Cultural Evolution and Innovation in the Collective Brain
Abstract: Humans aren't particularly bright. But we are good at copying each other. And often without really understanding why what we're copying works. We're like the kids in class who get good grades by getting a copy of last year's exam and cribbing the rest from the top students in the class. I'll introduce the underlying theories behind the evolution of the capacity for culture, the evolution of culture itself, and its effect on our brains, societies, innovation, and life history - the Cultural Brain Hypothesis.
The Cultural Brain Hypothesis formally describes the processes that led to our large brains, large groups, and long juvenile period. I'll discuss how this helps us understand the process of human innovation, often assumed to be the work of a talented few, whose products are passed on to the masses, but which I argue is better described as a product of our social learning strategies playing out in our societies and social networks.
Part of the Evo Demo Seminar Series hosted by the School's Evolutionary Demography Group