*The WEIRDest People in the World*

That is the new 655 pp. book by Joseph Henrich, due out September 8, and yes it is “an event.”  The subtitle is “How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous,” and that is indeed one of the very most important questions in all of social science.

“WEIRD” of course refers to “Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic.”  And is it not weird that we (some of us, at least) are WEIRD?

Here is an excerpt from the opening segment:

Let’s close by returning to the core questions of this book:

1. How can we explain the global psychological variation highlighted above?

2. Why are WEIRD societies particularly unusual, so often occupying the extreme ends of global distributions of psychology and behavior?

3. What role did these psychological differences play in the Industrial Revolution and the global expansion of Europe during the last few centuries?

If you are wondering how this material might differ from Henrich’s previous output, there is above all much more on marriage customs and monogamy, for instance:

…I’ll make the case that monogamous marriage norms — which push upstream against our polygynous biases and the strong preferences of elite men — create a range of social and psychological effects that give the societies that possess them a big edge in competition against other groups.

Obviously recommended, and you will be hearing more about this both from me and from others.  You can pre-order here.

Comments

I think it's more about who's not WEIRD at this point and why. Anthropology is pretty much archaeological now unless your specialty is the Sentinel Islands.

China isn't Democratic. It's ruled by a Dictator. It may or may not be "Wester" depending on how the book defines it.

I think that's a fair point. But China's government, like lots of places, seems to have the consensus approval of a majority of its citizens. If it didn't, it would lack legitimacy and not be able to function at a high level. Cf. the Soviet Union.

"If it didn't, it would lack legitimacy and not be able to function at a high level. Cf. the Soviet Union."

Compared to when it was ruthlessly industrializing an agrarian society and crushing dissent or when it was beating back the Nazis and conquering half Europe? The Soviet regime only failed to do the things its ideology prevented it from doing anyway. Deng and his successors have proved to be much more pragmatic. Being able to function at high level is buying the system legitimacy, not the other way round.

Most people just want to pay their bills and have some leisure time and a few nice things. If the system gives them that, it's legitimate as far as they're concerned. Most people don't work themselves into tizzies over ideology. If Bashar Assad can do it in exchange for political quiescence, and ISIS will burn you alive for apostasy then they'll go with Assad.

But I'm really more thinking about the broader sociology. Everywhere has pretty much adopted the progressive-linear, technological view. I'd say we're getting close to post-scarcity in a practical sense.

"Everywhere has pretty much adopted the progressive-linear, technological view."

No, I disagree with this statement. Progressive would normally imply Democratic.

I think you can make a strong case for “WEIR" , (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich) but the WEIRD model has a China sized exception. It's not readily apparent that Democratic is a necessary part of the equation. Which is kind of depressing, but I won't eschew the data, just because it disagrees with my priors.

The need for D kicks in eventually. There are lots of examples of wise and benevolent dictators, Lee Kuan Yew being a great example, who led their country for decades with great success, and with the clearheaded decisiveness that no democracy could ever achieve. But Lee died, and Deng died, and without democracy what happens to the systems of succession? Because we're human, those systems tend to be self-serving and corrupt, benefiting those on top. Because democracy is more accountable than other systems of choosing leaders, it leads to a less corrupt society which makes better decisions over the course of generations.

The other problem is more directly applicable. As a society develops to a point where material want becomes relatively rare, the citizenry starts to value freedom and fairness more highly. A despotic system, no matter how efficient, can never be free and fair (by definition).

I will be curious how an increasingly rich and decadent China deals with these twin problems. Xi is the first leader chosen after the influence of Deng had passed; I'm not impressed that he has the interests of the people ranked before the interests of the party elite. And I suspect that the children of the 21st century, who do not remember poverty, will share the complaints of the Hong Kong protesters, for which the CCP has no answers.

