Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza

Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza

Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza on “Culture as a Means of Biological Adaptation”

The ability to learn is one of the most fundamental characteristics of life—even in very simple organisms. Culture, or the ability to learn from the experience of others, is a special phenomenon that relies on communication. The speed and precision of communication, and even our ability to memorize what we learn, are factors that govern the efficiency of culture. …

Culture enables us to accumulate prior discoveries and helps us profit from experience transmitted by our ancestors—knowledge that we would not have on our own. … Until the invention of writing, the accumulation of knowledge was limited by human memory, which varies from one person to another. Today, this limit has disappeared. The abundance of information in the last twenty years is changing the world thanks to the rapid access modern communications provides to it. Such change was unimaginable even a few years ago.
Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza in Genes, Peoples, and Languages, 2001 University of California Press edition, p. 175.