Culture And Biology

The Washington Post had a piece today about a teacher encouraging her class to have their DNA tested here.  Looks like a lot of fun.  But the article then falls into a serious error serious people should understand.  Here’s the last sentence of the piece in order to illustrate:

“What makes America great is we have all those cultures combined.”

But culture and biology are two different things.  Biology is biology and culture is defined as the highest level of civilization or sophistication in language or organization attained by a people.  And so a child of American civilization with the DNA of a Native-American doesn’t feel more comfortable living in a tepee by virtue of their genetic make-up and certainly is not motivated by stories long ago told by long vanished peoples.

Put it another way; an Italian-American child born in Brooklyn isn’t born speaking Italian that is and so doesn’t automatically or shall we day biologically transmit that culture.  Do they?  Indeed one culture – the Italian to greater or lessor degree,is left behind and a new one assumed.  Vestiges may remain and often do but they will sublimate further in the next generation and in the next yet again.

Not that one culture cannot contribute to the other which is why all Americans eat pizza and why we use words like “pasta” and “calamari” rather than noodles or squid when we’re talking about food.  But the mainstream culture continues on until wrecked by an encounter with a superior one somewhere down the pike.