Archives for posts with tag: christianity

busy reading all about crime and punishment (i.e. the death penalty) in medieval england, so you don’t have to! (^_^) in the meantime, until i post about that, here are some random notes:

the law codes of ine king of wessex (688-726) are some of the earliest anglo-saxon law codes still surviving. they were issued ca. 694. ine took his christianity seriously and demanded that [pg. 27]:

“[A]ll children were to be baptised within 30 days of their birth, failing which their guardians had to pay a fine of 30 shillings. If a child died before baptism its guardian lost all he possessed….”

so there are some strong incentives for the populace to convert to christianity or remain christian once they’d done so.

æthelstan, king of the anglo-saxons and then the first king of the north english (924-939), also passed a bunch of laws including [pg. 32]:

“[T]he first social legislation in England, providing for the relief of the poor. If a king’s reeve failed to provide, from the rents of the royal demesne, for the poor in the manner prescribed he had to find 30 shillings to be distributed among the poor under the bishop’s supervision.”

nice of him! (^_^)

some examples of concerns about consanguinity issues in the late anglo-saxon period [pg. 226]:

“General concern about marriage and sexual relations within the kin is expressed throughout our period, for example, in the late ninth century in letters from Pope John VIII to Burgred, king of the Mercians, and to Æthelred, archbishop of Canterbury, and another from Fulk, archbishop of Reims, to King Alfred. In the 950s, according to the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’, ‘Archbishop Oda separated King Eadwig and Ælfgifu because they were too closely related’. They may have shared a great-great-grandfather, King Æthelwulf of Wessex….”

so there you go.

and in anglo-norman england [pgs. 435-437]:

“As in the Anglo-Saxon period, a central issue was consanguinity. In the second half of the eleventh century and particularly under the influence of the reformer Peter Damian, the method of counting the prohibited degrees was established in its most extensive form. Instead of counting to see if there was a common ancestor within four generations, the counting was taken a further three generations back, to the seventh. This had the effect of extending the range of prohibited marriage partners to sixth cousins.[12] In England, the prohibition ‘to the seventh degree’ was decreed at ecclesiastical councils at London in 1074 x 1075, and at Westminster in 1102 and 1125: ‘between those related by blood or relatives by affinity [i.e. by marriage], up to the seventh generation, we prohibit marriages to be contracted. If indeed anyone shall have been thus joined together, let them be separated’. Reformers also emphasised other non-blood relationships, especially spiritual kinship. The potential for conflict with lay practice must have increased significantly, as it has been suggested that whilst the layity did not commonly contract marriages within four degrees, they did within five or six.[15]

“[12] It has been suggested that blood relationships alone might mean that the bride or groom had over 2,500 cousins of their own generation whom they were prohibited to marry; J.-L. Flandrin, Families in Former Times, trans. R. Southern (Cambridge, 1979), 24.

“[15] E.g. Green, Aristocracy, 348-9.”

2,500 cousins that you couldn’t marry. awkward that.

interestingly (at least to me!), from late anglo-saxon england [pg. 242 - link added by me]:

“A further important tie was that of spiritual kinship, created particularly at baptism, but also at the catechumenate and confirmation. It seems that in England, unlike the Continent, there was only one sponsor, of the same sex as the person undergoing the ceremony. This is one reason for the relatively limited emphasis in England on the need for the group of godparents and their godchild to avoid sexual relations or marriage within the group.[114]

“[114] J.H. Lynch, Christianizing Kinship: Ritual Sponsorship in Anglo-Saxon England. 1998.”

huh! who knew?

and, finally, just to remind everyone how barbaric the barbarians were [pg. 186]:

“The laws of Æthelstan mention drowning or throwing from a cliff for free women, stoning for male slaves, burning for female slaves:

“‘In the case of a male slave, sixty and twenty slaves shall go and stone him. And if any of them fails three times to hit him, he shall himself be scourged three times. When a slave guilty of theft has been put to death, each of those slaves shall give three pennies to his lord. In the case of a female slave who commits an act of theft anywhere except against her master or mistress, sixty and twenty female slaves shall go and bring three logs each and burn that one slave; and they shall pay as many pennies as males slaves would have to pay, or suffer scourging as has been stated above with references to male slaves.’

“However, the literary and archaeology evidence just cited suggests that hanging and beheading were the most common methods.”


(note: comments do not require an email. æthelstan – earliest surviving portrait of an english king.)

Your Ancestors, Your Fate“The notion of genetic transmission of ‘social competence’ — some mysterious mix of drive and ability — may unsettle us. But studies of adoption, in some ways the most dramatic of social interventions, support this view. A number of studies of adopted children in the United States and Nordic countries show convincingly that their life chances are more strongly predicted from their biological parents than their adoptive families. In America, for example, the I.Q. of adopted children correlates with their adoptive parents’ when they are young, but the correlation is close to zero by adulthood. There is a low correlation between the incomes and educational attainment of adopted children and those of their adoptive parents. These studies, along with studies of correlations across various types of siblings (identical twins, fraternal twins, half siblings) suggest that genetics is the main carrier of social status.” – from gregory clark. see also The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility.

Reductionism! Determinism! Straw-man-ism!” The main problem, it seems to me, is a fundamental misunderstanding of what genetics as a science studies and how it relates to the function of complex systems. The following statements are not contradictory: 1. The function of a complex system emerges from the complex and dynamic interactions between all of the components of the system, in a context- and experience-dependent manner. 2. Variation in single components of the system (or in multiple components) can affect how it functions. Geneticists investigate the second question. Showing that variation in Gene X affects the behaviour or outcome of a system is not the same as saying that Gene X fully determines that behaviour or fully accounts for the entire system. Gene X is just a piece of DNA sitting in a cell somewhere – it doesn’t do anything by itself. But a *difference* in Gene X can account for a *difference* in how the system works. – from kevin mitchell.

