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votes

Variance within group amongst H&G vs Modern Humans?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 05, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Hi, help me think this through please :)

Randomly select 100 babies born in the USA and watch them grow up into young adulthood, and record all the varying ailments they have such as some having bad feet, or bad shoulders, maybe someone can hardly run, someone else has no co-ordination, etc etc and and all possible deviations from perfectly normal.

Then randomly select 100 babies from a hunter and gatherer tribe and do the same thing.

Now asking this here is surely conformational bias in its highest order but would you agree we would most likely see less ailments in the hunter & gatherer group? And why?

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on November 05, 2010
at 02:07 PM

Matthew, good point! Forgot about infant death. But probably natural selection would not allow for frequent genetic weaknesses? So weaknesses or ailments that arise (and they probably do) could have been more environmental/developmental than genetic?

4e40d2b9e1a762949a25b958762aa10d

(762)

on November 05, 2010
at 01:44 PM

It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. -Sherlock Holmes

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4 Answers

4
89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on November 05, 2010
at 12:06 PM

Early environment plays a huge role for development:

Before birth, the mother IS the environment, and so the health of the mother and her lifestyle is very important. You can see where typical 'modern' humans differ.

The early childhood years are also very important, on all aspects of development. A great book to read on this: Hunter Gatherer Childhoods. Read this, or any other HG anthropological book, and you will understand how much our modern childhoods differ from theirs. My wife is a paediatric physical therapist very much interested in normal psychomotor development, and she will tell you that modern parents and modern habits and lifestyle restrict children a lot, even without knowing and wanting it. And lets not talk about co-sleeping, physical (skin) contact, diet, sunlight, ...

Now variation is normal. Hey, without variation there would be no natural selection to work on. Different talents are normal. But on the subject of motor development, we all have the birthright to be athletic (except the few 'real' genetic diseases ofcourse). But some will be strong, some will be fast, some will have superb eye-hand coordination, ...

Maybe there is some truth in this probably exaggerated statement:

There is only one way to do it right, there are a lot of ways to do it wrong.

3
0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on November 05, 2010
at 12:42 PM

we would most likely see less ailments in the hunter & gatherer group?

Yes.

And why?

By young adulthood about half of the hunter-gatherers would be dead. I would suggest that any weakness or aliment is going to leave you at an increased risk of death in the wild. Sucks to be a hunter-gatherer. Or live any time in the past.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on November 05, 2010
at 02:07 PM

Matthew, good point! Forgot about infant death. But probably natural selection would not allow for frequent genetic weaknesses? So weaknesses or ailments that arise (and they probably do) could have been more environmental/developmental than genetic?

0
D339c39d94d65460e28128174845f423

(821)

on November 07, 2010
at 07:51 AM

One Chapter from the aforementioned book Hunter Gatherer Childhoods is here

Other chapters may be on the site there

0
Medium avatar

on November 05, 2010
at 01:12 PM

A fabulous book (although not dealing specifically w HG) dealing with environment v. genetics is The Blank Slate; The Modern Denial of Human Nature by neuroscientist Steven Pinker.

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