Archives for posts with tag: syria

Ethics: Taboo genetics and Dangerous work – not very subtle careful or you won’t ever be able to find work in this town again “advice” from the invertebrates @nature (no offense to invertebrates elsewhere). see also: steve hsu, steve sailer, and dr. james thompson. previously: alternate nature poll.

Genomics England“This project will sequence the personal DNA code – known as a genome – of up to 100,000 patients over the next five years.”

Your Genome Is a Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland“Your 25,000 genes reside in a genetic landscape littered with the rubble of ancient and ongoing battles with hordes of viruses, clone armies of genetic parasites, and zombie genes that should be dead but aren’t. Our messy genomic landscape is a dynamic, miniature ecosystem, and scientists are learning how its inhabitants play a big role in human health and disease.”

Morality and the Perspicuity of the True Believers“Consider, for example, a piece Dennis Prager just wrote for National Review Online, packaged as ‘A Response to Richard Dawkins.’ Prager cuts to the chase with the following: ‘If there is no God, the labels “good” and “evil” are merely opinions. They are substitutes for “I like it” and “I don’t like it.” They are not objective realities.’ Thank you, Mr. Prager. I couldn’t have said it better myself.” (^_^) – from helian.

Debate on Evolution of Multicellular Organisms Starts to Gain Focus“Cassandra Extavour and her colleagues, who study the origins of multicellular organisms and the evolution of cooperation, still disagree on the meaning of key concepts such as cooperation, competition and fitness.”

Let the good times roll?“The Frogs have had it rougher than the Canucks.” – from greg cochran. see also: French Canadians: The unexplained genetic diversity from peter frost.

Migration from Sweden to Poland during the Early Bronze Age“‘”Over 3800 years ago, a young male, possibly born in Skåne, made a journey of over 900 kilometers south, to Wroclaw in Poland. He died violently in Wroclaw, killed by Úněticean farmers, possibly due to romance with two local females, who were murdered together with him.”‘” @dienekes’.

Please Pass the Microbes“Once the animal had been processed more or less, I was amazed to see all three [hadza] men take a handful of the partially digested plant material from the recently removed stomach to scrub off the copious amounts of blood that now covered there hands and foreman’s. This was followed by a final ‘cleaning’ with dry grass for good measure. While I was fascinated by the microbe-laden stomach contents being used as hand scrubber – presumably transferring an extraordinary diversity of microbes from the Impala gut to the hands of the Hadza – I was not prepared for what they did next….” – you’ve GOT to read this! (^_^) – h/t john durant!

First physical evidence of why you’re an owl or a lark“They found a reduction in the integrity of night owls’ white matter – brain tissue largely comprised of fatty insulating material that speeds up the transmission of nerve signals – in areas associated with depression. ‘We think this could be caused by the fact that late chronotypes suffer from this permanent jet lag,’ says Rosenberg, although she cautions that further studies are needed to confirm cause and effect.”

Human brain boiled in its skull lasted 4000 years“Seyitömer Höyük – the Bronze Age settlement in western Turkey where this brain was found – is not in the mountains. So how did brain tissue survive in four skeletons dug up there between 2006 and 2011?”

Alien DNA could be ‘recreated’ on earth“Humans will be able to recreate alien life forms and ‘print out’ organisms using the biological equivalent of a 3D printer in the future, a DNA pioneer has predicted.” – craig venter.

Loci number and group difference“This paper shows that the debate about ‘variation within races is bigger than variation between races’ depends largely on the number of loci being analysed, and the assumptions being made about the significance of the revealed differences.” – from dr. james thompson.

Social Constructs are Social Constructs – heh. (^_^) – @handle’s haus. h/t konkvistador!

Human Hair Confirmed in Prehistoric Hyena Feces“The fossilized dung, part of a ‘hyena latrine,’ will be described in the upcoming October issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science…. Our ancestors there lived around a literally wild bunch about 257,000 years ago.” – #PaleoDiet! (O_O)

The earliest art predated humans – h/t psychtweet!

Why Clans Persist (h/t hbd bibliography!) and What Overcame the Clan in England? (h/t t.greer!) – on mark weiner‘s The Rule of the Clan and bennett and lotusAmerica 3.0.

Mapping the Road to American Disunion and A Second Great Depression? – from jayman.

Testosterone Promotes Reciprocity in the Absence of Competition – in women. h/t charles!

The Fat-Fueled Brain: Unnatural or Advantageous? – ketogenic diet @scientific american. h/t neuroskeptic! and speaking of diet: How one in ten could be wheat intolerant – but not even know. If you’re feeling bloated or are always tired, you might be a victim of this hidden epidemic.

Oxytocin Makes Other Faces Look More Pleasant – @futurepundit.

Mothers of Autistic Children: Lower Plasma Levels of Oxytocin and Arg-Vasopressin and a Higher Level of Testosterone [pdf] – h/t simon baron cohen!