[Yes, I know that Singapore is in theory Democratic. I would submit that it is a one party state which was led by a man, LKY, who had the wisdom to adopt many of the forms of democracy while maintaining strict control of the machinery of state and all its functions. Will the next generation of leaders be as impressive? A bias towards LKY's progeny is not a good sign]

Very good statement. Benevolent, or even just well-run, dictatorships such as Singapore look great until the jerk with more ambition and ego than wisdom takes the reins. And the system lacks a mechanism for booting that guy off the throne.

The lack of freedom also imposes a ceiling on high China can rise, it's very best and brightest will either be unable to perform up to their potential -- or will flee to the West.

A number of commenters here at MR have a weirdly positive view of Singapore's government. Yeah it works fine ... as long as they've got a leader who is both competent and well-meaning. Authoritarian governments and dictatorships however have consistently shown themselves to be lousy sytems of government.

How "Democratic" is the West? Nobody really thinks voting changes the government any more outside a few polite parameters set for us. How long did Obama have to withdraw the troops and shut down Gitmo? When is Trump building the wall?

Honestly, it's striking me as an example of anthropologists running out of low-hanging fruit. Everybody, like you say, is pretty much WEIR so we have to tack on Democratic to have much left to argue about.

Brazil removed Dilma without violent struggle, and Good Korea removed Park Geun-hye without violent struggle. That's democracy for you. China won't remove Xi the same way.

If we're talking "Every 5 years a new revolutionary dictatorship can potentially settle in, which has absolute power", there's no democracy, of course. But this has not really been what anyone much has thought they'd get out of democracy.

What's the alternative? A dictatorship, China-style? The Progressive getting in, then wreaking a 5 year cultural revolution?

I'd say a pretty strong alternative is oligarchy. We just shut down a 1/4 of the economy and nobody got a vote. Putin got Russian birthrates and life expectancies up. Chinese are so prosperous under the CCP they go to school and buy condos here. I don't think the WEIR is at all dependent on the D.

The first genuine endorsement of the Putin model is exactly the sort of ideological diversity we will only see in MR comments.

Being not as bad as the Russian '90s (women want to have more children than they did during the economic collapse of the USSR, wow!), and mostly dependent on the oil price is not exactly where I'd like to go, myself. The kleptarchs don't really seem to get on well with each other, or do much of a "good job".

Not everywhere can be America, or wants to be. That's actually our national conceit.

For sure, though why China can't be like (vastly better run) cultural neighbour Taiwan or Russia like (vastly better run) cultural neighbour Poland, in theory at least, is a bit mysterious.

Advocating war to get them there is of course foolish. But neither is it inevitable be what they're going to be, so we may as well try to just make as much of a premium off trade as possible and forget about their systems.

"How "Democratic" is the West? Nobody really thinks voting changes the government any more outside a few polite parameters set for us. How long did Obama have to withdraw the troops and shut down Gitmo? When is Trump building the wall?"

Obama withdrew troops from Iraq. He didn't close Gitmo because advisers told him it was a bad idea and he listened. Building a wall requires support from Congress. Checks and balances are not anti-democratic but when you have hyperpartisanship, a dysfunctional Congress, and an incompetently managed Executive branch, that's certainly a recipe for stagnation.

"Democracy" is a word that has lost its original meaning. Now it means that citizens are allowed to vote for some pre-selected functionary of whom they have no personal knowledge to make the rules. A vote for one among two stranger candidates is only slightly better than a yea vote for a single stranger candidate.

Alas, no: Being able to get rid of officials is the only thing interesting and important about democracy. Politics ain't about policy! :-)

"Being able to function at high level is buying the system legitimacy, not the other way round."

+1, this appears to be the correct causal direction

If the incentives are perverse and dysfunctional, then no amount of guns propping up all the Potemkin villages in the world--or, at another point on the political spectrum, the most exquisitely democratic forms--will get you legitimacy. Reality trumps ideology.

