Cultural Evolution as a means to understand worldwide differences in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and human health overall
Though man has evolved very little physically and genetically since civilization arose about 5,000 years ago and even since the origins of Homo sapiens in Africa, the way in which we live has changed considerably and continues to change. The study of this process, which has its parallels in classical Darwinian evolution is called “Cultural Evolution”. An interesting and very relevant aspect of cultural evolution is how societies differ and how this affects their success, including how long and well people live. This is particularly pertinent at the moment, as we may apply the theory of cultural evolution to try to understand the extreme differences in the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic on countries throughout the world. Why has this disease been more than 10 times more infective and 25 times more deadly in the USA, Brazil, and various European countries compared to South Korea? Another appropriate question would be why other countries have not closely studied how South Korea was able to achieve such low case and mortality rates, with almost no impact on their economy. Tremendous investment has been made in a search for solutions to deal with the pandemic, resulting in thousands of research publications, but very little attention has been given to examining why the effect of the pandemic has varied so much worldwide. The wakeup call of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has so strongly affected all aspects of our life during the last two years, should motivate us to reflect on how our understanding of cultural evolution can help us prepare for future pandemics and find solutions to other human health problems, including COVID-19 comorbidities, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer, which also vary considerably among societies and countries.
This Research Topic welcomes contributions, in the form of original research and review articles, including opinions, which investigate how cultural differences and cultural evolution affect human health.
Papers that combine theoretical and empirical findings are welcome. Topics of interest include:
• Comparisons of how societies have dealt with COVID-19 and other major health problems and the results of interventions.
• How culture affects the frequency and impacts of disease problems, including obesity, cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases.
• Health issues related to social norms.
• How culture affects what people accept and believe and how this affects their health
• Government policies that affect human health.
• Challenges, criticism, and ethical issues related to vaccination.
• Cultural differences in diet and the impact on human health.
• Public obedience of health policies
• Social media impacts on human health
We encourage contributions from academics and others researching health policies, including how the public views and acts on health issues. We are interested in how health policy and practice compare across countries and how it affects longevity and other measures of human well-being.
Keywords: Cultural Evolution, COVID-19, Vaccination, Quarantines, Pandemic, Health Policies, Human Diets
David De Jong
Ribeirão Preto School of Medicine
University of São Paulo
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