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Ishtara Rothschild wrote:


Pamela Galli wrote:

Europeans only became the supreme conquerors relatively recently in history, and it was because their weapons and transportation (ships) were more advanced than the conquerees, not because they were any more aggressive.

The Spanish, for example, conquered the Azteks rather than the other way around not because they were more aggressive but because they 1) had the ships to take them to where the Azteks were and 2) had guns.

 

Before that point, our ancestors had a long history of raiding and conquering their closest neighbors. After a bad harvest, stealing the crops and herds of another settlement was often the only way to avoid starvation, and additional territory and slave labor were a welcome bonus. Even in this day and age, people become more territorial and turn against other social or cultural groups in times of economic hardship.

Agreed. My point is that it would be hard to make a case that, say, one continent had more aggressive people than others, historically -- just that some were more successful at it because they had better technology than others. Whoever started using iron, or riding a horse, first, won.

If there were any peaceful folks, they lived isolated from neighbors, or got wiped out.

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Ishtara Rothschild wrote:

ETA2: If culture was entirely learned, immigrants would quickly adopt the majority culture of their new home country. Instead, they tend to form cultural ghettos and try to preserve their original culture as much as possible. Cultural integration
usually takes several generations
and some gene flow between the host and immigrant populations.  

On this point I can disagree with the backing of a great deal of experience, having been born and raised in California. I went to school with kids whose parents were braceros (migrant workers from Mexico) with no more English than I have say, French. Those kids by adulthood were completely immersed in and a valuable part of the local culture. I've seen the same thing happen with immigrants from Asia.

Sadly, among some of the immigrant communities there have been movements in recent years to preserve not just the cultural identity, but the entire culture. That's a trend I think wrong-headed, frankly.

I must say I had hoped the General Discussion Forum would be the place that Nature v Nurture would be settled once and for all, but it appears the debate will continue. :smileyhappy:

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Pamela Galli wrote:

Agreed. My point is that it would be hard to make a case that, say, one continent had more aggressive people than others, historically -- just that some were more successful at it because they had better technology than others. Whoever started using iron, or riding a horse, first, won.

If there were any peaceful folks, they lived isolated from neighbors, or got wiped out.

I agree that most human populations / cultures have a history of intertribal and inter-nation warfare. But there are some human populations, such as the Bushmen of the African Kalahari, that have historically practiced little to no warfare and also had very little violent crime within their own populations.

Even in countries with a long and violent military history, there have been (and still are) religious minority groups with a particularly non-violent philosophy and lifestyle. The Mennonites for example, who practiced nonresistance and refused to perform mandatory military service in times when the only alternative was a jail sentence or worse.

Religion is also a part of culture and often defines a culture. I assume that it wasn't their religion that modified their behavior, but that groups like the Mennonites instead modified the Christian majority religion to better fit their natural non-aggressive traits. Their religion/culture also caused them to mate exclusively within their own minority population group and thus preserve their unusually non-violent nature.

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Dillon Levenque wrote:


Ishtara Rothschild wrote:

ETA2: If culture was entirely learned, immigrants would quickly adopt the majority culture of their new home country. Instead, they tend to form cultural ghettos and try to preserve their original culture as much as possible. Cultural integration
usually takes several generations
and some gene flow between the host and immigrant populations.  

On this point I can disagree with the backing of a great deal of experience, having been born and raised in California. I went to school with kids whose parents were braceros (migrant workers from Mexico) with no more English than I have say, French. Those kids by adulthood were completely immersed in and a valuable part of the local culture. I've seen the same thing happen with immigrants from Asia.

Sadly, among some of the immigrant communities there have been movements in recent years to preserve not just the cultural identity, but the entire culture. That's a trend I think wrong-headed, frankly.

I must say I had hoped the General Discussion Forum would be the place that Nature v Nurture would be settled once and for all, but it appears the debate will continue. :smileyhappy:

I've had the same experience, DIllon. My neighbors across the street are an example of the power of immersion. He's from Jamaica, she's from a Detroit ghetto (each is an alien world to my neighborhood). Both speak "Network News Anchor English" and are Republicans of the first degree. That's cultural integration in less than one generation. My bridesmaid is from Iran and speaks with a lovely accent, but has a pop culture knowledge that amazes me. The local Hmong population is fascinating, with grandparents who don't speak a word of English, parents who have accents and kids who are indistinguishable from the rest of the noisy rugrats meandering about the farmer's market. Yet they do manage to propagate their work ethic without as much apparent "dilution".

