Ted Cloak's Home Page
Update: Perceptual Control Theory and the Evolution of Culture
(Note: This supersedes my previous communication on this subject.)
As you perhaps know, I have been working on developing a naturalistic underpinning for cultural anthropology for about forty years.* I think I've finally found a solution to the problem, and I'd very much appreciate your thoughtful evaluation of, and perhaps contribution to, my solution. This solution might even help to re-unify cultural anthropology:
"Richard Dawkins and I...argued that culture evolves through the natural selection of cultural features. But we could not show how that works, because we lacked a comparable theory of cultural transmission.
"As I've said previously, I think William T. Powers's Perceptual Control Theory, or PCT, may help us to address that lack. Indeed, as I intend to show here, by providing a robust hypothesis about culture acquisition, PCT may actually reveal the elemental units of culture and cultural evolution." -- from my introduction.
Rather than attempting to present my argument in written form, I've developed a 45-minute narrated animated PowerPoint presentation to explain PCT and demonstrate how it can enable a naturalistic cultural anthropology.
I cordially invite you to view the presentation and respond to it.
The program is available (free, of course) in five versions, all identical in content (and audio quality):
1. The actual PowerPoint version, archived (with its various
elements and a freestanding PowerPoint Viewer) by WinZip,
can be downloaded by pointing your browser to
Advantages of this version:
a. The file is small (32 mb) and can be downloaded quickly.
b. You can easily access individual slides for re-viewing.
c. The visuals are of the best quality.
a. Retrieving it and running it require certain basic computer
skills (a readme file is enclosed).
b. To ensure that the narration and animation are always
properly synchronized, you need to have PowerPoint 2003/XP
or later installed on your computer.
2. The full-scale movie version (780 mb) can be downloaded from
a. The downloaded file is ready to run.
b. It runs very well in Windows Media Player and many other
movie viewers including Quick Time Player on the Mac.
a. The file is very large and so takes long to download.
b. Visual quality is slightly reduced.
c. It's not as easy to access individual slides.
3. The compressed movie version (206 mb) is at
The advantages and disadvantages are the same as for 2, except
that the size is smaller and the visual quality is seriously
4. The very compressed Windows-only version (61 mb) is at
The advantages and disadvantages are the same as for 3; it's
even smaller but you can't play it on a Mac.
5. You can obtain the DVD version by replying to this email,
or sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org, including your
postal mailing address.
This version is of the same quality as 2, and can be played
on any DVD viewer such as your TV.
Again, please obtain the program and help me to make it better.
And please forward this email message to your friends and colleagues, especially your anthropologist friends and colleagues, either now or after you've viewed the presentation.
F T (Ted) Cloak Jr (PhD)
1613 Fruit Avenue NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87104-1231
(Note: Many of these articles, along with the annotated script
of the presentation, can be downloaded by pointing your browser to
-- and are included on the DVD disc, as well.)
1966. Cultural microevolution . Research Previews 13: (2) p. 7-10. Also presented at the November, 1966 Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association.
1967. A Natural Order of Cultural Adoption and Loss in Trinidad (Working Papers in Methodology No. 1) Institute for Research in Social Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
1968a. Is a cultural ethology possible? Research Previews 13: (2) p. 37-47.
1968b. The Wheel. Multi-media presentation to the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Seattle. Published electronically as "Cultural Darwinism: Natural Selection of the Spoked Wood Wheel."
1973. Elementary self-replicating instructions and their works: Toward a radical reconstruction of general anthropology through a general theory of natural selection. Communication to the Ninth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Chicago.
1974/2007. Cultural ethology experiment number one. Multi-media presentation at 73d annual meeting of American Anthropological Assn. Available as a narrated PowerPoint presentation.
1975a. Is a cultural ethology possible? Human Ecology 3: 161-182. Completely re-written version of Cloak 1968a.
1975b. That a culture and a social organization mutually shape each other through a process of continuing evolution. Man-Environment Systems 5: 3-6.
1976a. The evolutionary success of altruism and urban social order. Zygon 11: 219-240.
1976b. Abating Anthropological Ambiguity: Three common terms and the relations among them. Presented to the 75th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Washington DC.
1977. Discussion of "The adaptive significance of cultural behavior", by William H. Durham. Human Ecology 5: 49-52.
1981a. On natural selection and culture: a commentary on "A multiple-level model of evolution and its implications for sociobiology", by H. C. Plotkin and F. J. Odling-Smee. The Behavioral and Brain Sciences 4: 238-240.
1981b. Why electromagnetism is the only causal 'spook' required to explain completely any human behavior or institution. In The Relationship of Verbal and Nonverbal Communication, ed. by Mary Ritchie Key, 327-348. The Hague, Mouton.
1986. The causal logic of natural selection: a general theory. Oxford Surveys in Evolutionary Biology 3: 132-186.
2008. Perceptual Control Theory and the Evolution of Culture. PowerPoint presentation and movie, released as version 1.01 Beta.