I am a HUGE fan of Radio Lab, the wonderful NPR / WNYC show where two curious hosts (Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich) take you along a conversation that’s driven by curiosity and makes science compelling for everyone.
Among my favorite episodes is one titled, The Boss of the Plains. It explored the history and evolution of the cowboy hat and introduced the notion that nobody actually invented it.
While John B. Stetson gets credit for introducing a new hat to the plains in the mid-1860s, author Jonnie Hughes made the point that its evolution through wear basically negates the notion that a single individual invented it. How people picked it up caused dents in the top, how the hat reacted to the elements and how people kept the same hat for years were the driving factors in its evolution. As people’s affinity for these “evolved” hats became known, manufacturers began making new ones that resembled the “style” of the weathered versions.