Archives for the month of: November, 2012

luke says/asks:

“It is interesting to compare world maps of consanguinity and murder rates…. Incidentally, someone who is proficient in computing correlation coefficients could use the country tables in the two links above to compute an actual number.”

here at hbd chick, we take reader requests! (^_^)

so i plotted the data as compiled by woodley & bell — just to be consistent — against the intentional homicide rates as compiled by the united nations office on drugs and crime and got … *drumroll please!* …

…nuthin’. zip. zilch. nada. a correlation of -0.0758. in other words, there is noooo correlation between modern consangunity rates and known intentional homicide rates. i love non-result results! they’re some of the best. (^_^)

here’s a chart for you — x-axis=consanguinity rates, y-axis=intentional homicide rates (as bob would say: that’s a scatter plot!):

consanguinity and intentional homicide - scatter plot

and here’s a table of the data sorted by homicide rates:

consanguinity and intentional homicide

like i said, though, i think there are problems with using the modern consanguinity rates when we are (i think probably/possibly) talking about the evolution of behaviors — and steven pinker thinks that there are probably some problems with the collection of homicide rates in certain countries. still — no correlation is no correlation.

previously: consanguinity and democracy

(note: comments do not require an email. one of the immortals.)

the good professor harpending who, unlike me, actually knows what he’s talking about when it comes to population genetics, took a mathematical look at my suggestion (guess!) that there might have been enough time over the medieval period for genetic changes in the population to have resulted in the historical decline of violence in nw europe that pinker described in The Better Angels (see also eisner).

prof. harpending concludes that — yeah, sure — there might’ve been enough time (from the 1300s to the modern period) to effect such a genetic change. it would’ve been a bit of a push, but it could’ve happened:

“In the present case we need a response of 1/28 of a standard deviation per generation. Assuming an additive heritability of 0.5 (the true value is probably 0.8 or so from literature on the heritability of aggressive behavior in children) the selective differential must be about 1/14 or .07 standard deviations per generation. In terms of IQ this would correspond to a one point IQ advantage of parents over the population average and in terms of stature parents with a mean stature 0.2 inches greater than the population average. This would occur if the most homicidal 1.5% of the population were to fail to reproduce each generation.”

no, i didn’t understand most of that either.

i do understand that he thinks he went conservative in his calculation (i.e. using an additive heritability [<< two links there] of just 0.5 although he thinks it's probably more like 0.8), so that might mean that his calculation should actually be even more in the hbd-ist’s favor. in any case, he concludes that natural selection against “genes for violence” (or selection for “genes for nonviolence”) could explain the historical decline of violence in nw europe “if the most homicidal 1.5% of the population were to fail to reproduce each generation.” a bit of a push, maybe, but possible. (if they really did fail to reproduce.)

he suggests:

“Justice was famously brutal and harsh in Medieval and Renaissance England so this may not be an entirely meaningless exercise. In this excellent essay Peter Frost suggests that the nearly the same selection against violence occurred in the several centuries before the fall of the Roman Empire, and he provides grisly details of Roman treatment of criminals.”

that is one route to go — have the state simply remove the bad guys out of the gene pool.

i’d like to suggest another route (and this is where i’m going to start sounding like a broken record): that they got rid of clannishness in medieval nw europe.

why should getting rid of clannishness matter? because, for whatever reasons (i think the reasons are connected to inclusive fitness), clannish people are violent. blood feuds, honor killings, general obstreperosity — clannish people are just not peaceful.

why? i think it’s ’cause clannish populations are inbreeders and inbreeding alters the possible inclusive fitness payoffs. if you’re from an inbred group, you don’t have to stick your neck out for two brothers or eight cousins to increase your inclusive fitness. if your group is inbred enough, you might only have to be altruistic (in the biological sense) to just one brother or only four cousins (’cause you share that many more genes with your inbred relatives than individuals in an outbred population would, capiche?).

in an inbred population, violent clannish behaviors — which are just the flip-side of being altruistic towards one’s relatives (i.e. be really un-altruistic towards one’s un-relatives) — would/could quickly be selected for since the inclusive fitness payoffs are greater for each altruistic act. and this is exactly what wade and breden (1981) found: inbreeding can accelerate the selection for altruism genes (see also here).

so, to get rid of violence, you could get rid of clannishness. and to get rid of clannishness, you need to get rid of inbreeding. which is exactly what happened in medieval europe starting in the early part of the period. the roman catholic church, supported by secular authorities, banned cousin and other close marriages beginning in 506 (i think that’s when the first ban on cousin marriage was laid down).

