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Race, monogamy, and other lies they told you: Busting myths about human nature

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Abstract

There are three major myths of human nature: humans are divided into biological races; humans are naturally aggressive; men and women are truly different in behavior, desires, and wiring. In an engaging and wide-ranging narrative Agustín Fuentes counters these pervasive and pernicious myths about human behavior. Tackling misconceptions about what race, aggression, and sex really mean for humans, Fuentes incorporates an accessible understanding of culture, genetics, and evolution requiring us to dispose of notions of "nature or nurture." Presenting scientific evidence from diverse fields, including anthropology, biology, and psychology, Fuentes devises a myth-busting toolkit to dismantle persistent fallacies about the validity of biological races, the innateness of aggression and violence, and the nature of monogamy and differences between the sexes. A final chapter plus an appendix provide a set of take-home points on how readers can myth-bust on their own. Accessible, compelling, and original, this book is a rich and nuanced account of how nature, culture, experience, and choice interact to influence human behavior.

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... Anthropology is not the sole antidote for dispelling myths or improving teaching practices. As with other disciplines focusing on humans, anthropology has been marked by a complex history of promoting race-based science (e.g., see Hutchings and La Salle 2015;Ifekwunigwe et al. 2017;Marks 2017;Mullings 2005;Wagner et al. 2016), sexism (e.g., see Clancy et al. 2014;Fuentes 2012;Hrdy 1981) and ableism (e.g., Doat 2014;Friedner et al. 2018). Instead, we contend that the fundamental principles of anthropology can be applied in a way that not only contextualizes these concepts but also aids students in developing a more nuanced understanding of human genetics overall. ...
... Basic myths about health (e.g., handwashing and bacterial evolution) and the nature of science (e.g., all questions can be tested scientifically) are commonly the focus of biology and classroom discussions. Borrowing from cultural anthropologist Clifford Geertz, biological anthropologist Agustín Fuentes (2012) explains that myths are also a cultural form of "common sense" in that they are the (often subconscious) stories we tell ourselves to navigate the people and ideas we encounter. In other words, myths in this sense are narrative "cognitive tools" that help us make sense of things that are not easily explained or things that have seemingly logical contradictions (Lavenda and Schultz 2017). ...
... At its core were debates about the roles of human nature, human nurture, or human nature in combination with human nurture. As Fuentes (2012) notes, some of the most pervasive myths about differences in gender and race have been predicated on notions of an inherent human nature in which, for example, men are born more aggressive (and continue that aggression as biologically timed testosterone activates during growth and development), women are born with an evolutionary imperative to protect their children and insure their DNA's survival through monogamy, and racial differences in disease are due to biological differences. In short, by spotlighting biology in narratives where non-biological factors also play a significant role incorrectly naturalizes human differences (e.g., see Goodman et al. 2012;Hartigan 2006;Sussman 2014;Yudell et al. 2016). ...
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Exposure to information about genetics is at an all-time high, while a full understanding of the biocultural complexity of human difference is low. This paper demonstrates the value of an “anthropological approach” to enhance genetics education in biology, anthropology, and other related disciplines, when teaching about human differences such as race/ethnicity, sex/gender, and disability. As part of this approach, we challenge educators across social and natural sciences to critically examine and dismantle the tacit cultural assumptions that shape our understanding of genetics and inform the way we perceive (and teach about) human differences. It calls on educators from both social and natural science disciplines to “de-silo” their classrooms and uses examples from our biological anthropology and sociocultural anthropology classrooms, to demonstrate how educators can better contextualize the “genetics” of human difference in their own teaching. Numerous opportunities to transform our teaching exist, and we are doing a disservice to our students by not taking these critical steps.
... In contrast, there is mounting evidence that mutations in gene regulatory sequences affecting when our proteins are expressed play a major role in human-specific biology, as hypothesized several decades ago. 3 Studies in a variety of different organisms support the importance of regulatory mutations in the evolution of closely related species. 4 Similarly, many of the fastest evolving sequences in the human genome are outside of genes in regulatory DNA. 5 These uniquely human regulatory sequences, called Human Accelerated Regions (HARs), are located near and likely control a very important collection of genes, many of which are involved in development and human disease. Because many of the genes with HARs are transcription factors that control the expression of other genes, 5 it is easy to see how a relatively small number of mutations in regulatory sequences could alter the function of an entire network of genes and thereby influence a trait, such as pelvic morphology or brain size. ...
... Differences from human speechacoustically flexible, learned, and highly modifiable -are obvious. 4,5 Monkeys and apes overcome some of these limitations with a rich sense of what linguists call pragmatics: they have an almost open-ended ability to learn sound-meaning pairs, recognize individual voices, and combine information about individuals' social positions, past interactions, and current motives when assessing the meaning of vocalizations. In their interpretation of the meaning of vocalizations, listeners combine discrete-valued entities in a structured, rule-governed, and openended manner. ...
Article
Today, scholars from numerous and highly diverse fields are not only addressing the question of what makes us human, but also seeking input from other disciplines to inform their answers to this fundamental issue. However, for the most part, evolutionary anthropologists are not particularly prominent in this discussion, or at least not acknowledged to be. Why is this the case? One reason may be that although evolutionary anthropologists are uniquely positioned to provide valuable insight on this subject, the responses from any one of us are likely to be as different as the research specializations and intellectual experiences that we bring to the table. Indeed, one would anticipate that a paleoanthropologist would not only have different views than a primatologist, geneticist, or behavioral ecologist, but from other paleoanthropologists as well. Yet if asked by a theologian, psychologist, or political scientist, and perhaps most importantly, by any curious person outside the walls of academia, do we have a response that most evolutionary anthropologists could agree on as reflecting our contributions to the understanding of being and becoming human? Our introductory textbooks usually begin with this fundamental question, yet seldom produce a concise answer. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
... Social, political, and symbolic histories and contexts affect and structure the evolutionarily relevant actions people undertake and experience (e.g., Dressler, Oths, and Gravlee 2005;Fuentes 2012;Gravlee 2009;Ingold 2011;Odden 2010), and this process can be integrated into the niche-construction approach (e.g., Lansing and Fox 2011;Lipatov, Brown, and Feldman 2011). This article would benefit by including a more complicated view of human agency, seeing physiological and symbolic systems as existing in significantly entangled manners (Fuentes 2009;Ingold 2007;Lansing and Fox 2011). ...
... Social, political, and symbolic histories and contexts affect and structure the evolutionarily relevant actions people undertake and experience (e.g., Dressler, Oths, and Gravlee 2005;Fuentes 2012;Gravlee 2009;Ingold 2011;Odden 2010), and this process can be integrated into the niche-construction approach (e.g., Lansing and Fox 2011;Lipatov, Brown, and Feldman 2011). This article would benefit by including a more complicated view of human agency, seeing physiological and symbolic systems as existing in significantly entangled manners (Fuentes 2009;Ingold 2007;Lansing and Fox 2011). Humans have agency in more ways than just ecological engineering; social engineering and political/economic perceptions count as factors as well. ...
