Archives for the month of: January, 2012

in “Genomic Runs of Homozygosity Record Population History and Consanguinity” that i posted about yesterday, kirin, et. al., say:

“Europeans and East Asians have very similar ROH profiles in all but the shortest category (0.5-1 Mb). There are no significant differences between either the percentage of individuals with ROH of different lengths or sum length of ROH above different length thresholds (>1.5 Mb) for these two continental groupings (File S1). This is not surprising because both of these groups are mainly represented here by fairly large populations with no documented preference for consanguineous marriage.

ehhhhhhh … well … if they’re talking about now, i.e. in the present, then yeah — that’s probably pretty right. but many of the european populations that they looked at (i.e. from the human genome diversity project [hgdp]), regularly practiced some to quite a lot of consanguineous marriages up until fairly recently. (i haven’t checked into the asian populations that they looked at.)

the european populations that they looked at are: the adygeis, the basques, french folks, italians, orcadians, russians, sardinians and tuscans.

the adygeis are the circassians and it’s my understanding that they have avoided cousin marriage for quite some time, although they are endogamous (obviously). the russians — religious russians, anyway — avoid first- and second-cousin marriage. but the basques and the french have had some signficant amounts of consanguineous marriage up until quite recently. and the italians and sardinians?! holy toledo! of all of these groups, it’s probably the tuscans that have avoided cousin marriage for the longest. (dunno about the orkney islanders.)

like i said yesterday, if anything, kirin, et. al., have probably got some of the most inbred europeans in their sample.

anyway … i took at look at their supplemental info [opens pdf] and found that they’ve included data for the proportion (percentage) of the genomes from each group that are covered in “runs of homozygosity” (roh). the more roh in your — or your population’s — genome(s), the more inbred you (all) are (or maybe the smaller your gene pool is — see yesterday’s post). when i took out just the europeans plus the han chinese and japanese and a couple of other interesting groups, here’s what i got:

most of the european groups have the least number of roh (these are roh of all different lengths). the han chinese are like the italians or the sardinians, who have a long and recent history of close marriages (not so much the northern italians) — and the japanese even more so. wikipedia tells us that cousin marriage was preferred in china until the mid-twentieth century, so there you go.

and the father’s brother’s daughter’s marriage groups? their roh are higher than the inbred europeans, the han chinese and the japanese.

you can see here, too, that the japanese have greater numbers of longer roh than french people (the black circles are the japanese, the orange circles are the french) — that means more recent inbreeding amongst the japanese (click on image for LARGER view – should open in new tab/window):

interestingly, many balochis (green circles) have fewer and shorter roh than the french — many have more and longer. dunno what that tells us about the balochi. new blood? tribes merging with (fairly) unrelated tribes? just plain ol’ out-marriage?

here are the percentages of the genomes covered by roh for each of the populations in the study in ascending order. i tried to match the colors for the continental groupings from the chart in yesterday’s post — dunno if i succeeded?:

previously: runs of homozygosity and inbreeding (and outbreeding)

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here’s a really neat chart! (click on image for LARGER view. should open in new tab/window.):

what does it mean? well…

some very clever researchers/geneticists took a look for “runs of homozygosity” (roh) in the genomes of the individuals in the human genome diversity project (hgdp) — that’s 1043 individuals from 51 different populations. “runs of homozygosity” are stretches in the genome where identical dna was inherited from each parent. if you inbreed, you’re gonna have a greater number of longer runs of homozygosity in your genome than if you don’t.

apart from being just plain fun, sex shuffles up genomes from one generation to the next (presumably for some good reason or another). if you were to clone yourself, your descendants would have (pretty much) the same exact genome as you. if you were to mate with your mother or your sister (i know — ewwww!), your descendants would have different genomes from you, but they’d have lots of roh in their genomes ’cause their dna came from you and someone with whom you share a lot dna in common. the farther out you mate, the less homozygosity there’s likely to be.

you might also have lots of roh in your genome if you come from a population that has little genetic diversity — ’cause maybe your ancestors went through some sort of bottleneck or something.

