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This volume presents state-of-the-art empirical studies working in a paradigm that has become known as human behavioral ecology. The emergence of this approach in anthropology was marked by publication by Aldine in 1979 of an earlier collection of studies edited by Chagnon and Irons entitled Evolutionary Biology and Human Social Behavior: An Anthropological Perspective. During the two decades that have passed since then, this innovative approach has matured and expanded into new areas that are explored here.
The book opens with an introductory chapter by Chagnon and Irons tracing the origins of human behavioral ecology and its subsequent development. Subsequent chapters, written by both younger scholars and established researchers, cover a wide range of societies and topics organ-ized into six sections. The first section includes two chapters that provide historical background on the development of human behavioral ecology and com-pare it to two complementary approaches in the study of evolution and human behavior, evolutionary psychology, and dual inheritance theory. The second section includes five studies of mating efforts in a variety of societies from South America and Africa. The third section covers parenting, with five studies on soci-eties from Africa, Asia, and North America. The fourth section breaks somewhat with the tradition in human behavioral ecology by focusing on one particularly problematic issue, the demographic transition, using data from Europe, North America, and Asia. The fifth section includes studies of cooperation and helping behaviors, using data from societies in Micronesia and South America. The sixth and final section consists of a single chapter that places the volume in a broader critical and comparative context.
The contributions to this volume demonstrate, with a high degree of theoretical and methodological sophistication—the maturity and freshness of this new paradigm in the study of human behavior. The volume will be of interest to anthropologists and other professions working on the study of cross-cultural human behavior.
Posted January 10, 2001
This book brings together some of the best minds to discuss what we know about evolutionary strategies for mating, parenting, reproduction and altruism. It consists of numerous studies showing the universality of human behavior, and how different ecologies result in different local behaviors, all the while conforming to our innate algorithms. That is, how nature and nurture combine resulting in our modern societies, and how our maladaptations with regards to reproduction and altruism are a result of our technology changing the rules of adapted strategies. Such things as birth control have now unlinked male social displays of wealth and dominance that once led to reproductive success. But the best part of the book is the Statement of Theories. It is a lucid history of how cultural anthropology has all but abandoned the scientific empiricism for a politically driven agenda of cultural determinism. That is, while these radical environmentalists were criticizing evolutionary approaches without coming up with alternative theories, evolutionary theorists were charging ahead, making phenomenal progress in understanding human nature. It explains again how detractors such as Sahlins, Gould, Lewontin, Kamin, Rose, et al., with their condemnation of the evolutionary perspective, without providing alternative hypotheses, have actually accelerated the progress made in linking humans to all other organisms in an evolutionary explanation of how we interact with the world about us. One disappointing part of the book however is the tenacity with which these evolutionary anthropologists cannot bring themselves to accept that evolution is based on differences in phenotypic expressions of allele frequency differences. That is, they again make human behavior absolutely universal, and give no recognition to differences between population groups or races. They condemn outright any hint that different races have different average intelligences for example, making the same mistake that Sahlins and Gould made. That is, denial with not change the facts. They can run, but they cannot hide the data that shows again and again that though humans are much the same, there are very real differences between different population groups that were exposed to different environments during the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptation (EEA). It is odd that these scientists would fall into the same trap that Sahlins and Gould fell into. Condemning data without offering an alternative explanation. Overall, this book is must reading, especially for anyone interested in demographics, parenting, and reproduction rates of different population groups. Especially now when there is a renewed interest in many countries that reproduction rates are so low that immigration is sought to make up the difference, with the impending problems it brings when multiculturalism replaces homogeneous populations and cultures.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.