"Monkeys on our backs" by Richard Tokumei will not even make good toilet paper

Richard Tokumei has written a book that is so bad he is ashamed to put his own name on it. "Richard Tokumei" is the pen name of a 'writer/editor in Southern California [with] degrees in Humanities and Phychology from the University of California Berkeley" and he has produced a book designed to anger everyone who hears of it in order to create needless sensation and thus, sell copies. Which, once people get their hands on, will make rather low quality toilet paper.

Monkeys On Our Backs: Why Conservatives and Liberals Are Both Wrong About Evolution includes an inexplicable mix of "correct" statements about evolution and how to think about evolution along with misuses, abuses, and misunderstandings of evolution that those very statements guard against. "Tokumei" warns against the naturalistic fallacy, but uses it as the basis for his arguments whenever convenient. He repeats statements made by evolutionary biologists that make it clear that evolution is not teleological or goal directed, but assumes it is, and requires goal directness for important parts of his arguments to work. He presents the entirety of evolutionary or biological models, research, discussion, and data regarding human behavior as a simplified and naive "Pinkeresque" view, and this allows him to indicate why liberals hate Evolution. He also presents evolution, or more accurately, Darwinism, using the exact model pushed these days by the Discovery Institute as a straw man for disdain by conservatives. "Tokumei" makes the very annoying statement that Evolution is pretty easy to understand and then proceeds to misunderstand, sometimes willfully sometimes not, it would appear, the process. He hates socialism with utter disdain and never fails to link the term with Liberal policies and 'prove' that these policies are evil. Despite the thinly veiled attempt to paint this book as an even-handed fact-based critique of both the left and the right, it is only an attack on the left, with the critique of the right having little more strength than a piece of used toilet paper left to languish in an unflushed toilet. Which is where this book belongs.

I didn't like it.

But Satoshi Kanazawa did, I assume, because he wrote the forward! Go figure!

In case you are wondering, Tokumei has very few anagrams. Try letter substitution if you want to identify him that way. Waste of time, though. Off hand, the following results could signify: Andrews, Baldwin, Bismark, and Codfish. The book appears to be self published.

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Don't hold back, Greg. Tell us what you really feel.

....Sounds pretty appalling. I'm sure my beloved family will be quoting it at me any day now.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 29 May 2011 #permalink

"I didn't like it."


"Richard Tokumei" is the pen name of a 'writer/editor in Southern California [with] degrees in Humanities and Phychology from the University of California Berkeley

Ha! What do phychologists know about evolution anyway?

"Tokumei" is Japanese for "anonymous".

Pseudonyms are fine for fiction and maybe for biographies. But any book that purports to "present facts" needs a real name if the writer wants any credibility. Even the idots who wrote "The Bell Curve" put their real names on it.


So, this was written by Kanazawa perhaps?

The name of the publisher, by the way, is "books"

Which is likely Japanese for something ... not sure what, though.

"Ha! What do psychologists know about evolution anyway?
Well if they don't they are not well enough educated.
On the other hand some evolutionary models of behavior are simplistic. Try explaining "honor killing" in terms of kin selection.

Kanazawa is one of those social "scientists" who is more interested in justifying why some people have more privilege than others.

Christ, the guy seems to have it in for black folks in particular.

@sailor -- evolutionary psychology is like its cousin psychology -- not really a science yet, as it has no real predictive power that defines a good theory.

(That is, there is no psychological theory of behavior I am aware of that predicts anything about people in the same general way that physics predicts a ball will make a sort-of-parabola when you toss it. Evolutionary psychology has the problem that too often the people doing it base their premise on a very narrow range of societal possibilities).

Zeno -

Ha! What do phychologists know about evolution anyway?

While I don't have an evolutionary biologists knowledge of evolution, I know as much as any other reasonably well educated non-biologist.

Jesse -

Is there anything that isn't physics, that qualifies as science in your world? Because there aren't any theories out there that have the predictive power of what shape the trajectory of a tossed ball will make. If, on the other hand, you accept that most science is about best evidence, psychology actually makes a whole hell of a lot of predictions about human behavior in a variety of contexts. And really, what we do know is rather remarkable, given the innumerable variables involved in human behavior.

Evolutionary psychology has the problem that too often the people doing it base their premise on a very narrow range of societal possibilities).

No. Evolutionary psychology has the problem of being inundated with fucking morons who believe that science = pretending that commonsensical notions that support their race/sex based biases, based on Western ideals - for the most part, white undergrad ideals. What really sucks about that, is that evo-psych actually has valid purposes that are rather sullied by the prominence of the fucking asshats.

There is interesting and important work being done in the field that is breaking us out of the monocultural mentality that has plagued psychology from the very beginning. We are learning both about what seem to be intercultural universals, and how different cultures express and manage psychopathologies. Indeed this is the frontier on which we are most likely going to be able to create teh most comprehensive and accurate theories governing human behavior.

The difference between what I am going to be engaged in and what the asshats are doing, is that we don't actually want to make absolute statements about the evolutionary nature of the behaviors we explore. We are far more interested in what actually is likely universal and how certain neuropathologies likely developed - and why they might have developed.

If you think that science is about what we can easily know and understand, then not only is psychology not science, but neither is biology. If however, you believe that science is a method by which to understand and know, then psychology is just as valid a science as the bio-sciences.