“Exogamy, on the other hand, is a strict rule, an obligation which seems so normal to Europeans that they are hardly aware of it, but it does exist and it organizes their very existence and their society. It is a negative type of structuring which pushes apart the members of a single family and forces them to choose a marriage partner outside the group they come from. Despite myths about the permissive society, the Western world is very rigidly regulated from a sexual point of view.”

The Explanation of Ideology [pg. 27]

previously: we’re doomed

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nepotistic nosiness

some neat research from a couple of years ago:

Nepotistic nosiness: inclusive fitness and vigilance of kin members’ romantic relationships


“The logic of inclusive fitness suggests that people should be attentive to the mating relationships of their kin — especially their genetically closest kin. This logic further suggests that people will be especially attentive to close kin members’ relationships when a greater indirect fitness benefit is at stake. Three studies tested implications of this analysis. The primary results were that (a) people maintain greater vigilance over (and attempt greater influence on) the romantic relationships of genetically closer kin; (b) this effect is largely mediated by feelings of emotional closeness and perceptions of physical similarity; (c) women are more vigilant than men over their kin members’ relationships; (d) people are more vigilant over the relationships of female kin, as compared to male kin, but only under conditions with especially clear implications for indirect fitness; and (e) people are more vigilant over kin members’ long-term committed relationships, as compared to their casual relationships. These results indicate that a subtle form of nepotism is manifest in people’s concern with their kin members’ romantic relationships.


so, people are concerned about who their relatives mate with (for inclusive fitness reasons) — especially the ones to whom they are more closely related — and especially their female relatives (’cause, of course, women are limited in their reproductive capacity as compared to men, and it’s rather expensive for them [us!], too).

of course, i can’t help but wonder what happens in inbred societies. are these sentiments amplified? like, if your daughter is also your cousin (a few dozen times over), does that make you want to — say — cover her up so she can’t so easily attract a mate? might you want to hobble her so she can’t run off and have assignations with some unknown guy(s)? could you possibly want to cut off her clitoris so she’s not so interested in sex? hmmmmm?

or even if you’re just a little inbred, maybe any guy that wants to mate with your daughter has to ask your permission first. on the other hand, if you’re very outbred, maybe anything goes for everybody.

note (from the article): “Across all three studies reported here, 53% of participants were of East Asian ethnic background, 30% were of European background, and 17% were of various other ethnic backgrounds.”

btw – here’s a little tidbit of info from the lex alamannorum (one of the early medieval germanic law codes): “Chapter 56.1 regulates penalties for violence towards women. If someone uncovers the head of a free, unmarried woman, he is fined with 6 solidi.”

so, early medieval germanic women (single ones anyway) wore a head covering. germanic tribes had endogamous marriage practices, including prolly some form of cousin-marriage, kinda like many muslim societies today.

update 06/25: i think the church may have introduced compulsory head covering for women to northern europeans. here from jack goody’s “The development of the family and marriage in Europe” [pg. 44]:

“In fifth-century Ireland, St. Patrick drew a distinction between the habits of the ‘Romans’, that is Christians, and those of barbarians. In a later canon clerics were told they must conform to civilised Roman practice in three ways: by wearing a tunic, by shaving their heads, and by seeing their wives go veiled.”

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what is a tribe?

now that tribes are all popular and trendy again, i feel it would be good to clarify exactly what a tribe is. everybody’s throwing the word around a lot (including yours truly), and i’m not sure that we’re all using the word in the same way. in fact, i’m not sure that everybody’s using the word in the same way consistently (i have a bad feeling i’ve been guilty of this).

so, what is a tribe?

well, first of all, as a very wise commenter once said:

“At one level it’s easier to talk in terms of clans, tribes and nations but at another level it maybe makes more sense to see it as a ten point scale where 1 is clan, 10 is nation and 2-8 are gradually increasing tribal size.”

exactly! what we’re looking at here is the range of sizes of the extended family, starting from — i’d say — the nuclear family on up to a race (a very extended family) — and really all the way up to the species level (the human race).

