“culture” of honor

in “Culture of Honor,” nisbett and cohen argued that the scots-irish of appalachia are more violent than, say, yankees ’cause of their … you guessed it … culture of honor.

*sigh*

this article [opens pdf] has a good description of what nisbett and cohen found when they researched the flying-off-the-handle-ness of southerners vs. northerers:

“Their laboratory experiments are most relevant to our argument here. Cohen and Nisbett recruited subjects with Northern and Southern backgrounds from the University of Michigan student body, ostensibly to work on an psychological task dealing with perception. During the experiment, a confederate bumped some subjects and muttered ‘asshole’ at them. Cortisol (a stress hormone) and testosterone (rises in preparation for violence) were measured before and after the insult. Insulted Southerners showed big jumps in both cortisol and testosterone compared to uninsulted Southerners and insulted Northerners. The difference in psychological and physiological responses to insults was manifest in behavior. Nisbett and Cohen recruited a 6’3” 250 lb (190 cm, 115 kg) American style football player whose task was to walk down the middle of a narrow hall as subjects came the other direction. The experimenters measured how close subjects came to the football player before stepping aside. Northerners stepped aside at around 6 feet regardless of whether they had been insulted. Un-insulted Southerners stepped aside at an average distance of 9 feet, whereas insulted Southerners approached to an average of about 3 feet. Polite but prepared to be violent, un-insulted Southerners take more care, presumably because they attribute a sense of honor to the football player and are normally respectful of others’ honor. When their honor is challenged, they are prepared and willing to challenge someone at considerable risk to their own safety.”

sooooooooo, they found a biological response in the southerners who were insulted and concluded that the cause of that biological response was … culture. ooooh-kaaaaay.

-OR-

how about southerners are, for whatever evolutionary reasons, somewhat different biologically-speaking than northerners and they, therefore, respond differently biologically to insults. and that, taken collectively, the way all these southerners behave — innately — amounts to their culture.

seems kinda obvious, don’t it?

so what is the evolutionary history of the good folks down in appalachia? we know that they come from the anglo-scottish border areas. what were (are) those people like?

clannish. probably practiced some sort of inbreeding throughout the medieval period — unlike the english, whose descendents became the more chilled yankees in the new world.

and war-ish. for hundreds of years. or, battle-ish anyway:

Border Reivers were raiders along the Anglo–Scottish border from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century…. The border families can be referred to as clans, as the Scots themselves appear to have used both terms interchangeably until the 19th century…. Other terms were also used to describe the Border families, such as the ‘Riding Surnames’ and the ‘Graynes’ thereof…. Both Border Graynes and Highland septs however, had the essential feature of patriarchal leadership by the chief of the name, and had territories in which most of their kindred lived…. Although feudalism existed, tribal loyalty was much more important and this is what distinguished the Borderers from other lowland Scots.

“culture” of honor? gimme a break!

footnote: one of the major anglo-saxon border clans is the clan nesbitt. heh! (^_^)

previously: outbreeding, self-control and lethal violence and which came first?

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

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63 Comments

  1. “seems kinda obvious, don’t it?”

    Nope, genes affecting the development of culture and culture affecting biological responses are entirely consistent with one another and nature cares not for the obvious.

    What qualified as a Northerner or Southerner in this study? If it was simply someone from that geographic area, there could have been plenty of participants with an ancestry besides Scot and English.

    Reply

  2. Also the upland / pastoralism connection again

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_Reivers

    “Also, much of the border region is mountainous or open moorland, unsuitable for arable farming but good for grazing. Livestock was easily rustled and driven back to raiders’ territory by mounted reivers who knew the country well.”

    without the population density or surplus needed to support a communal rule of law then clan protection and vendetta is the alternative. as well as encouraging inbreeding it also means killer-kin are a valuable commodity.

    you can imagine the cucuteni becoming very peacable over their 3000 years living in their dense towns and then being forced onto the steppe by the climate and gradually getting more violent again over the next 2000 as they go back to being clannish and the killer-genes are selected for again instead of against.

    knowing the “type” quite well it’s very easy to imagine a small population with 12% killers being able to dominate a larger population whose killers have been reduced to a residual 1%.

    ###

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feud

    “They can be interpreted as an extreme outgrowth of social relations based in family honor.”