Sure, but that is the point. The regime does not need legitimacy to work well. It needs to work well to have legitmacy. The right mix of political repression and economic reforms could conceivably have saved the Soviet Union no mater the Soviets thought of Brezhnev, Andropov and Gorbachev.

But human nature is greedy and self-serving, with a strong bias towards nepotism. How does a system that represses its population choose a succession of benevolent dictators, when rising through the hierarchy (any hierarchy) favors ruthless toadies and backstabbers. It is only popular accountability that forces political parties to favor a mix benevolence with ruthlessness; non-democratic systems choose he who is feared the most. Both types of system will bias towards competence when facing chaos, hardship, and poverty, but a relatively rich society needs a system where the incompetent and self-serving are dismissed and competence is rewarded.

Sure, the CCP derives its legitimacy from competence. But Mao demonstrated his incompetence to lead China out of poverty for decades but remained in power. China is one bad leader away from chaos and ruin; non-democratic systems are too brittle to sustain a complex modern economy. Despite the angst over Trump's leadership, he lacks the power to make changes that a Xi has; the US remains much the same as it was in 2016. We'd have to elect a whole series of Trumps to destroy this country. Democracy is a more robust system, although less efficient in the short to medium run.

But human nature is greedy and self-serving, with a strong bias towards nepotism.

No, being greedy and self-serving is to be found among the range of human behaviors. And, actually, few people are greedy. The vast majority of people are satisficers in their economic life, not optimizers. They aren't so much greedy as reluctant to share with outsiders, which is a different problem.

As for 'self-serving', I should certainly hope so, albeit up to a point. What are your skills for, but self-support.

And who do you expect to take care of your children? And why start a business just to sell it to strangers?

Few people are greedy? Apologies, but where do we live?

I have seen more shirking in the caring professions than anybody wants to know.

People's behavior is fruitfully described as optimization, given information and constraints. Charlie Darwin will weed out those who have succumbed to behaviorist postulates. :-)

If democracy is so robust, why does it chase out foreign journalists with government ties, spend billions on ineffective military equipment and accuse political candidates of being pawns of the Russians?

One and three are to convince us to change officials. Two is, well, two. :-)

Xi has been a pretty bad leader, yet China hasn't collapsed into chaos and ruin.

As for Trump changing America, there is a saying that "the future is here, it just isn't evenly distributed yet." That applies to Trump too. Life for the average American hasn't changed much since 2016, but for some people on the margins like some of the refugees at a local non-profit I've done work for, America does feel like a very different country than it was in 2016, and this impacts them in a lot of very important ways such as not being able to get jobs or bring over family members.

Actually, you could probably say the same thing about China. The average Chinese person probably has a similar life under Xi as pre-Xi, but Xi really messed your life up if you're a Uighur.

I guess that consensus doesn't go so far to keep people from getting their money out of the country in any way possible.

Politically, that's true. Psychologically and culturally, I don't notice much difference between Chinese students and recent immigrants in America (admittedly, an elite segment of the overall Chinese population) and Americans. Both groups are pretty individualistic. WEIRD psychology is becoming predominant in the world even if political systems haven't caught up.

"“WEIRD” of course refers to “Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic.” And is it not that weird that we (some of us, at least) are WEIRD?"

Is this true anymore? Are South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, Western in their thinking? I'm not pushing back against it, as much as asking for what the book means by "Western".

And does the book address China? The argument from the 1990's was we would expand trade into China and as they got industrialized and rich they would become Democratic. It's an argument I fully bought into. Now 25 years later, it looks to be falsified. Yet, I don't see "Western" academia nor most politicians willing to recognize the facts and act on them. Though Covid19 may well have changed this deliberate ignorance of it.

It's an argument I fully bought into. Now 25 years later, it looks to be falsified.

You have 19 states in the Far East. Currently, 10 have a competitive parliamentary order. The number who had such in 1974 was 2 (and in one of those two, only tentatively).

Yes, but the traditional argument was that a Democracy was a requirement for success as an industrialized, rich country. Obviously, China falsifies that argument.

