Evolutionary Psychology and Economics
My new and hot comes from a column on washingtonpost.com called "Evolution, Immigration, and Trade." Basically, the article uses evolutionary psychology to explain some attitudes about foreign immigration and why those attitudes don't make sense in today's society. One of the main arguments is that since our ancestors lived in an essentially static world, where there wasn't much social or technological innovation from one generation to the next, if a particular group of humans gained something, it came at the expense of another. In today's global society however, this type of thinking doesn't make sense, and economists have trying to make the case for a long time that voluntary trade is beneficial to both parties (otherwise it wouldn't be voluntary). With this in mind, immigrant workers coming to the U.S. to exchange their labor for money is a positive sum. The idea that immigrant labor must come at the expense of native workers is simply economically untrue, and is influenced by this evolutionary psychology. Another point made is that humans' social order evolved in the form of groups, and that this group mentality comes into play when considering those from an outside group (immigrant workers) and seeing them as a threat. Basically humans have evolved these certain psychological characteristics, but today's society is so complex that these mentalities don't apply, and we should keep this in mind when evaluating trade and public policy.
So, this article was written by a professor of law and economics, not an evolutionary biologist, but it sounds good and pretty much like common sense to me (I'm not a scientist either). (He also wrote a book called Darwinian Politics: The Evolutionary Origin of Freedom. Has anyone heard of it?) What do you think, Dr. Bob? Plus it's easy to read something with an argument you already agree with (immigration policy) and think the argument sounds sensible. Any comments, guys?
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