Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pg. 99: Mark Pagel's "Wired for Culture"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Wired for Culture: Origins of the Human Social Mind by Mark Pagel.

About the book, from the publisher:
A fascinating, far-reaching study of how our species' innate capacity for culture altered the course of our social and evolutionary history.

A unique trait of the human species is that our personalities, lifestyles, and worldviews are shaped by an accident of birth—namely, the culture into which we are born. It is our cultures and not our genes that determine which foods we eat, which languages we speak, which people we love and marry, and which people we kill in war. But how did our species develop a mind that is hardwired for culture—and why?

Evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel tracks this intriguing question through the last 80,000 years of human evolution, revealing how an innate propensity to contribute and conform to the culture of our birth not only enabled human survival and progress in the past but also continues to influence our behavior today. Shedding light on our species’ defining attributes—from art, morality, and altruism to self-interest, deception, and prejudice—Wired for Culture offers surprising new insights into what it means to be human.
Learn more about Wired for Culture at the publisher's website.

Mark Pagel is a professor of evolutionary biology at University of Reading. He has published widely on such topics as evolutionary genetics and linguistics, brain size, and human culture.

The Page 99 Test: Wired for Culture.

--Marshal Zeringue