The Problem with HBD, the Dark Enlightenment, Neoreaction, Alt-Rightism, and All That Jazz – READ THIS! – from jayman (and misdreavus).

There’s nothing wrong with looking for ‘gay genes’“The Left loves to tell the Right that it’s anti-science, pointing (not without reason) to the correlation between conservative beliefs and a failure to come to terms with the scientific facts of evolution and human-caused climate change. But there’s a subtler tendency on the Left; a fear of research into human nature, in case the findings are in some way politically uncomfortable.”

Evolution equally efficient in removing deleterious variants in Europeans and West Africans“…but apparently not in Denisovans who accumulated deleterious mutations at a higher rate than modern humans.” – @dienekes’.

Scientists unlock a ‘microbial Pompeii’“An international team of researchers have discovered a ‘microbial Pompeii’ preserved on the teeth of skeletons around 1,000 years old. The key to the discovery is the dental calculus (plaque) which preserves bacteria and microscopic particles of food on the surfaces of teeth, effectively creating a mineral tomb for microbiomes.”

The effect of paternal age on offspring intelligence and personality when controlling for paternal trait level [pdf] – “We examined the effect of father’s age at birth on offspring intelligence, head circumference and personality traits. Using the Minnesota Twin Family Study sample we tested paternal age effects while controlling for parents’ trait levels measured with the same precision as offspring’s. From evolutionary genetic considerations we predicted a negative effect of paternal age on offspring intelligence, but not on other traits. Controlling for parental intelligence (IQ) had the effect of turning an initially positive association non-significantly negative. We found paternal age effects on offspring IQ and Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire Absorption, but they were not robustly significant, nor replicable with additional covariates. No other noteworthy effects were found.” – from lars penke.

Reversed hierarchy in the brain for general and specific cognitive abilities: A morphometric analysis“Here, we analyze gray matter with three morphometric indices (volume, cortical surface area, and cortical thickness) at three levels of the intelligence hierarchy (tests, first-order factors, and a higher-order general factor, g)…. The key finding reveals substantial variability in gray matter correlates at the test level, which is substantially reduced for the first-order and the higher-order factors. This supports a reversed hierarchy in the brain with respect to cognitive abilities at different psychometric levels: the greater the generality, the smaller the number of relevant gray matter clusters accounting for individual differences in intelligent performance.” – h/t ben southwood!

A nice bunch of flowers“The general factor of intelligence is strongest at lower levels of intelligence. It may be a case of ‘All neurones to the pump’. When abilities are low, most problems are difficult. In such cases, all resources have to be thrown at the problem. When abilities are higher there is more spare capacity for differentiation of abilities. Brighter persons have a lower proportion of their abilities accounted for by a common factor, even though the have higher absolute abilities.” – from dr. james thompson.

GED scores by Ethnicity and Nation – from chuck @human varieties.

The Unfortunately Innate Nature of Intelligence“You cannot blame people for being what they were born, and you cannot expect them to do what they cannot.”

Psychologist on a mission to give every child a learning chip“Prof Robert Plomin wants educators to take notice of genes, and has a new big idea – personalised learning.”

Fruit-loving lemurs score higher on spatial memory tests“Food-finding tests in five lemur species show that fruit-eaters may have better spatial memory than lemurs with a more varied diet. The results support the idea that relying on foods that are seasonally available and far-flung gives a competitive edge to individuals with certain cognitive abilities — such as remembering where the goodies are.”

What Does Our DNA Say About How We Look?“A biologist aims to profile suspects from genetic material left at crime scenes.’ – h/t matthew wygant!

Four Lame Responses to Sam Harris’ Moral Landscape Challenge“Moral emotions, like every other evolved trait, exist because their presence increased the probability that the genes responsible for the existence of those traits would survive and reproduce. Moral emotions, and the associated illusions of the existence of Good and Evil as things in themselves, exist as subjective impressions in the minds of individuals.” – from helian.

Free will beliefs and motivation to punish“In a paper forthcoming in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Cory J. Clark and co-authors provide evidence that widespread belief in the existence of free will is bolstered by a fundamental desire to punish wrongdoers…. As Clark et al. put it, ‘There seems little doubt that the subjective experience of choosing and acting supports people’s belief in free will, but our findings suggest another powerful motivating factor: the human impulse to blame and punish. People believe in free will – at least in part – because they wish to affirm that people who do immoral things could have and should have acted differently’.”

A small contribution to the free-will thingy – from elijah.

Is there a ‘dark intelligence’? Emotional intelligence is used by dark personalities to emotionally manipulate others“Narcissism and psychopathy increased link between emotional intelligence facets and emotional manipulation.” – h/t claire lehmann!

Theory of mind: did evolution fool us?“Although sophisticated ToM is believed to have high adaptive fitness, broad experimental evidence from behavioural economics, experimental psychology and linguistics point towards limited recursivity in representing other’s beliefs.” – h/t neuroskeptic!

Creativity and personality in classical, jazz and folk musicians“[J]azz musicians are more frequently engaged in extracurricular musical activities, and also complete a higher number of creative musical achievements. Additionally, jazz musicians show higher ideational creativity as measured by divergent thinking tasks, and tend to be more open to new experiences than classical musicians. This study provides first empirical evidence that jazz musicians show particularly high creativity with respect to domain-specific musical accomplishments but also in terms of domain-general indicators of divergent thinking ability that may be relevant for musical improvisation.” – h/t mary louise cowan!

