Particularly deep in human evolutionary history is yes & no. By coos of affirmation and snorts of disapproval, elders reinforce the successes and errors of the youths they teach—a pattern that must antedate any accompanying words. Primates condition each other with painful bites and comforting strokes. Reward & punishment imprints yes & no into the neuronal wetware, encouraging certain activities in life’s arena, banishing others behind walls of taboo.

Tyler Volk

Tyler Volk is a professor in the departments of environmental studies and biology at New York University. His areas of interest include principles of form and function in systems (described as metapatterns), environmental challenges to global prosperity, CO2 and global change, biosphere theory and the role of life in earth dynamics.

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