SlideShare a Scribd company logo

Resourcd File

R
Resourcd
1 of 6
‘It’s reductionist’ and other fallacies
One of the mostfrequent, andfranklyfrequentlydisappointing,commentaryorevaluation pointsmade
by students is a claim that one theory or another, or sometimes it seems every theory, is ‘1)
………..…………’. Occasionallystudentsmake anattempttosubstantiate andexplainthisclaimbutall too
oftenseemtofeelthatsimply 2) ……………………thatsomethingis‘reductionist’issufficientto gaincredit.
Sadly,thisisinvariablynotthe case. The aimof thisshortarticle istocall the ‘reductionist’commentary
point into question as all too often being a fallacy and to offer some alternatives to this.
Perhapspart of the problemisthat in some waythe term itself seemstohave a soundof negativityor
disapproval,aharshhissingsoundatthe endof the word. In thiscontextitmay be betterfor students
to stop perceivingitas somethingthatwouldbe chantedinunison andcelebration ata 3) ……….………..
conventionandinsteadtoview the termin a more positive way, perhapstobe usedin a seminarby a
4) ……………………………. researcher, introducing a new area of research which had identified a specific
pattern of cause and effect at the level of neurons in the brain and which had the potential for new
treatments.
Studentstendtouse the reductionisttermwhentheywanttoexpressanideathatsomethinghasbeen
oversimplified, and does not take all the possible interacting factors into account. In this case it may
well be betterto argue that somethingis‘5) …………………………..’ rather than ‘reductionist’.The ideaof
something being ‘under specified’ then can be elaborated, perhaps identifying what additional and
importantfactors seemto have beenomittedfromthe original explanation,althoughevenhere there
can be a potential trapforstudents.If youhave beenaskedinaquestiontoidentifyatheorytoexplain
particular pattern of behaviour then it wouldbe wise to be wary of criticising the theory to too great
an6) ……………………., otherwise adoubt mightemerge astowhetheryouroriginal explanationbasedon
the theorywas anappropriate response tothe question. However,the pointremains,generally‘under-
specified’ may well be a better and more accurate evaluative point than ‘reductionist’.
In relation to the reductionist evaluation,it can correctly be used on some occasions to identifysome
negative elements of a theory. Typically the idea here is not just that the explanation only identifies
one partof a widersetof processesbut thatwithoutthe7) …………….……. givenbythese widerprocesses
the individual explanationitselfhasonlylimitedvalue. So,itisnotjustthatotherfactorshave notbeen
takenintoaccount,butthat otherpartsof a chainof processesare notconsidered.A commonexample
here relates to the moving parts of a machine, such as a car. It might be reductionist to argue that
ultimatelythe frictionbetweenthetyresandthe roadpromptsthe cartomove inaparticulardirection,
but clearlyto reallyexplainthe movementof the car a muchfullersetof causal linkagesandprocesses
need to be taken into account. More to the point in relation to psychology to understand a process
suchas understandingwhatthe individualpatternsof black-and-whiteinthe letters meaninthis article
needs a broader understanding of language and for example also the wider 8 …………………..why you
mightbe readingthisarticle. Itisfairtosaythatreductionistexplanationsoftenlacka clearexplanation
of the 9) ………………….. behind behaviour.
However it might be worth students developing a repertoire of comments which aim to surprise the
readerandfightthe tide of negative reductionistassertionsbyidentifyingoccasionswhenatheorycan
be 10) …………………………commented on as being reductionist. If writing in an exam for example try to
wake up your examinerand evenmake them 11) …………………………………………………………………in surprise
with a sentence along the lines of ‘this is a reductionist explanation which is good because……….’.
Typicallythismightapplyto biological explanations, forbehavioursuchas schizophreniawhere sucha
Fallacy: A misconception,mythor
justsimplyanerror and mistake !
biologicallyreductionistexplanationassociatedwithanexcessof dopamineinthe subcortex orcentral
areasof the brainhashelpedwiththe developmentof antipsychoticdrugs designedtolimitthe amount
or 12) …………………………. of dopamine in these areas.
One areainwhichthe ‘it’sreductionist’claimseemstobe particularlyinappropriately usedisassociated
with13) ………………………………… explanationsforbehaviour.Itdoesseemratherdifficulttoimagine how
suchexplanationscanpossiblybereductionist.Theydependoncomplex patternsof behaviourincluding
natural and sexual selection across many, many generations, which have been in some way
incorporated into our genetic inheritance. Perhaps there might be an element of reductionism if
particular genes can be identified as causing particular patterns of behaviour, but research has
suggested across virtually the entire range of human behaviours that this is never the case. Instead
complex patternsof genes 14) …………………………….with both each other and the environmentinwhich
an individual finds themselves and leading in turn to an expression of a behaviour which reflects this
interactionof bothevolutionandthe currentenvironment. Here especiallyitmightbe ratherbetterto
argue that the explanationisnot somuch reductionistbut15) ………………………….., as mentionedabove.
More thanthis,anissue isalso thatthe particularprocessesof naturalandsexualselection,andperhaps
evenchance experiences,thatgave risetothisgeneticinheritancecannotbe clearlyunderstoodasthey
cannot be directly 16) ………………………... They happened inthe fardistantpast and in relationtosexual
selectiontypicallyinthe privacyof couples,publicallyacknowledgedornotasthe case mighthavebeen,
17) …………………………….lives. An alternative suggestion here for students looking to criticise such
explanationsistopointoutthattheyare essentially ’18) ……………………….’explanations.Thismeans that
the explanation is derived 19) ………………………the event. This inductive approach can be appropriate,
but suffers from the risk of being very selective. So for example evolutionary explanations tend to
choose patternsof behaviour whichseem‘easy’toexplainonthe basisof previousselectionprocesses,
and avoid those which are more challenging. It is by no means certain that the behaviour observed
today really was caused by the explanation offered, indeed this view can often also be a fallacy. Post
hoc explanationsare alsoheldundersome suspicionin quantitative researchastheycall intoquestion
the normal levels of probability used to either support or challenge theory based on our results and
raise the riskof atype I error. In simple terms,if Iwere tocarryout20 piecesof researchinthe general
area of a topicbut withouta specifichypothesis Imightexpectbythe normal standardsof significance
used in psychology the results in one of them by chance alone to have a less than or equal 0.05
probability (20……………….) of occurring by chance. If I simply select this set of results and construct a
hypothesis aboutitafterthe event,whichI can thenargue the resultssupport, I’mguiltyof a post hoc
analysisasI am selectivelychoosingthe apparentlysignificantresults. (There isa wayto deal withthis
knownas a Bonferroni adjustmentbutthisisgettinga little tootechnical at thisstage !). But more the
