FB: Changing Cultural Norms and the Varying Effectiveness of the “Yo Mama” Joke: A Longitudinal Study

This was an outgrowth of my general observation that a lot of the early Bible is a complex survival guide for desert-dwellers. A lot of its seemingly arbitrary rules start making more sense when you realize that not following them could cause your tribe its collective demise. I don’t mean that in some kind of conservative, moralistic, won’t-someone-think-of-the-children way. I mean that it really was almost impossible to keep and care for a pig in desert conditions in a way that would give you a hygienic meal, so you might as well just call the animal “fundamentally unclean” and save yourselves some food poisoning and worse.*

*Edit to add: this subject has advanced some since the last time I looked at it in depth, see the comments. However, I would maintain that many old cultural norms do have their roots in what helped older cultures survive, or at least those cultures’ best understanding of what helped them do so.

So what happens when the rules of survival change? A number of different things, but you end up with a culture that’s torn between old and new ideas, uncertain of itself and its identity.