My decision to testify for David Irving in his libel trial against Deborah Lipstadt resulted in a mini-firestorm, at least partly because I was an officer of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES) at that time. (Richard Faussette attended the conference and has written an eye-witness account of the uproar that occurred during the HBES meetings of June 7-11, 2000.)The Center for Evolutionary Psychology, which is run by Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, has a section on this dialog (minus my comments) and, since January 2000, they have advertised that they are going to post critiques of me and John Hartung, an anthropologist who has also written on Jewish issues from an evolutionary perspective. To date this critique has not appeared.
One of my complaints about the material posted on the website of the Center for Evolutionary Psychology is that they include a letter from Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. Because of his position and his stature in the media, Pinker's comments carry some weight. The problem is that, according to the letter, Pinker had not read my work before he made his comments. There are a number of other problems as well. Pinker's letter and my comments are here. In his review of The Culture of Critique in the Human Ethology Bulletin, Frank Salter comments on Tooby and Pinker as follows:
To some extent, our disagreements are purely intellectual and have to do with the nature of psychology and how evolutionary theory informs the study of psychology. I have long been a critic of evolutionary psychology as conceptualized by Cosmides and Tooby. My most recent criticism of their work is:
On a personal note, it is overdue that John Tooby and Steven Pinker applied their professional skills seriously to critique MacDonald's work in the appropriate scientific forums. This now seems obligatory as a matter of professional duty given the severity of their attack on a colleague who has refrained from ad hominems throughout this sorry event. Still, it is now too late to reverse the harm done to both MacDonald's and probably HBES's reputation by what can only be judged reckless, unscholarly, and plain uncivil slurs. For these they should apologize....
MacDonald, K., & Hershberger, S. (2005). Theoretical Issues in the Study of Evolution and Development. In R. Burgess and K. MacDonald (Eds.), Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Development, 2nd edition, pp. 21–72. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
The following two papers develop a non-modular evolutionary psychology and theory of culture at odds with the work of Cosmides and Tooby:
MacDonald, K. (2009). Evolution, Psychology, and a Conflict Theory of Culture. Evolutionary Psychology, 7(2). 208–233.
My reply to this is contained in my comments on Pinker's letter.
The following link includes my responses to Tooby's criticisms as he expressed them in the Slate debates:
Two other links related to the Slate dialogue: