It’s always a treat to find a good candidate for our series on babies-who-totally-learn-how-to-do-things. In previous editions, we’ve featured a baby rapper, baby preacher, baby worshipper, and two babies mimicking a conversation.
These videos are entertaining because they’re babies, but the message their actions send is more than just adorable. They remind us of how deeply cultural we are as human beings.
In this edition, baby gives CPR:
There’s nothing natural about giving CPR. There’s no gene, no evolutionary push for that behavior, no particular brain organization, and no special mix or hormones that can explain why that baby can mimic the steps of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Instead, that baby is learning.
Learning is coded in our genes. We’re deeply and naturally flexible that way, able to learn whatever our particular culture needs and values. Many people make biologically deterministic arguments — ones that draw a causal arrow from our biology to our behavior — but that’s usually wrong. More often, we are biologically designed to be contingent, our behavior is naturally dependent on whatever it is in the world that we encounter.Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.