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Welcome to my personal site. This is where I express my ideas about the cultural biology of organization. I am fascinated by the big history of our past as human beings. How did our ancestors, generation after generation, slowly develop into who we are now? I'm also attempting to put our social behaviour into computational models in a way that does not shame a cultural biologist. It's not because we dream of conquering galaxies that we have stopped being social mammals.

We know how contemporary animals behave, although history shows that our observation of them is very much influenced by our preconceptions.

11042405 OrkneysRing Stone 5000 y old.jpgFurther back, we know about our own prehistory, with the same caveat. History helps us reconstruct the last four millennia, through for instance Herodote, Confucius, the epic of Gilgamesh... before that, there is archaeology, that can trace older civilizations. See for instance this 5000-years-old stone, one of a ring, in Orkney, north of Scotland, built when the climate was warmer there than it is today.

Going back still further, to the last few million years, the image becomes blurred, and scientists quarrel about our story. When did we invent symbolic language, when did we domesticate animals, start using fire? Which human lineages began and ended when?

My special attention through all of this goes to our cultures. my father's - and many other researchers' - studies show that cultures are remarkably stable across generations, even in our times of turbulent change. There are also indications that climate and mode of sustenance have been important in shaping culture; for instance it is probably agriculture, and the attendant change from living in small bands to living in villages, cities and states, that gave us what my father termed 'large power distance'.

Getting to know our past will, I am convinced, help us in shaping our future. For doing research I need friends who know things, and can build models, and who can inspire me. To find out what I do to study these issues, and with whom, have a look around in the site.

 

Quotes

Everybody acts with an accent (source unknown; I have it from Mark Peterson)gj tuin 4 nov 2009 smile detail.jpg


You do not have a culture. Your culture has you (Gert Jan Hofstede, 2012).

Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock. - Ben HECHT, screenwriter, playwright,
novelist, director, and producer (1894-1964)

 

Since 20 May 2012:

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