i’d say the scale looks something like this:

individual >> nuclear family >> extended family >> band or sub-clan >> clan or lineage >> tribe or chiefdom >> nation or ethny >> race >> human race ( >> primates >> mammals >> eukarya >> life on earth)

what did i miss? prolly something a LOT.

anyway, so a tribal society is: “organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups (see clan and kinship).”

gaddafi defines a tribe as such, btw — and you think he oughta know! [pg. 299]: “A tribe is a family which has grown as a result of procreation. It follows that a tribe is a big family….”

so, there you go!

the thing that i think is confusing is that tribes are different in character because they are based on different kinship or mating systems. tribes are, by definition, endogamous in their mating patterns, but they have different ways of going about arranging marriage/other mating.

for example, on the one hand you’ve got the slightly crazed, patrilineal tribes of the arabs that are dominated by the men-folk and that seem to be at war with one another. all. the. time. they are the way they are (i think) because of their mating patterns (father’s brother’s daughter marriage). their behaviors and institutions and ideologies are quite different from matrilineal tribes like, say, the iroquois. these differences are, i think, due in part to the mating patterns and that is how tribes need to be evaluated.

btw, roman tribes? not real tribes. athenian (attican) tribes? not real tribes. (the founding latin and greek tribes of rome and athens were actual tribes; these later ones were not.)

previously: whatever happened to european tribes?

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mara hvistendahl responds to dawkins

mara hvistendahl has responded to richard dawkins who said that her book on the “missing girls” in india and china is critical of science. she says that it is not. further she says:

“[B]eginning in the 1960s a separate group of scientists proposed pushing along research into sex selection — not simply using existing techniques, but actively funding new work — for a reason that had nothing to do with avoiding disease or improving maternal health.

“These scientists were interested in sex selection’s significance in the developing world, where studies had shown many couples wanted at least one son. The idea there was not simply to help parents achieve the family composition of their dreams; it was to stop couples in countries like South Korea, India, and Taiwan from continuing to have girls until they got a boy. To quote from just two of the papers and books mentioning this approach at the time:

“‘A type of research which would have a great effect on population control would be that related to the discovery of methods for sex determination. It has been suggested that if one could predetermine that the first offspring would be a male, it would have a great effect on the size of the family.’ – William D. McElroy, BioScience, 1969

“‘[I]f a simple method could be found to guarantee that first-born children were males, then population control problems in many areas would be somewhat eased.’ – Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb, 1968….

“While Western science is not to blame for the disappearance of tens of millions of females from the global population, some Westerners did play a role in bringing sex selection to Asia. It is this role I hope we can discuss.”

first of all, no — westerners did not play a role in “bringing sex selection to Asia.” sure these guys had a role in bringing prenatal sex selection to asia, but asians already did PLENTY of sex selection long before the white man took any hand in it as i showed in my post yesterday. and that sex selection was probably based on INFANTICIDE — and one could make the argument that quite a lot of suffering has been avoided by eliminating a good deal of that.

and, secondly, “it is this role [of westerners] I hope we can discuss.” i’m not sure what there is to discuss, but ok.

what? is not population control — particularly in asia where there are waaaaay too many people that they can barely even feed everybody — not a problem? should we not help asians with their population problem? i think we should. we’ve all got to share this planet and if they’ve got population problems, we’ve got population problems.

there is clearly also a problem with having too many men in a society, but the asians need to work that one out for themselves. politically. they need to, i dunno, have a quota system per district and/or a lottery system (short stick? sorry, you’ll just have to be happy with a girl child). or monetary incentives to have girls! there’s a good one. everybody likes monetary incentives! encourage people to have more girls by handing out cash or free education or dowry funds or whatever.

how’s that for a plan?

previously: mara hvistendahl is a…

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side-effects of polygamy in three african societies

here’s a little data from the demographic and health surveys for three african nations where polygamy is common — benin (2006), burkina faso (2003), and nigeria (2008). these are the percentages of single (never married) men and women at different ages. as you can see, because of polygamy (which creates a shortage of women), it takes longer for men to get married (a first time).