Large study concludes LSD and other psychedelics reduce risk of mental health problems – peyote, ftw! (stay away from that krokodil sh*t, tho. (O_O) )

Academic fraud in China is getting out of hand“In a few short years, China has metamorphosed from a middling contributor to scientific knowledge into one of the most prolific research entities on the planet. But the country’s meteoric ascent to scientific prominence – widely attributed to a flawed incentive system – has given unintentional rise to a lucrative industry of academic fakery.” – see also: Looks good on paper @the economist.

Poll Shows Major Shift in Identity of U.S. Jews“The first major survey of American Jews in more than 10 years finds a significant rise in those who are not religious, marry outside the faith and are not raising their children Jewish — resulting in rapid assimilation that is sweeping through every branch of Judaism except the Orthodox.”

Electric Shock Therapy May Cut Crime By Stimulating Brain Region For Social Norm Compliance“An original way to reduce crimes rates could lie in regulating neural activity in a person’s front of the brain — right lateral prefrontal cortex. Scientists from the University of Zurich have found a brain mechanism responsible for social norm compliance is separate from the processes that represents a person’s knowledge and beliefs about societal norms. The neurons in this specific brain region may be controlled by electric shock therapy which could potentially stop criminals from breaking the law….” – see also: Brain Stimulation Can Control Compliance with Social Norms“Human beings are utterly dependent on a complex social structure for their survival. Since all behavior is controlled by the brain, human beings may have evolved specialized neural circuits that are responsible for compliance with society’s rules.” h/t михаи́л анисимов!

News Flash: Science proves important people pay less attention to unimportant people – from steve sailer.

Ah, There’s Nothing Like New Baby Smell – meh.

8,000 Year Old Evidence of Human Activity Found in Alps

20 Roman-era skulls uncovered beneath a London railway station may have belonged to decapitated 1st century rebels – some of boudicca’s crew?

Melting Snow Reveals Ancient Bow and Arrows in Norway“A melting patch of ancient snow in the mountains of Norway has revealed a bow and arrows likely used by hunters to kill reindeer as long ago as 5,400 years.”

bonus: Female Fruit Flies Like One Mate, or His Brother

bonus bonus: Cockroaches have neighborhoods, too

bonus bonus bonus: Pakistan quake highlights Balochistan ethnic fractures“Villagers in Teertaj turned away soldiers when they arrived after the quake with tents and food supplies.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Are Greek Neo-Nazi Mercenaires Fighting For Assad In Syria? – terrific. =/ – h/t ed west!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Roma gypsy gang sold their women for stealing skills and children were used like conscripts in a criminal army, French court told at start trial

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: where are my dragons?!

(note: comments do not require an email. my dragon?! (^_^))

Digesting Milk in Ethiopia: A Case of Multiple Genetic Adaptations“A team of geneticists from UCL, University of Addis Ababa and Roskilde University have shown that five different alleles are found in the Ethiopian population that cause adult lactase production, one of which is newly confirmed.” – h/t andrew badenoch!

Friendship and Natural Selection“More than any other species, humans form social ties to individuals who are neither kin nor mates, and these ties tend to be with similar people. Here, we show that this similarity extends to genotypes. Across the whole genome, friends’ genotypes at the SNP level tend to be positively correlated (homophilic); however, certain genotypes are negatively correlated (heterophilic). A focused gene set analysis suggests that some of the overall correlation can be explained by specific systems; for example, an olfactory gene set is homophilic and an immune system gene set is heterophilic.” – via charles!

Scientists to sequence genomes of hundreds of newborns

Bone dates ‘earliest northerner’, say archaeologists in Liverpool“Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Nottingham analysed a leg bone found in Cumbria and found it to be more than 10,000 years old.” – [winter is coming....]

Convergent evolution seen in hundreds of genes“Bats and dolphins may have developed echolocation via similar mutations.”

Darkness in Anthropology: A Conversation with Napoleon Chagnon“Probably the single most anthropologically unacceptable thing I did was to take ‘biology’ seriously…. I began using commonly known ways to ‘measure’ relatedness between organisms — Sewall Wright’s coefficient of inbreeding and its extended concept, the coefficient of relatedness. This was very unusual in cultural anthropology. In short, I was discussing Yanomamö kinship with *the biological meaning* of kinship in mind — at a time when the vast majority of cultural anthropologists assumed that ‘kinship’ and ‘the biological meaning of Yanomamö kinship’ were, at best, only vaguely similar and any allusion to this was generally ‘suspect.’ But since ‘kinship’ was traditionally a central focus of anthropological theory, I began developing ways to show precisely, using my meticulous genealogies on the Yanomamö, that people took sides in fights according to how closely *genetically* they were related to each other and fought against people they were *less related to genetically*. Many of the most prominent anthropologists held the extreme view that ‘kinship’ among humans had *nothing* to do with the biological meaning of kinship as is assumed in the fields of biology, genetics, or animal husbandry. A common claim was something to the effect that ‘whatever kinship among humans was about, it was NOT about biology.’” – h/t g-nice!

Penn Biologists Show That Generosity Leads to Evolutionary Success – stewart and plotkin “examined the outcome of the Prisoner’s Dilemma as played repeatedly by a large, evolving population of players. While other researchers have previously suggested that cooperative strategies can be successful in such a scenario, Stewart and Plotkin offer mathematical proof that the *only* strategies that succeed in the long term are generous ones.”

