Tuesday 19 May 2015

Genetic and cultural information

 Food for thought regarding information and identity.
IMAGINE the fate of identical twins separated at birth, one reared among the indigenous Munduruku of Brazil, the other in the UK. Despite being genetically identical, they will be culturally as different as night and day [...]

Our genetic inheritance affects our physical and psychological make-up, including our intelligence. But our cultures give us our languages, religions, belief systems, technologies, lifestyles and ways of life.[...]

But in his engaging new book Mixed Messages, anthropologist Robert Paul argues that, owing to their independence, our genetic and our cultural inheritances will often be in conflict. He even goes so far as to say "their agendas are... at cross purposes".

To illustrate his point, Paul describes a cultural practice among the Mbaya people of South America that gets them to eschew sex, procreation being seen as a vulgar practice, beneath the dignity of this locally dominant tribe. Forgoing sex creates a dilemma for the perpetuation of the group, so Mbaya society has acquired the additional cultural belief that adoption of children from nearby tribes is a good thing. ...

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