Wired for Culture by Mark Pagel
Origins of the Human Social Mind

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Synopsis

“Does an excellent job of using evolutionary biology to discuss the origins of religion, music, art, and . . . morality.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review


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.

 

About Mark Pagel

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Mark Pagel is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Reading. He lives in Oxford, England.
 
Published February 27, 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company. 431 pages
Genres: Science & Math, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Wired for Culture

Kirkus Reviews

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“[B]eing able to jump from mind to mind,” writes the author, “granted the element of culture a pace of change that stood in relation to our genetical evolution something like an animal’s behavior does to the more leisurely movement of a plant.” Pagel extends Richard Dawkins' conceit of the selfis...

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Publishers Weekly

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Culture became “a second great system of inheritance to stand alongside our genes—a new way of transmitting information from one generation to the next, shortcutting the normal genetic routes of inheritance.” Pagel does an excellent job of using evolutionary biology to discuss the origins o...

Nov 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Wired for Culture: Origins of...

The Wall Street Journal

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While our genes evolve slowly, our cultures change fast—it's the key to humanity's unparalleled adaptability

Feb 25 2012 | Read Full Review of Wired for Culture: Origins of...

The Telegraph

It aims to be a practical, how-to guide for maximising co-operation and avoiding tribalism, but ends up a sort of high-class self-help book – Tony Robbins rewritten by a philosophy PhD.

Mar 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Wired for Culture: Origins of...

Dallas News

But one of the most reliable differences between domesticated animals and their wild ancestors is that the domesticated ones have smaller brains: as a rule, domesticated animals are just a bit dim, or less ‘street smart.’ Could our brains have domesticated us as well?” That is not the only topic ...

Mar 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Wired for Culture: Origins of...

San Francisco Chronicle

"If even just one of your ancestors had decided to give up having children for his or her art," Pagel writes, "the consequences for you would be no different than had that ancestor been killed - you would not be here today reading this book."

May 04 2012 | Read Full Review of Wired for Culture: Origins of...

truthdig

If the gun lobby dishonestly claims that those politicians are taking away the freedom to own guns, then those politicians must argue that the gun lobby is taking away others’ freedom from guns.

Sep 13 2013 | Read Full Review of Wired for Culture: Origins of...

truthdig

I think if you read what I wrote, at least once more, you will notice that I wrote that the Elites ( the Rich and Powerful, the 1%, the Nobles, etc.) own the information providers ( Media ) and that they in collusion with the Medial( their lapdogs)get to FRAME the “Spin” to their Agenda.

Apr 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Wired for Culture: Origins of...

truthdig

Barring some serious problem affecting Starbucks (e.g., the finding of a causal relationship between coffee and cancer), it is more than likely that Starbucks, along with McDonalds (serving Coca-Cola, of course), will be the first company and product on the moon.

Dec 08 2006 | Read Full Review of Wired for Culture: Origins of...

truthdig

FONSEKA, September 24, 2008 at 9:14 pm Link to this comment(Unregistered commenter).

Sep 24 2008 | Read Full Review of Wired for Culture: Origins of...

truthdig

By purplewolf, January 29, 2008 at 10:42 pm Link to this comment.

Jan 29 2008 | Read Full Review of Wired for Culture: Origins of...

truthdig

In your earlier post you took great pains to tell me that biblical passage predicting End Times was written some 2000 years ago—the import being that we must pay attention because the author of the Bible predicted behaviors that you apparently believe are now coming to fruition—2nd Timothy 3:1-4:...

Dec 23 2008 | Read Full Review of Wired for Culture: Origins of...

truthdig

I had not intended to get into a defense of Clinton but when someone ( you) posts a link to a rabid conservative ( read lying assholes) site I just gotta counter and riposte with:.

Jun 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Wired for Culture: Origins of...

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