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Theory and empirical data from a variety of disciplines strongly imply that recent human history involves extensive gene-culture coevolution, much of it as a direct result of human agricultural practices. Here we draw on niche-construction theory (NCT) and gene-culture coevolutionary theory (GCT) to propose a broad theoretical framework (NCT-GCT) with which archaeologists and anthropologists can explore coevolutionary dynamics. Humans are enormously potent niche constructors, and understanding how niche construction regulates ecosystem dynamics is central to understanding the impact of human populations on their ecological and developmental environments. We use as primary examples the evolution of dairying by Neolithic groups in Europe and Africa and the rise of the “sickle-cell allele” among certain agricultural groups in West Africa and suggest that these examples are broadly representative of much of human recent history. Although the core aspects of these case studies are familiar, we lay out the examples with a specific NCT-GCT focus, which allows us to highlight how archaeology, when coupled with genetic research, can play an important role in better understanding human history. Finally, we suggest that the NCT-GCT perspective is likely to be of widespread general utility because it inherently promotes consideratiwon of the active agency of humans, and other organisms, in modifying their ecological and developmental niches and naturally draws attention to the various forms of feedback that flow from human activities at multiple levels, in multiple populations, and across multiple species.
... In contrast, there is mounting evidence that mutations in gene regulatory sequences affecting when our proteins are expressed play a major role in human-specific biology, as hypothesized several decades ago. 3 Studies in a variety of different organisms support the importance of regulatory mutations in the evolution of closely related species. 4 Similarly, many of the fastest evolving sequences in the human genome are outside of genes in regulatory DNA. 5 These uniquely human regulatory sequences, called Human Accelerated Regions (HARs), are located near and likely control a very important collection of genes, many of which are involved in development and human disease. Because many of the genes with HARs are transcription factors that control the expression of other genes, 5 it is easy to see how a relatively small number of mutations in regulatory sequences could alter the function of an entire network of genes and thereby influence a trait, such as pelvic morphology or brain size. ...
... Differences from human speechacoustically flexible, learned, and highly modifiable -are obvious. 4,5 Monkeys and apes overcome some of these limitations with a rich sense of what linguists call pragmatics: they have an almost open-ended ability to learn sound-meaning pairs, recognize individual voices, and combine information about individuals' social positions, past interactions, and current motives when assessing the meaning of vocalizations. In their interpretation of the meaning of vocalizations, listeners combine discrete-valued entities in a structured, rule-governed, and openended manner. ...
... Stojanowski and Duncan (2015) note that bioarchaeological scholarship tends to be published in venues (journals and book chapters in edited volumes) that have a regional focus, and they argue that because of this, we (bioarchaeologists) tend to marginalize our work, unintentionally exclude ourselves from public discussions, and allow others to take our place (Stojanowski and Duncan 2015). Instead, today the role of family expert is typically filled by historians (Coontz 1997, Coontz 2016, sociologists (Cohen 2015), biological anthropologists including primatologists (Fisher 1992;Fuentes 2012;Hrdy 1999;Small 1995), and evolutionary psychologists (Buss 1995;Salmon and Shackelford 2008). ...
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Family is a fundamental organizing aspect of human society, but family organization is understudied within bioarchaeology. Historically, bioarchaeological research has focused on kinship analysis, the reconstruction of biological relationships within archaeological contexts. Kinship analysis has generated important insights into past community organization and cultural practices, but it is rooted in biologistic and heteronormative values. As a result, traditional kinship research inadvertently emphasizes biological relatedness and nuclear family organization and limits our ability to recognize different ways of forming families.
... Having said this, we would like to emphasize that there is indeed a considerable degree of human genetic variabilityhowever, it does not fall into distinct categories such as "races". There are no "racial genes" (Fuentes, 2012), there are no "genes" present in one population that are absent in another. Indeed, humans share the same genes but differ from each other in various degrees with respect to the presence of specific allelic variations, with gradual differences in the percentage of certain allelic variations within but no sharp borders between local human populations (Heinz et al., 2011a,b; see Figure 2). ...
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The aim of this Hypothesis and Theory is to question the recently increasing use of the "race" concept in contemporary genetic, psychiatric, neuroscience as well as social studies. We discuss "race" and related terms used to assign individuals to distinct groups and caution that also concepts such as "ethnicity" or "culture" unduly neglect diversity. We suggest that one factor contributing to the dangerous nature of the "race" concept is that it is based on a mixture of traditional stereotypes about "physiognomy", which are deeply imbued by colonial traditions. Furthermore, the social impact of "race classifications" will be critically reflected. We then examine current ways to apply the term "culture" and caution that while originally derived from a fundamentally different background, "culture" is all too often used as a proxy for "race", particularly when referring to the population of a certain national state or wider region. When used in such contexts, suggesting that all inhabitants of a geographical or political unit belong to a certain "culture" tends to ignore diversity and to suggest a homogeneity, which consciously or unconsciously appears to extend into the realm of biological similarities and differences. Finally, we discuss alternative approaches and their respective relevance to biological and cultural studies.
... Feminist anthropologists have pointed out the male bias in early anthropological research that privileged the role of males (Slocum 1975, Di Leonardo, 1991. In addition, according to more recent research (Fuentes, 2012), the beliefs that males have always been hunter-warriors and females responsible for hearth and childcare have been challenged. For example, anthropologist Agustin Fuentes (2012) explains that women hunted as well, although they hunted smaller game in order to be near the young children. ...
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The JTR 7(1) is a Special Issue on Psychedelic Research. Index: Ayahuasca, Contexto Ceremonial y Sujeto: Análisis del Set and Settting a Partir de un Grupo Uruguayo de Terapias Alternativas Ayahuasca, Ceremonial Context and Subject. Analysis of the Set and Setting in an Uruguayan Group of Alternative Therapies Ismael Apud Earth, Gender and Ceremony: Gender Complementarity and Sacred Plants in Latin America Tierra, Género y Ceremonia: Complementariedad de Género y Plantas Sagradas en Latinoamerica Sharon G. Mijares and Evgenia Fotiou Experiencias Cercanas a la Muerte y Sintomatología Postraumática en una Muestra de Consumidores de Ketamina Near Death Experiences and Post-traumatic Symptomatology in a Sample of Ketamine Users Daniel F. Jimenez-Garrido, Miguel Angel Alcazar-Córcoles y Jose Carlos Bouso On Integrating Numinous Experiences: A Case Study Viajes Sobre la Integración de Experiencias Numinosas: Un Estudio de Caso Maria Papaspyrou Trips Into Inner Space: A Phenomenological Approach to the Experience of the Use on Psychedelic Substances Viajes Hacia el Espacio Interior: una Aproximación Fenomenológica a la Experiencia del Uso de Sustancias Psicodélicas Joana Pereira and Luís Fernandes Death and Rebirth in LSD Therapy: An Autobiographical Study Muerte y Renacimiento en Psicoterapia con LSD: Un Estudio Autobiográfico Christopher Bache Configuración de la Psicoterapia Asistida con Psicodélicos Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy Configuration Genis Ona, Francisco M. Rios, Jose Carlos Aguirre, Jose Carlos Bouso, Ingrid Tartakowsky, Ana. E. Makeda, Matias Méndez y María C. Carvalho Reflections Stan Grof Contributions to FDA Drug Development Research With Psychedelics Contribuciones de Stan Grof a la Investigación Para el Desarrollo de Medicamentos con Psicodélicos de la FDA Rick Doblin Holotropic Medicine. MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy Research, Another Grof Legacy Medicina Holotrópica. La Investigación en Psicoterapia Asistida con MDMA, Otro Legado de Grof Michael Mithoefer Psychedelic Research at the Frontiers of Prohibition: Moving Forwards Investigación Psicodélica en las Fronteras de la Prohibición Amanda Feilding
... 3 How does human genetic variation compare to that of the other animals, including but not limited to our closest relatives, among nonhuman primates? Human genetic variation is inherently interesting and is also controversial (Fuentes 2012;Shiao et al. 2012;Templeton 2013;Fujimura et al. 2014;Yudell et al. 2016). It has been suggested that human genetic diversity follows in part from different selection pressures of divergent geographies and social structures (Wade 2015). ...
