David Sloan Wilson: “Chickens, Cooperation, and a Pro-social World”

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In this episode of The Great Simplification, host Nate Hagens speaks with David Sloan Wilson about how evolution can be used to explain and understand modern human behavior, particularly with respect to cooperation and pro-social behavior. They discuss complex systems thinking, the obsession chimpanzee males have with status, stoning as a social adaptation, the centrality of small groups, the distinctiveness of humans’ abstract thought, Elinor Ostrom’s core design principles, tight versus loose societies, Elon Musk’s Twitter management, and more.

Nate Hagens is the Director of The Institute for the Study of Energy & Our Future (ISEOF) an organization focused on educating and preparing society for the coming cultural transition. Allied with leading ecologists, energy experts, politicians and systems thinkers, ISEOF assembles road-maps and off-ramps for how human societies can adapt to lower throughput lifestyles. Hagens holds a Masters Degree in Finance with Honors from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. He teaches an Honors course, Reality 101, at the University of Minnesota.

David Sloan Wilson is SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University. He applies evolutionary theory to all aspects of humanity in addition to the rest of life, both in his own research and as director of EvoS, a unique campus-wide evolutionary studies program that recently received NSF funding to expand into a nationwide consortium. His books include Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society, Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives, The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time, and Does Altruism Exist? Culture, Genes, and the Welfare of Others.