Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

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

Evolution 2014: Evolution of cooperation in the high school classroom? You bet!

Posted 20 Jun 2014 / 0

Will Ratcliff presented an absolutely amazing set of laboratories that explore the evolution of multicellularity ( They can be done with high school or college students, and allow students to see the benefits of cooperation and the action of multilevel selection in a few weeks’ worth of laboratory work. Really impressive classroom activity design!

A Minor Post, Competition, Conferences, Cooperation, Group Selection, Multilevel Selection, Predation, Society for the Study of Evolution

Can you replicate the collective adaptive value of religion without god?

Posted 07 Jan 2014 / 0

NPR Morning Edition “Sunday Assembly: A Church For The Godless Picks Up Steam” It is interesting to see people explicitly seeking out the benefits of religious community whilst trying to maintain their objective understanding of the material world. Conventional wisdom is that “god” is needed to make religions work, but perhaps just a collective intention Read More

A Minor Post, Belief, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Group Selection, Radio & Podcasts, Religion

Writing and record-keeping as important tools in the evolution of large-scale human cooperation

Posted 25 Oct 2013 / 0

This View of Life “The Role Of Writing And Recordkeeping In The Cultural Evolution Of Human Cooperation” What is also so interesting about written language is that it is another means of defining a group: only those who are literate and can read the particular recorded language can fully benefit from the cooperation fostered by Read More

A Minor Post, Cooperation, Empathy, Group Selection, Multilevel Selection