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Genetics can’t explain all of human behavior

| | April 15, 2016

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

One thing I’ve always loved about anthropology is its commitment to understanding humans by bringing to bear two divergent perspectives: evolutionary science, aimed at understanding the contribution of biology to our behavior, and field ethnography, a process whereby the anthropologist works to understand a social group’s lived experience in the modern world from the inside out.

Now, a new paper by biological anthropologist Agustin Fuentes of Notre Dame University in the June issue of Current Anthropology, suggests that anthropologists can, and should, do a much better job of bringing together these two frameworks. Fuentes writes that he wants to “help frame a sincerely anthropological and emphatically evolutionary approach to the human experience.”

Fuentes is weary of a heavy focus on genes and natural selection in the evolutionary modeling of human behavior, because this view of human phenomena — mating behavior, let’s say, or human aggression — misses the richness of being human. We need, and in fact we have at hand, new tools to bring real-world, messy complexity into evolutionary modeling and to recognize feedback across different levels of selection beyond the individual. Niche construction theory is one of these tools. In undertaking work in a so-called extended evolutionary synthesis (EES) framework, Fuentes builds on the work of biologist Kevin Laland at the University of St. Andrews.

Read full, original post: It’s Not All Genes: Getting Evolution Right When Explaining Human Behavior

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.
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