Egyptian female journalist peppers Shalit with sadistic questions prior to his release; and, does evolutionary psychology explain her behavior?

Timothy A. writes:

Egyptian journalist Shahira Amin is one of the heroes of the Egyptian uprising due to her resignation from her position with a state-owned television outlet to protest government censorship of coverage of the uprising. She has now shown her true colors by conducting an interview with Gilad Shalit that he was forced to participate in before he would be returned to Israel. The interview was shown on Egyptian national television. Shalit, painfully thin and having visible difficulty breathing, was subjected to a barrage of unspeakably cruel and jaw-droppingly stupid questions. Example—“What lessons did you learn from your captivity?” If Amin truly represents the pinnacle of Arab womanhood, then covering them with a burqa and locking them in the kitchen looks much more reasonable.

LA replies:

Not a surprise. According to Islam, Jews are the enemies of Allah and don’t deserve to live. So if a Jew has just been released from five years as the prisoner of kidnappers, naturally the first thing you ask him is if he has “learned any lessons” from his captivity, i.e., if he has learned any lessons about the wrong that Israel does to the Muslim nation by virtue of existing. Also, the question of whether or not Amin knew that Shalit was being forced to participate in the interview is secondary. The main point is the questions she asked him.

Shalit has the familiar starved, wasted, haunted look of the just-released concentration camp prisoners at the end of World War II. Imagine a reporter encountering a just-liberated, gaunt, starved-to-the-bone concentration camp prisoner and asking him: “Have you learned any lessons from your captivity?”

- end of initial entry -

Aditya B. writes:

Asia Times columnist “Spengler” had this to say about Muslim male treatment of their wives:

In every corner of the world and in every epoch of history, the men and women of every culture deserve each other. Permit me to call this conjecture “Spengler’s Universal Law of Gender Parity.” Of all the silly plans advanced by Americans to remake the world in their own image, raising the banner of women’s rights has the smallest chance of success. Where men subjugate women physically, women ravage them psychologically. That may explain why violence toward women and secret homosexuality so often are endemic in the same cultures.

Although Spengler did not address any specific attributes of Muslim women, this much is easily discerned: they are as savage and as ruthless as their men. There wasn’t a hint of sympathy or humanity during the course of Amin’s interview of Shalit. The interview itself was just another form of ritualized humiliation. And it’s not just the interview. It’s the sight of Arab women celebrating Israeli and Jewish deaths and the fact that Arab mothers proudly send their children off to kill the hated Yehud (and Americans) supports the conclusion that they are as bestial as their men.

Anyone who has had the misfortune of shopping in an upscale mall in any metropolitan Western city can attest to the boorishness and damnable arrogance of head-scarved Arab women. I have seen them descend upon such malls in Los Angeles and London. I have noted that they never demonstrate any common courtesy. I have never so much as heard them breathe a “thank you” or an “excuse me.” [LA replies: The Koran says: You shall not be friends with the Christians and Jews.”]

G-d has an odd sense of humour and so he has directed undeserved wealth into their hands which has done nothing to civilize them. They were, are, and are likely to remain primitive, brutal and arrogant.

Now, if we could only separate ourselves from them …

Forta Leza writes:

Arab and Muslim women are notorious for beating their servants. When you hear about a domestic servant who was severely mistreated in the US, there’s always a good chance it was an Arab or Muslim woman who did it.

Anyway, turning to the attitudes of Egyptians, the fact is that women everywhere have a strong tendency to go along with the dominant feelings in their culture. In the 1930s in Germany, girls were generally devoted Nazis. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes a lot of sense. There is little evolutionary benefit for a girl who goes against the consensus.

LA replies:

Isn’t it marvelous how much “evolutionary science” adds to our understanding? Why, without evolutionary science we would be at a complete loss to understand why people tend to conform to the prevailing norms of their society.

