Reading through the pages of National Geographic and archaeology books as a kid. I would often encounter passages that asserted human beings had been more less unchanged as a species since the rise of Homo sapiens. The line was drawn somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago. Geologically an instant ago, historically too long ago to touch off debates about present day peoples. At the time I sucked up all this information, not putting any thought into this proposition.
Most every book or publication I read as a kid asserted that there are no significant biological differences between different groups of human being. Because all populations of humans are easily capable of interbreeding all are assumed to be more or less equivalent across the ages.
When I read through my first books on ancient history and mythology, writers always went out of their way to point out that people thousands of years ago in lands far away were having the same thoughts and issues that we do today. Part of the intent was to make ancient history seem more immediate to young readers. Another, now obvious subtext was the idea: humanity is constant across time and place.
Years later as an adult, I was reading about game theory and the co-existence of different survival strategies in the male populations of various species. Our initial supposition might be that a single most successful strategy would outcompete all others. Such is not the case. Instead, all strategies settle into a Nash equilibrium and coexist. A common pattern in species is to have a protector male and a seducer male. The protector’s strategy is to gain dominion over a harem and then stand guard. He is the manly man. In many species, the sneaky seducer male is hard to tell apart from females so he can blend in. The seducer male infiltrates the harems assembled by the manly men. In this system, there’s an optimum ratio of the population that could be composed of manly men and an optimum ratio for girly men. If there’s too many harem makers, it’s a field day for the seducers. If there’s too many seducers, there’s not enough dupes holding on to harems.
Humans are most definitely a species in which we observe a wide variety of survival and reproduction strategies. As conditions have changed for the human species, a different set of individuals succeeds in reproducing. While many traits of humanity are universal, their distribution and degree varies widely across populations separated by time and/or place. At our present accelerated rate of social and technological change, the selectors for fitness are also constantly changing. We can therefore assume that the composition of the human race has the potential to change radically with every generation. Every generation is a new human race. Our lifetimes decide what the human race will become…
We can derive through common sense that every isolated human population has selected for unique distributions of traits or even combinations of universal traits that result in new, unique attributes.
Politically correct wisdom insists it takes millions of years for any significant differences to arise between populations. Yet this doesn’t seem to be the case with other animals. A Russian geneticist named Belyaev managed to breed wild foxes into domesticated animals within a short time. The wild ancestors of barely a decade ago would snap and growl at any human that came near them. The descendants on the other hand exhibited all the traits we associate with domesticated dogs. They wagged their tails, barked, and were receptive to human body language. Amazingly, they also developed the patched and multi-colored coats we associate with domesticated dogs. One trait(tameness) when strongly selected for resulted in many unintended changes in linked traits. Based on this result, one could anticipate an extensive degree of variation between isolated human populations.
If wild dogs can be turned into domesticated dogs within several generations, it makes no sense to suppose that isolated human populations exposed to varying stresses for thousands of years would be the same.
When it comes to human beings, it’s not just the body that is bound to show a great deal of variation but also the mind.
Living as skilled urban professionals for centuries produced the Ashkenazi Jews and the Parsees, both groups known for superior skills in logic and reasoning.
Millennia of wilderness survival produced the Australian Aborigines, a population with a poor aptitude for logic skills but with a highly developed intuitive/pre-conscious mind. They are able to easily enter into trance and meditative states. They also have an ability to sense magnetic fields that is vestigial at best in other human populations.
The assumption that human traits are constant across place and population fails to bear up against the least bit of scrutiny. The idea of human uniformity is unfortunately the only view we will ever see espoused within the bounds of political correctness. We can expect it will stay that way for the time being because an entire card house of beliefs and values has been built on this shaky foundation.