#67: The Good Society Hidden In Our Genes — Nicholas Christakis

Nicholas Christakis is the Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale, where he directs the Human Nature Lab. He is the author of Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society.

In this charming episode, Nicholas is here to tell us not only that the bright side of human nature has been denied the attention it deserves, but that our proclivities to cooperation, friendship and love are as evolutionarily ingrained as our instincts for eating food or breathing air.

Show notes

Selected links

Topics discussed

  • The story of when Nicholas’s own mother appeared to set a crowd against her two sons. [5:14]
  • Does Nicholas believe human groupishness was shaped by group selection as well as individual-level selection? [11:04]
  • What is the core thesis of Nicholas’s new book Blueprint? [16:46]
  • What is the Forbidden Experiment? [22:53]
  • What is humanity’s societal blueprint — what kind of society would a hypothetical group of babies abandoned on an island grow up to establish? [31:35]
  • Why did humans evolve the capacity to love their mates? [35:57]
  • Why do humans not only imitate but over-imitate each other? [37:40]
  • What is gene-culture coevolution and how does it work? [46:50]
  • How might humans be evolving at present? [53:24]
  • Will we ever be able to uncover fundamental social laws with the same precision as we can physical laws? [56:02]
  • What can progressives learn from Nicholas’s research? [57:45]

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