Migration and interaction in a contact zone: mtDNA variation among Bantu-speakers in southern Africa“In this study, we analyze complete mtDNA genome sequences from over 900 Bantu-speaking individuals from Angola, Zambia, Namibia, and Botswana to investigate the demographic processes at play during the last stages of the Bantu expansion. Our results show that most of these Bantu-speaking populations are genetically very homogenous, with no genetic division between speakers of Eastern and Western Bantu languages. Most of the mtDNA diversity in our dataset is due to different degrees of admixture with autochthonous populations.”

Silver Blaze“[I]n most parts of Europe, it looks as if modern populations inherited the three EEF/WHG/ANE groups (Levantine farmers, West Hunters and Sibermen) via only two proximate ancestral populations. Europe at the time was almost entirely occupied by Sardinian-like farmers – then another population moved in, one that had about 3 times as much West Hunter as Sibermen.” – from greg cochran.

Replacement or continuity?“Ancient DNA seems to promise a clearer picture because the only source of uncertainty is the age of the skeletal material. Unfortunately, this new method is more sensitive to uncertainty from another source: natural selection. Late hunter-gatherers and early farmers had to adapt to different environments. There certainly was a genetic divide between the two, but did it result from differences in origin or from differences in natural selection?” – from peter frost.

Dystopian diversity – from the awesome epigone.

“I regret studying social anthropology” – me, too. *sigh* – see also the original post.

The parasite that escaped out of Africa: Tracing origins of malaria parasite“An international team has traced the origin of the second-worst malaria parasite of humans to Africa. The closest genetic relatives of human *Plasmodium vivax* were found only in Asian macaques, leading researchers to believe that *P. vivax* originated in Asia. This study overturns that, finding that wild-living apes in central Africa are widely infected with parasites that, genetically, are nearly identical to human *P. vivax*.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Are Rich People Really That Selfish? – New Study Looks At Impact of Socio-Economic Status on Altruistic Tendencies“‘Our personality impacts every aspect of our life – the choices we make, the people we surround ourselves with, the career we pursue, the way we respond to life experiences, the way we manage our finances, and whether or not we share our good fortune,’ explains Dr. Jerabek, president of the company…. [H]ow individuals conduct themselves when they have money has everything to do with who they are as a person. Money doesn’t make a person more or less selfish. If you are a genuinely kind and giving person, you’ll continue to be that way no matter how many zeros are on your paycheck.’”

Babies born in England and Wales to non-UK born mothers infographic“Total Fertility Rate in England/Wales by where mother born: 4.3 Afghanistan, 3.8 Pakistan, 3.3 Nigeria, 2.4 India, 1.8 UK.”

The Tale of a CRISPR Clone – from razib.

Graft Probe in Scientific Community Widens in Southern China“A corruption probe has so far snared more than 50 scientists and research administrators in Guangdong, one of China’s wealthiest provinces.”

Quick Winter Olympics Digit Ratio Note – from sisyphean the mad contrarian.

Scientist proposes revolutionary naming system for all life on Earth“…a naming convention based on genome sequencing to enhance the way organisms are classified.” – h/t super mario!

Burials uncovered in Ireland reflect fusion of Paganism and Christianity“Excavations at Caherconnell in County Clare, Ireland, have uncovered ancient burials that reflect a fusion of Pagan practices with Christianity. Although it was initially believed that Christianity was well established in Ireland by the 5th Century, the latest finding reveals that Celtic Paganism was not quick to die out.” – h/t derek hopper!

The Society of Mutual Autopsy“The Society of Mutual Autopsy was an organisation formed in the late 1800s to advance neuroscience by examining dead members’ brains and to promote atheism by breaking sacred taboos.”

Heavy metal bands per 100,000 people – global map.

A Campus More Colorful Than Reality: Beware That College Brochure – h/t conrad hackett! who tweeted: “The whiter the college, the more diversity depicted in the brochures.”

bonus: Confirmed: Oldest Fragment of Early Earth is 4.4 Billion Years Old

bonus bonus: Hubble Finds Possible Oldest Object Ever Seen“The Hubble Telescope’s new set of Frontier Fields images includes a galaxy some 13-billion light-years away, which makes it a candidate for the most distant object ever seen.”

bonus bonus bonus: Rust Cohle, Guidance Counselor – heh. (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. rust cohle for president!)

back to America 3.0 for a sec.

if i understand their argument correctly, bennett and lotus are proposing that the anglo-saxon absolute nuclear family — and the sort-of individual-based society that goes along with it — has distant roots stretching back to the pre-christian germans on the continent. they do say that there were obviously some changes to the anglo-saxon family type after the germanics arrived in (what would become) england — basically that the anglo-saxon nuclear family became even more nuclear over the course of the medieval period. but, by and large, they believe that there is a very long cultural continuity of family types and societal structures going all the way back to the early germans and that these cultural traditions are what made the anglo world pretty d*rn great.

based upon my readings over the last couple of years (feel free to flip through the “english” section in the “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column), i think that bennett and lotus have got it pretty right. the anglo-saxon world IS exceptional (and, no, no one in my extended family can take ANY credit for that) — this exceptionalism has got to do with the structures of anglo-saxon society, very much so the fundamental family structures — and the development of these structures does go back to the pre-christian continental germans. HOWEVER, i think that bennett and lotus have missed some details — details which throw off the timing of their argument somewhat. for instance, as i pointed out in my last post on the book, they missed out entirely on the importance of the kindred in early germanic society, thus over-estimating the importance of the nuclear family at that point in time. early germanic society wasn’t composed of very tightly knit clans, but neither was it made up of truly independent nuclear families. the early germans were very much tied to their kindreds — including the anglo-saxons in early medieval england up to at least 1000 a.d. (see previous post).

