Thursday, 5 January 2012

Ted Cloak - resources

Ted Cloak is a pioneer in the field. He published "Cultural Microevolution" in 1966, "Is a cultural ethology possible?" in 1968 and "Cultural Darwinism: Natural Selection of the Spoked Wood Wheel" in 1968.

His bio. says that he got a degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Wisconsin in 1966. He was among the researchers cited by Dawkins (1976). He has continued pursuing the evolution of culture over the decades since then.

This quote from the 1975 version of "Is a cultural ethology possible?" illustrates what probably inspired Dawkins:

In a human carrier, then, a cultural instruction is more analogous to a viral or bacterial gene than to a gene of the carrier's own genome. It is like an active parasite that controls some behavior of its host. It may be in complete mutual symbiosis with the human host, in which case the behavior it produces has survival value for itself through the value it has for the survival/reproduction of the host. On the other hand, it may be like the gene of a flu or "cold" virus; when the virus makes the host behave, e.g., sneeze, that behavior results in extraorganismic self-replication of the virus gene but not in survival or reproduction of the host or his conspecific. From the organism's point of view, the best that can always be said for cultural instructions, as for parasites of any sort, is that they can't destroy their hosts more quickly than they can propagate. In short, "our" cultural instructions don't work for us organisms; we work for them. At best, we are in symbiosis with them, as we are with our genes. At worst, we are their slaves
See Ted Cloak's home page for downloadable versions of many of his papers and further resources:

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