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  1. Testing the Big Gods hypothesis with global historical data: a review and“retake”Whitehouse, Harvey - Religion, Brain & Behavior, 2023 - 2 Hypotheses

    This study challenges the Big Gods hypothesis, which suggests that moral gods are a critical factor that preceded the evolution of complex societies. Using the Seshat database, the authors expanded the codebook and database of their retracted article (see notes). The results show significant support that sociopolitical complexity and moralizing gods are associated and that sociopolitical complexity appears to precede the presence of Big Gods. The authors also show some support that sociopolitical complexity might be a driving factor of moralizing gods. Still, they state that the results are incomplete since they only focus on the possibility of reciprocal causality.

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  2. Explaining the rise of moralizing religions: a test of competing hypotheses using the Seshat DatabankTurchin, Peter - Religion, Brain & Behavior, 2023 - 4 Hypotheses

    How did moralizing religions rise, and what have they caused? The authors test the Big Gods theory, which suggests moralizing religions as a predictor of large-scale complex societies. In addition, they propose their hypothesis, which indicates that warfare, animal husbandry, and agricultural productivity have a role in producing moralizing religions. The results show no significant support for the Big Gods hypothesis. However, they support intergroup warfare, particularly military technologies and cavalry, as an important predictor of social complexity and moralizing religions. In addition, pastoralism has a moderate effect as a predictor for the rise of moralizing religions.

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  3. Cultural macroevolution mattersGray, Russell D. - PNAS, 2017 - 3 Hypotheses

    Researchers sampled 106 Austronesian societies from the Pulotu database to study the way political complexity evolves in relation to religious beliefs and practices. Specifically, they attempt to test the causal theory that supernatural punishment played a causal role in the emergence of large, complex societies. They use phylogenetic models to control for Galton's Problem in testing the supernatural punishment hypothesis in an effort to demonstrate the effectiveness of utilizing cross-cultural datasets in evaluating evolutionary change in human social organization.

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  4. Supernatural explanations across 114 societies are more common for natural than social phenomenaJackson, Joshua Conrad - Nature Human Behavior, 2023 - 3 Hypotheses

    The article examines whether cultural groups tend to use supernatural beliefs more to explain natural phenomena or social phenomena. Analysis of ethnographic text from 114 diverse societies reveals that supernatural explanations are more common for natural phenomena, consistent with the theory that humans tend to perceive intent and agency in the natural world. However, supernatural explanations of social phenomena were more prevalent in urbanized societies with greater social complexity and anonymity. The study highlights how people use supernatural beliefs to explain their world and how this varies across small-scale and urbanized communities.

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  5. Moralistic supernatural punishment is probably not associated with social complexityLightner, Aaron D. - Evolution and Human Behavior, 2022 - 2 Hypotheses

    This paper examines the relationship between moralizing gods (gods that impose moral rules or punish those who break them) and social complexity. The authors argue that previous research, which relied on the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample's "moralizing high gods" variable as a proxy measure for the presence of moralizing gods, may have underestimated the presence of moralizing gods in societies. This is because the criteria used to define "moralizing high gods" are not relevant to whether a god is moralistic or punitive. The authors argue that this leads to a false positive association between moralizing gods and social complexity, and that ethnographic evidence suggests that moralizing gods are actually more prevalent in small-scale societies than had previously been thought. Future researchers, therefore, need to be careful about making assumptions about the moralizing gods of small scale societies based on "moralizing high gods", and find other ways to identify whether moralizing gods are present.

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  6. Local knowledge and practice in disaster relief: A worldwide cross-cultural comparison of coping mechanismsPierro, Rachele - International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 2022 - 13 Hypotheses

    The article discusses the importance of incorporating local knowledge and strategies into sustainable climate change adaptation. The authors examined 90 societies from the ethnographic record to document the coping mechanisms and contingency plans used by societies around the world in response to natural hazards. They classified coping mechanisms into four types: technological, subsistence, economic, and religious. The study finds that most societies employ multiple types of coping mechanisms and that technological coping mechanisms are most common in response to fast-onset hazards, while religious coping mechanisms are most common in response to slow-onset hazards. The study also finds that religious and nonreligious coping strategies are not mutually exclusive and are often used in conjunction with each other.

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  7. Social structure and games: a cross-cultural analysis of the structural correlates of game complexitySilver, Burton B. - Pacific Sociological Review, 1978 - 3 Hypotheses

    This article examines the evolution of games, particularly the way the complexity of games is affected by political organization, demographics, social differentiation, and religious differentiation.

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  8. Social resilience to nuclear winter: lessons from the Late Antique Little Ice AgePeregrine, Peter N. - Global Security: Health, Science and Policy, 2021 - 1 Hypotheses

    The author analyzes conditions that might favor social resilience during the Late Antique Little Ice Age (ca. 536-556 CE). The assumption is made that climatic conditions in the Northern Hemisphere during this period of time are very similar to those that would occur during a nuclear winter. These conditions include a drop in temperature and decreased solar radiation from volcanic eruptions. Measures for social resilience come from multiple variables for social change, which are tested against measures for type of political engagement. It is argued that broad political participation is correlated with resilience.

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  9. Political institutionalization in primitive societies: a hologeistic analysisHill, Kim - Cross-Cultural Research, 1979 - 1 Hypotheses

    This study examines socio-economic predictors of political complexity. Findings suggest that class stratification is the most significant predictor of political complexity.

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  10. Gods, rituals, and the moral orderStark, Rodney - Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2001 - 2 Hypotheses

    Stark attempts to resituate Tylor's formulation of religion by calling into question Swanson's (1960) and Peregrine's (1996) findings that supernatural sanctions and moral behavior are consistently correlated in small-scale societies. Positing that Swanson's correlations were confounded by variables related to cultural complexity, Stark tests the association of presence of moralizing Gods with cultural complexity explicitly, as well as measures of morality in various nations as provided by the World Values Survey (1990-1991). The robust correlations across cultures noted below, as well as cross-national findings, provide support for the researcher's theory that it is particular conceptions of God rather than participation in rites and rituals which empower religion to sustain complex moral culture.

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