enforcement of the various cousin marriage bans, which ranged from first to sixth cousins depending on what century you’re talking about, wasn’t easy — at least not in the beginning. the church, for instance, didn’t require that a marriage ceremony take place in a church until something like 1000 or 1100, so enforcement by the church in the early middle ages was probably patchy at best. however, there were LOTS of secular laws throughout nw europe banning close marriage, including very much so in anglo-saxon england. just a couple of examples: the law of wihtred from the 690s outlawed cousin marriage — and the punishment for cousin marriage in another anglo-saxon law from sometime the 900s-1000s was slavery for the perpetrators. again, difficult to know how well these laws were enforced; but that there were plenty of such laws indicates that the authorities were keen to do something about all this close marriage.

the law of wihtred is, i think, the earliest anglo-saxon law that i’ve come across which made cousin marriage illegal (at least in the part of england where the law of wihtred applied). so the push against inbreeding in anglo-saxon england started at least as early as 690 a.d. again, it may not have been very effective at that point, but england’s outbreeding project had begun by that point.

lorraine lancaster, still considered the authority on anglo-saxon kinship, concluded that, although its importance was beginning to wane (as indicated by a shift in who would be awarded wergeld in the event of a crime against a person, that person’s kinsmen or their guild), an individual’s extended kindred remained of importance in anglo-saxon/english society well into the 1000s. that suggests to me that “clannishness” was still around in the 1000s in england. feuding was definitely still a regular event.

the situation had changed quite a bit by the 1300s when nuclear families were all the rage and englishmen no longer relied so extensively on their extended families. people were still violent in 1300s england, but of course the shift from clannishness to non-clannishness — i.e. from violence to non-violence — would’ve taken some time. evolution doesn’t happen overnight.

the state’s monopoly on violence and outbreeding don’t have to be mutually exclusive explanations for why there may have been a genetic change in nw europeans leading to a decline in violent behaviors. the answer might be both. like jayman said

“Inbreeding, and hence clannishness, can interfere with this process, because while the State is selecting for less violent people, clan conflict presents a counteracting selective pressure for people who are more violent (and can fight feuds).”

…so in places where inbreeding has not abated or did not abate as early as in england — the arab world/middle east, china (or parts of it anyway — h/t luke!), the highlands of scotland, the auvergne — the state hasn’t managed to quell violence as easily. the combo of outbreeding + an effective state seems to be a winning one. better yet if you don’t need such a very strong state (modern nw europe) and the population is just non-violent naturally.

this is all just a theory, of course — theory with a small “t”. but, as cochran and harpending have said (h/t kiwiguy!):

“Whereas tests of hypotheses ought to be careful and conservative, generation of hypotheses ought to be speculative and free-ranging.”

so there! (^_^)

there ought to be a way of mathematically modelling my suggestion — i.e. that the historical decline of violence in nw europe is at least partially the result of the de-selection (if you can say that) of “genes for violence” due to a reduction in inbreeding — but since i’m pretty much numerically illiterate, i won’t be the one working up those models. i would think, though, that in addition to using the breeder’s equation in the calculation, you’d also want to factor in inbreeding/outbreeding somehow.

see also: Genetics and the Historical Decline of Violence?

previously: what pinker missed and “violence around the world” and outbreeding, self-control and lethal violence

(note: comments do not require an email. chinese clan house.)

it’s nice to see the phrase “human biodiversity” pop up in unexpected places (i.e. not the hbd-o-sphere). here it is in slate (via steve sailer):

“Charles Murray Whiffs on Asians”

“The grand master of the Bell Curve is used to liberals pointing and sputtering at his conclusions. He typically pre-empts this by burying them with research — research they, the sort of people who believe that human evolution happened but that human biodiversity is a myth, sure have not done….”

there it is! used just like it was an everyday, ordinary phrase. i like that! (^_^)

still got a ways to go on google ngrams, though (click on chart for LARGER view):

(note: comments do not require an email. hbd.)

i should just move the linkfests to mondays … get it over with. (~_^) (then at some point i’d prolly switch to publishing them on wednesdays or thursdays … and eventually, someday, they’d migrate all the way back to sundays again!)

Are Liberal or Conservative Americans More Likely to Support Restrictions on Racist and Anti-Religious Speech?

Singapore is world’s least emotional country, poll finds – see also steve sailer (who is not the world’s least emotional country).

Does being fat make you more jolly?“The FTO gene makes a protein associated with obesity and fat mass…. [H]aving one copy of this mutant in your genome decreases the risk of depression by 8 per cent; two copies doubles that dip…. Based on its prevalence among ethnic groups, it should prevent 6.7 per cent of the cases of depression that would otherwise afflict Africans, 5.3 per cent of cases in Europeans, and 2.2 per cent in Chinese.”

