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Cultural variation in cultural evolution | Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences
Cultural evolutionary models have identified a range of conditions under which social learning (copying others) is predicted to be adaptive relative to asocial learning (learning on one's own), particularly in humans where socially learned information can accumulate over successive generations. However, cultural evolution and behavioural economics experiments have consistently shown apparently maladaptive under-utilization of social information in Western populations. Here we provide experimental evidence of cultural variation in people's use of social learning, potentially explaining this mismatch. People in mainland China showed significantly more social learning than British people in an artefact-design task designed to assess the adaptiveness of social information use. People in Hong Kong, and Chinese immigrants in the UK, resembled British people in their social information use, suggesting a recent shift in these groups from social to asocial learning due to exposure to Western culture. Finally, Chinese mainland participants responded less than other participants to increased environmental change within the task. Our results suggest that learning strategies in humans are culturally variable and not genetically fixed, necessitating the study of the ‘social learning of social learning strategies' whereby the dynamics of cultural evolution are responsive to social processes, such as migration, education and globalization.


Western education emphasizes individual discovery and creativity, whereas East Asian education emphasizes rote learning from authority [25]. The adoption of consumer products shows less social influence in Western than East Asian countries [26]. Westerners are described as more individualistic/independent, while East Asians are described as more collectivistic/interdependent [27], dimensions which intuitively map on to asocial and social learning, respectively.

Societal background influences social learning in cooperative decision making:
We demonstrate that Chinese participants base their cooperation decisions on information about their peers much more frequently than their British counterparts. Moreover, our results reveal remarkable societal differences in the type of peer information people consider. In contrast to the consensus view, Chinese participants tend to be substantially less majority-oriented than the British. While Chinese participants are inclined to adopt peer behavior that leads to higher payoffs, British participants tend to cooperate only if sufficiently many peers do so too. These results indicate that the basic processes underlying social transmission are not universal; rather, they vary with cultural conditions. As success-based learning is associated with selfish behavior and majority-based learning can help foster cooperation, our study suggests that in different societies social learning can play diverging roles in the emergence and maintenance of cooperation.
study  org:nat  anthropology  cultural-dynamics  sapiens  pop-diff  comparison  sociality  learning  duplication  individualism-collectivism  n-factor  europe  the-great-west-whale  china  asia  sinosphere  britain  anglosphere  strategy  environmental-effects  biodet  within-without  auto-learning  tribalism  things  broad-econ  psychology  cog-psych  social-psych  🎩  🌞  microfoundations  egalitarianism-hierarchy  innovation  creative  explanans  education  culture  curiosity  multi  occident  cooperate-defect  coordination  organizing  self-interest  altruism  patho-altruism  orient  ecology  axelrod 
may 2018 by nhaliday
The Falling Price of Fat | Pseudoerasmus
Summary : There are too many baroque explanations for the increased prevalence of obesity. I suggest a simple mechanism : falling food prices, rising incomes.
econotariat  broad-econ  pseudoE  economics  supply-demand  food  obesity  trends  explanans  cynicism-idealism  money  compensation  cost-benefit  backup  epidemiology  public-health  roots 
february 2018 by nhaliday
Why Sex? And why only in Pairs? - Marginal REVOLUTION
The core conclusion is that mutations continue to rise with the number of sex-participating partners, but in simple Red Queen models the limiting features of the genotypes is the same whether there are two, three, or more partners.

Men Are Animals:
I agree with all the comments citing motility/sessility.
econotariat  marginal-rev  commentary  study  summary  economics  broad-econ  interdisciplinary  bio  biodet  deep-materialism  new-religion  eden  gender  sex  EGT  explanans  red-queen  parasites-microbiome  mutation  comparison  evolution  roots  🌞  population-genetics  genetics  marginal  equilibrium  number  ecology  whole-partial-many  uniqueness  parsimony  multi  cost-benefit  outcome-risk  uncertainty  moments  spatial  travel  explore-exploit  ratty  hanson 
january 2018 by nhaliday
What explains the formation and decay of clusters of creativity? - Marginal REVOLUTION
Creativity is often highly concentrated in time and space, and across different domains. What explains the formation and decay of clusters of creativity? In this paper we match data on thousands of notable individuals born in Europe between the XIth and the XIXth century with historical data on city institutions and population. After documenting several stylized facts, we show that the formation of creative clusters is not preceded by increases in city size. Instead, the emergence of city institutions protecting economic and political freedoms facilitates the attraction and production of creative talent.