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DNA barcodes for species identification and the analysis of human mitochondrial variation have developed as independent fields even though both are based on sequences from animal mitochondria. This study finds questions within each field that can be addressed by reference to the other. DNA barcodes are based on a 648-bp segment of the mitochondrially encoded cytochrome oxidase I. From most species, this segment is the only sequence available. It is impossible to know whether it fairly represents overall mitochondrial variation. For modern humans, the entire mitochondrial genome is available from thousands of healthy individuals. SNPs in the human mitochondrial genome are evenly distributed across all protein-encoding regions arguing that COI DNA barcode is representative. Barcode variation among related species is largely based on synonymous codons. Data on human mitochondrial variation support the interpretation that most – possibly all – synonymous substitutions in mitochondria are selectively neutral. DNA barcodes confirm reports of a low variance in modern humans compared to nonhuman primates. In addition, DNA barcodes allow the comparison of modern human variance to many other extant animal species. Birds are a well-curated group in which DNA barcodes are coupled with census and geographic data. Putting modern human variation in the context of intraspecies variation among birds shows humans to be a single breeding population of average variance.
... This is entirely appropriate and necessary. For further discussion on why this is the case, one need only review the extensive anthropological literature on the failure of earlier typological approaches, in which individuals were sorted into various, fixed categories, such as races, which we know to be a problematic means of biologically explaining human variation and ancestry (American Anthropological Association 1998Association , 2014Association , 2016Fuentes 2012;Smay and Armelagos 2000). While analyses sometimes seek to identify outliers, variation is often small in the populations that we study (e.g., Juengst, this volume), so the focus is on the degree of variation between groups. ...
... Across other species, be they primates, canids or cetaceans, the instances of intergroup conflict with lethal outcomes rarely conform to the behavioural pattern of human warfare wherein combatants in institutionalized wars do not fight primarily because they are aggressive or over individual grievances or for specific obtainable resources. Humans largely engage in warfare primarily because of perceptions, beliefs, training and the role in society they occupy [98,99]. ...
Article
The concept of a 'human nature' or 'human natures' retains a central role in theorizing about the human experience. In Homo sapiens it is clear that we have a suite of capacities generated via our evolutionary past, and present, and a flexible capacity to create and sustain particular kinds of cultures and to be shaped by them. Regardless of whether we label these capacities 'human natures' or not, humans occupy a distinctive niche and an evolutionary approach to examining it is critical. At present we are faced with a few different narratives as to exactly what such an evolutionary approach entails. There is a need for a robust and dynamic theoretical toolkit in order to develop a richer, and more nuanced, understanding of the cognitively sophisticated genus Homo and the diverse sorts of niches humans constructed and occupied across the Pleistocene, Holocene, and into the Anthropocene. Here I review current evolutionary approaches to 'human nature', arguing that we benefit from re-framing our investigations via the concept of the human niche and in the context of the extended evolutionary synthesis (EES). While not a replacement of standard evolutionary approaches, this is an expansion and enhancement of our toolkit. I offer brief examples from human evolution in support of these assertions.
... Genetic variation in context (adapted fromFuentes, 2012). ...
Article
Race and racism are considered standard subject matter in introductory college courses in the social sciences, but remain relatively absent in biological science courses (Donovan, 2015; Morning, 2011). Given a resurgence of biologically deterministic racial science (e.g., Risch et al., 2002; Shiao et al., 2012) and ongoing racial tensions in the United States, it is imperative that biology professors actively engage students in introductory and upper-level courses. This paper presents a tested approach used in an introductory natural science course (for undergraduate, non-science majors) at a mid-sized regional university. A biocultural focus is advocated for teaching about the fallacies (i.e., biological race concept) and realities of race (i.e., racism) (e.g., see Gravlee, 2009; Thompson, 2006). Further, an emphasis is placed on using a visual approach for relaying these complex and sensitive topics.
... This is reasonable, given that humans exhibit an unprecedented level of behavioral plasticity, driven by uniquely elevated capacities for fluid reasoning and social learning (i.e., culture). Many have argued that such characteristics make it impossible to disentangle the roles of culture and biology in the phylogenetic story of humans and the ontogenetic stories of individuals (Fuentes, 2012;Marks, 2012;McKinnon & Silverman, 2005a). Under this argument, it is not simply that such a goal is logistically unattainable, but that such endeavors are meaningless: In humans, the biological is inextricably cultural and the cultural biological. ...
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The nature–nurture debate is one that biologists often dismiss as a false dichotomy, as all phenotypic traits are the results of complex processes of gene and environment interactions. However, such dismissiveness belies the ongoing debate that is unmistakable throughout the biological and social sciences concerning the role of biological influences in the development of psychological and behavioral traits in humans. Many have proposed that this debate is due to ideologically driven biases in the interpretation of results. Those favoring biological approaches have been accused of a greater willingness to accept biological explanations so as to rationalize or justify the status quo of inequality. Those rejecting biological approaches have been accused of an unwillingness to accept biological explanations so as to attribute inequalities solely to social and institutional factors, ultimately allowing for the possibility of social equality. While it is important to continue to investigate this topic through further research and debate, another approach is to examine the degree to which the allegations of bias are indeed valid. To accomplish this, a convenience sample of individuals with relevant postgraduate degrees was recruited from Mechanical Turk and social media. Participants were asked to rate the inferential power of different research designs and of mock results that varied in the degree to which they supported different ideologies. Results were suggestive that researchers harbor sincere differences of opinion concerning the inferential value of relevant research. There was no suggestion that ideological confirmation biases drive these differences. However, challenges associated with recruiting a large enough sample of experts as well as identifying believable mock scenarios limit the study’s inferential scope.
... All cultures recognize the complementarities of men and women, from the anatomical complementarity that makes coitus and reproduction possible, to the complementary ways in which men and women use their strengths to help keep the species alive. The spectrum of masculine and feminine ideal types is also universally recognized as porous (Fuentes, 2015). Men can -indeed, by most accounts, should -embody some feminine traits, and women can and should be masculine in some domains. ...
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Purpose This paper aims to take the “toxic masculinity” (TM) trope as a starting point to examine recent cultural shifts in common assumptions about gender, morality and relations between the sexes. TM is a transculturally widespread archetype or moral trope about the kind of man one should not be. Design/methodology/approach The author revisits his earlier fieldwork on transnational sexualities against a broader analysis of the historical, ethnographic and evolutionary record. The author describes the broad cross-cultural recurrence of similar ideal types of men and women (good and bad) and the rituals through which they are culturally encouraged and avoided. Findings The author argues that the TM trope is normatively useful if and only if it is presented alongside a nuanced spectrum of other gender archetypes (positive and negative) and discussed in the context of human universality and evolved complementariness between the sexes. Social implications The author concludes by discussing stoic virtue models for the initiation of boys and argues that they are compatible with the normative commitments of inclusive societies that recognize gender fluidity along the biological sex spectrum. Originality/value The author makes a case for the importance of strong gender roles and the rites and rituals through which they are cultivated as an antidote to current moral panics about oppression and victimhood.
... Feminist anthropologists have pointed out the male bias in early anthropological research that privileged the role of males (Slocum 1975, Di Leonardo, 1991. In addition, according to more recent research (Fuentes, 2012), the beliefs that males have always been hunter-warriors and females responsible for hearth and childcare have been challenged. For example, anthropologist Agustin Fuentes (2012) explains that women hunted as well, although they hunted smaller game in order to be near the young children. ...