whatever made the anglo-saxons finally give up on their extended families (the kindreds) happened after they got to england (although they may already have been primed for it). the kindred seems to be truly gone in england (at least in the south/southeast) by about 1200 a.d., the evidence suggesting that it was on its way out by at least ca. 1000 a.d. so, sometime between their arrival in the 400s-600s and 1200, something happened which resulted in the disappearance of the anglo-saxon kindred (and germanic kindreds on the continent, too, btw — but not all the germanic kindreds).

in this post, i want to nit-pick about another point that bennett and lotus made about the pre-christian germans on the continent [pg. 75]:

“They owned property individually, not communally, and not as families. Adult children and parents had separate and individual rights, not collective rights as a family.”

nope. as greying wanderer mentioned in the comments on the other post, this is incorrect.

here from “Jural Relations Among the Saxons Before and After Christianization” in The Continental Saxons from the Migration Period to the Tenth Century: An Ethnographic Perspective (2003) is giorgio ausenda on early saxon society on the continent. he’s drawing this information from the earliest written saxon laws. i’m quoting an extended bit here, since the first part includes an interesting description of how the early german kindred structure, including blood feuds, worked [pgs. 113-114]:

“There was no overarching structure with executive power in that society [pre-carolingian continental saxon society], even when stratified as in the case of the Saxons. There were no permanent ‘tribal chiefs’, but only heads of clans with little if any restraining power; the containment of violence was a private matter based on fear of retaliation between like corporate groups, i.e. ‘do not do onto others what you don’t want to be done to you’. The only restraining power the senior ‘elder’ of the group, which is also the etymological meaning of many terms for ‘chief’ all over the world, had was that of acting as an arbiter in an effort to reach consensus on compensations for murder or lesser injuries between contending parties belonging to different corporate groups under his jurisdiction; hence the Latin term *iudex* for such chiefs which were seen as acting mostly in legal palavers.

Property did not concern land, as this belonged to the corporate group as a whole and was the object of raids and counterraids to keep neighbouring groups away, or even wars rather than legal transfers. Tools and weapons were considered individual property and, in many cases … when the owners died, buried with them…. The only transmissible property was livestock and, in general, its apportionment was fixed by custom: women obtained their customary marriage endowment and men started owning livestock after they were wedded. They inherited their part in proportion to the number of sons of their deceased father, as sons were the only manual labor available in simple societies and were engaged in herding and minding their extended family’s herds and flocks.”

the early saxons, then, did NOT have property — not transferrable real estate anyway. (we saw something similar in early medieval ireland, although in that case, it was clearly the patrilineal clan that held common ownership of land.) in the case of the early saxons, land was held in common by — well, i’m not sure by whom (ausenda doesn’t say) — a set of related kindreds possibly? in any case, there is that group membership again — kindreds and wergeld in the case of murder/injury and now some sort of corporate group wrt land ownership. the continental saxons were not entirely independent, nuclear-family based individuals. they were a bit … clannish. clannish-lite.

whatever happened to make the anglo-saxons independent, property owning, absolute nuclear family individualists happened after they arrived on albion’s shores (but, i agree, their germanic background probably made a difference). and judging by what i’ve read (again, see the “mating patterns series” below), whatever happened doesn’t appear to have gained traction until about 1000 a.d. by 1200 it’s well underway, and by 1400 — well, i think you could probably drop a modern day englishman back into 1400s england, and he wouldn’t feel that disoriented. bennett and lotus are missing this timeline, because they are projecting too much anglo-saxonism too far back in time.

otherwise, they are very correct about the origins of anglo-saxon exceptionalism! (^_^)

(except for the fact that they believe it ALL to be about culture. that’s impossible, of course. at least in this universe. maybe in some alternate reality things are different. (~_^) )

edit: interesting. here is a quote from “The Kentish Laws” found in The Anglo-Saxons from the Migration Period to the Eighth Century: An Ethnographic Perspective (1997) regarding the beginnings of a shift from communal to private property (land) in kent in a law from the seventh century [pg. 217]:

“The Kentish laws portray a society where the change from movable to landed wealth was under way so much so that even the oldest laws contemplate fines for the breach of enclosures (Aebt. 27-9). It is clear here that land is no longer handled in tribal terms but as belonging to individuals.”

bonus content!: here are a couple of things i came across tonight re. the anglo-saxons and other early germanics that i found interesting, so i just thought i’d share….

1) in early medieval kent, arranged marriages were all the rage. from “The Kentish Laws” in The Anglo-Saxons from the Migration Period to the Eighth Century: An Ethnographic Perspective (1997) [pgs. 211, 216 - links added by me]:

“We have four English law-codes which all originated in the seventh century; the first three sets of laws were issued by the kings of Kent Æthelberht I, Hlothhere and Eadric, and Wihtred….

“The three laws contain a series of decrees about matrimony and have been made the object of considerable research into the (legal) position of women and its evolution…. This is one of the fields where the control of the kindred remained stable: the kinsmen arranged marriage and, after the wedding, continued to watch over the woman.

there’s the importance of the kindred again — in early medieval anglo-saxon (and jutish) england even.

interestingly, this is pretty much what happens in some parts the arab world today — arranged marriages, but the woman’s kin keeps an eye on her to make sure she’s ok. i just read recently, in fact, that in the hejaz, it’s very common for hejazi women to be set up with their own bank accounts by their family so that they have a set of financial resources independent from their husbands (but then they share a common household budget). who knew?