October 20

Sage McLaughlin writes:

I realize this is a tangent, but I had to chuckle at your remark to Forta Leza that “without evolutionary science we would be at a complete loss to understand why people tend to conform to the prevailing norms of their society.” This is an elementary point, but it’s always worth noting the extent to which the awe-inspiring “explanatory power” of evolutionary psychology depends on post-hoc explanations for things that require no explanation. It’s of course possible to conjure an evolutionary rationale for anything anybody does, whether such a rationale is necessary or not (just as it’s possible to explain without refutation every human action as motivated by self-interest, if you really want to commit to that explanation of human behavior). And the more commonsense the behavior the more seemingly powerful the confirmation of evolutionary theory. (What benefit could we expect to accrue to women who resist social norms, whether macroevolution happens or not?) Of course, when some behavior has no immediately plausible evolutionary rationale, we are told that surely there must be some such rationale, though we don’t know what it is.

Evolutionary psychology’s popularity rests on the fact that anybody can consider himself an evolutionary psychologist, and come up with “scientific” explanations for things he sees every day. I’m currently enrolled in a course in biogeography, and we’re covering evolution right now, so this subject is fresh in my mind. As I listened to this week’s lecture, the thought kept running through my mind, “What would contrary evidence to this theory even look like?” If it’s hardly possible to contradict a supposedly scientific theory except by non-scientific arguments, then I doubt whether the theory is scientifically well grounded in the first place. The professor’s entire lecture consisted of showing that evolutionary theory “would predict” this or that phenomenon, without showing why some other explanation would not suffice just as well. He has a theory that can be called upon to explain stuff, but I have another theory which also explains stuff. So his preference for his theory is just that—his preference.

Anyway, I’m sorry to hit you with obvious things like this. As I say, it’s just been on the brain this week. (Which is exactly what one would expect, since remembering what happened two days ago is probably a huge evolutionary advantage over forgetting everything the instant it happens.)

Jake F. writes:

You said:

Isn’t it marvelous how much “evolutionary science” adds to our understanding? Why, without evolutionary science we would be at a complete loss to understand why people tend to conform to the prevailing norms of their society.

That was funny.

Patrick H. writes:

To be fair to the commenter, evolutionary psychology does indeed add to our understanding of why the Egyptian female journalist behaved the way she did. The issue is not of why “people” conform to the prevailing trends, but why women do. And not only conform, but actively work to enforce conformity, through shaming, isolation, withholding. And why women are so heartless toward anyone they deem an enemy of their people (their “people” being anyone they view as a member of their extended family). Women are never a revolutionary force. Women will always accommodate themselves to the existing power structure of society by seeking to mate with its dominant male members. Women will defend the interests of the powerful at the expense of reason and morality, ferociously, mindlessly, without a dollop of simple human feeling, without the barest tincture of concern with fairness. Without compassion. If a society comes under attack, women will insist that their men defend it to the death, but should those men fail and that society be conquered, those same women will without a backward glance accommodate themselves to the new male power structure without any sense of guilt or shame. Women are never a force for change. They are always and everywhere a force for stasis. They collaborate actively, intensely, with feeling and energy, with the powers that be, whoever they are. They always resist change, innovation, revolt and revolution. They always give themselves over to the big boys. Evolutionary psychology predicts this behaviour by women, so often shocking to men when we encounter it, and therefore genuinely does illuminate something about the human race, particularly its distaff side. Something unpleasant, to be sure. But true nonetheless.

LA replies:

But of course the great majority of men also conform to the prevailing norms of their society, or else in our society there would not be any male liberals, in Communist society there wouldn’t have been any male Communists, and in Molech-worshipping societies there wouldn’t have been any male Molech worshippers.

