I am so excited!
I am so excited!
Prof. Christina Campbell
Anthropology 423 Human Behavior: Evolutionary Perspectives
October 13, 2021
Nature vs. Nurture, How is this Still an Argument?
If you have access, you can also view and discuss the paper here, on Academia.edu.
In the “Dependent Gene” by David S. Moore, we learn a great deal of new things that the general public is not familiar with. Rather, id say we have even more to unlearn, but either way, Dr. Moore guides us along the path. The most important thing about this book is to come away from it with a better understanding of genetics, specifically the traits that they may, or may not cause. Without a base understanding of even “old” genetics and this book may get a little confusing. But the author does his best to navigate the waters of scientific vernacular. As mentioned, there is an old view on genetics, and what is now considered a new approach. We have come a long way with our understanding of genes, genetics, and how they are passed down. Way back in the days of Aristotle, we even thought it was possible that all the eggs a female possessed, had the entire animal inside them, fully formed, just on a miniature level. And then once they are born, or become pregnant, the animal, whatever it may be, will grow to the proper size of a newborn. Today, we know that things work a little differently than that and that genetics, and how traits and DNA are passed down are much more complicated, and for generations, erroneous ideas have run rampant. Genes, do not determine physical or psychological traits, they contribute, but they are not fully responsible. It is a combination of your DNA, your “Nature”, and the environment in which you were conceived, all the way through the end of your life, the environment adds, detracts, and changes from, we call this “Nurture”. Often this comes to a climactic point, but I hope that this paper will shed light on the complicated subject of Nature and Nurture.
So then, if one gene is one trait is not a correct view, despite it being a prevalent one, how does it work? Well, it’s a combination of both! The world that we are formed in, and live in thorough out our lives, plays a major role in our behaviors, and traits that we show physically, and just why and when we do. But, this knowledge is relatively new, in the world of Anthropology, which is only 2-300 years old, (Official Formed Societies) a few decades can change almost everything. When this book came out in 2003, it most likely sent everyone into a tizzy. Not to mention that was the year the Human Genome Project was completed, we had just begun to learn about our genome and genetics. And finally, here maybe was some proof and evidence to back up Moore’s ideas. The most important thing that we have to consider when reading this book, however, is that traits are not determined by just genes or just the environment we live in. It is a complex hierarchical series of interactions between the two that makes us who we are, and determine how we act, and respond in specific situations. The perspective that Moore suggests, for this idea to be the only one, and strongly so, is that of the Developmental Systems Perspective. What this means, is that A. We are not formed completely at the time of the egg’s formation, we change, adapt, and grow inside of our mother’s wombs until we are ready to be born. Everything that affects us in the womb, will play a major role in our development. From the nutrients, the Zygote is consuming and given, to the stress of the mother herself! Then, we can be pushed into the real world, and everything changes, our minds, and bodies are immediately exposed to an infinite amount of stimuli. Rarely can we just phase into our new roles in life. And oftentimes, things that we do when we are younger, we learn, through living, watching, and experiencing, that perhaps our behavior needs to be reviewed, or changed. Developmental Systems refer to the science and know-how of genes, and traits. The actual argument of Nature vs. Nurture, and while this is commonly used to refer to the LGBTIA+ community, I want to be clear these rules apply, and or more importantly do not imply just “the gay gene”, but rather all of our traits. We are formed both by the love and care we received as a child and from the DNA that our parents provided. There is no way to predict how the two will interact, and that is one of the major issues with cloning, we can do it physically, but it is not the same animal. We are products of this duality.
So then, what are we to do with this information? Well, that’s a more tricky question, as this information, this knowledge and data, if given to the wrong groups of people can be used for…there are no other words but evil. Chief amongst these groups of people to use genetics negatively were of course the Nazis. They ran countless horrific experiments and tests on a wide variety of people This is where Eugenics comes in. I don’t know if we will be covering that in this class, I do not think so, so I will leave it at that. The dangers of genetically based judgments are something hard to stay away from when you are elbows deep in these discussions. Often, too often, scientists will fall into traps laid out for them, to make them, or the field looks bad. But as we know today, the traits that the Nazis and others were looking for, are not attributed to a one-to-one gene ratio. Just as there is no “Gay Gene” there is no gene for blue eyes either. Does the DNA contribute and help with the outcome? Absolutely! But that’s the thing, it is a split, a cooperative effort of Nature vs. Nurture that allows us to adapt and survive within our own lives. It is not “Nature vs. Nurture”, it should be “Nature and Nurture.” Without their delicate and complicated set of reactions, we would be a much more bland animal and one that may not even be capable of surviving.
