Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Scientific Theory of Cultural Evolution

There is now a published theory of Cultural Evolution (Gehlsen, 2009). This statement undoubtedly needs some explanation. The word “theory” is used so loosely that it is almost meaningless. In a scientific context Theory explains the observable in terms of the underlying processes that produces it. For example, Newton’s Theory explains motion in terms of the forces that act on objects.

The Complex-Systems Theory of Culture explains human cultural behavior in terms of the complex evolving information systems that produce it. Virtually all aspects of cultural behavior can be explored and explained by this theory. Traditional anthropology is engaged in describing and interpreting cultural behavior, but it doesn’t provide an explanation of the observed behavior. Theory also provides a perspective for describing cultural behavior, but theory is a more powerful conceptual tool because it provides an underlying explanation.

Anthropologists cannot conduct experiments on cultures because that is not an ethically acceptable research methodology. They have to wait until a culture provides an adequate set of circumstances to construct and test hypotheses. The current economic crisis provides an excellent opportunity for demonstrating the power of a new theoretical perspective.

It is not my intent to disparage economists. I have ventured into their expertise because the current economic crisis provides an irresistible opportunity for demonstrating the power of the Complex-Systems Theory of Culture. This perspective diverges dramatically from the traditional models offered by economists, and this theory provides many insights to current, past, and potential future economic conditions.

All economies are fundamentally complex evolving information systems, but at a practical level our modern economy functions as an open system that is dependent on a flow of money. Modern economic systems will continue to grow as long as an adequate flow of money is sustained. Interrupt the flow of money and the economy will collapse. Our current economic crisis was precipitated by a temporary interruption in the flow of money in 2008. The American economy continues to spiral down to lower levels of activity because it is caught in a positive feedback mechanism that amplifies the original crisis.

The Complex-Systems Theory of Culture provides a glimpse into one possible future. Our current trajectory is an inexorable spiral down into another Great Depression.

1 comment:

  1. What are your thoughts about rebooting our republic through secession of states, thus defeating the banks that say publicly that they own us?