a non-result result?

greying wanderer noted how botswana did well — very well — on the corruption perceptions index. the country scored like a middle-range western european country.

so, i looked up botswana on good ol’ wikipedia and the only thing potentially interesting (to me) that i could see is that, although there are several ethnic groups in the country, there is one that has a strong majority — the tswana.

hmmmm, i thought. maybe there’s a correlation between having a strong majority in a country and degree of (perceived) corruption in a country.

so, i looked up all the sub-saharan african countries included in transparency international’s 2011 survey to find out their demographics. except for zambia, all of the demographic data i used i got from wikipedia so … you know … the data are from wikipedia!

i found ethnic group size data for the following countries — the percentage represents the size of the largest ethnic group in the country:

Angola – 37.0%
Benin – 19.0%
Botswana – 79.0%
Burkina Faso – 40.0%
Cameroon – 19.0%
Cape Verde – 100.0%
Central African Republic – 33.0%
Congo Republic – 48.0%
Cote d’Ivoire – 42.1%
Djibouti – 60.0%
Eritrea – 55.0%
Ethiopia – 34.5%
Gabon – 33.0%
Gambia – 42.0%
Ghana – 49.3%
Guinea – 34.2%
Guinea-Bissau – 30.0%
Kenya – 22.0%
Lesotho – 99.7%
Liberia – 20.0%
Madagascar – 20.0%
Malawi – 25.0%
Mali – 36.5%
Mauritania – 40.0%
Mauritius – 68.0%
Mozambique – 18.0%
Namibia – 49.8%
Niger – 56.0%
Nigeria – 29.0%
Rwanda – 84.0%
Senegal – 43.0%
Seychelles – 70.0%
Sierra Leone – 35.0%
South Africa – 22.0%
Swaziland – 100.0%
Tanzania – 16.0%
Togo – 32.0%
Uganda – 16.9%
Zambia – 10.0%

edit – forgot these four:

Burundi – 85.0%
Equatorial Guinea – 80.0%
Somalia – 85.0%
Sudan – 73.0%

i couldn’t find any good numbers for the following countries, so they are not included:

Chad
Comoros
Dem Rep of the Congo
Sao Tome & Principe
Zimbabwe

and was there any correlation between the size of the biggest ethnic group in a country and corruption?

nope. i got a correlation of 0.29. no correlation. nada. zip. zilch.

unleeeesssss…

unless i take out the lowest scorers — the countries who got a 1 or 1.something on the corruption index. there were four of those: Burundi (1.9), Equatorial Guinea (1.9), Somalia (1.0) and Sudan (1.6).

then i get a correlation of 0.59, which is not all that weak for social data. it looks like this:

why are burundi, equatorial guinea, somalia and sudan so weird? — if they are weird.

well, the majority groups of equatorial guinea, somalia and sudan — the fang, ethnic somalis and the sudanese arabs respectively — are all groups based around patrlineal kinship groups — clans and tribes. and we know how divisive THOSE are. maybe it doesn’t matter that these countries have strong majority ethnic groups if those groups are divided into hostile clans and tribes. same difference, really — if you see what i mean. don’t know about the social structures of the hutu (the majority ethnic group) in burundi.

so, i either came up with a non-result, which is always interesting! or there is something in the ethnic/clan structure of these populations that possibly relates to corruption levels. unless i’m massaging the data. heh.

anyway. that’s how i spent my afternoon. (^_^)

previously: same old, same old

(note: comments do not require an email. correlation does not mean causation….)

45 Comments

  1. @fred – heh. you’d think that’d make it more corrupt! unless the place is so corrupt they are really good at concealing the corruption…. (~_^)

    Reply

  2. This is a nice little analysis. I suspect there’s some truth to this observation. You need the development of a family-neutral civic culture. This is missing from very tribal places.

    That said, you’d need to do a lot more research to fill out the hollow points in this thesis.

    Reply

  3. my first thought also was the cohesive single tribe idea on the grounds it could potentially lead to an increased sense of us-ness. however on reflection i’d also wonder if total population size could effect that as a single ethnic group of 30 million would be a lot more disparate than a single tribe of only 2 million. there might be an optimal size beyond which the sense of us-ness breaks down.

    at the other extreme i do think FBD -> micro-ethnicity, is a worthwhile theory and it seems like an FBD filter may be important here.

    some additional info

    http://www.botswanaembassy.or.jp/culture/body2_2.html

    “Although in some traditional societies cousins were encouraged to inter-marry in order to strengthen the family bonds, the practice is no longer prevalent.”