So then, what is “The Dependent Gene”? Well, I would have to say that the reference is to the idea that genetics alone can not get the job done, it needs help, I think the idea is, genes are dependent on the environment they find themselves in, and not just making “decisions” on bodily functions and behaviors on its own as it was once thought, and is continued to be taught in lower education and places without access to up to date scientific information. It is hard to change the minds of people who have thought one thing for so long, generations in fact. David S. Moore’s book completely challenges those ideas and hopefully will lead to a better understanding of the, when you think about it, simple idea that it is not just so simple as Nature vs. Nurture. But a much more informed and educated population, who can better grasp where we come from. As a Paleoanthropologist, this is a little out of my direct field, but it seems to me, that this idea makes perfect sense, and I do not see why people would argue with it, or what other ideas they may have to counter it. Of course, there are dissenting opinions and different views and methods of collecting data, it all seems to point back to the same thing. Nature vs. Nurture is a fallacy, one that we have had drilled into our brains so that we never questioned it, for whatever reason. But it is time to throw the sheets off and bring this book, Prof. Moore’s ideas to the front line.
I enjoyed this book, I learned a great deal. I knew genetics and trait dispersal etc. was not as simple as I was being taught in say, Biology 101, but even after just reading the introduction of the book, the hypotheses made perfect sense, and I had to concur with Prof. Moore. My entire life, as most of my classmates have, have lived in a world where everyone is questioning, “Am I a bad mom?” Is that while my child turned out this way? “Did I pass this on to my child and now they have to suffer”, some of these questions can be put to rest if this idea is accepted. There are just some things that are completely uncontrollable in the behavioral development of any animal. Often this occurs in orphanages specifically. Let’s put Nature vs. Nurture to rest, shall we agree to finally understand that it is in fact both! The two work in tandem to form what ends up being an adult, and hopefully functioning at that. But of course, things like mental illness can have a major effect on that, depending on the genes passed down from each parent. We humans think we have mastered it all, and understand everything, but there is so much left out there to learn, so much more knowledge to gain! With the aid of this book, I hope that I can personally help re-educate some people about what we all learned in grade school, and in unfortunate cases, all the way through first division courses. It is only when we get to the point of your class Professor, is when I suppose the institutions think we can wrap our heads around these complicated processes, and while there is of course much more to learn about this, and the complicated hierarchy they form, its time to acknowledge not every case of anything will prevent the same in two different people who have had completely different lives. We need to acknowledge that, even things like income and affect our development in the womb or as a small children. The Independent Gene does not exist, for any trait, there could be various genes involved and the influence of the outside world. The better we understand this, the more we will be able to help our own, and other species during these perilous times.
We have some exciting #News!
First off, an apology, we are so behind on getting the Cranial Morphology videos out, it has been tech error after tech error.
But I can proudly say the studio for it is finally built, and recording should start Wednesday, with releases as early as that night!
As voted on, we shall be doing our first species introduction, and comparison to an AMH on A.afrarensis, or Lucy’s species.
We know alot of you have been waiting patiently for this, and we are very excited to finally get this going! Again, a huge shoutout to Prof. Jeremy DeSilva for providing the skulls! (P.S, even MORE are on their way, so this series is going to go for a long time!).
We have a group/page (depending on where you are reading this) as well just in case you were unaware!
While we have a very large reach and audience on Facebook, which is great, we are in fact on other social media. One thing that I have observed since I started this “little project” is that, while there is a great deal of information of Facebook;
A. A whole ton of it is incorrect, and not backed up.
B. The academics, while some are present, are not really using Facebook to share their content or research. Which makes thinks more difficult for the everyday anthropologist, but makes places like us VERY useful, as we get all that information as it comes out and get it straight to you!
This is where the real stuff is, straight from the mouth of a babe. There is SO MUCH on twitter to learn. So head on over, give us a follow, and once again, be welcomed into The World of Paleoanthropology!
*Update Two: Please check out the papers Prof. Stringer has allowed us to host! View and download them at the bottom of the page!
*Update: Our friend Prof. Chris Stringer very politely corrected me in some areas, here is what he said:
“To summarise, in my view (and of course others differ) fossils like Irhoud and Omo 2 are ‘archaic H. sapiens’ but for me, Omo 1 on the preserved parts is ‘anatomically modern’ at maybe 212 ky minimum (new dating, under review) Age of the oldest Homo sapiens from eastern Africa | Research Square.Omo 1 and 2 were discovered by an expedition led by Richard Leakey. And Cro-Magnons were AMH too..”
