[G]ist is right. Primary sources are better. Our knowledge is better today. But we are shaking off centuries of bias about our natural state, only to discover that humans organize according to production units counterbalanced by the competition between male and female reproductive competition. Not much more to it than that. We have a lot more detail, but in the end, if our survival depends upon it, we alter our informal and formal institutions to support our economic (productive and consumptive) demands.
Now, it’s certainly true that we often adopt BAD ways of doing things. And it’s certainly true that we resist adopting GOOD things when they disrupt (reorder) our existing formal and informal institutions. But cultures that adopt BAD things, or resist GOOD things are almost always "out gunned, out germ-ed, and out steeled" by cultures that make superior decisions.
Temporary destructive innovations like mongol and arab mounted raiding techniques paired with lack of supporting formal institutions, or the forcible adoption of socialism by the bolsheviks, the maoists, and the Cambodians as examples of what works as a promise in the short term, but fails in actuality the long.