2) several readers have wondered out loud here — and so have i — why on EARTH did the northern europeans/the germanics (or any europeans for that matter) adopt christianity at all? why wouldn’t you just do what the frisians did when st. boniface or his ilk showed up and (presumably) tried to chop down the locals’ sacred trees — hang him from the nearest one?!

well, the saxons were forced to convert. by tptb (in this case the invading franks). huh. imagine that — so-called leaders forcing policies down the people’s throats. hard to imagine!

again from “Jural Relations Among the Saxons Before and After Christianization” [pg. 117 - links added by me]:

“The first ones [written saxon laws] were issued directly by or under the supervision of Frankish authorities. The first group, know as *Capitula de partibus Saxoniae*, issued in 777 at the end of centuries-long conflict with the Saxons, is none other than a martial law enforcing both public order and wholesale christianization. Of the total number of 31 articles, the first five list the penalties for crimes against churches and priests; the next four establish stiff penalties for acts of ‘paganism’ including the death penalty for whomever should refuse to be baptized. Among them a lone ray of light: law number 6 which prohibits witchcraft accusations *’secundum more paganorum’*…. Law 14 is for repentants who, having committed a crime, might confess to a priest, hence would be exempt from the death penalty *’testimonio sacerdote’*.

“The next group of laws from 15 to 19 lays down the duties towards the Church, consisting of a certain number of inhabitants in each hamlet donating to the church *’servum et ancillam’*, and that the tenth part *’decimam’* of the value of penalties incurred, or of one’s subsistence labour must be given to the church. The remaining articles list the prohibitions and duties following on religious festivities and ceremonies.

“This brief set of laws ends with … a final prohibition of unauthorized assemblies….”

so there!

previously: the anglo-saxons and america 3.0

(note: comments do not require an email. birds with mustaches!)

Do Elite ‘Power Sport’ Athletes Have a Genetic Advantage?“A specific gene variant is more frequent among elite athletes in power sports…. A ‘functional polymorphism’ of the angiotensiogen (AGT) gene is two to three times more common in elite power athletes, compared to nonathletes or even elite endurance athletes, according to the new research by Paweł Cięszczyk, PhD, of University of Szczecin, Poland, and colleagues.”

Ballet Dancers’ Brains Adapt to Stop Them Getting in a Spin – or maybe they start off with somewhat different brain structures: “Scientists have discovered differences in the brain structure of ballet dancers that may help them avoid feeling dizzy when they perform pirouettes…. The brain scans revealed differences between the groups in two parts of the brain: an area in the cerebellum where sensory input from the vestibular organs is processed and in the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for the perception of dizziness. The area in the cerebellum was smaller in dancers.”

Math explains history: Simulation accurately captures the evolution of ancient complex societies“The question of how human societies evolve from small groups to the huge, anonymous and complex societies of today has been answered mathematically, accurately matching the historical record on the emergence of complex states in the ancient world. Intense warfare is the evolutionary driver of large complex societies, according to new research….” see also: Math and History Collide. response: No, math cannot predict the rise and fall of empires. (party pooper.)

Genetic study pushes back timeline for first significant human population expansion“Using new genetic tools, the authors conclude that the first significant expansion of human populations appears to be much older than the emergence of farming and herding, dating back to the Paleolithic (60,000-80,000 years ago) rather than Neolithic age (10,000 years ago). They also suggest that strong Paleolithic expansions may have favored the emergence of sedentary farming in some populations during the Neolithic.” – h/t malcolm pollack!

Scientists Created a New Form of Matter and It’s Like a Lightsaber – AWESOME! – see also: Scientists create never-before-seen form of matter

New Approach to Explaining Evolution’s Big Bang“[T]he Cambrian Explosion was preceded by a rise in sea level that submerged vast swaths of land, eroding the drowned rocks…. But these great floods also poisoned the ocean. The erosion of the coastlines released calcium, which can be toxic to cells. In order to survive, animals had to evolve ways to rid themselves of the poison. One solution may have been to pack the calcium into crystals, which eventually evolved into shells, bones, and other hard tissues. Dr. Smith doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that several different lineages of bilaterians evolved hard tissues during the Cambrian explosion, and not sooner.”

No, You Don’t Have Free Will, and This is Why – best post from jayman. ever. (to date! (~_^) ) a response to this.

Robert Ardrey: Incidents in the Disappearance of an Unperson – ok. i’ve run out of ways to say how brilliant helian’s posts are. just go read him already!

The IQ Breaking Point – How Civilized Society is Maintained or Lost“[I]t seems like there is a point, somewhere around 97, above which a modern civilization can be maintained and below which things abruptly begin to fall apart.” – from staffan!

Maths is a man thing* – from dr. james thompson!

Myths about IQ: Episode I – from elijah!

HBD: On Puerto Ricans and Their Heritage, Part I: Before the Taíno – from nelson!

Understanding how infants acquire new words across cultures“[I]n English, 24-month-old infants were better able to learn novel verbs for novel actions (e.g., petting) if the surrounding noun phrases were explicitly mentioned (e.g., ‘The girl is petting the dog’) than if they were dropped from the sentence (e.g., ‘Look. Petting!’). In contrast, the new research shows that in Korean (a language in which noun phrases are typically dropped in conversation) 24-month-olds were better able to learn novel verbs for novel actions if the surrounding noun phrases (e.g., the girl, the dog) were dropped; in fact, unlike English-acquiring infants, those acquiring Korean struggled if the nouns were explicitly mentioned.” – don’t know, unfortunately, what the ethnicities of these infants are.