Article
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Symbolism related to gender balance is pervasive throughout Latin American landscape. There are volcanoes with legends of separation of male and female longing for unification in Mexico as well as Nicaragua. Other landscape features such as the Islands of the Sun and Moon in Bolivia or temples such as Huaca de la Luna and Huaca del Sol dedicated to the sun and moon in the north of Peru, point to ideologies of gender complementarity in pre-colombian cultures. Iconography throughout Latin America combine symbols of male and female, heaven and earth, eagle and serpent. Although Latin American cultures seem to be dominated by machismo and marianismo, a closer examination of ancient and surviving indigenous religious traditions points to the earlier existence of gender balance. This article will discuss the concept of gender complementarity that pervades indigenous cultures and examine the recent global emergence of visionary plants as part of a movement aiming to re-discover the power of the earth and restore the ancient power of the feminine. Finally, evidence from the research of one of the authors will be presented showing that this lesson of gender balance might often be overlooked.
... Aggression is not a discrete trait that can be easily identified or measured (Fuentes, 2012). Rather, it covers a wide spectrum of behaviors, which can include direct interpersonal violence, verbal threats of violence, the signaling of intention to commit harm, and harassment. ...
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The origins of warfare have long been of interest for researchers across disciplines. Did our earliest ancestors engage in forms of organized violence that are appropriately viewed as approximations, forms of, or analogs for more recent forms of warfare? Assessed in this article are contrasting views that see warfare as being either a product of more recent human societies or a phenomenon with a much deeper chronology. The article provides an overview of current debates, theories, and methodological approaches, citing literature and data from archaeological, ethnographic, genetic, primatological, and paleoanthropological studies. Synthetic anthropological treatments are needed, especially in efforts to inform debates among nonacademic audiences, because the discipline's approaches are ideally suited to study the origins of warfare. Emphasized is the need to consider possible forms of violence and intergroup aggression within Pleistocene contexts, despite the methodological challenges associated with fragmentary, equivocal, or scarce data. Finally, the review concludes with an argument about the implications of the currently available data. We propose that socially cooperative violence, or “emergent warfare,” became possible with the onset of symbolic thought and complex cognition. Viewing emergent warfare as a byproduct of the human capacity for symbolic thought explains how the same capacities for communication and sociality allowed for elaborate peacemaking, conflict resolution, and avoidance. Cultural institutions around war and peace are both made possible by these changes. Accordingly, we suggest that studies on warfare's origins should be tied to research on the advent of cooperation, sociality, and communication.
... The ramifying, malign effects of allegories of racial purity (Segal, 1991) influenced world events and science catastrophically in the twentieth century and have been the focus of many noteworthy treatments (Bethencourt, 2013;Brace, 2005;Ehrlich & Feldman, 1969;Fuentes, 2012;Graves Jr., 2003;Littlefield et al., 1982;Nicosia & Huener, 2008;Sanjek, 1994;Shipman, 1994;Smedley & Smedley, 2005Sussman, 2014;Wade, 2002;Wolpoff & Caspari, 1997). ...
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Skin color is the primary physical criterion by which people have been classified into groups in the Western scientific tradition. From the earliest classifications of Linnaeus, skin color labels were not neutral descriptors, but connoted meanings that influenced the perceptions of described groups. In this article, the history of the use of skin color is reviewed to show how the imprint of history in connection with a single trait influenced subsequent thinking about human diversity. Skin color was the keystone trait to which other physical, behavioral, and culture characteristics were linked. To most naturalists and philosophers of the European Enlightenment, skin color was influenced by the external environment and expressed an inner state of being. It was both the effect and the cause. Early investigations of skin color and human diversity focused on understanding the central polarity between “white” Europeans and nonwhite others, with most attention devoted to explaining the origin and meaning of the blackness of Africans. Consistently negative associations with black and darkness influenced philosophers David Hume and Immanuel Kant to consider Africans as less than fully human and lacking in personal agency. Hume and Kant's views on skin color, the integrity of separate races, and the lower status of Africans provided support to diverse political, economic, and religious constituencies in Europe and the Americas interested in maintaining the transatlantic slave trade and upholding chattel slavery. The mental constructs and stereotypes of color‐based races remained, more strongly in some places than others, after the abolition of the slave trade and of slavery. The concept of color‐based hierarchies of people arranged from the superior light‐colored people to inferior dark‐colored ones hardened during the late seventeenth century and have been reinforced by diverse forces ever since. These ideas manifest themselves as racism, colorism, and in the development of implicit bias. Current knowledge of the evolution of skin color and of the historical development of color‐based race concepts should inform all levels of formal and informal education. Awareness of the influence of color memes and race ideation in general on human behavior and the conduct of science is important.
... It is viable to speculate about hominids' social dynamics like social bonding and cooperation but there should be direct references about the data used to speculate (or acknowledge if there's a lack of it), or a mention of the controversies around such assumptions, at least in footnotes (cf. Fedigan 1986;Fuentes 2012;Lloyd 1993;Willey 2016). Otherwise, there is a naturalization of a specific technological practice linked to one purpose, a division of labor and a social bond. ...
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I review Richard Currier's book: Unbound: how eight technologies made us human and brought our world to the brink. I discuss his lack of critical engagement with other evolutionary perspectives and current political discussions about what is natural, human and technological.
... Its Japanese tradition treats monkeys ethnographically (Asquith, 2019), as did Goodall et al. (1979), seeking insights into the problems of our social environments. A mix of evolutionary and social analysis has also served criticism of biodeterminism (Fuentes, 2012). ...
Article
The mainstream of American physical anthropology began as racist and eugenical science that defended slavery, restricted “non‐Nordic” immigration, and justified Jim Crow segregation. After World War II, the field became more anti‐racial than anti‐racist. It has continued as a study of natural influences on human variation and thus continues to evade the social histories of inequitable biological variation. Also reflecting its occupancy of white space, biological anthropology continues to deny its own racist history and marginalizes the contributions of Blacks. Critical disciplinary history and a shift toward biocultural studies might begin an anti‐racist human biology.
... El momento exacto en el que se desarrolló el rasgo es incierto, sin embargo, sabemos que los mamíferos tienen un rango relativamente pequeño de variación de la temperatura corporal en el que pueden sobrevivir, por lo que buscan retener o perder calor en ambientes con temperaturas por arriba o por debajo de ese rango (Fuentes, 2012). Algunas hipótesis señalan que en un 8 Aunque alguien pudiera argumentar que algunos seres humanos conservan bastante pilosidad corporal, la condición de menor pilosidad es la regla y no la excepción. ...
... Quizás debido a la complejidad intrínseca del tema y las diferentes aristas que su estudio conlleva, los posicionamientos son singularmente diversos, extendiéndose desde las opiniones afines a determinados credos religiosos que sustentan la unidad familiar como un valor esencial hasta las que se identifican con los preceptos de un ambientalismo constructivista. Sin embargo, para autores como Fuentes (2012), las divergencias son más supuestas que reales, habida cuenta que el postulado evolucionista de que el organismo se halla motivado a encontrar parejas, y una vez conseguidas éstas, dar paso a un estilo particular de relación que es al amor romántico, encuentra coincidencias de fondo con otras versiones La Psicología Evolucionista de la Familia Psicología y Familia no evolucionistas, ya sea religiosas o seculares, donde la tendencia se orienta igualmente al establecimiento de la familia monogámica, con el padre, la madre y los niños cumpliendo sus roles habituales. Pero no obstante algunos parecidos superficiales, la teoría de la evolución provee elementos singulares para el estudio científico de la dinámica familiar. ...
