Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Babies > Network TV

So the cable bill keeps going up and it turns out I have a better option already in house:

"Other anthropologists have made the startling discovery that children have entertainment value, and that among traditional cultures without television or Internet access, a bobble-headed baby is the best show in town."

Gives the phrase "watching the baby" a whole new meaning.

Also in the same article, a scene that could have been from my house this weekend (the human scene, NOT the initial chimp scene!):

"Dr. Hrdy points out that mother chimpanzees and gorillas jealously hold on to their infants for the first six months or more of life. Other females may express real interest in the newborn, but the mother does not let go: you never know when one of those females will turn infanticidal, or be unwilling or unable to defend the young ape against an infanticidal male. By contrast, human mothers in virtually every culture studied allow others to hold their babies from birth onward, to a greater or lesser extent depending on tradition. Among the !Kung foragers of the Kalahari, babies are held by a father, grandmother, older sibling or some other allomother maybe 25 percent of the time. Among the Efe foragers of Central Africa, babies spend 60 percent of their daylight hours being toted around by somebody other than their mother. In 87 percent of foraging societies, mothers sometimes suckle each other’s children, another remarkable display of social trust."

Yes, I had lots of family over this weekend and for a time I forgot I had a baby. (Now I know Laurie's itching to comment on that last remark!)

(Read the whole article at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/science/03angi.html.)

What I like about this work is it makes the point that warfare, survival and big brains are not all there is to what makes us human. There's also trust, motherhood, and childlikeness. To enter the kingdom we'll have to have the latter set of characteristics, not the former.

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