Sunday, March 12, 2006
"EAST ASIAN and European cultures have long been very different, Richard E. Nisbett argued in his recent book 'The Geography of Thought.' East Asians tend to be more interdependent than the individualists of the West, which he attributed to the social constraints and central control handed down as part of the rice-farming techniques Asians have practiced for thousands of years.
A separate explanation for such long-lasting character traits may be emerging from the human genome. Humans have continued to evolve throughout prehistory and perhaps to the present day, according to a new analysis of the genome reported last week by Jonathan Pritchard, a population geneticist at the University of Chicago. So human nature may have evolved as well.
If so, scientists and historians say, a fresh look at history may be in order. Evolutionary changes in the genome could help explain cultural traits that last over many generations as societies adapted to different local pressures."