Browsing All posts tagged under »religion«

Complex Societies before Agriculture: Göbekli Tepe

May 17, 2013 by

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A week or two ago I was sitting in a doctor’s office, when I realized that I forgot to bring any readings with me. As I was idly rifling through the usual stack, my roving eye was suddenly arrested by a cover of a two-year old National Geographic, which proclaimed THE BIRTH OF RELIGION: The […]

How to Overthrow an Empire – and Replace It with Your Own

April 17, 2013 by

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Imagine …   You are an heir of a Noble House. Your enemies, who include the emperor and a powerful noble, have assassinated your father and destroyed your House. You have escaped, but you have no loyal retainers, no troops, no allies, and no money. You want revenge! But you also want to rebuild your […]

Jonathan Lanman. Two Stars and a (Fourth) Wish: Ritual Theory and the Challenges of Fusing Humanity. A Commentary on Harvey Whitehouse

March 18, 2013 by

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There is much to admire in Whitehouse’s ambitious programme of research.  There is the testing of a theory that offers greater precision in describing and explaining social cohesion. There is the formulation of an account of psychological kinship that can serve as a reminder that cultural and evolutionary approaches can work together to produce compelling insights.  […]

Proxmire Strikes from the Grave

February 16, 2013 by

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The late (and unlamented, at least by the scientific community) William Proxmire was a US Senator from Wisconsin, who made a name for himself as an uncompromising fighter against wasteful government spending. Except when it was directed to the dairy industry. (source: pd lankovsky) Proxmire is best known for his Golden Fleece Award, given to […]

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

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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 […]

Who Were the First People to Make Mummies?

August 15, 2012 by

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Not Egyptians, as one might think. The first mummy makers were Chinchorros, hunter-gatherers who lived about 7,000 years ago in Atacama Desert near the border between modern-day Chile and Peru. The SEF editor Michael Hochberg is a co-author of a multidisciplinary article that explains how this cultural practice may have evolved. The study (whose first […]

The Z-Curve of Human Egalitarianism

April 16, 2012 by

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As I wrote in yesterday’s blog, Robert Bellah’s Religion in Human Evolution is a complex book that addresses many roles of religion in human social evolution. One theme that I was particularly interested in was the influence of religious developments on the evolution of human egalitarianism, especially during the Axial Age. The starting point for […]

How Not to Write a Book

April 15, 2012 by

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I just finished writing a commentary on Robert Bellah’s Religion in Human Evolution. Bellah’s ideas are highly stimulating and I want to discuss one central issue of the book, that of evolution of egalitarianism in the next blog. But first a few words about the book itself. Bellah wrote Religion in Human Evolution over the […]

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