For the holidays, we’ve asked our authors to tell us how evolution plays a role in the most cherished rituals of the season. If there is grandeur in this view of life, then surely it can be used to reflect upon the feasting, the gift-giving, the music-playing, the story-telling, and the hope of a more auspicious and peaceful new year!
Our holiday theme starts off with two unlikely bedfellows: Star Wars and Christmas. What do the two have in common, our morality editor, Michael Price, asks? What makes their stories so compelling and why is it that humans thrive on narratives about good and evil?
If you are contemplating that idea tucked into a cozy armchair, our economics editor, Terry Burhnam will challenge you to consider what makes you happy. Lucretius told us it was the absence of pain. Evolutionists have an answer that might have surprised Lucretius.
And if you’re a future-looking primate thinking about how the lessons of the past can make us more peaceable, our politics editor, Anthony Lopez, relates the dark world of nationalism to the chaos of World War I, in full surge a century ago.
Next we come to that sobering part of seasonal revelry: self improvement. For those of us making New Year’s resolutions, our psychology editor, Rob Kurzban, warns us that self control can be a sheep in wolf’s clothes. Psychologist Andrew Shtulman looks at our blind spots when it comes to issues of fairness; and science instructor Jason Niedermeyer pledges to infuse more accuracy into the stories he tells.
Which is really the goal of This View of Life—to explain the length and breadth of the biological world and humanity based on “laws acting around us”, as Darwin put it in the final passage of The Origin of Species, from which we take our name.
With best wishes for the holidays!
This View of Life