The Misuse of a Mathematical Model: The Tasmanian Case

Human Complex Systems UCLA, 2011

17 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2016

See all articles by Dwight Read

Dwight Read

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Anthropology

Date Written: January 1, 2011

Abstract

Good application of a mathematical model depends on conformity with empirical observations. Mathematical models based on Dual Inheritance Theory and purporting to demonstrate that population size is a primary determinant of the complexity of tool assemblages in hunter-gatherer societies have been proposed despite their obvious contradiction with data from hunter-gatherer groups. One such model has relied on archaeological data from Tasmania for its validation, but has been extensively critiqued. A response to that critique attempts to justify the application of the model to the Tasmania data but does not succeed in so doing and still fails to address the more fundamental problem of disconnect between model prediction and empirical observation. The problem does not lie in the mathematical formulation of the model but the use of an invalid assumption when the model is used to account for variation in the complexity of tool assemblages in hunter-gatherer societies.

Keywords: Tasmania, mathematical models, dual inheritance, complexity, phenotypic evolution, cultural evolution, imitation, demography, Upper Paleolithic

Suggested Citation

Read, Dwight, The Misuse of a Mathematical Model: The Tasmanian Case (January 1, 2011). Human Complex Systems UCLA, 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2805822 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2805822

Dwight Read (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Anthropology ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90095-1553
United States

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