in benin, we don’t see a majority of men (76%) being married until after age 25. the vast majority of women are married by ages 20-24:

in burkina faso, again, a majority of men (~60%) are not married until after age 25. 84% of women are married by age 24:

in nigeria, a majority of men (76%) are not married until between the ages of 30-34. 62% of women are married by the age of 24:

in all three countries, a majority of men aged 45+ (98-99%) are married, but there’s a h*ckuva long wait for so many men!

see also: solving the “polygamy problem”? and more on solving the “polygamy problem”

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inbreeding amongst germanic tribes

in “Kinship and marriage among the Visigoths“, giorgio ausenda tries to elucidate the … well … kinship and marriage patterns amongst the visigoths!

there’s not a lot of direct evidence to work from, so ausenda looks at the law codes from various germanic tribes (visigoths, lombards, alamanni, bavarians) from different time periods as well as at the gothic bible (kinship terms, etc.) for any indirect evidence.

he finds that the patrilineal side of the family was of primary importance in germanic tribes and that the father’s brothers were significant members of the germanic family. related to this, he finds some hints — but only indirect ones — that parallel cousin may have been a common form of marriage in germanic tribes early on, possibly even the preferred one. in any event, he does think that endogamous marriage was probably the norm in earlier periods, but then a shift occurred (due to pressure from the church and the state) towards more exogamous marriage practices.

below are some key passages from ausenda. first, here’s some info on the sources he used:

Lex Visigothorum – ca. 480 (Code of Euric) / 654
Pactus Alamannorum / Lex Alamannorum – ca. 620 / 730
– Lombardian laws – Edictum Rothari – 643 A.D.
Lex Baiwariorum [Bavaria] – ca. 745
Liutprand’s Law – King of the Lombards – 8th century
Gothic Bible or Wulfila’s Bible – 6th-8th centuries

pg. 142:

We know from the laws that the paternal uncle was the most important next of kin after the father. In the Leges Alamannorum XL [early 7th century or 8th century] De patricidiis et fratricidiis, the patruus [paternal uncle] comes right after the father and before the brother. In Rothari’s [643 A.D.] edict the paternal uncle is called barbas or barbanus in its latinized form. The term is mentioned in Ro. 163 as referring to one of the closest relatives against whom someone might plot death. The closest relatives mentioned in that law, with the paternal uncles, were brothers and parallel cousins, i.e., the closest male agnates beyond the father….

This is in tune with kinship relationships among social groups with patrilineal descent where, in general, the father’s brother is the most important kin next to the father.

pg. 143-44:

“One of the main characteristics of agro-pastoral populations to this day is their high degree of endogamy, i.e. marriage with close relatives within the lineage or corporate group. In fact the great majority of present-day agro-pastoralists are characterized by unilinear descent and in most cases the paternal line is the priviliged one. At the time of the invasion [of Rome], the Langobards [Lombards] had a patrilineal descent system. This is shown beyond reasonable doubt by the genealogies written in the prologues to their laws and in their histories. That they had a segmentary lineage system [e.g. clans & sub-clans] cannot be established beyond doubt, but is highly probable….

“As far as the Langobards [Lombards] are concerned, practically no direct clue is available in their laws as to whether they had preferential marriage and whether this was with a parallel cousin [e.g. fbd]. The adoption of Christianity must have caused considerable changes to occur with respect to pre-existing marriage customs about which practically nothing is known directly.”

pg. 145:

The early exsitence of preferential marriage among close kin can be inferred from later laws forbidding those marriages considered ‘illicit’ and ‘incestuous.’

“In Rothari’s edict [643 A.D.] the only prohibition, mentioned in Ro. 185, is against marriage with a (widowed) step-mother or (widowed) sister-in-law — for the widower — with a step-daughter; however, there is no specific law against close kin marriage, i.e. close cousins. Perhaps this is an indication that, until three generations after Langobardic [Lombardian] settlement in Italy, endogamous marriages were still practiced….