inbreeding with close relatives — like marrying your first- or second-cousins (consanguineous matings) — leads to long roh since you share so much of your dna with your closest family members. endogamous mating — just mating within your population but not your close cousins — also leads to roh, but not ones as long as mating with your close relatives. you share dna with others in your population (say your clan or your ethnic group), but not so much of exactly the same dna or genes in certain stretches as with your closer relatives. a population will little genetic diversity, but that does not inbreed, will have lots of short roh — they share a lot of stretches of dna in common, but all of the outbreeding shuffles up the genomes within the population.

so that’s:

- long roh = inbreeding, probably consanguineous (first-/second-cousin matings)
- medium roh = endogmaous mating within a population
- short roh = little genetic diversity in the population probably from an event like a population bottleneck

i’m oversimplifying, but that’s the gist of it.

so what did the researchers find when they looked at the 51 populations in the hgdp (see chart)?

- LOTS of short roh (1-2 Mb) within populations from oceania and central/south america, probably because those populations went through bottlenecks. the people from oceania have low amounts of long roh (>16 Mb), which means that they don’t inbreed closely much. however, the people from central/south america have the highest amount of long roh of all the groups, so that’s means they must inbreed closely a LOT.

- central/south asians, west asians, east asians, europeans and africans don’t have huge amounts of short roh — at least not compared to the folks in oceania and the americas. no big bottlenecks there. and africans, in fact, have the fewest short roh.

- central/south asians and west asians have pretty high amounts of roh in all of the middle ranges and the highest long roh after the native american populations. this indicates significant amounts of endogamy and close relative marriages (but we already knew that).

- the groups with the lowest amounts of long roh are the europeans, africans and east asians — in that order. in other words, it appears as though, of these three groups, africans and europeans inbreed more closely (first- or second-cousin marriage, say) than east asians.

if you’ve been following along, you know that’s not what hbd chick expected. i thought that east asians would’ve had more short roh than europeans ’cause they have a fairly recent history of close marriages. hmmmm….

i checked to see which populations of europeans are included in the hdgp (you can find a list in the article’s supplemental material here [opens pdf]) and they are: adygeis, basques, french folks, italians, orcadians, russians, sardinians and tuscans. apart from the french and the tuscans, all of these groups have recent (or current) histories of consanguineous or endogamous mating practices (see Inbreeding in Europe series below in left-hand column for more details), so they are not a fully representative sample of europeans. unfortunately, “core” europe, which contains the most outbred populations in europe, is not included in the hgdp and, therefore, not in this study.

*sigh*

still — this is interesting stuff! genetics. cool! i’m going to post more about this ’cause, for one thing, it should be possible to drill down further into these populations to compare them more specifically (there are some data available in the supplemental materials). so, more anon…!

thanks to prof. harpending for pointing out this article! (^_^)

*update 08/20: see also runs of homozygosity again

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Caffeine Alters Estrogen Levels in Younger Women“In white women, for example, coffee appears to lower estrogen, while in Asian women it has the reverse effect, raising levels of the hormone.”

The self-domestication hypothesis: evolution of bonobo psychology is due to selection against aggression“[T]he self-domestication hypothesis provides a plausible account of the origin of numerous differences between bonobos and chimpanzees, and note that many of these appear to have arisen as incidental by-products rather than adaptations. These results raise the possibility that self-domestication has been a widespread process in mammalian evolution, and suggest the need for research into the regulatory genes responsible for shifts in developmental trajectories in species that have undergone selection against aggression.”

The Sub-Saharan African Dental Complex“[A]round 80,000 years ago, this population [in east africa] began to expand northward and eventually into Eurasia. Meanwhile, the same expansion was taking modern humans westward and southward into other parts of Africa.” – @evoandproud.

Explanations of rape“Given a robbery, criminals are more likely to use the opportunity to sexually assault a female victim if she is young.” – @the inductivist.

And your little dog, too! – from greg cochran. peter frost challenges. (~_^)

It Could be Culture, part I (The NAEP Black-Mixed-White gap) and It Could be Culture, part II (The NAEP Black-Mixed-White gap) – from chuck, the occidentalist.