Why some chose to immerse and some chose to segregate, I don't know.

I do know who gets the jobs.

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Dillon Levenque wrote:


Ishtara Rothschild wrote:

ETA2: If culture was entirely learned, immigrants would quickly adopt the majority culture of their new home country. Instead, they tend to form cultural ghettos and try to preserve their original culture as much as possible. Cultural integration
usually takes several generations
and some gene flow between the host and immigrant populations.  

On this point I can disagree with the backing of a great deal of experience, having been born and raised in California. I went to school with kids whose parents were braceros (migrant workers from Mexico) with no more English than I have say, French. Those kids by adulthood were completely immersed in and a valuable part of the local culture. I've seen the same thing happen with immigrants from Asia.

Sadly, among some of the immigrant communities there have been movements in recent years to preserve not just the cultural identity, but the entire culture. That's a trend I think wrong-headed, frankly.

I must say I had hoped the General Discussion Forum would be the place that Nature v Nurture would be settled once and for all, but it appears the debate will continue. :smileyhappy:

Some cultures are more compatible than others. In Germany, we had many Greek and Italian immigrants in the past, who quickly adopted what was basically a slightly different Christian culture. Immigrants from Muslim countries are an entirely different matter. Many Muslims shield themselves and their families from the majority culture that they perceive as sinful and dangerous and are strictly opposed to inter-cultural marriage.

This is probably not merely a matter of religious indoctrination, but an incompatibility on a deeper level. After all, there is little difference between religion and culture, which means that religious beliefs also have their basis in genetic traits (such as the human tendency for teleo-functional reasoning).  

But I'm getting off topic. The Mexican culture doesn't differ that much from, say, the North American Catholic culture. Besides, the USA is a melting pot of cultures to begin with, so it's easy to fit into an existing cultural niche. An example for a vastly different culture would be Native Americans, who are still preserving their own unique culture(s) to a considerable extent even after several centuries.

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Dillon Levenque wrote:

[...] I must say I had hoped the General Discussion Forum would be the place that Nature v Nurture would be settled once and for all, but it appears the debate will continue. :smileyhappy:

 not as long as people insist it's one or the other =/

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Ishtara Rothschild wrote:


Pamela Galli wrote:

Agreed. My point is that it would be hard to make a case that, say, one continent had more aggressive people than others, historically -- just that some were more successful at it because they had better technology than others. Whoever started using iron, or riding a horse, first, won.

If there were any peaceful folks, they lived isolated from neighbors, or got wiped out.

I agree that most human populations / cultures have a history of intertribal and inter-nation warfare. But there are some human populations, such as the Bushmen of the African Kalahari, that have historically practiced little to no warfare and also had very little violent crime within their own populations.

Even in countries with a long and violent military history, there have been (and still are) religious minority groups with a particularly non-violent philosophy and lifestyle. The Mennonites for example, who practiced nonresistance and refused to perform mandatory military service in times when the only alternative was a jail sentence or worse.

Religion is also a part of culture and often defines a culture. I assume that it wasn't their religion that modified their behavior, but that groups like the Mennonites instead modified the Christian majority religion to better fit their natural non-aggressive traits. Their religion/culture also caused them to mate exclusively within their own minority population group and thus preserve their unusually non-violent nature.

I understand that there are some (small) groups you can point to as not aggressive -- but I am specifically addressing your (and George Carlin's) point that Europeans are an especially aggressive/violent group. My point is that they are historically pretty much the same as most groups -- except that during some periods they had a significant technological advantage that made them more successful aggressors.

 

Very few groups with a technological advantage did not wind up attacking weaker groups.  I can't think of any.

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Ishtara Rothschild wrote:


Pamela Galli wrote:

Europeans only became the supreme conquerors relatively recently in history, and it was because their weapons and transportation (ships) were more advanced than the conquerees, not because they were any more aggressive.

The Spanish, for example, conquered the Azteks rather than the other way around not because they were more aggressive but because they 1) had the ships to take them to where the Azteks were and 2) had guns.

Before that point, our ancestors had a
long history
of raiding and conquering their closest neighbors. After a bad harvest, stealing the crops and herds of another settlement was often the only way to avoid starvation, and additional territory and slave labor were a welcome bonus. Even in this day and age, people become more territorial and turn against other social or cultural groups in times of economic hardship.