Confusions about race: A new installment [pdf] – from neven sesardic. – h/t holtz!

Why Do Black Women Have A Higher Risk of Death from Heart Disease Than White Women? – more atypical symptoms than white women, apparently.

How Inbred are Europeans? – now that’s my kinda post! (^_^) – from jayman.

Arabs and Liberal Democracy: A Primer – @thosewhocansee.

On the Relevance of Science to Morality“[I]ssues of morality can’t be answered by scientific experiments because there are no such entities as issues of morality…. Moral emotions are part of the behavioral repertoire of several species of animals, including human beings.” – helian makes me smile. (^_^)

The Clannish World of Organized Crime“[T]he way clannishness and OC go hand in hand like described above can’t be a coincidence. Rather, it makes perfect sense given the very definitions of these concepts. Clannishness is taking care of yourself and your group, often with violence, at the expense of other people and society. OC can be described in the exact same way.” – oh, yes. – from staffan.

Obesity in Germany: The fault-line divides the nation again – from agnostic.

Why are we the naked ape?“Loss of body hair was a long-term evolutionary trend in ancestral hominids and even ancestral primates, being perhaps a response to a greater need for social signaling. In ancestral humans, the selection pressure seems to have gone through three stages, initially targeting infants and only later women and then men.” – from peter frost.

Are girls too normal? Sex differences in intelligence“Girls are more normal, boys are more extreme, so there are more boys at extremes, and the more extreme the extremes, the more boys.” – from dr. james thompson. – [are girls too normal? - i'm not! (~_^) ]

Spot The Alpha – heh! – from heartiste (who else?).

National stereotypes of business meetings – @steve sailer’s.

Individualism and Collectivism: U.S. State Comparison – from benjamin david steele.

Racial Differences in Masculinity-Femininity? – @the occidentalist. h/t jayman!

The New Science of Mind“Any discussion of the biological basis of psychiatric disorders must include genetics. And, indeed, we are beginning to fit new pieces into the puzzle of how genetic mutations influence brain development.”

Ability to delay gratification may be linked to social trust“A person’s ability to delay gratification — forgoing a smaller reward now for a larger reward in the future — may depend on how trustworthy the person perceives the reward-giver to be, according to a new study….”

Bigger and healthier: European men grow 11cm in a centurybigger is better! (~_^)

A Game of Homs“What striking about Syria is how so many people insist on speaking about it in profoundly moralistic, Manichaean terms. This is complete nonsense, given that its civil war isn’t a showdown between democracy and dictatorship, but an ethnic and religious conflict. Here’s a more realistic guide.” – really good stuff from anatoly!

Ed West interview: debating the ‘illusions’ of a diverse society

America’s greatest days lie ahead – provided she is true to herselft.greer says: “Daniel Hannan(!) reviews America 3.0 and its Emmnauel Todd theory of America.”

Children with behavioral problems more at risk of inflammation“Children with behavioral problems may be at risk of many chronic diseases in adulthood including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, as well as inflammatory illnesses (conditions which are caused by cell damage).”

Slaughtered bodies stripped of their flesh – a gruesome glimpse of Iron-Age massacre at UK’s largest hill fort“Hundreds if not thousands stripped of their flesh and chopped up, say archaeologists.”

Carbon dating shows ancient Egypt’s rapid expansion“The powerful civilisation of ancient Egypt took just a few centuries to build, according to a radiocarbon dating study that sets the first solid chronology for the period…. Archaeologists have assumed it developed gradually from the pastoral communities that preceded it, but physicist Mike Dee from the University of Oxford and his colleagues now suggest that the transition could have taken as little as 600 years.” – see also A chronology of ancient Egypt @dienekes’.

Declassified spy photographs reveal lost Roman frontier“Declassified spy photography has uncovered a lost Roman Eastern frontier, dating from the second century AD. Research by archaeologists at the Universities of Glasgow and Exeter has identified a long wall that ran 60 kilometers from the Danube to the Black Sea over what is modern Romania. It is considered the most easterly example of a man-made frontier barrier system in the Roman Empire.” – trajan’s rampart!

Melting Snow Reveals Iron Age Sweater“A boat neck sweater made of warm wool and woven in diamond twill was a dominating fashion trend among reindeer hunters 1,700 years ago, according to researchers who have investigated an extremely well preserved Iron Age tunic found two years ago under melting snow in Norway.”

bonus: Underwater volcano is Earth’s biggest“Tamu Massif rivals the size of Olympus Mons on Mars.” – cool!

bonus bonus: Evidence Found for Planet-Cooling Asteroid 12,900 Years Ago – which triggered the agricultural revolution…?

bonus bonus bonus: Making Sense of the Syrian Rebels’ Order of Battle

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Two years after Libya’s revolution, government struggles to control hundreds of armed militias – h/t mark krikorian! see also: Special report: We all thought Libya had moved on – it has, but into lawlessness and ruin. =(

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Car-theft epidemic at the border with Poland [and germany] – “Brandenburg police has repeatedly scolded German car owners for being naive. ‘They simply park their cars in the street….’” – imagine that!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The city that went to the dogs: With 60,000 on the streets, there is one stray for every 31 people in Bucharest

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Poll: Majority Of Americans Approve Of Sending Congress To Syria – heh! (~_^) – via mr. mangan, esq.

(note: comments do not require an email. wtf is this weird web-tower thing?)

this is a MUST READ! if you’re not a subscriber, the article in ungated for another ca. 10 hours from now (ca. 10 a.m. EST):

“Little Kerry and the Three Bad Options”

“Isn’t Assad a bad guy? Isn’t his regime evil? I don’t really understand those questions as well as everybody else seems to. The Alawites have reason to expect the worst, to stick together, and to fear Sunni domination. Those fears go way back to Ottoman rule.

“Under the Ottomans, Alawites were kaffir, ‘heretics.’ That meant, basically, ‘fair game.’ At the moment, there’s a lot of nonsense going around about how sweet and tolerant the Ottoman Empire was from people who read Said’s Orientalism, or at least got the gist from the back cover, and went from the old European cliché ‘Ottomans—evil’ to a new one, ‘Ottomans—good.’ It makes me tired, this binary crap. If you can’t handle anything more modulated than that, stick to tweeting ‘Miley Cyrus: Saint or Sinner?’

“Yeah, the Ottomans were occasionally considerate of minorities who had powerful connections abroad, like Western Christians (not Armenian, of course) or who performed useful state functions, like some Jews (not all) — but groups like the Alawites, without powerful foreign connections, huddled in the coastal hills hoping not to be noticed, were prey in the Ottoman view. The Alawites only survived by sticking together, fighting the Sunni when attacked, and above all, hoping not to be noticed. If the local authorities were kindly, they’d just be taxed to death for their heresy. If the Pashas were in a bad mood, troops would descend on Alawite villages and carry off all likely-looking women and children to be sold as slaves….

“The post-war years were full of wild experiments in the Arab world. The only constant was that military coups were the rule. Leaders came from the army — Nasser, Ghadafi, Saddam. So when an officer with coup-making skills happened to come from a tightly-knit community, he was almost sure to end up in charge. Saddam had his Tikrit clan in Iraq; Ghadafi had his academy buddies in Libya; Hafez Assad had his Alawite kin in Syria. The Alawites were perfectly placed to take advantage of this coup-centered polity. T. E. Lawrence said about them, ‘One Nusairi [Alawite] would not betray another, and would hardly not betray an unbeliever.’ With Alawite officers filling the armed services in Syria, it was inevitable that an Alawite would come to power, as Hafez Assad did in 1970. From that point, they did what they had to do to remain in power. When killing was necessary, they killed. And in Syria, it was necessary fairly often. But I don’t know of any records showing that the Alawites were particularly cruel by the standards of the time and place. In fact, from the start of their rule in Syria, the Alawites have tried, via Ba’ath Party secularism and a long-term attempt to make Alawite ritual and doctrine closer to Sunni norms, to integrate with their neighbors….

“Maybe I’m missing something. But what I think a lot of people like John Kerry are missing is what drove the Alawites’ grimmer measures: the simple fear of extinction. It’s a risk to go, as they did, from total obscurity to power in a place as fierce as Syria. Because when you fall, it won’t be to go back to Texas to paint puppies like Dubya. You and your whole tribe can reasonably expect massacres, mass rapes, ethnic cleansing, the works. When the Sunni revolted against Alawite domination in Hama in 1982, one of the slogans of the Syrian Ikhwan or Muslim Brotherhood was ‘Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the graveyard.’ The SAA dealt with the revolt by blasting rebellious neighborhoods with artillery, killing thousands….”

read the whole thing!

previously: syria and syrian tribes

(note: comments do not require an email. alawites!)

Ancient Native Americans’ Living Descendants Revealed“Ancient people who lived in in Northern America about 5,000 years ago have living descendants today, new research suggests.”

No single origin for agriculture in the Fertile Crescent“Transition from foraging to farming occurred over the entire Fertile Crescent.” – see also Early agriculture from Iran from dienekes.

Mental Retardation and Dadly Adaptations – from greg cochran.

Warning over cousin marriages: Unions between blood relatives in Pakistani community [in the u.k.] account for third of birth defects in their children“Bradford research collected data on 11,300 babies involved in project. Rate in city is three times the national average of just under two per cent.”

The Problem with Writing about Race“One of the purposes of this site was to develop something called ‘Liberal Race Realism,’ which is a movement that I started. Admittedly, it hasn’t gone anywhere at all. Actually, it has been a complete failure. But that is ok. Really what it shows though is just how messed up people, especially Americans, are about race.” – from robert lindsay via hbdbibliography.

White skin privilege“There is a widespread belief, particularly among proponents of whiteness studies, that notions of beauty are determined by power relationships…. This belief is so entrenched that little concern is shown for counterfactual evidence, such as the medieval trade in fair-skinned women for clients in North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia…. [T]his pattern is inconsistent with the belief that power relationships determine notions of beauty.” – from peter frost.

