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Thread: What I believe is the obvious problem with psychology and conservation (sort of a rant)

  1. #1 What I believe is the obvious problem with psychology and conservation (sort of a rant) 
    Forum Freshman Shamandrill's Avatar
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    Jan 2013
    I've been rethinking of what I've read into psychology among other things. Since I've been psychotic, I'm really critical of my thoughts.

    Now, I was just reading several articles about evolutionary psychology, negative ones. Articles that dismiss evolutionary psychology, but not by stating facts at all (no scientific sources were used). Thought, there were some good points being made. One being that evolutionary psychologists use too many of the same group. David M. Buss who've I've read however does refer to other populations, so this could pretty much be a assumption on the article writers part.

    I'm critical of myself of not being too biased in this field of psychology, but I firmly believe a good part of our psychology is nature but not all. I'm pretty sure, there are exceptions, evolutionary psychologists think the same, they just study only the nature part and not the nurture.

    But some people seem to dismiss nature over nurture (I'm sure it goes the other way around). On a political forum, there was a girl that was feminist, she made that very clear. She showed a good study that showed there is little difference in gender psychology. However, this study made her believe that there were little differences in general. The study only researched some fields. When I said there is more than little difference it was dismissed. I base this on evolutionary psychology that states that men and women have different mating strategies (they are not even that different, the different traits have the same effects). I think both studies have truth in them or are the truth. She made me feel like I was some kind of sexist, while I was just basing myself on facts, that are only untrue until proven.

    This example brings me to my point, which also plagues conservation biology in my opinion. The studies themselves are not necessary biased, even so by examining several studies you can better understand the truth. Articles and peoples opionions I've been reading however are plagued by bias, fueled by sentiments, beliefs or what not. Political correctness however is a big issue in psychology as a science, not a opinion.

    Especially evolutionary psychology of course. It reinforces stereotypes. If I learned something from social psychology, stereotypes have truth in them. Example: evolutionary psychology says men prefer physically attractive women (it does not even state all men prefer this).

    When I was reading articles, I read that beauty is subjective. That's wrong, well not correct (according to (evolutionary) psychology). It's based on factors, factors that are beneficial to reproduction. Beauty may be partly cultural, however I've read that it's mostly nature not nurture. So saying it's a matter of taste is not really true. I would say the choice of going for a short term or long term partner is more a matter of taste, but even this is influenced by biological factors.

    As you can see from what I wrote, I believe in parts of evolutionary psychology, however these are based on facts, until proven wrong.

    Now the problem I see is that we are holding ourselves back by better understanding ourselves, psychology, by being sentimental, by political views and by bias. I don't think the problem is the studies but how we perceive them. I hope to see a future where we look more objectively at the findings of psychology and not our sentiments on the findings.
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    The same kind of problem I see with conservation.

    Everyone has a different view on conservation where I come from (Netherlands). NOTE: there are always exceptions on what I'm saying right now, and I base this on what I've noticed:
    Farmers want a nature that's practical and historical-cultural. Hunters want basicly the same as farmers, but they also want hunt-able species, a small group of hunters, not all, even release pheasants in Dutch nature so they can practice pheasant hunting. People from the country have almost the same view as farmers but a little less.

    Towns people have a more romantic view of nature, they seem to want wilderness and don't like hunting. Conservationists however, also have a very romantic view of nature. Some conservationists want a historical-cultural nature like farmers but don't care about the practical part. Others want wilderness (rewilding), others care about specific animals (butterflies, birds, mammals).

    Now something purely subjective, I do not like conservationists that much. They are also susceptible to sentiments. And they can go far to protecting their specific animals, for example by destroying other animals which I condemn. Some examples from the Netherlands:

    We have a little group of Black Grouse, and a lot of money is spend on saving these. However if you look at it objectively, the change of saving them, even if we made the perfect habitat for them, is small. Yet conservationists spend many time and money on saving them.

    We have the European hamster, but it is what we call a cultural follower. It lives in historical-cultural landscape. Farmers have changed and made it impossible for these hamsters to life in the new farmlands. Again conservationists spend many time and money on saving them. To me it's strange, farmers should be the ones to safe these species.