... Kim and Kissel do devote about 10 pages to chimpanzee coalitionary violence, and they acknowledge that "Overall, the accumulated data on chimpanzees suggest 'that we probably share with them the potential for severe aggression between groups and male coercion of females' (Fuentes 2012(Fuentes :129)" (2018. However, they ultimately argue that "human forms of organized violence are qualitatively different than those seen in other species, despite some similarities along certain dimensions" (2018:48), and they describe their skepticism of the idea "that chimpanzee warfare is analogous to early human warfare, as we emphasize the evolutionary arc of human warfare as being distinctive to the human niche" (2018:144). ...
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All human life unfolds within a matrix of relations, which are at once social and biological. Yet the study of humanity has long been divided between often incompatible 'social' and 'biological' approaches. Reaching beyond the dualisms of nature and society and of biology and culture, this volume proposes a unique and integrated view of anthropology and the life sciences. Featuring contributions from leading anthropologists, it explores human life as a process of 'becoming' rather than 'being', and demonstrates that humanity is neither given in the nature of our species nor acquired through culture but forged in the process of life itself. Combining wide-ranging theoretical argument with in-depth discussion of material from recent or ongoing field research, the chapters demonstrate how contemporary anthropology can move forward in tandem with groundbreaking discoveries in the biological sciences.
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In challenging the ‘validity’ of the body mass index (BMI), the construct of metabolic syndrome has been used to comprehend how obesity affects Japanese people. This article is grounded in an adaptation of the ‘sexual scripting theory’ (Gagnon and Simon, 2005) and proposes the concept of ‘ethno‐essentialisms of the self’ to explore the cultural scripts underpinning the development of metabolic syndrome. Ethno‐essentialisms of the self indicate a dialectical relationship between a Japanese healthy self and a non‐Japanese unhealthy Other, where ethno‐racial susceptibilities might make a Japanese self prone to develop metabolic‐related diseases. Despite these susceptibilities, Japanese ‘biopedagogy’ (Wright, 2009) to control bodyweight is oriented by a proper daily calculation of food consumption in relation to calorie‐burning. Biopedagogy in the form of food and nutrition education has largely translated into unyielding efforts to (re)traditionalise eating habits to prevent the supposed Westernisation of Japanese food. Overall, medical knowledge serves to propagate ethno‐essentialisms of the self, whose unintended consequence could be ‘clinical iatrogenic disease’ (Illich, 1976).
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2013 was a remarkable year in biological anthropology. From perplexing fossil hominin discoveries to revealing genome analyses, discussions of ethics in the field, and the continuing public dissemination of our work, we grappled with a lot both within and outside the academy. Here I explore some of these major accomplishments across four main themes: (1) new hominin finds and resulting consideration of the complex landscapes across which our various ancestors lived, adapted, and possibly interbred; (2) recent news from (nonhuman) primate evolution and contemporary primatological practice; (3) the demonstrated relevance of biological anthropology to anthropology with examples from integrative biocultural and ethnoprimatological approaches that move beyond dated subfield constraints; and (4) the value of social media and engagement of the public.RESUMENEl 2013 fue un año excepcional en la antropología biológica. Desde los descubrimientos desconcertantes de fósiles humanos hasta los análisis reveladores del genoma, discusiones sobre ética en el campo de estudio, y la diseminación pública continuada de nuestro trabajo, batallamos con bastante tanto dentro como fuera de la academia. Exploro aquí, algunos de estos logros mayores a través de cuatro temas principales: (1) nuevos hallazgos humanos y la resultante consideración de los paisajes complejos a través de los cuales nuestros varios ancestros vivieron, se adaptaron, y posiblemente se cruzaron; (2) recientes noticias sobre la evolución de primates (no humanos) y la práctica primatológica contemporánea; (3) la demostrada relevancia de la antropología biológica a la antropología con ejemplos de aproximaciones integrativas bioculturales y etnoprimatológicas que avanzan más allá de las anticuadas limitaciones de los sub-campos de estudio; y (4) el valor de los medios sociales y su interacción con el público.
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Unlike other scientific fields, anthropology popularizations are as likely as not to be written by scientists who are not themselves experts in the subject. This is because the subject, the scientific knowledge of our origin and patterns of bio-cultural diversity—or more broadly, who we are and where we come from—is the source of our culturally authoritative origin myths, and consequently of broad general interest in and of itself. But anthropology popularizations come with the responsibility not only to get the facts and theory correct, but as well to understand the history and embedded politics in the stories themselves.
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Even a cursory review of cross-cultural studies of men and masculinities could result in the depressing conclusion that men are dominant in most if not all societal spheres in most societies today and historically, and therefore that there must be something essentially human (and even more fundamentally, something biological) about unequal gender relations if there is such a common pattern. Yet the same comparative analysis that might persuade us to believe in the ubiquity of male supremacy can also, in the classic anthropological tradition of the negative instance, be inspiring and hopeful as we examine a myriad of exceptions in societies around the world today and in the past. Indeed a closer reading of contemporary and historical gender relations forces us inexorably to an appreciation of the profound diversity, tolerance, and cooperation in gender relations, often alongside and in simultaneous contradiction to the more often remarked upon power imbalances and divisions.
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As the other chapters in this collection clearly show, the study of biosocial becomings calls for major epistemological shifts in the practice of anthropology. This essay is an attempt to show some of these potentialities, and focuses on the productive processes of a Swazi sawmill, engaging humans, machines, wood, and other materials, as porous overlapping organisms and things intertwined in one and the same environment. The sawmill is located in Enkopolwani, Swaziland, previously an asbestos mining town; it is now being redeveloped by the not-for-profit company Enkopolwani Ministries Swaziland (from now on EMS) as a Pentecostal Christian sustainable business project with the primary mission to provide care for orphans while producing economic wealth from activities such as timber logging and plank production. Through detailed descriptions of life in the sawmill, the chapter also offers a systematic application of Ingold's phenomenology of lines, flows and materials (Ingold 2006b, 2007a 2007b, 2008, 2009, 2010b, 2011) to an extended ethnographic case study, in dialectical conversation with some of the concerns of Marxist factory ethnography (Beynon 1973, Burawoy 1979, Parry 1999, Mollona 2009). It develops Ingold's critique of agency to move beyond a view of workers, industrial machinery and intermediate and finished products interacting as separate bounded entities. Instead, it favours a perceptual engagement with life that privileges flow, flux and process, grounded in the constant production, transformation and dissolution of materials. A 'material' refers here to anything with intrinsic properties, enabling and constraining specific paths of becoming in the environment (Ingold 2007b: 14). Ideas are - and are made of - materials just as much as is wood or sawdust. No a priori distinction is thus assumed between mind and body, the mental and the material, the social and the biological. Materials, like their becomings, are biosocial.
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This article draws out the materialist import of the turn towards universal design in learning. Bringing Brian Massumi's recent work on play together with disability studies, it identifies design as integral to the embodied dynamics of classrooms. Contrasting neo-Darwinist presumptions with materialist insights by thinkers like Tim Ingold, the chapter makes the case for pedagogical methods that exemplify play. On Massumi's terms, play is instinctual, proffering a resource for undermining the despair of normalising scripts. If learning involves play, then there is lived abstraction at the heart of becoming. And if teaching involves design work, teachers become more responsible for their own pedagogical stylings. Taking up Margaret Price's work on disability, the article explores flexibility as an ethos that ideally suffuses all instruction. Design work can create playful classroom territories, but it can also reinforce the despair of exclusionary spaces. The article makes the case for flexibility as an existentially transformative dynamic.
