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Domarius
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Lets not forget that middle eastern and north african cultures enslaved white barbarians and had advanced astrological and mathermatical ideals while the europeans were still wearing bear pelts.

 

 

IIRC from my ancient world history classes, the worlds first universities were located in Africa. Some groups in Africa had complex communication networks that spanned miles and miles using runners and drums to transmit information, at a time when Europeans were still dwelling in caves. Equatorial Africans were aware of the benefits of inoculation long before Europe, it was african slaves who taught their masters to dap bits of pus from dying smallpox infections onto healthy slaves, so that weakened smallpox bug infections would trigger the immune system to protect against even worse infections later on. (They didnt know all that but they knew enough to do it.) The list is long, but unfortunately much obscured by the history of slavery and imperialism, historical revisionism (such as Napoleon shooting the nose off of the Sphinx because the notion it was made by Nubian blacks ruling Egypt was too much for him to bear), as well as racism blinkering our views. Africa was the birthplace of humanity, although not much evidence surives it seems very likely it was home to many firsts for the species. China and Mesopotamia always get the credit but thats probably mostly due to the fact that those cultures left behind more durable objects than many african cultures, which can be attributed to the resources they used to make those things, i.e. using plant based papers to write on versus clay tablets like the Babylonians or builiding houuses from stone or wood versus hay or thatch.

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I'm a musician so I'll speak from that point of view . . . I'm also half Eskimo . . .

 

Ethnomusicology (study of world music) was probably the most interesting class I had as an undergrad. It made me realize that Western European art music was fairly simple (until we get into the 20th Century that is). Historically, due to the church, music construction became more simplified so the church can actually understand the music. Polyphony, the church thought, made the text hard to understand but composers kept using polyphony more and more as each era of music goes by. As music keeps getting more complex in each era, the start of the next era is focused on simplicity. This was the case from Medieval to the Renaissance, from the Renaissance to the Baroque (means irregular pearl, a derogatory term because some people thought the music was too complex), and from the Baroque to the Classic/Romantic eras. Classical music is fairly simple compared to the later music of previous eras. This is not to say the Classic era did not get more complex because composers like Mozart & Beethoven studied the most complex music of their time, J.S. Bach. I say this music was fairly simple because the beats were regular and predictable, the musical language was simplified to a tonic/dominant relationship, and the harmony was there to support the melodic line.

 

Then we get to the late Romantic & early 20th Century where composers like Bela Bartok (considered as begin the first true ethnomusicologist) started studying music of other cultures & used those ideas in his compositions. Other composers branched out & some incorporated music from other cultures. The music of India is extremely complex with their ragas (similar idea as a musical scale but not quite) and talas (the rhythmic system).

 

Here's an excerpt from a wikipedia article about ragas:

In north India, the ragas have recently been categorised into ten thaats or parent scales (by Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande, 1860-1936); South India uses a somewhat older, more systematic classification scheme called the melakarta classification, with 72 parent (melakarta) ragas.
The system is a lot more complex than this & you could probably spend a lifetime to study this one aspect of Indian music.

 

Talas are extremely complex as well:

The pulse of the Indian rhythmic structure can be as short as 3 beats or as long as 108 (although these are rarely done any more). Tabla (Indian drum) players memorize a lot of these patterns & if you ever get a chance to see them in action I would highly recommend it! The practice of tabla playing include rhythmic syllables that complement the sounds of the tabla. One performer recites these syllables (& they are damn fast at doing it) & the tabla player repeats these on the drum. & with these long rhythmic patterns, whether combined or whatever, are extremely complex & would leave your average, or skilled for that matter, European performer in the dust.

 

African rhythms are complex as well. Have you ever tried two beats against three? One hand beats a pulse of two while the other hand does 3 in the same amount of time. Polyrhythms, ladies and gents. Take your average orchestra & most likely they'll play something in 4/4 time. Guaranteed. Now take two or three orchestras playing 3 different pieces in 3 different meters. It'll sound messy because they're not the same piece (Mozart actually had one piece being performed while another different piece was playing in one of his operas. He was a genius after all). It's theorized that Africans have a different sense of time than other cultures. European culture tends to think of time as being linear & everyone is on that same line experiencing the passing of time like anyone else. Africans' sense of time could be said that everyone is experiencing time at a different level. That's how they keep their music cohesive but rhythmically complex at the same time. Steve Reich is one composer who studied African music & incorporated what he learned in his music.

_____________

 

With all this being said, I believe that humans adapt to their environments. Nothing more, nothing less. Would I expect an African to be a mathematical genius? The next Einstein? It's possible. Would I be able to compare myself to a skilled African drummer? Definitely not. Would an African be an expert tabla player? Would an Indian tabla player be rising on a corporate ladder? I don't know but with the discipline a tabla player acquires it wouldn't be out of reach.

 

Also the measure of intelligence varies & inconsistent. Am I any smarter than a Black American? Am I any smarter than the lady I see at the bank? Everyone has their strength & weaknesses. If a person cares to adapt to this dog eat dog society than they can take advantage of it. Black, white, yellow, brown, olive, and then some.

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A couple of points.

 

On the hypothesis of evolution amongst migrating early humans, there are several things that have to kept in mind. First of all, primates are unique in that they have far more "overlay" capability in their genetic structure than any other creature discovered so far. Most mammals for example, seem to be able to use one segment of DNA to encode for about 2 or 3 protein synthesis sequences when the sequences are split and rejoined in various ways. One of the distinct features of primate genetics is that we have more (I think 5 if I remember correctly.) There is some speculation that this extended overlay capability was instrumental in allowing primates to adapt to rapidly changing environments in Africa. In other words, the primary feature of primates may not be the things we talk about, but rather, a high propensity to mutation.

 

However, the notion that people who stayed in Africa did not have to evolve is flawed on several fronts. Firstly, the climate of Africa is highly variable, particularly in rainfall rates. Africa has gone through many cycles of wet and dry over the course of hominid evolution. It may in fact be the factor that favored our ancestors with adaptive skills. Secondly, even with human migration patterns, the amount of interbreeding among human populations has always been fairly high. Most hunter-gather societies practice "cousin tribe" marriage policies. Given that human beings are highly mobile, and that spouse trading between neighbors was commonplace, consider the migration rates of genes. At 20 years per generation, moving an average of 10 miles per generation (a low estimate), that's 10000 miles in 20000 years. Such time scales are miniscule in evolutionary terms.

 

Given the human propensity to wandering, overpopulating and spreading out, it is unlikely that an "inferior" population in Africa would have lasted beyond the far far paleolithic age. They would have been displaced by more adaptive humans looking to form sub-tribes with their own territories due to population pressure. The notion that some "multi-branch" evolutionists have proposed that the Sahara was prohibitive to the movement of people is flawed because: 1) The Sahara turnes into a savanah during periods before and after every ice age, 2) people have always moved up and down the rift valleys near the red sea to the horn of africa and southward, 3) and ancient trails through the Sahara from desertified times are discovered often by explorers of the region. Furthermore, studies of relics, for example, of roman iron found in inuit communities, demonstrate that trade occurred across vast networks that would have also spread genes.

 

The notion that there could be some sort of genetic difference in human populations is not a question that should not be asked, but it is one that, luckily for us, most of the evidence does not seem to support. Ofcourse, if you want to carry it to extremes, up until recently in China it was standard teaching in many universities that the Chineese were descended from a seperate line of hominids than the rest of "humanity", thereby affording them their obviously superior intelligence and moral character.

