[ExI] Really? and EP

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Tue Apr 21 18:42:14 UTC 2009

On Tue, Apr 21, 2009 at 9:02 AM, BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 4/20/09, Keith Henson wrote:
>> Thanks for totally misrepresenting the work of Dr Gregory Clark.  I
>>  don't know how the rest of the list members feel about it, but it
>>  seems below the appropriate level of discourse.
> Yoi think I should strive to attain the discourse level of your
> suggestion that I don't have a clue about evolution theory?

Do you?  Can you paraphrase Hamilton's rule?

> You have misunderstood what your hero Dr Clark wrote.
> He is not a scientist.   He's a historian.
> He was talking about *cultural* evolution.
> (Though he threw in a lot of 'maybes and 'perhaps' to confuse matters).
I have no idea how you could read a paper such as "Genetically
Capitalist? The Malthusian Era, Institutions and the Formation of
Modern Preferences" and come to the conclusion Dr Clark was talking
about cultural evolution.  To be sure culture had evolved from hunter
gatherers to settled agriculture.  The best survival traits in this
culture were rather different from those of hunter gatherers.  Clark
proposes (on the basis of extensive evidence) that there was an
extensive genetic takeover in historical times of a different set of
traits based on genetic selection.  Here in Clark's words.

Before 1800 all societies, including England, were Malthusian.
The average man or woman had 2 surviving children. Such
societies were also Darwinian. Some reproductively successful
groups produced more than 2 surviving children, increasing their
share of the population, while other groups produced less, so that
their share declined. But unusually in England, this selection for
men was based on economic success from at least 1250, not
success in violence as in some other pre-industrial societies. The
richest male testators left twice as many children as the poorest.
Consequently the modern population of the English is largely
descended from the economic upper classes of the middle ages.
At the same time, from 1150 to 1800 in England there are clear
signs of changes in average economic preferences towards more
“capitalist” attitudes.

The highly capitalistic nature of English
society by 1800 – individualism, low time preference rates, long
work hours, high levels of human capital – may thus stem from
the nature of the Darwinian struggle in a very stable agrarian
society in the long run up to the Industrial Revolution. The
triumph of capitalism in the modern world thus may lie as much
in our genes as in ideology or rationality.


How can you read into this that Dr Clark was talking about cultural evolution?



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