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This chapter extends the previous chapter’s discussion of placebos to the classroom. First, the author points to an under-theorized design element, the Socratic tricks deployed by teachers, identified in the chapter as. She assesses such trickery as an actant in classroom dynamics, a way to trace despair, exclusion and inaccessibility in classrooms to particular design choices (identified in the chapter as “tomatoes”). Second, she looks to Kierkegaard’s skepticism about teachers in order both to intensify the responsibility of teachers and to instill humility about our own capacities for effecting outcomes. She takes cues from disability studies, exploring how much design matters: matters in the sense of materiality (constituting the terms by which we inhabit space together) and matters in the sense of meaning-making. Like the other chapters, she seeks to warrant Kierkegaard’s existentialist hope that despair can be resisted, even in neo-liberal contexts. It ends with several formulations of how such hope might translate into contemporary classrooms.
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The author draws out the existential implications of how we think about heredity. Many relational dynamics hinge upon such thinking: how we place ourselves in time, especially in relation to ancestral figures; how we make sense of our own degrees of freedom; how we relate to ourselves as selves. The first part of the chapter begins with a story about Kierkegaard’s own reflections about the import of heredity on himself, his choices and his familial relation. The second part examines the post-genomic turn in science and evolutionary theory, following the completion of the Human Genome Project. It focuses on epigenetics as an area of biological research that exemplifies key shifts in scientific approaches to inheritance. Epigenetic research holds great potential for undermining persistent determinist accounts of “race” and biological difference. It also, however, dramatizes the limitations of iconoclastic methods of critique. The author’s conclusion explores this twofold significance of epigenetics.
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Biological anthropology can, and should, matter in the Anthropocene. Biological anthropologists are interested in human biology and the human experience in a broader ecological, evolutionary, and phylogenetic context. We are interested in the material of the body, the history of the body, and interactions of diverse bodies, communities, ecologies, and evolutionary processes. However, the cultural realities of bodies, histories, communities, livelihoods, perceptions, and experiences are as central to the endeavor and inquiry of biological anthropology as are their material aspects. Biological anthropology is a constant dialectic between the cultural and the biological. In this essay, I argue that Biological Anthropology has much to offer, a history to contend with, and a future that matters. To illustrate this, I highlight theoretical and methodological issues in genomics, evolutionary theory and connect them to the study of Race and Racism to emphasize specific arenas where Biological Anthropology has a great capacity, and a strong obligation, to play a central role. However, Biological Anthropology also has substantive internal issues that hinder our ability to do the best possible science. If we are to live up to our potential and make a difference in the 21st century we need to ameliorate our structural shortcomings and expand our voice, and impact, in academic and public discourse. The goal of this perspective is to offer suggestions for moving us toward this goal.
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The present essay compares two books dealing with the evolution of human mental abilities. Agustín Fuentes’ The Creative Spark focuses on creativity. Fuentes argues that creativity is the central element that makes human uniqueness, and highlights continuity between modern examples of creativity and early forms of human creative behaviour. Mark Maslin’s The Cradle of Humanity discusses the role of East Africa’s climate in increasing the intelligence of humans. To understand this role, Maslin combines geological and climatic data with the latest discoveries in human evolution and palaeontology. The essay compares the books’ content as well as their tone, and concludes on whether they might inspire future research on human evolution.
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In light of official reports indicating a still prevalent tendency to masculinized obesity and overweight in Japan (Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare, 2015), this article explores the experiences of 28 Japanese men grappling with bodyweight control. Aged between 24 and 67, 3 of the men were postgraduate or undergraduate students, 7 self-employed, 17 company workers and 1 retired. Fourteen hold a university degree, 1 completed senior high school and 10 finished 3-year junior college. Twelve were married and 16 were single. Ten of the participants have been requested to lose weight because of being at risk of developing metabolic diseases, the rest have been called “chubby” (debu) and all of them have unsuccessfully tried to lose weight. A set of two, in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with each participant in Tokyo and Osaka in June and July 2015, 2016, and 2017. Grounded in symbolic interactionism, the interview analysis allows for a reading of the participants’ embodied subjectivity in line with three axes: autodidact self, gendered self, and emotional self. The article highlights how the feminization of care has an effect on the participant’s daily interactions. In conclusion, the article underscores the salience of “emotional attachment” to food (Lupton, 1998, p. 158), the “emotionalization” of food consumption and the emotionalization of the “fat body” in understanding their experiences dealing with corpulence in a country where slimness appears to be “ethnicized.”
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This article reviews the current scholarship around racism and nationalism, two of the mostly hotly debated issues in contemporary politics. Both racism and nationalism involve dividing humanity into groups and setting up some groups as innately superior to others. Until recently, racism and nationalism were both widely seen as unpleasant relics of times past, destined to disappear as the principles of equality and human rights become universally embraced. But both concepts have proved their resilience in recent years. Scholars have been devoting new attention to the “racialization” of ethnic and national identities in the former Soviet Union and East Europe, the regions that are the main focus of this journal. The article examines the prevailing approaches to understanding the terms “racism” and “nationalism,” which are distinct but overlapping categories of analysis and vehicles of political mobilization. Developments in genomics have complicated the relationship between perceptions of race as a purely social phenomenon. The essay explores the way racism and nationalism play out in two self-proclaimed “exceptional” political systems – the Soviet Union and the United States – which have played a prominent role in global debates about race and nation. It briefly discusses developments in other regions, such as the debate over multiculturalism in Europe.
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The vibrancy of the field of evolution and human behaviour belies the fact that the majority of social scientists are deeply unhappy with evolutionary accounts of human behaviour. In part, this reflects a problem within evolutionary biology: neo-Darwinism fails to recognize a fundamental cause of evolutionary change, "niche construction", by which organisms modify environmental states, and consequently selection pressures, thereby acting as co-directors of their own, and other species', evolution. Social scientists are rarely content to describe human behaviour as fully determined by naturally-selected genes, and view humans as active, constructive agents rather than passive recipients of selection. To be aligned with this viewpoint, evolutionary biology must explicitly recognize the changes that humans bring about in their world to be drivers of evolutionary events. Learning and culture have played important evolutionary roles, by shaping the pattern and strength of selection acting on our ancestors. The incorporation of niche construction as both a cause and a product of evolution enhances the explanatory power of evolutionary theory and provides what ultimately will prove to be a more satisfactory evolutionary framework for understanding human behaviour. Here we spell out some of the important implications of the niche-construction perspective for the field of evolution and human behaviour.
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This article is a highly distilled summary of conclusions from three decades of research on war, involving examination of tribal societies, ancient states, recent civil wars, archaeology, biology and culture, and primatology. The key points are the following: (1) our species is not biologically destined for war; (2) war is not an inescapable part of social existence; (3) understanding war involves a nested hierarchy of constraints; (4) war expresses both pan-human practicalities and culturally specific values; (5) war shapes society to its own ends; (6) war exists in multiple contexts; (7) opponents are constructed in conflict; (8) war is a continuation of domestic politics by other means; (9) leaders favor war because war favors leaders; (10) peace is more than the absence of war. Each point is applied to the contemporary wars of the United States.
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The transition from early members of the genus Homo to Homo erectus/ergaster is marked by subtle morphological shifts but resulted in substantial changes in evolutionary trajectory. Predation pressures on the hominins may have been significant in influencing this transition. These contexts might have stimulated a shift in behavior and modes of engagement with the environment that initiated a complex suite of changes facilitating the emergence of current features of humanity. In this report we outline a potential model for these shifts based on nonlinear dynamical interactions involving niche construction and increased reliance on complex cooperation as an antipredator strategy. Modeling proposed selective predation pressures on early humans, leading to the idea that increasingly complex sociality, patterns of cooperation, and niche construction laid the foundation for the successful emergence and spread of the genus Homo and potentially a concomitant decline for the genus Paranthropus.