 

On one other note, I hate to see the word "evolution" bandied about like it means progress. That somehow, evolution does us a "favor" by "weeding out the weak." Evolution does no such thing. Evolution mearly weeds out anything that doesn't reproduce effectively. What is "weak" and what is "strong" are human concepts that don't exist outside of the human mind. The definitions are completely relative (oooh, moral relativism, I'm a horrible person!) and arbitrary. To pretend that the products of evolution are better just because they reproduce more effectively is rather self limiting. I personally don't think we will reach our true potential until we begin to live in fully engineered bodies and let our minds escape the parasitic gene-factories that they are currently strapped to.

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I personally don't think we will reach our true potential until we begin to live in fully engineered bodies and let our minds escape the parasitic gene-factories that they are currently strapped to.

 

Which of course is still evolution, only on a different scale, then now. :)

Gerhard

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A couple of points.

 

On the hypothesis of evolution amongst migrating early humans, there are several things that have to kept in mind. First of all, primates are unique in that they have far more "overlay" capability in their genetic structure than any other creature discovered so far. Most mammals for example, seem to be able to use one segment of DNA to encode for about 2 or 3 protein synthesis sequences when the sequences are split and rejoined in various ways. One of the distinct features of primate genetics is that we have more (I think 5 if I remember correctly.) There is some speculation that this extended overlay capability was instrumental in allowing primates to adapt to rapidly changing environments in Africa. In other words, the primary feature of primates may not be the things we talk about, but rather, a high propensity to mutation.

 

However, the notion that people who stayed in Africa did not have to evolve is flawed on several fronts.

I didn't suggest they didn't evolve at all, but at a relatively slower rate. Evolution is forced, it doesn't volunteer itself, so once a species reaches it's niche it just stays there, such as crocodiles, which have been basicaly unchanged for over a hundred million years. If their circumstances don't change, if they can carry on surviving without changing, there's no need for them to do so.

I can't beleive the african climate and other circimstamces were fluctuating so wildly over the last 20,000 years, that it would have provoked the same rate of evolution as in populations spreading over the world.

Also, 'more evolved' intellectual traits wouldn't necessarily show up in DNA comparisons, would they? I'm not sure how you would specifically test for them, I know that IQ tests have generally been discredited.

 

So, you think that europeans, and other wanderers, such as the orientals, only changed physically from their african ancestors, you don't think there was any mental change at all? Let's not even use the word 'better', but let's just say 'different'.

Civillisation will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest.

- Emil Zola

 

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It makes perfect sense that the poeple who stayed in africa didn't have to evove much furthur, becasue their lives stayed pretty much the same for the last 50,000 years, while the poeple who moved out of africa into new environments, faced a lot of change and therefore carried on evovling at a relatively faster rate.

If europeans had time to evolve different physical traits from africans, then I don't know why you find it impossible to believe that they also developed different mental abilities at the same time.

The fallacy here seems to be that you're equating adapting to a "new" different geographic area with being "better" in some measurable sense.

 

If you moved a bunch of green birds from an area with green foliage to an area with yellow foliage, and they eventually evolved a yellow color to better avoid predators in yellow foliage land, that doesn't mean the yellow birds are "better" than the green birds that stayed in the same place.

 

Also, you're assuming that the group that moved to the new place would retain all the positive traits of the old group, in addition to whatever traits they developed to face new challenges. That's not true, because if a challenge from the old environment was not present in the new environment, the trait developed to deal with that challenge is no longer selected for and could easily go away via mutation.

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I've read his last paragraph, it's all very PC and elegant, but Ill ask him which of those societies he would rather live in...but we already know the answer to that.

It's nothing but hypocrisy, talking up these quaint little backward cultures. I don't see you going to live there.

Ha, you ask which one is 'the best' - well, you choose to live in this one, so I'll take that as your final answer.

 

 

Your right oDD I do prefer living in a modern, Western society with its creatures comforts and longer lifespans but I'm taking the point of view of the species survival here. I'm really criticizing the argument that having lots of complex technology or a particular kind of political system is a good standard by which to claim one societies superiority over another.

