The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter
By Joseph Henrich
Why this book?
You probably think humans evolved because we’re so darn smart. I know I did. I was very wrong. We are far, far weirder than that. We are actually a sort of very slow hive mind. Henrich’s book challenges all the lies we tell ourselves – that innovation is good and following tradition is bad, that invention springs from a few brilliant minds, and that humans are individually smarter than animals.
If you’ve ever wondered why people seem so stubborn, so reluctant to adapt to new information, so mired in old ways and so sensitive to groupthink — it’s not because we’re stupid. It’s just because those were the tools that evolved us. This book is important to me, as a scientist and an anti-colonial writer, because it undoes the arrogant idea of 'progress' as the simple replacement of bad indigenous knowledge with good colonial science. It shows how ingeniously human beings adapt to their environments, and how much of human knowledge is stored in the cultures that modernity was eager to sterilize and destroy.
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