Re: Gould, Science, Mistakes and Fraud - Mistake by Bryant

Bryant (
16 Aug 1996 11:44:40 -0600

In article <>,
Joel and Lynn Gazis-Sax <> wrote:
>The main point of Gould's article is to challenge functionalist interpretations
>of every feature on the body. Female orgasm may have a function (or, at least,
>a pleasureable side effect -- why does it have to be described as a function? --
>that's the point here).

Those are the two alternative explanations for female orgasm:

Gould sez that women can have orgasms because their clitori are
homologous (developmentally) with the male penis.


Adaptationists proposing that orgasm somehow increased female fitness
through evolutionary time & was shaped or modified for that purpose,
rendering it an adaptation. That female orgasms retain sperm from men with
high phenotypic quality (developmental stability) seems to better support the
adaptationist view.

>enough of a documentary basis for embryology to make some of the conclusions
>he has made above. His crimes, therefore, are no worse than that of
>sociobiologists who do not conduct the fieldwork on ants or mole rats

I see your point. I'll downgrade my evaluation of his lack of predictions
from "sin" to "bad form." :)

>(If you think this is an evil practice, then the next time
>Gerold or someone else goes on making assertions about how behavior of ants or
>sticklebacks indicates thusly about human beings, please be sure to challenge it.)

All of the sociobiologists I know would agree that testing a hypothesis
(say, parent/offspring conflict) on one species does not speak to that
hypothesis' applicability to other species.