The Science Fiction Future of Genetic Genealogy“Next month at the American Society of Human Genetics 2013 meeting, researchers from AncestryDNA will present their work detailing the reconstruction of portions of the genomes of an 18th-century couple using detailed genealogical information and Identity-by-Descent (‘IBD’) DNA segments from several hundred descendants of the couple in the AncestryDNA database. In other words, researchers identified several hundred descendants of a certain couple living in the 1700s and then used the DNA shared by those descendants to recreate as much of the couples’ genomes as possible.” – cool! from the genetic genealogist.

Black men have lower sperm counts than white men – @race/history/evolution notes.

Low-Hanging Fruit: Consider the Ant“Some spiders somehow fly by using silken threads. They’ve been detected at altitudes over 4 km, and more than a thousand miles from land. The usual notion is that these threads catch air currents, but that may not be the real explanation. For one thing, they seem to be able to take off fairly rapidly in a dead calm. It looks instead as if these spiders manage to impart a negative charge to these threads and are then propelled upward by the atmospheric electric field – electrostatic levitation, a totally novel mechanism for flight.” – whoa! – from greg cochran.

Brainwashed by a microbe?“*T. gondii* is being studied for possible behavioral effects mainly because it has attracted so much attention. But we’re probably being manipulated by other parasites. ‘A large number of parasitic organisms probably exist in helminths, protozoa, fungi, bacteria, archea and viruses that may influence the phenotype of their human host even more than the Toxoplasma. These organisms are, however, still waiting for research teams to engage in a systematic study of their influence on the human host.’” – from peter frost. previously.

When the Melting Pot Reaches a Boil“If there is one constant in the travails of *Homo sapiens sapiens*, it is that he gets on best with his own kind. Yet to the social engineers who would shepherd us into multicult euphoria, it is as if these millennia of inter-ethnic strife didn’t exist.”

Humans are not the only primates who whisper – so do the cotton-top tamarins. shhhhhh! don’t tell anyone!

What Else Can I Do With My DNA Test Results? – @the genetic genealogist.

That’s not autism: It’s simply a brainy, introverted boy“Autism spectrum diagnoses are up 78 percent in 10 years. We’re dramatically overdiagnosing it in everyday behavior.” – #longread.

The 16 Most (and Least) Honest Cities in the World – wallet test – finns ftw!

Ancient language not heard for 4,000 years is recorded for the first time – PIE (proto-indo-european).

2,500-year-old horse remains found in Bulgaria that suggest the creatures were buried standing up“The carriage and horse skeletons were discovered in the village of Svestari in north-east Bulgaria. They were found in a Thracian tomb along with some decorations.” – cool photos!

How Alcohol Conquered Russia“A history of the country’s struggle with alcoholism, and why the government has done so little about it.” – take note of anatoly’s comments!

bonus: mitual shah – one of the good guys. one of the VERY good guys: Briton died saving children in terror mall“A British marketing executive was shot dead in the Westgate massacre in Kenya after offering himself as a hostage to bargain for the lives of 33 children.”

bonus bonus: I’m sorry, but we have to talk about the barbarism of modern Islamist terrorism – from brendan o’neill.

bonus bonus bonus: hero of the week, via everyone on twitter – After Told He’s Racist, UW-M Student Rejects Further Diversity ‘Training’

bonus bonus bonus bonus: The silence of our friends – the extinction of Christianity in the Middle East – from ed west @the spectator.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: from india – ‘Family honour’ and ‘values’ give immunity to the predator at home – h/t mark weiner!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The US government has been running a quantum Internet for over two years – cool! – h/t michael anissimov!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The Demons of Moldova“In Europe’s poorest country, young people are turning to occult religious practices — even exorcisms — to escape everyday life.”

(note: comments do not require an email. cotton-top tamarians!)

in addition to being concerned about too much inbreeding and how that might hinder the building a christian society here on earth, thomas aquinas also worried about the effects of too much outbreeding.

from his Summa Theologica [pg. 2749]:

“The degrees within which consanguinity has been an impediment to marriage have varied according to various times…. [T]he Old Law permitted other degrees of consanguinity, in fact to a certain extent it commanded them, to wit that each man should take a wife from his kindred, in order to avoid confusion of inheritances: because at that time the Divine worship was handed down as the inheritance of the race. But afterwards more degrees were forbidden by the New Law which is the law of the spirit and of love, because the worship of God is no longer handed down and spread abroad by a carnal birth but by a spiritual grace: wherefore it was necessary that men should be yet more withdrawn from carnal things by devoting themselves to things spiritual, and that love should have a yet wider play. Hence in olden time marriage was forbidden even within the more remote degrees of consanguinity, in order that consanguinity and affinity might be the sources of a wider friendship; and this was reasonably extended to the seventh degree, both because beyond this it was difficult to have any recollection of the common stock, and because this was in keeping with the sevenfold grace of the Holy Ghost. Afterwards, however, towards these latter times the prohibition of the Church has been restricted to the fourth degree, because it became useless and dangerous to extend the prohibition to more remote degrees of consanguinity. Useless, because charity waxed cold in many hearts so that they had scarcely a greater bond of friendship with their more remote kindred than with strangers: and it was dangerous because through the prevalence of concupiscence and neglect men took no account of so numerous a kindred, and thus the prohibition of the more remote degrees became for many a snare leading to damnation.”


previously: st. augustine and st. thomas aquinas

(note: comments do not require an email. summa theologica)

Natural selection acts to maintain diversity between Out of Africa and sub-Saharan African populations in genes related to neurological processes and brain development – aapa abstract @race/history/evolution notes.

