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 Gene-Culture Coevolution ItemsEntire Archive
Your blood group cannot reliably identify your ethnicity, your race ... or even your species. Credit:  Wikipedia Commons, Etan Tal
What sort of ideas will guide our elites twenty years from now? You can find out by observing university students, especially those in the humanities and social sciences. One popular idea is that race doesn't exist, except as a social construct. Its proponents include Eula Biss, a contributor to the New York Times Magazine: The... Read More
Ted Bundy, 1978, State Archives of Florida. Outwardly charming but zero concern for others. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Is sociopathy an illness? We often think so ... to the point that the word "sick" has taken on a strange secondary meaning. If we call a ruthless, self-seeking person "sick," we mean he should be shunned at all costs. We don't mean he should take an aspirin and get some rest. Sociopathy doesn't look... Read More
Rêverie, Adrien de Witte (1850-1935). Credit: Wikimedia Commons
African Americans sleep on average almost an hour less than do Euro Americans. The two groups have mean sleep times of 6.05 hours and 6.85 hours. This finding has recently been discussed by Brian Resnick in National Journal and by our Steve Sailer. Researchers reject a genetic explanation: "There is a consensus that innate biological... Read More
Hadza men are smaller, less robust, and less aggressive than the more polygynous Datoga. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Humans differ in paternal investment—the degree to which fathers help mothers care for their offspring. They differ in this way between individuals, between populations, and between stages of cultural evolution. During the earliest stage, when all humans were hunter-gatherers, men invested more in their offspring with increasing distance from the equator. Longer, colder winters made... Read More
In 1915, Paul Robeson became the third African American ever enrolled at Rutgers College, being one of four students selected for its Cap and Skull honor society. His father was of Igbo descent .  Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Chanda Chisala has written another piece on IQ and African immigrants to the UK: The correct term is not "regression to the mean." It's "non-inheritance of acquired characteristics." In other words, each person has a single genotype and a range of possible phenotypes. A culture can push its members to either limit of this range,... Read More
The Perfume Maker, Rudolf Ernst (1854-1932).  Credit: Wikimedia Commons
It has long been known that we vary not only in our sensitivity to different smells but also in our preferences for them—the degree to which they seem pleasant or unpleasant. This variability often contains a large genetic component (Gross-Isseroff et al., 1992; Karstensen and Tommerup, 2012; Keller et al., 2007; Keller et al., 2012;... Read More
Un homme et une femme, 1891, Stephan Sinding (1846-1922). Almost as fun as sex.  Credit: Wikimedia Commons
All humans love to kiss, so kissing must go back to early hominids and even chimps and bonobos. This is how ethologists and evolutionary psychologists think when they write about the subject. Just one thing. Even in historic times not all humans loved to kiss. Far from arising millions of years in the past, kissing... Read More
Claude Lévi-Straus. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss died six years ago, leaving behind a treasure trove of correspondence and unpublished writings. We can now trace where his ideas came from and how they evolved. I admired Lévi-Strauss during my time as an anthropology student because he asked questions that Marxist anthropologists would never ask. That's why I preferred... Read More
Dick Turpin was convicted of robbery but had also been guilty of a string of murders.  Credit: Wikimedia Commons
In each generation from 1500 to 1750, between 1 and 2% of all English men were executed either by court order or extra-judicially (at the scene of the crime or while in prison). This was the height of a moral crusade by Church and State to punish the wicked so that the good may live... Read More
Compendium on agriculture, Japan, 1782. Rice farming, which requires community planning of water use and irrigation, may have favored a less individualistic mindset in East Asia (Wikicommons)
Kinship is the organizing principle of small human societies, such as bands of hunter-gatherers or small farming villages. This is seen in their notions of right and wrong—the same behavior may be wrong toward kin but right toward non-kin, or at least not punishable. Morality is enforced by social pressure from fellow kinfolk, which in... Read More
 La ciociara (1960) - Sophia Loren in the role of a woman hiding from Moroccan soldiers (Wikicommons)
In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack—or rather mass execution—the typical reaction seems to be that the killers were "madmen" and "extremists." The brother of the slain policeman, himself Muslim, protested: "My brother was Muslim. He was shot down by false Muslims. (...) Islam is really a religion of peace, of love. We had... Read More
A burning car during the 2005 riots.  Credit: Strologoff at Wikimedia Commons
The gruesome attack on Charlie Hebdo has earned condemnation around the world. It has been called "cowardly" and "evil" by Barack Obama, "a barbaric act" by Stephen Harper, and an "infamy" by François Hollande. Yes, violence is serious. It's a crime when done by an individual and war when done by a country. It's a... Read More
Migrants arriving on the island of Lampedusa.  The NATO-led invasion of Libya has opened a huge breach in Europe\
A synthesis has been forming in the field of human biodiversity. It may be summarized as follows: 1. Human evolution did not end in the Pleistocene or even slow down. In fact, it speeded up with the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago, when the pace of genetic change rose over a hundred-fold. Humans were... Read More
Navaho woman with a child on cradleboard. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. See video on cross-cultural differences in newborn behavior, Daniel Freedman, 1974 (posted by hbd chick)
In my last post I discussed recent research on mental differences between Europeans and Chinese people. The latter are less prone to boredom. They think less abstractly and more relationally. They're less individualistic, and less likely to punish friends for dishonesty. Mental differences also seem to exist within China, depending on whether one comes from... Read More
The ratio of index finger length to ring finger length provides an index of sexual differentiation. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Are men and women more alike in some populations than in others? It's possible. First, boys and girls differentiate from each other to varying degrees during adolescence, and this process of sexual differentiation is genetically influenced. There are even conditions, like Swyer syndrome, where an individual is chromosomally male (46, XY) and yet develops externally... Read More
Adam and Eve, Jan Brueghel de Oude en Peter Paul Rubens. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Did the Christian doctrine of original sin create the guilt cultures of Northwest Europe? Or did the arrow of causality run the other way?
By definition, gene-culture co-evolution is reciprocal. Genes and culture are both in the driver's seat. This point is crucial because there is a tendency to overreact to cultural determinism and to forget that culture does matter, even to the point of influencing the makeup of our gene pool. Through culture, humans have directed their own... Read More
The Classic of Filial Piety, Ma Hezhi, 12th Century Credit: Wikimedia Commons
In a previous post, I asked, "How universal is empathy?" The question is tricky because empathy has three components: 1. pro-social behavior - willingness to help people out, hospitality to strangers, acts of compassion. 2. cognitive empathy - capacity to see things from another person's perspective and to understand how he or she feels. 3.... Read More
A widow about to be buried alive in her husband\
What, ultimately, is the basis for morality? In a comment on aprevious post, fellow columnist Fred Reed argued that some things are self-evidently wrong, like torture and murder. No need to invoke the Ten Commandments or any religious tradition. Some things are just wrong. Period. This is a respectable idea with a long lineage. It's... Read More
Ruth Benedict (1887-1948), much more than Franz Boas, would define the aims of Boasian anthropology for postwar America.
When Franz Boas died in 1942, the leadership of his school of anthropology passed to Ruth Benedict and not to Margaret Mead. This was partly because Benedict was the older of the two and partly because her book Patterns of Culture (1934) had already assumed a key role in defining Boasian anthropology. The word "define"... Read More
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
While other top brass played press agents for the administration’s war, William Odom told the truth about Iraq—though few listened.
A thousand years of meritocracy shaped the Middle Kingdom.