Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Group size and politics

Via Gene Expression - Robin Dunbar and the Magic Number of 150:
Your brain is hard wired to pay attention to about 150 people.
Dunbar's argument is that as brains evolve, they become larger in order to handle the unique complexities of larger social groups. Humans socialize the largest social groups because we have the largest cortex.
One problem with modern politics is that in a sense we are organising way outside our natural abilities. For most of our existence we lived in rather small tribal units of relatively fixed size but know face the task of coordinating between far larger groups.

Not that politics in hunter-gather groups was a bed of roses. They were far more lethal, proportionally, than Europe last century. So we must be doing some things right.


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