    Conservationists aren't being realistic, their are exceptions, I like the Oostvaardersplassen reserve for example since it wants to create a natural and dynamic reserve, and by doing as less as possible, but that's bias/personal preference on my part. Ok back to being realistic, some conservationists have unrealistic expectations, they want a nature of their view; cultural-historical, historical or whatever. But this isn't realistic, we have altered the environment and it's not realistic to try to go back to what was.

    I'm also repulsed by the whole thing around exotic species. I have no doubt they can be damaging to the environment (especially on isolated environments), and I feel like we should do our best to not let any species in non-native lands (but it's the cost of international trade/globalisation). But it's made overly dramatic, not just in the media who sensationalize anyway, but I've read studies in which it's overly dramatic. I bet if studies were done on overly dominant native fauna and flora, we would also find they can be damaging to threatened species if not as damaging as non-native ones. But media and studies try to sell me the illusion that exotic species, smartly named invasive species to make it sound more threatening, are evil super species that native species can't adapt to.

    If you read closely into invasive species, you'll find that a lot of native species are actually adopting to them. One feature I often hear is that "invasive species have no natural predators". Untrue, most of the time they do, but they just don't stop the spread of them, just like with native dominant species.

    Some exotic species can actually be beneficial, but who's going to study both the positive and negative effects? In the Oostvaardersplassen muskrats provide breeding nests for our native snakes.

    Luckily, there are people who look more realistic at conservation. And there are people who look more realistic at invasive species. A well respected (so it seems) carnivore expert in the Netherlands says that the raccoon is not dangerous like the media portrays it. People feared diseases from which very little people die in it's native habitat. German biologists say the raccoon has found it's own niche and can only be bad on certain threatened species, just like our native fox. The same is said about the raccoon dog. And both these biologists are also realistically to admit that eradication is futile.

    This is again more personal opinion, but there's also a well-known city ecologist, who's kind of happy with these new species. Since they fill voids and make cities more natural.
    I'll admit that I share this view, so I can't say I'm not unbiased.

    Now I'm going to finish with something purely subjective, but perhaps true:

    "We humans are shaping nature into something different, whatever this is negative or positive this is the cost of our way of living. If we would truly preserve nature in it's original form (whatever that is), we should also go back to our original way of living. It's unrealistic to think that we can continue to progress but nature must stay in it's original form. We should look into preserving biodiversity not whatever something is original or unoriginal."

    Even without us nature is constantly changing, nature isn't static it's dynamic. Though I'm confident the change would have been much slower.

    Does it mean I think we should let species go extinct? No, but I don't care much about subspecies and I don't understand the concept of genetic pollution since I was told genetic diversity is a good thing. Let's preserve species as a whole and let natural selection do it's part.

    Feel free to ignore this, loathe this or whatever. I felt like sharing this to people. I might not even comment on it. I'm not going to spend time arguing that's for sure since I've read scientific articles that say humans do not change opinions easily if at all. Fun fact: most people look for new information to confirm their beliefs, not to change them.

    I have a hunger, a hunger for information, a sick obsession with science, I want to know, want to how.
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  3. #2  
    Ascended Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    It seems you've highlighted the same real issues with psychology and ecology & conservation. Both are still evolving and have along way to go, there just often seems so many times where there isn't any clear understanding or reason why. What I think this tells us is we don't know what's right, for example the gender psychology issue is constantly being changed and refined to take account of the changing relationship between how men and women relate to each other, we could well ask how much of todays understanding will be irrelevant 20 or 30 years time? The same goes for what has already passed, any conclussions drawn from the past need to be constantly re-evaluated from a modern context, as what was considered normal in the past may be very different from current thinking.

    With regard to the nature - nurture debate I'm not convinced it's of any great benefit to spend to much time with this one, we've been having this debate about which is the defining factor for this issue or that one seemingly forever, and just where has it got us? Clearly both have their effect, it seems that is about as much as we can say now as when the debate began. So productive to spend time on it, probarbly not.