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One thing that doesn't seem to have been mentioned is that humans have a very high general intelligence, which allows them to adapt to new environments without the assistance of natural selection. That is why we, as a single species, can populate almost every part of the planet, whereas other animals are divided into separate species adapted to their specific habitat.

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The homo genus did branch off into different species though. The neanderthals were better adapted for cold climates than homo sapiens.

So it's possible that homo sapens can further branch off in to different classes, if not actual species, given that we're now interfering with our own evolution.

Civillisation will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest.

- Emil Zola

 

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One thing that doesn't seem to have been mentioned is that humans have a very high general intelligence, which allows them to adapt to new environments without the assistance of natural selection. That is why we, as a single species, can populate almost every part of the planet, whereas other animals are divided into separate species adapted to their specific habitat.

 

Don't forget that human females are prepared to mate year round, IIRC most other apes only reproduce twice a year.

 

The homo genus did branch off into different species though. The neanderthals were better adapted for cold climates than homo sapiens.

So it's possible that homo sapens can further branch off in to different classes, if not actual species, given that we're now interfering with our own evolution.

 

You should read Greg Benfords hard sci fi piece "Comet", its about humans colonizing Halleys Comet, finding life there, and eventually branching off into three distinct species of human.

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The idea that human beings have different mental capabilities isn't borne out by the evidence. Even if you think the small percentage difference in "IQ" normal score in some studies is not at least partially due to poverty/nutrition/etc..., the range of overlap is so vast that there wouldn't be a discernable effect on a culture. Environmental and almost purely random circumstances would play a greater role in cultural evolution.

 

Furthermore, if you look at human genetics, the only traits that vary from region to region are those that are adaptive form region to region. Specifically, skin coloration as a balance between protection from ultra-violet light damage and the need for ultra-violet light to produce vitamin D in the skin is one such trait. Others that have to do with respiration or shielding the eyes are all adaptations to specific environments. Intelligence, on the other hand, is useful in any environment, and wouldn't be selected for or against based on location on the globe.

 

Also, evolution doesn't preserve things in the same state if there is no change in environment. Rates of mutation stay the same. Crocodiles have not "stayed the same." They have mutated and evolved as much as anything else. Its just that the original form still works so you still see those. The ones that mutated don't look like crocodiles anymore.

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That's what I'm saying happened with human populations.

The original african form stayed pretty much the same, being already perfect for their surroundings, so they still exist more or less in that same form, while the ones that mutated, europeans for example, don't look or think exactly the same as them any more.

Intelligence, on the other hand, is useful in any environment, and wouldn't be selected for or against based on location on the globe.

Not location, but the amount of new environments and experiences and survival challenges the traveling populations were faced with could have made the randomly more intelligent ones the dominant force and the survivors and breeders, much like the superior intelligence of homo sapiens forced out the neanderthals when we showed up.

 

Slightly increased intelligence wouldn't show up in DNA tests anyway, so that's useless, and it only takes a slight increase in overall average intelligence to make one culture vastly dominant.

I'm not saying we're all Einsteins and Newtons compared to them.

Civillisation will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest.

- Emil Zola

 

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That's what I'm saying happened with human populations.

The original african form stayed pretty much the same, being already perfect for their surroundings, so they still exist more or less in that same form, while the ones that mutated, europeans for example, don't look or think exactly the same as them any more.

 

That's a pretty stange argument, when you consider that the same people also moved the other countries, and performed there similar to local people. That looks more a culture issue to me, than anything else.

Gerhard

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This was very obvious at university which was infested by spoiled, whining feminists setting up special women-only groups to complain about how unfair it was that they didn't have dedicated bins to put their sanitary towels in, and other really stupid nonsense.
Once for a month I worked in a cafe where every other night I had the duty of cleaning the bathrooms. I really didn't enjoy taking out the stinking bloody sanitary things from the stainless steel bin on the wall, plus an occasional diaper with a present inside (changing a baby in the bathroom?) so I would prefer those bins were never implemented. I always traded in this duty for an equivalent one of cleaning the outside with the girl who was working with me as she seemed to dislike being outside in the dark and the cold much more and I preferred being out in the fresh air hauling tons of garbage. Gender pre-disposition?