    Reply

  4. Just looking at the ones in the 40% to 60% bands in sequence, looking at total pop for the largest tribe compared to cpi then roughly

    Burkina Faso 40% / 16m ~ 6.4m (3)
    Mauritania 40% / 3m ~ 1.2 m (2.4)
    Cote d’Ivoire 42% / 21m ~ 8.8m (2.2)
    Gambia 42% / 2m ~ 0.8m (3.5)
    Senegal 43% / 14m ~ 5.6m (2.9)
    Congo Republic 48% / 4m ~ 2m (2.2)
    Ghana 49% / 24m ~ 12m (3.9)
    Namibia 49% / 2m ~ 1m (4.4)
    Eritrea 55% / 7m ~ 3.75m (2.5)
    Djibouti 60% / 0.5m ~ 0.3m (3)

    or sequenced by pop

    Djibouti 60% / 0.5m ~ 0.3m (3)
    Gambia 42% / 2m ~ 0.8m (3.5)
    Namibia 49% / 2m ~ 1m (4.4)
    Mauritania 40% / 3m ~ 1.2 m (2.4)
    Congo Republic 48% / 4m ~ 2m (2.2)
    Eritrea 55% / 7m ~ 3.75m (2.5)
    Senegal 43% / 14m ~ 5.6m (2.9)
    Ghana 49% / 24m ~ 12m (3.9)
    Burkina Faso 40% / 16m ~ 6.4m (3)
    Cote d’Ivoire 42% / 21m ~ 8.8m (2.2)

    no obvious jumping out of, cpi ~ single tribe %age +/- f(total pop size)

    i was thinking there might be a slightly more linear pattern than your 0.59 based on single tribe %age as before but with something like +x cpi if below some threshold for small total pop and -x cpi if above some threshold for large total pop but doesn’t seem so – at least to my level of ability.

    Reply

  5. Razib over at Gene Expression is always posting plots like this one.

    Please. It’s a scatter gram. The correlation coefficient is nonsense. There’s nothing going on here.

    When I was still teaching, whenever my grad students brought me diagrams like this, I sent them back to the lab and threw out the diagram. Maybe I should have done the reverse, but I was always a doddering fool.

    If r isn’t at least 0.9, trash it.

    Go over to Lubos Motl. He has a post on rejection of null hypotheses. The real scientists use 9 sigma, the charlatans use less than one sigma.

    Reply

  6. @bob – “If r isn’t at least 0.9, trash it.”

    even with social stuff? i agree 0.59 is not very strong (thus my “non-result result” post title). but i thought something like an 0.7-0.8 is thought of as indicating something going on wrt social stuff. -??-

    @bob – “Go over to Lubos Motl. He has a post on rejection of null hypotheses. The real scientists use 9 sigma, the charlatans use less than one sigma.”

    will do! thnx. (and when i don’t understand what the h*ck he’s talking about, i’ll be asking you to explain/translate. (~_^) )

    Reply

  7. @gorbachev – “You need the development of a family-neutral civic culture. This is missing from very tribal places.”

    well, it’s not only missing from very tribal places, i don’t think it’s possible for it to develop in such a setting at all, given the biological relationships between the members. see here and here.

    @gorbachev – That said, you’d need to do a lot more research to fill out the hollow points in this thesis.”

    work is ongoing. (^_^)

    Reply

  8. @g.w. – “my first thought also was the cohesive single tribe idea on the grounds it could potentially lead to an increased sense of us-ness.”

    i was also vaguely thinking — i’ll admit not very clearly — about some sort of dynamic between a majority group and having some other small, unrelated groups in your society. like 1950s america — dominated by white folks and it worked pretty smoothly (although i suppose black folks would debate that — maybe the older ones wouldn’t, tho, i dunno). i was wondering if something like that was happening in botswana.

    @g.w. – “however on reflection i’d also wonder if total population size could effect that as a single ethnic group of 30 million would be a lot more disparate than a single tribe of only 2 million.”

    yeah. numbers prolly matter. i didn’t think about that.

    @g.w. – “’Although in some traditional societies cousins were encouraged to inter-marry in order to strengthen the family bonds, the practice is no longer prevalent.’”

    interesting! thnx! from that same link:

    “They [cousins] maintain a light-hearted ‘joking relationship’ ‘go tlhagana’ where they are at liberty to pass uncomplimentary remarks about each other and none of them is expected to take offence. The cheerful atmosphere under which the remarks are made add positively to their close and special bond.”

    heh. sounds like my extended family. (^_^)

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  9. @bob (and anyone else who’s interested) – i should make it clear that i realize that i’m NOT doing anything resembling science here, nor am i pretending to be. i hope i’m not leaving the impression that i am or think i am, either!

    just to be sure, i’ve added a “not science!” tag. i’ll try to remember to use it going forward. if i forget, remind me. (^_^)

    Reply

  10. In the colonial era, the diamond miners cut a deal with the monarchy, that the country would be half ruled by the monarchy, and half ruled by the diamond miners.

