Interests: Culture evolution, computational social science, isotopic analysis of skeletal remains
This book charts how the transmission of culture has changed from millennia of being thin and deep — knowledge inherited from ancestors over many generations — to broad and shallow, with information shared widely and focused on prediction of the next moment. We discuss whether the future of learning can integrate concepts over the vast idea space of digitally stored information.
Humans are social creatures. I'll Have What She's Having zooms out from the individual, to small groups, to the complexities of populations. It describes, among other things, how buzzwords propagate and how ideas spread; how the ‘swine flu’ scare became an epidemic; and how focused social learning by a few gets amplified as copying by the masses.
“This is a tight little tome ... has enough social science and sociology to probably qualify for a quite reasonable degree in this area.... one could easily get a subset of your degree in anthropology. Now blend this scientific treatise with some modern marketing theory and you have a fascinating read.” - Financial Times Adviser, April 2012
“Their case is strong ... the real value of this book is in its attempt to work out what our copying instinct means for predicting the behaviour of large populations. The authors cleverly show how the resulting patterns diverge from what is predicted by classical economics.” - Financial Times, Nov 2011
"Many nice details" - Steven Poole, The Guardian.
“An extremely intelligent book, short and well expressed” Kevin Duncan, Greatest Hits Blog.
The Edge of Reason: Science and Religion in Modern Society, edited by Alex Bentley (Continuum Press, 2008)
The Edge of Reason explores cultural evolution, science and religious belief in society. A diverse, international group of scholars - from atheist to agnostic to devout - travels through cultural belief systems in anthropology, the prehistoric religions of archaeology, religion in neuroscience and biology, and views in cosmology, theology and philosophy.
"A wonderful contribution to the science/religion dialogue" — Francisco Ayala
"It will challenge not only ideological atheists but also religious theists." - Reform
edited by R.A. Bentley & H.D.G. Maschner (U. Utah Press, 2003)
"A significant pioneer effort."
—John H. Bodley, Washington State University
edited by R.A. Bentley, H.D.G. Maschner,C. Chippendale (AltaMira, 2007)
A comprehensive picture of the theoretical foundations of archaeology. Readers will gain a sense of the power that theory has for building interpretations of the past, while recognizing the wonderful archaeological traditions that created it. With extensive bibliography, it is an ideal reference for contemporary archaeological theories.