7,500-Year-Old Fishing Seines and Traps Discovered in Russia – evidence for permanent mesolithic settlements in russia.

bonus: Lazy HBDers – @steve sailer’s.

bonus bonus: No Need to Panic About Global Warming“[M]any young scientists furtively say that while they also have serious doubts about the global-warming message, they are afraid to speak up for fear of not being promoted — or worse.” – gee. that sounds familiar.

bonus bonus bonus: How all the greatest thoroughbreds can be traced back to ONE horse 300 years ago“‘Speed gene’ traced back to single 17th century British mare”

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(^_^)


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in “Culture of Honor,” nisbett and cohen argued that the scots-irish of appalachia are more violent than, say, yankees ’cause of their … you guessed it … culture of honor.

*sigh*

this article [opens pdf] has a good description of what nisbett and cohen found when they researched the flying-off-the-handle-ness of southerners vs. northerers:

“Their laboratory experiments are most relevant to our argument here. Cohen and Nisbett recruited subjects with Northern and Southern backgrounds from the University of Michigan student body, ostensibly to work on an psychological task dealing with perception. During the experiment, a confederate bumped some subjects and muttered ‘asshole’ at them. Cortisol (a stress hormone) and testosterone (rises in preparation for violence) were measured before and after the insult. Insulted Southerners showed big jumps in both cortisol and testosterone compared to uninsulted Southerners and insulted Northerners. The difference in psychological and physiological responses to insults was manifest in behavior. Nisbett and Cohen recruited a 6’3” 250 lb (190 cm, 115 kg) American style football player whose task was to walk down the middle of a narrow hall as subjects came the other direction. The experimenters measured how close subjects came to the football player before stepping aside. Northerners stepped aside at around 6 feet regardless of whether they had been insulted. Un-insulted Southerners stepped aside at an average distance of 9 feet, whereas insulted Southerners approached to an average of about 3 feet. Polite but prepared to be violent, un-insulted Southerners take more care, presumably because they attribute a sense of honor to the football player and are normally respectful of others’ honor. When their honor is challenged, they are prepared and willing to challenge someone at considerable risk to their own safety.”

sooooooooo, they found a biological response in the southerners who were insulted and concluded that the cause of that biological response was … culture. ooooh-kaaaaay.

-OR-

how about southerners are, for whatever evolutionary reasons, somewhat different biologically-speaking than northerners and they, therefore, respond differently biologically to insults. and that, taken collectively, the way all these southerners behave — innately — amounts to their culture.

seems kinda obvious, don’t it?

so what is the evolutionary history of the good folks down in appalachia? we know that they come from the anglo-scottish border areas. what were (are) those people like?

clannish. probably practiced some sort of inbreeding throughout the medieval period — unlike the english, whose descendents became the more chilled yankees in the new world.

and war-ish. for hundreds of years. or, battle-ish anyway:

Border Reivers were raiders along the Anglo–Scottish border from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century…. The border families can be referred to as clans, as the Scots themselves appear to have used both terms interchangeably until the 19th century…. Other terms were also used to describe the Border families, such as the ‘Riding Surnames’ and the ‘Graynes’ thereof…. Both Border Graynes and Highland septs however, had the essential feature of patriarchal leadership by the chief of the name, and had territories in which most of their kindred lived…. Although feudalism existed, tribal loyalty was much more important and this is what distinguished the Borderers from other lowland Scots.

“culture” of honor? gimme a break!

footnote: one of the major anglo-saxon border clans is the clan nesbitt. heh! (^_^)

previously: outbreeding, self-control and lethal violence and which came first?

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from a paper by manuel eisner entitled “Modernization, Self‐Control and Lethal Violence” about how the homicide rate has been steadily dropping in europe since at least the middle ages:

“[T]he data suggest that the secular trajectories of low homicide rates differ among large geographic areas. It appears that English homicide rates were already considerably lower in the late sixteenth century than during the late Middle Ages and that they declined continuously along a log-linear trend over several centuries. Extant estimates for the Netherlands and Belgium suggest a very similar structure trend in these areas. In the Scandinavian countries, the transistion to the decreasing trend occurs notably later, namely in the first decades after 1600. Despite huge gaps in the data, the German-speaking areas may also be assumed to have joined the declining trend from the early seventeenth century onwards. For Italy, however, all the available data indicate that acts of individual-level lethal violence remained very frequent until the early nineteenth century. It is not until the mid-nineteenth century that the rate begins to decline, but then very steeply.”

