10-26_CultureIsAdaptation_1

10-26_CultureIsAdaptation_1 - Culture is an Adaptation Why...

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Culture is an Adaptation Why study adaptations Culture is derived Why culture is adaptive How (possibly) culture evolved Two more forces of cultural evolution
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Culture is an Adaptation Why study adaptations Culture is derived Why culture is adaptive How (possibly) culture evolved Two more forces of cultural evolution
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Complex, improbable features created by natural selection. Complex biological features could not arise by chance. Only created by natural selection Adaptationist thinking: w Observe complex feature w Search for selective function
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Adaptationist thinking generates useful hypotheses Problem: Conventional aerodynamics suggests insects can’t fly Solution: Ask how to design a flying insect w Model high angle of attack flight w Leading edge vortex generates lift w Leads to predictions about other features of insect flight w Test predictions w Eureka! w Not enough wing area. w Angle of attack too high Flies can’t fly
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Adaptationist thinking is controversial Gould and Lewontin: biologists rely on adaptationist thinking far too much w Complex features often arise as byproducts w Biologists find adaptive explanation w Then don’t go further w Ignore non-adaptive explanations Stephen Jay Gould Richard Lewontin
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Adaptationist thinking is controversial Gould and Lewontin: biologists rely on adaptationist thinking far too much w Complex features often arise as byproducts w Biologists find adaptive explanation w Then don’t go further w Ignore non-adaptive explanations Like the “spandrels of San Marco” w Design with a dome held up by arches generates triangular spaces as a side effect w In Duomo San Marco these are filled with beautiful mosaics w L&G say: adaptationists would incorrectly explain existence of “spandrels” as place to put designs
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Terminology: Triangular spaces actually called “pedentives” not spandrels Argument would be convincing if: w Nonadaptive outcomes were more common than adaptive ones, and… w Adaptive arguments were hard to test Neither is true
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This note was uploaded on 11/11/2009 for the course ANTHRO 186P taught by Professor Boyd during the Fall '09 term at UCLA.

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10-26_CultureIsAdaptation_1 - Culture is an Adaptation Why...

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