    During decolonization, the British tried, unsuccessfully, to put an end to this deal, but the voters elected the King president, and the King/President proceeded to renew the deal and continue with business as normal.

    Monarchy, rather than any ethnic makeup, probably explains the low corruption index.

    Reply

  11. @james – interesting! can you recommend any good sources/links on this history of botswana? thnx.

    any idea if the monarch comes from the majority ethnic group? i suppose i can look that up myself…. (^_^)

    Reply

  12. Interestingly Jordan and Morocco seem to be the ‘calmest’ of the Islamic states, both monarchies, and Malaysia too come to think of it.

    Reply

  13. as another interesting point, Botswana is an AIDS success story. B has been uniquely successful in reducing/combatting AIDS, often through supply-chain and med-practice triumphs (which is to say “1rst world type solutions”) rather than quarantine etc (the more heavy handed approaches). Where B succeeds, it looks reproducable (ie not a fluke one-off high GDP from high crop prices, but rather a proper medical supply chain). I don’t know if this is down-the-causal-stream, a co-variant of another unknown 3rd factor or what, but it’s generally part of the Botswana success story.

    Also worthy of note is B has still many English and Afrikaaners. I don’t claim to know how many there are (5% of the pop seems probable), but this gives them an advantage over, say, Somalia w/ 0%.

    Lastly, B has a very, very small population (2 million) in a huge country. Low population
    density permits a culture of “flight” over “fight” (as compared to Rwanda).

    Reply

  14. Sudan is majority Arab? I don’t think so. There is no recent data on Sudan’s ethnic composition, but my impression is that Arabs make up no more than 30% of the population.

    You might be lumping all of the different Muslim groups together (Nubians, Fur, Beja).

    Reply

  15. Interesting hypothesis. You are a genius, maybe, sorta of, as far as I can tell. :) If others haven’t mentioned it I was struck by the lack of homogeneity in most of those societies — an artifact, I suppose, of those careless European colonialists and their hasty withdrawal.

    As for Bob Sykes above, ignore what he says. He’s talking through his hat. I’m a big Motl fan too. Motl is talking about physics not people, where every elementary particle is identical and the laws of nature are known to ten decimal places. In that world 5 sigma events are indeed the threshold of credibility (one chance in ten thousand roughly). It takes a lot of evidence to establish a departure from the known laws of physics.

    Whereas in the social world a correlation of .4 is enough to make one take notice, or so I’ve read and been told. A correlation of .4 is the strength of the association between an individual IQ test on a person and his or her later socio-economic success for example (according to Sailer). A correlation of .8 on the other hand is what you get when you administer the same IQ test to the same individual on two separate occasions (according to Jensen). * A correlation of .0 of course means no relationship discernible.

    A correlation of .59 is therefore suggestive — would be more than suggestive if you could test the same hypothesis multiple times using other societies. Unfortunately there are not that many around.

    (Disclosure: all this based on my memory of what experts have said, not direct personal knowledge. Be forewarned!)

    Reply

  16. @peter – “Sudan is majority Arab? I don’t think so.”

    this data came straight from wikipedia, so it MUST be true! (~_^)

    using the assuredly very reliable info on wiki-p, i counted 14+ ethnic groups including:

    the sudanese arabs (whoever exactly they are), shaigya, ja’alin, shukria, rashaida, bedouins, arakieen, nubians, coptic, beja, nuba, fur, hausa and fulani.

    wikipedia also says there are “many more,” but who knows if that’s 10 more or 100 more?

    Reply

  17. i just realized that i didn’t include the percentages for the sizes of the majorities in my four outliers: burundi, equitorial guinea, somalia and sudan. fixed now! (i’ll be having a word with the copy editor/proofreader in the morning….)

    Reply

  18. @anonymous – “as another interesting point, Botswana is an AIDS success story.”

    that is interesting. botswana really seems to be the little country that could!

    @anonymous – “Also worthy of note is B has still many English and Afrikaaners. I don’t claim to know how many there are (5% of the pop seems probable)”

    wikipedia says 3% — and that’s from the 2011 cia world factbook (poss. 2001 census?).

