Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Scientific American drops special issue on “Science of Being Human”

Posted 20 Sep 2018 / 0

Scientific American just released a great special issue on The Science of Being Human. It’s one of those nicely-integrated issues that Scientific American has become really good at creaating: from the graphics to the flow of the article topics, everything fits together into a nice three-part structure that explores a diversity of issues surround human evolution and our resulting Read More

A Minor Post, Group Selection, Human Evolution, Human Nature, Human Uniqueness, Periodicals

All it takes to get a little specialized is a small increase in group size…

Posted 30 Aug 2018 / 0

Nature “Fitness benefits and emergent division of labour at the onset of group living” Another Corina Tarnita study that elegantly converts empirical observations into an insightful model. If it doesn’t take a lot for already-social species to harness the power of “division of labor”, that begs an important question: why don’t more species show this Read More

A Minor Post, Cooperation, Group Selection

Gregory Tague to speak about Art & Adaptation at Pratt Institute

Posted 12 Apr 2017 / 0

Why do people make art? Given that human art-making emerged tens of thousands of years ago and is such an integral part of most human societies, why we make art is an important question. Philosophers have been trying to answer this question for a long time. More recently, scientists have begun to explore explanations for human Read More

A Major Post, Adaptation, Archaeology, Art & Design, Communication, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Evolution, Department of Mathematics & Science, Emotion, Empathy, Evolutionary Psychology, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Group Selection, Human Evolution, Human Nature, Human Uniqueness, Memetic Fitness, Multilevel Selection, Play, Pratt Institute, Psychological Adaptation, Social Networks

Religious children are less altruistic… or maybe not…

Posted 16 Nov 2015 / 0

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons A recent study published in Current Biology claims to have demonstrated that children raised in religious households are less altruistic and more vindictive than their peers raised in non-religious households. Using two different tests — a Dictator Game conducted with stickers and a task that measured reactions to watching interpersonal Read More

A Minor Post, Altruism, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Cultural Evolution, Emotion, Empathy, Ethics, Group Selection, Human Nature, Multilevel Selection, Psychological Adaptation, Punishment, Religion, Reputation, Social Norms

Group phenotypic composition: implications for individuals and their groups

Posted 22 Oct 2015 / 0

Trends in Ecology & Evolution “From Individuals to Groups and Back: The Evolutionary Implications of Group Phenotypic Composition” Man, I wish that this article was written in a more accessible manner, because what it presents is important. There is a critical feedback between how the composition of groups affects individuals and how individuals affect the Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Evolutionary Modeling, Group Selection, Multilevel Selection, Natural Selection, Phenotypic Plasticity, Population Genetics, Social Diversity

David Sloan Wilson on how Jeff Bezos don’t know squat about chickens (or evolution!)

Posted 16 Oct 2015 / 0

Evonomics “Jeff Bezos got Darwinism all Wrong!” This is an interesting analysis of the Bezos way of doing business, which represents an oft-lauded bastardization of Darwinian theory. What I like about Wilson’s brief analysis is that he focuses back on the unit of selection that matters for a business: the corporation. Unless you naively believe Read More

A Minor Post, Behavior, Cultural Evolution, Group Selection, Human Nature, Social Diversity, System Stability, Web

Have we outgrown the scale of cooperation supported by the Big Gods of Big Religion?

Posted 08 Sep 2015 / 0

Cliodynamica “From Big Gods to the Big Brother” There are a bunch of really interesting ideas in this post, particularly related to the challenges associated with scaling up cooperation. As Turchin nicely points out, once you get past the tribal scale reputation alone — even fueled by the power of gossip — is not going Read More

A Minor Post, Altruism, Behavior, Belief, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Group Selection, History, Human Uniqueness, Multilevel Selection, Punishment, Religion, Reputation, Social Norms, Web

Can we resolve the ‘group selection debate’ by focusing on human cooperation?

Posted 12 Jun 2015 / 13

ASEBL Journal “Morality and Selection – How?” This is an interesting article that tries to frame the debate over multilevel selection. Lots of other people have tried to similarly frame this debate, and I am pretty sure that no single prescription is going to resolve the debate. There is a debate about whether we need Read More

A Minor Post, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Ethics, Group Selection, Methods, Multilevel Selection, Social Norms, Web

E&E in A&D: The Armstrong Lie

Posted 18 Jan 2015 / 0

I just finished watching the 2013 documentary The Armstrong Lie. I do not get much time to watch movies — and my favorite genre of movie, documentaries — very much these days, but I used to be a big fan of pro cycling in the Armstrong era, so I knew that I had to check Read More

A Major Post, Altruism, Behavior, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Film & Video, Game Theory, Group Selection, Play, Punishment, Reciprocity, Reputation, Social Norms

Do humans form genetically similar social groups independent of kinship?

Posted 26 Jul 2014 / 1

Proponents of kin selection as the most parsimonious explanation of how cooperation evolves face a problem when it comes to humans: counter to the predictions of kin selection theory, humans aim a fair amount of altruism at non-kin. While we do not aim our helping behaviors solely at our relatives, we also do not randomly Read More

A Major Post, Altruism, Articles, Behavior, Cooperation, Genetics, Group Selection, Human Evolution, Kin Selection, Psychology, Radio & Podcasts, Reciprocity, Social Networks, Sociology