point in relation to evolutionary explanations, as I mentioned above, it is wise to be wary of deeming
them reductionist and instead worth exploring the idea of them being either under specified,or post
hoc, or perhaps both of these. Evolutionaryexplanations for example are often used as one of the
explanationsforsexual selectionandhumanreproductive behaviour.Clearlythere hasbeenevolution
involvedinthis!Butthe explanationstypicallyofferedseemtosimplifyandgeneraliseanysuchpatterns
of sexual selection and human reproductive behaviour, for example emphasising claimed 21)
……………………………between heterosexual male and female behaviour and avoiding what many might
considertobe a keycharacteristicof humanbehaviourwhichisassociatedwith 22) ……………………. and
adaptivenesstonewcircumstances. But because the actual evolutionaryprocesseswhichgave rise to
thisflexibilityandadaptivenessare rathermore difficulttoidentify andcomplex the ‘underspecified’
and ‘post hoc’ evolutionary explanations tend to under emphasise these and instead choose to focus
on more stereotypical patternsof heterosexualmale andfemale behaviour. Itmay alsobe valuable as
a commentary in an answer to point out that any that any such evolutionary explanations are also
generally ’23) ……………………………..’. This, in simple terms means that they are not really 24)
…………………………but are really more a set of beliefs and it is not possible to really find evidence to
challenge the actual evolutionaryprocessesinvolved,aswe cannotgo back in 25) …………………..and see
these operating in a controlled way. We might be able to observe behaviour today which is 26)
…………………………….with the theories, but this is not the same as being reasonably certain that these
behavioursevolvedinthe waystated. It may be that people behave ina way whichis consistentwith
the theoriesbecause theyhave 27) ………………………..aboutthe theories,notbecause theyhave evolved
to behave in this way. Mind there are some other fallacieshere as well which are oftenexpressedby
students. One is that in an era of increasing female independence some of the old patterns of
heterosexual sexual selection such as females selecting males on the basis of potential resource
provisionare diminishing,withitisoftenarguedfemalesnotneedingmalestoprovide thisservice and
being able to survive quite comfortably as single parents and with consequent changes in patternsof
sexual and relationship selection. However whilst thiscan clearly be the case to a certain extent and
for some individuals,increasing socio economic inequality and demands associated with child-rearing
suggest that resources from two parents are increasingly important. In fact, although less commonly
advanced as a theory it seems more that male heterosexual selectioncriteria are changing,with it no
longer sufficient for a female to provide evidence of potential fertilitybut also to provide evidence of
the abilityaswelltooffer28) …………………….provisionforboththerelationshipandthecare of anyfuture
offspring. Whichmayof course be partof the reason,overandabove the personal senseof satisfaction
at the realisation and development of your own 29) ………………….., why some of you may be reading
thisarticle. Whateverthe case, myargumentremainsthat it iswise to be wary of simplydeeming any
such explanations to be reductionist ! They are anything but, are actually oftenvery complex but may
well be under-specified,post–hocandnotfalsifiable. And,more tothe pointperhaps,theseideasmay
alsoget youthe 30) ………………. that you want! Verygoodluckof course withthis,I am sure that you
deserve a satisfying grade – especially having worked your way through this.
abilities differences intimate resource reductionist
after evolutionary learned observed scientific
availability extent meaning p ≤ 0.05 stating
consistent fall off theirchair neuropsychological positively time
context flexibility non-falsifiable posthoc under-specified
Dalek interact grade reasons under-specified
One of the mostfrequent,andfranklyfrequentlydisappointing,commentaryorevaluationpointsmade
by studentsisaclaimthat one theoryor another,orsometimesitseemseverytheory,is‘reductionist’.
Occasionallystudentsmake anattemptto substantiate andexplainthisclaimbutall toooftenseemto
feel thatsimplystatingthatsomethingis‘reductionist’issufficienttogaincredit.Sadly,thisisinvariably
not the case.The aim of thisshort article isto call the ‘reductionist’commentarypointintoquestionas
all too often being a fallacy and to offer some alternatives to this.
Perhapspart of the problemisthat in some waythe term itself seemstohave a soundof negativityor
disapproval,aharshhissingsoundatthe endof the word. In thiscontextitmay be betterfor students
to stop perceiving it as something that would be chanted in unison and celebration at a Dalek
conventionandinsteadtoviewthe termin a more positive way, perhapstobe usedin a seminarby a
neuropsychological researcher, introducing a new area of research which had identified a specific
pattern of cause and effect at the level of neurons in the brain and which had the potential for new
treatments.
Studentstendtouse the reductionisttermwhentheywanttoexpressanideathatsomethinghasbeen
oversimplified, and does not take all the possible interacting factors into account. In this case it may
well be better to argue that something is ‘under specified’ rather than ‘reductionist’. The idea of
something being ‘under specified’ then can be elaborated, perhaps identifying what additional and
importantfactors seemto have beenomittedfromthe original explanation,althoughevenhere there
can be a potential trapforstudents.If youhave beenaskedinaquestiontoidentifyatheorytoexplain
particularpatternof behaviourthenitwouldbe wise tobe waryof criticisingthe theorytotoogreatan
extent, otherwise a doubt might emerge as to whether your original explanationbased on the theory
was an appropriate response tothe question. However,the pointremains,generally‘under-specified’
may well be a better and more accurate evaluative point than ‘reductionist’.
In relation to the reductionist evaluation,it can correctly be used on some occasions to identifysome
negative elements of a theory. Typically the idea here is not just that the explanation only identifies
one part of a wider set of processes but that without the context given by these wider processesthe
individual explanation itself has only limited value. So, it is not just that other factors have not been
takenintoaccount,butthat otherpartsof a chainof processesare notconsidered.A commonexample
here relates to the moving parts of a machine, such as a car. It might be reductionist to argue that
ultimatelythe frictionbetweenthetyresandthe roadpromptsthe cartomove inaparticulardirection,
but clearlytoreallyexplainthe movementof the car a muchfullersetof causal linkagesandprocesses
need to be taken into account. More to the point in relation to psychology to understand a process
such asunderstandingwhatthe individual patternsof black-and-whiteinthe lettersmeaninthe article
needsa broaderunderstandingof language andforexample also the widerreasonswhyyoumightbe
reading this article. It is fair to say that reductionist explanationsoften lack a clear explanationof the
