Robert Boyd is Origins Professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. His books include How Humans Evolved, Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution, and The Origin and Evolution of Cultures. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona.
Boyd is at his best when he explains how norm construction occurs and how cultural transmission of complicated information can spread throughout a group. The work is thought-provoking.--Publishers Weekly A Different Kind of Animal is a fascinating introduction to a fertile field of cultural research that should be better-known. Approachable and clearly argued, it is a brave revival of the autonomy of culture and a breath of fresh air for those tired of the narrow claims of evolutionary psychology.--Cosmos A Different Kind of Animal is a fascinating and accessible introduction to the very influential ideas that Boyd and his collaborators have developed over the past three decades. --Stephen P. Stich, coauthor of Mindreading: An Integrated Account of Pretence, Self-Awareness, and Understanding Other Minds Boyd sees culture as central to human evolution. This book's value lies not just in its eloquent presentation but also in its citing and righting of common misunderstandings of this view. --Richard McElreath, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology What makes us unique? Are we really just smart chimpanzees? Why is our species both so cooperative and yet so violent? Addressing these questions, Robert Boyd adroitly combines detailed analyses of diverse societies, crystal-clear experimental studies, and rich descriptions of hunter-gatherer life with the precision that only mathematics can provide. Writing with the confidence of someone who has mastered his own field, and several others, Boyd boldly leads us on a scientific journey to discover who we are and where we came from. --Joseph Henrich, author of The Secret of Our Success Robert Boyd is surely right that we are a 'different kind of animal.' We possess language, we have sophisticated trade and cooperation, but we are also frighteningly deceptive and prone to spasms of unspeakable violence. Boyd shows here in compelling style how our possession of culture--the passing on of learned information--explains the highs, lows, and contradictions in our behaviors. --Mark Pagel, author of Wired for Culture: Origins of the Human Social Mind A masterly summary of the argument that accumulated cultural know-how explains human adaptation, written by a true doyen of the field of cultural evolution. Expert or novice, we can all learn from Robert Boyd's superb book. --Kevin N. Laland, author of Darwin's Unfinished Symphony: How Culture Made the Human Mind In this lucid, well-argued treatise, anthropologist Robert Boyd avers that we are 'culture-saturated creatures', and that it is culturally transmitted knowledge that sets us apart and explains our dramatic range of behaviours, from rampant violence to great feats of cooperation.---Barbara Kiser, Nature