Mailbag: Cultural evolution

1 minute read

I just finished listening to your lectures of rise of humans and it was thoroughly a very nice and complete coverage of recent understandings of this matter. THANK YOU, But there is a burning question and issue in my mind that I like to share and ask you. The genetic evolution has been clearly the engine of evolution before human kind but arguably the recent cultural evolution-I call it intellectual evolution- by far is the engine of changes in the history of our species. As you mentioned in the last lecture of that series. But intellectual selection that instead of gathering genes-packs of information- on DNA, has gathered information first on Nervous system- from primitive reflexes all the way to complex memory systems in human brain- and later the information packages in language, writing,computer net works, the selection method that its rate of change is the determining factor of our present and future events, has not found its importance and detailed definition and applications in the mind of students and even scholars yet?? What is missing in this picture?

Thank you so much for the kind words. I agree, cultural evolution has been very powerful but we as yet have no clear way of describing or predicting its progress. Partly it comes down to the model. With genetics, we know certain regular aspects of inheritance that allow us to make strong predictions about how evolution will occur. With culture, it is difficult to define the basic aspects of information that are transmitted, or to describe their dynamics. Humans change information as they transmit it, in ways that are not analogous to genetic changes. So, the topic is very complicated but naturally very interesting.