The sensory ecology of deception in human societies




On May 7, 6:30pm London time, evolutionary anthropologist Will Buckner looks at the role of deception and mimicry from hunting, to ritual and shamanic practice. He is speaking LIVE in the Daryll Forde Room, 2nd Floor, UCL Anthropology Dept. You can also join us on ZOOM (ID 384 186 2174 passcode Wawilak).

Will writes: “Humans are skilled at exploiting the sensory biases of conspecifics and other species. Hunters mimic the appearance, mannerisms, and vocalizations of their prey as a lure, shaman use sleight of hand in healing practices to give the appearance of impressive powers, and ritual specialists wear disguises embodying ostensibly powerful spirits and mythical creatures as a tool of social control. I draw on ethnohistorical case studies to demonstrate the prevalence and importance of these phenomena across societies throughout human history. Costumed and musical performances involving the strategic impersonation of other agents are a recurrent and underexplored behavioral phenomenon across societies, with important evolutionary implications for how humans’ reason, deceive, and assess the reputations of others.”