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Understanding Cultural Evolutionary Models: A Reply to Read's Critique

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Joseph Henrich
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Emory University, 1557 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, GA 30322 (jhenric@emory.edu)
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

This reply to Read's (2006) critique of my paper (Henrich 2004) is divided into three parts. Part I clarifies misinterpretations and mischaracterizations of both Dual Inheritance Theory in general and my model specifically. Part II addresses several problems in Read's empirical analyses of forager toolkits, and presents an alternative analysis. Part III tackles some common misunderstandings about the relationship between cost-benefit models (such as Read's) and cultural evolutionary modeling approaches, as well as highlighting some concerns with Read's efforts. In writing this, I have tried to introduce the reader to the issues in debate, but to fully understand this reply, one should read both my paper and Read’s critique.

Résumé

Résumé

El presente artículo considera varios aspectos de la crítica que hace Read (2006) a mi artículo “Demografía y evolución cultural: Cómo procesos culturales adaptativos pueden producir pérdidas maladaptativas, como en el caso de Tasmania” (Henrich 2004). Primero, clarifico que mi modelo específico, y la Teoría de Herencia Dual de forma más general, son aplicables a la transmisión de un conjunto amplio de representaciones culturales, incluyendo habilidades, conocimientos, prácticas, creencias, valores, y preferencias. Segundo, justifico algunos de los supuestos específicos que fueron utilizados al elaborar mi modelo matemático. En particular, explico cómo el suponer que los individuos aprenden del individuo más capaz o culto en la población resulta muy conservador, y de hecho crea un sesgo contrario a las conclusiones teóricas principales que resultan de mi modelo. Utilizaré los datos empíricos que existen sobre el conjunto de herramientas de los cazadores-recolectores para demostrar que poblaciones aisladas realmente sí terminan mostrando una complejidad por debajo de lo esperado en base a la temperatura efectiva. Todo esto establecerá que el análisis que hace Read de estas herramientas es insuficiente, idiosincrásico, y en su carácter teórico-práctico está conceptualizado de forma errónea. Concluyo con una explicación de cómo los modelos evolutivos culturales, al añadir matices psicológicos plausibles y al atacar el problema de la imperfección en el acceso a la información, de hecho no compiten con los análisis de costo-beneficio, sino que los incorporan. Para entender bien esta respuesta, se deben leer ambos trabajos, (Henrich 2004) y (Read 2006).

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Copyright © The Society for American Archaeology 2006

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References

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