X-Message-Number: 30188
References: <>
From: David Stodolsky <>
Subject: Re: Recent human selection
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2007 17:14:48 +0100

On 20 Dec 2007, at 18:57, hkhenson wrote:

> Now Dr. Gregory Clark, in one of those huge efforts that lead to
> breakthroughs, has produced a study that makes a strong case for
> recent  (last few hundred years) and massive changes in population
> average psychological traits.  It leaves in place that a huge part of
> our psychological traits did indeed come out of the stone age, but
> adds to that recent and very strong selection pressures on the
> population of settled agriculture societies in the "Malthusian trap."
> I came a bit late to this party, Dr. Clark's book _A Farewell to
> Alms_ peaked at 17 on Amazon's sales months ago.  My copy has not
> come yet so I read this paper off his academic web site.
> http://www.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/gclark/papers/Capitalism% 
> 20Genes.pdf
> "Genetically Capitalist? The Malthusian Era, Institutions and the
> Formation of Modern Preferences."
> There is lots of other material
> here:  http://www.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/gclark/research.html but
> this paper is just stunning because of how much light it shines on a
> long list of mysteries.  Such as: Why did the modern world grow out
> of a small part of Europe and why did it take so long?  Why are the
> Chinese doing so well compared to say Africa?

As I warned before, a little knowledge (about evolutionary theory) is  
a dangerous thing.

If the above paper was correct, then we should see higher  
intelligence in the UK than among primitive peoples. All evidence  
goes against this.

His argument using calorie consumption as a stand in for wealth is  
also fraught with danger. Attempts in Life History Theory to relate  
calorie consumption to number of children have yet to be supported,  
even with excellent data.

I have earlier seen papers claiming that market exchange is 'in the  
genes' and while this was even less of a claim, it also was not  
supported. We continue to see people claiming that the current social  
configurations are somehow 'natural' or come about thru evolution.  
This is just the old social darwinism argument, that was used to  
justify a war on the poor in England, reworked into modern clothing.


David Stodolsky    Skype: davidstodolsky

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