Book Club Worthy
By Arnold Kling
On page 139 of Second Nature, Haim Ofek writes,
In close analogy with the female role in sex selection, customers (of both sexes) seem to be highly inquisitive about the merchandise they seek to acquire; thus collecting information, checking warranties, sorting for quality, trying for sized and color – always comparing prices with alternative retail outlets…Vendors, on their part, act in analogy closer to the role of the male. First they try to eliminate competition from their own ranks, sometimes to the point of cut-throat price wars. Then, they spend a fortune on display and advertisement.
This is an aside. Ofek is concerned with the origin of market exchange, and he considers but rejects the possibility that it somehow emerged from sexual selection. Still, that paragraph alone is something one could discuss in a book club for several hours.
Of all of the books that I have read in the past two years, this is the one I would most like to discuss in a group. Part of the reason is that I never took a course in evolutionary biology, so much of the material is unfamiliar to me. Anyone in the DC area who would like to read it and discuss it is welcome to leave a comment.
The main thesis of the book is that humans are unique in that they engage in market exchange (as opposed to nepotistic exchange, which is engaged in by other species). This capability makes demands on the brain, and as humans competed with one another their brains evolved to become ever larger, just as giraffes competing with one another caused the giraffe neck to become longer and longer.
I first posted on the book here.