cases the data on which the claims are based may be biased or incomplete, and sometimes the research methods are not rigorous enough to exclude alternative explanations for the findings. Buller argues, for example, how results of a card-choosing task, designed to illustrate the brain’s “cheating detector” module, could also be explained by a nonmodular brain just acting logically. “Although the Evolutionary Psychology paradigm is a bold and innovative explanatory framework, I believe it has failed to provide an accurate understanding of human psychology from an evolutionary perspective,” he wrote.17
Buller’s criticisms reflect the latest stage of a long-running controversy about the role of genes and evolution in shaping human culture and patterns of behavior, an issue commonly framed as a battle of nature versus nurture—genes versus environment. The Evolutionary Psychology view ascribes enormous power to the role of genetic endowment in directing human behavior; many scientists, philosophers, and scholars of other stripes find the belief in the dictatorial determinism of genetic power to be particularly distasteful.
In any case, objections such as Buller’s—whether they turn out to be well founded or not—should not be regarded as support for the extreme view (sometimes still expressed, surprisingly) that rejects any role for genes in behavior—or more precisely, in differences among humans in their behavior. Without genes, of course, there is no behavior—because there would be no brain, and no body, to begin with. The real question is whether variations in individual genetic makeup contribute to the wide variety of behavioral tendencies found among people and cultures. In recent years, the most thoughtful investigators of this issue have tended to agree that genes do matter, to some degree or another. Anyone who says that genes don’t matter at all has clearly not been paying attention to modern molecular genetics research, particularly in neuroscience. And modern neuroscience does even provide some evidence for modularity in many brain functions, as Evolutionary Psychologists argue. But the latest neuroscience also undercuts the Evolutionary Psychology paradigm in a major way by showing