    @anonymous – “Lastly, B has a very, very small population (2 million) in a huge country. Low population density permits a culture of “flight” over “fight” (as compared to Rwanda).”

    yeah, you’re absolutely right. that’s something i didn’t realize until this evening when i was reading a little more on botswana. clearly life is much easier if you don’t have to grapple with close neighbors day in and day out over resources. surely the genocide in rwanda had a lot to do with over-population. botswana lucky again!

    Reply

  19. @svk – “Interestingly Jordan and Morocco seem to be the ‘calmest’ of the Islamic states, both monarchies, and Malaysia too come to think of it.”

    jordanians are also rather trusting — particularly of people they’ve “met for the first time.”

    moroccans and malaysians, not so much.

    Reply

  20. @luke – “If others haven’t mentioned it I was struck by the lack of homogeneity in most of those societies — an artifact, I suppose, of those careless European colonialists and their hasty withdrawal.”

    definitely the whole drawing-of-lines-on-a-map was a bad thing for africans. do any of the borders match up with populations anywhere? having said that, tho — what on earth would you do with the 250+ groups in niger or 120+ groups in tanzania?! how many little states should one carve out on the continent?

    @luke – “…talking about physics not people, where every elementary particle is identical and the laws of nature are known to ten decimal places. In that world 5 sigma events are indeed the threshold of credibility (one chance in ten thousand roughly). It takes a lot of evidence to establish a departure from the known laws of physics.”

    yeah, but being a hard-core reductionist myself (what do i know?), i would love to see this sort of certainty found in biology, including about human behaviors. but maybe it’s just not possible — even if you focus in on some small facet of a partial behavior somewhere.

    @luke – “You are a genius, maybe, sorta of, as far as I can tell. :)”

    if you’d said “mad genius” you would’ve been half right. (~_^)

    Reply

  21. “Sudan is majority Arab? I don’t think so.”

    the critical aspect for the theory is marriage customs i.e. FBD marriage, so arab culture is the key thing.

    “yeah, but being a hard-core reductionist myself (what do i know?), i would love to see this sort of certainty found in biology, including about human behaviors. but maybe it’s just not possible”

    i wonder. i think the hardest part would be getting clear enough data.

    personally i think it is highly likely there is an optimum population relatedness which would show up on all sorts of metrics, corruption being one. i think it would be a homogenous population on a terriotory where the average relatedness is equivalent to 4th cousin or 6th cousin or whatever and with a low variance but how to prove it though when actual human data is so messy?

    one factor would be homogeneity i.e. the single, large tribe theory, but on top of that the larger the population generally speaking the less easy it is for there to be a low variance in the average relatedness simply for geographic reasons i.e. physical barriers creating inter-marriage gradients e.g. the “same” ethnic group east and west of a mountain range become two sub-groups.

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  22. Just a note on Botswana from personal experience. Firstly, almost the entire country is a desert, except for the area around the Okavango River and Delta. So supporting a large population would be problematic. This is increased by the fact that Botswana outside the city looks the same as it did 2000 years ago – what I mean by that is that the people who live by the river live in papyrus huts and fish from dugout canoes. The women catch fish in woven baskets. They do this in groups (topless), while speaking very loudly to ensure that they are perceived as one big organism and therefore not eaten by the crocodiles. Two modern inventions are used often – plastic containers and gill nets. However, gill nets are actually illegal without a permit.

    Secondly, you cannot own land in Botswana if you are an Afrikaner or Englishman or anything of the sort, however, you can get a lease for 99 years. And although the Pula is stronger than the SA Rand, the money from the diamonds do not seem to trickle down. Debswana (the diamond company) does give alot of money for research and community projects though.

    Thirdly, many of their African neighbours have a great dislike for Botswana, they are convinced that Botswana is still ruled by “imperialists”. Recently South Africa’s resident Che Guevara-wannabe (Julias Malema – yes this is spelled correclty) has stated that he and his comrades will go to Botswana to incite the local population to overthrow the current government. However, this did not find favour with the ruling ANC, because now they are in charge they “don’t believe in regime change”, so his plans came to nothing.

    And finally, believe it or not, men do nothing in Botswana (outside of the Delta – there they fish and cut papyrus for the huts). The petrol attendents are women, the people who build the roads, are women. Anyways, just thought I would add this comment for interest’s sake.

    Reply

  23. @ “being a hard-core reductionist myself (what do i know?), i would love to see this sort of certainty found in biology, including about human behaviors.”