Yes, but the traditional argument was that a Democracy was a requirement for success as an industrialized, rich country. Obviously, China falsifies that argument.

There was no such argument, 'traditional' or otherwise.

"There was no such argument, 'traditional' or otherwise."

Well...

"The End of History and the Last Man"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_End_of_History_and_the_Last_Man

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Third_Wave:_Democratization_in_the_Late_Twentieth_Century

Neither of those books argues that democracy is a requirement for an industrialized, rich country. They argue that industrialized, rich countries face pressures to democratize. And China is still very much a country in economic transition; 40% of their population is still rural.

China is at roughly the same GDP per capita as Mexico or Belarus; this is a big deal since it's grown very quickly over the last few decades and it's the most populous country in the world, but they'd have to double their output again to catch up to say, Lithuania in per capita terms.

Very right! Hayek once noted that because growth is hard, rapid rates of growth tell us that things were really terrible before! That fits China to a T.

The democracy question comes up once China has surpassed, say, a middle income East European country.

Hmm... In a sense that never really held, as dictatorships always had urban islets of prosperity that were on a par with general conditions elsewhere. China does today, in the east coast.

China's not fully industrialized and certainly isn't a rich country though. By GDP per capita, it's on par with Mexico, which is not usually regarded as an industrialized, rich country. Competent authoritarians can get their economies up to where China's is now--we already knew this from the competent authoritarians in Taiwan and South Korea in the 80s. The question is whether China will be able to achieve a level of industrialization and wealth comparable to Taiwan and South Korea without also becoming a democracy. I think the jury's still out on that one.

"You have 19 states in the Far East. Currently, 10 have a competitive parliamentary order."

Those numbers mask the trend of authoritarian countries using elections as window dressing. Freedom House, for instance, rates every large country in East Asia as "unfree" or "partly free" except for Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Mongolia.

Yes, that's completely true. In the 1990's the dominant expectation that the whole world would become democratic. If fact many countries had become democratic in the previous decade, in Europe and Asia, and this expectation seemed probable. There was one guy famously arguing it would not come true, Sam Huntington. It turns out that he was right, and many (including me) were wrong.

Was the expectation in the 1990s that this would be true *by* 2020, or that it would be true eventually?

Certainly it is, in hindsight, naive not to look at why regimes were pressured by citizenry to go democratic. Those that did overreached and practiced strong authoritarianism that left very minimal personal spheres, and they did not really functionally achieve enough continued development to allow for rising living standards after some of their initial authoritarian successes. And they had no strong remaining ideological stake in remaining authoritarian regimes (considered their political system unfashionable).

China's gone on doing less repression to the citizenry, and more growth, without moving to democracy, in ways that someone of that era would not have expected. That said, with 20 years of centralisation and rebuilding of party reach into life under Xi and of economic stagnation, if both happen, we might find something else.

I think a big factor in limiting democracy's expansion was how badly Russia and most of the former Soviet Union did in the 90s. People in the West don't know this story and instead see only the triumphs of democracy and economic growth in East Germany and Poland (which was hugely aided by West Germany and the EU while Russia was hung out to dry). So if someone was living in a reasonable functional authoritarian system (say China for example) and had to take a roll of the dice as to whether transition to democracy would end up with them like 1990s Russia or East Germany, you can see why they might not want to roll that dice.

I don't really think there was any "We want to but are worried about Russia" factor. I think they mostly just didn't think about it.

Mike Pence is a solid guy.

There are plenty of models of healthy monogamy among public figures. It would be nice if more of them would preach what they practice.

I would rather have politicians practicing what they preach. An ounce of example is worth a ton of talking. Bill Clinton, Biden, Eliot Spitzer, Trump, Gingrich, Larry Craig, Roy Moore, et al. are prime examples of how we could do with much less moral preaching from politicians and use a lot more moral behaviour from them.

