Browsing All Posts published on »October, 2012«

Happy Anniversary, Social Evolution Forum!

October 30, 2012 by


Next week will be precisely a year since we launched the Social Evolution Forum. Our initial idea for the Forum was to provide a service to the scientific community. However, the issues that we started to discuss – most importantly, the evolution of social cooperation – are also of high interest to general public and […]

David Sloan Wilson. Reply to Comments on “Human Cultures are Primarily Adaptive at the Group Level”

October 22, 2012 by


Thanks to Peter Turchin and Michael Hochberg for creating and managing the Social Evolution Forum, which has become an excellent arena for high-level discussion. Thanks also to my colleagues who took the time to write commentaries and to readers who responded with their comments.  In addition to this general reply, I have also provided comments […]

Joseph Bulbulia, Simon Greenhill, and Russell Gray. First Shots Fired For The Phylogenetic Revolution in Religious Studies: a Commentary on David Sloan Wilson

October 18, 2012 by


Wilson’s target article illustrates how evolutionary hypotheses are advancing the science of complex cultural systems. We agree. The following extends the conversation to consider the benefits of evolutionary methods. We restrict our review to computational phylogenetic methods as these are being used to test evolutionary hypotheses about religions. Why cultural phylogenetics? Offspring resemble their parents […]

Michael E. Hochberg and Harvey Whitehouse. To Understand Present Day Cultures We Must Study the Past: a Commentary on David Sloan Wilson

October 15, 2012 by


David Sloan Wilson’s essay provides ample fodder for provocative discussion on cultural evolution. Are cultural traits adaptations, and if so, at what level(s) of selection? These questions can only be resolved on a case-by-case basis but that will mean we also need to know much more about how cultural traits and groups change over time. […]

Stephen K. Sanderson. A Commentary on David Sloan Wilson

October 12, 2012 by


David Sloan Wilson has been perhaps the strongest advocate for group selection for several decades now. The article under consideration here is an attempt to show that human cultures have been created by and evolve by a form of group selection, presumably cultural group selection. I am afraid that I don’t find anything in this […]

Matthew R. Zimmerman. Should the Consensus be Essentialist and Adaptationist? A Comment on David Sloan Wilson

October 10, 2012 by


Wilson describes a growing consensus concerning the role of culture in human evolution.  While not everyone is yet a member (he excepts advocates of memetics and evoked culture), I am heartened by much of what Wilson describes. I readily join this consensus when it holds that cultural inheritance is an important tool that has allowed […]

Mark Pagel. Adapted, Yes, but for Whom or What? A Commentary on David Sloan Wilson

October 7, 2012 by


David Sloan Wilson’s essay Human Cultures are Primarily Adaptive at the Group Level is helpful in calling attention to the fundamental role that the human social group has played throughout our evolutionary history.  But Sloan Wilson is mistaken, in my view, in seeming to use the phrase “primarily adaptive at the group level” to mean […]


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