    “Biology, yes. But human behavior, I don’t think so. Here is the first half of a little riff I did on why economics is not a science — or, rather what kind of science is it? ( If you want to see the reductionist angle — 2nd half — I am happy to oblige. :) :

    One of the reasons economics is not such a science is that the world is always changing. Each generation faces new problems, with new factors coming into play: innovations in technology, new definitions of money, alterations in the law, trade, politics, international relations, demography, customary standards of living, family patterns — the list, if not endless, is certainly indeterminate.

    Unlike the worlds of physics, chemistry, and biology, where the laws of nature are ever the same, both in time and space; where fundamental particles are always identical, the constants of nature always constant, functional relationships precise, continuous, and well-defined (f=ma, The Heisenberg uncertainty principle), in the world of economics there is nothing of the kind. Such general laws as do always apply are qualitative, not quantitative, capable at best of a rough geometric illustration, not algebraic formulation, for which no equal sign is ever justified, no tilden unjustified, no two objects identical, or even the same object identical at two different moments in time.

    In other words economics is to be conceived as a historical science the sense that the trained practitioner must be educated not only in general principles but also in the history of economic ideas and policies as they have evolved in relation to changes in the economic and political circumstances of the societies in which they arose, and to which they were applied. He must, in short, be cognizant of modern historical experience, as well as to the changing contemporary realities of the world he lives in.

    For these reasons economics is not a cumulative body of knowledge, except to a very limited extent. A student of the hard science need scarcely bother himself with the history of the discipline he is learning; with economics such knowledge is indispensable. For the competent practitioner of the art recent history may be more relevant than distant history, though not always, and no history is so remote as to be completely irrelevant at one time or another.”

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  24. I don’t expect you (or anyone) to read this, but I would like to say something about the “hard” science that underlies economic behavior, just show you might know:

    It all comes down to the law of diminishing returns — or, rather, should I say, the laws (plural) of diminishing returns, since the underlying law reappears in different guises:

    Let’s start with the most physical form of the law itself, also known as the law of variable proportions. It is stated in terms of the three factors of production — land, labor, and capital — and says that if you hold two of these constant and increase the third, there comes a point beyond which further increases of that factor yield decreasing amounts of total output.

    A simple thought experiment proves the point: How much food can you grow in a flower pot? If there were no law of diminishing returns you could keep adding more and more fertilizer (a form of capital) to the pot (land) and eventually grow enough food to feed the whole world.

    This cannot happen of course, if for no other reason than that eventually the number of molecules of fertilizer exceeds the number of particles of soil to such an extent that additional molecules of fertilizer cannot touch any particles of soil. It comes down to what old Aristotle called the impenetrability of matter, which in turn can be reduced to the physics of so-called “fermi” particles (protons, neutrons, and electrons): two atoms cannot have the same quantum number on account of the Pauli Exclusion Principle combined with the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. In other words they cannot be at the same place at the same time and electrons have to stay at some distance from the nucleus. That’s why tables are solid. (If matter were made of particles of light this would not be true.)

    Or take the principle of the decreasing marginal dis-utility of labor, which is a function of the physiology of fatigue. Why do sprinters run faster than long-distance runners? It is ultimately explained by the processes of energy metabolism in the body — how much energy can flow to each muscle fiber per unit time — which is related both to the limited storage of energy in ATP molecules inside each muscle cell and the rate at which these ATP molecules once “burnt” can be replenished. You come up against the same problem of the impenetrability of matter we encountered in the flower pot.

    A third example is the diminishing marginal utility of money — the fact that a dollar is worth more to a poor man than a rich one. This relates to our capacity to experience pleasure in the brain, which in turn is a function of the rate of neuronal firings, which in turn is governed by the limitations on the production and motion of neuro-transmitting molecules in the gap junctions between neurons. Back to fermi statistics again!

    One thing these three examples have in common is that they can be represented by convex and concave geometrical forms, the familiar laws of supply and demand (though to be honest you should draw them with the side of the piece of chalk, not with the tip ;))

    For example we are willing to work up to the point at which the diminishing marginal utility of the wages we earn (in the last hour) just equals the increasing marginal disutility of the effort required to produce those wages. That’s where and when we are happiest.

    In other words, it is where and when all three examples of the law of diminishing returns I described above are related to each other in a certain way. Applying these rules more generally we can show a tendency towards a general equilibrium that results in the most efficient use of resources in a free exchange economy, given an initial distribution of resources (That’s why we are libertarians up to a point!) What is striking is that all this can be logically deduced from a few empirical findings based on geometrical principles alone, even in the absence of our ability to measure anything with precision. It’s about shapes not measure.

    If you got this far I’ll drop dead.

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  25. > Go over to Lubos Motl. He has a post on rejection of null hypotheses. The real scientists use 9 sigma, the charlatans use less than one sigma.

