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Evolutionary Mismatch and What to Do About It

Natural selection is a historical process that “fits” animals to their environments. When the environment changes, adaptations to the previous environment can become mismatched to the new environment, a problem that only subsequent evolution or a change in the current environment can solve. Evolutionary mismatches account for a large fraction of human misery, especially given that mismatches occur for cultural evolution in addition to genetic evolution. Massive changes in the planetary environment caused by human activity also creates mismatches for other species.

A collaborative project between the Evolution Institute and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center is examining the concept of evolutionary mismatch and what to do about it in a practical sense. The project has already resulted in a basic tutorial for readers who are new to the topic, which also serves as a “back to basics” guide for the expert. Special attention is being paid to the frequent criticism that putative examples of mismatch are speculative “just so stories” that cannot be scientifically validated.

TVOL is pleased to present this video introduction to the project, based on interviews with the participants of the most recent workshop, which was held during October 11-13 2012 at NESCent’s headquarters in Durham, North Carolina.

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David Sloan Wilson, director of the project, introduces the topic.

Lisa Lloyd introduces the importance of evolutionary mismatch for thinking about dysfunction.

Sean Valles introduces the concept of welfare and biological fitness.

Bruce Robertson introduces the concept of evolutionary traps.

Sudhindra Rao introduces his new approach to the paleo diet informed by evolutionary mismatch.

Terry Burnham introduces economics informed by evolutionary mismatch.

Marco Del Guidice introduces developmental psychology informed by evolutionary mismatch.

Jennifer Verolin introduces ecological mismatches.

Joseph Graves introduces aging from an evolutionary mismatch perspective.

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