BELOW ARE THREE TERRIFIC VIDEOS — 15-minute interviews with three major evolutionary scientists: Steven Pinker, David Buss, and Leda Cosmides. There is also a link to many more from the series.
About the videos: In 2013, evolutionary psychology professors Catherine Salmon and Barry X. Kuhle videotaped oral histories of the researchers who founded the major international organization for evolutionary psychology, the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, and who were substantial in fostering the emergence of evolutionary psychology as a science of public import. (The taping of these videos coincided with the 25th anniversary of HBES.)
Thus far, with funding from HBES, and the participation of filmmaker Dave Lundberg Kenrick, Salmon and Kuhle have taped interviews with David Buss, Steven Pinker, Leda Cosmides, John Tooby, Douglas Kenrick, Martin Daly, Randy Thornhill, Mark Flinn, William Irons, Napoleon Chagnon, Sarah Hrdy, Don Symons, Raymond Hames, Bobbi Low, Peter Richerson, David Sloan Wilson, Dick Alexander, Randy Nesse, and E. O. Wilson. (The entire series of interviews can be found here.)
(Sadly missing from this series are pioneers and pillars of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology who’ve passed on, including Bill Hamilton, Dave Rowe, Dev Singh, John Maynard Smith, George C. Williams, and Margo Wilson.)
And now…those videos:
Steven Pinker (introduction below by David Sloan Wilson)
Looking back, Pinker recalls how he first adopted an evolutionary perspective, based on thinkers such as Noam Chomsky and Jerry Fodor, who stressed the need to posit a nativistic dimension to human cognition and language. Looking forward, Pinker advises new students to think of themselves as psychologists first and evolution as an essential perspective for the study of all aspects of psychology, rather than a sub-discipline of the field. He describes the self-described field of evolutionary psychology as a stepping stone toward this end. He calls for more integration with evolutionary genetics and more generally the fully rounded approach associated with Nobel Laureate Niko Tinbergen, who stressed that all evolved traits should be studied from functional, mechanistic, developmental and phylogenetic perspectives. He also shares his own best idea that has not yet received the attention that it deserves.
Buy books by Steven Pinker (for which AEPS gets a wee kickback, at no cost to you).
This interview in the series “On the Origin of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society” is with David Buss, Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. David is one of the founders of evolutionary psychology but initially made significant contributions to personality psychology. He is perhaps best known for groundbreaking work in human sex differences and mating including jealousy, cross-cultural mate preferences, and the strategies people use to retain a mate. Oftentimes his discoveries come with their own snappy nomenclature like “mate poaching” and “exploitability.” David professes he is especially interested in the “dark side” of human nature. Many of the initial forays David made into new territory have spawned whole new lines of research.
Some highlights of this interview include David’s rebellious roots and how an early hypothesis about dominance was purely designed to upset one of his teachers, how he began to acclimatize to John Tooby and Leda Cosmides’ night owl schedule when they became fast friends at Harvard, the advice he would give to graduate students and the way he demonstrates how to derogate a rival male on his interviewer and former graduate student Barry X. Kuhle, maybe a little too effectively.
Buy books by David Buss (for which AEPS gets a wee kickback, at no cost to you).
Leda Cosmides (Introduction below by Robert Kurzban)
Leda is one of the pioneers of the field of evolutionary psychology. She is a professor at the University of California Santa Barbara, where she co-founded the Center for Evolutionary Psychology (CEP) with husband and collaborator John Tooby. Leda’s impact on evolutionary approaches cannot be overstated. Her awards and honors are numerous, and include the prestigious National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award. Even if you are very familiar with Cosmides’ work, you’ll learn a lot from this video, including how being 5 minutes late to a meeting with E. O. Wilson (when she was an undergrad at Harvard) was “key to her future,” how her seminal and award winning 1989 paper on cheater detection took four years and several rejections before getting published in Cognition, why she called the field she and John helped start “evolutionary psychology” as opposed to “human sociobiology,” and much more.
Also check out the fantastic interviewers and their research and thinking:
Barry X. Kuhle’s Psychology Today page can be found here.