meaning behind behaviour.
However it might be worth students developing a repertoire of comments which aim to surprise the
readerandfightthe tide of negative reductionistassertionsbyidentifyingoccasionswhenatheorycan
be positively commented on as being reductionist. If writing in an exam for example try to wake up
yourexaminerandevenmake themfalloff theirchairinsurprisewithasentence alongthe linesof ‘this
is a reductionist explanation which is good because……….’. Typically this might apply to biological
explanations, for behaviour such as schizophrenia where such a biologically reductionist explanation
associated with an excessof dopamine inthe sub cortex or central areas of the brain has helped with
Fallacy: A misconception,mythor
justsimplyanerror and mistake !
the development of antipsychotic drugs designed to limit the amount or availabilityof dopamine in
these areas.
One areainwhichthe ‘it’sreductionist’claimseemstobe particularlyinappropriatelyusedisassociated
with evolutionary explanations for behaviour. It does seem rather difficult to imagine how such
explanations can possibly be reductionist.They depend on complex patterns of behaviour including
natural and sexual selection across many, many generations, which have been in some way
incorporated into our genetic inheritance. Perhaps there might be an element of reductionism if
particular genes can be identified as causing particular patterns of behaviour, but research has
suggested across virtually the entire range of human behaviours that this is never the case. Instead
complex patterns of genes interact with both each other and the environment in which an individual
finds themselves and leadingin turn to an expression of a behaviour which reflectsthis interactionof
bothevolutionandthe currentenvironment. Hereespeciallyitmightbe ratherbettertoargue that the
explanation is not so much reductionist but under-specified, as mentioned above.
More thanthis,anissue isalsothatthe particularprocessesof naturalandsexualselection,andperhaps
evenchance experiences,thatgave risetothisgeneticinheritancecannotbe clearlyunderstoodasthey
cannot be directly observed. They happenedin the far distant past and in relation to sexual selection
typicallyinthe privacyof couples,publicallyacknowledgedornotasthe case mighthavebeen, intimate
lives. An alternative suggestion here for students looking to criticise such explanationsis to point out
that they are essentially ‘post hoc’ explanations.This means that the explanation is derived after the
event.Thisinductive approachcanbe appropriate,butsuffersfromthe riskof beingveryselective. So
for example evolutionary explanations tend to choose patterns of behaviour which seem ‘easy’ to
explainonthe basisof previousselectionprocesses,andavoidthose whichare more challenging. It is
by no means certain that the behaviour observed today reallywas caused by the explanation offered,
indeedthisviewcan oftenalsobe a fallacy.Post hoc explanationsare also heldundersome suspicion
inquantitative researchastheycall intoquestionthe normal levelsof probabilityusedtoeithersupport
or challenge theorybasedonour resultsand raise the riskof a type I error. In simple terms,if I were
to carry out20 piecesof researchinthe generalareaof atopicbutwithoutaspecifichypothesisImight
expectbythe normal standardsof significance usedinpsychologythe resultsinone of thembychance
alone to have a lessthan or equal 0.05 probability( p ≤ 0.05) of occurring by chance. If I simplyselect
thissetof resultsandconstructa hypothesisaboutitafterthe event,whichIcanthenargue the results
support,I’m guiltyof a post hoc analysisas I am selectivelychoosingthe apparentlysignificantresults.
(There isawaytodeal withthisknownasaBonferroniadjustment butthisisgettingalittletootechnical
at thisstage !).But more the point inrelationto evolutionaryexplanations,asI mentionedabove,itis
wise tobe waryof deemingthemreductionistandinsteadworthexploringtheideaof thembeingeither
underspecified,orposthoc,orperhapsbothof these. Evolutionaryexplanationsforexampleare often
used as one of the explanationsfor sexual selectionand human reproductive behaviour. Clearlythere
has been evolution involved in this! But the explanations typically offered seem to simplify and
generalise any such patterns of sexual selection and human reproductive behaviour, for example
emphasisingclaimeddifferencesbetweenheterosexual male andfemale behaviourandavoidingwhat
many mightconsiderto be a keycharacteristicof human behaviourwhichisassociatedwithflexibility
andadaptivenesstonewcircumstances. Butbecausethe actual evolutionaryprocesseswhichgave rise
tothisflexibilityandadaptivenessare rathermoredifficulttoidentifyandcomplex the ‘underspecified’
and ‘post hoc’ evolutionary explanations tend to under emphasise these and instead choose to focus
on more stereotypical patternsof heterosexualmale andfemale behaviour. Itmay alsobe valuable as
a commentary in an answer to point out that any that any such evolutionary explanations are also
generally ‘non-falsifiable’. This,in simple terms means that they are not really scientific but are really
more a set of beliefsand it is not possible to really find evidence to challenge the actual evolutionary
processesinvolved,aswe cannotgobackintime andseetheseoperatinginacontrolledway. We might
be able to observe behaviour today which is consistent with the theories, but this is not the same as
beingreasonablycertainthatthese behavioursevolvedinthe waystated. Itmaybe thatpeoplebehave
in a way which is consistent with the theories because they have learned about the theories, not
because they have evolved to behave in this way. Mind there are some other fallacies here as well
whichare oftenexpressedbystudents. One isthat in an era of increasingfemaleindependence some
of the old patterns of heterosexual sexual selectionsuch as females selecting males on the basis of
potential resource provision are diminishing, with it is often argued females not needing males to
provide thisservice andbeingable tosurvive quite comfortablyassingle parentsandwithconsequent
changesinpatternsof sexual andrelationshipselection. Howeverwhilst thiscanclearlybe the case to
a certainextentandforsome individuals,increasingsocioeconomicinequalityanddemandsassociated
withchild-rearingsuggestthatresourcesfromtwoparentsare increasinglyimportant. Infact,although
less commonly advanced as a theory it seems more that male heterosexual selection criteria are
changing, with it no longer sufficient for a female to provide evidence of potential fertility but also to
provide evidenceof the abilityaswelltoofferresource provision forboththe relationshipandthe care
of anyfuture offspring.Whichmayof course be part of the reason,overandabove the personal sense
of satisfactionatthe realisationanddevelopmentof yourownabilities,whysomeof youmaybe reading
thisarticle. Whateverthe case, myargumentremainsthat it iswise to be wary of simplydeemingany
such explanations to be reductionist ! They are anything but, are actually oftenvery complex but may
well be under-specified,post–hocandnotfalsifiable. And, more tothe pointperhaps,theseideasmay
also get you the grade that you want !
Mark Ingall

