Wednesday, January 06, 2016

A passage from "The secret of our success" by Joseph Henrich

From chapter 10, 'Intergroup competetion shapes cultural evolution': "As I discuss intergroup competetion, keep in mind that there are manyu other cultural evolutionary forces that do not favour proscial institutions. When the fotrces of intergroup competetion are spent and weakened, success-biased cultural learning (or purely rational self-interest) will cause individuals to seek out any "cracks" in their roups' institutions to manipulate or exploit for their own benefit or that of their kith and kin.Ovet time, history suiggests that all prosocial institutions age and eventually collapse at the hands of self-interest, unless they are renewed by the dynamics of interroup competetion.That is, although it may take a lon time, individuals and coalitions figure out how to beat or manipulate the system to their own ends, and these techniques spread and corrode any prosocial effects."

Henrich takes great trouble to explain his ideas lucidly and many of the statements are based on research and often he gives references. But there are none for the above. As Razib Khan said "...I think that he wrote at an unfortunate time when it comes to drawing lessons from human genomics, because some of his assertions have been falsified! (he wrote the preface in January of 2015, a year ago)."
I think that it is an excellent book but the statements should be treated cautiously and one should look for reviews and such for comments.

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