Hispanic Genomic Diversity, Part I: European, African, and Amerindian Admixtures and the Taíno ‘Extinction’ Controversy“This post deals with the variance in European, African, and Amerindian/Taíno admixture in five of the twenty Hispanic subgroups….” – from nelson!

Misguided Nostalgia for Our Paleo Past“Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending even suggest that human evolution as a whole has, on the contrary, accelerated over the last several thousand years, and they also believe that relatively isolated groups of people, such as Africans and North Americans, are subject to differing selection. That leads to the somewhat uncomfortable suggestion that such groups might be evolving in different directions—a controversial notion to say the least.” – i dunno why that suggestion should be uncomfortable, but i guess it is. -?- see also steve sailer.

Predictable evolution trumps randomness of mutations“Separate bacteria populations may respond to environmental changes in identical ways.”

Mediterranean Diet Cuts Heart Disease Risk – IN MEDITERRANEAN PEOPLE! – “Heart disease experts said the study was a triumph because it showed that a diet was powerful in reducing heart disease risk, and it did so using the most rigorous methods. Scientists randomly assigned 7,447 people in Spain who were overweight, were smokers, or had diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease to follow the Mediterranean diet or a low-fat one.” – *facepalm*

Where Men See White, Women See Ecru“Neuroscientists prove what we always suspected: the two sexes see the world differently” – i love ecru!

Why Women Talk More Than Men: Language Protein Uncovered – FOXP2 gene. and an objection: The “Language” Gene and Women’s Wagging Tongues.

Bone Marrow Transplants: When Race Is an Issue – via hbd biblography.

“Know Thyself” Is A Lot To Ask

Low mobility associated with inherited ability is no social tragedy – from gregory clark, via jayman.

The sociology of dysgenia“Eugenics is a great idea, and perhaps it’s not as complex as I make it to be here. But the fact remains that for all we speculate, we know very, very little about it.” – from spandrell. via foseti.

Modern sub-fertility may be a pathologically slow life history, triggered by a supernormal stimulus of modernity – from bruce charlton. see also mangan and malcolm pollack.

The Riddle of the Human Species – multilevel selection argumentation from e.o. wilson. i like the opening paragraphs very much. (^_^)

Can India’s Democracy Defeat Corruption?“Of course, big corruption scandals are commonplace in the developing world (and the developed world, for that matter). Yet the scale and relative peacefulness of the corruption debate in India may be unprecedented…. And although the Indian political system is imperfect in ways too numerous to list here, the central authorities most of the time do respect free speech and free press. Civil society works. Freedom of association works….”

Study finds maize in diets of people in coastal Peru dates to 5,000 years ago“Up until now, the prevailing theory was that marine resources, not agriculture and corn, provided the economic engine behind the development of civilization in the Andean region of Peru.”

Fun With HBD: Racial Differences in Women’s Asses – (~_^)

How Christianity stopped Anglo-Saxon England eating horsemeat: Church officials claimed it was ‘pagan’ food

bonus: The Big Question“Q: What day most changed the course of history?” – i like freeman dyson’s response. (^_^)

bonus bonus: Dolphins Call Each Other By Name“Bottlenose dolphins call out the specific names of loved ones when they become separated, a study finds. Other than humans, the dolphins are the only animals known to do this….”

bonus bonus bonus: The Meanest Girls at the Watering Hole – behavioral evidence suggests that hierarchy is heriditary in elephants.

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Grey langurs spotted treating a wild dog to a grooming session in India

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: How male alligators have PERMANENTLY erect penises which they keep hidden inside their bodies

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Most zombie ant photographs are upside down

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The 15th-Century Equivalent of Your Cat Walking on Your Keyboard – meow!

(note: comments do not require an email. it’s a dog’s life.)

archaeologists in the u.k. have excavated what is so far the earliest anglo-saxon christian burial found in england, that of a 16 year old woman. this was found in her grave and had probably been affixed to her clothes:

garnets. not too shabby!

the neat thing is how early this christian burial is (for the anglo-saxons):

“Archaeologists excavating near Cambridge have stumbled upon a rare and mysterious find: The skeleton of a 7th-century teenager buried in an ornamental bed along with a gold-and-garnet cross, an iron knife and a purse of glass beads….

“One archaeologist said the burial opened a window into the transitional period when the pagan Anglo-Saxons were gradually adopting Christianity.

“‘We are right at the brink of the coming of Christianity back to England,’ said Alison Dickens, the manager of Cambridge University’s Archaeological Unit. ‘What we have here is a very early adopter.’

“The grave, dated between 650 and 680 A.D., was discovered about a year ago in a corner of Trumpington Meadows, a rural area just outside Cambridge that is slated for development….”

and from the daily mail:

“The burial site at Trumpington Meadows, a village near Cambridge, indicates Christianity had already taken root in the area as early as the middle of the 7th century.

“It was not long after St Augustine, a monk in Rome, was sent by Pope Gregory the Great to convert the English in the year 595.

“Starting in Kent, his team of 40 missionaries slowly worked their way around the country and he became the first Archbishop of Canterbury two years later.

“But progress is thought to have been slow and sometimes difficult, and Christians and pagans co-existed for many decades….

“‘Christian conversion began at the top and percolated down. To be buried in this elaborate way, with such a valuable artefact, tells us that this girl was probably nobility or even royalty. This cross is the kind of material culture that was in circulation at the highest sphere of society….’”