hmmmm. now where have i heard a pattern like this before? england, the netherlands, germans earliest in something … scandinavians later … italians last. (~_^)

let’s look at eisner’s charts first (logarithmic scales):

england

“In the thirteenth and fourteenth century, the mean of almost 40 different estimates lies around 24 homicides per 100,000. The average homicide rates are higher for the late fourteenth century than for the thirteenth century, but it seems impossible to say whether this is due to the difference of the sources used or reflects a real increase related to the social and economic crises in the late Middle Ages. When estimate start again after a gap of some 150 years, the average calculated homicide rates are considerably lower with typical values of between 3-9 per 100,000. From then onwards, the data for Kent line up with surprising precision along a straight line that implies a long-term declining trend for more than 350 years.” [pg. 622]

begium/netherlands

“When plotted on a graph, the respective secular trends are very similar to those found for England. During the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, counts of murder and manslaughter cases in cities like Antwerp, Leuwen, Utrecht or Amsterdam consistently result in estimated homicide rates of between 30 and 60 cases per 100,000. Spierenburg presents a series of estimates for Amsterdam between the sixteenth and the early nineteenth centuries based on autopsy reports. He finds somewhat lower levels of about 20 per 100,000 in sixteenth-century Amsterdam…. Seventeenth-century homicide rates in both Amsterdam and Brussels are considerably lower and range between four and 11 per 100,000.” [pg. 623]

germany/switzerland

“In total, I found more than 30 estimates referring to various cities in the thirteenth and fourteenth century. They range between approximately eight and 80 homicides per 100,000, with an overall mean of 35…. Schwerhoff and Eibach present homicide rates based on convictions in the city of Francfourt am Main between the sixteenth and the late eighteenth centuries. A cluster of estimates around 1600 yields an average homicide rate of about 10 per 100,000.” [pg. 625]

scandinavia

“[The figure] suggests first that homicide rates typically ranged from 10 to 60 cases per 100,000 between the mid-fifteenth and the mid-seventeenth centuries and that the average rate may have been at about 25. Strikingly, the Scandinavian evidence shows no sign of declining homicide rates until about 1600. Yet by 1740, when the first Swedish national vital statistics are available, homicide rates are already below 1 per 100,000. The data thus suggest a spectacular decline of lethal personal violence by a factor of at least 10:1 within a period of only 150 years.” [pg. 624]

(just how fast can selection for certain traits happen?)

italy

“The secular pattern in Italy … diverges decisively from the trend found for norther Europe. There exist isolated estimates for a number of Italian cities, such as Bologna, Florence, Mantova and Venice, whereby Florence shows the absolute highest homicide rate with 150 homicides per population of 100,000 in the fourteenth century. Blastenbrei provides homicide rates of 30 to 80 per 100,000 for Rome in the sixteenth century…. [T]he exant estimates do indicate that for a long period between the high Middle Ages and the seventeenth century in Italy, there was a slight decline in the frequency of homicides. However, Italy may be a particularly problematic case because of the vast differences between different areas. For example, Doneddu gives a homicide rate of 22 for late eighteenth-century Sardegna, while the data presented by Sardi for the duchy of Tuscany yield a rate of 4-5 per 100,000. Starting from 1881 … [t]he rate begins at about 8 per 100,000 and then — with the exception of higher rates during the final years of both world warsfalls steeply up to the mid 1960s.” [pgs. 626-27]

furthermore: “Durkheim showed that in the late nineteenth century an arc of high murder rates ranging from Ireland over Spain, Italy, Austria, and Hungary encircled a zone of low homicide rates.” [pg. 631]
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eisner comes a hair’s breadth away from a good sociobiological explanation for why all of this happened, but he missed it (prolly ’cause he’s a criminologist and not a biologist — not that there’s anything wrong with that!):

