TRUTON: The Rational Unified Theory Of Nature
Topics in Evolutionary Biology

A Fascinating Product of Evolution:
How the Han-Chinese Mind is Being Affected by the Alzheimer's Disease (AD)
Kalman Klim Brattman
NatureQuest Corporation
Massachusetts, USA
Dated: December 1, 2008.

*For comparison, please see this posting bearing a similar title
where the focus, in
there, is on the relationship that could exist
between Memory and Logic in the Han-Chinese Mind.


0. Inroduction

One of the most curious and perhaps perplexing things in the Western world has been, for ages, to understand the Chinese Mind and Mindset that appeared to be quite different than the one from the rest of the world, particularly from the Western world. The rather peculiar Chinese logic and reasoning --on one hand, and the phenomenal Chinese memory --on the other hand, are by far the most strikingly different features of the Chinese Mind.

One explanation for that puzzlement arguably could rest in China's long isolation from the world community that would create inevitably, pursuant to the principles of Evolutionary Biology, a new evolutionary track. That a distinct biological evolutionary path took place in China cannot be negated through the ample evidence available.
A new track of biological evolution will target of course all livings in China from microbes and algae to plants and insects to all animals (aquatic, terrestrial, or aerial) that are bound of not migrating outside the Mainland China. The exquisite plants and flowers, or the exquisite animals and non-migratory birds found in China, unique in the world, are the incontestable marks of the unique evolutionary road that took place there.

In this article however, we will be focusing only on the evolutionary transformation of the Mind of the Han-Chinese people that were an integral part of that unique evolutionary track that took place in China.

The biological evolution, for sure, requires environmental isolation and China indeed satisfied that condition. That environmental isolation is necessary so that the respective place be free of "contaminants" from other environments. However, the isolation factor while it is a necessary condition, it is not a sufficient condition.

Biological evolution to take place requires also, asides from time, a direction of evolution that is done through a particular engine that can steer, channel, and compound the new genetic material that was generated. To achieve biological evolution, that engine of evolution always must work in one, and only one, direction with little or no interruption.

It is therefore the scope of this article to identify the engine of evolution, its direction, and its ultimate result of the evolutionarily transformed Han-Chinese Mind.

I. The Starting Point:
On the Primary Hypothesis that the More Literate and Educated A Han-Chinese Person Is,
The Less Prone Is to Acquire the Alzheimer's Disease (AD)

The starting point, as a simple curiosity, was in entertaining the question where in the world the prevalence of AD was minimum. For this, we began with the theoretical premise and assumption that the more one uses the memory in everyday's life the less chance it will exist for that person to acquire the AD disease. Based on that assumption and premise, then the question was in determining where in the world people will use the most, in their daily life, their memory.

Chinese charactersUpon reflection, it was reasoned that that place must be undoubtedly China because the Chinese language writing system by lacking an alphabet would require a vast amount of memory in retaining the thousands of individual characters that are needed in learning and using that stunningly difficult language. Literacy in China is defined as someone who can read and write 1,500 Chinese characters. At a median level, some 5,000 Chinese characters (as the ones illustrated herein) are needed to be memorized. College graduates are required to know 7,000 to 10,000 characters. (Chinese dictionaries contain a far greater number of characters that can be in excess of 50,000.) All that is truly an almost impossible task for the capability of the Western Mind to cope with !

That the evolved Chinese Mind is capable of performing such a monumental memory task is not only short of an evolutionary miracle, but it is also a most powerful testament of the power of evolution --the ultimate engine of Nature.

Now before entertaining further the fascination that we may have to the evolutionary miracle of the Chinese Mind, let us first see if our initial and foundational premise is being supported by the available data coming from China. The inference is that the most literate Chinese people must be immune in acquiring the AD disease and, that the literacy/education factor must be an essential indicator in the vulnerability of a Chinese person in getting the AD disease.

We therfore need some reliable existing data coming from China to either validate or invalidate our stated premise.

With the help of a Chinese medical doctor and Ph.D. from China doing research here at Mass General Hospital in Boston, we were able to obtain two papers,

--one [Paper-1] entitled
Published electronically October 11, 2006

where the dramatic difference in the prevalence of acquiring AD in China between the educated and non-educated Chinese persons is being noted as follows:

Number of AD cases: 

Data from Paper-1

--and, the other [Paper-2] entitled
Published electronically on 25 October 2007 by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society.

where it is noted, and we quote, that:
"There was a higher prevalence of AD in the illiterate elderly population (3.2%) than in those who received years of education."