Emmanuel Todd’s L’invention de l’Europe: A critical summary – from craig willy.

Exposure to stress even before conception causes genetic changes to offspring“A female’s exposure to distress even before she conceives causes changes in the expression of a gene linked to the stress mechanism in the body — in the ovum and later in the brains of the offspring from when they are born, according to a new study on rats.”

First baby born after full genetic screening of embryos“Connor … is the first child to be born after his parents had the entire genomes of a batch of their IVF embryos screened for abnormalities, with the intention of picking the healthiest for implantation.” – via hbdbibliography.

Economic growth and evolution: Parental preference for quality and quantity of offspring – from jason collins.

How Simple Can Life Get? It’s Complicated

Genetic links between post-reproductive lifespan and family size in Framingham – via mr. mangan, esq.

Evolution, lifestyle, and diseases of affluence – from mr. mangan, esq.

‘Lower BMI mark for ethnic groups’“The standard test to see whether people are a healthy weight does not work consistently across different ethnicities, [u.k.] health officials have said.” – via v.a.w.

Richard Lynn On A Century of IQ In Britain And The U.S. – see also steve sailer’s Does IQ testing work or not work?

Children’s diets worse today than in wartime: And now illnesses of 1940s are making a comeback“Scurvy and rickets are on the rise amongst children who live on junk food.” – what about brain development / behavior / iq? =/

DNA Markers in Low-IQ Autism Suggest Heredity“A new study in the American Journal of Human Genetics finds evidence that there may often be a recessive, inherited genetic contribution in autism with significant intellectual disability.”

Exercise reorganizes the brain to be more resilient to stress – via mike anissimov.

How Strong Is the Female Sex Drive After All?“Women may be more sexually omnivorous than men, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re as hungry.” – via jayman.

Cosmetic surgery to look whiter fails to boost women’s self-esteem

Understanding Evil – interviewing war criminals.

bonus: witch-hunt and whining continue – UNM probe finds professor’s [geoffrey miller's] tweet not part of project

bonus bonus: Tribalism and the War in Syria – via mark weiner.

bonus bonus bonus: BBC chief admits: We had a ‘deep liberal bias’ on migrants – no kidding! =/ ed west already said so [pdf].

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Egypt: Epidemic of Sexual Violence“At Least 91 Attacks in 4 Days; Government Neglect Means Impunity Rules.” – note that includes sexual assaults, too, so they’re not all actual rapes.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Review of “Detroit: An American Autopsy” by Charlie LeDuff – from foseti.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: “Back To Europe” Movement – from heartiste.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Cockatoos ‘pick’ puzzle box locks

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Vibrating genitals may Ward off Predators – wait. vibrating genitals??

(note: comments do not require an email. btw, we were all just a$$holes once. (~_^) )

here’s the war nerd on syria:

“War Nerd: Our Ringers vs. Your Ringers”

“When you look at this war strictly as a military struggle, you notice something weird: over two years of fighting, the lines are almost totally static….

“If you look at a map of sectarian demographics in Syria, and superimpose it on a map showing areas of Assad control and rebel-held regions, you’ll see that the two maps are almost identical. And the front lines haven’t changed much since the Sunni grabbed control of their neighborhoods two years ago…. The lines held by the Sunni, Shi’ia and Kurds barely move.

“And by the way, I’m going to talk about Sunni, Alawite, Shi’ia, and Kurds, because that’s what matters in Syria. This is a sectarian war, and pretending it isn’t is just pious nonsense. As long as you keep in mind that in the Levant, ‘sect’ means an ethnic group as much as a religion. And if that seems weird, try thinking of a classic Levantine sectarian outpost you may have heard of, the one called ‘Israel.’ Are Israeli Jews a religion or an ethnic group, a people? Both, more or less — a very sloppy, leaky Venn diagram. Religion works as an ethnic marker for most groups in the Levant, not just the Israelis. And the fact that there are always outliers, people too noble or crazy or sophisticated to be defined by their sect, doesn’t change the fact that for most people, the sect is what defines you.

“Once you see how deeply this sectarian identity works, you can start to understand why this war is so static. In urban sectarian warfare, most fights are about the neighborhood, keeping the neighborhood in your sect’s hands, away from the heretics two streets over. You grow up fighting the kids from over there, first with words, then with rocks, then with whatever firearms you can borrow from your cousins. For Anglos, the paradigm for this kind of war is Belfast and Derry. The war there started with neighborhood defenders in places like the Short Strand trying to hold their little block of row houses against the other sect.

“Americans have a hard time imagining how tiny this kind of war can be. In this country you can drive for 14 hours and pull over to the same intersection, with exactly the same McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Day’s Inn, Starbucks, Super 8 and Motel 6. The accents’d be the same, the burgers’d be the same, the price of gas’d might change by a penny or two.

“In a place like Aleppo (or Belfast), every street takes a side….

