Myth Busting on Human Nature

Agustin Fuentes has a short interview on the myths about human nature that prevail in popular discourse and even in anthropology. The three big ones are race, sex, and aggression.

Here’s the excerpt for race and racism:

Myth: Humans are divided into races that differ in some biological and behavioral patterns.
Fuentes: “There is no separate gene for black or white. Our concept of race is not biological, it is social. While there is only one biological race in humans (Homo sapiens) it still matters whether you are black or white in the U.S. Differences between ‘races’ in this country are the outcomes of social, historical, economic, and experiential contexts, not biological entities . . . so what do we do about it?”

For more on sex, relationships, monogamy, violence and morality, you can go check out Agustin’s answers.

Agustin was part of our Encultured Brain session, and we featured a profile of him then, including some discussion of his work on niche construction. Agustin included ideas about the myths of human nature, niche construction and more in his new textbook The Evolution of Human Behavior

Catherine Panter-Brick and Agustin Fuentes co-edited the recent collection Health, Risk and Adversity. Stephen McGarvey reviews the book, “[The] contribution lies in reminding and refining how human health and biology are produced, perceived, and communicated in a deep social context that includes history, politics, economics, and current global culture, especially modern media.”

Here’s the Amazon blurb for Health, Risk and Adversity:

Research on health involves evaluating the disparities that are systematically associated with the experience of risk, including genetic and physiological variation, environmental exposure to poor nutrition and disease, and social marginalization. This volume provides a unique perspective a comparative approach to the analysis of health disparities and human adaptability and specifically focuses on the pathways that lead to unequal health outcomes. From an explicitly anthropological perspective situated in the practice and theory of biosocial studies, this book combines theoretical rigor with more applied and practice-oriented approaches and critically examines infectious and chronic diseases, reproduction, and nutrition.

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