‘course what i’d like to know is were the members of this girl’s family following the church’s regulations on marriage? (~_^) maybe. but her great-grandparents prolly weren’t. from jack goody’s “The Development of the Family and Marriage in Europe” [pgs. 34-36 & 40]:

In 597, Augustine “sent messengers back to Pope Gregory in Rome seeking advice on certain current questions, including ones relating to marriage….

“[T]he document is preserved in more than 130 versions which were distributed very widely, in northern Italy, Gaul, Swizterland, Germany, Denmark, as well as in England. In other words the text circulated throughout the German lands, where it was apparently used as a point of reference and where its terms were seen as a concession to the practices of the local inhabitants….

“Augustine’s fifth question was more complicated and more revealing: ‘Within what degree may the faithful marry their kindred….’

“Pope Gregory’s reply clearly indicates the change that Christianity had brought to Rome and presumably to the other countries of western Europe. ‘A certain secular law in the Roman States allows that the son and daughter of a brother and sister, or of two brothers or two sisters may be married. But we have learned from experience that the offspring of such marriages cannot thrive. Sacred law forbids a man to uncover the nakedness of his kindred. Hence it is necessary that the faithful should only marry relatives three or four times removed, while those twice removed [i.e. first cousins] must not marry in any case, as we have said’….

“Since a special dispensation had to be given to those who had contracted such unions before conversion, it is clear that the practices of close marriage (presumably to cross-cousins, and possibly, as in Rome, to parallel cousins, at least to the father’s brother’s daughter) … must have been common in English, and indeed German, society….

“[M]arriage to any close kin was forbidden by the Church and its proscriptions were given legal sanction by Christian monarchs. In Anglo-Saxon England the punishment for breaking these rules was very heavy, namely slavery … with the man passing into the ownership of the king and the woman into that of the bishop. Eventually these extensive prohibitions, which varied in extent over time, were relaxed as a result of the Protestant Reformation.”

previously: but what about the english?

(note: comments do not require an email. anglo-saxon sword hilt with inlaid garnets. niiiice!)

speaking of trees, i always found this to be quite shocking:

St. Boniface cuts down Thor’s Oak

i mean, wtf dude?! i’m surprised some of the chatti — who he was trying to convert via this display of strength — didn’t string him up from the next best nearest tree. but apparently he had charles martel covering his *ss (yeah, that charles martel), so i guess the chatti maybe felt that they were … you know … in no position to argue. some frisians “took care” of boniface later, tho.

the frisians are an interesting crew. did you know that they never had any feudalism or serfdom in frisia? or manorialism? [pgs. 41-41 & 76]:

“The area settled by the Frisians along the North Seas coast is an interesting case from within the Frankish Empire itself. Manorial estates had not been established there — not by the king, the church, or the nobility — although the imperial heartland lay very close by. The reason for this may well be the ecological conditions that determined the economy. The region was admirably suited for grazing, so that agriculture faded into the background…. Natural conditions were lacking for the cerealization that had been implemented by Frankish neighbors. That a region in the Frankish Empire specializing in animal husbandry did not even begin to come close to establishing the bipartite estate confirms, e contrario, the belief in a connection between increased grain production and the rise of the manorial system. Nor was the agricultural system in Frisian settlements shaped later on by manorial structures. Very strong rural communal groups were established instead, placing the local nobles dispensing high justice in a percarious position….

“Ecological conditions might well have blocked the [hide] system’s progress in Friesland and the North Sea coastal marshes. It is striking that those are precisely the areas where we find features — such as the clan system and most notably blood revenge — that typify societies strongly oriented toward lineage. Blood revenge is rooted in a concept of kinship in which all men of a group are treated almost like a single person. The agnates together are considered to be the bearers of honor — and guilt. That is why the guilt of one relative can be avenged on someone else who had utterly no part in the deed. The idea of blood revenge is completely incompatible with Christian views of guilt and innocence. Nevertheless, the institution of blood revenge was still alive in several European societies even after they were Christianized, those in the North Sea marshes among them.”

for a good part of the medieval period, then, frisian society continued to be based on clans rather than nuclear families. the frisians had been christianized, which is important in breaking down tribes and clans, but they weren’t manorialized, which seems to be another key in getting to an “atomized” society based on the individual and the nuclear family.

the hide system meant that the lord of the manor would lease out (on a long-term lease — like lasting a life-time) farms to married couples. not to extended families. not to clans. just to a married couple (and their kids). manorialism and the hide system, therefore, also broke down the clan connections, along with the loosening of the genetic ties via all the outbreeding. so in places where people converted to christianity (and, therefore, stopped inbreeding), but DIDN’T have manorialism, extended family systems and even clans could — and did — survive for longer, since the clan system wasn’t also broken down by the hide system.

at some point, tho, the frisian clans did break down. not sure exactly when or how or why, but never fear! i’ll be lookin’ in to it. maybe the outbreeding alone was enough to eventually turn frisian society from a clannish one to one based on nuclear families? dunno. here’s a bit from wikipedia:

“The basic land-holding unit, for assessment of taxes and military contributions, was the ploegg (cf. ‘plow’) or teen (cf. ‘hundred’), though it passed under other local names…. The ploegg or East Frisian rott was a compact holding that originated with a single lineage or kinship, whose men in early times went to war under their chief, and devolved in medieval times into a union of neighbors rather than kith and kin.

in more modern times, the frisians have been characterized as having “absolute nuclear families” (as defined by emmanuel todd) just like the english [image adapted from here -- thnx, m.g.!]:

bonus – (in)famous frisian:

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


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