Stretch Genes by H. Allen Orr

So much of this debate happens, in my view, because people do not realize the obvious fact that culture is encoded in the language and norms of people, especially when we speak of civilizations with written language. Obviously, written norms can be stronger than genetic encodings for social behavior (the Korean example that Orr so well describes in this piece). While it is very easy to raise a child from a different genetic background to behave according to norms the society where she is raised adheres to (e.g. adopted and children of immigrants), it is much more difficult to transplant cultural norms and institutions from one society to another (e.g. exporting liberal democracy), therefore genetic behavior is much less a cause of societal dispositions than cultural encodings. As Orr says:

 "If culture can so easily overwhelm genes—and Wade sometimes seems to concede that it can—why should we care about such pliant genetic predispositions, even if they were real?"

 Full book review @ The New York Review of Books



Want to Get Out Alive? Follow the Ants - Issue 13: Symmetry - Nautilus

"Ants show that emergency exits can work better when they’re obstructed." Fulle article @ Nautilus



How genes help shape brain after birth

"we examine how genetic effects on cortical thickness change longitudinally over childhood and adolescence using a large genetically informative imaging sample. We find rapid changes in genetic effects in early childhood, with stabilization in late adolescence. The areas with the greatest changes include evolutionarily novel regions. These findings have implications for future molecular genetic studies of imaging endophenotypes and further our sparse understanding of how genes help to shape the brain after birth." Full paper @ PNAS


QnAs with Simon A. Levin

"National Academy of Sciences member Simon A. Levin, an ecologist at Princeton University, has studied the dynamics of complex adaptive systems, ranging from bacterial biofilms and forest ecosystems to financial markets and bioterrorism responses. Levin’s work is now recognized as foundational in the development of environmental management, and in March 2014 Levin was awarded the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. To commemorate the honor, PNAS spoke with Levin.": QnAs with Simon A. Levin

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