Re: Genes contribute to patriotism and group loyality

From: Dr. David Campbell <amblema@bama.ua.edu>
Date: Mon Nov 14 2005 - 16:36:43 EST

> Are any of you familiar with the "research" that supports this kind
> of thinking?
> Genes contribute to patriotism and group loyalty
> <http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-11/cdri-gct111305.php>

I don't know about the specific studies involved. Some of the claims
are probably weak, "just so stories" in Gould's terms. I'm doubtful
about the rigor with which one can claim that closer kin grieve more,
given the vast variation among individuals in emotive patterns. The
attempts to explain everything become highly problematic. For
example, such genetic tendencies have been invoked on the one hand to
explain a tendency for remote tribes in a fight to take sides by
genetic relatedness, even when they did not have words expressing the
relevant degrees of relatedness. On the other hand, they're supposed
to explain the willingness of someone to put himself at risk for some
random person.

On the other hand, evolutionarily you would expect genes that promote
support of close kin (or those who appear to be close kin by whatever
cues are being used) to be successful.

A confounding factor not obviously addressed in the news summary is
the role of cultural rather than genetic factors. Groups that are
able to instill loyalty will tend to be more successful than those
that don't.

Genes _contribute_ to group loyalty should be no surprise. Genes
_fully explain every aspect of human behavior_ is an implausible
philosophical premise.

-- 
Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections Building
Department of Biological Sciences
Biodiversity and Systematics
University of Alabama, Box 870345
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0345  USA
Received on Mon Nov 14 16:38:11 2005

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