Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths about Human Nature

Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths about Human Nature

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0520269713

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


There are three major myths of human nature: humans are divided into biological races; humans are naturally aggressive; men and women are truly different in behavior, desires, and wiring. In an engaging and wide-ranging narrative Agustín Fuentes counters these pervasive and pernicious myths about human behavior. Tackling misconceptions about what race, aggression, and sex really mean for humans, Fuentes incorporates an accessible understanding of culture, genetics, and evolution requiring us to dispose of notions of “nature or nurture.” Presenting scientific evidence from diverse fields, including anthropology, biology, and psychology, Fuentes devises a myth-busting toolkit to dismantle persistent fallacies about the validity of biological races, the innateness of aggression and violence, and the nature of monogamy and differences between the sexes. A final chapter plus an appendix provide a set of take-home points on how readers can myth-bust on their own. Accessible, compelling, and original, this book is a rich and nuanced account of how nature, culture, experience, and choice interact to influence human behavior.

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of genetics. Genetics: The Basics As the shared unit of heredity across organisms DNA is core to understanding the processes of evolution.7 To say that DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the main unit of heredity means that it is the way in which core information about organisms is passed from one generation to the next.8 In sexually reproducing organisms, like humans, one set of DNA is provided by the mother and another by the father.9 This DNA contains basic information that, when combined with

extent, we can even attempt to identify the genetic histories of individuals, a snapshot of the lines of people in the past who have contributed to one’s genetic ancestry, by examining these frequencies of patterns in the micro-level variants of individuals’ DNA. How can we be so similar and yet have this micro-level diversity at the same time? Basic genetic analyses can help us understand this pattern of similarity and diversity and show us that it does not equate with any of the categories of

myth as their starting point. Now we know that blood does move through the body and affects the health and status of the body, but it does not do so in the ways that doctors in the 1700s thought it did. Some aspect of reality (the circulation of blood) and a major component of myth (the power of the humors) worked together to create a baseline reality that was accepted until other, more 6 | Myth-Busting Tool Kit accurate, information came along and was integrated into society’s (and

for much of the twentieth century.38 This view contradicts what Moses and the entire American Anthropological Association posit: that race matters as an important cultural component of our society.39 Although the reality of race and racism as part of our society is not being debated, the relative importance of race is a strong current issue, as noted in a recent poll by ABC News and the Washington Post.40 More than twice as many American blacks identified racism as a “big problem” than did

American or American Indian you must hail from the “original peoples of North and South America (including Central America)” and “maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment” stems from the history of treaty signings and manipulation of Indian lands and cultures by the US government. Interestingly, this results in a number of Native Americans without tribal affiliation not being legally classifiable as American Indians. The fact that “Asian” applies to anyone with ancestry in the “Far

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