Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

The Twists of History and DNA 337

An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times has a piece today talking about the possible connection between genetic evolution and history." From the article: "Trying to explain cultural traits is, of course, a sensitive issue. The descriptions of national character common in the works of 19th-century historians were based on little more than prejudice. Together with unfounded notions of racial superiority they lent support to disastrous policies. But like phrenology, a wrong idea that held a basic truth (the brain's functions are indeed localized), the concept of national character could turn out to be not entirely baseless, at least when applied to societies shaped by specific evolutionary pressures."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Twists of History and DNA

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 12, 2006 @09:40PM (#14904600)
    You'd be surprised at how true that is. Hormones being what they are, spherically shaped regions in your brain... nevermind, I'm making this all up.
  • Asians? (Score:3, Funny)

    by kennygraham ( 894697 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @09:53PM (#14904643)
    One can only wonder what evolutionary pressures caused well endowed Asian males do die out.
  • McEvolution (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @09:58PM (#14904670)
    Quoth the article:
    Many of the reshaped genes are involved in taste, smell or digestion, suggesting that East Asians experienced some wrenching change in diet. Since the genetic changes occurred around the time that rice farming took hold, they may mark people's adaptation to a historical event, the beginning of the Neolithic revolution as societies switched from wild to cultivated foods.
    By extension, we can expect evolutionary changes in North America within the next couple of centuries to accommodate our fondness for the Double Bacon Cheeseburger.

  • by Isotopian ( 942850 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @10:25PM (#14904745)
    So basically, we're talking about Catholic School-girls who convert to Mormonism?
  • by PipeIsArt ( 800028 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @10:28PM (#14904760) Homepage
    I love these "controversal" articles.
    I have to agree that we are not created equal. I also have to agree that we all have equal right to human dignity. However, the question is whether being inequal means one being better as a whole than another. What standard are we using to define what makes a human better than another? Survival? Intelligence? Physical Strength? TFA seems to be saying that there is inequality between races, but each race is best suited for their own region. So we do have a sort of equality since we have yet to define an international standard for a "best human being"
    Host: And now for the winner of the 2006 "Best Human" Award goes to the Japanese for sweet DDR footwork, cheap cars, and 1337 anime. Runners-up include the Germans for good beer and the Volkswagon, and the Irish for, uh even better beer and red-haired lasses...
  • Re:Asians? (Score:4, Funny)

    by dartarrow ( 930250 ) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @10:29PM (#14904763) Homepage
    One can only wonder what evolutionary pressures caused well endowed Asian males do die out.

    its the food silly...
    ordered according endownment:
    1. Africans (eat elephants)
    2. Americans (eat hotdogs)
    3. Asians (eat rice)

    note: rabbits eat carrots which are about their own body-length. And now you know why they breed so fast.
  • Re:Germans (Score:3, Funny)

    by Mad Martigan ( 166976 ) on Monday March 13, 2006 @12:00AM (#14905083) Homepage
    More generally, I think people are going to have to face someday that brain genetics are not somehow special. Just like certain races are shorter, taller, darker, lighter, faster, stronger, etc, certain races (and sexes...) are going to have bell curves that are different shapes. Of course, this doesn't preclude any individual from falling anywhere on the bell curve.

    As per usual, The Simpsons provides guidance. From episode 3F06, 'Mother Simpson' []:

    In Burns' office, Joe Friday and Bill Gannon [FBI agents searching for Homer's mother] interview Burns about the incident.

    Friday: Are you sure this is the woman you saw in the post office?

    Burns: Absolutely! Who could forget such a monstrous visage? She has the sloping brow and cranial bumpage of the career criminal.

    Smithers: Uh, Sir? Phrenology was dismissed as quackery 160 years ago.

    Burns: Of course you'd say that ... you have the brainpan of a stagecoach tilter!
  • There may be something to your theory. You're an idiot, where did you grow up?

  • Re:Germans (Score:3, Funny)

    by ipfwadm ( 12995 ) on Monday March 13, 2006 @01:03AM (#14905239) Homepage
    Think of it as a simple scheme, aimed at preventing us from making the same mistake twice

    I think you're forgetting about this little thing called World War II ;-)
  • by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Monday March 13, 2006 @01:48AM (#14905356)
    A good example is the Rapanui of Easter Island. Their population grew to 10,000, larger than the island could handle and soon all of its resources were used up. Why? Because instead of working together, the leaders made a bad choice and began using everything to build big stone heads. They had no idea what kind of shit they were in until it was too late. The majority starved to death and the remaining people had to resort to eating the dead to survive. The population fell to 111.

    Why do I suddenly get the sinking feeling that the next completely idiotic decision George W. makes will be to initiate a nationwide, $500 billion Giant Stone Head initiative?

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson