David Rindos: His reputation and the impact of his work

Dr Rindos received a PhD from Cornell University in 1981. It was given for work in several fields -- anthropology, archaeology, evolutionary biology, botany (taxonomy and morphology), and history of science. His thesis was awarded a special prize.

It is widely acknowledged that he was the first person successfully to apply neo-Darwinian theory to understanding problems of cultural change, this to explaining one of the greatest mysteries in human history -- the transition to agricultural modes of subsistance. His work led to international conferences which confirmed that certain highly counter-intuitive predictions arising from this work found support in the archaeological record. His theoretical work on the origins of the capacity for culture is also highly regarded, and widely cited, as providing a new avenue to understanding the evolution of humans, their culture, and their behaviour.

"Cultural Selectionism," the term he proposed in 1984 for the theoretical approach he has advocated and defended, is now becoming widely adopted to describe a new and rapidly growing analylytic school in anthropology and, especially, archaeology. Some of his earlier papers have already been requested for re-publication in collections of "bench-mark" papers. His work is listed as the primary reference under two subject headings in the Encyclopedia Britannica, and is discussed in detail in semi-popular texts on anthropology and archaeology such as the recent, internationally published and issued, Illustrated History of Humankind. His research papers are widely referenced, at rates of citation much higher than normal for his field, and he is cited in professional journals published in languages other than English, anDd in ones representing fields other than his own (population genetics, ecology, etc). Hence, his work has had impact beyond archaeology itself.

His book, The Origins of Agriculture: An Evolutionary Perspective (reviewed by Zubrow and Yee), was issued in hard-cover and, later, in a paper-back edition by the prestigeous international publishing house, Academic Press. It was also translated and issued in a Spanish language edition by the major Spanish academic publisher, Ediciones Bellaterra. This book has remained in print for over 10 years, an exceedingly long period of time for an academic work.

His work has been described in popular and semi-popular magazines such as US News and World Report, American Scientist, and The New York Times,, and has been mentioned in television programmes dealing with archaeology and human prehistory. Interviews regarding his research have been broadcast by media such as the BBC and ABC. He is a member of many professional societies, was a foundation member of the World Archaeological Congress, and has been honoured in many ways, including nomination to Sigma Xi, the international scientific honour society.

He has been a sponsored keynote speaker and invited discussant at numerous national and international meetings (e.g. Society for American Archaeology, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Society for the History and Philosophy of Biology, World Archaeological Congress). He has been invited to present lectures and workshops at universities around the world (US, England, the Netherlands, Australia, Russia, India). He has received numerous invitations to submit papers, review manuscripts, and write commentaries on papers in journals and volumes, including being asked to write original papers to be published in foreign language translation. All recent invitations (including one from the Russian Academy of Sciences) have had to be declined because of the problems originating at the University of Western Australia.

He has been invited to work with native peoples on projects of concern to their communities: The Seneca Nation in New York State asked him to advise them on reasons for the decline in a traditional, sacred crop, and to provide help with means to restore it to its former productivity. He has also published papers presenting new teaching methodologies in educational journals and new methods developed by him, such as for teaching introductory genetics, have been adopted at universities around the world. He was one of the first persons to see the academic potential of the internet, and early became involved in projects to use the new electronic communications media to the benefit of his discipline.

For more detail about his work, see his Curriculum Vita.

  • Return to the Home Page