Also, in an older study of the prevalence of AD in China covering the years 1990-1999, and published in the article Prevalence of Dementia in China (authors: Li Liu, Xiu-E Guo, Yong-Qing Zhou, Jie-Lai Xia; published in: Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2003; 15:226-230), it is noted, and we quote:
"The prevalence of AD among the three educational levels in our study (illiterate, primary school and high school) were 1.79, 0.45 and 0.15%, respectively."

All this data coming from China prove conclusively, beyond a reasonable doubt, of the solid relationship that exist between the educated and the less educated Chinese people in being prone to get AD. That vast discrepancy between the educated and the non-educated Chinese persons can be explained with relative ease from the premises that were presented herein that:
The less the Mind's Memory function is being used by the evolutionary transformed Chinese brain, the more prone that individual becomes to AD.

What apparently is not trivial and cannot be explained with ease is, WHY an educated Chinese person will get the AD? According to our foundational premise, this is not suppose to happen. One educated Chinese person to acquire AD is one too many according to our foundation. How then, the existing data coming from China can be reconciled with the foundational premise presented herein?

For starters, let us note that we need to deal in our examination only with the Han-Chinese population as only that population was subject to the evolutionary transformation of the functionality of their brain. The rest of the current Chinese population, i.e., the minorities of China were no subject to that evolutionary process as they have been added much later in the population of the Mainland China.

In dealing with the Han-Chinese population, we need to make these additional points that require the introduction of hereditary and genetics concepts. In a nutshell, the theory presented herein, called the Han Immunity Selective Syndrome (HISS), goes like this:

The Alzheimer's Disease (AD) can be acquired by an educated Han-Chinese person only through hereditary means. The parents or other close relatives must have been illiterate and they transmitted the genetic AD condition to the next generation. We call that acquired AD, the Hereditary AD (HAD) disease. So, a differentiation must be made between a Primary AD (PAD) and a Hereditary AD (HAD).

All educated Han-Chinese recipients of AD are in fact recipients of HAD. And,
The illiterate Han-Chinese recipients of AD can be recipients of PAD or HAD.


Remark: The HISS theory presented here, in its foundational form, can greatly be expanded. A fascinating follow-up statistical documentation needs to be performed in determining the hereditary route that the AD genetic material had traveled to reach the educated Han-Chinese people that had acquired the dreadful disease.


Problem Posed: A Chinese medical doctor from Xining, China familiar with a large Chinese-Tibetan population noted that while many are illiterate, none of them acquired AD. How then this apparent aberration squares with the HISS theory presented herein?

The answer to this is that the Tibetan population became only recently part of the Mainland China and thus, the Tibetans were no part of the thousands of years of the ongoing evolutionary process that Han-Chinese people were subjected to.

Moreover, the Tibetan language writing system is an alphabet-based system and thus, there was never a need for a biological transformation of their brain's functionality. (The 30-letter alphabet of the Tibetan language is posted herein.)

The analysis presented herein on AD is with respect to China and its Han-Chinese population and nothing else.
  • The minorities of the Chinese population (such as the Tibetans noted above) need not be part of this study as they have been incorporated, as noted, much later into the general population of China and thus, they were not part of the evolutionay transformation of their brain that took place for the Han-Chinese population.
  • This study also must exclude the Chinese people that are offspring of mixed parents --one belonging to a Chinese minority or of a person of a different heritage. The lineage of all the subjects of this study must be "pure" Han-Chinese as the premises of this study is based, as stated, on the effect that the evolutionary process of the Han-Chinese Mind/Brain has had on the Han-Chinese population.
  • Of course, for the same invoked grounds, the population of the Western world (including the one of the United States) need not be part of this study.

In short, the study of AD outside of the Han-Chinese population need not be extrapolated outside the frameork of this presentation.

The starling and conclusive data coming from China with respect to the relationship that exists between the education level and the prevalence of AD does not apparently exist outside China nor within its minorities. It appears that the apparent immunity against AD by the educated Chinese Mind is not being observed in the Western world nor in the population of the minorities of China. The Han Immunity Selective Syndrome (HISS) introduced above appears thus to be an exclusive characteristic of the evolutionary transformed Han-Chinese Mind. Its selection is based on literacy and nothing else. Thus,

in Mainland China, the literate Han-Chinese population is immune in getting the Primary Alzheimer's Disease (PAD). 

Further research and statistical data, as stated, are required in tracing down the hereditary lineage path of the Hereditary AD (HAD) that was transmitted from a Primary AD (PAD) of an ancestor to a descendant educated Han-Chinese recipient.

II. On the Profound Consequences of Evolution for
The Transformed Han-Chinese Mind

Once the link, through data, was able to be established between the prevalence of AD with respect to literate and illiterate Han-Chinese people, a new vista and a new set of inquiries far more interesting began to emerge.