You're tripping over particulars because you expect democracy to select for moral probity--it doesn't.

There are plenty of cognitive and social elites with intact, even healthy, marriages. It's actually a crucial step toward becoming elite, with exceptions which tend to draw all the attention.

As an example, single motherhood is probably the most disastrous message ever broadcast by the elite. What works for characters on TV or multi-millionaires like Jodie Foster is usually a terrible idea for everyone else.

Heinrich overlaps the ideology found here. But it only overlaps. And the ideology found here is profoundly failing us in this pandemic crisis, as it most certainly would have failed us in WWII. Howard Roark won't save us from the coronavirus anymore than Elon Musk will save us from global warming. The "western mind" is responsible for great strides in evolution, but not at this moment: "WEIRD people are highly individualistic, self-obsessed, control-oriented", the opposite of what's needed in the crisis today. No, I don't expect Cowen to acknowledge that his ideology is precisely the opposite of what's needed in a time of global crisis, anymore than I expect Trump to resign from office for his "highly individualistic, self-obsessed, control-oriented" and failing approach to the pandemic.

You and I are getting older and will die of something sooner than most, probably Influenza A. Maybe even COVID-19. Or SARS. Or cancer. It may be a crisis to us and our loved ones but it's not to society as a whole and its younger, healthier net producers. The numbers would have to be much higher for the sort of crisis you're thinking about.

Honestly, if the numbers were higher, like Spanish Flu-higher, it would probably result in more fatalism.

The pandemic may cost the global economy five trillion dollars (that was the projected losses over a month ago), ten trillion dollars (more recent projection), fifteen trillion dollars, twenty trillion dollars, maybe even the collapse of the financial system. If the numbers were higher, it would probably result in more fatalism.

That's not the pandemic; that's the response to the pandemic. Half or more of the people dying are in the net consumption-stage of their life cycles.

This is sophistry: yes, the proximate cause of the economic slowdown is people staying home rather than consuming, but there's no scenario where it's business-as-usual when this thing is circulating.

"there's no scenario where it's business-as-usual when this thing is circulating"

Sure there is. People have often faced much worse with an encouraged attitude of Keep Calm and Carry On, famously with only blood, toil, tears, and sweat on offer. In fact, societies purposely inculcated such attitudes.

In this case, we've seen 24/7 hysterics from the chattering class, coupled with an attitude that no risk is ever acceptable. It didn't have to be this way.

People are choosing against a lot of economic activity because they calculate that it's too risky. This was the case before the mandatory lockdowns and all evidence suggests that it'll continue to be the case afterwards. There's an argument for letting different people make different tradeoffs against their chance of getting infected, but people are going to respond to the risk.

Every week that choice is changing. The traffic and activity levels in my town are not normal but 3/4 of normal, compared to about 1/4 three weeks ago.

It didn't help that the media is pushing shaky narratives on people that seem to change every minute.

Looks like he missed the big issue. Women's preferences clearly run toward polygyny with elite men (Alpha). That is what monogamous civilization has to fight against. And that is why the 19th amendment is anti-civilization.

"And that is why the 19th amendment is anti-civilization."

Well, at least no ranting about the 13th Amendment. I guess some people have to advance an amendment at a time.

Polygyny is the one sexual arrangement that feminists do not, to my knowledge, endorse. But feminists are generally, if not always, anti-monogamy. And your point about the 19th amendment is an interesting one, in consequence.

It may be that women are pro-monogamy, but the women that tend to be politically potent are generally anti-monogamy and it is those women that the 19th amendment catered to and empowered.

"But feminists are generally, if not always, anti-monogamy and it is those women that the 19th amendment catered to and empowered."
WTF? Clearly someone has never read any feminist literature.