IOW, the opposite of what Dick Florida said.
econotariat  marginal-rev  links  commentary  study  economics  growth-econ  broad-econ  cliometrics  innovation  stylized-facts  contrarianism  urban-rural  europe  the-great-west-whale  history  medieval  political-econ  institutions  microfoundations  roots  policy  nascent-state  creative  civil-liberty  randy-ayndy  polisci  regulation  capitalism  markets  mokyr-allen-mccloskey  enlightenment-renaissance-restoration-reformation  reflection  track-record 
january 2018 by nhaliday
The Long-run Effects of Agricultural Productivity on Conflict, 1400-1900∗
This paper provides evidence of the long-run effects of a permanent increase in agricultural productivity on conflict. We construct a newly digitized and geo-referenced dataset of battles in Europe, the Near East and North Africa covering the period between 1400 and 1900 CE. For variation in permanent improvements in agricultural productivity, we exploit the introduction of potatoes from the Americas to the Old World after the Columbian Exchange. We find that the introduction of potatoes permanently reduced conflict for roughly two centuries. The results are driven by a reduction in civil conflicts
#4 An obvious counterfactual is of course the potato blight (1844 and beyond) in Europe. Here’s the Wikipedia page ‘revolutions of 1848’
pdf  study  marginal-rev  economics  broad-econ  cliometrics  history  medieval  early-modern  age-of-discovery  branches  innovation  discovery  agriculture  food  econ-productivity  efficiency  natural-experiment  europe  the-great-west-whale  MENA  war  revolution  peace-violence  trivia  cocktail  stylized-facts  usa  endogenous-exogenous  control  geography  cost-benefit  multi  econotariat  links  poast  wiki  reference  events  roots 
december 2017 by nhaliday
Land, history or modernization? Explaining ethnic fractionalization: Ethnic and Racial Studies: Vol 38, No 2
Ethnic fractionalization (EF) is frequently used as an explanatory tool in models of economic development, civil war and public goods provision. However, if EF is endogenous to political and economic change, its utility for further research diminishes. This turns out not to be the case. This paper provides the first comprehensive model of EF as a dependent variable.
study  polisci  sociology  political-econ  economics  broad-econ  diversity  putnam-like  race  concept  conceptual-vocab  definition  realness  eric-kaufmann  roots  database  dataset  robust  endogenous-exogenous  causation  anthropology  cultural-dynamics  tribalism  methodology  world  developing-world  🎩  things  metrics  intricacy  microfoundations 
december 2017 by nhaliday
As a foundation for this study, I organized the collection of village-level panel data on violent actors, managing teams of surveyors, village elders, and households in 380 war-torn areas of DRC. I introduce optimal taxation theory to the decision of violent actors to establish local monopolies of violence. The value of such decision hinges on their ability to tax the local population. A sharp rise in the global demand for coltan, a bulky commodity used in the electronics industry, leads violent actors to impose monopolies of violence and taxation in coltan sites, which persist even years after demand collapses. A similar rise in the demand for gold, easier to conceal and more difficult to tax, does not. However, the groups who nevertheless control gold sites are more likely to respond by undertaking investments in fiscal capacity, consistent with the difficulty to observe gold, and with well-documented trajectories of state formation in Europe (Ardant, 1975). The findings support the view that the expected revenue from taxation, determined in particular by tax base elasticity and costly investments in fiscal capacity, can explain the stages of state formation preceding the states as we recognize them today.
pdf  study  economics  growth-econ  broad-econ  political-econ  polisci  leviathan  north-weingast-like  unintended-consequences  institutions  microfoundations  econometrics  empirical  government  taxes  rent-seeking  supply-demand  incentives  property-rights  africa  developing-world  peace-violence  interests  longitudinal  natural-experiment  endogenous-exogenous  archaeology  trade  world  feudal  roots  ideas  cost-benefit  econ-productivity  traces 
november 2017 by nhaliday
King Kong and Cold Fusion: Counterfactual analysis and the History of Technology
How “contingent” is technological history? Relying on models from evolutionary epistemology, I argue for an analogy with Darwinian Biology and thus a much greater degree of contingency than is normally supposed. There are three levels of contingency in technological development. The crucial driving force behind technology is what I call S-knowledge, that is, an understanding of the exploitable regularities of nature (which includes “science” as a subset). The development of techniques depend on the existence of epistemic bases in S. The “inevitability” of technology thus depends crucially on whether we condition it on the existence of the appropriate S-knowledge. Secondly, even if this knowledge emerges, there is nothing automatic about it being transformed into a technique that is, a set of instructions that transforms knowledge into production. Third, even if the techniques are proposed, there is selection which reflects the preferences and biases of an economy and injects another level of indeterminacy and contingency into the technological history of nations.
Moslem conquest of Europe, or a Mongol conquest, or a post-1492 epidemic, or a victory of the counter-reformation would have prevented the Industrial Revolution (Joel Mokyr)
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november 2017 by nhaliday
The Science of Roman History: Biology, Climate, and the Future of the Past (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
Forthcoming April 2018

