The rich made us who we are

Richard Conniff in Smithsonian Magazine:

Presence_dec07mainIn our hearts, we like to think that all the great ideas and inventions have come from salt-of-the-earth, self-made men and women. But students of “affluenza,” the social condition of being rich and wanting to be richer, have lately come to credit rich people as the driving force behind almost every great advance in civilization, from the agricultural revolution to the indoor toilet.

This is of course a disconcerting idea, even for the researchers who have proposed it. And plenty of other researchers say they are wrong. But before we crank up our moral dudgeon, we should know that the rich in question are almost certainly family. Like it or not, we are probably descended from them, according to Michigan anthropologist Laura Betzig.

More here.  [Thanks to Marilyn Terrell.]