Recommended

Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Using mcq for effective it education woodford
Using mcq for effective it education woodfordUsing mcq for effective it education woodford
Using mcq for effective it education woodfordRipudaman Singh
 

More Related Content

What's hot

Objective Testing (E Assessment Question)
Objective Testing (E Assessment Question)Objective Testing (E Assessment Question)
Objective Testing (E Assessment Question)bobbyelliott
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Stroop Effect Research Paper Example APA Style
Stroop Effect Research Paper Example APA StyleStroop Effect Research Paper Example APA Style
Stroop Effect Research Paper Example APA StyleCheap Custom Writing
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Constructing Objective Paper And Pencil Tests
Constructing Objective Paper And Pencil TestsConstructing Objective Paper And Pencil Tests
Constructing Objective Paper And Pencil Testsniel lopez
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Color Stroop Effects on Students’ Cognitive Ability
Color Stroop Effects on Students’ Cognitive AbilityColor Stroop Effects on Students’ Cognitive Ability
Color Stroop Effects on Students’ Cognitive AbilityAce Matilac
 
Social studies school based assessment outline
Social studies school based assessment outlineSocial studies school based assessment outline
Social studies school based assessment outlineDeighton Gooden
 
Social studies school based assessment outline
Social studies school based assessment outlineSocial studies school based assessment outline
Social studies school based assessment outlineDeighton Gooden
 
Introduction To Psychological Science Canadian 2nd Edition Krause Test Bank
Introduction To Psychological Science Canadian 2nd Edition Krause Test BankIntroduction To Psychological Science Canadian 2nd Edition Krause Test Bank
Introduction To Psychological Science Canadian 2nd Edition Krause Test BankStaceyDays
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Article Analysis - Language Testing
Article Analysis - Language Testing Article Analysis - Language Testing
Article Analysis - Language Testing translatoran
 
Selecting and constructing test items and tasks
Selecting and constructing test items and tasksSelecting and constructing test items and tasks
Selecting and constructing test items and tasksEzr Acelar
 

What's hot (20)

SociologyExchange.co.uk Shared Resource
SociologyExchange.co.uk Shared ResourceSociologyExchange.co.uk Shared Resource
SociologyExchange.co.uk Shared Resource
 
SociologyExchange.co.uk Shared Resource
SociologyExchange.co.uk Shared ResourceSociologyExchange.co.uk Shared Resource
SociologyExchange.co.uk Shared Resource
 
Objective Testing (E Assessment Question)
Objective Testing (E Assessment Question)Objective Testing (E Assessment Question)
Objective Testing (E Assessment Question)
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Stroop Effect Research Paper Example APA Style
Stroop Effect Research Paper Example APA StyleStroop Effect Research Paper Example APA Style
Stroop Effect Research Paper Example APA Style
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Constructing Objective Paper And Pencil Tests
Constructing Objective Paper And Pencil TestsConstructing Objective Paper And Pencil Tests
Constructing Objective Paper And Pencil Tests
 
Research in ELT
Research in ELT Research in ELT
Research in ELT
 
MCQs
MCQsMCQs
MCQs
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Color Stroop Effects on Students’ Cognitive Ability
Color Stroop Effects on Students’ Cognitive AbilityColor Stroop Effects on Students’ Cognitive Ability
Color Stroop Effects on Students’ Cognitive Ability
 
Objective test
Objective testObjective test
Objective test
 
Social studies school based assessment outline
Social studies school based assessment outlineSocial studies school based assessment outline
Social studies school based assessment outline
 
Social studies school based assessment outline
Social studies school based assessment outlineSocial studies school based assessment outline
Social studies school based assessment outline
 
Introduction To Psychological Science Canadian 2nd Edition Krause Test Bank
Introduction To Psychological Science Canadian 2nd Edition Krause Test BankIntroduction To Psychological Science Canadian 2nd Edition Krause Test Bank
Introduction To Psychological Science Canadian 2nd Edition Krause Test Bank
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Stroop(2)
Stroop(2)Stroop(2)
Stroop(2)
 
Chap5
Chap5Chap5
Chap5
 
Article Analysis - Language Testing
Article Analysis - Language Testing Article Analysis - Language Testing
Article Analysis - Language Testing
 
Selecting and constructing test items and tasks
Selecting and constructing test items and tasksSelecting and constructing test items and tasks
Selecting and constructing test items and tasks
 

Similar to Resourcd File

Personal Descriptive Essay Example.pdf
Personal Descriptive Essay Example.pdfPersonal Descriptive Essay Example.pdf
Personal Descriptive Essay Example.pdfJessica Spyrakis
 
The role of social heuristics in deliberative outcomes | María G. Navarro
The role of social heuristics in deliberative outcomes | María G. NavarroThe role of social heuristics in deliberative outcomes | María G. Navarro
The role of social heuristics in deliberative outcomes | María G. NavarroMaría G. Navarro
 
