Evolution for Everyone

The Poverty of Affluence

In addition to this blog, I write a monthly column for Big Questions Online, which is sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation. My latest column, titled “Rich Man, Poor Man“, shows how poverty is not the root of all problems and how affluence can actually erode the capacity for cooperation.

While you’re visiting my column, check out the rest of Big Questions Online. The John Templeton Foundation is sometimes criticized by atheist firebrands as if it’s a front for religion, but it’s a much more complex and interesting organization than that. The JTF has a knack for identifying subjects that should be at the center of scientific inquiry, but aren’t until JTF starts investing in them. But that’s another story…


  1. #1 Lorax
    January 11, 2011

    Im interested in these subjects that obviously should be the center of scientific inquiry but all those scientists were too obtuse to realize it until the JTF pointed it out.

    BTW if an organization throws money at something, people will go after that money. This does not lead to the conclusion that the subject is important, central, or otherwise meaningful. (It does not mean it isn’t either of course.)

  2. #2 daedalus2u
    January 19, 2011

    I think this is correct. If you are at the top of a social power hierarchy, the only direction you can move is down. There should be a tremendous bias at avoiding interactions where social status might be lost.

    I think this is related to the saying “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Once you have power your focus is on maintaining it, not cooperating with others which necessitates the transfer of some of your power to them, but which increases the total power you both hold together.

    To the extent that social power (or any power) can be made fungible, those with that fungible power will move up. I suspect this is why in the Patriarchy, women selling sex is so anathema. It is making a power not controlled by the Patriarchy fungible.

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