Briefly Noted: We Are Taming Ourselves

Conventional wisdom among anthropologists used to be that human evolution stopped about 50,000 years ago. Since then, according to paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, “Everything we’ve called culture and civilization we’ve built with the same body and brain.” 

Not so, claim the University of Utah anthropologists Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending in their new book, The 10,000 Year Explosion (Basic Books). Recent genomic screening suggests that civilization has accelerated human evolution. Cochran and Harpending find evidence that the higher population densities made possible by farming created selective pressures that favored genetic shifts toward more sociality, less violence, greater tolerance of alcohol, and more resistance to infectious diseases.

Even more intriguingly, certain genes associated with brain function have been sweeping through human populations. We need to take genetic change as well as cultural change into account to understand the human past and present. —Ronald Bailey

Find this and hundreds of other interesting books at the Reason Shop, powered by Amazon.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ms||

    I read your story a couple of weeks ago and I've been thinking about the implications. Is it possible, we already have genes that we can 'triger', in some unconscious program? Does it fall under our need to survive as a human family? I'm not convinced it is genetic change but rather we are like computers; consequently, as infantile operators, we are in perpetuum saying: I didn't know I could do that.

  • ms||

    I need to trigger my spelling gene!

  • abercrombie milano||

    Hi. I actually enjoyed reading your current blog post!. Good quality content. I might advise you to write articles much more often. By doing this, with such type of a helpful site I think that you could rank higher in the search engines :) . I also subscribed for your Rss. Keep up this excellent job!

  • nfl jerseys||

    jrtre

  • Finnish Spitz||

    POST learn your own Car Insurance tale several months in the past in addition to I am thinking about that benefits. Is it possible, most people have genes that him and i may 'triger', using some other than conscious system? Will the idea are categorized as some of our must pull through to be a human family? I am not assured it really is genetic alter nonetheless alternatively wolves gray i am for instance desktops; subsequently, since infantile operators, i am within perpetuum expressing: POST didn't know I possibly could make it happen.

  • nike air max||

    is good

  • nike air max||

    is good

  • moncler outlet||

    good

  • رش مبيدات||

    In an explanatory statement, Galschiot declared that “climate changes can only be stopped if the Western World starts massive investments in energy free of CO2 and sustainable production.” شركة تنظيف شقق بالرياض
    We're off to a bad start when he spews the phrase "sustainable production".

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement