Suggestions for research projects
based on cultural selection theory

Now that the theory of cultural selection has been developed into a powerful paradigm, a plethora of new research possibilities emerges, waiting to be explored. This research may contribute significantly to an improved understanding of our society. Obviously, I don't have the resources to delve into all these subjects myself. I have therefore provided this list of ideas for research projects, and I will be happy to assist any scientist who decides to devote his time and energy to one of these or a similar project.

Mass media and democracy
Commercial mass media are controlled by economic market forces. By the selection and framing of news, the media in turn influence public opinion, which again influence political decision makers in the democratic process. This causal chain has such a profound and unintended influence on our culture that a more thorough research in this area should have top priority. See chapter 9.
 
Economy
The development of industries is governed by economic laws which have been studied for many years. Selection theory may contribute to the understanding of this process by focusing on how the many micro-level economic selection processes influence our culture on the macro level, for example by concentration, convergence and globalization.
 
Prioritizing public budgets
Politicians don't want to prioritize because this inevitably makes them unpopular by whoever comes low on their priority list. But if nobody makes explicit priorities, then how are the resources divided between health care, social relief, roads, education, culture, etc., etc.? There is obviously a selection going on here, but the criteria or mechanisms are obscure. This also applies to the prioritizing within each sector. The health sector, in particular, is extremely touchy. Who is deciding whether the money goes to cancer or psychiatry? Does an excessive amount of money go to the most prestigious (and expensive) areas? Is it simply a battle of which patient organization can make the most noise in the media? Are the capacity problems solved simply by letting the waiting lists grow so long that patients die or give up before they get to the operation table? Cost-benefit analyses have not been very successful because the costs and benefits cannot be measured by the same unit. An objective analysis of the selection mechanisms behind these covert prioritizings would be extremely useful.
 
Testing the cultural r/k theory
The proposed cultural r/k theory has an attractive explanatory power, but a more thorough verification of this theory is still wanting. A statistical factor analysis on anthropological data from the human relations area files, or similar data, would be very useful for this purpose.
 
Civil wars and refugee problems
It may be predicted from the cultural r/k theory that the time of big international wars is soon over, while we will still see civil wars and terrorism for many decades to come. It would be interesting to further analyze how these problems and the ensuing migration of refugees influences the surrounding cultures according to the cultural r/k theory.
 
Art history
It would be interesting to investigate whether historical changes in art style are in agreement with the cultural r/k theory. Many different arts could be considered, including music, painting, drama, literature, architecture, etc.
 
Religions
Meme theorists have developed a powerful set of concepts and tools for studying the evolution of religions, but we are still waiting for a more systematic application of these principles to historical data. The cultural r/k theory can also contribute to this study.
 
Population growth
The general fertility seems to be strongly correlated with economic and political factors, sexual mores, and other cultural factors. A better understanding of these mechanisms could be useful for controlling population growth and thus securing political and ecological stability.
 
Technological development
Some big computer companies attempt to push proprietary technologies in order to strengthen their market position, while many customers prefer open standards and the availability of second sources. An analysis of the various selective forces behind this and similar conflicts may improve our understanding of the mechanisms that determine which ways technologies go.
 
The evolution of scientific theories
Scientists generally agree that their theories must be selected according to accepted norms of reproducibility, verification and falsification. However, such tests are not always easily applied, especially not in soft sciences such as psychology, sociology, philosophy, aesthetics, etc. Where rigorous testing of theories is not possible, the development of a science may be influenced more by ideology, selective funding and a peer review process which occasionally is more peer than review. Some scientific communities are able to run away into crazy excesses, and they may not be subjected to corrective intervention from outside unless the application of their theories has dramatic consequences, as in the case of the theory of recovered memories. An analysis of the selection processes that govern the development of such sciences is highly needed.
 
Pseudo-sciences
Astrology, parapsychology, ufology, numerology, healing, alternative medicine, etc., etc. How do the theorists of these teachings agree on what to believe? What are the selective forces that guide the development of their theories?
 

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