Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

New book busts myths about sex, race and violence

From the 9 May 2012 Eureka News Alert

here are three pervasive myths about human nature centered on sex, aggression and race. They are:

  1. Men and women are truly different in behavior, desires and wiring.
  2. Humans are divided into biological races (white, black, Asian, etc.).
  3. Humans, especially males, are aggressive by nature.

 

A new book by University of Notre Dame Anthropology Professor Agustín Fuentes titled “Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths about Human Nature” (University of California Press, 2012) counters these pernicious myths and tackles misconceptions about what race, aggression and sex really mean for humans.

Presenting scientific evidence from diverse fields, including anthropology, biology and psychology, Fuentes incorporates an accessible understanding of culture, genetics and evolution, requiring us to dispose of notions of “nature or nurture.”

Fuentes devises a myth-busting toolkit to dismantle persistent fallacies about the validity of biological races, the innateness of aggression and violence, and the nature of monogamy and differences between the sexes. He includes a list of the most common misperceptions about human nature on race, sex and violence, and counters those myths with a myth buster….

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Evolutionary Psychology of Crime

From the January 2012 Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical criminology  article at http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/group/busslab/pdffiles/Evolutionary-psychology-and-crime.pdf

Evolutionary psychology provides a powerful set of tools for understanding human behavior, including criminal behavior and responses to criminal behavior. One set of tools entails furnishing hypotheses about the underlying psychological mechanisms that could plausibly be part of the causal chain leading to criminal behavior and responses to it. Because all psychological mechanisms require environmental input for their activation, these hypotheses include a specification of circumstances in which criminal behavior is likely to be enacted or inhibited. A somewhat different set of the tools, also potentially quite valuable, is that evolutionary psychology provides heuristic value, guiding criminologists to examine domains previously unexplored or to uncover elements in the causal chain that otherwise might be missed by existing criminology theories. By introducing evolutionary explanations, Durrant and Ward (this volume) provide a valuable service in opening the door for both sets of tools provides by evolutionary psychology in the understanding criminal behavior.

According to evolutionary psychology, all human behavior, criminal or otherwise, is a product of psychological mechanisms (instantiated in the brain) combined with environmental input that activates them or inhibits their activation. Consider calluses. Explanatory understanding the thickness and distribution of calluses on the human skin within individuals over time and across individuals and cultures at any point in time requires (1) knowledge that humans have evolved callus-producing adaptations whose proper function is to protect the underlying physiological and anatomical structures beneath the skin, and (2) knowledge that the environmental input of repeated friction to skin is required for activating the callus-producing mechanisms. Evolutionary psychology, in short, is fundamentally an interactionist framework.

April 13, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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