Browsing All Posts published on »March, 2012«

Elinor Ostrom. Enhancing the Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action

March 26, 2012 by


In discussions with farmers who have built and managed irrigation systems, one hears about how hard it is to find the right combination of rules that work in a particular setting.  They have had to try out multiple combinations of rules and keep making small adjustments to get the system working well and ensure that […]

Geographic Influences on Social Evolution: Ecology and Empire

March 22, 2012 by

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A week ago I was interviewed by a BBC person who is working on a TV series about the role of geography in history. The questions were prompted (of course!) by Jared Diamond’s magisterial Guns, Germs, and Steel. I love the book, even though I disagree with many of Jared’s views. (There is no contradiction […]

Why Social Scientists Need to Study War

March 18, 2012 by


About a month ago I participated in a public debate, which followed the workshop in Knoxville on social evolution theory. Together with Jerry Sabloff I argued that warfare was a creative force in social evolution – it transformed humans from living in villages to living in huge states, building cities and civilizations, and ultimately made […]

Towards a formal theory for the evolution of human social complexity: report on a workshop

March 15, 2012 by

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When we launched the Social Evolution Forum a few months ago, one of our declared goals was to advertise future conferences and workshops and publish reports on completed ones. Today we begin to deliver on this promise with a report on the investigative workshop on social evolution theory that took place at NIMBioS last month. […]

Science Red in Tooth and Claw

March 13, 2012 by


When I was in graduate school at Duke University in the early 1980s I remember a young professor visiting from Michigan State who gave a talk about group selection. The professor was of course David Sloan Wilson, because at the time he was the only academic willing to stick his neck out for group selection. […]

The Peacock’s Tale: New ideas require quantitative evaluation. Reply by Blumstein et al.

March 9, 2012 by

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Speak softly and carry a big stick. —Theodore Roosevelt We were thrilled to receive four extremely thoughtful and constructively critical commentaries on our focus article. Apart from anything else, we are pleased to see that all respondents recognized the importance of strategic signaling in both nature and international politics, and the value of exploring their […]

Commentary by Armando Geller on Blumstein et al. (The Peacock’s Tale)

March 6, 2012 by


Students of international relations have applied signaling models to a variety of problems: decision to go to war (Morrow 1992), dispute resolution (Holler and Lindner 2004), foreign policy (Fearon 1997) and crisis bargaining (Tarar and Leventoglu 2008), to name a few. The eminent authors, Daniel T. Blumstein, Scott Atran, Scott Field, Michael E. Hochberg, Dominic […]


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