Exactly; people on this blog make the most bizarre and unsupported statements. I have a lot of friends in a lot of circles running the gamut from left-wing artists to right-wing economics people to people with no particular political view working manual-labor jobs that would be considered "ordinary Australians/Americans". By far the most common relationship aspiration in all of those circles is getting into a lifetime, monogamous relationship. By far the most common actualisation of this is a series of longish relationships followed by one that ends in marriage. Sure, divorce is common in society, but the percentage of people who are into polygamy must be extremely low.

Being "pro-" or "anti-" anything implies agency, or perhaps more specifically that one has put logical and introspective thought into a position to determine one's best interest. It would be better to say that women have an evolutionary proclivity towards seeking the highest-status mate at the expense of more, shall we say, expected options, i.e., hypergamy. Long-term domestic arrangements don't factor into this; the rate of single motherhood reflects this fact, among other variables.

Nonetheless, it's not a secret that our society has reoriented itself towards accommodating hypergamy and more generally female decision-making, the Nineteenth Amendment being only one example. A cross-section of happiness and satisfaction surveys, not least of which include women themselves, suggest this was a mistake. But then that's the nature of progressivism.

Single motherhood is at a decades low. Divorce is down, not up. Doesn’t really jive with the facts.

It does if you remain hopeful that we have passed peak degeneracy. Electing the GEOTUS is a good sign that people are ready to go back to normal again.

Well at least you admit you are an incel... btw doesn't look so good now for Donnie in the next election does it?

I've read that monogamy is a conspiracy between alpha females and beta males. Which I would suppose is a real deal conspiracy theory.

It does seem sometimes that recent deviations from the past are predicated on the alpha females not needing the beta males as allies to the extent they did before.

Most people, both male and female, end up in monogamous relationships. Perhaps the bottom say 2% of males -- and I mean personality, not appearance -- are now missing out because women don't need them financially and would rather be single than be in a relationship with them.

"Women's preferences clearly run toward polygyny with elite men (Alpha). "

There are plenty of women looking to displace the current wife of an elite male, but how many wives of elite men are willing to publicly share? I don't think it's significant. Women are in competition with each other. They don't generally want to share.

> how many wives of elite men are willing to publicly share?

Every single last one of them.... in countries where polygamy is legal.

Dr. Ferguson's mistress was in an open marriage.

Take the last election, think about the people who ran and how they and their various partners and hangers on acted, then convince me.

The Secret of our Success was the best social science book by a noneconomist that this economist has read in the last 5 years, edged out in the last 10 years only by Coming Apart (and it's way better written than Coming Apart.) Pre-ordered without hesitation. Thanks.

I will be interested to read how we got to WEIRD. I have written a book on how WEIRD people can learn to talk to people who aren't WEIRD by respecting their underlying values.

Are their values worth respecting? I'm not always that keen on respecting the values of people who want to kill or enslave me.

Are the values of the Amish worth respecting? Or Hassidic Jews?

Thanks for sharing, Karen, your book looks interesting.

“Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic.”

Tyler, have you seen the state of your country lately? ..... might be western, but it's highly ignorant, with a large poor population, and democratic (electoral college, voter suppression)?

and by "global expansion of Europe during the last few centuries", that means colonization and slavery right?

and democratic (electoral college, voter suppression)?

This is humbug taken seriously only by ignorant people and DNC mouthpieces.

with a large poor population,

Our poor people are, in terms of purchasable goods and services, better off than Eurotrash poor people. What they lack is security. The thing is, the boneheads who yammer about 'voter suppression' are dead set against measures to put hoodlums in prison where they belong. Everything progressives touch, they ruin.

Yes, your poor has the finest most tremendous food stamps and world class homeless street homes.

Hate to be fundamentalist about this, but which way are the refugee streams going at the southern US border? North to south?

Yeah, the Europeans are flocking to the US because of their failed socialist states like they did back in the 19th century.

North western Europe is neither socialist nor failed. [Indeed, that neck of the woods has its own huge immigration inflow.] Watch the categories.

Interestingly, the decline of EIRD in W countries correlates neatly with the decrease in the proportion of the population in those countries that is historically W.

