The Savanna Principle is a theory about the evolutionary roots of the human brain. Developed and researched by Satoshi Kanazawa it asserts that the environment that molded the human brain through natural selection is drastically different from the world humans currently live in. This disparity between what man was adapted to do and what he currently can do leads to a host of societal difficulties, according to the theory. For example, ancestors who craved sugary and fatty foods lived longer and were healthier than those who didn't, in a time that such things were relatively scarce. Today, the abundance of such temptations leads to obesity and heart disease. Similar scenarios are illustrated with television, sex, and jealousy. The theory is espoused heavily in Kanazawa's book Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters.
Obviously, the majority of the human race no longer calls the Savanna home, and fewer still live in tribal societies. According to the Principle, though our morality has moved forward, our brains remain stuck in the Savanna. In other words, the stability of our modernity has existed for a far shorter time than the years spent in the plains of Africa, and human nature often reflects that disparity.
The Savanna Principle holds that the brain has undergone little or no change in the last 10,000 years. Some scholars challenge this view. Author Gregory Clark claims that population pressures and a Malthusian Trap drastically altered Western society between 1200 AD and the Industrial Revolution. According to him, the disparity between the reproduction rates of the rich and poor in England led natural selection to favor vastly different traits and thus contradicts, at least in part, the idea that the human brain has not changed since the days of the Savanna. And it also challenges the belief that traits cannot be bred out of the population in a relatively short period of time.
- Satoshi Kanazawa. "WHY THE LESS INTELLIGENT MAY ENJOY TELEVISION MORE THAN THE MORE ...". Retrieved 2007-11-05.
- Kanazawa, Satoshi Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters (2007) All, ISBN 978-0-399-53365-5.
- Cowen, Tyler (2 November 2006). "What Makes a Nation Wealthy? Maybe It’s the Working Stiff". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
- Clark, Gregory A Farewell To Alms (2007) All, ISBN 978-0-691-12135-2.