210 – Dr. Robert Trivers with Dr. Terence Burnham

A live recording of our educational podcast The Grammar of Science and Technology with Dr. Robert Trivers. Moderated by Dr. Terence Burnham.

Robert Trivers is an evolutionary biologist who concentrates on social theory based on natural selection, and on evolutionary genetics—the twin backbones of biology. Early work concentrated on reciprocal altruism, the evolution of sex differences, the sex ratio at birth, parent-offspring conflict, kinship and sex ratio in social insects and the theory that self-deception evolves in the service of deceit. Later he showed that systems of female choice naturally evolve with a bias toward daughters.

He then devoted fifteen years of his life (with Austin Burt) to reviewing the vast topic of selfish genetic elements in all species (except bacteria and viruses). These are genes that do not benefit the individual with the genes but spread because they reproduce faster within the individual.

He recently published in 2011 Deceit and Self-deception—Fooling Yourself the Better to Fool Others (UK); The Folly of Fools (US). It is now translated into eleven languages, including Korean, Chinese and Taiwanese and is regarded as the definitive treatment of the subject. In 2015 he published a personal memoir—Wild Life: Adventures of an Evolutionary Biologist—translated into Spanish and soon Polish.

Trivers currently lectures to the general public on all aspects of deceit and self-deception—including personal, business and societal. He lectures on the evolutionary biology of homosexuality and trans-sexuality and on explaining the genetic logic of “honor” killing, this according to a theory on the socio-genetic effects of frequent first cousin marriages.

The program was moderated by Dr. Terence Burnham. Terry Burnham is an economist who studies the biological and evolutionary basis of human behavior. He has a Ph.D. in Business Economics from Harvard University, a Masters from the MIT Sloan School with a concentration in finance. HIs undergraduate degree is in biophysics from the University of Michigan. Prior to Chapman, Terry was a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, the University of Michigan, and the Harvard Business School. His non-academic experiences include working briefly for Goldman, Sachs & Co., being the chief financial officer for Progenics Pharmaceuticals , a start-up biotechnology company, and being the director of portfolio management for Acadian Asset Management, a quantitative equity manager.



The Grammar of Science and Technology
In 1902, Albert Einstein gifted a book, Karl Pearson’s The Grammar of Science, to his colleagues to start a conversation about the universe. Expanding on that conversation, we invite a variety of experts to share the stories behind landmark advancements and discoveries in the fields of science and technology. Recorded in front of a live audience at the 1888 Center, this educational program is designed as a series of brief explorations into our natural world and the human ability to manipulate it. In partnership with Chapman University and Ingram Micro.

1888 Center programs are recorded and archived as a free educational resource on our website or with your favorite podcast app including Apple and Spotify. Each episode is designed to provide a unique platform for industry innovators to share stories about art, literature, music, history, science, or technology. Produced in partnership with Brew Sessions.

Producer: Jon-Barrett Ingels and Kevin Staniec
Moderator: Dr. Terence Burnham
Manager: Sarah Becker
Guest: Dr. Robert Trivers
Audio: Brew Sessions Live