Archives for category: where does culture come from?

how long can they** be an influence? ca. 200+ years. ca. 2000+ years?

there are three broad regions in libya: cyrenaica to the east, tripolitania to the west, and fezzan to the southwest.

these were provinces in the ottoman empire, and cyrenaica and tripolitania were parts of the umayyad caliphate before that. they were only joined up into a nation called libya in 1951.

by a guy who was from cyrenaica:

But [King] Idris himself was first and foremost a Cyrenaican, never at ease in Tripolitania. His political interests were essentially Cyrenaican, and he understood that whatever real power he had—and it was more considerable than what he derived from the constitution—lay in the loyalty he commanded as amir of Cyrenaica and head of the Sanussi order. Idris’ pro-Western sympathies and identification with the conservative Arab bloc were especially resented by an increasingly politicized urban elite that favored nonalignment.”

and then he was ousted by a guy from tripolitania.

and now he’s being ousted by — well, a LOT of people in libya — but the uprisings seem to have started (and it’s my impression have been strongest) in benghazi, which is back in cyrenaica.

so, while there’s all these gosh-derned tribes in libya, there also seems to be a broad east-west divide (plus fezzan which is mostly tuareg and other partially sub-saharan african folks).

cyrenaica was, very early on, settled by greeks:

tripolitania, on the other hand, by phoenicians:

now berbers and arabs are obviously very important if one tries to work out the “folkways” of libya. but my question is, could the greeks and phoenicians still be having an influence after all these years?

**of course, folkways are not just airy-fairy mores floating on the wind. they originate with folks and their various biologies.

update 02/27: according to this site

“Arabs, whether descending from Phoenicians or medieval tribes, constitute a minority in Libyan population. They mainly reside in Northeastern Libya, where Awlad Ali, the largest Arab tribe in Libya, lives.

“Some other major Arab tribes in Libya are Fawatir, Beni Selim, and Beni Hilal….”

so, there’s (possibly) an east|arab vs. west|berber divide in libya.

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dennis said the other day:

“The waning of religious and nationalistic beliefs means that biology plays a greater role…. Modern science has disillusioned us of our former beliefs, the only belief remaining being the will to power, which is itself a manifestation of nature, in which every living thing lives at the expense of other living things.”

eh. i gotta disagree. ’cause i think this is a false dichotomy: religion vs. biology.

what is religion (or religious beliefs and practices) except an expression of our biology? (our biologies, in fact — that’s partly why we’ve got different religions.) religion is a manifestation of nature. our nature.

religion is just culture — which is just a product of our biology, afaics.

yup. i’m a reductionist. but, hey — reductionism works.

previously: tribalism makes a comeback!

see also: Twins Study Finds Adult Religiosity Heritable from futurepundit.

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(the culture or the biology?)

so, some researchers found a rare variation of the 5-HT2B gene in finns that correlates strongly with violent, impulsive behavior. (see @gnxp: “hotheads by nature”)

which brought to my mind this paper by richerson and boyd: “Culture is Part of Human Biology: Why the Superorganic Concept Serves the Human Sciences Badly.”

in it, the researchers, referring to cohen & nisbett’s work, have this to say…

“Rates of violence in the American South have long been much greater than in the North. Accounts of duels, feuds, bushwhackings, and lynchings occur prominently in visitors’ accounts, newspaper articles, and autobiography from the 18th Century onward. According to crime statistics these differences persist today. In their book, Culture of Honor, Richard Nisbett and Dov Cohen (1996) argue that the South is more violent than the North because Southerners have different, culturally acquired beliefs about personal honor than Northerners. The South was disproportionately settled by Protestant Scotch-Irish, people with an animal herding background, whereas Northern settlers were English, German and Dutch peasant farmers….

“Their [Cohen & Nisbett] laboratory experiments are most relevant to our argument here. Cohen and Nisbett recruited subjects with Northern and Southern backgrounds from the University of Michigan student body, ostensibly to work on an psychological task dealing with perception. During the experiment, a confederate bumped some subjects and muttered ‘asshole’ at them. Cortisol (a stress hormone) and testosterone (rises in preparation for violence) were measured before and after the insult. Insulted Southerners showed big jumps in both cortisol and testosterone compared to uninsulted Southerners and insulted Northerners….”