    “Vendetta is common in societies with a weak rule of law (or where the state doesn’t consider itself responsible for mediating this kind of dispute) where family and kinship ties are the main source of authority. An entire family is considered responsible for whatever one of them has done.”

    “The Middle Ages, from beginning to end, and particularly the feudal era, lived under the sign of private vengeance.”

    “At the Holy Roman Empire’s Reichstag at Worms in 1495 the right of waging feuds was abolished.”

    “Throughout history, the Maniots have been known by their neighbors and their enemies as fearless warriors who practice blood feuds”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maniots

    “The Maniots are the direct descendants of the Spartans and through the Spartans the Dorians. The terrain is mountainous and inaccessible”

    I was thinking after the last few posts about cultures as an expression of killer percentage i.e.
    – more than 10%: limited to low-level society, constant clan (or gang) warfare
    – 3-6%: mid-level society, some ritualistic control, honour culture, duels etc
    – 1%: residual level, high-level society possible

    then i was thinking about how you could have a high killer percentage and yet still have a viable mid-level society and it came down to needing a helot class like Sparta because killer types won’t do anything productive if they have a viable means of taking it off someone else. aristocracy in general, breed a killer caste while culling killer-genes in the peasantry.

    if you did spend a many generations selecting for killer-genes in your culture and then after it broke down the population remained remote, clannish and pastoral then it wouldn’t be surprising if the male population still had very high percentage of killer-genes because without an internal change (outbreeding?) or an externally imposed culling through rule of law you’d need another reason for the frequency to drop.

    (which as an aside leads to clan vendetta systems being a good reason for as early a marriage as possible to make sure there’s an heir in case of untimely death)

    “In Corsica, vendetta was a social code that required Corsicans to kill anyone who wronged the family honor. Between 1821 and 1852, no less than 4,300 murders were perpetrated in Corsica”

    “In Albania, the blood feud has returned in rural areas after more than 40 years of being abolished by Albanian communists led by Enver Hoxha. More than 5,500 Albanian families are currently engaged in blood feuds. There are now more than 20,000 men and boys who live under an ever-present death sentence because of blood feuds. Since 1992, at least 10,000 Albanians have been killed due to blood feuds

    When you read this stuff you realize organized crime pretty much comes from this – or at least the winners of the competition to run organized crime come from these very specific regions.

    so, people wanting to do research into MAOA but for PC reasons can’t look among the gang-ruled underclass areas in the states could look for it in
    – Corsica
    – Albania
    – Mani

    ###

    “Among them was the survival in the Borders of the inheritance system of gavelkind, by which estates were divided equally between all sons on a man’s death, so that many people owned insufficient land to maintain themselves.”

    Interesting side-point – it’s similar in a way to polygamy encouraging younger men to go raiding for wives.

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  3. @ks – “Nope, genes affecting the development of culture and culture affecting biological responses are entirely consistent with one another and nature cares not for the obvious.”

    well, it just seems odd to me that when there’s a biological event that some researchers go and give an only cultural explanation for it. did they even consider a biological explanation? if not, why not?

    of course a biological explanation does not preclude a cultural explanation — i would say that it may also include a cultural explanation (where does culture come from, after all?). nature AND nurture, etc., etc.

    @ks – “What qualified as a Northerner or Southerner in this study? If it was simply someone from that geographic area, there could have been plenty of participants with an ancestry besides Scot and English.”

    i don’t know if they controlled for that or not. but, again, my point was — why not consider a biological explanation?

    p.s. – the data are not just the results from this study, but the well-known, well-established fact that southerners are more given to violence. that’s why this study was undertaken in the first place.

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  4. @g.w. – “Also the upland / pastoralism connection again”

    yup! (^_^)

    @g.w. – “Vendetta is common in societies with a weak rule of law….”

    or weak rule of law is common in societies with vendetta.

    @g.w. – “Since 1992, at least 10,000 Albanians have been killed due to blood feuds.”

    wow! i gotta go read that wikipedia feud page. thnx!

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  5. “wow! i gotta go read that wikipedia feud page. thnx!”

    Albanians are getting very big in organized crime – and seemingly for the same reason as Sicilians in the past.

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  6. Damn you beat me to it! :p ;) The “Culture of Honor” study has been referenced numerous times, notably by both Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate and by his self-styled arch-rival Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers. Both were discussing how “culture” impacts behavior, to the point where one can see physiological signs, as you noted.