Long history?   Compared to what?  You're focusing on one subset of people from recent history.   The Anglo-Saxon history of raiding and warring is relatively recent and is directly related to metal smiths discovering steel.   Before the advent of steel, the Anglo-Saxon tribes were not very successful.

Steel is what allowed them to put a dent into Roman Empire, and it's well know that the Romans and the Greeks before them, were extremely successful in raiding, stealing, and warring on other people. 

Before Romans and Greeks there were scores of other cultures who all did the same thing...and that is, invade their neighbors, raiding, stealing, warring and conquering.  This was the normal behavior all over Europe and the Mediterranean long before the Anglo-Saxons got into the game.  But, it's also not unique to Europe and the Mediterranean, this human behavior is global and has been going on since the dawn of man. 

Ever read about the history of China?   Thousands of years before any Anglo-Saxons were organized enough to do anything, the Chinese were having tribal wars and warring on each other all over Asia.   This behavior is how the early Dynasty's were founded, by wars and conquering.  This continued for several thousand years before anyone in Europe got into the game. 

http://www-chaos.umd.edu/history/time_line.html

In that China timeline, click on the Dynasty's and read what happened during that time period...maybe start with:   Xia

http://www-chaos.umd.edu/history/ancient1.html#xia

 

Let's look at the events that led to the death of Captain Cook.  He was killed in Hawaii by the natives.  But, the reason he was killed, is that the local Hawaiian population was in the middle of an epic civil war when Captain Cook landed there.   Each side in the civil war wanted to gain access to the superior weapons that the British explorers had, and it was only too late, that the British exploring parties realized what great danger they were in, and vastly outnumbered by the aggressive Hawaiian warriors. 

Even with having guns against the natives Captain Cook was killed.  Not to mention that the Hawaiians had already sent a raiding party out to the the big ships and kidnapped men and stolen cannons. 

Talk about aggressive war-like behavior!  The Hawaiians went up against the British who had vastly superior weapons and transportation...yet the urge to raid, steal and conquer was so great, that the local Hawaiians risked it and were somewhat successful in gaining the upper hand.

In the history of North America prior to Europeans landing, the native peoples were constantly raiding, invading and warring on one another.   This was the normal behavior, and vast Tribes evolved along with territories and rules of engagement.   Only the North American natives did not have steel, gunpowder or horses, which along with diseases was their undoing when encountering Europeans.

Pamela mentioned the Aztecs.  Aztecs were a military power and had conquered all the territories around them.   The Aztecs had warred on, and conquered, their neighbors and were a vast rich Empire when the Spanish (The Spanish are not Anglo-Saxons) came on the scene. 

http://www.aztec-history.com/

The only reason the Spanish were successful is that they had guns, steel swords, and horses.   Plus, the Spanish used subterfuge and kidnapping of Aztec rulers to gain the immediate upper hand. 

Bottom line is that all people from around the globe have raided, warred and conquered on one another.  The reason that certain groups have been more successful in recent times is not because of genetics.  If genetics were a contributing factor then the Chinese ( (also the Huns) have a much longer genetic line of war-like behavior than the Anglo-Saxons. The recent success of certain populations can be attributed to technology such as steel, gunpowder, and transportation. 

Pretty much detailed in the book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies:    http://www.pbs.org/gunsgermssteel/

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/guns-germs-and-steel/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns,_Germs,_and_Steel

 

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Dillon Levenque wrote:


I must say I had hoped the General Discussion Forum would be the place that Nature v Nurture would be settled once and for all, but it appears the debate will continue. :smileyhappy:


This question was settled ages ago:

Phenotype = (genetic component)(environmental component)(nonadditive genetic x environmental component)(dominance component)

Phenotype includes behavior and is readily observable. All components are at least theoretically measurable altho can be problematic to measure in practice. The equation can be rearranged to solve for the component in question. This is Chpt. 1 in any quantitative genetics text.

Jeanne

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JeanneAnne wrote:

Phenotype = (genetic component)(environmental component)(nonadditive genetic x environmental component)(dominance component)

Phenotype includes behavior and is readily observable.
All components are at least theoretically measurable altho can be problematic to measure in practice
.

Jeanne

 

Yes, that was sort of where I was going with my comment, which was offered mostly in jest. Almost everyone agrees that observable characteristics are a combination of environmental influence and genetic makeup. Almost nobody, it seems, agrees on exactly how much of each is involved in any particular case.