How the latest cutting-edge science offers a fuller picture of life in Rome and antiquity
This groundbreaking book provides the first comprehensive look at how the latest advances in the sciences are transforming our understanding of ancient Roman history. Walter Scheidel brings together leading historians, anthropologists, and geneticists at the cutting edge of their fields, who explore novel types of evidence that enable us to reconstruct the realities of life in the Roman world.

Contributors discuss climate change and its impact on Roman history, and then cover botanical and animal remains, which cast new light on agricultural and dietary practices. They exploit the rich record of human skeletal material--both bones and teeth—which forms a bio-archive that has preserved vital information about health, nutritional status, diet, disease, working conditions, and migration. Complementing this discussion is an in-depth analysis of trends in human body height, a marker of general well-being. This book also assesses the contribution of genetics to our understanding of the past, demonstrating how ancient DNA is used to track infectious diseases, migration, and the spread of livestock and crops, while the DNA of modern populations helps us reconstruct ancient migrations, especially colonization.

Opening a path toward a genuine biohistory of Rome and the wider ancient world, The Science of RomanHistory offers an accessible introduction to the scientific methods being used in this exciting new area of research, as well as an up-to-date survey of recent findings and a tantalizing glimpse of what the future holds.

Walter Scheidel is the Dickason Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Classics and History, and a Kennedy-Grossman Fellow in Human Biology at Stanford University. He is the author or editor of seventeen previous books, including The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century (Princeton).
books  draft  todo  broad-econ  economics  anthropology  genetics  genomics  aDNA  measurement  volo-avolo  environment  climate-change  archaeology  history  iron-age  mediterranean  the-classics  demographics  health  embodied  labor  migration  walter-scheidel  agriculture  frontier  malthus  letters  gibbon  traces 
november 2017 by nhaliday
Politics with Hidden Bases: Unearthing the Deep Roots of Party Systems
The research presented here uses a novel method to show that contemporary party systems may originate much further back than is usually assumed or might be expected—in reality many centuries. Using data on Ireland, a country with a political system that poses significant challenges to the universality of many political science theories, by identifying the ancestry of current party elites we find ethnic bases for the Irish party system arising from population movements that took place from the 12th century. Extensive Irish genealogical knowledge allows us to use surnames as a proxy for ethnic origin. Recent genetic analyses of Irish surnames corroborate Irish genealogical information. The results are particularly compelling given that Ireland is an extremely homogeneous society and therefore provides a tough case for our approach.
pdf  study  broad-econ  polisci  sociology  politics  government  correlation  path-dependence  cliometrics  anglo  britain  history  mostly-modern  time-series  pro-rata  distribution  demographics  coalitions  pop-structure  branches  hari-seldon 
november 2017 by nhaliday
Scotland’s many subcultures - Demos Quarterly
surname method

Turning to our analysis of the YouGov results, it was much to our surprise that the strongest majority support for independence was not among ‘pure’ historic Scots, but among people of Irish Catholic descent: with the latter being only 6 per cent net against independence, and historic Scots 16 per cent against. On the surface one might suppose this group would take its political lead from the Labour Party, for which it votes more consistently than any other group in Scotland.
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november 2017 by nhaliday

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