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Social Networks, Genes, and Human Nature

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Published: 12 May 2009

Acclaimed scientist James Fowler to deliver public lecture at McGill

Acclaimed scientist James Fowler to deliver public lecture at McGill

Are we all connected by invisible social webs? The exciting new science of social networks suggests we may very well be, and that social connections may profoundly influence our tastes, health, wealth, happiness, and beliefs.

"Social networks exhibit strikingly systematic patterns across a wide range of human contexts, and impact obesity, smoking, drinking, happiness, loneliness, and depression," says renowned scientist James H. Fowler, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego and the Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems.  Furthermore, suggests Dr. Fowler, our genes may provide the biological basis of social networks.

On May 19th, McGill's Faculty of Medicine and the Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship will welcome Dr. Fowler to deliver a public lecture, "Social Networks, Genes, and Human Nature."

Dr. Fowler's research focuses on social networks, behavioral economics, evolutionary game theory, political participation, the evolution of cooperation, and genopolitics (the study of the genetic basis of political behavior). His work has been covered widely in the press, including New York Times Magazine's 2008 Year in Ideas, Time's Year in Medicine (in both 2007 and 2008), and Harvard Business Review's Breakthrough Business Ideas for 2009.

Together with Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School, he has written a book for a general audience called Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives.  It will be published in Fall 2009 and translated into more than a dozen languages worldwide.

Dr. Fowler’s lecture will take place on May 19th, at 11:00 am, in the Palmer Amphitheatre, McIntyre Building, McGill University, 1200 Pine Avenue West, and is open to the public.

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