    Certainly true. Though I think one sigma isn’t quite realistic. Medical biology traditionally uses 2 sig or 95%-‘certain’ rejection of the null… that is a big problem. Every serious person understands that they need to switch to 3 sig, but it’s not in anyone’s interest to energetically pursue a changeover. Classic coordination problem.

    Reply

  26. > personally i think it is highly likely there is an optimum population relatedness which would show up on all sorts of metrics, corruption being one. i think it would be a homogenous population on a terriotory where the average relatedness is equivalent to 4th cousin or 6th cousin or whatever

    Yeah… I bet something like that is true.

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  27. Quoting Motl:

    “Dear Tamino [a climate scientist — or quack if you believe Motl, which I do],

    . . . once again, it’s not “ridiculous” to require a 5-sigma confidence as a condition for a serious scientist’s claim of a discovery of an effect. It’s what particle physicists, cosmologists, and many others require all the time. They require it from themselves and others, too. You would never see a serious team’s paper claiming a 3-sigma discovery of a new quark.”

    So around 5 sigma physicists start writing papers. 9 sigma might be required to establish a hypothesis however. In physics that is. Outside physics I’m not sure anyone has ever measured a 9 sigma event.

    Reply

  28. I can’t remember where I saw the article, but if memory serves, Botswana also has amongst the strictest immigration policies in sub-Saharan Africa. Namely they aren’t allowing themselves to be flooded with day laborers from the hellholes around them (which probably helps in controlling the AIDS problem as well).

    It’s comparatively good performance probably a conflux of being fairly ethnically uniform, not being stuck in the tropical disease zone, not being over populated, having fairly competent governance that plans for long term contingencies and farms out cognitively demanding tasks to foreign contractors, and having valuable natural resources. It’s the whole Goldilocks thing due to the travails of history and geography.

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  29. @Luke Lea
    “being a hard-core reductionist myself (what do i know?), i would love to see this sort of certainty found in biology, including about human behaviors.”

    “Biology, yes. But human behavior, I don’t think so. Here is the first half of a little riff I did on why economics is not a science — or, rather what kind of science is it?”

    i don’t know. it would have to be probabilistic and large-scale experiments (i.e. tens of millions of people) where only variable was changed would be impossible but i think you could get close.

    one of my thoughts related to this was to run an experiment where two men were sent into a room, told to stand side to side and then scare them suddenly somehow – speakers in the wall maybe – and then mark the result as 0 if the two men moved to stand back to back and up to 180 if they moved to stand with their backs to a wall facing each other. i think if you took 10 twins, 10 brothers, 10 first cousins, 10 second cousins etc you could get probabilities of behaviour based on relatedness that had high sigma values.

    also if the base premises are
    1) average level of trust/distrust in a group ~ scores of different social metrics
    2) trust ~ relatedness
    3) distrust ~ delta(relatedness)
    and that leads to the conclusion that there’s some simple formulation connected to relatedness in a society or group that would maximize the score for all sorts of social metrics then even if the relationship was low the scale of benefit would still be huge simply because the benefit could potentially be multiplied by the total population of the planet.

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  30. who knows really but the scale of the possible effect makes it worth serious consideration imo.

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  31. @g.w. – “i think it would be a homogenous population on a terriotory where the average relatedness is equivalent to 4th cousin or 6th cousin or whatever and with a low variance but how to prove it though when actual human data is so messy?”

    well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? humans are just so gosh-durned complicated! it’s prolly pretty complicated enough just to study any primate or even mammal in the wild — but when you add all of our culture on top of everything — plus the huge size of some human populations, like you say — it gets awfully difficult (impossible?) to comb through all the factors and figure out what’s going on. *sigh*

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  32. @muskeljaatkat – “The women catch fish in woven baskets. They do this in groups (topless), while speaking very loudly to ensure that they are perceived as one big organism and therefore not eaten by the crocodiles.”

    holy cr*p! (the trying-not-to-be-eaten-by-crocodiles part.)

    @muskeljaatkat – “Secondly, you cannot own land in Botswana if you are an Afrikaner or Englishman or anything of the sort, however, you can get a lease for 99 years. And although the Pula is stronger than the SA Rand, the money from the diamonds do not seem to trickle down. Debswana (the diamond company) does give alot of money for research and community projects though.”

    interesting, that s*cks, and well at least that’s something — in that order.

    @muskeljaatkat – “Thirdly, many of their African neighbours have a great dislike for Botswana, they are convinced that Botswana is still ruled by ‘imperialists’.”

    well, that what a couple of commenters above also said. i wonder how much truth there is in that idea?

