Remembering John Tooby

John Tooby (1952-2023) founded the Center for Evolutionary Psychology with Leda Cosmides in 1994, and served as its co-director for the rest of his life.

We wanted to share memories of John on this page. Steve Pinker wrote a moving tribute in Nautilus, Psychology Lost a Great Mind.

John’s memorial service was held on December 3, 2023 at the UCSB Faculty club–the link is to a zoom recording (the sound starts after ~2 minutes and 40 seconds).

Steve Pinker officiated, and many of John’s friends, colleagues, former students, and relatives shared their memories (links to those in prose), including Pascal Boyer, David Buss, Steve Gaulin, Mike Gurven, Dave Pietraszewski, Jordan Smoller, Larry Sugiyama and Michelle Scalise Sugiyama, Daniel Sznycer, Alvaro Fischer and Ximena Katz, Miguel Eckstein and Maria Acosta, Paul Tooby, Nike Tooby Cosmides, and Leda Cosmides.

John spoke too, in a sense: Steve Pinker shared emails from John (from 1990 on!), so we were able to enjoy his warmth and wit one more time.

A photo album of the memorial service is here (ppt slides)

Nike created a slideshow of John from childhood on, set to music he enjoyed.

Left: John with Nike, his daughter, in Juneau, Alaska, 2012

Thank you to Ryan Oprea, Debra Lieberman, Dylan Tweed, Steve Pinker, and Mike and Charlotte Gazzaniga for organizing this special event and making it possible.

A bench inscribed to John is in front of Davidson Library, on the main thoroughfare of the UCSB campus. Many thanks to Howard Waldow, Naomi Rustomjee, Jordan Smoller, and Steve Pinker for this.

We received touching letters, emails, and texts, some to John, others with memories of John. We will share some of them here, with the link on the writer’s name, as we get permission.

Jim Roney. Brad Duchaine. Michael Bang Petersen. Nicole Hess. Adam Cohen. Danielle Truxaw. Oliver Scott Curry. Nicolas Baumard @ EHBEA.

A few moments with John follow.

Leda and John, in the beginning. June 1979
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