Hopefully, with permission, we can share some papers he wrote specifically on this!
The #Origins of #Homo #sapiens is a long, and fascinating story.
Where do we come from? One of the greatest questions of all time. With so many answers, we have science and religion battling it out to find the answers, and in truth it is very difficult to know.
While #hominins have been around for 6-7mya, our very own #species is very recent. Anatomically Modern Humans date to only about 20-30k Years ago, their predecessor, Pro-Magnon man, which is now a debatable term and usage of the word, we did not act or think like we do today. We may have looked this way for near 200,000 years, or longer, be we were not “us”.
There are various stages of “Modern Humans” that lived in the late Pleistocene, and of course into the last epoch, the Holocene. As evidence (the fossil record) shows, there is evidence of variation and possible admixture throughout Homo sapiens in Africa during this period.
Of course, we think we know that Modern Humans originated in Africa (although even that Theory, yes scientific theory, not just “a theory”) of the recent out of Africa theory, has a few holes, but how can we possibly know without being there?
Well, we can go by the oldest Homo sapiens fossils found to date.
From Omo 1 and 2 discovered by Louis Leakey, in Kibish Ethiopia, to Jerbel Irhoud in Morocco, and finally to YOU!
The Omo fossils date to about 180k-200,000 years ago, while the Jebel Irhoud remains are closer to 300,000 years old.
It sure has been a long journey!
Learn all about it from John Hawks here:
Dr. Chris Stringer’s papers:
Enjoy, please discuss and ask any questions you may have!
As we approach the date, we are now accepting Q/A submissions for our board of experts! Please email your Neanderthal related questions to email@example.com with an appropriate subject to have your question considered!
The Q/A will last for about 30 min, and we will get through as many questions as we can!
The Symposium has a date! January 15th at 1:30AM PST! So expect to see it uploaded on January 16th!
I have something VERY #EXCITING and special to announce!
If you have ever wondered about Neanderthals, this is something you are going to be very interested in!
Early in the #newyear, we will tentatively be hosting our very first ONLINE RECORDED SYMPOSIUM!
Between Tom Higham, Chris Stringer, and Rebecca Wragg Sykes, we are going to have a world-class panel of experts to give a sort of #Neanderthal 101 Presentation and answer all your questions!
There will be a half hour of presentations, each split into around ten minutes and then a half hour Q/A period.
THIS IS NOT LIVE
A week prior to the event, I will create a form for people to submit their questions to ask the experts, or that you are curious about. I will pick the ones I feel will provide the best conversation, and we will do that for half an hour.
Boy, is this going to be AMAZING, some of the top experts in the field, together and at once, presenting an open access #STEM #Scicomm Symposium on a topic that so many people find fascinating but do not know how to approach, or where to look for the proper, and correct information. We want to offer this for free as an educational tool for any of you who may be in the educational field, and a resource for students to use themselves. You are free to share, and use this however you see fit, as long as you credit those involved.
You won’t want to miss this!!!
Expect to see much more news about this in the coming weeks and months and as we get closer to the date, we will release more information.
A big Thank You to all those amazing Anthropologists, and Archaeologists who are participating in this symposium.
If you have any questions or want to see how you can get involved with helping out with W.O.P.A, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Up until we arrive at this most exciting date, be sure to keep up to date with what we are doing! We just published the VERY FIRST Morphology Video in our new series, you can check that out here:
And beyond that, which I do not know what interval it will be on, but shall become a regular thing, we are of course continuing our interview series, the next interview we shall be posting is with Dr. Becca Peixotto, and we following that we have an interview with the amazing Pat Shipman, AND THEN we have an interview with Author Henry Gee about his new book, and explore some content a little outside of our regular realm, and take a deep dive into biology and the Earth’s history.
And on top of all of that, we are working on projects that we have not been able to even talk about yet! There is so much coming up! The future is bright!
Remember, there is always more to learn!
Want to stay up to date with what is going on with this event, and maybe see how you can participate or help? Check out our Facebook event:
My 3D printed fossil collection that I am creating is not only for my own research and study, but to even more importantly use to help educate you, and any, or everyone else interested.
Stay tuned for our close-up look at the skills and get an introduction to them, and their species. Having a few technical difficulties in getting our first one done, but we are working on it!
But anyway I digress, I have great news!
In the next few weeks, thanks to Prof. Jeremy DeSilva, (Author of First Steps and Editor of A Most Interesting Problem) who has pretty been much solely responsible for the majority of my 3D printed fossil collection, as a very generous and gracious donation to my cause, he is even going to DOUBLE the size of my current collection, even adding some post-cranial bones for comparison! He truly believes in what we are doing here, and I hope to show him proud!
