Barry Kuhle and Cathrine Salmon are developing a project that they call On the Origin of Human Behavior and Evolution Society: An Oral History Project, which includes a number of interviews of important figures in the various fields in which evolutionary ideas have been applied to human behavior.

This video features an interview with Leda Cosmides, one of the pioneers of the field of evolutionary psychology. Cosmides is a professor at the University of California Santa Barbara, where she co-founded the Center for Evolutionary Psychology (CEP) with husband and collaborator John Tooby. Leda’s impact on evolutionary approaches cannot be overstated. Her awards and honors are numerous, and include the prestigious National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award. On a personal note, I might add that Leda was my advisor in graduate school and I certainly would not be where I am today — including editing the MIND page here at TVOL – if it were not for her expert tutelage (and limitless patience).

Even if you are very familiar with Cosmides’ work, you’ll learn a lot from this video, including how being 5 minutes late to a meeting with E. O. Wilson (when she was an undergrad at Harvard) was “key to her future,” how her seminal and award winning 1989 paper on cheater detection took four years and several rejections before getting published in Cognition, why she called the field she and John helped start “evolutionary psychology” as opposed to “human sociobiology,” and much more.

Most of her papers are available on the web page for the CEP. I hope you enjoy the video.

Watch more:

Reason TV interview (with John Tooby)


Robert Kurzban

Robert Kurzban

Robert Kurzban is a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the Psychology Department. He received his PhD at the University of California Santa Barbara at the Center for Evolutionary Psychology in 1998, and received postdoctoral training at Caltech in the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, UCLA Anthropology, and the University of Arizona’s Economic Science Laboratory with Vernon Smith. In 2003, he founded the Penn Laboratory for Experimental Evolutionary Psychology. He has published dozens of journal articles on a wide array of topics, including morality, cooperation, friendship, mate choice, supernatural beliefs, modularity, self-control, and other topics. In 2008, he won the inaugural Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution from the Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES). He is the Editor-in-Chief of HBES’ flagship journal, Evolution and Human Behavior. His first book, Why Everyone (Else) Is A Hypocrite was published in 2011, and his most recent book, The Hidden Agenda of the Political Mind, is now available.


One Comment

  • James Kohl says:

    On August 13, 2013, in discussion of this interview and differences between the International Society for Human Ethology (ISHE) and Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES), the moderator of the ISHE yahoo group claimed:
    “… there is very little difference between the types of papers presented at HBES and ISHE. In many ways, ISHE is “HBES Lite,”—Jay R. Feierman

    I complained that Feierman’s misrepresentation of ISHE was due to his belief in mutation-driven evolution, despite all evidence that clearly shows adaptive evolution is nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled. That fact is based on what is currently known about the physiology of reproduction (i.e., that it is nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled in species from microbes to man).

    The problem for evolutionary theorists (e.g., of HBES) thus becomes one of attempting to incorporate what some human ethologists (e.g., of ISHE) understand about the physiology of adaptive evolution, which has recently been detailed in publications by 2013 ISHE Summer Institute presenters, Peter LaFreniere/Kevin MacDonald and by the president of the International Union of Physiological Sciences, Denis Noble.

    Simply put, mutation-driven evolution is no longer accepted by those who understand anything about the biology of adaptive evolution. The problem is that those who don’t understand anything about the biology of adaptive evolution will not stop touting ridiculous theories. They also limit comments by human ethologists who understand biological facts. Those who understand biological facts are members of what Feierman refers to as “HBES lite.” 

    Nevertheless, my complaint was answered on August 19,2013 by the president of ISHE in the context of “Problems created by J. Kohl.”  The problems I have created result from publications and presentations on nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution that span two decades of what is now known about the epigenetic effects of the sensory environment that enable the epigenetic landscape to become the physical landscape of DNA in species from microbes to man.

    Now that other presenters from ISHE and the president of the IUPS are beginning to attest to what’s known about biologically based cause and effect, there are many more problems awaiting evolutionary theorists than they may care to acknowledge, but the problems will not simply go away.

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