In case you missed it, Neanderthals are hot — or at least a hot topic these days ever since scientists determined that we — you and I — have a traceable smidgen of Neanderthal DNA from a time when Neanderthals and humanoids got jiggy with it. Trump makes more sense now. Does he not?
For the low price of $30 million and in violation of every ethics rule ever writ, you, too, can make your own Neanderthal if (1) you are a geneticist, and (2) it’s humanly possible to transfer the over 30,000 changes to our genetic coding that occurred between the iteration of our Neanderthal ancestors and us today (less a few changes here and there if we’re talking Trump supporters). Apparently all of us outside of Africa have from 1 percent to 4.5 percent Neanderthal DNA, and researchers have identified up to 20 characteristics we share with our ancestors, including genes that make keratin (they were in need of a good waxing) to a propensity to be addicted to nicotine, according to a recent installment of the BBC’s “The Science Hour,” hosted by Jack Stewart.
Here’s the kicker: Melissa Hogenboon, of “BBC Earth,” said we wouldn’t be who we are without interbreeding humanoids and Neanderthals as those (I can’t even imagine) unions “shaped us all.”
Consider these findings: Trump voters have no more than a high school education in many polls, (indeed The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson sets lack of college education as one of four traits shared by Trump voters in “Who Are Donald Trumps Supporters Really?”) and his incomprehensible speeches and failure to form complete sentences are designed for sixth graders (see “TRUMPED: Study Shows Donald Really Is Smarter Than a 5th Grader. Barely.” on PRNewser.com).
Combined with those arguable statistics, it is not much of a reach to believe Neanderthal DNA is much higher than 4 percent in some of us if racism, misogyny, religiosity, xenophobia and anti-intellectualism are genetic traits.
If addiction is genetic, are bigotry and inarticulateness too? Or are hatred and fear of what you don’t know a learned behavior, much like the acquired taste for say, varmints, on one end of the spectrum or foie gras, on the other?
If ignorance and closed-mindedness correlate positively with naiveté and a lack of higher education, does it follow then that if we give people some learning that their favorable opinions of hate mongering, jingoistic, freak-bags who can’t speak in full sentences will change? If only it were that easy. Unfortunately for many of us, it seems the more we attempt to edify and enlighten, the subjects of our efforts become more entrenched in monosyllabic-ism and an unquestioning willingness to follow the leader. After all, he’ll pay your legal bills if you “get him/her/it out of here” as he so frequently implores.
Is today’s anti-intellectualism the last stand against facts and reason in a return to a lost hunter-gatherer time, when our early ancestors had a biological imperative to hunt, kill, make fire, eat, don’t ask questions and repeat? Are we at the juncture in history when older, non-college educated, white, racist men and women cling to the remaining shreds of white privilege as they know it in an attempt to perpetuate their species?
A recent guest on a talk show, within which critics review television programs, described the new jail reality show “60 Days In” on A&E as “Survivor Attica.” The premise of the show, set in an Indiana prison, incarcerates non criminals ostensibly to determine how to fix the prison system from the inside. Although I am not a shaman, I predict the same population who (1) would volunteer to be on the show and (2) will watch the show is (wait for it) at least a part of the Venn diagram that makes up the characteristics of a Trump voter. But, again. I am not a shaman.
When faced with events out of one’s control, with potentially disastrous consequences, one, to remain sane, may choose to either laugh or cry. I bet even the Neanderthals knew that. •