Whitehouse's Evolution Gap goes to Hutchinson Heinemann

Whitehouse's Evolution Gap goes to Hutchinson Heinemann

Oxford anthropology professor Harvey Whitehouse's The Evolution Gap will be published by Hutchinson Heinemann in 2024. 

Editorial director Rowan Borchers acquired world rights in all languages direct from the author. Hutchinson Heinemann will publish the book in hardback, trade paperback, audiobook and e-book in spring 2024, followed by a Penguin paperback in 2025. 

The book draws on three decades of research to explain the evolutionary origins of the problems that afflict modern society. The blurb reads: “One of the world’s most influential anthropologists, Harvey Whitehouse has spent his career researching the evolutionary basis of human behaviour. In the process, he has dissected four ancient biases that shape our collective behaviour: short-termism, conformism, religiosity and tribalism.  

“When humans moved in small bands of hunter-gatherers, these biases served a clear purpose. But today, we face an array of problems that are exacerbated by our evolutionary biases and that our cultural institutions are proving unable to solve. Moving seamlessly from anthropology to psychology, evolutionary biology to historical analysis, Whitehouse traces the rise of this ‘evolution gap’ between our small-group biases and our large-group civilisation.” 

Borchers commented: “Harvey’s research is stunningly ambitious, and I can’t remember the last time I encountered a proposal that is as timely and thought-provoking as The Evolution Gap. It synthesises an astonishing array of research from across the social, behavioural and biological sciences – much of it spearheaded by Harvey himself. I believe it has the hallmarks of the next Guns, Germs & Steel.” 

Whitehouse is director of the Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion and chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford and is one of the founders of the Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR). He is also a founding director of Seshat: Global History Databank, a database that allows scientists to quantify patterns in world history.  His research has featured in the Economist, Scientific American, New Scientist and the Times. He has delivered talks at the World Economic Forum and served as the chief consultant for a BBC Two documentary series, "Extraordinary Rituals". 

He said: “The mismatch between our evolved brains and the complex societies we inhabit – the evolution gap – poses an increasingly serious threat to our species and many others. We need to replace our evolved strategies for exploiting resources, competing with rivals, and avoiding disease with approaches better designed for the kind of world that our technologies and social systems have created. This book shows how we can do it, based on evidence-based theories from psychology, anthropology, evolutionary science and the quantitative analysis of world history.”