On this episode of Unsupervised Learning Razib talks to Aporia Magazine’s Diana Fleischman, an evolutionary psychologist who earned her Ph.D. in David Buss’ lab at the University of Texas in Austin. Fleischman discusses the origins of her field, its methodological framework and presuppositions, and why evolutionary psychologists seem obsessed with sex. Razib also brings up the relationship of evolutionary psychology to primatology and the role that behavioral studies of common chimpanzees and bonobos play in understanding what Jared Diamond termed the “third chimpanzee,” humans. They then circle back to the importance of the reality of heritable “hard-wired” behaviors in evolutionary psychology, and its relationship to behavior genetics.
Fleischman and Razib then move on to eugenics and the controversy that ensued after Fleischman’s piece You’re probably a eugenicist. They wonder how narrowly to constrain the term; for example, is the ubiquitous termination of fetuses with Down Syndrome eugenic if those individuals brought to term cannot themselves reproduce? Is selection for intelligence and height in your marriage partner eugenical? Razib and Fleischman also talk about the eugenical impact of abortion, including the decline of crime, and why the Left does not talk extensively about this topic. Fleischman discusses eugenics’ future with the rise of reproductive technology and a more detailed understanding of complex trait architecture. The possibility of embryo selection's rise brings up concrete concerns and resurrects the specter of bottom-up eugenics, despite the abolishment and banning of top-down eugenics. Fleischman and her co-authors tackle embryo selection for complex traits in a recent piece in Aporia.