David Sloan Wilson and Joseph Henrich in Evonomics:
Paleontologists tell us that numerous Homo species once roamed the earth, although only Homo sapiens remains. Several Homo species still inhabit economic world, however — the world as described by traditional economics. The most common is Homo economicus, whose preferences and abilities were described by neoclassical economists a long time ago. More recently, behavioral economists described a new species called Homo anomalous, because it departs from H. economicus in so many ways. Now a brand new species has been discovered by a multi-disciplinary team of scientists. I’ll call itHomo bioculturus and it might well become the one that inherits the world of economics.
Joseph Henrich is one member of the team that discovered H. bioculturus and his new book, The Secret of Success: How Culture is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter, is arguably the best way for the economic profession to learn about it. Henrich is an intellectual Indiana Jones, equally at home slashing through the Jungle or conducting lab experiments. He spearheaded the famous “15 Societies Study” that played experimental economics games in traditional societies around the world. He recently moved from the University of British Columbia, where he was jointly appointed in the Departments of Psychology and the Vancouver School of Economics, to Harvard University’s Department of Human Evolutionary Biology.
DSW: Greetings, Joe, and welcome to Evonomics.com.
JH: Hello David! It’s great to be with you.
DSW: First, let me congratulate you on writing such a terrific book. Without attempting to flatter you, it is a tour de force—great fun to read in addition to brimming with ideas—my current favorite book for recommending to others. Second, let me ask you to provide a synopsis for an economically oriented audience.