Monday, September 28, 2009

Jerry Coyne FUD, part III

In this final post I will discuss those aspects of Coyne's two-part critique with which I partially agree. I will also add a couple of my own criticisms of the ARH.

Unlike Coyne, however, I do not believe any of these criticisms come close to undermining the adaptive rumination hypothesis. At most they suggest avenues for the future development and testing of an hypothesis that I strongly suspect will turn out to be true.

Jerry Coyne FUD, part II

In my first post on Coyne's two part critique of Andrews and Thomson's paper on depression, I argued that Coyne's hand-wringing about the paper was either paternalistic, naive, or, most likely, just a means to sow FUD about evolutionary psychology and evolutionary psychiatry. In this post and the next I discuss the critique itself.

It is obviously legitimate to critique A&T but this requires reading the entire paper and knowing something about the topic. Coyne's critique is sloppy at best. It shows he didn't read large chunks of the paper and is ignorant of well-known findings in depression research. Coyne also fails to recognize basic elements of his own field. This post will focus on points of strong disagreement between myself and Coyne, and the next will focus on points of partial agreement.

Jerry Coyne FUD, part I

Two posts by the evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, in which he paints Paul Andrews and Andy Thomson, friends and colleagues of mine, as reckless, just-so-story-telling kooks, inspired me to write my first blog posts.

Andrews and Thomson (A&T) argue, contrary to almost everyone, that major (clinical) depression is not a disorder but is instead an adaptation whose function, in part, is to direct one's thoughts towards solving a major life problem. A&T refer to this as the "analytical rumination hypothesis" (ARH).

Were A&T "unwise"? Are they kooks? Or was Coyne just spreading FUD about evolutionary approaches to human behavior? I tackle those questions in this post and the substance of Coyne's critique in my next two posts.


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I am a biological anthropologist at Washington State University. Here is my faculty page.