Sunday, August 28, 2005

How to respond to critics

I think certain individuals, like William A. Dembski from the ID movement could learn a lot about how to respond to criticism from Elizabeth Lloyd. E. Lloyd wrote a book called The Case for the Female Orgasm, which explores the possible evolutionary mechanisms that might account for what it is. Unfortunately, this generated a wide degree and array of criticism from many feminists who sought to label her all sorts of unflattering things. Her response to many of these criticisms is very rational and she handles things extremely well, especially as many of Lloyds critics demonstrate they haven't read the book to begin with.
As I point out in the book, feminists who claim that the byproduct account “belittles” or “diminishes” female orgasm - simply in virtue of its evolutionary origin - are succumbing to the archest of arch-adaptationism. They appear to be saying that orgasm *needs* to be an adaptation in order to be culturally important. But we’ve already noted that we don’t accept that reasoning in everyday life - so why should we make an exception for female orgasm? Besides, the evolutionary research program of adaptationism has absolutely nothing to recommend it to feminists. But if there are no legitimate grounds for the feminist inferences, above - that my account makes female orgasm “unimportant” - what are these bloggers and journalists doing?
The whole thing, including links, is well worth reading. I think this should be held up as a model reply to criticism, due to how polite and well reasoned it was, even if the critics in this case did not have a reasonable foundation for their arguments.