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Testosterone (T) facilitates male investment in reproduction in part through its anabolic effects on skeletal muscle. Traits like muscle and strength are energetically costly but are believed to enhance competitive ability in humans and other mammals. However, there are limited data on relationships between T and somatic outcomes in lean, non-western populations. We evaluate relationships between waking and pre-bed salivary T and adiposity, fat-free mass (FFM), arm muscle area (AMA), and grip strength (GS) in a large, population-based birth cohort of young adult Filipino males (20.8-22.6 years, n = 872). Data were collected as part of the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey. Neither waking nor evening T predicted FFM, AMA, or GS. However, there were borderline or significant interactions between T and basketball playing (the most common team sport) and weight lifting as predictors of outcomes: higher waking T predicted higher FFM (activity x T interaction P < 0.01), AMA (interaction P < 0.1), and GS (interaction P < 0.02) among frequent basketball players, and GS (interaction P < 0.09) among the smaller sample of weight lifters. In contrast to clinical studies, but consistent with findings in several subsistence-level populations, T was positively related to adiposity in these lean young males, suggesting that energy status might regulate circulating T. Our findings support a role of the prewaking rise in T as a determinant of energetic allocation to lean mass and strength in the context of repeated muscular use and support the hypothesized role of T as a mediator of investment in costly somatic traits in human males.
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The role of race in human genetics and biomedical research is among the most contested issues in science. Much debate centers on the relative importance of genetic versus sociocultural factors in explaining racial inequalities in health. However, few studies integrate genetic and sociocultural data to test competing explanations directly. We draw on ethnographic, epidemiologic, and genetic data collected in Southeastern Puerto Rico to isolate two distinct variables for which race is often used as a proxy: genetic ancestry versus social classification. We show that color, an aspect of social classification based on the culturally defined meaning of race in Puerto Rico, better predicts blood pressure than does a genetic-based estimate of continental ancestry. We also find that incorporating sociocultural variables reveals a new and significant association between a candidate gene polymorphism for hypertension (alpha(2C) adrenergic receptor deletion) and blood pressure. This study addresses the recognized need to measure both genetic and sociocultural factors in research on racial inequalities in health. Our preliminary results provide the most direct evidence to date that previously reported associations between genetic ancestry and health may be attributable to sociocultural factors related to race and racism, rather than to functional genetic differences between racially defined groups. Our results also imply that including sociocultural variables in future research may improve our ability to detect significant allele-phenotype associations. Thus, measuring sociocultural factors related to race may both empower future genetic association studies and help to clarify the biological consequences of social inequalities.
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Human aggression is viewed from four explanatory perspectives, derived from the ethological tradition. The first consists of its adaptive value, which can be seen throughout the animal kingdom, involving resource competition and protection of the self and offspring, which has been viewed from a cost-benefit perspective. The second concerns the phylogenetic origin of aggression, which in humans involves brain mechanisms that are associated with anger and inhibition, the emotional expression of anger, and how aggressive actions are manifest. The third concerns the origin of aggression in development and its subsequent modification through experience. An evolutionary approach to development yields conclusions that are contrary to the influential social learning perspective, notably that physical aggression occurs early in life, and its subsequent development is characterized by learned inhibition. The fourth explanation concerns the motivational mechanisms controlling aggression: approached from an evolutionary background, these mechanisms range from the inflexible reflex-like responses to those incorporating rational decision-making.
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The ventral frontal cortex (VFC) has been shown to differ morphologically between sexes. Social cognition, which many studies demonstrate involves the VFC, also differs between sexes, with females being more adept than males. In a previous study of subregions of the VFC in our lab, in an adult population, size of the straight gyrus (SG) but not the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), differed between sexes and correlated with better performance on a test of social cognition and with greater identification with feminine characteristics. To investigate the relationship between VFC structure and social cognition in children, VFC gray matter volumes were measured on MRIs from 37 boys and 37 girls aged 7 to 17. The VFC was subdivided into the OFC and SG. Subjects were also administered a test of social perceptiveness and a rating scale of femininity/masculinity. In contrast to our findings in adults, the SG was slightly smaller in girls than boys. In girls, but not boys, smaller SG volumes significantly correlated with better social perception and higher identification with feminine traits. No volume differences by sex or significant correlations were found with the OFC. These data suggest a complex relationship between femininity, social cognition and SG morphology.
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Researchers propose hypotheses for the occurrence of monogamy as a social system in primates based on the assumption that there are a group of primates, including humans, which live exclusively in “nuclear families” and share a similar set of social behaviors. Examining the primates purported to be “monogamous” reveals that they cover a wide range of grouping types, mating patterns, taxonomic groups, and evolutionary grades. While there are a few primate species that do live in small, two-adult groups and share a similar set of social behaviors, the vast majority of the supposed “monogamous” primates, including humans, do not. [monogamy, social systems, evolution, variability in social organization]
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Growing interest in sexual conflict since the late 1980s reflects several developments within behavioral ecology. These include recognition of females as active participants in co-evolutionary interactions,1–3 demonstrations of high levels of extrapaternity in many “monogamous” species,4 remarkable evidence of life-threatening toxic compounds in the sperm of fruit flies,5 and experimental studies revealing deleterious consequences of arms races for both males and females.6 Many of the ideas in this new body of work were sparked by Parker's papers on how sexual conflict shapes physiological and behavioral traits. These ideas were brought to popular attention by Dawkins,7:140 who posed the question: “If there is conflict of interests between parents and children, who share 50% of each others' genes, how much more severe must be the conflict between mates, who are not related to each other?” Research into sexual conflict among nonhuman primates is flourishing,8 but has received less explicit attention in the study of humans, despite cogent arguments that women's strategies are often constrained by the forceful and manipulative behavior of men and their kin.3, 9 Here we explore new hypotheses for the extent and direction of sexual conflict among humans, both within and between populations, focusing on signaling mate quality, family size preferences, and the marital bond.
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Pair-bonding may be a significant feature of the social repertoire of some primate species. However, discerning inter- and intraspecific pair bonds is problematic. I present an overview of the general behavior and ecology of species reported to occur in two-adult, pair-bonded groups. There is no two-adult grouped nonhuman primate species in Africa and only two types in Asia. Behavioral and ecological data suggest that the two-adult group or pair-bonding or both may have evolved separately 4–7 times. I propose that two pair-bond components—social pair bond and sexual pair bond—occur and can be defined and described in such a manner that facilitates comparative analysis across primate taxa. The evolution of grouping patterns in many two-adult grouped primates may be best modeled via evolutionary scenarios relying on direct dietary/energetic constraints, predation, and possibly mate-guarding. There is little support for the infanticide prevention and bodyguard hypotheses of female-choice models.
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Many forms of individual variation in infancy and early childhood are accommodated via processes of reciprocal adaptation of the child and their “developmental niche”. Although most are minor adaptations, some culturally patterned adjustments can have profound organizational effects on the niche and the child’s developmental trajectory. Research conducted in Samoa suggests at least two distinct adaptations of the modal developmental niche for infants and toddlers keyed to different temperamental profiles: interpersonally assertive and behaviorally restrained. I argue that these two different variants of the modal niche emerge from dynamic interplay of different temperamental profiles, ethnotheories of child development, and child-rearing practices. These different niches can be developmentally significant in that they channel the individual’s development in contrastive ways and introduce different future developmental challenges and opportunities. My larger point is that these different manifestations of the developmental niche represent one way in which social, cultural, and ecological factors on the one hand, and individual diversity on the other, interact to organize and constrain individual diversity.
