Latest Rabbit Hole – WEIRD Peoplw

Updated on January 23, 2021 in General Stuff
3 on January 23, 2021

Jim Rutt (among other accomplishments, he’s the guy who coined the term “snail mail”) interviews evolutionary biologist Joe Henrich.

All kinds of great stuff here. Two points that stood out for me: First, literacy changes the physical structure of the brain.

The biggie, though, is offering an alternative/complimentary explanation to the “aliens arriving in 1000 A.D.” scenario.

If you looked at humanity 1000 years ago, and had to predict which population would end up most successful, you would have placed your bet on the Middle East/Islamic world. Maybe China.

But no way on Europe, which was a relatively primitive backwater.

Jared Diamond gave an answer in “Guns Germs and Steel”. Henrich expands on that with anthropology and psychology.

Very cool stuff.

EP104 Joe Henrich on WEIRD People

 
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0 on January 23, 2021

My recollection of g.g and steel is that he chalked up Europe’s dominance to climate. Can’t recall how he explained north America’s lack of technological achievement.

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0 on January 23, 2021

Interesting (other than the transcript bordering on indecipherable). Can’t do it in one take so I’ll have to come back to it later. But it reminds me very much of an old Newsweek of about 20 years ago that discussed the myriad social changes brought about by the Catholic church through the middle ages.

Looking forward to trying it again.

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0 on January 23, 2021

The central thesis of GG&S is that a tiny number of fortunate geographical and biological accidents (eg, availability of a few particular varieties of wild grasses and certain animals well suited to domestication) yielded compound advantages that ultimately made it inevitable that Europeans would conquer the world.

Henrich adds to that the Catholic Church’s ban on cousin marriage, which he describes as moving society away from ‘kinship’ orientation and toward broader spheres of cooperation.

(Some real shorthand right there…)

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