A New Society for the Study of Cultural Evolution

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I’ve written before that the new discipline of Cultural Evolution is going through a phase transition. Now we are about to take the next logical step, and start the Society for the Study of Cultural Evolution.

The decision was made at a workshop on Advancing the Study of Cultural Evolution: Academic Integration and Policy Application, which was organized by Michele Gelfand and David Sloan Wilson at the University of Maryland in March of this year. I was one of the participants in the workshop and I made a pitch there for organizing this society. What I said was that we can continue doing good science while being housed in different departments (Biology, Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology, etc). But as long as we do it as individuals, our ability to influence both academic science and the world of policy will be limited. In fact, an individual cannot achieve significant change. It can only be accomplished by collective action that joins the efforts of many people.

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I think it’s important because Cultural Evolution is not only a great theoretical framework for studying how human societies really work (and evolve). It also offers insights about how to make them work better. In other words, our science has a great potential to influence policy. But in order to be heard, again we need collective action.

And it’s going to be great to have a society that will organize meetings where we all can meet and exchange ideas. Right now there is no other society that addresses this need.

Also note that we are not limiting participation to the academic types. Take a look at our call for the society, specifically the section on Who Should Join? – and join!

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Juan Alfonso

It is great idea and an extremely exciting project! I have already joined the society. I bet I am the first member from Spain and, hopefully, there will be more. I will talk about the society to my colleagues in the Psychobiology department in the UNED.

You can count on me.

David Sloan Wilson

Thanks to Juan for his enthusiasm and of course to Peter for his original call to form a society, which the workshop and Evolution Institute are helping to capacitate. We indeed want international representation.

Juan Alfonso

Wouldn´t that be nice! Your Project deserves maximal difussion World politics needs serious rethinking NOW. In the past, negative externalities derived from aggression (in a multilevel dimension) were the main issue to address by philosophers and politicians. Apparently that age has come to an end.

Today positional externalities are the biggest challenge. The damage derived from war, crime and aggression is absorbed mainly by human beings, but the damage derived from positional externalities is absorbed by the environment. And there are limits to what can be absorbed. I think this Project could create some of the awareness that is needed. Now we have good science and not only philosophy Lets take advantage of it.

Thank you and, again, you can count on me.

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