“[T]he work of Norbert Elias probably forms the most prominent theoretical framework discussed by those historians of crime who are interested in explaining this long-term trend. Elias’s well-known theoretical model of the ‘civilizing process’ embraces long-term social dynamics at a macro level as well as changes in typical psychological traits and the developments in characteristic modes of behaviour. In a nutshell, the theory of the civilizing process holds that over a period of several centuries a type of personality has come to prevail that is characterized by increasing affect control, decreasing impulsivity, and a rationalized manner of living — in brief: high levels of self-control. Higher levels of self-control imply, in turn, the gradual pacification of everyday interactions, which becomes manifest by lower levels of violent behaviour…. [pg. 619]

all of these traits, like impulse control (deferred gratification), are undoubtedly at least partly rooted in our natures. i think it’s likely that what happened over time in europe (and elsewhere?) is that greater impulse control, etc., etc., was selected for in the population — but i’m a reductionist (hey, i’m in good company!), so you knew i’d say that. (~_^)

eisner offers up one of the standard explanations for the decrease of violence over time and that’s the role of the state. the state took over as the executor of revenge (we call it justice now) so individuals/families no longer had to mete it out — AND the state really, really discouraged violence in general — if you were violent, you’d go to jail or maybe be executed. i think the idea that the state has played a big role in the reduction of violence over time makes a lot sense, ’cause these things that the state started doing sure sound like selection pressures — clearly the second one is especially if you execute violent criminals. you just take them and all their personality traits right out of the gene pool, no?

but eisner also mentions an idea of émile durkheim‘s related to the reduction of violence that’s right up my alley:

“Durkheim saw the decline of homicide rates as resulting from the liberation of the individual from collective bonds rather than as the consequence of the coercive potential of the state. High levels of lethal violence thus mirror the intensity of ‘collective emotions’, which bind the individuals to ‘groups of things that symbolically represent these groups’. Violence thus declines to the degree that the person becomes liberated from its sacred obligation to the group, and the rise of moral individualism….”

“This is in accordance with a society in which ‘honour’ constitutes highly important social capital of the male person as a representative of his group…. Such a theoretical framework may help to better understand why the secular decline in homicide rates primarily seems to have been due to a decrease in male-to-male fights. And it may also offer a point of departure for understanding the high violence rates in Italy, where a culture of honour persisted despite the early development of administrative and judicial structures in the city states.” [pg. 632]

yes! but, again, what’s missing is the biology of it.

the individual in (parts of) europe was liberated from the “collective bonds” because europeans started outbreeding in the early medieval period and, over the subsequent generations, the frequencies and perhaps even types of altruism genes changed in the populations. europeans quit behaving like inbred pashtuns who are always looking for revenge when their familiy’s honor is tainted because they (the europeans) were no longer inbred.

england, the netherlands, belgium, germany and switzerland saw the earliest reduction of violence because they were the european populations who started outbreeding the earliest (in some cases, as early as the 500s). the scandinavians — the swedes and the norwegians, anyway — probably didn’t start outbreeding until sometime after ca. 1000 a.d. when they converted to christianity. that could amount to nearly 500 years less outbreeding compared to the franks and the english, and their reduction in crime was a few hundred years later as well.

populations on the periphery — the irish, the spanish, the italians, the hungarians — all continued to be much more violent than “core” europe for a much longer time AND they also all kept inbreeding in one form or another longer than the germans or the english. and the italians? — differences between the north and south, again! — the south being more violent than the north.

i know, i know. i start to sound like a certain individual (won’t mention any names!) who has only one explanation for everything. i don’t think inbreeding/oubreeding and altruism explains everything. REALLY! but i do think it applies in this case. it’s not the entire explanation (i think the role of the state is important, too, for instance) — and there’s more to it than just how much inbreeding/outbreeding there is. like greying wanderer said:

“i think there’s likely to be a compounding effect too. as the clannishness recedes it becomes easier – and in fact neccessary as the only previous rule of law was clan vendetta – to institute a communal rule of law instead.”

absolutely! with all of the outbreeding, european societies became more “corporate” simply because the old extended-family/clan/tribal ties disappeared. everything had to be arranged differently. but europeans — northwestern europeans more than others — also just felt differently about the world and their place in it and their relationships with others than their ancestors had. ’cause they were different.
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h/t to halvorson for pointing out a post by agnostic on this paper from a couple of years ago @gnxp. thnx, halvorson!