    @muskeljaatkat – “And finally, believe it or not, men do nothing in Botswana (outside of the Delta – there they fish and cut papyrus for the huts). The petrol attendents are women, the people who build the roads, are women.”

    well, that seems to be the typical sub-saharan african — or, at least, bantu — pattern, doesn’t it? women do the work and raise kids — men compete with each other for access to the most number of women.

    @muskeljaatkat – Anyways, just thought I would add this comment for interest’s sake.”

    very interesting! thanks for sharing. (^_^)

    Reply

  33. @luke – “Biology, yes. But human behavior, I don’t think so.”

    aaaah! but i think that human behavior IS biology! (~_^) seriously. it is. what else would it be?

    Reply

  34. @spike – “I can’t remember where I saw the article, but if memory serves, Botswana also has amongst the strictest immigration policies in sub-Saharan Africa.”

    ah ha! interesting.

    @spike – “…not being stuck in the tropical disease zone….”

    that is important. didn’t think of that. important in evolutionary terms as well as just everyday life in the here and now. do botswanans have less sickle cell anemia, for instance?

    @spike – “…having fairly competent governance that plans for long term contingencies and farms out cognitively demanding tasks to foreign contractors….”

    who are these “fairly competent” leaders (and how do we get some of those?)? are these native botswanans or some of those durned imperialists? hmmmm…. (i can, and will, go look this up for myself … just thinking aloud.)

    Reply

  35. @g.w. – “…moved to stand back to back….”

    ot (but it’s my blog so i can go ot! — so can you guys, btw) – there are a couple of deer who hang around the neighborhood here and i often see them lying down in the evenings and they invariably lie back-to-back. clever deer! (^_^) presumably they’re related….

    Reply

  36. “aaaah! but i think that human behavior IS biology! (~_^) seriously. it is. what else would it be?”

    Good question. I can’t pretend to really know. Especially since so much of human behavior is driven by biological needs (hunger, sex) including the kinds of population-genetical influences you are exploring on this blog. Why else am I here?

    Still, there is much of human behavior which is better understood sympathetically (including this conversation) and much more that is highly unpredictable, including a lot of the economic decisions we make in everyday life.

    I think we can agree that the laws of physics have been shown convincingly by modern scientists to be probabilistic, not deterministic, in nature. Assuming they know what they are talking about. Assuming there are no supernatural forces operating on this earth, that still leaves room for supra-natural behavior: ie, human behavior within the laws of behavior but motivated by our ideas and beliefs, illusions, ambitions, and just plain foolishness.

    Maybe history and political economy can be more profitably studied in this framework. Just as biology can be more profitably studied using the principles of chemistry than of physics.

    Bottom line: you are a scientist, I am not. ;)

    Reply

  37. I’m sorry. Supra-natural was supposed to refer to the possibility of human behavior within the laws of “nature” (not “behavior”) which is in some sense meaningful, even predictable, when approached sympatheticallyy. Just another crazy idea of mine.

    Reply

  38. “it gets awfully difficult (impossible?) to comb through all the factors and figure out what’s going on”

    well that’s why i think low levels of correlation don’t automatically disprove something. it doesn’t prove it either but given the number of variables and the muddiness of the available data clean experiments might not be possible. in that case (this case) maybe the best that can be achieved is *lots* of examples of 0.7 or 0.8 correlations that all point the same way.

    .
    “Assuming there are no supernatural forces operating on this earth, that still leaves room for supra-natural behavior: ie, human behavior within the laws of behavior but motivated by our ideas and beliefs, illusions, ambitions, and just plain foolishness.”

    i think that’s true but based on personal experience i think idea-based behaviour kicks in the more out-bred people get. if you work among lots of different groups of people from all over the world (and i mean how they are as a group not how they are as an individual among a majority group) then you can see this very plainly. in particular relatedness seems to act as a kind of centripetal force. the more inbred people are the more simply biological their behaviour is. the more outbred people are the more idea-based their behaviour.

    Reply

  39. @ Greying Wanderer – “based on personal experience i think idea-based behaviour kicks in the more out-bred people get.”

    Nice point.

    Reply

  40. “in particular relatedness seems to act as a kind of centripetal force. the more inbred people are the more simply biological their behaviour is. the more outbred people are the more idea-based their behaviour.”

    Well put.

    Reply

  41. @g.w. – “well that’s why i think low levels of correlation don’t automatically disprove something.”

    you’re right. correlation is not, necessarily, causation — but obviously the corollary must be low correlation is not, necessarily, not causation.