Longer life link to low vitamin D – in some dutch people. h/t sean!

Meat, Cooked Foods Needed for Early Human Brain

The Evolutionary Mystery of Homosexuality – i know, i know. greg cochran would say there’s no mystery here. (~_^)

Conservatism is white men – from the awesome epigone.

Why Is Intelligence the Measure of Ultimate Human Worth? – from kanazawa.

Mitochondrial DNA in Ancient Human Populations of Europe (der Sarkissian 2011)“This work presents direct evidence that Mesolithic eastern Europeans belonged to the same Palaeolithic/Mesolithic genetic background as central and northern Europeans. It was also shown that prehistoric eastern Europeans were the recipients of multiple migrations from the East in prehistory that had not been previously detected and/or timed on the basis of modern mtDNA data. Ancient DNA also provided insights in the genetic history of European genetic outliers; the Saami, whose ancestral population still remain unidentified, and the Sardinians, whose genetic differentiation is proposed to be the result of mating isolation since at least the Bronze Age.” – @dienekes’.

Archaeologists discover 10,000 year-old home – in scotland.

People who live in tropics more likely to die seven years earlier“Overall mortality in the region was affected by disease, conflict, poverty and food insecurity….”

Improved Water Supplies In Africa Increase Poverty – ’cause of lower death rates. that s*cks. – from parapundit.

bonus: Fraud fighter: ‘Faked research is endemic in China’

bonus bonus: The Black Cat Analogy – from jayman!

bonus bonus bonus: Think twice before using “mankind” to mean “all humanity,” say scholars – scr*w that!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Camel Genome Holds Desert Survival Secrets“[M]any of the Bactrian genome’s rapidly evolving genes regulate the metabolic pathway…. [C]amels can withstand massive blood glucose levels owing in part to changes in genes that are linked to type II diabetes in humans.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Larry Hagman: the superstar who made history“In 1991, a Bedouin tribe delayed its annual migration across the Sahara because its elders were not prepared to miss the last episode of Dallas.” – heh.

(note: comments do not require an email. baby camel – awwww!)

i said:

“robin fox, for instance, in The Tribal Imagination (and, i suppose, in his incest book, but i haven’t read that) mentioned that, in father-daughter incest cases, the majority of those relationships are initiated by the daughter.”

redzengenoist asked for a reference, which then i couldn’t find — but now i found it! and it goes to show — you should always ask for a reference! from The Tribal Imagination [pg. 152]:

“In both stories the initiator is the girl, like Lot’s daughters. This is far from the ‘patriarchal’ situation usually envisaged with dominant males sexually exploiting helpless females, as Amnon and Tamar. The poet sees incest as a dangerous female impulse; the men are the horrified victimes. Ovid is almost Wahhabist in his fear of female lust. But this is in line with the fact that in cases of consummated incest the female often is the initiator, and with the classical and ancient world’s depiction of women (some women) as assertive, and as taking the initiative in matters sexual.”

obviously, “often” (what fox said) does not equal “the majority” (what i remembered).

boy, do i have a lousy memory! (*hbd chick blushes*) please, please, always ask me for a reference if i haven’t given one!

(note: comments do not require an email. can’t remember anything anymore….)

so apparently not a lot of you are blake’s 7 fans. too bad. you really missed out! especially on some fantastic special effects! — spaceships hurtling through the galaxy suspended on fishing line (just like in the old flash gordon serials!); lethal styrofoam boulders (aren’t they all?); blasters connected to their powerpacks via telephone cords! great stuff! (^_^) (all part of the charm of the show, i assure you.)

AAAAAAND — i didn’t remember this at all — a cousin romance! in “hostage” we learn that our hero, blake, has a thing for his first cousin, inga — his father’s brother’s daughter, no less! what more could you ask for in a sci-fi show?

notice that the youtube user who uploaded this video was a bit squeamish over blake’s romantic feelings. (~_^) and we see that jenna was a bit jealous, too … naturally.

i doubt that blake and his cuz ever got to consummate their luv since …


…blake was killed at the end of the series by (*gasp!*) … well, i won’t tell you by whom ’cause that would ruin the ending for you. (~_^)

previously: remember this show?

human biodiversity.

i’ve pretty much finished reading pinker’s The Better Angels — i’ll admit to you right now that i skimmed chapter 8, “Inner Demons,” so i’ll have to go back and give that a proper read — and i’ll also say right now that it’s an amazing book! definitely worth a (full and attentive!) read. and i agree with steve sailer that pinker is really, really thorough and covers everything you could imagine that might be related to violence.

