The Hare and the Tortoise: A General Biocultural Theory of Why People Have So Many Problems


David P. Barash

Professor of Psychology and Biology, University of Washington

Biologists and social scientists generally differ substantially in their perception of what it means to be human: the former typically emphasize the role of biology (not surprisingly), whereas the latter concentrate on culture; sometimes the disparity is so great that each side almost literally denies the significance of the other. Nearly everyone, however, agrees that the species Homo sapiens is unusual – if not unique - among animals, and also that we are in real trouble, in many respects. In my lecture, I’ll argue that both sides are correct (insofar as we are the products of both biological and cultural evolution), and, moreover, that the species-wide difficulties faced by human beings are largely due to the growing disparity between these two factors: biological evolution (the tortoise) on the one hand, and cultural evolution (the hare) on the other.


David P. Barash is Professor of Psychology and Biology at the University of Washington, Associate Editor for book reviews at Evolutionary Psychology, and Contributing Editor for the Chronicle of Higher Education. He has published approximately 300 technical articles and authored or co-authored at least 25 books. His most recent book, co-authored with Judith Eve Lipton, is Strange Bedfellows: The Surprising Connection Between Sex, Evolution and Monogamy (2009).


A reception will be held at 5pm at the UNE Art Gallery


Center for Global Humanities


(207) 221-4335

6:00 PM
WCHP Lecture Hall

Portland Campus

Free and open to the public