“This encourages people to ‘think local.’ Which means they’re very good when they fight to hold their neighborhoods, but useless in big offensives. Even raw irregulars can do very well fighting on their own turf. But they’re useless when you try to get them to organize into an offensive army. Why risk the neighborhood’s crop of young men on somebody else’s neighborhood? Not only could you lose half your cousins, but while you and the cuzzies are out there grandstanding, somebody could be invading your neighborhood. You just don’t leave your neighborhood unmanned in a sectarian war, ever. Not if you have living female relatives. In ugly wars like this, you’re not afraid of what the enemy will do to you but to your kin — the really sick people are encouraged to get creative in horrible ways; merely murdering your neighbor gets old fast.

So most of the locals in this war only want to hold their block of houses, basically as far as kin and sectarian ties hold. Ask them to form up and move out for bigger operations, and they’ll fade away. Lots of promises — and then the quiet skedaddle….

great stuff! read the whole thing here.

previously: syria and syrian tribes and more on syrian marriage and family types and clans in the news: aleppo and clans in the news: syria

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

clans and tribes are reportedly making a comeback in syria — what a surprise! (did they ever really go away?)

here are some excerpts from two articles that appeared recently in al monitor.

the first article is a translation of an article that originally appeared in the lebanese paper, as-safir. the original title of the article was (translated to english): “Tribal ‘Solidarity’ and the Role That the Clans Play in the Syrian Crisis.” when the author refers to tribes, i believe that he is referring to groups such as the bedouin tribes in (iirc) northeastern/eastern syria as well as other arab tribes which have tribal connections in other countries (like iraq). he suggests that 1) tribalism is more prevalent in northern syria than in the south, and 2) the power of tribes is weaker in urban areas than in rural. ok, here we go (links added by me)…

“Tribalism and the Syrian Crisis”
“January 18 2013

“Prominent tribal figures have become omnipresent in Syrian opposition meetings, at a time when the regime is also hosting meeting after meeting for these same leaders. All of this is transpiring amid fears that societal unity will once again become fragmented, opening the door to tribal clashes in the worst possible scenario that could face Syria.

Tribal influence has returned to the forefront of the country’s political scene. Although their presence on the ground fluctuates between weak in some areas to effective in others, the impression is that Syrian society still longs for the old days of tribal friction and polarization, despite the fact that cohesion between some of them has played a positive role in avoiding disputes. As a result, there is a new drive to monitor the country’s tribal communities, their influence and relationship with the regime, be they for or against the current government.

“Syrian tribes

“The Syrian tribes are spread throughout all the regions of the country, from the extreme northeast in the plains of al-Jazira and the Euphrates river valley, all the way to the Badiya desert, Homs, Hama and the Damascus countryside, as well as the southern regions of Hauran and Jabal al-Druze. All these tribes are interconnected and have relationships with neighboring countries, especially Iraq and Jordan, with some tribes even claiming ties in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, many inhabitants of Mount Lebanon still retain a strong connection to their places of origin in southern Syria and maintain good relations with their relatives there, while others have Turkish ancestry, such as the Abazaid clan in Daraa….

“On another note, researchers and activists in Hauran see that southern culture is based more on family relations than on tribal allegiance, because tribes are composed of large numbers of people, whereas there are many families in the plains region that have tribal connections which cross borders but whose presence remains concentrated in areas specific to each one of them. This is accentuated by the region’s agrarian character, which greatly diminishes nomadic tendencies and expands the influence of the family’s elders, who solve internal problems, reconcile disputes between people or give aid to any distressed member of the expanded Haurani family….

“Tribalism, on the other hand, leads to destructive armed conflicts and never-ending feuds. The concept of tribal solidarity might be the only one that southern families took with them to the city, a concept that Hauran‘s inhabitants point to when describing the uprising in the whole region against the regime. Everyone took to the streets without hesitation, before the Syrian crisis even erupted, to demonstrate and demand the release of some detained children. This solidarity also succeeded in thwarting any attempts to incite strife between them and their neighbors in the Jabal al-Druze, who reciprocated and snuffed out the flames of any possible conflict between themselves and the Hauranis….”

so, the tribe/clan leaders of the south pressured their members not to enter into conflict with their usual rivals? so clannishness can sometimes be a power for cooperation. hmmmm….

The region’s [i.e. the north - h.chick] inhabitants might be more prone to tribal fanaticism than their counterparts in the south. Tribal customs still prevail, especially in the countryside, which has begun to urbanize, but which still abides by many tribal concepts. This is mainly due to wide-ranging marginalization seen throughout the area, while cities seem to be in a much better state. The influence of tribal leaders there [i.e. in the cities - h.chick] waned until is became nearly nonexistent, due to two main factors: first, the large number of different tribes, and second, the urbanization of younger generations….

“The regime or the opposition: Who will win the clans?

“It wasn’t until the crisis was in its fourth month that anyone in the regime or the opposition considered playing on tribal sensitivities to mobilize clans in their favor. This occurred after organizers held demonstrations on what came to be known as the ‘Friday of the clans’….”

جمعة العشائر << "friday of the clans" — that, apparently, was a protest against the assad regime in june 2011 organized by opposition forces via facebook. a bunch of people were killed, of course.

