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Nature vs Nurture

Genes Experience and What Makes Us Human

Matt Ridley

Robin Dunbar notes that language is primarily used for social gossip rather than for imparting knowledge. So suggests it evolved as a way of 'grooming' (in sense of paying attention to) a large number of people.

Chimps can only throw underhand and are very poor at aiming. Lucy, the 3.2 million year old fossil human found in Ethiopia, already had an altered thumb, finger and wrist joints which would have allowed her to grasp rocks between thumb, first and index finger. She had an altered shoulder which would have allowed overarm throwing, and an erect pelvis which made it possible to swivel upper body. In other words she could have aimed and accurately thrown a rock or spear stick.

Communalism always breaks down, usually over sexual jealousy. Many groups have tried free love but it seems to be impossible abolish the desire to be both selective and possessive about your sexual partners. Even worse amongst second generation - children reared in the group. There are limits to the power4 of culture to change human behaviour.

Men are basically violent. In some Amazon tribes half cause of deaths of men is murder. Risk averse wimps may live longer, but they don't get to father children.

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Parents don't shape personality. Only really terrible parents do. Bit like vitamins - as long as adequate, a little more or a little less won't make much difference long term. parents basically put their child's character in place at conception, not during the long years of childhood.

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Confirmed by studies comparing adopted and natural children. Basically, adopted kids grow up to be like their genetic parents (who they never knew) rather than like their adoptive family that they grew up with. This applies to school and business success, criminality and marital stability.

Peer group is by far the most important. Kids don't see themselves as apprentice adults, they are just trying to find a successful niche in their peer group. From the outside, they look like they're obsessed with conformity. But if you look below the surface you see a frantic search for differentiation. The child quickly works out which role they are best at within the group and polishes that skill, neglecting other talents. More books on Teenagers

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