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Posted by on Dec 4, 2012 in Atheism, Drama, Feminism, Freethought Blogs | 38 comments

Yet Another FTB Faux Pas

Stephanie Zvan is making the allegation that marketing major and feminist speaker Rebecca Watson was targeted by Ed Clint and others when he criticized her factually erroneous and highly prejudicial speech on evolutionary psychology. She asserts that people were critical of the speech even before they heard it. But what Zvan misses is that in one of my first tweets about the topic I included a link to a lengthy interview with Watson, where she clearly states that she’s addressing the science of evolutionary psychology and not just pop psychology and tabloid press. Watson describes the content of her speech as well as her intentions for giving it, and makes many of the same errors Clint later points out. In fact, those same errors were criticized in the comments section of an earlier post in my blog. But because I am not an evolutionary psychologist, I did not feel qualified to write an entire blog post on the topic.

Here is the link posted in my tweet, which apparently Zvan missed:  Oops! Sounds a bit like Watson debunks Zvan’s entire argument about Watson’s speech, which Watson later endorses. What a mess.

Ms. Watson is now claiming she wasn’t trashing evolutionary psychology as a whole, but just the pop aspects. This is not at all clear from the speech she gave and appears contradictory to her comments in the interview above, where she compares evolutionary psychology to Social Darwinism and eugenics, aptly demonstrating that she can’t tell the difference between descriptive and prescriptive claims. For better criticism of evolutionary psychology see the writings of either Massimo Pigliucci or Jerry Coyne.

But most importantly, I’m so tired of all this nonsense. Don’t people have better things to do? Don’t I? And why do we have unqualified speakers talking about subjects they know nothing about (and with a political agenda, to boot)?

Important Edit: I just received information that since the speech was livestreamed, Clint had heard it before tweeting about it, which should completely demolish Zvan’s accusation of “targeting.”  But personally, I thought the interview linked above was bad enough to warrant criticism.

Also, commenters on various  blogs have pointed out that there are qualified experts — both male and female — on EP in every state and country, as well as qualified critics. There is no reason to fly in someone with zero qualifications (and a well-known personal agenda) to address this subject when local experts are available and willing to speak. If we’re claiming to be a rationalist movement, it wouldn’t hurt to start by behaving rationally.