    The conservation issue is also a very subjective project, there doesn't seem any co-ordinated stratergy. It's as if the concept has been accepted as being desirable and the right thing to do yet people are just as yet unsure as to what criteria to use. Eventually there is bound to be a series of developments that dictate a fixed stratergy bases on criteria that will be universally accepted, but we are far away from this point as yet.
    Until the point at which either internationally accepted standards and criteria or some kind scientific breakthough determing a fixed stratergy are adopted globally we will continues to see this piece meal approach where nobody is really quite sure why some species are being prioritised over others.

    “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”

    Bertrand Russell
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  4. #3  
    Genius Duck Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shamandrill View Post
    When I was reading articles, I read that beauty is subjective. That's wrong, well not correct (according to (evolutionary) psychology). It's based on factors, factors that are beneficial to reproduction.
    There's a confusion here.
    Beauty IS subjective - it's an aesthetic judgement and not necessarily tied in to reproduction.
    The evolutionary one is "attraction", with regard to fitness for mating.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  5. #4  
    Forum Freshman Shamandrill's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. Note that I'm also prone to biases if I haven't said so. But even so, I think it's good if I show the other side, how biased it may be.

    I actually try to become devoid of bias. But I find that instead of being culturally biased by the popular culture, I become culturally biased towards the counter culture.
    I talked to a psychologist how I feel no connection to my own people, when something bad happens, I am cold and don't care. However, when I saw how the Hmong people in Cambodia were poisoned and I saw the image of a crippling baby tears started to drop.

    I think I have actually become more egoistic, because Syria does not bring up any strong emotions to me. But perhaps I am getting used to it.

    At school we learned about policies. One was Japanese policy; copying and improving. I believe I copy counterculture ideas and improve them what favors myself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Shamandrill View Post
    When I was reading articles, I read that beauty is subjective. That's wrong, well not correct (according to (evolutionary) psychology). It's based on factors, factors that are beneficial to reproduction.
    There's a confusion here.
    Beauty IS subjective - it's an aesthetic judgement and not necessarily tied in to reproduction.
    The evolutionary one is "attraction", with regard to fitness for mating.
    That's true yes. It would have been better if I said attraction.

    I find words sometimes very difficult. Because some words don't exists factually. We give meaning to words that do not exist. To me evil is non-existent, though if you ask me my opinion on murder I will say: "murder is bad.".

    I don't believe in good and evil. I believe in beneficial and disadvantageous. And I'm not afraid to say that I am more concerned about beneficial and disadvantageous things when it comes to myself and my kin (sisters).

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    Anyway, the purpose of this rant is that I want people to look factual, not sentimental. This is a step in the good direction:

    Invasive plants can create positive ecological change, study finds | Penn State University

    Instead of "invasive species are bad and should be eradicated" become "invasive species can be highly destructive to specific species in certain situations, like isolated environments, however in other situations they can be beneficial to certain species. We should look to stop the influx of them and minimize the negative impact they have on endangered species. We should accept the fact that they are hard to eradicate, thus it is better to strengthen the environment to deal with them instead of fighting against a Hydra."

    Instead of "evolutionary psychology is sexist, there is no difference between men and women" become "men and women have much in common, however they do have differences, differences we need to study to fully understand. However these differences do not mean we should treat each other differently."

    Maybe some people think that I'm sexist or don't like native species, perhaps that's true. However, I walk everyday with my dog through the forests and I embrace the nature that there is. Most of the time though it are generalist native species and generalist exotic species. All generalist and opportunistic to me. Both not very good.

    I have a chicken named after a famous Dutch feminist. Aletta Jacobs. We can debate if I did that as mockery, but I did remember the name.

    Now imagine, if we found a study that found that something we as a society think as bad is very beneficial. Nobody would want to accept it.
    Though I do see, I think thanks to the free information of the internet, more and more "radical" thinking; new and different thinking.

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    The same applies to politics by the way. I've been on a communist forum, but they have very conservative ideas. They are not at all open to new ideas, most of them anyway.
    And it made me release communism does not work, but I have the freedom to live like a communism anyway; equal relationships and equal sharing of my possessions without hurting myself.

    Capitalism is not that bad.Though scientific research being influenced by money instead of sentiments may very well be an even bigger issue! Something for another rant.
    I have a hunger, a hunger for information, a sick obsession with science, I want to know, want to how.
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