[ExI] Impressive book: Farewell to Alms

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Sun Feb 3 22:51:04 UTC 2008

At 02:15 PM 2/3/2008, spike wrote:

>I can take you down to the local hardware store right now and show you half
>a dozen sturdy looking amigos standing around in the parking lot.

Don't forget that people who immigrate may be rather different from 
the ones who stay behind.  Perhaps they are more in tune with the 
place they immigrate to.  And if people don't work as hard when they 
come back to their native village, perhaps that's because there are 
no rich guy lawns to mow.

Back to the topic.

There is little doubt that culture has a big effect especially on 
people who immigrate.  But ultimately evolved brain mechanisms 
underlie culture.  Clark also argues that the culture of settled 
agriculture set the conditions for genetic selection--tuning up a 
particular set of brain mechanisms.

There is also the cultural effect that it doesn't take a whole lot of 
entrepreneurs and engineers to make thousands of people more productive.

A current consideration is a population wide slide backwards when the 
selection pressure is released.  Rich people certainly don't have 
twice the number of kids as poor people today.

In fact, with female liberation and reliable birth control a lot of 
the most accomplished people have no kids at all.  Pinker is an 
example.  This would be more of a worry if we were not far from the 
end of the gene.

The last part of Farewell to Alms is about the failure of the 
Industrial revolution to spread in most parts of the world and the 
exceptions to this rule.  How much of that was genetic and how much 
culture is hard to partition.  It sure is interesting, if politically 
incorrect, data.


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