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The Secret of Our Success


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Table of Contents

Preface ix 1 A Puzzling Primate 1 2 It's Not Our Intelligence 8 3 Lost European Explorers 22 4 How to Make a Cultural Species 34 5 What Are Big Brains For? Or, How Culture Stole Our Guts 54 6 Why Some People Have Blue Eyes 83 7 On the Origin of Faith 97 8 Prestige, Dominance, and Menopause 117 9 In-Laws, Incest Taboos, and Rituals 140 10 Intergroup Competition Shapes Cultural Evolution 166 11 Self-Domestication 185 12 Our Collective Brains 211 13 Communicative Tools with Rules 231 14 Enculturated Brains and Honorable Hormones 260 15 When We Crossed the Rubicon 280 16 Why Us? 296 17 A New Kind of Animal 314 Notes 333 References 373 Illustration Credits 429 Index 431

About the Author

Joseph Henrich is professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University. He also holds the Canada Research Chair in Culture, Cognition, and Coevolution at the University of British Columbia, where he is a professor in the departments of psychology and economics. He is the coauthor of Why Humans Cooperate and the coeditor of Experimenting with Social Norms.


"Limber and lucid."--Barbara Kiser, Nature "[A] pleasure for the biologically and scientifically inclined."--Kirkus "Henrich draws on his far-flung ethnographic field studies and the work of colleagues to illustrate the adaptive power of human culture."--The Scientist "Joseph Henrich ... offers a compelling and comprehensive answer in his exceptional new book The Secret of Our Success: How Culture is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter. It is an intellectual tour-de-force that offers an overview for the field of cultural evolution."--Joe Brewer, This View of Life blog "A provocative alternative to the standard narrative about evolution... Henrich's book is immensely ambitious, informative, and important.--Glenn Altschuler, Psychology Today "Mind-stretching... Henrich's book will take you on a prodigious journey through human nature and society."--Alun Anderson, New Scientist "I thought I understood cultural evolution. But in his new book, The Secret of Our Success, Joseph Henrich schooled me. I felt like I learned more from his book than from the last dozen books I've read."--Robin Hanson, Overcoming Bias blog "Henrich posits a unique approach to understanding human behavior, not in purely evolutionary terms, but as a process of cultural evolution."--Library Journal "Human evolutionary biologist and psychologist, Joseph Henrich, a professor at both Harvard and the University of British Columbia has provided compelling insights into the ways that social, physical, scientific, agricultural, religious, and other human practices commonly termed 'culture' have honed man's skills and fostered survival strategies... The contents offer a very readable and riveting story of how culture--gene interaction must be examined when assaying human intelligence."--NSTA Recommends "A tour-de-force and a significant advancement of social science."--Darwinian Business "Culture sits upon a foundation of genetics and biology but is separate from it. Joseph Henrich wanted to upend this conventional narrative... The implications of this new, continuing narrative for the way we think about people, societies, and even companies are both subtle and significant."--David K. Hurst, Strategy + Business "This book synthesizes, in a format accessible to general readers, research from a variety of disciplines that address in varying ways, the evolutionary journey begun about 6 million years ago by our primate ancestors, forming humans in the process, into a unique species centered, according to Harvard evolutionary biologist Henrich, around social learning, cultural transmission, and cumulative culture."--Choice "A deep account of the relationship between culture and the human mind is now emerging, with The Secret of our Success by anthropologist Joseph Henrich blazing a trail in late 2015. Here Laland adds important layers to this new understanding."--New Scientist

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