“…As a result, a concerted large-scale campaign was initiated to win over the clans and provoke them into bearing arms against the regime, which, in turn, strove to reinvigorate tribalism and set about organizing meetings with tribal elders, mobilizing them through the media in an attempt to portray the clans as pro regime. In parallel, a tribal presence was now mandatory at all opposition meetings….

The foremost danger lies in the formation of armed militias by clans to fight against other clans based on their support for or opposition to the regime, which would surely lead the country into civil war….

“An activist in Hasakah, viewed as the perfect example of a tribal society, replied that the regime had intentionally let tribal elders rule those areas since the 1970s in return for absolute allegiance. Some of those elders even became members of the People’s Council representing their districts as a reward for that allegiance….

“But this model seemed to lose its effectiveness this time around in most areas. For despite the presence of many clans completely loyal to the regime, especially in rural Aleppo, Riqa and Hasakah, their influence remains limited when compared to the larger clans whose elders have completely lost any authority over the young clansmen. They have also lost their influence over the clans that have abandoned tribalism in favor of agrarianism, therefore succeeding in sparing themselves from any tribal conflict. The end result is a society that seems bent on trying to avoid any disintegration of its cohesiveness, regardless of political, tribal or sectarian considerations. As such, it is a true rarity in the midst of this conflict, and represents the only common goal over which both supporters and opponents of the regime agree: preventing the revival of tribalism.”

well, good luck with that. =/
_____

and the second article:

“Hezbollah Defends Shiite Villages In Syria War”
“February 20, 2013

“Several days ago, Hezbollah fighters guarding Shiite Lebanese citizens living in and around 14 Lebanese villages located in Syrian territory clashed with armed opposition groups affiliated with radical Sunni Islamist factions. The incident, the first of its kind, portends a possible transition of Syria’s sectarian strife to Lebanon….

“Since the start of the turmoil in Syria — which was accompanied by sectarian categorization between the Sunni Muslims, most of them against the Syrian regime, and the Alawite and Shiite Muslims who support it — the Sykes-Picot Agreement has had negative effects on the demographic balance in that region. Security incidents have taken place more than once during recent months among these Shiite villages, which are located in the middle of the smuggling line in the countryside between the Lebanese town of Arsal, Al-Qa’, Lake Homs, Al-Qusayr and Talkalakh.

Shia citizens from the adjacent Lebanese region of Hermel quickly became involved in these tensions. They belong to large clans, which have a social system that values ​the ‘support of relatives.’ In the current situation, they are Lebanese Shiite villagers living on Syrian territory, who complain that they are being subjected to attempts of forceful displacement by their Sunni Syrian neighbors.

“Last summer, military skirmishes took place between the Sunni town of Al-Qusayr, which is located behind the Syrian border and considered a stronghold of the armed opposition in its countryside, which is also the northern part of the countryside of the city of Homs — and between Lebanese residents in the Hermel region.

“Private sources have revealed to Al-Monitor that during one of these skirmishes, Jabhat al-Nusra militants attacked a Hezbollah training camp in the Hermel region from the Al-Qusayr countryside, killing and wounding 10 Hezbollah members. This was followed by a retaliatory operation by Hezbollah, which resulted in the killing of many members of the Syrian opposition.

“In general, Hezbollah is cautious about stepping into the sectarian strife raging in Syria. However, the issue of providing protection for the 14 Shiite villages located inside Syrian territory within the Al-Qusayr countryside arose as a challenge for the party before its social base in the Hermel region. It seems that the party has made the decision to protect these villages and prevent the people’s displacement based on the following considerations:

First, there are familial links between the residents of the Hermel region and those of the 14 Lebanese Shiite villages located inside Syrian territory. It should be noted that Hermel, in Lebanon’s Bekaa region, is considered as a popular reservoir for Hezbollah and its resistance apparatus. Accordingly, the party cannot turn its back to their appeal for help to save their relatives inside Syria from killing and displacement. Moreover, the Hamadah clan, one of the major clans in Hermel, owns vast areas of Lebanese territories that were cut off in the Sykes-Picot Agreement in the interest of Syria, and they still have the documents proving their ownership of these lands….”

yeah, i bet they do. old (clannish) grudges die hard.

it’s really irritating (if i bother to think about it, which i mostly don’t anymore) that the msm fails to mention ANYthing about clans/tribes in the middle east. EVER. or almost never anyway. rarely. instead it’s all just “arab springs” and “freedom fighters” in syria or bahrain or wherever. what a bunch of nonsense! i wonder if they (teh msm journalists) are really that clueless, or what?

previously: clans in the news: aleppo and clans in the news: the lebanon and syria and syrian tribes and more on syrian marriage and family types

(note: comments do not require an email. cool syrian music.)

