End of Chapter 13 Questions

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright May 2018


1. What is meant by the analogy "Water is to fish as culture is to humans"? Do you think that humans could survive without culture?

2. Several times in this chapter the authors talk about a "mismatch" between our evolved biology and our contemporary lifestyles, and they suggest that this mismatch has negative consequences for health. Do you agree with that many of our health problems result from this mismatch, or do you think that our health is generally much better than that of our ancestors?

3. Consider the following statement: "In the United States, socioeconomic status is the primary determinant of nutrition and health." Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why or why not?

4. Why is it important to study human evolution from a bicultural perspective? What unique perspectives does this approach provide for understanding the expression of traits or the risk of disease?


1. If they did they certainly wouldn't be human as we know it. Culture is as much a part of being human as trunks are a part of being elephant.

2. Thanks to our modern technologies our health is much better than that of our ancestors. Look at infant mortality rates, the average age to which humans now live and the total human population on earth. These indicate we are doing well, real well. That said, we can do better and yes we are still evolving. The pressures put on evolution by modern lifestyles are quite different, and whew! the lifestyle changes are so fast and dramatic that evolution is far from keeping up. But it is still happening and will continue to happen. Evolution and adapting aren't going away. But... another dramatic twist will be the rise of extensive and inexpensive gene editing. Wow! So different from natural selection in how to change the gene mix.

3. In the US socioeconomic status does make a difference. This is good because it promotes technological and cultural advancement. The alternative, long aspired to by social justice warriors, is having equality among all people in the community. The problem is: this doesn't work yet, it is too expensive -- a contemporary example being Venezuela. Its time is coming, and coming soon, but it's not here yet. It comes when AI and robotics control most of the mainstream manufacturing, service and transportation industries -- robots make it, humans consume it. If you want more details I write about this in my Visions of 2050 books.

4. It is important because culture is so much a part of the human experience, and it has been all through what I call the Neolithic Village era of human existence. It has shaped evolution. Humans are what they are today because of the culture that strong language skill, strong tool using skill and assisted childbirth and child raising have supported.



--The End--