Del Mar author looks at genetic link to human behavior in new book

Nature or nurture? The debate will probably never be solved because both are at play.

Assessing human behavior, Del Mar author Ron Newby analyzes how genetics play a role in his latest book, “The Nature of Humans: Why We Behave As We Do.”

“We seem to want to think that it’s all nurturing — our general thought pattern and how we behave,” said Newby, who has lived in Del Mar for about 15 years. He previously lived in Solana Beach for more than 30 years. “Nurturing is very important, but it’s not the only thing. I realized I really needed to say this.”

In some sense, the book is a follow-up to his 2014 book, “Homo sapiens: A Liberal’s Perspective,” in which he discusses the human evolutionary path, brain, traits and behaviors. After releasing and rereading the book, Newby decided he had more he wanted to discuss.

“I was very satisfied with it, but there was a lot more to the story that I needed to say,” he said.

Using simplified science, personal anecdotes and wit, Newby discusses various genetic behavioral traits in his new book. With a progressive’s perspective, he also examines various behaviors, from slavery to war, even climate change.

“We’re faced with a lot of turmoil,” he said.

Newby notes that genetic traits originated with our ancient ancestors and survival traits. These include traits such as anger, compassion and fear, but also memory and morality.

“If we didn’t have an innate sense of morality, our tribe wouldn’t be together,” Newby said.

“Some people are genetically more prone to be kind and generous. Then there are people who have lots of greed,” he said. “These are survival traits. We evolved as a tribal animal.”

Born in Pasadena, Newby earned a bachelor’s degree in botany and a master’s in analytical biology at UC Santa Barbara before moving to Solana Beach in 1965. For 27 years, he worked as a researcher at the Salk Institute in La Jolla.

For the last several years, he’s focused on writing. Newby’s first book was “Homo sapiens: A Liberal’s Perspective.” He started his second immediately after publishing the book.

“It’s almost an addiction. You just have to do it,” said Newby who spent about eight hours a day, seven days a week writing the book for the past two years. “I thought it needed to be said. I think it’s important.”

The 222-page book includes 220 citations, 70 of which are from peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The book, he said, is intended for the general reader.

“I hope they have an enjoyable time and gain insight into what humans really are,” Newby said. “We don’t have appreciation of it.”

For more information about the book or to purchase a copy, visit amazon.com.

Copyright © 2017, La Jolla Light
69°