Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

My testimonial for Gregory Tague’s “Evolution and Human Culture”

Posted 05 Oct 2015 / 0

I have written a lot of book reviews, but I have never been asked to write a book testimonial before. So I am honored to have been asked to write a testimonial for Gregory F. Tague’s Evolution & Human Culture, forthcoming on Brill. Here’s my finished testimonial for this book: Between the age-old outposts maintained by Read More

A Major Post, Art & Design, Books, Cognitive Ability, Consciousness, Cooperation, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Evolution, Evolution, Evolutionary Psychology, Human Evolution, Human Uniqueness, Neuroscience, Primatology, Psychology, Social Norms

Anne-Marie Slaughter on the tradeoff between work and caregiving

Posted 02 Oct 2015 / 0

WNYC The Brian Lehrer Show “Where Women Go from Here” Several years ago, Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote the seminal article on the conflict between work and parenting. Published in The Atlantic and entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All“, Slaughter’s article used her own professional experience to explore the challenge faced by many women in the developed world: the Read More

A Major Post, Belief, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Cultural Evolution, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Parenting, Public Policy, Radio & Podcasts, Sex and Reproduction, Sociology

Do creative people have “messy minds”?

Posted 29 Sep 2015 / 0

Scientific American Beautiful Minds blog “Creative People Are…” This is an interesting little summary for someone like myself who teaches future creative professionals. Anecdotally, the “messy mind” idea makes a lot of sense: my students probably do worst when asked to regurgitate orthodox hierarchies of information. They do far better when asked to make connections Read More

A Minor Post, Art & Design, Intelligences, Neuroscience, Psychological Adaptation, Psychology, Social Diversity, Web

Does the ability to accumulate wealth make us value the future more?

Posted 29 Sep 2015 / 0

PLoS ONE “Future Discounting in Congo Basin Hunter-Gatherers Declines with Socio-Economic Transitions” These findings are really fascinating, because they suggest that some degree of “building towards the future” is inspired by the ability to accumulate wealth. There’s a lot in these findings to explain why small-scale societies stay small and how larger-scale societies evolve from smaller-scale Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Evolution, Economics, Evolutionary Psychology, Human Nature, Memetic Fitness, Phenotypic Plasticity, Psychological Adaptation, Social Norms

When it comes to sex, we are consumately proximate

Posted 20 Sep 2015 / 0

The Guardian “Why the UK sperm bank is running short” Further evidence that while we are — on the one hand — one of the weirdest species in the world, at our core we remain not unlike the rest of our animal brethren. Think about it for a second: if humans were both rational and Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Behavior, Belief, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Cultural Evolution, Evolutionary Psychology, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Human Uniqueness, Psychology, Reproductive Fitness, Sex and Reproduction

Our culture is special, but not especially uncommon

Posted 08 Sep 2015 / 0

National Geographic News “Sperm Whales’ Language Reveals Hints of Culture” It is interesting how the number of animal species displaying culture keeps getting larger. There’s a lot of evolutionary convergence involved here, as the phylogenetic tree of vertebrates is still only sprinkled with pockets of culture. But those pockets of culture are deep, and therefore Read More

A Minor Post, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Cetaceans, Communication, Convergence, Cultural Evolution, Exaptation, Human Uniqueness, 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

The most fundamental way in which culture pushes against biology

Posted 26 Aug 2015 / 0

National Public Radio “For Prospective Moms, Biology and Culture Clash” Seven years later, I need to check and see how these American demographic trends have developed. Are even more women having babies later in life? Interesting thing here is how big a tension there is between our cultural choices and our biological realities. If fertility peaks Read More

A Minor Post, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Cultural Evolution, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Memetic Fitness, Radio & Podcasts, Reproductive Fitness, Senescence, Sex and Reproduction, Social Norms

Explaining the evolutionary explanation for handedness

Posted 13 Aug 2015 / 0

This is a wonderful little video that is absolutely packed with great ideas about how evolution works, how human evolution works, and how two different evolutionary pressures pushing in opposite directions reach equilibrium. It also makes wonderful use of infographic techniques, using color and quantity throughout the video to clearly convey numerical and conceptual ideas Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Educational Software and Apps, Evolutionary Modeling, Film, Television, & Video, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Human Evolution, MSCI-463, The Evolution of Cooperation, Quantifying Costs and Benefits, Social Norms

E&E in A&D: Genetic profiling as art?

Posted 13 Feb 2015 / 0

Smithsonian Magazine “Creepy or Cool? Portraits Derived From the DNA in Hair and Gum Found in Public Places” I find a lot of art to be gimmicky. I know as a professor at an art and design school, that could get me into some trouble, so let me explain what I mean. “Gimmicky” art to Read More

A Major Post, Articles, Computer Science, Ethics, Genetics, Human Evolution, Risk & Uncertainty, Science in Art & Design, Sociology