There is so much we have planned and are excited about! We are going to be starting various new video series, announce collaborative work with some major Global organizations, continue interviewing any and all interested scientists, from students like myself to Masters of the field.
We are going to introduce contests soon to win some awesome prizes, and most of all, we are going to teach!
We are going to help people learn, learn their origins which is just so critical.
And it is all thanks to the people who support us, myself, and science in general. While we are no official organization, we do accept any size range of financial gifts to help pay for equipment, website costs, and if allowed, who knows! The future is, as I have been told by some very *special* people, “limitless”! If there is anything else that you think would help me along as a #Science #Communicator, we would sure appreciate your help in getting it!
I started small, years ago, but look how we have grown! 500,000 visitors a week on our Facebook Page!
So, thank you, thank you all!
A MASSIVE shout-out to Dr. DeSilva for his most generous, and continuous support, encouragement, and dare I say, mentorship.
Check out my talk with Jeremy here:
Hello and Welcome to the World of Paleoanthropology!
Today we have a wonderful, and very exciting guest ( I mean don’t we always?) with an amazing new book out! “The World Before Us“. Working at Oxford for the last twenty years, he has recently moved to Germany to work at the University of Vienna. The World Before Us is an amazing book detailing our evolution over the last 400,000 years, and discusses us, Neanderthals, and Denisovans! How we are all related, what we have in common, and what we don’t!
Join us for a fun conversation and learn a great deal about Neanderthals, and hear a little about his book! Check out my review of his book here:
Tom is an amazingly nice guy, and we had a great time!
An expert on Neanderthals, Denisovans, and Radio Carbon Dating, Prof. Tom Higham, who now works at the University of Vienna, formerly worked at the Oxford Radio Carbon Excellatrator for 20 years!
It is very well possible that if you have heard of something being dated over the last 20 years, (That dates as far back as 55kya), Tom et.al were involved! Typically for archaeological items, multiple labs are used to cross reference results.
Oxford, is of course, one of the best labs in the World, in part thanks to Prof. Higham.
Join us for a fun conversation and learn a great deal about Neanderthals, and hear a little about his book! Check out my review of his book here:
Please do ENJOY! And leave your thoughts and comments in the comment section below!
Do you have questions about Neanderthals? Let me know and I will try to answer them!
Contact us at email@example.com
A Book Review
If you are on Academia.edu, please visit my paper there, and let me know your thoughts!
Biology is truly an amazing thing, from the simplest life forms from 3.5 MYA (if not earlier) to today’s vast range of species and creatures, as well as fauna. All of this is powered by something called “genes”. Genes are inherited from our ancestors and parents, and what they do, is code for proteins that allow our body to function in its expected ways. But it gets much more complicated than that, and for a long time, I was taught the Mendelian Principles, which of course still apply, but as I mentioned only breach the surface. We have learned a lot since the days of the Czech Monk. A great deal. I am sure he would be amazed at what we have learned, and stunned at where we are going. So where does this all lead up to? Enter the world of Epigenetics with Richard Francis, who delivers this information in an informative, and understandable way for those who have little experience in biology or genetics. Where to start? How about, everything you know about how behavior and traits are passed on is wrong? Yup.
I remember my first Biology class, it was 7th grade, and I learned something I will never get out of my head, based on the ideas of Lamarck, Giraffes, as a perfect and often used example, the Giraffe with the longest neck, or the one who learns to stretch its neck to reach into the higher recesses of a tree, where either more food in general lays, or possibly even more nutritious food. We were taught, that what the Giraffe did, did not affect the genes they would pass down. If the father had a short neck, the child had a 50% chance of having that as well. But is it so simple? In a short answer, no. Certain behaviors do leave markers on our genes, and loci, and lead to changes in the production of proteins. Significant enough changes can lead to phylogenetic changes in a species or subset of individuals. Now we have the idea, which was always there, just suppressed for simplicity’s sake, arising once again in modern culture. There are a lot of rumors, and ideas about what Epigenetics is, and especially what it is not. Unfortunately from the intense study of Genetics and Epigenetics, we also get Eugenics, which we do not need to talk about here. While this last topic is not touched upon very heavily in the book, the author does make it very clear how perverted the early science of genetics became, and the danger it put the entire world in. But the world was not done with genes or genetics, and the Author continues to go on to explain the basics of how genes function, come from the DNA, and are made to code for proteins, etc. The basic process is gone over, which is great for those new to the subject. This made reading the book fun, and easy. I think the author did a great job of taking complicated scientific ideas and making them so that the student, or layman can understand what he is trying to convey. So since we are now introduced to Epigenetics, what exactly are they, and how well does the author explain them, and convey their meaning?