To accomodate the vast amount of memory required in learning and mastering the writing system of the Chinese language, the Han-Chinese Mind through thousands of years of continuous evolution and, being so isolated from the rest of the world, must have been transformed into a highly specialized mind --a memory grabber machine. Gradually, through that continuous directional evolution, the other major functions of the Han-Chinese Mind, most notable the Logic functionality of the Mind must have been pushed aside --not eliminated, but considerable reduced and "deformed" through compression, as their original vast space provided by the Mind has been cramped by the ever-growing functionality of the Memory.

The reason for that monumental evolutionary transformation to have taken place must be because the Logic functionally of the newly transformed Chinese Mind was no longer much in demand and, furthermore because that Logic functionality was not able to compete any longer with the mighty Memory functionality that has emerged. The Memory functionality in all of its variety (the photographic memory, the smell memory, the test memory, and the sound memory), have reached new hights of evolution, unparalleled in the history of human evolution, making therefore the transformed Chinese Mind unique and quite different than that of the Western Mind.

The "attitude" of the transformed Han-Chinese Mind towards its environment has been to live in "harmony" with it and with Nature that created it. "Harmony" for sure is not an agent of transformation and evolution. The Memory, and not the Logic, became the paramount tool in achieving that end towards "harmony." A foremost example of the exclusive role that Memory has played in shaping up the Chinese mentality is for sure the herbal Chinese medicine where the functionality of Logic has been completely eliminated.

By contrast, and what a contrast, the "attitude" of the Western Mind has been that of "conquering" Nature. Deciphering the "machinery" of Nature has been at the center stage of the scientific thought in the Western world. That deciphering could be pursued only through the Logic functionality of the Mind.

In the isolated China, the route that was forced to be taken, by the evolutionary needs in dealing with its language writing system, was based not in pursuing Logic but in pursuing its forced evolving Memory --a tool that in the end became by far the most dominant tool of the transformed Han-Chinese Mind.

What evidence or data is out there --one may ask-- that supports this radical inference of the diminished or distorted role of the Logic functionality in the evolutionarily transformed Han-Chinese Mind?

Well, that question for sure is a most important one that needs not be left unanswered.
There are indeed many, many indicators supporting this radical inference, so we will be mentioning here one.

Notwithstanding China's excellent schooling system (its High Schools for instance being superior to many from the Western countries including the ones from the United States), Mainland China, out of its population of some 1.3 billion people, was not able to produce even one single Nobel Laureate in any field of Natural Sciences.

The reason for that apparent anomaly is rather simple to account for as it represents a straightforward consequence from the fact that the transformed Chinese Mind was not longer capable of creating (but only storing) subtle or complex logical inferences.

By contrast, for instance Japan --the so-called great imitator-- with only a fraction of Mainland China's population (of about 127 million) was able to produce 16 Nobel Laureates since the end of World War II. The reason for that is that, the Japanese language writing system was converted from the Chinese language character-writing system into an alphabet-writing system, liberating thus the Japanese Mind from the memory burden imposed by the Chinese writing system. Once that "liberation" was done, the Japanese Mind was able to regain considerably its Logic functionality that was "compressed" by the oversized Memory functionality of the Mind.

The abandonment (as it was done in Korea, Japan, and Vietnam) of the Chinese character-writing system and replacing it with an alphabet-based writing system will be able to liberate the Han-Mind's space occupied by its oversized Memory "compartment" and return that space back to be used for the Logic functionality of the Mind. It is not accidental that the Han-Chinese people that live for several decades outside China, in the Western world, regain a lot of the Mind's Logic functionality as their brains are being relieved of the burden of memorizing the thousands of Chinese characters required for the existing Chinese writing system.

As for the the so-called behavioral Chinese "peculiarities" attributed to the Han-Chinese Mindset "locked" in the Mainland China, those "peculiarities" can now be explained through the new vista provided herein. It is a spectacular, breathtaking vista indeed.

III. Conclusion

Should China abolish its long-standing writing system and replace it from its character-based system into an alphabet-based system, a new Chinese Renaissance era will emerge unparalleled in human history.

With the current opening-up of China, new opportunities, never present before, exist now in joint collaboration between the Chinese Mind --that currently is second to none in grabbing and storing detailed and subtle information, and the Western Mind --that currently is second to none in rendering subtle logical inferences.

All science labs around the world are greatly enhanced indeed with the presence of Chinese scientists because of their unparalleled keen memory and observation for details. Out of that collaboration, science undoubtedly will be the great beneficiary.