    (Of course, theoretically, an entirely cultural difference could still lead to differing physiological markers—say if one’s reaction to a stimulus were regulated by years of social conditioning. Of course, I can’t see how one can rule out a genetic explanation a priori.)

    It was also discussed in the Brainwash episode on violence. I really wish Eia had done this episode after he did his episode on race. Early on in the show, he points out that people in Norway with elevated rates of violence are immigrants who come from countries with “cultures of honor”; which are all (coincidentally, I’m sure) Muslim countries… :\

    Eia interviews Nisbett about the study. Nisbett notes that “cultures of honor” arise in herding societies (where precious livestock is easily stolen), especially ones without a strong state to mete out punishment to transgressors. Nisbett states that any society (including the peaceable Scandinavian ones) would revert to a violent culture of honor if the state was removed. While I’m sure there’s a certain level of truth to that (e.g., Montreal during the 1969 police strike—but then remember what I’ve heard about Montreal), not once are the evolutionary implications considered.

    Eia also talks about the drop off in violence that occurred in Scandinavia a few hundred years ago, including its rather sharp decline as per your earlier entry.

    Interestingly, Glasgow is one of the most violent cities in Europe, apparently having quite a reputation. Edinburgh doesn’t seem to have such a reputation though; I wonder if there were demographic differences in how these places were settled.

    For this one, instead of The Godfather theme, I’m thinking the appropriate song is perhaps something by Kenny Rogers or Johnny Cash—or maybe Toby Keith’s “As Good As I Once Was.”

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  7. @jayman – “Interestingly, Glasgow is one of the most violent cities in Europe, apparently having quite a reputation. Edinburgh doesn’t seem to have such a reputation though; I wonder if there were demographic differences in how these places were settled.”

    yeah, the eastern side of scotland was heavily settled by anglos. the west is full of the more clannish islanders and highlanders, not to mention a more modern influx of immigrants from ireland (also with a recent history of inbreeding).

    i’ve been to both cities. edinburgh is beautiful. glasgow is … not. (^_^)

    @jayman – “It was also discussed in the Brainwash episode on violence.”

    interesting! sounds like eia covered a lot of ground in the series! (i’m planning on doing a post about the second episode [the one on parenting] that i just watched the other day.)

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  8. Here is what I know.

    I descended from a surname that arrived in Appalachian Pennsylvania circa 1740 as German Unitarians (becoming Episcopal at some point). My paternal grandmother (German Catholic) had a SS number that most likely was issued in northeastern North Carolina or West Virginia (they don’t know?) – so apparently my grandmother would have been born a hick by most standards — but I think she was probably close to genius level (she read alot), because my grandmother was definitely no hick. (I occasionally do some research on it (but not enough, not consistently) because I would like to find out if I am eligible for SCV membership). My maternal relatives are all late migrants to America, after 1880 I believe, one side German, one side Irish. I do not know how they got to northern West Virginia. The only word I ever heard that was not English as a child was Swiss cheese which was called Schweitzer by my maternal grandfather.

    Now, as this relates to your post, everybody I meet in Chicago that has somehow known a West Virginian (usually through military service (I don’t meet many, as I work at one of the exchanges)), has a comment about a guy from West Virginia that got into a fight … boy from West Virginia always wins, the challengers, well they got fuct up.

    I used to drink with and serve drinks to a few of these Alphas back home when I was in school, regularly (FTR – I am Omega, I know that in 99.9% of situations I am the “smartest guy in the room” (a couple of former employers have actually said this to me at some point) and I am okay with that, I would like to be married to a woman that wants to live in a burb-town and drive to work in the city (she has to drive, I hate traffic), and I wish this woman could be someone who could help me utilize me to the fullest — and not just to find the million of risk capital needed to unleash my algo on the world, that would be a bonus!).

    Anyways, these Alphas had Beta hanger-on-ers who wished to be them (IMO) and when I was working I would only get shit from their Beta followers, but regardless the Alphas always sided with me if it a situation got out of hand. I think Alphas knew not to battle me with words …. logic …. for their idiot friends.

    I may regret posting this ….. TMI …. How many hit’s do you get on a average day?

