10-21_CultureEvolves_3_-_6

10-21_CultureEvolves_3_-_6 - 10/18/2009 Culture Evolves...

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10/18/2009 1 Culture Evolves Culture is (mostly) information in human brains Building models of cultural evolution The forces of cultural evolution Cultural variants aren’t much like genes Cultural variants can be small or big Culture Evolves Culture is (mostly) information in human brains Building models of cultural evolution The forces of cultural evolution Cultural variants aren’t much like genes Cultural variants need not be particulate Cultural variants need not be replicators Cultural variants can be small or big Dawkins: cumulative evolution requires replicators Replicators: make accurate copies of themselves make lots of copies of themselves affect their own replication rateorld Only replicators can evolve by natural selection Some ideas are replicators they evolve by natural selection Coined meme to refer to idea-replicators Lately, idea of meme has spread Cultural variants replicators Social learning is an inferential process Cultural variant in one individual creates behavior A second individual observes behavior and infers the belief that led to that behavior For any given observed behavior, there are an infinite number of inferences that could be made Orderly inference requires pre-existing theory to select one interpretation of the data People with different theories may make different inferences Word learning illustrates why inference depends on previous knowledge Quine’s thought experiment: You are in a strange land were people speak an unfamiliar language. Your are sitting in a meadow on a warm afternoon and a rabbit runs by and a person points and shouts gavagai. What do you infer about the meaning of
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10-21_CultureEvolves_3_-_6 - 10/18/2009 Culture Evolves...

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