John Maynard Smith, one of the world's leading evolutionary biologists, recently summarized in the NYRB the sharply conflicting assessments of Stephen Jay Gould: "Because of the excellence of his essays, he has come to be seen by non-biologists as the preeminent evolutionary theorist. In contrast, the evolutionary biologists with whom I have discussed his work tend to see him as a man whose ideas are so confused as to be hardly worth bothering with, but as one who should (...) not be publicly criticized because he is at least on our side against the creationists." (NYRB, Nov. 30th 1995, p. 46). No one can take any pleasure in the evident pain Gould is experiencing now that his actual standing within the community of professional evolutionary biologists is finally becoming more widely known. If what was a stake was solely one man's self-regard, common decency would preclude comment. (shrink)
For two decades, the integrated causal model of evolutionary psychology (EP) has constituted an interdisciplinary nucleus around which a single unified theoretical and empirical behavioral science has been crystallizing – while progressively resolving problems (such as defective logical and statistical reasoning) that bedevil Gintis's beliefs, preferences, and constraints (BPC) framework. Although both frameworks are similar, EP is empirically better supported, theoretically richer, and offers deeper unification. (Published Online April 27 2007).
The architecture of the hazard management system underlying precautionary behavior makes functional sense, given the adaptive computational problems it evolved to solve. Many seeming infelicities in its outputs, such as behavior with “apparent lack of rational motivation” or disproportionality, are susceptibilities that derive from the sheer computational difficulty posed by the problem of cost-effectively deploying countermeasures to rare, harmful threats. (Published Online February 8 2007).