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Ishtara Rothschild wrote:

But I'm getting off topic. The Mexican culture doesn't differ that much from, say, the North American Catholic culture. Besides, the USA is a melting pot of cultures to begin with, so it's easy to fit into an existing cultural niche. An example for a vastly different culture would be Native Americans, who are still preserving their own unique culture(s) to a considerable extent even after several centuries.

Ishtara, not to be rude, but where are you getting some of this stuff?

Not sure what  you mean by the "North American Catholic culture." I'm not sure there is such a thing.

Also, just because there are many different heritages in the  U.S. it doesn't mean it all melds any better, or that it's any different in that regard than anywhere else. People still isolate or integrate themselves and their ways as they do anywhere else. 

As for Native Americans, have you ever even met one? I've spent time on a Rez and in fact it's a battle to keep their languages and ways alive. It's all being eroded by popular culture and the casinos, and money. The kids do not have as much interest in the old ways and native language as most elders would like. Much like most other heritages I guess.

It just seems sometimes as if you get this stuff from some idea you've formed rather than experience. I don't want to speak "for" any group, myself. But I mean, you could make that same claim about Oktoberfest.  It doesn't mean I know much about my German heritage - it just means I like potato salad.  But from the outside someone might see the polka dancing and yearly festival and think "wow, that heritage is still alive." Not so much.

 

 

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Dillon Levenque wrote:


JeanneAnne wrote:

Phenotype = (genetic component)(environmental component)(nonadditive genetic x environmental component)(dominance component)

Phenotype includes behavior and is readily observable.
All components are at least theoretically measurable altho can be problematic to measure in practice
.

Jeanne

 

Yes, that was sort of where I was going with my comment, which was offered mostly in jest. Almost everyone agrees that observable characteristics are a combination of environmental influence and genetic makeup. Almost nobody, it seems, agrees on exactly how much of each is involved in any particular case.

With microorganisms or Drosophila raised in culture where precise crosses can be made over multiple generations, these components are readily quantifiable. Altho I wasn't explicit about this, I was referring more to organisms with long generation times and particularly to humans, to whom ethical considerations apply, when I said that these components can be problematic to measure in practice. In these cases, twins studies and comparisons to the mid-parent must be resorted to in order to arrive at approximate values for these components.

Jeanne

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"All behavior ultimately has a genetic basis."

-----------------------------------------------------------

Without wishing to start a big debate, I'd say it's naive to explain human social behavior in terms of genetics, but perhaps I misunderstand you.

I find it interesting, though, that the posts in this thread have gravitated almost exclusively to chemistry while largely eschewing sexuality. It would be difficult to argue that sexual attitudes in Naples and Oslo differ because of genetics. One would have to discount the influences of history and religion - unless one wishes to argue that religious beliefs and, by extension, all social norms are due to genetics. I don't think even Dawkins would take such a position.

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Sy Beck wrote:


Madelaine McMasters wrote:


Dillon Levenque wrote:

Almost nobody, it seems, agrees on exactly how much of each is involved in any particular case.


Half nature, half nurture, half unknown.

Too clever by half!

Yes, she is, and it's a constant irritant tolerated only because she's such a wonderful cook.

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From first reading, the article sounds like a bunch of crook.

Everyone's body chemistry is different, and it depends on what other drugs are combined (some combinations are lethal) as the main reasons for an individual's reaction to "drugs" including alcohol, not our culture.

Also, some "drugs" are cooked on the street in people's kitchens and no one knows what is in all of those as there are far too many home run kitchens, especially crack or meth houses.  I've heard there are some home houses for XTC as well.

She left out way too many known facts for me to want to believe she knew what she was talking about and she didn't even cite any studies or references to her research.

Also, as far as cannibas, there was so much "lacing" the pot in the 60's and 70's with other drugs called "angel dust" or other names, and who knows what those drugs were or what combinations that caused the paranoia.  There are too many unknowns here to base any of her story on culture because of street-made drugs. 

ETA:  After getting some sleep, yes that article is a bunch of crook.  Alcohol like any other "drug" (she doesn't specify other drugs) impairs the neocortex (the adult thinking brain) and the person is left to be in their child-like brain, the amygala, when using alcohol period. 

 

 

 

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Dillon Levenque wrote:



I must say I had hoped the General Discussion Forum would be the place that Nature v Nurture would be settled once and for all, but it appears the debate will continue.

Nature v Nuture in regards to anything... that can never be "settled".  The combinations of nature and the impact the environment could have on us are infinite. 

