A little over a year ago, I reviewed David Buller’s anti-Evolutionary Psychology book, Adapting Minds, arguing that, at least in the most important chapter, it fell far short of “demolishing” Evolutionary Psychology, as one philosopher claimed it had done. The problem, I noted, is that Buller didn’t refer to the bulk of the relevant research, including research that directly addresses the arguments he makes. I charitably stated that he was probably ignorant of the literature, but in a new review of the book, Edouard Machery and Clark Barrett, who also point out the lack of references to the relevant literature, claim the ommissions were selective. They also note that Buller misrepresents the claims of Evolutionary Psychology (something I discussed as welll), and that in the end, most of his specific arguments don’t work. The review is worth reading if you’ve read or are considering reading Buller’s book, or if you’re into EP.
At this point, I’d say that Buller’s book has been rendered worthless, as its arguments no longer carry any force. That is a shame, because we could use a good book that discusses the many problems with Evolutionary Psychology that can be read by non-psychologists. Hopefuly Buller’s mistakes — lack of knowledge of the literature and/or selectively using it, not arguing against what Evolutionary Psychologists actually say, but against your own straw man version of that — will serve as lessons for future authors (and hopefuly they won’t use long-debunked Gouldian arguments, either).