For five years—and probably more—I've been tinkering with an idea. I think it may be the most interesting one I've ever had, and I'm overjoyed to say that it's just been published in fine form in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. (Don't worry: there's a video at the bottom of this page that will make sense of it, I promise. Feel free to skip to the end if you'd rather not wait.)
We live in the most peaceful time humans have ever known, but you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise. In the wake of civil war in Syria, Iraq, and South Sudan, in the news reports of a multiple homicide in your city, in the increasing layers of security you are subject to whenever you attempt the trip from the airline check-in desk to your departure gate, it is impossible not to get the impression that we live in one of the bloodiest times in history. Nevertheless, Steven Pinker has convincingly proved that impression wrong.
Over the last two weeks, media coverage of an article has repeatedly found its way into my inbox. It’s an interesting piece by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler on the genetics of friendship. The article is very technical, but the take-away is perfectly simple: friends have more genes in common than you’d expect, except where they have fewer genes in common than what you’d expect. OK, so maybe it’s not perfectly simple.
The Evolution of Governance program at One Earth Future is a peculiar thing. As with the other research tracks at OEF, the aim is to develop a cohesive theoretical “blueprint” for good governance structures—ones that foster peace rather than foment conflict. Furthermore, much like the other tracks, this blueprint will be empirically tested (with both laboratory and field data). The key distinction, however, lies in the approach: the work of the Evolution of Governance program is expressly biological.