Just So Stories

Continuing the discussion from Why did the human nose evolve?:

However, the first widely acknowledged use of the phrase in the modern and pejorative sense seems to have originated with Stephen Jay Gould, a prominent paleontologist and popular science writer, in 1978.[5] Gould expressed deep skepticism of whether evolutionary psychology could ever provide objective explanations for human behavior, even in principle; additionally, even if it were possible to do so, Gould did not think that it could be proven in a properly scientific way.[5]

I agree with Gould.

Academics such as David Barash say that the term just-so story , when applied to a proposed evolutionary adaptation, is simply a derogatory term for a hypothesis . Hypotheses, by definition, require further empirical assessment, and are a part of normal science.[6] Similarly, Robert Kurzban suggested that “The goal should not be to expel stories from science, but rather to identify the stories that are also good explanations.”[7] In his book The Triumph of Sociobiology , John Alcock suggested that the term just-so story as applied to proposed evolved adaptations is “one of the most successful derogatory labels ever invented”.[8]

I also agree with these guys. @Mercer will probably really like Barash a lot.

Pangloss gave instruction in metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology. He proved admirably that there cannot possibly be an effect without a cause and that in this best of all possible worlds the baron’s castle was the most beautiful of all castles and his wife the best of all possible baronesses. —It is clear, said he, that things cannot be otherwise than they are, for since everything is made to serve an end, everything necessarily serves the best end. Observe: noses were made to support spectacles, hence we have spectacles. Legs, as anyone can plainly see, were made to be breeched, and so we have breeches. . . . Consequently, those who say everything is well are uttering mere stupidities; they should say everything is for the best.