Our Tribal Intelligence


Here’s the second in my series of sketchbook videos exploring the theme of “critical thinking and tribalism”.

In this episode I focus on the epistemic dimension of our tribal nature. I talk about how social survival strategies played an important role in the evolution of our distinctively human intellectual capacities, by increasing our storehouse of knowledge and skills via the development of CULTURE.

I also show how one of the consequences of our socially distributed knowledge is that we’re prone to OVERCONFIDENCE about our own personal knowledge.

Check out the references below to learn more about this perspective on human evolutionary biology.

“The Secret of Our Success”

Fans of human evolutionary biologist Joe Henrich’s work will recognize his influence on the story I tell in the video.

“The Knowledge Illusion” (or, The Illusion of Explanatory Depth”)

In their book The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone, cognitive scientists Steven Sloman and Phil Fernbach explore connections between the knowledge illusion and the evolution of human sociality, the division of cognitive labor, and other questions relating to the interaction between what I called “personal knowledge” in the video, and the broader knowledge that is stored in the community.

Ignorance of Compound Interest