Beyond Human Nature: How Culture and Experience Shape the by Jesse J. Prinz

By Jesse J. Prinz

A well timed and uniquely compelling plea for the significance of nurture within the ongoing nature-nurture debate.

In this period of genome tasks and mind scans, it's all too effortless to overestimate the position of biology in human psychology. yet during this passionate corrective to the concept DNA is future, Jesse Prinz specializes in the main awesome point of human nature: that nurture can complement and supplant nature, permitting our minds to be profoundly prompted by way of event and tradition. Drawing on state-of-the-art examine in neuroscience, psychology, and anthropology, Prinz shatters the parable of human uniformity and divulges how our differing cultures and existence reports make each one folks certain. alongside the best way he exhibits that we can’t blame psychological disorder or habit on our genes, and that societal elements form gender changes in cognitive skill and sexual habit. A much-needed contribution to the nature-nurture debate, past Human Nature exhibits us that it is just during the lens of nurture that the spectrum of human variety turns into absolutely and brilliantly noticeable.

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How do we decide which aspects of psychology are closely linked to our genes? Ultimately, the best thing we can do is look for genes . There's no substitute for a smoking gun. If you want to show that a trait is gen­ etic, find the gene . Scientists try to do this, and every week they fill journals with studies that purport to link genes to behaviour, but these studies are often problematic. In many cases, they are difficult to replicate, and, even in the best cases, the genes that are identified only account for a small amount of the variance.

By learning about these, we can exert considerable influence on traits that are heavily influenced by the genes. For example, there are a number of ways in which a person can be genetically predisposed towards obesity, but we can determine whether those predispositions are expressed by carefully controlled diets. Likewise, we may ultim­ ately be able to reduce the incidences of schizophrenia by identifying and intervening with environmental triggers. I h ave tried to stack the deck in favour of naturism by focusing on psychological traits that have been correlated with genes.

22 PUTT I NG T HE GENOME BACK I N T HE BOTTLE D o Genes Cause Traits? Let's begin with a clear case of genetic influence on psychology: col­ our vision. We see colours because there are photosensitive cells in the retinae called cones. Most human beings have three kinds of cone cells, which are sensitive to three different ranges of lightwaves: short, medium and long. The colour you see depends on the proportion of lightwaves in these different ranges. Blue obj ects reflect most short lightwaves, green objects reflect medium waves, and red obj ects reflect long waves.

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