A law among the Leges Alamannorum [early 7th century or 8th century] has almost the same wording [as a law in the Leges Baiwariorum] and the same penalty, but stresses also prohibition against parallel cousin marriage, ‘filii fratrum, filii sororum inter se nulla praesumptione iungantur.’

“In the later Leges Visigothorum Chindaswinth [642/643 A.D.] substituted the law of the previous Eurician code [c. 480] with a wider prohibition which excluded from marriage persons ‘from the father’s or mother’s descent, and from the grandfather or grandmother or the wife’s parents, also the father’s wife or widow or left by his relatives…thus no one shall be permitted to pollute in a libidinous way, or desire in marriage close blood [relations] until the sixth degree of descent.’ The law exempts those persons who, ‘with the order and consent of the princes, before the law [was enacted] should have adopted this [form of] marriage.’ Again more than a hint that close-kin marriages were practiced in the early days and gradually prohibited by increasingly strict laws.

pg. 147-48:

Langobardic [Lombardian] laws concerning forbidden marriages also became stricter over time. Liutprand 33 [8th century] forbade marriage with the widow of a cousin, but no further prohibitions were reflected in the laws. We know, however, that more extended prohibitions were made compulsory by the Church….

“This shows that both Church and State were interested in forbidding close kin marriages. Their common concern becomes clear when one bears in mind the recognized difficulty the Church had, from the fourth century onwards, in expanding into the countryside….

In conclusion, the strenuous effort [by the Church] to penetrate the countryside entailed a long-drawn battle against traditional religion, whose vehicle was the kin group, and substituting the authority of the elders of the kin group with that of a religious elder, the presbyteros. At the same time the king’s rule was undermined by revolts on the part of the most powerful kin groups, clans or sections, whose conspiracies and murders menaced the power of the state. Thus Church and State became allies in trying to do aways with the political power of extended kin groups utilizing all manners of impositions. One of the most effective among them was to destroy their cohesiveness by prohibition of close kin marriage.

previously: whatever happened to european tribes?

update 06/29: see also more on inbreeding in germanic tribes

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mara hvistendahl is a…

…person who is really wrong about the gender imbalance issue in china and india.

in her recently published book, she apparently blames westerners for all the missing girls. from the guardian:

“Much of the literature on sex selection has suggested that cultural patterns explain the phenomenon. But Hvistendahl lays the blame squarely on western governments and businesses that have exported technology and pro-abortion practices without considering the consequences. Amniocentesis and ultrasound scans have had largely positive applications in the west, where they have been used to detect foetal abnormalities. But exported to Asia and eastern Europe they have been intricately linked to an explosion of sex selection and a mushrooming of female abortions.

“Hvistendahl claims western governments actively promoted abortion and sex selection in the developing world, encouraging the liberalisation of abortion laws and subsidising sales of ultrasounds as a form of population control.

‘It took millions of dollars in funding from US organisations for sex determination and abortion to catch on in the developing world,’ she writes.”

yes, yes — it was the evil westerners. again.

never mind that she’s totally wrong.

coincidentally, emmanuel todd brought up this very topic in his book that i just posted about yesterday [pgs. 48-49]:

“Female infanticide

“Undoubtedly the best indication of the fiercely agnatic character of the Indian family is the existence of a virulent tradition of female infanticide, more marked in north India even than in China. Recent Indian censuses consistently reveal a striking imbalance between the sexes: and excess of males denotes a massacre of female babies. A special supplement to the 1971 census was devoted to the sex ratio which, while normal in south India, frequently falls below 9 women to 10 men in north India (8.8 in Uttar Pradesh, near Delhi). In one group of villages in the Kangra district (Punjab) where a census was held in 1855, there were among children aged 4 to 14 only 393 girls for 1,000 boys.

1855. that’s just a few years before ultrasounds and amniocentesis tests were exported to the east by us evil westerners.

for a change, i’m in agreement with richard dawkins: Sex selection and the shortage of women: is science to blame?

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