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  9. “@jayman – “Interestingly, Glasgow is one of the most violent cities in Europe, apparently having quite a reputation”

    literally tribal

    “the west is full of the more clannish islanders and highlanders, not to mention a more modern influx of immigrants from ireland”

    now you remind me Glasgow is also a good example of the cultural aspect i.e. people will shield their own side’s killers from the law (and put up with their general scariness) because they’re needed for protection from the other side’s killers – so it doesn’t breed out and if anything provides some reproductive advantages (as long as you don’t get killed).

    reminds me also of a particularly psycho soccer hooligan who everyone in that crew stayed away from when they weren’t fighting another crew but stood as close to as possible when they were.

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  10. aren’t virtually all of the founding stock Americans a British admixture, though? if memory serves the 13 colonies were about 80% English at the time of the revolt. certainly millions of these English lived in the south. certainly they interbred with many Scots-irish and regular Irish (and I guess Welsh, although you never hear about them in the colonies). I think Appalachian Americans just call themselves “Scots-Irish” because it sounds more romantic.

    PS. West Virginia has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the country, and

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  11. Culture and genetics tend to drive one another in a feedback loop. If your population is suited genetically, for instance, for occupying a herding and raiding niche, then your culture is probably going to reinforce that, which leads to further genetic reinforcement because your cultural alphas are going to get to multiply more and be considered more attractive by your women. Trying to tease apart culture and genetics is really tricky because of this—the answer is almost always both.

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  12. @hbd chick

    @jayman – “It was also discussed in the Brainwash episode on violence.”

    interesting! sounds like eia covered a lot of ground in the series! (i’m planning on doing a post about the second episode [the one on parenting] that i just watched the other day.)

    I kinda beat you to it with my first blog post, thought I didn’t know about Eia’s series at the time. :D I’d like to see your take on the matter, though. :)

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  13. Jayman
    “Of course, theoretically, an entirely cultural difference could still lead to differing physiological markers—say if one’s reaction to a stimulus were regulated by years of social conditioning.”

    The US army research after WWII relates to that – how they changed from simple bullseyes to man-shaped targets for target practise as conditioning.

    Jehu
    “Trying to tease apart culture and genetics is really tricky because of this—the answer is almost always both.”

    Yes, it’s interesting to wonder though what would come first if a population adapted for one environment switched to a new one e.g. a people who’d been densely packed communal farmers moving onto the steppe because of climate change and adapting to pastoralism

    or

    recently ex working class newly underclass adopting a pre-existing underclass culture as the optimal template for that environment – at least for the successfully fierce – and trying to mould themselves to it.

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  14. Was that a proposal, rjp? Just kidding. Are these propensities for violence being corrected for IQ? Lower class people tend to get into fights more often just about everywhere I am told. New Englanders were middle-class, peaceable people. Dueling was an aristocratic custom on the other hand. But then aristocrats are descended from warriors.

    Why is the murder rate so high in Central and South America?

    None of this is meant to dispute hbd’s main contention however: inbred hill-billies are an especially violent lot all over the world. It is a bio-cultural fact.

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  15. @rjp – “I descended from a surname that arrived in Appalachian Pennsylvania circa 1740 as German Unitarians (becoming Episcopal at some point).”

    wait. german hillbillies?! that’s something i never, ever contemplated. (~_^)

    much to my regret, i’ve never spent much time in appalachia. never gotten down to west virginia at all. been through kentucky and tennessee on the way to florida, but again, never spent more than sorta a day and a night en route. and the mountains are friggin’ beautiful! and i usually feel pretty at home, prolly ’cause of my own “inbred” background (note that my own parents, thankfully, did not inbreed, but my ethnic background? one of those pretty recently inbreeding populations.). lots o’ hospitable folks. (^_^)

    and all i have to say is: i <3 waffle house! (^_^)

    @luke – “Was that a proposal, rjp? Just kidding.”

    well, i wish a had a sister for rj! (^_^) and sisters for all the geek guys out there who need a wifie, ’cause lord knows we need our geeks to be breeding! (~_^) (i’m taken. (^_^) )

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  16. @g.w. – “now you remind me Glasgow is also a good example of the cultural aspect i.e. people will shield their own side’s killers from the law (and put up with their general scariness) because they’re needed for protection from the other side’s killers – so it doesn’t breed out and if anything provides some reproductive advantages (as long as you don’t get killed).

    aaaaaaaaah. i never thought of that. that makes sense.

    but — and pardon my nit-picking — how is this a cultural aspect of the glaswegians’ behavior? i mean…

    “reminds me also of a particularly psycho soccer hooligan who everyone in that crew stayed away from when they weren’t fighting another crew but stood as close to as possible when they were.”

