Reblog: How do we know what we know?

“All hypotheses emerge from assumptions, whether we recognize them or not.”

Ambika Kamath, a graduate student at Harvard University working on lizards and how their habitat, behaviour, and morphology influence eachother, has written an excellent blog post in the wake of a human dimorphism debate. The post is not about human dimorphism, but instead highlights how our assumptions can shape experimental design and therefore results. It can be easy to accept oft-cited facts without critical thought, particularly if they are in line with personal opinion.

Ambika Kamath’s post is reblogged below, and I encourage you to read it.

Ambika Kamath

Over the last few months, there’s been a slow-boiling battle underway between Holly Dunsworth and Jerry Coyne about the evolution of sexual dimorphism in humans, surrounding the question of why male and female humans, on average, differ in size. The battlefield ranged from blogposts to twitter to magazine articles. In a nutshell, Coyne argued that “sexual dimorphism for body size (difference between men and women) in humans is most likely explained by sexual selection” because “males compete for females, and greater size and strength give males an advantage.” His whole argument was motivated by this notion that certain Leftists ignore facts about the biology of sex differences because of their ideological fears, and are therefore being unscientific.

Dunsworth’s response to Coyne’s position was that “it’s not that Jerry Coyne’s facts aren’t necessarily facts, or whatever. It’s that this point of view is too simple and is obviously biased toward some stories, ignoring others. And…

View original post 1,359 more words

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