Scientific Thinking, Economic Reasoning And Their...
Scientific Thinking, Economic Reasoning And Their...Scientific Thinking, Economic Reasoning And Their...
Scientific Thinking, Economic Reasoning And Their...Lisa Fields
 
Assess The Difference Between Conductive Reasoning And...
Assess The Difference Between Conductive Reasoning And...Assess The Difference Between Conductive Reasoning And...
Assess The Difference Between Conductive Reasoning And...Amanda Hengel
 
Thinking Fast And Slow By Daniel Kahneman
Thinking Fast And Slow By Daniel KahnemanThinking Fast And Slow By Daniel Kahneman
Thinking Fast And Slow By Daniel KahnemanMelissa Dudas
 
Francis Bacon And Rene Descartes
Francis Bacon And Rene DescartesFrancis Bacon And Rene Descartes
Francis Bacon And Rene DescartesLisa Brown
 
Personality Theories And Social Learning Theories Fit That...
Personality Theories And Social Learning Theories Fit That...Personality Theories And Social Learning Theories Fit That...
Personality Theories And Social Learning Theories Fit That...Katie Booth
 
The Machine Time Span
The Machine Time SpanThe Machine Time Span
The Machine Time SpanJill Baldwin
 
Mixed Method Research Manuscript
Mixed Method Research ManuscriptMixed Method Research Manuscript
Mixed Method Research ManuscriptSarah Gordon
 
Mind Palace Research Paper
Mind Palace Research PaperMind Palace Research Paper
Mind Palace Research PaperNicolle Dammann
 
TJ_Murphy_Epistemology_Final_Paper
TJ_Murphy_Epistemology_Final_PaperTJ_Murphy_Epistemology_Final_Paper
TJ_Murphy_Epistemology_Final_PaperTimothy J. Murphy
 
Sampling Methods in Qualitative and Quantitative Research
Sampling Methods in Qualitative and Quantitative ResearchSampling Methods in Qualitative and Quantitative Research
Sampling Methods in Qualitative and Quantitative ResearchSam Ladner
 

Similar to Resourcd File (20)

Deferred Action
Deferred ActionDeferred Action
Deferred Action
 
Probability And Statistics
Probability And StatisticsProbability And Statistics
Probability And Statistics
 
Examples Of Fallacies In 12 Angry Men
Examples Of Fallacies In 12 Angry MenExamples Of Fallacies In 12 Angry Men
Examples Of Fallacies In 12 Angry Men
 
Personal Descriptive Essay Example.pdf
Personal Descriptive Essay Example.pdfPersonal Descriptive Essay Example.pdf
Personal Descriptive Essay Example.pdf
 
The role of social heuristics in deliberative outcomes | María G. Navarro
The role of social heuristics in deliberative outcomes | María G. NavarroThe role of social heuristics in deliberative outcomes | María G. Navarro
The role of social heuristics in deliberative outcomes | María G. Navarro
 
Determinants
DeterminantsDeterminants
Determinants
 
Scientific Thinking, Economic Reasoning And Their...
Scientific Thinking, Economic Reasoning And Their...Scientific Thinking, Economic Reasoning And Their...
Scientific Thinking, Economic Reasoning And Their...
 
Sampling procedure30 jan2012
Sampling procedure30 jan2012Sampling procedure30 jan2012
Sampling procedure30 jan2012
 
Logic Homework Essay
Logic Homework EssayLogic Homework Essay
Logic Homework Essay
 
Assess The Difference Between Conductive Reasoning And...
Assess The Difference Between Conductive Reasoning And...Assess The Difference Between Conductive Reasoning And...
Assess The Difference Between Conductive Reasoning And...
 
Thinking Fast And Slow By Daniel Kahneman
Thinking Fast And Slow By Daniel KahnemanThinking Fast And Slow By Daniel Kahneman
Thinking Fast And Slow By Daniel Kahneman
 
Francis Bacon And Rene Descartes
Francis Bacon And Rene DescartesFrancis Bacon And Rene Descartes
Francis Bacon And Rene Descartes
 
Theorems Of Probability
Theorems Of ProbabilityTheorems Of Probability
Theorems Of Probability
 
Personality Theories And Social Learning Theories Fit That...
Personality Theories And Social Learning Theories Fit That...Personality Theories And Social Learning Theories Fit That...
Personality Theories And Social Learning Theories Fit That...
 
The Machine Time Span
The Machine Time SpanThe Machine Time Span
The Machine Time Span
 
Critical Thinking Analogy
Critical Thinking AnalogyCritical Thinking Analogy
Critical Thinking Analogy
 
Mixed Method Research Manuscript
Mixed Method Research ManuscriptMixed Method Research Manuscript
Mixed Method Research Manuscript
 
Mind Palace Research Paper
Mind Palace Research PaperMind Palace Research Paper
Mind Palace Research Paper
 
TJ_Murphy_Epistemology_Final_Paper
TJ_Murphy_Epistemology_Final_PaperTJ_Murphy_Epistemology_Final_Paper
TJ_Murphy_Epistemology_Final_Paper
 
Sampling Methods in Qualitative and Quantitative Research
Sampling Methods in Qualitative and Quantitative ResearchSampling Methods in Qualitative and Quantitative Research
Sampling Methods in Qualitative and Quantitative Research
 

More from Resourcd

Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd
 

More from Resourcd (20)

Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 
Resourcd File
Resourcd FileResourcd File
Resourcd File
 

