"Infectious diseases, you see, tend to kill people prematurely. If you don't know that your own children will outlive you, you can't count on them to support you in your own age. So rather than rely on your family, you need to strike out on your own and gather enough resources to support yourself."
"Monocultures are more susceptible to disease. If you plant the same plant in a field ten years running, parasites will take over; if you switch it up every year, you'll beat the parasites. Similarly for people: if you share the same genes with the rest of your village, the first disease you're susceptible to will wipe you all out. The more germs are around, the better off you are living with people you don't share genes with, so that at least a few of you will have immunity to any given plague."
There is no better way to shatter someone's "we are all the same" illusion than to show pictures of a monkey, a panda and a banana to someone from Japan and someone from Britain. Ask them which two images go together.
I grouped panda and banana together because pandabanana just sounds funny.
The presence of pathogens also predicts cross-cultural differences in personality traits, not just shared cultural values. "In places that have historically had a lot of diseases, people generally score lower on measures of extraversion and 'openness,' which is jargon for curiosity and related traits," Schaller says.
I know some evolutionary biologists like to extrapolate really far from the evidence, but it always hurts when they are wrong on some theory that gets discounted, since it gives creationists a hammer to bludgeon all of biology and science with. Please don't give them that ammo, and label speculation as speculation until there's real concrete evidence to show. For evolution of these traits, that means sticking mostly to the "what" and "how", and not claiming "why" except in the most general and statistically supportable terms.
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