Socio(Onto)Geny Book Club Update: The Horse, the Wheel, and Language

I don’t believe I mentioned it here, but I have been running a book club on a private Discord server for the last several months with a bunch of interesting people. Over the past three months we’ve read EO Wilson’s Sociobiology, Robert Triver’s Natural Selection and Social Theory, and most recently Peter Turchin’s Ages of Discord.

This month we’re moving into different territory with David Anthony’s The Horse, the Wheel, and Language. As an in-depth account of Proto-Indo-European origins, this book has been suggested by Spencer Wells as one of the best texts out there on Bronze Age Europe. If you enjoyed my post on David Reich and V. Gordon Childe, you will enjoy this book. Anyone who would like to join should feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or on my contact page here. Continue reading “Socio(Onto)Geny Book Club Update: The Horse, the Wheel, and Language”

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The Four-Field Approach: American Anthropologist Wants Science Back

Adam Van Arsdale and Mary Shenk, two very good anthropological scientists, have published a new Comment in American Anthropologist titled, “Biological and Evolutionary Perspectives in American Anthropologist: An Editorial Provocation,” arguing that it’s time for biological and evolutionary anthropology to come back to the journal.1

I think a lot of people have been reading it and probably have opinions of their own, but I imagine there are some scarred folks looking at it and scoffing. Part of the concerns of Dr. Shenk and Dr. Van Arsdale is that anthropology has ruptured at the seams.

Continue reading “The Four-Field Approach: American Anthropologist Wants Science Back”

The Culture of Computers

you i i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . .” – Bob, Facebook Chatbot

Culture is a weird thing for humans and the few animals who exhibit it. As biologists have explored the animal kingdom for longer and more continuous periods, our understanding of what culture is and what culture isn’t is being pushed by our many case studies in creatures ranging from chimpanzees to chickadees. What progress has been made is in our understanding of culture as a far more mechanical, rigid, and adaptive process than we could have ever anticipated. Like in genetics, the transfer of information is the basis of culture, and the recapitulation of genetic patterns of transmission onto cultural ones only highlights that information theory, as applied in our understanding of dual inheritance, is a unifying theme between the two. An understanding of genetics can help us understand what culture is and what culture isn’t, as can an understanding of any other type of information transfer, especially in the realm of communication, especially in the realm of artificial intelligence. Continue reading “The Culture of Computers”