…and then richerson & boyd go on to say…

“Nisbett and Cohen’s study illustrates the two main points we want to make in this essay.
- Culture is fundamental to understanding human behavior.
- Culture causes behavior by causing changes in our biology.”

yeah. sure. terrific.

but what if, also, our biology causes human behaviors which collectively become human culture(s).

i mean, in cohen & nisbitt’s study, there’s cortisol and testosterone levels going up. that sounds like biology to me!

personality is heritable. so is intelligence. what if different frequencies of whatever genes (alleles) it is that contribute to, say, flying off the handle happen to be more common in protestant scotch-irish people than in the english, german or dutch? couldn’t that account for why the culture of the american south is more violent?

i’m sure that there’s constant feedback here between our biology(ies) and our culture(s), but how come researchers never even bother to ask the sort of question i’m asking here? seems kinda, you know, obvious.

see also: Warrior gene prevalent in Maori: study

previously: extraversion and culture

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difficult to define, but i knows it when i sees it.

actually, i take that back. it’s not that difficult to define:

western culture is the total of the products of the actions and behaviors (which are driven by biological factors, of course) of european man.

how’s that? (i know the syntax isn’t great — that’s the nyquil.)

(this post was prompted by a post from last month over @gnxp @discover magazine: “What is this ‘Western culture’ you speak of?”)

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steve sailer says that peter frost says that some researchers found that extraversion is selected for in men in societies that practice polygyny.

as peter put it:

“Extraversion is part of the male toolkit for mating success. It is especially useful in societies where a high incidence of polygyny means too many men must compete for too few women.”

soooo … in an earlier post i pointed out that both austrian and png men decorate themselves with bird feathers but in sliiiiiightly different ways (and with different types of bird feathers, of course, dependent upon what sorts of birds live in austria vs. png).

i wondered why the differences? why are the pngers so much more ostentatious?

maybe i’ve got an answer to that question now. pngers are polygamous while austrians … eh, not so much. so, pngers are naturally (literally) more extraverted than austrians.

extraversion is, of course, a partially heritable trait. i.e. if ur an extrovert (or not), it’s in ur genes — at least in part.

which brings me back (at least in my mind) to my original question: where does culture come from? the answer seems to be: at least partially from our biology.

pngers decorate themselves like this >>

’cause as a population they must have more “genes for extroversion” (whatever those are).

meanwhile, back in austria >>

hbd. cool!

p.s. — peter also said:

“As a single man, I would spend close to $3,000 a year on dating. And that didn’t include things like buying a sportier-looking car.”

whoa. big spender! (~_^)

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western warship:

eastern warship:

“A Chinese Song Dynasty naval river ship with a Xuanfeng traction-trebuchet catapult on its top deck, taken from an illustration of the Wujing Zongyao (1044 AD).” [wikipedia]

african warship:

“War canoes have been extensively used in Africa to transport troops and supplies, and engage targets onshore. While documentation of canoe versus canoe battles in on the open ocean is rare, records from the 14th century mention various tribal peoples of West Africa using huge fighting canoes in inland waters, some up to 80 feet (24 m) and carrying over 100 men. Construction of the war canoe was typically from one massive tree trunk, with the silk cotton tree being particularly useful. The inside was dug out and carved using fire and hand tools. Braces and stays were used to prevent excessive expansion while the fire treatment was underway. Fire also served to release sap as a preservative against insect pests. Some canoes had 7 to 8 feet (2.4 m) of width inside, accommodating benches for rowers, and facilities such as fireplaces and sleeping berths.

“Warriors onboard were typically armed with shield, spear and bow. In the gunpowder era, small iron or brass cannon were sometimes mounted on the bow or stern, although the firepower delivered from these areas and weapons was relatively ineffective. Musketeers delivering fire to cover raiding missions generally had better luck. The typical tactic was to maneuver close to shore, discharge weapons, then quickly pull out to open water to reload, before dashing in again to repeat the cycle. Troop and supply transport were the primary missions, but canoe versus canoe engagements in the lagoons, creeks and lakes of West Africa were also significant.” [wikipedia]

bonus photo:

whoa. (click on the photo to see a really BIG version.)

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when european dudes play drums:

when west african dudes play drums (amazing awesomeness starting @3:05):

when east asian dudes play drums:

white dude plays DWEM tune:

black dude plays his own tune (gotta listen to this with the buds in!):

south asian dude plays harmonium (wtf?):

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