Monthly Archives: May 2016

Steve Pinker demolishes John Horgan’s view of war

Why Evolution Is True

As you may recall, Science Contrarian John Horgan’s notorious “admonition to skeptics” blog post at Scientific American criticized the entire skeptical community for its supposed failure to campaign against war. That “hard target”, said Horgan, should take precedence over our attempts to attack “soft targets” like homeopathy, global warming denialism, and opposition to vaccination and GMO foods.  But he also criticized those who propounded what he called the “deep-roots theory of war”.  Let me refresh you on what he said (note that every single one of his “references” goes to a Horgan blog post!):


The biological theory that really drives me nuts is the deep-roots theory of war. According to the theory, lethal group violence is in our genes. Its roots reach back millions of years, all the way to our common ancestor with chimpanzees.

The deep-roots theory is promoted by scientific heavy hitters like Harvard’s Steven Pinker, Richard Wrangham and Edward…

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What do we know about the ecology of pairbond stability?

What features of the environments that people live in, whether in small-scale foraging societies like the !Kung or in industrialized societies like my own, lead to changes in the stability of marriage?

Late in 2015, I was asked to provide a brief review of science’s progress toward answering that question. I was invited to contribute a chapter on the “Ecology of Pairbond Stability” to the upcoming Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science edited by Shackelford and Weekes-Shackelford and due to be published in print in 2018.

Update (13 Nov 16):

My chapter has been accepted and is now published! The published version is behind a paywall. Springer allows some degree of open access, though, by permitting me to make the accepted mansuscript available on my website.

  • Kushnick G, 2016. Ecology of pairbond stability. In Shackelford T & Weekes-Shackelford V (eds.), Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science (pp.1-7). NY: Springer, doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_111-1.

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PLOS Funding for Conference Presentation

Public Library of Science (PLOS) is offering grants for conference travel. They are small purses ($500) and the requirements are stringent — must be a grad student or graduated a PhD in past 5 years, must have published in PLOS journal, must be presenting during a narrow range of dates — but they still might be worth applying.

More information here:

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