Evolutionary psychology is so great because it explains everything. Some people are sociable—it’s because of evolutionary psychology. Some people are rebellious—it’s because of evolutionary psychology. Men are more aggressive than women—it’s because of evolutionary psychology. Women are more conformist than men—it’s because of evolutionary psychology. Men are attracted to the female form and crave female companionship—it’s because of evolutionary psychology. Women desire strength and decisiveness in a man and are attracted to the male form and crave male companionship—it’s because of evolutionary psychology. Women seek emotional and material security—it’s because of evolutionary psychology. Oh, also men enjoy male companionship and females enjoy female companionship—it’s because of evolutionary psychology. Bosses dominate their subordinates—it’s because of evolutionary psychology. Subordinates try to please their bosses—it’s because of evolutionary psychology. Children play with toys—it’s because of evolutionary psychology. Boys play with trucks and guns—it’s because of evolutionary psychology. Girls play with dolls—it’s because of evolutionary psychology. Parents teach their children and correct their behavior—it’s because of evolutionary psychology. A hundred years ago most people followed the norms of monogamy—it was because of evolutionary psychology. Today many people follow the norms of promiscuity or of serial non-marital hook-ups—it’s because of evolutionary psychology. People ten thousand years ago worshipped the forces of nature and the cosmos—it was because of evolutionary psychology. People a thousand years ago worshipped the transcendent God—it was because of evolutionary psychology. People today worship evolutionary psychology—it’s because of evolutionary psychology. “Evolutionary psychology” is a transparent fraud, an empty placeholder posing as the key to the universe.

Daniel H. writes:

Thanks for drawing my attention to the nice exchange about evolutionary psychology. As someone who used to be not only under thrall of the “explanatory power” of this theory that explains everything, but who was also an active proselytizer, it’s good to read such a forceful rebuttal. Your comments and those of Sage McLaughlin were nice and bracing, like cold water after a shave.

I will say, though, that Patrick H.’s comment is important too. Ignoring for a moment what he says about evolutionary psychology being the cause, what he says about women not being revolutionaries is true. Men who decry the feminist regime we live under (and now I’m taking this discussion doubly off course, my apologies) should remember that we don’t have to defeat the feminist women, only the feminist men. If anti-feminist men gain power, we will soon see women claiming to have been anti-feminist all along. Sure, a cadre of hard-core dead-ender Harvard professors will protest, but your average American woman will quickly change her ways if only the men in this country take charge.

A heartening thought, for me at least.

LA replies:

I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you. But if we assume for the sake of discussion that your premise is correct, it’s also true that we don’t have to defeat leftist women, only leftist men. We don’t have to defeat open-borders women, only open borders men. We don’t have to defeat cap and trade women, only cap and trade men. We didn’t have to defeat Nazi women, only Nazi men. We didn’t have to defeat Communist women, only Communist men. My point is that any of the truths supposedly arising from evolutionary psychology—those truths that supposedly could not be known without evolutionary psychology—are true across the board. They don’t add any particular insights to any particular issue. As I’ve said about Steve Sailer’s status competition theory of liberalism, if status competition is true, then it’s true in all societies, and doesn’t tell us anything in particular about liberal society. So it’s a phony explanation.

James P. writes:

What made the four punks beat the old geezer?

Evolutionary psychology.

What makes the geezer deny the motive for the attacks and return each day for a possible future beating?

Evolutionary psychology.

LA replies:

Ha ha ha ha.

Perfect. Better than any of my examples.

Patrick H. writes:

It’s odd when I read here on VFR the very same criticism of evolutionary psychology as that offered by the Marxist pseudo-scientist Stephen Jay Gould and echoed endlessly by radical feminists. And in the very same words, no less. You do know that the “just-so stories” criticism of evolutionary psychology comes from Gould? [LA replies: No, I did not know that.] Evolutionary psychology is hated by Marxists like Gould because it is the best antidote to the Blank Slate delusion that there is no such thing as human nature. It is hated by radical feminists because it is the best antidote to the delusion that there are no innate differences between men and women. Indeed, evolutionary psychology has met with the greatest resistance when it has described and tried to explain the recurrent cross-culturally universal differences between men and women. Its explanations are not “just-so stories.” They are attempts to root the universal cross-cultural differences between men and women in their universally cross-culturally biologically different bodies and brains. [LA replies: I’m not particularly interested in the debate between the Blank Slate theorists and the evolutionary psychologists, because I think both views are wrong. The main alternative to Blank Slate theory is not evolutionary psychology, but the insight that man has a nature, that human beings have natures. I do not necessarily dismiss “micro evolution”—i.e., change within a species—altogether. The differentiation of different human groups under different environmental circumstances may account for some of the qualities of human groups. But the evolutionists go way, way beyond that, explaining everything about human beings—even the basic characteristics and interrelations of the sexes themselves—as the result of “evolution,” i.e., as the result of random genetic mutations naturally selected. In other words, you claim that evolutionism attributes a nature to man, a nature denied by the Blank Slate theorists. In reality, evolutionism also denies that man has a nature, because it says that everything about man does not come from something innate in man, but from something that was acquired as a result of random accidental mutations that were naturally selected because they helped individuals with those mutations produce more offspring. The true opposite to the Blank Slate is not evolutionary science, but Traditionalism. The true opposite to the Blank Slate is not Darwin, but that amalgam of Biblical revelation, classical reason, non-reductive material science, and common sense that is traditional Western culture. ]

