The book is The Secret of Our Success, and I am only a little way into it. An excerpt:
evolutionary reasoning suggests that learners should use a wide range of cues to figure out whom to selectively pay attention to and learn from. Such cues allow them to target those people most likely to possess information that will increase the learner’s survival and reproduction. . .individuals should combine cues related to the models’ health, happiness, skill, reliability, competence, success, age, and prestige, as well as correlated cues like displays of confidence or pride. These cues should be integrated with others related to self-similarity, such as sex, temperament, or ethnicity
I think that by emphasizing how little knowledge we generate internally compared with knowledge we acquire through cultural transmission, this book could bolster libertarian/conservative views. It certainly reinforces my doubts about the ability of technocrats to “fix” society. Henrich does not do much with this, although skipping ahead to the next-to-last paragraph in the book:
Humans are bad at intentionally designing effective institutions and organizations, though I’m hoping that we get deeper insights into human nature and cultural evolution this can improve. Until then, we should take a page from cultural evolution’s playbook and design “variation and selection systems” that will allow alternative institutions or organizational forms to compete. We can dump the losers, keep the winners, and hhopefully gain some general insights during the process.
Yes, Professor Henrich, we have a term for that. We call it “the market.”