    Reply

  42. @luke – “Bottom line: you are a scientist, I am not. ;)”

    no! don’t confuse me — your humble blogger — with a real scientist. i’m definitely NOT doing any science here. i don’t want anyone to think that, or think that i think that i am.

    if i do ever do some actual science here, i’ll let ya’ll know. (^_^)

    Reply

  43. I ran across this statement of the problem by a someone I’ve never bothered to read before, the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises:

    Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis in Economics

    Sociology cannot grasp human action in its fullness. It must take the actions of individuals as ultimately given. The predictions it makes about them can be only qualitative, not quantitative. Accordingly, it can say nothing about the magnitude of their effects. This is roughly what is meant by the statement that the characteristic feature of history is concern with the individual, the irrational, life, and the domain of freedom.[86] For sociology, which is unable to determine in advance what they will be, the value judgments that are made in human action are ultimate data. This is the reason why history cannot predict things to come and why it is an illusion to believe that qualitative economics can be replaced or supplemented by quantitative economics.[87] Economics as a theoretical science can impart no knowledge other than qualitative. And economic history can furnish us with quantitative knowledge only post factum.

    Social science is exact in the sense that it strives with conceptual rigor for an unequivocally defined and provable system. It is idle to dispute over whether one should make use of mathematical forms of presentation in sociology, and particularly in economics. The problems confronting sociology in all its branches, including economics, present such extraordinary difficulties that, in the eyes of many, even the most perplexing mathematical problems possess the advantage of being more easily visualized. Whoever believes that he cannot do without the help that the reasoning and terminology of mathematics affords him in the mastery of economic problems is welcome to make use of them. Vestigia terrent! Those theorists who are usually designated as the great masters of mathematical economics accomplished what they did without mathematics. Only afterwards did they seek to present their ideas in mathematical form. Thus far, the use of mathematical formulations in economics has done more harm than good. The metaphorical character of the relatively more easily visualized concepts and ideas imported into economics from mechanics, which may be warranted as a didactic and occasionally as a heuristic expedient as well, has been the occasion of much misunderstanding. Only too often the criticism to which every analogy must be subjected has been neglected in this case. Of primary importance is what is set forth in words in the preliminary statement that has to serve as the starting point for further mathematical elaboration. This statement, however, is always nonmathematical.[88] Whether or not its further elaboration in mathematical terms can be useful depends on the correctness of this initial nonmathematical statement. To be sure, if the mathematical elaboration is itself incorrect, it will arrive at incorrect results even though it may start from a correct statement; but mathematical analysis can never expose an error made in an incorrect statement.

    Even the mathematical sciences of nature owe their theories not to mathematical, but to nonmathematical reasoning. Mathematics has a significance in the natural sciences altogether different from what it has in sociology and economics. This is because physics is able to discover empirically constant relationships, which it describes in its equations.[89] The scientific technology based on physics is thereby rendered capable of solving given problems with quantitative definiteness. The engineer is able to calculate how a bridge must be constructed in order to bear a given load. These constant relationships cannot be demonstrated in economics. The quantity theory of money, for example, shows that, ceteris paribus, an increase in the quantity of money leads to a decrease in the purchasing power of the monetary unit, but the doubling of the quantity of money does not bring about a fifty percent decline in its purchasing power. The relationship between the quantity of money and its purchasing power is not constant. it is a mistake to think that, from statistical investigations concerning the relationship of the supply of and the demand for definite commodities, quantitative conclusions can be drawn that would be applicable to the future configuration of this relationship. Whatever can be established in this way has only historical significance, whereas the ascertainment of the specific gravity of different substances, for example, has universal validity.[90]

    Economics too can make predictions in the sense in which this ability is attributed to the natural sciences. The economist can and does know in advance what effect an increase in the quantity of money will have upon its purchasing power or what consequences price controls must have. Therefore, the inflations of the age of war and revolution, and the controls enacted in connection with them, brought about no results unforeseen by economics. However, this knowledge is not quantitatively definite. For example, economics is not in a position to say just how great the reduction in demand will be with which consumption will react to a definite quantitative increase in price. For economics, the concrete value judgments of individuals appear only as data. But no other science?not even psychology?can do any more here.

    To be sure, even the valuations of individuals are causally determined. We also understand how they come about. That we are unable to foretell their concrete configuration is due to the fact that we here come up against a boundary beyond which all scientific cognition is denied to us. Whoever wants to predict valuations and volitions would have to know the relationship of the world within us to the world outside us. Laplace was unmindful of this when he dreamed of his cosmic formula.

    Reply

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