Resourcd File

  • 1. ‘It’s reductionist’ and other fallacies One of the mostfrequent, andfranklyfrequentlydisappointing,commentaryorevaluation pointsmade by students is a claim that one theory or another, or sometimes it seems every theory, is ‘1) ………..…………’. Occasionallystudentsmake anattempttosubstantiate andexplainthisclaimbutall too oftenseemtofeelthatsimply 2) ……………………thatsomethingis‘reductionist’issufficientto gaincredit. Sadly,thisisinvariablynotthe case. The aimof thisshortarticle istocall the ‘reductionist’commentary point into question as all too often being a fallacy and to offer some alternatives to this. Perhapspart of the problemisthat in some waythe term itself seemstohave a soundof negativityor disapproval,aharshhissingsoundatthe endof the word. In thiscontextitmay be betterfor students to stop perceivingitas somethingthatwouldbe chantedinunison andcelebration ata 3) ……….……….. conventionandinsteadtoview the termin a more positive way, perhapstobe usedin a seminarby a 4) ……………………………. researcher, introducing a new area of research which had identified a specific pattern of cause and effect at the level of neurons in the brain and which had the potential for new treatments. Studentstendtouse the reductionisttermwhentheywanttoexpressanideathatsomethinghasbeen oversimplified, and does not take all the possible interacting factors into account. In this case it may well be betterto argue that somethingis‘5) …………………………..’ rather than ‘reductionist’.The ideaof something being ‘under specified’ then can be elaborated, perhaps identifying what additional and importantfactors seemto have beenomittedfromthe original explanation,althoughevenhere there can be a potential trapforstudents.If youhave beenaskedinaquestiontoidentifyatheorytoexplain particular pattern of behaviour then it wouldbe wise to be wary of criticising the theory to too great an6) ……………………., otherwise adoubt mightemerge astowhetheryouroriginal explanationbasedon the theorywas anappropriate response tothe question. However,the pointremains,generally‘under- specified’ may well be a better and more accurate evaluative point than ‘reductionist’. In relation to the reductionist evaluation,it can correctly be used on some occasions to identifysome negative elements of a theory. Typically the idea here is not just that the explanation only identifies one partof a widersetof processesbut thatwithoutthe7) …………….……. givenbythese widerprocesses the individual explanationitselfhasonlylimitedvalue. So,itisnotjustthatotherfactorshave notbeen takenintoaccount,butthat otherpartsof a chainof processesare notconsidered.A commonexample here relates to the moving parts of a machine, such as a car. It might be reductionist to argue that ultimatelythe frictionbetweenthetyresandthe roadpromptsthe cartomove inaparticulardirection, but clearlyto reallyexplainthe movementof the car a muchfullersetof causal linkagesandprocesses need to be taken into account. More to the point in relation to psychology to understand a process suchas understandingwhatthe individualpatternsof black-and-whiteinthe letters meaninthis article needs a broader understanding of language and for example also the wider 8 …………………..why you mightbe readingthisarticle. Itisfairtosaythatreductionistexplanationsoftenlacka clearexplanation of the 9) ………………….. behind behaviour. However it might be worth students developing a repertoire of comments which aim to surprise the readerandfightthe tide of negative reductionistassertionsbyidentifyingoccasionswhenatheorycan be 10) …………………………commented on as being reductionist. If writing in an exam for example try to wake up your examinerand evenmake them 11) …………………………………………………………………in surprise with a sentence along the lines of ‘this is a reductionist explanation which is good because……….’. Typicallythismightapplyto biological explanations, forbehavioursuchas schizophreniawhere sucha Fallacy: A misconception,mythor justsimplyanerror and mistake !
  • 2. biologicallyreductionistexplanationassociatedwithanexcessof dopamineinthe subcortex orcentral areasof the brainhashelpedwiththe developmentof antipsychoticdrugs designedtolimitthe amount or 12) …………………………. of dopamine in these areas. One areainwhichthe ‘it’sreductionist’claimseemstobe particularlyinappropriately usedisassociated with13) ………………………………… explanationsforbehaviour.Itdoesseemratherdifficulttoimagine how suchexplanationscanpossiblybereductionist.Theydependoncomplex patternsof behaviourincluding natural and sexual selection across many, many generations, which have been in some way incorporated into our genetic inheritance. Perhaps there might be an element of reductionism if particular genes can be identified as causing particular patterns of behaviour, but research has suggested across virtually the entire range of human behaviours that this is never the case. Instead complex patternsof genes 14) …………………………….with both each other and the environmentinwhich an individual finds themselves and leading in turn to an expression of a behaviour which reflects this interactionof bothevolutionandthe currentenvironment. Here especiallyitmightbe ratherbetterto argue that the explanationisnot somuch reductionistbut15) ………………………….., as mentionedabove. More thanthis,anissue isalso thatthe particularprocessesof naturalandsexualselection,andperhaps evenchance experiences,thatgave risetothisgeneticinheritancecannotbe clearlyunderstoodasthey cannot be directly 16) ………………………... They happened inthe fardistantpast and in relationtosexual selectiontypicallyinthe privacyof couples,publicallyacknowledgedornotasthe case mighthavebeen, 17) …………………………….lives. An alternative suggestion here for students looking to criticise such explanationsistopointoutthattheyare essentially ’18) ……………………….’explanations.Thismeans that the explanation is derived 19) ………………………the event. This inductive approach can be appropriate, but suffers from the risk of being very selective. So for example evolutionary explanations tend to choose patternsof behaviour whichseem‘easy’toexplainonthe basisof previousselectionprocesses, and avoid those which are more challenging. It is by no means certain that the behaviour observed today really was caused by the explanation offered, indeed this view can often also be a fallacy. Post hoc explanationsare alsoheldundersome suspicionin quantitative researchastheycall intoquestion the normal levels of probability used to either support or challenge theory based on our results and raise the riskof atype I error. In simple terms,if Iwere tocarryout20 piecesof researchinthe general area of a topicbut withouta specifichypothesis Imightexpectbythe normal standardsof significance used in psychology the results in one of them by chance alone to have a less than or equal 0.05 probability (20……………….) of occurring by chance. If I simply select this set of results and construct a hypothesis aboutitafterthe event,whichI can thenargue the resultssupport, I’mguiltyof a post hoc analysisasI am selectivelychoosingthe apparentlysignificantresults. (There isa wayto deal withthis knownas a Bonferroni adjustmentbutthisisgettinga little tootechnical at thisstage !). But more the point in