 

Then you get into the dubious area of positive discrimination, where, by law, you have to have a certain number of disabled people, a certain number of ethnic people, and a certain number of women, even though there are able bodied white men who are actually better than them at the job, and then you end up wiht a workforce that isn't as good as it could be because you have all these whining minorities forced upon you.
That happens a lot in Canada.

 

I don't think we're doing ourselves , our gene pool any long term favours by always taking pity in the weakest people and promoting them.
I don't think we should be concerned about doing favours for our gene pool, only for ourselves.

 

It's simply because the new europeans had new frontiers and new challenges to overcome, and had to keep evolving, while the african races stagnated. I think the same is true of the oriental races, which more or less match europeans intellectually, even though they didn't achieve as much, but that's due to factors other than intelligence.

THe difference between a black west african and a nothern european is not just the colour of the skin, there is at least 20,000 years of evolution separating them as well.

Likewise if a colony of people survived in space where survival depended on engineering skills they would genetically be good engineers. The Inuit also had uncomfortable cold situations, what's their status on evolution? I don't think it's 20,000 years, seems like it started only after the fall of rome. Oriental races seem to have a better mental capacity of thriving in the current academic/workforce environments.

 

Lets not forget that middle eastern and north african cultures enslaved white barbarians and had advanced astrological and mathermatical ideals while the europeans were still wearing bear pelts.
True

 

An entirely fallacious argument. There is a high "switching cost" associated with choosing to go and live in a different culture to your own, therefore people's reluctance to do so is not a valid indicator of the comparative merits of the respective societies.
I know a girl in the Phillippines who wouldn't want to move to the usa or canada.
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Oriental races seem to have a better mental capacity of thriving in the current academic/workforce environments.

 

That's more work ethic than intelligence, I think. Indians and Chinese are not brought up to believe that they are top of the pile with an entitlement to free and easy living, unlike some Anglo-Americans.

 

I work for a large multinational company with workforces in India who are used to offshore certain tasks, and the general impression I have gained (mainly through the experiences of others) is that they are like computers: very diligent and prepared to do what you tell them, but largely lacking in initiative or ability to work things out for themselves.

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Polyphony, the church thought, made the text hard to understand but composers kept using polyphony more and more as each era of music goes by.

Polyrhythms, ladies and gents.

It's theorized that Africans have a different sense of time than other cultures.

Very good Article. My cousin didn't like the several pieces of music I considered remarkable and brought to her attention(groups:Qntal, Helium Vola, and an Arabic song the name of which I will edit in once I get home). I like them particularly for the excellent execution of complexity, she says they are too fast and she doesn't have enough time to think, but she likes slow and drawn-out songs. I think it's a difference in the speed of thought between us. she is studying English Arts and Science now, got in from the second attempt, plays Everquest a lot.

 

 

The fallacy here seems to be that you're equating adapting to a "new" different geographic area with being "better" in some measurable sense.
The debate between what's better and what's evolutionary was pronounced when Darwinism was scrutinized in 1880s. The conclusion was that the theory tells us the evolutionary arrow but no moral guides.
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is that they are like computers: very diligent and prepared to do what you tell them, but largely lacking in initiative or ability to work things out for themselves.
I have recently seen a short news article about a offshoring and a very lengthy set of "comments" following it describing the very same thing, but with some people arguing such comparisons cannot be made. I have observed the same thing, but not with brown people, only orientals, about 90% of them. Such discussions tend to escalate to lengthy racial debates.
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Once for a month I worked in a cafe where every other night I had the duty of cleaning the bathrooms. I really didn't enjoy taking out the stinking bloody sanitary things from the stainless steel bin on the wall, plus an occasional diaper with a present inside (changing a baby in the bathroom?) so I would prefer those bins were never implemented.