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Ishtara Rothschild wrote:

[...] All behavior ultimately has a genetic basis. [...]

 I seriously cannot believe that you of all the people on these forums, wrote that. Flabbergasted. Especially after citing childhood neuroplasticity...

you point out that the only difference between humans and chimpanzees is genetics, and that's true, insomuch as it applies to any recognizable living thing on earth, but what you don't describe is the tradeoff made... humans enhanced neuroplasticity and extended childhood comes with a price, both physical and mental. as a species, humanity has both lowered physical capacity by comparison, but also lowered instinctual behaviors.

The increases in the ability to learn directly correlate to most of behaviors being learned from the society one happens to be born into. And while I agree that much of societies original basis started from the base behaviors that are still retained, the basis of ideas and historical perspective has allowed it to evolve and shift much faster than our genetics have or ever could. while survival and reproduction may still be base directive (and quite probably necessities of life), social conditioning has taught us to curb even those in innovative and complex ways.

language and society surpassed the ability of genetics to propagate information the moment our first ancestor went beyond just using a tool, to making one and sharing how to do so with their neighbor. However it's not an absolute because it still requires the raw materials of genetics to carry it forward, and at best it can only redirect the base genetic behaviors in the short term, but in the long term it can modify them through social selection.

social selection is a key factor, and can be seen in numerous studies, such as studies of what people find "attractive". normally we'd expect people to select based on familiarity, and to a large extent we do... we select mates that generally look like those most similar to ourselves. but it's been shown that the invasion of foreign media in other locations has had a social effect of changing the perception of what is attractive, to be more similar to the foreign cultures appearance than the local appearance. at a smaller scale we see it happening in children, who idolize and emulate who and what ever is popular at the moment. Our media and even language parrots the effects going back generations; "keeping up with the jones'es", "be like mike", "don't be a jerry"(recent allstate commercial).

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Hmmm, I think many people are missing the point of the article, which may be an interesting phenomena in itself. I don't think there is any disagreement about the basic chemistry (genetics + type of substance + ratio of combined substances + quantities of substances in any mix + state of physical and mental health etc.). I think, in essence, she is interested in how Ms. X and Ms. Y (with identical chemistry) will have different attitudes and behaviors depending on the cultures in which they are embedded.

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Void Singer wrote:


Dillon Levenque wrote:

[...] I must say I had hoped the General Discussion Forum would be the place that Nature v Nurture would be settled once and for all, but it appears the debate will continue. :smileyhappy:

 not as long as people insist it's one or the other =/

Before addressing your most recent post, let me get more into the nature versus nurture debate, because it is important to understand that the whole debate is a false dilemma and was sparked by a patently wrong understanding of the the "nature" part.

All that we can be as humans is encoded in our genes. But that does not equal predetermination by any means, because our DNA interacts with the environment. Environmental factors can switch genes on and off, but only existing genes. So while no particular developmental outcome is ever set in stone, all the different developmental outcomes are encoded in our DNA.

That goes for all higher organisms. You can either turn a pitbull into a killing machine or into a lapdog, because both behavioral patterns are part of his genetic makeup. But you cannot "nurture" a pitbull into becoming a zebra, nor can you educate a human into being a cactus. Humans will always act like humans, but there are countless possible ways of acting like a human because we are incredibly complex animals.

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Deltango Vale wrote:

"All behavior ultimately has a genetic basis."

-----------------------------------------------------------

Without wishing to start a big debate, I'd say it's naive to explain human social behavior in terms of genetics, but perhaps I misunderstand you.

I find it interesting, though, that the posts in this thread have gravitated almost exclusively to chemistry while largely eschewing sexuality. It would be difficult to argue that sexual attitudes in Naples and Oslo differ because of genetics. One would have to discount the influences of history and religion - unless one wishes to argue that religious beliefs and, by extension, all social norms are due to genetics. I don't think even Dawkins would take such a position.

I think I answered that in my reply to Void just now. I personally think it's naive to claim that we can alter human behavior at will by means of education. Not that you've claimed that, but many people on the "nurture" end of the debate do. For example, many radical feminists claim that all gender-specific behavior is simply a matter of cultural indoctrination, which is just as incredibly naive as the claim of parts of the religious right that sexual orientation is a matter of "nurture". 

