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Professor Mark Pagel to deliver October

Event Date: 
Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - 18:15 to Tuesday, October 29, 2019 - 18:15
Sir Charles Winston Lecture Theatre, 1 University Avenue, Glasgow, G12 8QQ

From the University of Glasgow:


23rd Lecture 1: The evolution of language: from speech to culture

All animals communicate, but language is uniquely human. In this talk, Mark Pagel will show how human languages evolve very much like biological species and even adapt to their hosts – human speakers. He will discuss when language emerged, whether Neanderthals and other hominins were capable of speech, and ask the question of why only humans seem to have language. Professor Pagel will show how language has been more important to human success than have our genes, and that many of our genetic traits exist because of language. Finally, we will explore why are there so many languages and what does the future hold for them.

24th Lecture 2: The evolution of creativity: you're not as clever as you think

Human societies are unique among animals for their ability to accumulate knowledge and technologies. It is why we are able to build soaring cathedrals, smart-phones and driverless cars, while our close genetic cousins the chimpanzees live life on the forest floor as they have for millions of years. Why this difference? The usual answer is that we are smarter than the other animals, and we can just figure things out. But it turns out that we are far less clever than we like to think, and most of us never invent anything, much less understand how the things around us work. Even something as simple as a pencil combines many technologies. How, then, have we accumulated knowledge and technology while no other species has, and what can we do to promote innovation in the future?

28th Lecture 3: Human tribalism - a curse of our evolutionary past?

Humans spent the first 95% of their evolutionary history living in small tribal societies, only beginning 10,000 years ago to live in larger groups. Today, we routinely live and work among others in our millions. And yet this poses a dilemma. Nothing in our evolutionary past prepared us to live in these large groups, so how do we explain the enormous social groupings of the modern world and how can they be made to work given our ancient tribal instincts? Surprisingly, the answer lies in our tribal nature itself.

29th Lecture 4: The end of Anthropology? What does the future hold for the world's languages and cultures? 

The existence of easy high-speed travel, unprecedented levels of migration, and globalisation in the form of 24-hour worldwide media and social media are bringing about a rapid blending of the world’s peoples, their societies and their languages. Already over 50% of the world’s population lives in cities, and the numbers are rising. Are we still evolving, and what will our cities, languages and cultures look like in 50-100 years?


Information about the lectures will be updated upon availability.