Yes and that is why they invented specific sanitary bins, seperate, with self closing lids, and why they are nessecary. The key word here is "sanitary".

 

I didn't want to pull Orb up on that one, because he seemed... extra scarred (for want of a better word) by a bad experience with extreme feminism.

 

Orb, I hope you can someday realise how unfair it is to make such a dismissive statement about something you have obviously never had to deal with.

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Yes and that is why they invented specific sanitary bins, seperate, with self closing lids, and why they are nessecary. The key word here is "sanitary".

 

Maybe there is a valid reason for sanitary bins in this case (although one wonders why they can't be made biodegradable and flushed away like ordinary toilet paper), but there were plenty of other examples of self-importance and "specialness" by the women's societies at uni. One of them even tried to demand that the university-wide student magazine should be written exclusively by women, because obviously having men involved in any way is evil discrimination which degrades the unique "women's perspective" on current affairs.

 

I didn't want to pull Orb up on that one, because he seemed... extra scarred (for want of a better word) by a bad experience with extreme feminism. Orb, I hope you can someday realise how unfair it is to make such a dismissive statement about something you have obviously never had to deal with.

 

I have not suffered sexual discrimination in any meaningful way, no. However, as I said before there are other forms of discrimination and harassment, and just because somebody is a white male does not mean that they have been surrounded by cheering fans for their whole life. I don't deny the existence of sexual (and racial) prejudice, I just get tired of women acting as if they are in some unique position.

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The fallacy here seems to be that you're equating adapting to a "new" different geographic area with being "better" in some measurable sense.

 

If you moved a bunch of green birds from an area with green foliage to an area with yellow foliage, and they eventually evolved a yellow color to better avoid predators in yellow foliage land, that doesn't mean the yellow birds are "better" than the green birds that stayed in the same place.

 

Also, you're assuming that the group that moved to the new place would retain all the positive traits of the old group, in addition to whatever traits they developed to face new challenges. That's not true, because if a challenge from the old environment was not present in the new environment, the trait developed to deal with that challenge is no longer selected for and could easily go away via mutation.

 

Well, it's a different paradigm, the birds Vs the humans, because humans are unique in that they develop under a strange mixture of Darwinian and Lamarckian evolution. O< perhaps Lamarckian isn't exactly the right term, but I mean a conscious passing on of ideas and traits. This complicates the process in ways that cannot be fully understood. The results however can be measured, at least at face value.

Sure we can have a pointless philosophical discussion about what 'better' really means, but I think we all know what it means.

Civillisation will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest.

- Emil Zola

 

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I have not suffered sexual discrimination in any meaningful way,
I am frequently discriminated against racially because I'm white.
because humans are unique in that they develop under a strange mixture of Darwinian and Lamarckian evolution.
Before being forced to accept Darwinism by the educational institution as the only true theory (coupled with molecular biology), I thought Lamarckism was more correct.
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Before being forced to accept Darwinism by the educational institution as the only true theory (coupled with molecular biology), I thought Lamarckism was more correct.

 

You were wrong. Larmackism was a hypothesis which does not reflect reality -- babies do not inherit acquired traits from their parents. You can spend your life working out in the gym but you will not produce stronger children that way, and giraffes did not evolve their long necks by stretching them throughout their lives.

 

Unless of course you are referring to cultural evolution, or the ability for parents to shape their offspring's development in a conscious way. This might be seen by some as "Larmackian", but it is not really part of evolution.

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I think on the cultural level you can indeed see it as evolution as well, where Lamarcians hypthoses would be correct. This is kind of what Dawkins calls Memes instead of Genes, as the unit of evolution.

As an example: If both parents smoke, the chances that the kids also start smoking is much higher. If parents are religious, the chances that their kids are also religious are higher and so on.

Gerhard

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