by evolutionary psychology for various human behaviours. The article PZ’s commenting on was looking at people’s sexual responses to a variety of stimuli. What’s drawn his attention is the author’s use of evolution to explain those responses. And he points out that the explanation is pretty much just a ‘Just So story**’ – pretty much a fanciful ‘explanation’ with little or no real explanatory power.

And we do have to be careful about these stories – they often sound good, & so they may get good media coverage & everybody hears about them, but they don’t really tell us much about the phenomena in question from a scientific viewpoint.

** Hands up those who remember Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories: fanciful explanations for a variety of observations – & great fun for kids (& the young at heart). My favourite was the tale of how the elephant got his nose – the adventures of the curious Elephant’s Child, down by the great green-grey greasy Limpopo River – and its crocodilian inhabitants… I’ve still got the 1926 editions of a lot of Kipling’s children’s stories (I’m not that old! – they were given to my mother when she was a child), with a lovely blue cloth cover & gold embossing. They’ve lasted three generations of children now & still going strong 🙂

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