As for sexual attitudes: In countries with a very relaxed attitude towards matters of sexuality, you will still find a phenotypic minority of people who, despite having been brought up in a very open-minded and tolerant environment, are reluctant to talk about sexuality, don't feel comfortable in revealing clothes and wear concealing outfits even during the summer months, are monogamous to a fault, and hold on to very conservative moral views.

Why do you think that is? Could it be because there are many different reproductive strategies coded into our genes, which range from extreme promiscuity and sexual openness to extreme chastity and uptightness, and vary from phenotype to phenotype? Cultural norms are simply determined by which behavioral phenotype constitutes the majority or happens to be in power. And of course by environmental factors, but those can only switch on genes that are already there.

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Void Singer wrote:


Ishtara Rothschild wrote:

[...] All behavior ultimately has a genetic basis. [...]

 I seriously cannot believe that you of all the people on these forums, wrote that. Flabbergasted. Especially after citing childhood neuroplasticity...

Would you disagree that all neural behavior is coded into the DNA of our neurons? How could these cells do anything that is not part of their DNA?

Again, I'm not saying that all behavior is predetermined and that there is only one possible outcome for each genetic phenotype. But ultimately, all developmental outcomes have their basis in our genome, and you can't teach a human to be a platypus.

 


you point out that the only difference between humans and chimpanzees is genetics, and that's true, insomuch as it applies to any recognizable living thing on earth, but what you don't describe is the tradeoff made... humans enhanced neuroplasticity and extended childhood comes with a price, both physical and mental. as a species,
humanity has both lowered physical capacity by comparison, but also lowered instinctual behaviors.

The bolded part is patently wrong. Our physical capacities include an incredible degree of fine motor control that is unique among primates and partially responsible for our use of tools (and probably related to our lower muscle density and lower physical strength). Our hand-eye coordination is also unrivaled among primates. And what else is our freakishly enlarged frontal cortex if not a physical trait? The "mind versus body" debate is as much of a false dilemma as the nature vs. nurture discussion.

As for instinctual behavior: What do you think instincts are? Most people assume that this term refers to a fixed behavioral program, but we only see that in the most primitive organisms. If you smell rotten meat and start to retch, that's instinct. If you think that a hot casserole smells great, that's instinct too. Fear? Instinct. Joy and pleasure? Instinct. Sexual attraction? Instinct. Stress reactions? Instinct. Love and friendship? Instinct. The urge to pee? Instinct. Suppressing that urge because you're in a social setting where it would be frowned upon if you stood up and pulled down your pants? Again, instinct.

Our entire complex social behavior is built on instinct. Contrary to popular belief, instincts don't force an animal to do anything, they are merely strong urges, fears, preferences and aversions. And of course there are many possible instinctual outcomes coded into our neural structure, which ethologists, neurologists and behavioral psychologists have dubbed prepared learning. The fear of snakes is an instinct, and the neural connections that cause it are readily available in all humans. But if you grow up in an environment without snakes, these synaptic connections will simply never be potentiated. That's what makes the "nature versus nurture" question so meaningless. It's all one and the same.

 

ETA: I think nobody realizes the importance of instinctual behavior in human social interactions better than somebody who lacks a great deal of those social instincts that most people take for granted and expect to see in others. If you try to communicate with words alone, people will look at you as if you are from a different planet. The right eye contact pattern, the correct body language and posture, the appropriate facial expressions, the little "hm" and "oh?" and "you don't say!" responses, all these little behavioral details that constitute about 90% of human communication are a matter of instinct. Even the very urge to socialize and communicate is an instinct, as much as I wish this wasn't the case. You cannot study and learn this complex social song and dance and all the little rituals. You either get them instinctively right, or you'll be regarded as a potentially dangerous freak all your life.

ETA2: When (home)studying linguistics, the most interesting information for me was the degree to which language is coded into the human brain. And not just one type of language. There are outright neural switches for all existing types of linguistic syntax (the English head-first syntax, the Japanese head-final syntax etc.) that are activated when infants listen to adults talking. Another example of instinct, especially when you consider that even deaf children start to babble at a certain age and try to speak. Umilta et al. have found that tool use abilities are also readily coded into our brains. People who insist that human behavior and abilities are simply a matter of learning processes really have to rethink their position.  

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Madelaine McMasters wrote:


Dillon Levenque wrote:

Almost nobody, it seems, agrees on exactly how much of each is involved in any particular case.


Half nature, half nurture, half unknown.

As far as I'm concerned, it's 100% nature (how could it be anything but nature?), but nature is heavily influenced and actively changed by the environment (or nurture). 

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