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Thursday, September 08, 2005

David Barash tears apart an apparently flawed new book about the evolutionary history of the female orgasm in the peer-reviewed journal Evolutionary Psychology. "The final arbiter is fidelity to objective, empirically demonstrable findings," Barash notes after citing her consistently un-scientific view of the origins of the female orgasm and exposes her prejudices.1 Then he asks an important question: " . . . [H]ow can we encourage people to prioritize empirical research and legitimate theory-building over the back-biting, ideological excess . . . ?"

A little over a year ago I got into a discussion with some acquaintances about the nature of "the game" (in relationships--not the rapper), and whether or not it was necessary for mature people to play. I argued that it was, and my more sensitive soon-to-be-adversaries disagreed. "People are just people," one girl said, "and if you care about each other and get along, you don't need to deceive each other or play games."

I argued that it was, and asked her how she would feel if a guy she met and liked called her two or three times a day at the beginning of a relationship. She admitted she'd feel a little weirded out. The conversation continued and I went on a short rant about the differences between men and women.

"But that kind of thinking is totally unhelpful," the girl complained. "It's really antiquated and negative. It doesn't really do anything hopeful or positive for people."

"What does that have to do with it being true?" I asked. "I'm hopeful about a lot of things, but it doesn't mean I can just pretend that they're true. I mean, I wish everyone in the world had health care, but it won't really help if I just pretend that they do. In fact I'd say it would do the opposite."

Both of us noticed that people were getting uncomfortable with the debate, and the conversation dissipated. At the end of the night, I told her it was nice talking to her, and offered my hand. She wouldn't take it, and mumbled something under her breath.

"The final arbiter is fidelity to objective, empirically demonstrable findings." What matters is the truth. The truth isn't always comfortable and it doesn't always, and in fact rarely ever, fits within what we want or hope the world to be like. The sooner we acknowledge the importance of reality, the sooner we can overcome our prejudices and dismantle the difficulties, large and small, that trouble us all.


1The feminist-offshoot ideology that attempts "to fight for definitions of women that are not based on their reproductive roles" (pg. 237) (quoted from Barash's review).

1 Comments:

Blogger Ben said...

Wouldn't shake your hand?! Juuuuust like a bitch, hmp!

2:19 PM  

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