Evolutionary psychology can be misused, especially by pop science journalists who leak their pens over paper and produce junk science such as you listed. [LA replies: I do not accept this convenient differentiation between “real scientists” and “pop journalists.” The scientists and the journalists are all part of one project, the Darwinian project aimed at convincing mankind that Darwinian evolution by random mutations naturally selected is the source of all living and human things, that man is nothing but the product of mindless naturalistic phenomena. The notion that any kind of conservatism can arise out of a naturalistic, materialistic, reductionist view of man is purest delusion. Sure, materialist evolutionary psychology can be seen as explaining traditional morality. But hey, it also explains sexual liberation. It explains EVERYTHING. So it cannot be the basis of any particular vision of society, let alone a traditionalist society. ] But evolutionary psychology has done more to dispel the miasma of Blank Slate thinking than any other intellectual development in the last fifty years. The Blank Slate utterly dominated the intellectual life of the West for the middle years of the twentieth century. And it has blood on its hands—the millions of martyrs to Marxism died because they did indeed have a human nature and weren’t blank slates to be re-written by the State. And radical feminism of the Blank Slate sort, whose havoc has been more subtle but perhaps more ultimately harmful, has been damaged beyond resuscitation by evolutionary psychology with its insights into the cross-cultural, universal, innate bodily and brain-mediated ineradicable differences between men and women. As illustrated—perhaps—in the example, if such it be—of the behaviour shown by the Egyptian female journalist. No attempt was made at universe-key waving. Not by me. [LA replies: Excuse me, but one does not need evolutionary psychology to understand “the cross-cultural, universal, innate bodily and brain-mediated ineradicable differences between men and women.” Those innate bodily and brain-mediated ineradicable differences are THERE. Just as the biology of our bodies is THERE. Just as the chemistry in the cells of our bodies is THERE. As I’ve pointed out many times, it is a propagandistic falsehood that biological knowledge is indispensably founded on Darwinian evolutionary theory, that Darwinism is the pillar of biology. You could remove Darwinian evolutionary theory, and all the knowledge we have of biology would still be there.]

October 21

LA writes:

I sent James P.’s comment to a few correspondents including Dean Ericson. Mr. Ericson writes back:

Evolutionary psychology made you send that to us.

(I’m getting the hang of it.)

Kristor writes:

I got a good laugh out of James P.’s comment.

Thing is, evolutionary psychology is rather like the Anthropic Principle, which says that the physical laws and constants of the universe had to be tuned just exactly as they are for stars, planets, or life to exist. Both doctrines bring to light fascinating aspects of the world, but both say, in effect, that things had to have evolved the way that they evolved in order to have evolved in just the way that they have evolved.

As the Anthropic Principle supervenes on physics, so evo psych supervenes on Game Theory. Human behavior is in general rationally fitted to real life, it says, in that it is informed by mathematics, just like the rest of the world. The forms that it discovers, and the math that inform them, are beautiful. But evo psych and physics are and must be silent in respect to the question, “Why are things informed in this way?” Or, in Traditionalist terms, “Why do things have the natures that they have?” It’s a basic question, that no discipline aimed at elucidating those forms and natures, or describing their relations—i.e., no science of natural history—is going to be able to answer.

To answer that question, one must resort to metaphysics, and thence to theology. This is why, in considering the amazing facts adduced in support of the Anthropic Principle, one feels almost forced to infer a Creator. The only alternative is the one taken by Darwinism, which answers, “There is no reason why things happened as they did; they happened for no reason at all.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 19, 2011 06:08 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):