Does our environment influence us?
This section is about how environmental influences such as location, culture, social and economic inequality, climate and genetic inheritance (DNA) influence us.
- Does location influence how we develop?
- How does our culture influence us?
- Can climatic conditions influence us?
- Genetics - Can our DNA predispose us to a broad range of behaviours?
The following video clip by Professor Laurence Steinberg on bigthink.com shows how the old argument of Nature vs. Nurture is now largely irrelevent. The new science is called Epigenetics. He informs us that it is primarily environment that influences how we develop, and what we learn then switches our genes on or off:
This talk on TED by Wade Davis in 2003 says a lot about how our environment has shaped us. He talks about the different models of reality created by different environments in different cultures, and how this can lead to completely different ways of thinking. For example, natives in South America have seventeen different varieties of ayahuasca (a psychedelic drug) from different sub species of plants, whereas we can only distinguish one variety:
Richard Wilkinson talking on TED in the video below, doesn't on the surface seem to be talking much about our environment, as his talk is about economic inequality. But it is indeed about our environment, because people in different economic strata (environments) behave differently to other groups by living in a type of social "bubble". It is in large part these "bubbles" that create differences and inequality, because an individual's thinking patterns become narrowed down to their own smaller bubble:
Here Jared Diamond on TED talks about how societies can collapse - ranging from the Greenland Norse, to Easter Island, to Montana, USA. He shows how a range of conditions ranging from human interaction in the environment, to relations with neighbors, can cause the eventual demise of the population.
He also mentions how political, social, and cultural factors can cause society to fail. In particular, he mentions how the elite in a society can drive a culture into extinction by wielding too much power.
He also shows that if our own value systems are not adaptable enough, the society in which we live might disappear. Because we are all imbibed in our own particular cultural environment, this will also affect us on an individual level:
An everyday example of how environment can influence Teen Drinking from monkeysee.com:
ABC News in America reminds us in the short video below that when one person or organization believes that a section of the population is not equal to themselves - or in other words does not believe in our common humanity, then exploitation is one of the results. This example of human trafficking (the buying and selling of human beings) is an extreme form, but a similar mindset exists in almost every walk of life world-wide, whether at work, in the education system, bullying, in sport, or at home.
The video clip shows that airlines which are frequently used for transporting these victims in broad daylight, are now training staff how to spot these often traumatized people. Several organizations exist to end these practices including ECPAT International, Childwise.net, and ECPAT-USA. ABC also has an article pertaining to the problem in the US here from which this video was taken.It might be noted that the environment that the perpetrators grew up in (their life circumstances) encouraged them to develop in a manner that enabled them to commit these atrocities. The video reminds us that baser human instincts can come to the fore if the environment is conducive. Therefore, more effort should be given to educating educators of all types of the basic necessity of improving the overall environment, especially when we are young and impressionable, as a paramount need: