Browsing All posts tagged under »multilevel selection«

The Evolution of Hierarchy

December 20, 2014 by


Two weeks ago I went to a studio in Amherst, MA, to participate in a BBC Forum on Hierarchy. It was broadcasted last week, and you can listen to it here. I arrived at the studio in plenty of time, but there were inevitable SNAFUs. First, I couldn’t get into the building (not sure why […]

Counterproductive Way of War

August 28, 2014 by


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? […]

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

August 19, 2014 by


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 […]

Of Course, War Is Evil!

July 29, 2014 by


Thank you, Joe and all people who left comments. It has been an extremely thought-provoking discussion, so I thought it’s worth a separate blog to address the issues that most resonated with me. Let me start by repeating that the title, “War! What is It Good For?” was not mine, but Ian Morris’s. It’s not […]

War! What Is It Good For?

June 2, 2014 by


I’ve just returned from California, where I spent last two weeks. I dislike long-distance air travel, and when I do it, I try to hit as many birds with the same stone, so to speak. This means bunching up as many talks and visits as possible. On this trip I started at Stanford, then went […]

The Truth is Born in Argument

January 28, 2014 by


The title of today’s blog (“The Truth is Born in Argument”) is a translation of a Russian saying (в споре рождается истина). For a long time I thought it was simply a Russian version of something that Ancient Romans would say, but as far as I can tell, there is no such Latin proverb (please […]

Down with the Selfish Genes!

December 10, 2013 by


The Twitter-sphere is abuzz with the talk about David Dobbs recent article in Aeon Magazine, Die, Selfish Gene, Die! Dobbs’ article attacks Richard Dawkins (as is clear from the title). Dawkins responded here and also sent his readers to Jerry Coyne’s more detailed critique (Part I and Part II). Steven Pinker tweeted Coyne’s blog, and […]


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