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“Weird” stands for “western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic: A theory as to why Europe advanced.

In the same way that Darwin’s theory explains how life follows pathways of adaptation via natural selection, cultural evolution proposes that human cultures develop and transmit deep understandings and values across generations. There are many pathways of cultural evolution, Joseph Henrich contends, and no single human culture. To better understand the world and Europe’s influence on it, we need to recognise that European culture is, in Henrich’s key acronym, “weird”: western, educated, industrialised, rich, democratic.

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