Henrich, Joseph. 2015. The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter.

Peter Turchin
Evolutionary Studies in Imaginary Cultures April 1, 2017 Journal Link


Cultural Evolution is a new interdisciplinary field whose intellectual roots go back only to the 1970s (unless, of course, you count Charles Darwin; but in a sense any new development in evolutionary science can be traced to Darwin). In this new field, “culture” is defined as “socially transmitted information that can affect human behavior.” Such transmission can occur through books and manuals, by teaching, or simply by observation and imitation. Cultural variants are information packages that cause people to behave in alternative ways. Cultural Evolution, then, studies how and why frequencies of cul-tural variants change with time, just as bio-logical evolution focuses on the changing frequencies of genetic variants. It was during the 1970s when evolutionary scientists started to ask whether the quantitative tools developed for the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, which had become broadly accepted by that point, could also be useful for studying the evolution of human societies. These pio-neers were largely working independently of one another.
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