except human biodiversity.

pinker is obviously no blank slater, so he knows that evolution has shaped human behavior. but, at least as far as i could see, he doesn’t give much cred — not in this book anyway — to the fact that different populations might differ in average behavioral patterns including violence — differ because of their different evolutionary histories. recent evolutionary histories. pinker seems to be hooked on the idea of human nature rather than human natures, and that’s too bad.

he does mention cochran and harpending’s ideas about human evolution accelerating since the start of the agricultural revolution (’cause there’s more people!) — and he brings up the “warrior gene” (MAO-A) and gregory clark’s work — but then he sets them aside saying [kindle locations 13807-13817]:

“So while recent biological evolution may, in theory, have tweaked our inclinations toward violence and nonviolence, we have no good evidence that it actually has. At the same time, we do have good evidence for changes that could not possibly be genetic, because they unfolded on time scales that are too rapid to be explained by natural selection, even with the new understanding of how recently it has acted. The abolition of slavery and cruel punishments during the Humanitarian Revolution; the reduction of violence against minorities, women, children, homosexuals, and animals during the Rights Revolutions; and the plummeting of war and genocide during the Long Peace and the New Peace, all unfolded over a span of decades or even years, sometimes within a single generation. A particularly dramatic decline is the near-halving of the homicide rate during the Great American Crime Decline of the 1990s. The decay rate of that decline, around 7 percent a year, is powerful enough to drag a measure of violence down to 1 percent of its original level over just two generations, all without the slightest change in gene frequencies. Since it is indisputable that cultural and social inputs can adjust the settings of our better angels (such as self-control and empathy) and thereby control our violent inclinations, we have the means to explain all the declines of violence without invoking recent biological evolution. At least for the time being, we have no need for that hypothesis.”


we aren’t talking about “time scales that are too rapid to be explained by natural selection.” pinker pointed out himself (referencing eisner) that the pacification of england (and a couple of other nw european countries) started as early as the 1300s — maybe even earlier — hard to know for sure ’cause the records don’t go back farther. (but, as jayman once said, the fact that we actually have records for england and these other european countries that go back as far as they do says something about those populations right there!)

the 1300s to pinker’s humanitarian revolution (basically the enlightenment) of the 1700s? that’s four hundred years right there — plenty of time for evolution to have happened (see also here for example [pdf]) — especially if the selection pressures for these more soft and squishy, as opposed to nasty and brutish, behaviors had been there. which i think were, thanks to the roman catholic church’s bizarre requirement that catholics outbreed — a practice that medieval nw europeans seem to have jumped upon with (comparatively) great enthusiasm (see “mating patterns in europe” series in left-hand column below ↓) — eventually anyway.

furthermore, while the anglo-saxons in england were still marrying their cousins in the 500-600s, to the dismay of st. augustine (the one who went to england), my guess is that their outbreeding project was probably well underway by the 800s thanks to pressure from the church and secular authorities (e.g. see first note here). definitely by 1000 to be really conservative. so the evolutionary time period we’re talking about is probably actually seven hundred, or even nine hundred, years long. p-l-e-n-t-y of time for natural selection to have worked its magic.

what were these selection pressures that resulted in nw europeans going all soft and squishy? well, because of the church’s various bans on close marriages (which were also backed by many nw european secular authorities), the degree of genetic similarity between close and extended family members in nw european populations was reduced, so inclusive fitness payoffs were similarly reduced for these populations. since there was no longer sooo much to be gained genetically by helping your second-cousin-once-removed, clans — and clannish behaviors — disappeared in england and other parts of nw europe. being successful in life — and, most importantly, reproduction — thus depended more on your alliances with neighbors and friends rather than your extended family. and it was these behavioral patterns — along with gregory clark’s bourgeois, middle class traits — that were increasingly selected for in nw medieval european populations. more and more over the period, it paid off less and less to be brutal and cruel to your unrelated neighbors — why would anybody cooperate with you if you were brutal and cruel to them? — so eventually nw medieval europeans chilled out. they became more individualistic — and universalistic in their thinking/sentiments. until — voilà! — we got the enlightenment. which DIDN’T happen anywhere else but in nw europe — where people had been outbreeding (relatively speaking) for several hundreds of years.

even if i’m wrong, which is impossible pretty likely, it remains a fact that this pacification process started in nw europe, really with the english, and not anywhere else in the world (except maybe in some pockets here and there). and THAT requires explaining — which i don’t think that any of pinker’s social, cultural or rational explanations do. why england? why nw europe? what was so different there?

previously: “violence around the world”

(note: comments do not require an email. english angel.)


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