Author: Tristan Flock

What Good Is Evolutionary Psychology?

An ability to hold our instincts up to the light, rather than naïvely accepting their products in our consciousness as just the way things are, is the first step in discounting them when they lead to harmful ends. Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature Big ideas often rock the boat, but few have rocked it as thoroughly as the idea of evolution by natural selection. The notion that humans evolved from non-human ancestors, through the survival of some mutations at the expense of others, offends countless cherished ideologies. Natural selection insults the religious conviction that our existence is divinely sanctioned, disturbs the progressive belief that selfish competition is a modern aberration, and disorients the widespread desire to find purpose and morality in the natural world. Given these transgressions, it’s no wonder that evolution has serious public relations issues. Evolution stirs up its strongest opposition when used to interpret the human mind in the field of evolutionary psychology. Ever since Alfred Russel Wallace (co-discoverer of natural selection) first argued that evolution could not explain …

The Three Languages of Politics—A Review

A review of The Three Languages of Politics: Talking Across the Political Divides by Arnold Kling. Cato Institute (May 2017) 146 pages.  …the existence of alternative (or opposing) conclusions is something quite reasonable to expect among intelligent and informed individuals who read the complicated evidence differently, or who weigh the intricate factors or the perplexing probabilities differently. ~Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about how to improve political discourse. We’re slowly waking up to the divisive nature of social media, the news cycle, victimhood culture, and identity politics. We’re seeing how outrage and contempt, though they make us feel righteous, are often counterproductive. And we’re becoming more aware of our biases, in hopes of trading reflexive action for reflective thought. Yet despite these realizations, political discourse remains fraught. Like sick patients struggling to follow the doctor’s orders, people act out old habits even as they learn they’re destructive. Many of us stick to our news feeds and trusted sources, preferring the familiar sound of our echo chambers to …

Privilege Checking the Privilege Checkers

Having the privilege conversation is itself an expression of privilege. … It’s not just that commenting online about privilege – or any other topic – suggests leisure time. It’s also that the vocabulary of ‘privilege’ is learned at liberal-arts colleges or in highbrow publications. ~ Phoebe Maltz Bovy, “Checking Privilege Checking,” The Atlantic All societies are evil, sorrowful, inequitable; and so they will always be. So if you really want to help this world, what you will have to teach is how to live in it. ~ Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By A couple of years ago, while studying law in western Canada, I took a political science course on environmental issues taught by a renowned professor. Having become alarmed at the lack of legal protections for the environment, I hoped to learn more about the politics behind such flagrant and pervasive oversights. Unfortunately, the class was a bust. Instead of analyzing political thought and behaviour related to our current ecological crisis, the course taught a strange blend of self-help and pseudoscience. We “learned” …