Im britischen "Prospect Magazine" bespricht der britische Sprachwissenschaftler Mark Pagel zwei neue Bücher über die derzeitigen Entwicklungen in der Humangenetik (via Globalclashes und Google News Alert) und Schlußfolgerungen, die aus diesen zu ziehen sind. Es handelt sich um Entwicklungen, die auch hier auf "Studium generale" schon vielfach thematisiert worden sind, und die den "Menschen, das Gruppenwesen" auch aus Sicht der Humangenetik und der Evolutionären Psychologie in den Mittelpunkt stellen, bzw. den Menchen als Angehörigen einer religiösen oder ethnischen Gemeinschaft.
Mark Pagel war St. gen. schon früher positiv aufgefallen, einmal als Erforscher von Sprachstammbäumen (siehe hier), außerdem durch seinen Beitrag im diesjährigen "Weltfragezentrum" von "The Edge" mit dem Titel "Wir unterscheiden uns mehr als wir gedacht haben" (gemeint ist wiederum: genetisch) (hier).
Und dies ist auch der Tenor seiner neuen Rezension, in der er sich auf der Linie des britischen Anthropologen Robin Dunbar bewegt, der sich über diese Thematik ebenfalls schon Gedanken gemacht hat (ebenso wie Richard Dawkins und viele andere) (siehe viele frühere St. gen.-Beiträge):
If we measure large numbers of genetic markers from populations around the world and then use them to form clusters, we get back groupings that bear a striking resemblance to what have conventionally been recognised as the major racial groups on the planet: Europeans and western Asians, Africans, people from the Americas, eastern Asians, and Australasians.Und weiter:
To deny what everybody knows and to swap the word race for something less politically charged like "group" is just an act of self-denial and certainly no more accurate than the dreaded "r" word. It is also patronising — I would like to think we are all grown up enough to accept the facts and ready ourselves for the deluge to come. I say deluge because the more we measure, the more genetic differences we find among populations; and no kinds of difference can be absolutely ruled out (to be clear, there is no reason to expect Caucasians will do well out of this). We may in future need a language, and maybe even a new ethics, to discuss the new genetics."Wir liegen noch in unseren Windeln" - evolutionär gesehen
Das ist exakt der Standpunkt, den auch "Studium generale" vertritt. Alles, was hier gesagt wird, trifft den Nagel so deutlich auf den Kopf, daß es hier möglichst vollständig zitiert werden soll:
Why go on about these differences? Because they tell us something startling about our species. (...) We are a very young species. At about 100,000 to 150,000 years old, maybe less, we have just flickered into an existence that could go on—if we are an average species—for 8-10m years. We are not yet out of our nappies. Without going into the details, there are only two ways we could have amassed the genetic differences we have while still in this toddlerhood. One is that different races have been good at keeping to themselves since we spread around the world after walking out of Africa 70,000 years ago. Physical separation would have allowed many random differences to accumulate between groups. But this could only have occurred if inter-group migration were very low. It could also reflect active avoidance, something suggested by the growing sense among anthropologists that human history can best be understood as constant attempts by different group to annihilate each other.Es folgen noch weitere Erörterungen.
The second way humanity could have achieved its genetic variation would be if natural selection has acted strongly on human populations, promoting different traits in different groups. I say "strongly" because the differences have been produced in a short time, and natural selection has had to work against the homogenising influences of migration and interbreeding. This is why we can be sure that when we see so-called "adaptive" differences, they tell us we are staring at people who have been selected to be very good at some challenge their environment throws at them, be it conserving heat, protecting the eyes from wind-blown sand, fighting off malaria or being able to digest milk proteins. These are not accidental differences.
Moreover, even after the ravages brought by the waves of expanding agriculturalists beginning about 10,000 years ago, followed more recently by the great imperial conquests of the last 800 to 900 years, humans still speak about 7,000 distinct languages. You don't get that by hanging out with each other.
So we are a species with a short but intense history of living in relatively isolated groups. (...) Our co-operation allows us to have a division of labour and exchange—someone mends the fishing nets while another collects coconuts—and the specialisation this allows is almost certainly responsible for our rapid spread around the world.
No other species does anything like this. The co-operative hunting seen among male chimpanzees is largely done among bands of (genetic) brothers. Ants co-operate, and they are capable of raising sophisticated armies, and of deploying them in complex ways against other ant armies. But ants are effectively genetic clones of each other and so don't mind giving aid or even their lives to help the collective.
Co-operation among unrelated humans is a different matter. (...) Humans have evolved sensitive mechanisms to discriminate between people likely to share their co-operative values from those that do not.
Trust, the topic of Marek Kohn's book of the same name, is what arises from this discrimination—and Kohn rightly recognises that trust promotes both self-interest and the common good.