The New Guinea Puzzle

September 1, 2014
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3

ling_div

On several occasions, when I presented the results of our model and data analysis that support the idea that the primary engine of the evolution of large-scale states is warfare, people objected by saying that there are lots of places on earth where warfare is very intense, but no states formed. One of the most […]

Posted in: Blogs

Counterproductive Way of War

August 28, 2014
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5

rugged_new_guinea

Over the last two years I’ve written a number of blogs exploring the role of warfare in cultural group selection (you can see these blogs collected under the heading Ways of War in Popular Blogs and Series). Today I’d like to return to the question, What makes war productive as an engine of cultural evolution? […]

Posted in: Blogs

Reflections on the Evolution Institute Board Meeting (Just Concluded)

August 24, 2014
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3

I am at the Newark Airport returning home from a two-day board meeting of the Evolution Institute (EI), the think tank that I helped to create that formulates public policy from an evolutionary perspective. The members of the board are widely dispersed so we do most of our business by email, phone, and Skype. This […]

Posted in: Blogs, Uncategorized

Could human band and tribal scale cooperation have arisen without warfare? A Commentary by Peter J. Richerson

August 19, 2014
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5

I can imagine one scenario under which war would have been rare or absent in the Pleistocene. W.C. Allee in the 1930s described a demographic phenomenon later called the Allee Effect. We often think of intraspecific competition in terms of the logistic equation in which competition increases monotonically with population size or density. Allee pointed […]

Posted in: Guest Blogs

The War over War, Part II

August 18, 2014
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churchil1

In the first installment I argued against extreme positions about the prevalence of warfare in the Pleistocene. One problem underlying the controversy over warfare in the early human history is that different people use different definitions of war. So let me be clear and say what definition I use. It comes from the questions and […]

Posted in: Blogs

The War over War

August 12, 2014
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1

2010 12 05 primitive art (0)

I periodically get asked, what do I think about the controversy over Steven Pinker’s Better Angels? Truth is, I did not find anything particularly new in the book. For those of us interested in the role of war in social evolution most of the empirical material he goes over is quite familiar. There is a […]

Posted in: Blogs

The Cultural System Dysfunction Hypothesis

August 11, 2014
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5

Recent decades have witnessed a dawning awareness that many diseases are caused by a mismatch between our immune systems and our modern environments. A mini-lesson on adaptive phenotypic plasticity will help to set the stage. Consider a snail species that lives in water bodies that might or might not be inhabited by crayfish. Thin shells […]

Posted in: Uncategorized
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