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Selected Books by Edmund Blair Bolles

  • Galileo's Commandment: 2500 Years of Great Science Writing
  • The Ice Finders: How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age
  • Einstein Defiant: Genius vs Genius in the Quantum Revolution

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Alex Moore

As someone who doesn't read about things like gene-culture coevolution much, I really enjoyed the Gintis paper. In particular, I found the distinction between genetics for encoding things that are constant and stable in the environment, learning capacity for environmental conditions that vary rapidly, and culture for things in between.

As I thought about it, though, it did make me wonder about the nature of gene-culture coevolution. In particular, I understand that genes and culture are sort of feeding back onto each other. What I don't understand is how this works considering that biological evolution seems to be such a slow process in comparison to cultural evolution (perhaps my assumption is wrong?). Perhaps it's that biological selection is only affected by aspects of our culture (as well as the environment it creates) that are long lasting and stable like agriculture and literature? Or am I looking at this the wrong way?

At any rate, thanks for introducing me to this very interesting concept. I'll be sure to keep reading this blog!
BLOGGER: Culture does evolve more quickly than biology, but biology can move with some speed too. (See the spread of lactose tolerant genes within historic times.) An example of culture-gene coevolution related to language is the control we have over our tongue, making very precise sounds possible. No other primate has such a complex system. By the way, on this blog I put a lot of stress on group selection. Meaning that control of the tongue, giving a wider range of possible sounds (and therefore words) was selected because of the advantage it gave a group able to use a richer language, not an advantage to an individual whose ability to outpace other speakers in the community.

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