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Phrases such as “social constructivism” and “relativism” signal the importance of symbolic meaning systems in human life. Taken to extremes, they have been used to undermine the authority of science and even to deny the existence of objective knowledge, paving the way for today’s epidemic of “fake news”. Against this background, evolutionary science can establish a sensible middle ground that recognizes the importance of symbolic thought in human cultural evolution and provides a disciplined way to scientifically understand it. 
Lynette Shaw holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and is Assistant Professor of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan. She joins David to discuss “this view of social constructivism” and more, including the micro to macro link of culture, the social construction of digital currencies, automatic sense-making, human symbolic thought as niche construction, and the need for common ground between different academic disciplines.
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Published On: October 21, 2019

Lynette Shaw

Lynette Shaw

Lynette Shaw is a fellow in the Michigan Society of Fellows and an assistant professor of Complex Systems. One of her lines of work employs computational social science methods to study social constructions of value and money in the context of digital currencies such as Bitcoin. The second part of her research is devoted to theorizing and modeling the emergence of cultural dynamics from individual cognitive processing. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Washington in 2016.

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