think the hard story about cultural universality, you can reject,” Camerer said.15
It’s important to perceive, I think, that these are not the knee-jerk reactions against “genetic determinism” expressed by some enemies of evolutionary psychology and its intellectual predecessor, sociobiology. These are evidence-driven conclusions about evolutionary psychology’s limitations. While evolutionary psychology has benefited from a surge of often favorable publicity over the last decade or so, more and more thoughtful critiques (as opposed to vitriolic polemics) have begun to appear.
One of the more interesting critiques comes from philosopher David Buller, of Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, who critically assessed the methodological rigor underlying several of evolutionary psychology’s claimed “successes” and found that the evidence for them was actually ambiguous. In a book published in 2005 and in a paper published the same year in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Buller distinguished the mere study of evolution’s relationship to psychology—evolutionary psychology with a lowercase e and p—from Evolutionary Psychology, the paradigm based on the “doctrine of a universal human nature” and the “assumption that the adaptational architecture of the mind is massively modular.”
“Evolutionary Psychologists argue that our psychological adaptations are ‘modules,’ or special-purpose ‘minicomputers,’ each of which evolved during the Pleistocene to solve a problem of survival or reproduction faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors,” Buller wrote.16
He contends that many of the “discoveries” claimed by evolutionary psychologists crumble under critical analysis. Evolutionary psychologists say their work explains sex differences in jealousy, an innate ability to detect “cheating” (as when someone fails to perform an obligation incurred in return for receiving some benefit), and a tendency of parents to abuse stepchildren more than their own genetic offspring. But however plausible the Evolutionary Psychology explanations might be, Buller says, the actual evidence underlying them suffers from a number of defects. In some