No, it correlates neatly with the ratio of public expenditure to domestic product and with the degree to which the word-merchant sector calls the shots.

Hmmm, the dilution of W people must then correlate with the ratio of public expenditure to domestic product and with the degree to which the word-merchant sector calls the shots. Very interesting. It's almost as if the fewer W people you have in your country, the easier it is to hold and maintain power.

Someone is nervous about "W dilution"

There's no reason to be nervous, at least on my end. Perhaps for the cosmopolitan urbanites who welcomed such circumstances, but for them it's just deserts. I would describe the feeling I have as more like when you see, for example, the ruins of great hotels and train stations in Detroit. The feeling of "this is why we can't have nice things".

Monogamous norms are basically sexual socialism. No one can have more sexual partners than anyone else, regardless of any accident of birth (status, wealth, looks).

Meanwhile under economic socialism, no one can have more wealth than anyone else, regardless of any accident of birth (status, talent, parentage).

In a relatively short time, societies flipped from highly-regulated sexual socialism and laissez-faire capitalism to the opposite combination: laissez-faire sexualism and highly-regulated capitalism with perhaps a big dose of socialism looming in our future.

Given the current obsessions with equality of outcomes and curating experiences rather than material possessions, we might see a return to regulated sexual norms in the future, although it's more likely to be Brave New World than monogamy.

Hmmm.... Well they *can*. Many Christian kings did.

But it limits the degree to which they can pass on their wealth to a single-generation dynasty (bastards from whores and mistresses, not legitimate heirs) and it limits the degree of material accumulation incentives on bride-price and dowry and so on.

Sexual partners vary widely in quality even if everyone is left with a quantity of one.

...but the US is much less socialist than in the relatively recent past (i.e. post-WWII)..?

Transhumanism? Sure why not?

You needn't be Western to be industrialized, affluent, or democratic. At the same time, 'Western' societies are bedeviled by a horrible clerisy which is rendering them less economically dynamic, less liberal, and less democratic. You work on a university campus, the enemies of the commonweal are all around you.

Steven Landsburg once remarked that monogamy was the result of a male cartel, and that as with all cartels, one could expect a lot of cheating! :-)

male cartel or female cartel?

Does any man really want to have multiple wives? Or perhaps more accurately, does any man who has one wife really think his life would be improved by acquiring a second one? Isn't the current Western norm of one spouse and low taboos against adultery the world that most people would prefer to live in?

No, most people would prefer high taboos against adultery.

I most certainly would not want to add a second wife to my marriage. For one thing, I’d be outvoted. The current democratic gridlock in my marriage suits me.

Am I the only person who finds it offputting that we have a new acronym in widespread use which is deliberately designed to be derogatory to the group it describes?

Everything the intelligentsia does is offensive.

Bear in mind that this is an acronym designed by people who probably do not hold the same value judgments of "weirdness" as you, or I. They think it's good.

A great deal of it is good. The intelligentsia actually fancies the bad parts.

Self congratulatory is just as bad.

But those are their two only modes! ;)

Won't somebody please think of the poor college graduates?

That's only a problem for people who consider "weird" to be derogatory. A lot of people consider it a compliment.

The Fukuyama and Wrangham books I both enjoyed, and they give the book some positive advance, so i"m looking forward to it.

You can already read the stats-heavy paper the book is based on: https://psyarxiv.com/d6qhu/

The historical argument would seem to go back to historian Jack Goody's "The Development of the Family and Marriage in Europe" (1983), also heavily relied on by Fukuyama in "The Origins of Political Order" a few years ago.

I would be interested in readers' takes on the statistics in Henrich's paper.

Anything on the Council of Agde?

When did East Asia move West?

The worldwide spread of modern urban and industrialized societies kinda proves that these cultural factors are not so determinant: cultures as disparate as Japan, US, Korea, Germany, Taiwan, and Spain managed to converge to rather similar levels of prosperity.

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