relation to evolutionary explanations, as I mentioned above, it is wise to be wary of deeming them reductionist and instead worth exploring the idea of them being either under specified,or post hoc, or perhaps both of these. Evolutionaryexplanations for example are often used as one of the explanationsforsexual selectionandhumanreproductive behaviour.Clearlythere hasbeenevolution involvedinthis!Butthe explanationstypicallyofferedseemtosimplifyandgeneraliseanysuchpatterns of sexual selection and human reproductive behaviour, for example emphasising claimed 21) ……………………………between heterosexual male and female behaviour and avoiding what many might considertobe a keycharacteristicof humanbehaviourwhichisassociatedwith 22) ……………………. and adaptivenesstonewcircumstances. But because the actual evolutionaryprocesseswhichgave rise to thisflexibilityandadaptivenessare rathermore difficulttoidentify andcomplex the ‘underspecified’ and ‘post hoc’ evolutionary explanations tend to under emphasise these and instead choose to focus on more stereotypical patternsof heterosexualmale andfemale behaviour. Itmay alsobe valuable as a commentary in an answer to point out that any that any such evolutionary explanations are also generally ’23) ……………………………..’. This, in simple terms means that they are not really 24) …………………………but are really more a set of beliefs and it is not possible to really find evidence to
  • 3. challenge the actual evolutionaryprocessesinvolved,aswe cannotgo back in 25) …………………..and see these operating in a controlled way. We might be able to observe behaviour today which is 26) …………………………….with the theories, but this is not the same as being reasonably certain that these behavioursevolvedinthe waystated. It may be that people behave ina way whichis consistentwith the theoriesbecause theyhave 27) ………………………..aboutthe theories,notbecause theyhave evolved to behave in this way. Mind there are some other fallacieshere as well which are oftenexpressedby students. One is that in an era of increasing female independence some of the old patterns of heterosexual sexual selection such as females selecting males on the basis of potential resource provisionare diminishing,withitisoftenarguedfemalesnotneedingmalestoprovide thisservice and being able to survive quite comfortably as single parents and with consequent changes in patternsof sexual and relationship selection. However whilst thiscan clearly be the case to a certain extent and for some individuals,increasing socio economic inequality and demands associated with child-rearing suggest that resources from two parents are increasingly important. In fact, although less commonly advanced as a theory it seems more that male heterosexual selectioncriteria are changing,with it no longer sufficient for a female to provide evidence of potential fertilitybut also to provide evidence of the abilityaswelltooffer28) …………………….provisionforboththerelationshipandthecare of anyfuture offspring. Whichmayof course be partof the reason,overandabove the personal senseof satisfaction at the realisation and development of your own 29) ………………….., why some of you may be reading thisarticle. Whateverthe case, myargumentremainsthat it iswise to be wary of simplydeeming any such explanations to be reductionist ! They are anything but, are actually oftenvery complex but may well be under-specified,post–hocandnotfalsifiable. And,more tothe pointperhaps,theseideasmay alsoget youthe 30) ………………. that you want! Verygoodluckof course withthis,I am sure that you deserve a satisfying grade – especially having worked your way through this. abilities differences intimate resource reductionist after evolutionary learned observed scientific availability extent meaning p ≤ 0.05 stating consistent fall off theirchair neuropsychological positively time context flexibility non-falsifiable posthoc under-specified Dalek interact grade reasons under-specified
  • 4. One of the mostfrequent,andfranklyfrequentlydisappointing,commentaryorevaluationpointsmade by studentsisaclaimthat one theoryor another,orsometimesitseemseverytheory,is‘reductionist’. Occasionallystudentsmake anattemptto substantiate andexplainthisclaimbutall toooftenseemto feel thatsimplystatingthatsomethingis‘reductionist’issufficienttogaincredit.Sadly,thisisinvariably not the case.The aim of thisshort article isto call the ‘reductionist’commentarypointintoquestionas all too often being a fallacy and to offer some alternatives to this. Perhapspart of the problemisthat in some waythe term itself seemstohave a soundof negativityor disapproval,aharshhissingsoundatthe endof the word. In thiscontextitmay be betterfor students to stop perceiving it as something that would be chanted in unison and celebration at a Dalek conventionandinsteadtoviewthe termin a more positive way, perhapstobe usedin a seminarby a neuropsychological researcher, introducing a new area of research which had identified a specific pattern of cause and effect at the level of neurons in the brain and which had the potential for new treatments. Studentstendtouse the reductionisttermwhentheywanttoexpressanideathatsomethinghasbeen oversimplified, and does not take all the possible interacting factors into account. In this case it may well be better to argue that something is ‘under specified’ rather than ‘reductionist’. The idea of something being ‘under specified’ then can be elaborated, perhaps identifying what additional and importantfactors seemto have beenomittedfromthe original explanation,althoughevenhere there can be a potential trapforstudents.If youhave beenaskedinaquestiontoidentifyatheorytoexplain particularpatternof behaviourthenitwouldbe wise tobe waryof criticisingthe theorytotoogreatan extent, otherwise a doubt might emerge as to whether your original explanationbased on the theory was an appropriate response tothe question. However,the pointremains,generally‘under-specified’ may well be a better and more accurate evaluative point than ‘reductionist’. In relation to the reductionist evaluation,it can correctly be used on some occasions to identifysome negative elements of a theory. Typically the idea here is not just that the explanation only identifies one part of a wider set of processes but that without the context given by these wider processesthe individual explanation itself has only limited value. So, it is not just that other factors have not been takenintoaccount,butthat otherpartsof a chainof processesare notconsidered.A commonexample here relates to the moving parts of a machine, such as a car. It might be reductionist to argue that ultimatelythe frictionbetweenthetyresandthe roadpromptsthe cartomove inaparticulardirection, but clearlytoreallyexplainthe movementof the car a muchfullersetof causal linkagesandprocesses need to be taken into account. More to the point in relation to psychology to understand a process such asunderstandingwhatthe individual patternsof black-and-whiteinthe lettersmeaninthe article needsa broaderunderstandingof language andforexample also the widerreasonswhyyoumightbe reading this article. It is fair to say that reductionist explanationsoften lack a clear explanationof the meaning behind behaviour. However it might be worth students developing a repertoire of comments which aim to surprise the readerandfightthe tide of negative reductionistassertionsbyidentifyingoccasionswhenatheorycan be positively commented on as being reductionist. If writing in an exam for example try to wake up yourexaminerandevenmake themfalloff theirchairinsurprisewithasentence alongthe linesof ‘this is a reductionist explanation which is good because……….’. Typically this might apply to biological explanations, for behaviour such as schizophrenia where such a biologically reductionist explanation associated with an excessof dopamine inthe sub cortex or central areas of the brain has helped with Fallacy: A misconception,mythor justsimplyanerror and mistake !
