WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Imagine humans as their own zookeepers. What would we need to give people to keep them healthy and happy?
An eminent anthropologist prescribes a set of nine behavioral "vitamins" based on what we needed to prosper as a species in our native environment, which he identified as East Africa, out of which our ancestors apparently spread some 100,000 years ago.
Lionel Tiger explored the nature of human nature at a guest lecture at the American Enterprise Institute this week. Tiger, Charles Darwin professor of anthropology at Rutgers University, developed the concept of "male bonding" in his 1969 book "Men in Groups."
In this anti-scientific postmodernist age, Tiger stands out for studying the biological basis of human behavior. He said one reason why social science has been segregated from biology is the broad academic allergy to "reductionism" -- in this case, ascribing a wide range of cultural phenomena to a small number of ascribed inherited traits. Also, the Nazi misinterpretation of biology gave rise to understandable suspicion of attributing to genes any major social or cultural phenomena. And on the political left, the prevailing rule has been that ideology conquers all.
Using physiology as his baseline, Tiger said we have a sturdy general idea of what the body needs and how it should be cared for. The body is structure, and behavior is function. Structure and function are almost invariably related. From this interaction, he developed his portfolio of behavioral "vitamins."
The first is the opportunity to be governed by rules about maturity. "That is, 3-year-olds do not and should not have the same package of rights and responsibilities as 30-year-olds."
The second is access to fresh air and natural light as necessary for indulging in agreeable behavior.
The third is greenery. "Humans evolved in nature, and we try to import the upper Paleolithic into our high-rise apartments by buying plants whose only serious function is aesthetic," Tiger said.
The fourth "vitamin" is the opportunity for large-muscle movement. He decried the curtailment in American schools of the chance for robust play, including the trend to eliminate recess. This reflects both a fear of lawsuits and "an anti-male bias by feminized school systems" configured more to female than male nature in which girls are decisively more successful both academically and emotionally. "In colleges and universities, there are some 57 percent females to 43 percent males," the professor noted.
The fifth "vitamin" is social contact. "Good zoos provide opportunities for animals to communicate with their fellows," Tiger said. "They like it -- even if they squabble."
The sixth behavioral "vitamin" is the opportunity to reproduce. Tiger said anti-natal ideologies are at the core of much modern feminism, which has in effect induced countless women to miscalculate the nature of human reproduction.
The seventh is for young children to have durable and predictable connection to their parents -- at least to their mothers. Citing primate studies, he said the bedrock mammalian question is, "How do you take care of mothers and babies?" The "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996" set a five-year limit on cash assistance, which was reached in the summer of 2001. Tiger said reform is not working for about 20 percent of welfare mothers, and he questioned whether requiring women with children to earn money, very often by rearing the children of other women in a similar bind, is the desirable solution to a core mammalian issue. "And meanwhile," Tiger said, "expensively and elegantly trained women turn over their children to unlettered nannies from countries they have never been to and with whom they would not abide a five-minute conversation at the diner."
Day care centers are horrible by definition, Tiger said, because they are run by people who are "underpaid, underskilled, and underinterested."
The eighth "vitamin" is the opportunity for sex-specific behavior. "Sex differences are not necessarily the result of conspiracy, patriarchal oppression or formal inequity," he said. We would do well to expect the emergence of sex differences in any complex, ongoing social group and be surprised -- and wonder why -- if they did not develop. Tiger said it is a mistake to equate race and sex, because racial differences are minor while sex differences are elemental.
The final "vitamin" is the awareness of communal protection. "Whatever authority exists has to provide the citizenry protection from internal criminality and, more significantly and dramatically, from the threats of warfare."
Tiger was asked about operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990-91, when press photos showed women soldiers handing off babies as they deployed to the Persian Gulf.
"I just think that's insane," Tiger replied. "From a primatalogical point of view, it is utter madness. ... I think it's a form of cruelty to children -- and adults, as a matter of fact -- and a clear index of a misunderstanding of the nature of human nature, which permits you to elect that males and females be treated identically when they're clearly not performing identically in terms, at least, of reproduction. ... It's a perfect example in which the elemental human relationship, the mammalian relationship, was turned into a political feature of an agenda that had other implications."
Tiger disputed the premise of another question, which was that North American women were unhappy in the 1950s.
"Women in the '50s were raising an average of 4.2 children," he said. "The notion that all women were somehow oppressed by the conditions of being people strikes me as an illusion which is now feeding a continued generation of oppression with no oppressors.
"I'm a guy. I don't fancy myself as someone who is oppressive. I may be unpleasant. I may be a whole series of things. But I do not operate a male conspiracy against females, and I don't know many men who do. Almost all the men I know have mothers," he said ironically. "Many of them have wives, sisters and daughters. It just is a falsifiable premise to make the categorical statement that women were unhappy (in the 1950s)."