One of the important things to understand about this book, and most books on genetics, and the author goes into specifics about this, is how simplified the concepts of dependence of genes, behaviors, and patterns have become. We have the technology and have learned an astonishing amount about our genetic makeup over just the last decade, but science communication has not kept up, and even in many research situations laboratories are still not using what we have learned from genetics. There are still those out there that will argue that there was no admixture between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals. The author believes that it’s time that we shed a light on all of this, and become science communicators who be a guiding hand to those who are interested in learning about these very complex and complicated ideas. Francis has a few ideas on how to mitigate these issues, some more viable than others but he is at least trying to be, what in 2012 was a “shocker”, an open researcher and scientist. Spreading his teachings and working with other scientists to refine his ideas and learn as much as he could, all so he could transfer it to us. Students and Professors like you and I. Science Communication is the future of our society in my humble opinion, the literacy to understand who and what we are, and why we are here, is the ultimate mystery and goal. There are clues, hidden in the sands of Africa, and in our very own DNA to a level so basic it is not even an organelle. There are various common issues that the author described encountering, such as those who steadfastly agree that genes can code for behavior, when only in very specific circumstances, such as in innate behaviors, our DNA is not affected by the life of our parents, save in small ways. We must get rid of the idea that one gene codes for one thing, such as eye color. Many genes, and loci, and DNA goes into deciding that, it is just not so simple.
So, what’s next? What does the author see for the future of genes and Epigenetics? Well, as with most things we have addressed today, there is an easy answer, and a more difficult one. The easy one is that we spread as much education as possible, gather as much data as possible, and bring everyone into it, and get them involved. On the other hand, we still only know so little about Epigenetics, should it be left up to the “experts” in the Ivory Tower? Or should the people be a part of the process? How do we change decades of misinformation on genetics taught in schools around the world, simply because it was “more simple”. Despite all of this, however, the future is bright for Epigenetics, with recent discoveries and the capabilities of stem cell research, severe research into how genes, loci, cells, and nuclei work. We learn more and more each day, but as anyone involved with Anthropology will find, as soon as you find the answer to one question, it just raises many more! So what does the author want us to take away from this book? A few things I think, firstly and most importantly the idea that genetics is nowhere near as simple as we have been lead to believe, or that our common education system informs us of. Epigenetics is not new, it’s just something that has been pushed under the rug due to a dirty past, and yet is a crucial part of understanding how our bodies work in and out. I think it’s important to know that not everything from 1800’s England was right, and some of the people we take theories and ideas from as if they are from the gods, are fallible. Lamarck has been mocked for hundreds of years for his “completely inaccurate” portrayal of genetics as my 7th-grade teacher said. It’s time we open our minds to the possibilities that there is more out there we do not understand, in fact far from it.
So, that brings us to the end of this little write-up/review. All said and done, “Epigenetics, How Environment Shapes Our Genes” by Richard C. Francis is an excellent read for anyone interested in why humans do what they do, down to the bare biological mechanicals of it. What you grew up (assuringly) knowing about genes and genetics is simplified, and albeit not completely wrong, but a very watered-down explanation. Now that we find ourselves where we do now, it’s time to take a look back, at Lamarck, Darwin, Wallace, the big names in the Victorian Age of Science, but how right were they? Did they get the story right? It seems they possibly may have gotten some of it correct, each of them a different little part. Since then, and with the invention of modern technologies and computers, we have been able to discover so much more, and it has lead to so many answers, but so many more questions. We discovered Epigenetics, and the horizon is endless.
Join Seth in the World of Paleoanthropology as he gets a notoriously famous Paleoanthropologist on the show.
One of Lee Berger’s postgrad advisors, and well known for his work at the University of Wits as a lead Paleoanthropologist before returning to the U.S.
On our show here, we would like to begin offering a varying range of ideas and opinions on our Shared Human Origins. We might have different ideas and methods, but we should all be a team with the same goal. To find what unites us.
Check out our chat, and let us know what you think!
Look for our next interview in the coming weeks with Prof. Tom Higham about his new book “The World Before Us!”
Check out our website for more- http://www.worldofpaleoanthropology.org
Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, concerns, to chat, or if you just want to be on the show!
Let me know if you like the new intro 😉