(yes, i’ve got pinker’s new book sitting and waiting for me on my kindle. and i am planning on reading it. any day now…. (~_^) )

(note: comments do not require an email. justice?)

roosh has got a post up about jante law — i guess it was impeding his game in denmark (oh noes!). jante law is a scandinavian phenomenon that sounds like tall poppy syndrome on steroids:

- Thou shalt not presume that thou art someone.
- Thou shalt not presume that thou art as good as we.
- Thou shalt not presume that thou art any wiser than we.
- Thou shalt never indulge in the conceit of imagining that thou art better than we.
- Thou shalt not presume that thou art more knowledgeable than we.
- Thou shalt not presume that thou art more [important] than we.
- Thou shalt not presume that thou art going to amount to anything.
- Thou art not entitled to laugh at us.
- Thou shalt never imagine that anyone cares about thee.
- Thou shalt not suppose that thou can teach us anything.

well, minnesota’s starting to make a lot more sense now! (~_^)

björn over at roosh’s offers an explanation for jante law:

“Janteloven is a stable social compromise that has stood the test of time in that part of the world. Since resources were traditionally so scarce, you could’t afford to make enemies by acting superior, or people would refuse to interact with you and you would starve to death – or kill yourself – in the long dark winter.”

maybe. but do jante law sorts of traditions exist in other places where “resources were traditionally so scarce?” i mean in such a strong form. do the russians, who also live through a pretty harsh winter every year, have their own version of jante law? how about the mongolians? or north american native americans? i’m genuinely asking, ’cause i dunno!

and jante law has “stood the test of time?” how long of a time? according to a couple of researchers, its spirit may have been around in the nineteenth century [in section titled Who Do You Think You Are?]…

“But there is more behind the spirit of envy than Jantelagen. There may be a historical basis for these beliefs as well. In Myterna om Svensken (Myths about the Swedes), David Gaunt and Orvar Lofgren explain that nineteenth-century farmers were required to help neighbors who were less well-off, due in part to a belief in Luck, the very unpredictable whim of ‘Lady Fortuna.’ People believed that there was only a finite amount of Luck in life; for one man to become rich, another must become poor. Thus anyone who had great luck, made a lot of money, or had a good harvest shared his success with his less fortunate neighbors, for Luck is fickle and can be reversed (Gaunt and Lofgren 1984).”

…but it seems like jante law wasn’t really applied across the board until the twentieth century [same source as above]:

“Envy, however, did not typically extend beyond one’s own class; there was a marked (and accepted) difference between the nobility and the peasants. Only in the twentieth century did equality begin to be seen as more universal. Swedish ethnologist Åke Daun speculates that the growing income differentials now emerging in Sweden ‘will in the end bring about the weakening of the famous Swedish envy in that gaps between people will be considered part of the natural order: it is between equals that envy flourishes’ (1996, 212).”

i was just reading about medieval scandinavia last night, and it’s not like there weren’t different classes back then, with some individuals having ENORMOUS wealth compared to others — and showing it off by doing things like building castles and such. one guy, bo jonsson (grip), owned one-third of sweden — and finland. like, ALL of finland. seriously! was jante law present in medieval sweden/scandinavia? enquiring minds want to know!

jante law sentiments would certainly go a long way in explaining scandinavia’s early and apparently enthusiastic adoption of political correctness. it also maybe explains their fondness for wealth redistribution.

and it fits with the scandinavian (and, more broadly, germanic) preferences for societal collectivism (from those who can see)…

…and Ordnung (strong preference for rules and order)…

re. the evolution of altruism genes/behaviors in scandinavia, remember that the swedes adpoted christianity rather late compared to other europeans, so they were probably inbreeding for longer than other populations in northwest europe (i’m gonna be looking more into this, and the other scandis, too). by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, though, swedish inbreeding rates were very low, comparable to those of other northwestern (“core”) europeans (like the english and germans).

(note: comments do not require an email. typical swede. typical norwegians. typical dane. typical minnesotan. (~_^) )

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