The compound interest effect: Why cultural evolution is not niche construction

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23 (1):158-159 (2000)
Abstract
Laland et al. rightly observe that the pressures affecting the evolution of a trait include the previous effects the trait has had on the environment. Ignoring this would be like ignoring the effect of compound interest: a distortion, not a simplification. However, cultural evolution is not niche construction. In niche construction one mechanism has effects over multiple paths. Cultural evolution involves the effects of several mechanisms.
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