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The present paper reviews and summarizes the basic findings concerning the nature of the neurobiological and behavioral characteristics of aggression and rage. For heuristic purposes, the types of aggression will be reduced to two categories - defensive rage (affective defense) and predatory attack. This approach helps explain both the behavioral properties of aggression as well as the underlying neural substrates and mechanisms of aggression both in animals and humans. Defensive rage behavior is activated by a threatening stimulus that is real or perceived and is associated with marked sympathetic output. This yields impulsivity with minimal cortical involvement. Predatory attack behavior in both animals and humans is generally planned, taking minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or even years (with respect to humans) for it to occur and is directed upon a specific individual target; it reflects few outward sympathetic signs and is believed to require cortical involvement for its expression. Predatory attack requires activation of the lateral hypothalamus, while defensive rage requires activation of the medial hypothalamus and midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG). Both forms of aggressive behavior are controlled by components of the limbic system, a region of the forebrain that is influenced by sensory inputs from the cerebral cortex and monoaminergic inputs from the brainstem reticular formation. Control of aggressive tendencies is partly modifiable through conditioning and related learning principles generated through the cerebral cortex.
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Interest in genetic diversity within and between human populations as a way to answer questions about race has intensified in light of recent advances in genome technology. The purpose of this article is to apply a method of generalized hierarchical modeling to two DNA data sets. The first data set consists of a small sample of individuals (n = 32 total, from eight populations) who have been fully resequenced for 63 loci that encode a total of 38,534 base pairs. The second data set consists of a large sample of individuals (n = 928 total, from 46 populations) who have been genotyped at 580 loci that encode short tandem repeats. The results are clear and somewhat surprising. We see that populations differ in the amount of diversity that they harbor. The pattern of DNA diversity is one of nested subsets, such that the diversity in non-Sub-Saharan African populations is essentially a subset of the diversity found in Sub-Saharan African populations. The actual pattern of DNA diversity creates some unsettling problems for using race as meaningful genetic categories. For example, the pattern of DNA diversity implies that some populations belong to more than one race (e.g., Europeans), whereas other populations do not belong to any race at all (e.g., Sub-Saharan Africans). As Frank Livingstone noted long ago, the Linnean classification system cannot accommodate this pattern because within the system a population cannot belong to more than one named group within a taxonomic level.
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Age and rank are often related among males in multi-male groups of macaques. However, recent studies have not consistently reported that age and rank are correlated. This paper reviews studies providing data on at least age and rank for each individual in the sample to investigate how the demographic composition of data samples can affect whether statistical analysis finds significant correlations between age and rank. I reanalyzed data on the age composition, natal status, and length of tenure of the males comprising the samples. Significant nonlinear age-rank relations existed in four of seven studies reviewed. Samples lost statistical significance after removing younger individuals, but at different lower age limits. Samples showing no significant age-rank correlation consisted mostly of adults or natal males. The length of tenure in a troop and natal status showed strong correlations with residuals of the nonlinear age-rank regressions, implying that these factors tend to weaken age-rank correlations, but tenure may have little effect independent of age among males staying in troops longer than about 1 year. The data suggest that the demographic composition of study samples, especially age, may still explain some differences in conclusions among studies on rank and reproductive success focused on "adult" samples. Relatively younger or older males may have contributed to significant correlations between rank and measures of mating success, as they do for age and rank. Primatologists may need to apply nonlinear statistical techniques to samples composed of wide age ranges without subdivision to investigate the causes of both the cross-age and within-age variation in dominance rank or reproductive success.
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Five craniofacial variables (glabella-occipital length, basion-bregma height, maximum cranial breadth, nasion-prosthion height, and bizygomatic breadth) were used to examine secular change in morphology from the mid-19(th) century to the 1970s. The 19(th) century data were obtained from the Terry and Hamann-Todd anatomical collections, and the 20(th) century data were obtained from the forensic anthropology databank. Data were available for Blacks and Whites of both sexes. Secular change was evaluated by regressing cranial variables on year of birth. Two analyses were conducted, one using the original variables and one using size and shape. Size is defined as the geometric mean of the cranial variables, and shape is the ratio of each variable to size. The results show remarkable changes in the size and shape of the cranial vault. Vault height increases in all groups in both absolute and relative terms. The vault also becomes longer and narrower, but these changes are less pronounced. Face changes are less than the vault changes, but to the extent that they occur, the face becomes narrower and higher. Overall cranial vault size has increased, but shape changes are greater than size changes. The magnitude of secular change in vault height exceeds that for long bones over a comparable time period, but follows a similar course, which suggests that vault height and bone length respond to the same forces. Changes in vault dimensions must occur by early childhood because of the early development of the vault. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 12:327-338, 2000. Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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* This essay is the body of a paper that the author will present at the Darwin Centennial Celebration to be held at the University of Chicago, November 18-24, 1959.
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Biocultural approaches recognize the pervasiveness and dynamism of interactions between biological and cultural phenomena, and they explicitly strive to integrate biological, sociocultural, environmental, and other kinds of data. They have been part of human biology at least since 1958, when Frank Livingstone so elegantly explained the linkages among population growth, subsistence strategy, and the distribution of the sickle cell gene in West Africa. These approaches developed further with the advent of human adaptability studies in the 1960s as part of the Human Biological Program and have become increasingly focused on understanding the impacts of everyday life on human biological variation. Biocultural approaches generate explanations that are intuitively appealing to many because they offer a kind of holistic view. They can, however, be very challenging approaches to implement, perhaps in part because we are more experienced in measuring the biological than the cultural. Some of the challenges include (1) defining precisely what we mean by constructs like socioeconomic status, poverty, rural, and urban; (2) operationalizing key variables so that they can be measured in ways that are ethnographically valid as well as replicable; (3) defining and measuring multiple causal pathways. In this paper, I briefly review the history of biocultural approaches and then illustrate some of the challenges that these approaches present with examples from my own research on nutrition and energetics as well as that of other practitioners.
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Distinct differences in the behaviour and preferences of men and women have conventionally been attributed to Trivers' powerful insights regarding the impact of parental investment on sexual selection and mating systems. This has spawned a huge literature about the evolutionary significance of human sex differences. But are men and women really so different? An elegant new study shows that men and women are strikingly similar in their mate preferences. Have conventional models blinded us to the obvious, and precluded the posing of far more interesting questions?
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The latest fad in cold remedies is full of hot air
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Females have been shown in a number of studies to be more adept in social perception compared with males. In addition, studies have reported that brain regions important in interpretation of nonverbal social cues, such as the ventral frontal cortex (VFC), are morphologically different between genders. To investigate the relationship between the structure of the VFC and social cognition, gray matter volume and surface area of the VFC were measured on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans from 30 men and 30 women matched for age and IQ. The VFC was subdivided into the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and the straight gyrus (SG). The SG, but not the OFC, was proportionately larger in women. A subset of subjects was administered the Interpersonal Perception Task (IPT), a test of social perceptiveness, and the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ), a scale of femininity and masculinity. Identification with more feminine traits on the PAQ correlated with greater SG gray matter volume and surface area. In addition, higher degrees of femininity correlated with better performance on the IPT. Taken together, these data suggest a complex relationship between femininity, social cognition, and the structure of the SG.
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What can evolution say about why humans kill - and about why we do so less than we used to? Dan Jones reports.