Deservedly so, I'm afraid. Perhaps when Michael Weisberg and I finish our piece on evolutionary biology and law, we can put a stop to this kind of nonsense.
UPDATE (MOVING TO THE FRONT AS WELL): Although Professor Myers appears to have had the misfortune to attract some lovely bottom-feeders from the Volokh site, the basic problem with Professor Zywicki's post remains quite simple. It is not reasonable, given what we know, to express doubts about Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, nor is it reasonable, given what we know, to think Intelligent Design creationism deserves equal time with Darwin's theory in secondary school science classes. That some conservative pundits expressed both unreasonable views is to their lasting embarrassment.
By contrast--and this is why Professor Zywicki's original posting is so inapt--it is extremely reasonable, given what we know, to express doubts about evolutionary psychology and its selectionist hypotheses about differences between the sexes, since none of these hypotheses (as in none) have been confirmed by standards that approach those in biology. The fundamental difficulty is that there exist important non-selectionist evolutionary mechanisms (for example, genetic hitch-hiking or genetic drift), so that one can not, as evolutionary psychologists do, treat the selectionist explanation as the default one. This is just bad science. This point is also the stuff of baby biology textbooks; herewith Stearns & Hoekstra (OUP, 2000), p. 8:: “much of the variation in DNA sequences [over time] is neutral with respect to selection.” The challenge for evolutionary biologists studying, e.g., sex differences, is to figure out what role selection, if any, is really playing. Evolutionary psychology is silent on this problem. (There is a separate problem, of course, pertaining to the role of non-biological factors in observed sex differences.)
Consider some actual evolutionary biologists who do research on the evolution of mating preferences [Kirkpatrick, Mark and Michael J. Ryan (1991). “The Evolution of Mating Preferences and the Paradox of the Lek,” 350 Nature 33-38 (March]. Kirkpatric & Ryan identify 14 possible evolutionary mechanisms that account for these preferences, only 7 of which involve selectionist mechanisms, and only two of which even figure (by analogy) in the evolutionary pscyhology literature (namely, “males provide resources to females or offspring” and “costs of searching for mates”). As Kirkpatrick & Ryan observe: “the primary factors responsible for the evolution of [mating] preferences remain controversial” (1991: 33). And they are talking about the evolution of mating preferences in lizards, frogs, guppies, insects, and birds, not humans!
The danger of assuming selectionist explanations is well-illustrated by the preference of some female animals for males “with the most extreme plumage, vocalizations, and displays,” preferences that are so strong in some cases that the male “secondary sexual characters have evolved to such extremes that they decrease male survival” (1991: 33). The crude adaptationist, like an evolutionary psychologist, might postulate that females prefer such traits in males because they signal that the male in question will be able to provide resources for offspring and to protect offspring, and will likely be highly fertile, and so on (David Buss's 1994 book on human female mating preferences is typical).
It turns out, however, that in many animals, natural selection has nothing to do with it: “Because females use their sensory systems for other tasks besides mate choice, these systems will often be subject to natural selection for other reasons, such as foraging ability or predator detection, with the side-effect that preferences for traits that decrease male survival are likely to be established” (Kirkpatrick & Ryan 1991: 36) (i.e., it is due to pleiotropic hitch-hiking): “One example comes from studies of insectivorous anolid lizards. Their visual system is exquisitely adapted to detect the motion of prey. The male ‘pushup’ courtship display seems to have evolved to match these sensory biases in order to attract the attention of females.” (Id.) This means the scientific question is to distinguish the cases involving natural selection and those involving other evolutionary mechanisms. Evolutionary psychology fails to come to terms with this central issue, and so it is quite reasonable to doubt its hypotheses; indeed, it is probably unreasonable not to doubt them.
This doesn't mean evolutionary psychology will not progress from speculation to science, as it were. It's clearly an important research program, but the quality of its results at present are not up to those of evolutionary biology. Therefore, it is simply preposterous for Professor Zywicki to equate them.
I have addressed the wholly appropriate reaction to the remarks of Larry Summers previously. Since, as we have noted, rational agument has little effect, I note that some on the right still want to pretend there was a weighty academic freedom issue in that case.