Culture Darwinism News

Makes you wonder why humans are smart

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(Wasn’t supposed to.) From ScienceDaily:

Learning from others and innovation have undoubtedly helped advance civilization. But these behaviors can carry costs as well as benefits. And a new study by an international team of evolutionary biologists sheds light on how one particular cost — increased exposure to parasites — may affect cultural evolution in non-human primates. The results of the study suggest that species with members that learn from others suffer from a wider variety of socially transmitted parasites, while innovative, exploratory species suffer from a wider variety of parasites transmitted through the environment, such as in the soil or water.

“We tend to focus on innovation and learning from others as a good thing, but their costs have received relatively little attention,” says McGill University biologist Simon Reader, co-author of the study. “Here, we uncover evidence that socially transmitted pathogen burdens rise with learning from others — perhaps because close interaction is needed for such learning — and environmentally transmitted pathogen burdens rise with exploratory behaviour such as innovation and extractive foraging.”

Here’s the abstract:

Culturally transmitted traits are observed in a wide array of animal species, yet we understand little about the costs of the behavioural patterns that underlie culture, such as innovation and social learning. We propose that infectious diseases are a significant cost associated with cultural transmission. We investigated two hypotheses that may explain such a connection: that social learning and exploratory behaviours (specifically, innovation and extractive foraging) either compensate for existing infection or increase exposure to infectious agents. We used Bayesian comparative methods, controlling for sampling effort, body mass, group size, geographical range size, terrestriality, latitude and phylogenetic uncertainty. Across 127 primate species, we found a positive association between pathogen richness and rates of innovation, extractive foraging and social learning. This relationship was driven by two independent phenomena: socially contagious diseases were positively associated with rates of social learning, and environmentally transmitted diseases were positively associated with rates of exploration. Because higher pathogen burdens can contribute to morbidity and mortality, we propose that parasitism is a significant cost associated with the behavioural patterns that underpin culture, and that increased pathogen exposure is likely to have played an important role in the evolution of culture in both non-human primates and humans.

So humans thrived despite the forces arrayed against them?

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6 Replies to “Makes you wonder why humans are smart

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    So humans thrived despite the forces arrayed against them?

    We supposedly evolved culture for its survival benefit. Then we learn …

    …parasitism is a significant cost associated with the behavioural patterns that underpin culture …

    But evolution wanted us to have culture and to be well-socialized so it was obviously worth the cost.

    Just imagine how bad it was before we evolved culture. 🙂

  2. 2
    Zachriel says:

    See Jared M. Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, W. W. Norton & Company 2005.

  3. 3
    Andre says:

    Darwinism sure does explain everything, just imagine!

  4. 4
    ppolish says:

    Humans are so smart that Evolutionists have elevated our intelligent designs to a level above Nature itself.

    “A Rolex Watchmaker is guided and purposeful – but above & beyond Nature”

  5. 5
    inunison says:

    See David Stowe, Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity and Other Fables of Evolution; Encounter Books 2007

  6. 6
    Robert Byers says:

    One can’t get mad at this. its truly vanity of intellectual pursuit.
    They get paid for worthless ideas.
    They truly guess with no control on the guessing.
    However all this is actually just what evolutionary biology was at entry level back in the day.
    Its just dumb without saying the people are dumb. They are misled as all of us are in something.

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