Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is human nature based on avoiding germs?

…Sharon Begley (Newsweek, Apr 14, 2008) wrote about Richard Nisbett’s book, The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently.

…To immediately oversimply, he says Westerners see classifications, Asians see relationships.

…The Western cultures are individualistic, do your own thing. East Asian societies exalt conformity—for the good of the whole.

…How far each group goes to one side or the other, though, may be based on…germs. Societies where there are a lot of microbes tend to be collectivist. Those with fewer germs can tolerate more individualistic behaviors.

…Not wanting to hang around strangers can make you less likely to get a disease. But--respect for rules of hygiene and sanitary food prep (or using pepper, which kills microbes) offers protection against disease.

…Tropical areas are germy and tend to be collectivist.

…The most individualistic societies tend to be colder, in the north.

…Is this genetic? Sometimes when people from a collectivist mindset come to the opposite, they change, so maybe not.

…What do you think? Hooey or hurray?

…Are more tropical societies denser in population? Are their rules protecting them from passing on germs working so well the population is not controlled? And how about sex in all that heat? Someone is having it, germs be damned.

...Er, darned.

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