  • 5. the development of antipsychotic drugs designed to limit the amount or availabilityof dopamine in these areas. One areainwhichthe ‘it’sreductionist’claimseemstobe particularlyinappropriatelyusedisassociated with evolutionary explanations for behaviour. It does seem rather difficult to imagine how such explanations can possibly be reductionist.They depend on complex patterns of behaviour including natural and sexual selection across many, many generations, which have been in some way incorporated into our genetic inheritance. Perhaps there might be an element of reductionism if particular genes can be identified as causing particular patterns of behaviour, but research has suggested across virtually the entire range of human behaviours that this is never the case. Instead complex patterns of genes interact with both each other and the environment in which an individual finds themselves and leadingin turn to an expression of a behaviour which reflectsthis interactionof bothevolutionandthe currentenvironment. Hereespeciallyitmightbe ratherbettertoargue that the explanation is not so much reductionist but under-specified, as mentioned above. More thanthis,anissue isalsothatthe particularprocessesof naturalandsexualselection,andperhaps evenchance experiences,thatgave risetothisgeneticinheritancecannotbe clearlyunderstoodasthey cannot be directly observed. They happenedin the far distant past and in relation to sexual selection typicallyinthe privacyof couples,publicallyacknowledgedornotasthe case mighthavebeen, intimate lives. An alternative suggestion here for students looking to criticise such explanationsis to point out that they are essentially ‘post hoc’ explanations.This means that the explanation is derived after the event.Thisinductive approachcanbe appropriate,butsuffersfromthe riskof beingveryselective. So for example evolutionary explanations tend to choose patterns of behaviour which seem ‘easy’ to explainonthe basisof previousselectionprocesses,andavoidthose whichare more challenging. It is by no means certain that the behaviour observed today reallywas caused by the explanation offered, indeedthisviewcan oftenalsobe a fallacy.Post hoc explanationsare also heldundersome suspicion inquantitative researchastheycall intoquestionthe normal levelsof probabilityusedtoeithersupport or challenge theorybasedonour resultsand raise the riskof a type I error. In simple terms,if I were to carry out20 piecesof researchinthe generalareaof atopicbutwithoutaspecifichypothesisImight expectbythe normal standardsof significance usedinpsychologythe resultsinone of thembychance alone to have a lessthan or equal 0.05 probability( p ≤ 0.05) of occurring by chance. If I simplyselect thissetof resultsandconstructa hypothesisaboutitafterthe event,whichIcanthenargue the results support,I’m guiltyof a post hoc analysisas I am selectivelychoosingthe apparentlysignificantresults. (There isawaytodeal withthisknownasaBonferroniadjustment butthisisgettingalittletootechnical at thisstage !).But more the point inrelationto evolutionaryexplanations,asI mentionedabove,itis wise tobe waryof deemingthemreductionistandinsteadworthexploringtheideaof thembeingeither underspecified,orposthoc,orperhapsbothof these. Evolutionaryexplanationsforexampleare often used as one of the explanationsfor sexual selectionand human reproductive behaviour. Clearlythere has been evolution involved in this! But the explanations typically offered seem to simplify and generalise any such patterns of sexual selection and human reproductive behaviour, for example emphasisingclaimeddifferencesbetweenheterosexual male andfemale behaviourandavoidingwhat many mightconsiderto be a keycharacteristicof human behaviourwhichisassociatedwithflexibility andadaptivenesstonewcircumstances. Butbecausethe actual evolutionaryprocesseswhichgave rise tothisflexibilityandadaptivenessare rathermoredifficulttoidentifyandcomplex the ‘underspecified’ and ‘post hoc’ evolutionary explanations tend to under emphasise these and instead choose to focus on more stereotypical patternsof heterosexualmale andfemale behaviour. Itmay alsobe valuable as a commentary in an answer to point out that any that any such evolutionary explanations are also generally ‘non-falsifiable’. This,in simple terms means that they are not really scientific but are really more a set of beliefsand it is not possible to really find evidence to challenge the actual evolutionary processesinvolved,aswe cannotgobackintime andseetheseoperatinginacontrolledway. We might be able to observe behaviour today which is consistent with the theories, but this is not the same as
  • 6. beingreasonablycertainthatthese behavioursevolvedinthe waystated. Itmaybe thatpeoplebehave in a way which is consistent with the theories because they have learned about the theories, not because they have evolved to behave in this way. Mind there are some other fallacies here as well whichare oftenexpressedbystudents. One isthat in an era of increasingfemaleindependence some of the old patterns of heterosexual sexual selectionsuch as females selecting males on the basis of potential resource provision are diminishing, with it is often argued females not needing males to provide thisservice andbeingable tosurvive quite comfortablyassingle parentsandwithconsequent changesinpatternsof sexual andrelationshipselection. Howeverwhilst thiscanclearlybe the case to a certainextentandforsome individuals,increasingsocioeconomicinequalityanddemandsassociated withchild-rearingsuggestthatresourcesfromtwoparentsare increasinglyimportant. Infact,although less commonly advanced as a theory it seems more that male heterosexual selection criteria are changing, with it no longer sufficient for a female to provide evidence of potential fertility but also to provide evidenceof the abilityaswelltoofferresource provision forboththe relationshipandthe care of anyfuture offspring.Whichmayof course be part of the reason,overandabove the personal sense of satisfactionatthe realisationanddevelopmentof yourownabilities,whysomeof youmaybe reading thisarticle. Whateverthe case, myargumentremainsthat it iswise to be wary of simplydeemingany such explanations to be reductionist ! They are anything but, are actually oftenvery complex but may well be under-specified,post–hocandnotfalsifiable. And, more tothe pointperhaps,theseideasmay also get you the grade that you want ! Mark Ingall