“Proud band of brothers form their own rebel platoon and take the family fight to Assad’s Syrian forces”

“The platoon is Ghoul family only because the fighters do not trust others….”

no hipsters this time, alas, alack. although maybe the brother third from the right is trying (but if you’ve got to try, then you’re not a hipster, are you…?).

see also: aleppo.

previously: clans in the news: the lebanon and syria and syrian tribes and more on syrian marriage and family types

(note: comments do not require an email. hipster rebel.)

i said last week that the week would be devoted to the woodley & bell consanguinity and democracy paper … and then i got distracted. typical. so, now, back on track…

aside from looking for any straight up connection/s between consanguinity and democracy (see previous post), woodley & bell also looked at consanguinity and democracy and several other possible factors that might affect the success of democracy in the nations included in the study: economic freedom, inequality, exports of fossil fuels (the “resource curse”), pathogen load (i’ll come back to that one!), and islam.

using path analysis, they found that islam seems to have a direct impact on democracy in muslim nations and ALSO that islam has an indirect impact on democracy via consanguinity.

recall that woodley & bell used two different indices of democracy: data from the polity iv project and the eiu democracy index. so they worked up two path analyses (click on charts for LARGER view). percent muslim for each country came from pew:

both analyses indicate: “that Islam has both direct effects on democracy and effects that are mediated by consanguinity, although the direct path from percentage Muslim to democracy [in the first model] only approached the conventional cutoff for significance (p = .096).”

from the paper (pg. 12):

“The largest impacts on consanguinity in the path models were produced by pathogen load and the effect of the percentage of Muslims within a nation. In the first path model the latter variable did not have a significant direct path to democracy, which suggests that its effects on democracy are largely mediated by consanguinity. Both pathogen prevalence and the influence of Islam have been described in the literature as having an inhibitory effect on democracy (e.g., Fincher et al., 2008; Fish, 2002; Fukuyama, 2001; Huntington, 1984; Thornhill et al., 2009). Here we indicate that these variables, which had previously been posited to have independent effects on democracy, are actually mediated by consanguinity.”

so, if a nation is islamic, that will affect how democratic it is (or not!), but what seems to be more important is if the population practices cousin marriage. it’s islam+consanguinity that is the key here, not just islam.

i think it makes sense that the effects islam has on democracy are “mediated” by how much cousin marriage there is in a society. cousin marriage directly affects the genetic relatedness between the individual members of a population, making individuals more related to their family members than would happen in an outbred society, while making those same individuals less related to non-family members, again unlike in an outbred society. i think this pretty clearly leads to clannish or tribal behavioral patterns which, as woodley and bell point out, are not conducive to liberal democracy at all.

islam doesn’t demand cousin marriage, but it doesn’t prohibit it either. since muslims are supposed to emulate mohammed (who married a cousin – see below), it probably rather encourages it. and anyway — which came first, cousin marriage or islam? yup. cousin marriage. one of mohammed’s wives was a cousin of his (his fzd) — and ali (yes that ali), who was mohammed’s cousin, married mohammed’s daughter, ali’s first cousin once removed. cousin marriage was very much the norm amongst the arabs in mohammed’s day. and, unlike roman catholic church policy makers, neither mohammed nor any imam since him (at least none that count) seem to have come down against cousin marriage afaik.

furthermore, good ol’ father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage, the form of cousin marriage that leads to the most inbreeding, and that is still the preferred form amongst many muslims, was probably already well established amongst the arabs in mohammed’s day. fbd marriage was probably introduced to the arabs by jewish tribes from the levant who migrated into the arab peninsula starting in the second century b.c. so not only is cousin marriage amongst the arabs old, it’s really old — and it’s fbd marriage to boot. the arabs went on to introduce fbd marriage to the peoples of north africa, the mashriq and south asia (like the pakistanis and the afghanis).

my guess is that it’s not just the amount of consanguinity in a nation that negatively affects the success of democracy in that country, but the length of time the people have been practicing cousin marriage AND how close that cousin marriage is. like i said in the previous post, i think the evolution of “genes for altruism” comes into play here, not just the immediate genetic relatedness between the individuals in these societies, although it’s important, too.

so, i would bet that democracy would fare the worst in the levant, where fbd marriage originated, and the arab peninsula, where fbd marriage has been present for so very long, and that distance from that core region would predict better odds of democracy working at all.

kinda looks that way, don’t it? (eui democracy index 2011 – click on map for LARGER view):

syria, saudi arabia, yeman and oman have the worst scores for democracy in the muslim world (in the world!). iran, turkemenistan and uzbekistan have similar scores and all three of those countries were “arabized” in the early- to mid- seventh century a.d. pakistan was not brought under the arab sphere of influence until later (the early eighth century) and conversion to islam and arabization (and, presumably, the adoption of fbd marriage) took some time. this, i think, might partially explain why, even though pakistan today has similar consanguinity rates to saudi arabia, it does better as far as having a democratic state goes — the pakistani populations haven’t been marrying their fbd for as long as arabs.

similarly, at the other end of the “arab” world, north africans are relatively better at democracy than the saudis since they, too, were arabized — and adopted fbd marriage — comparatively late. the far flung islamic nation, indonesia, manages democracy fairly ok since they’ve hardly adopted fbd marriage at all, although they’ve probably been marrying their mother’s brother’s daughters for a while like other east asian populations.

previously: consanguinity and democracy

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