    …well, that just sounds like pretty basic primate behavior to me — like i could picture chimps or baboons doing the same. like it’s an instinctive behavior rather than a learned (i.e. cultural) one.

    i could be wrong, though. (it has happened before. (~_^) )

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  17. @jehu – “Culture and genetics tend to drive one another in a feedback loop…. Trying to tease apart culture and genetics is really tricky because of this—the answer is almost always both.

    absolutely!

    however — and this is (one of) my personal little bug(s) — where does culture come from?

    i understand that some of it is sorta accidental or dependent on circumstances — people in papua new guinea decorate themselves with bird of paradise feathers ’cause that’s what’s available to them, whereas austrians use pheasant feathers. (interesting, tho, that most/all? people do decorate themselves.)

    but isn’t a lot of what everyone calls “culture” just a reflection of underlying biological traits?

    like the maori hakka dances. they’ve got a high frequency of “warrior genes” in their population, and then maybe not surprisingly their dances look like this instead of this.

    or what about what happened to christianity when it first reached the germans? for who knows how long, they had been warring, tribal peoples and, presumably, the “love thy neighbor” wimpiness of christianity didn’t really make sense to them — so early medieval german christianity became more of a warrior religion. jesus was a warrior. ’cause that felt right to the germans. (seems like some people today still think of jesus as a b*d*ss! (~_^) )

    i just wonder what people mean when they throw around the word culture. it often sounds to my ears like they’re talking about sets of behaviors that are somehow operating independent of our biology.

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  18. bleach
    “if memory serves the 13 colonies were about 80% English at the time of the revolt”

    the north and southwest of England is hill-country too so the argument comes to the same thing (the southwest is where all the pirates came from). the difference – if there is one – is really between the flat, square bit in the southeast and the hilly periphery.

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  19. @luke – “Are these propensities for violence being corrected for IQ…? Why is the murder rate so high in Central and South America?”

    wrt your first question — you would think so. isn’t that pretty well established that higher iq individuals are less violent (on average)? so if your whole population has got a high average iq….

    why are the murder rates so high in central/south america? well, there are lower average iqs there — but there’s also been a h*ckuva lot of endogamous mating there. the article that professor harpending linked to here indicates that. gonna do a post about that article (and related articles) as soon as i make some sense of it. (~_^) cool stuff!

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  20. @rjp – “How many hits do you get on a average day?”

    i’m gonna assume you mean traffic to the blog. (~_^)

    ’round about 300 uniques per day now. a small, but discerning crowd. (^_^) and the stats keep going up every month, so that’s good. the sky’s the limit!

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  21. @jayman – “I kinda beat you to it with my first blog post, thought I didn’t know about Eia’s series at the time. :D I’d like to see your take on the matter, though. :)”

    oh, yeah! i’ll make sure to link to your post on parenting (remind me if i forget). i’m looking forward to what you’ve got to say about appalachia. i didn’t have much new to say, but i happened across the reivers the other day, and they were new to me. (^_^)

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  22. hbdchick
    “but — and pardon my nit-picking — how is this a cultural aspect of the glaswegians’ behavior? i mean”

    it’s not in anyone’s interest. among the black underclass there’s a reproductive advantage to the gang culture and being successfully fierce. i would say the same is true for other cultures where fierceness has become dominant like the yanomani. however in Glasgow – (this may be 20 years out of date now but the argument still holds for back then) – both sides have a culture of strict religious monogamy. plus there’s no loot, no cattle rustled, just lots of people sliced up with boxcutters for no advantage.

    i can see the point of the standard underclass gang culture from a genetic point of view. it’s very much in the interests of the 16% or so of males who are the most fierce as they can impose what they are best at as the primary way to compete for females but Glasgow’s not like that. Glasgow was just a mistake.

    with Glasgow (and Liverpool to a lesser degree) you had a sudden migration and two tribe conflict that overloaded the pre-existing rule of law leading to people going back to tribal self-defence which then got locked in culturally. even though the rule of law later became strong enough to deal with the problem it can’t because the culture has locked the behaviour in place by locking the rule of law out.

    (nb this is my understanding of the Glasgow situation from conversations rather than direct experience so could be all wrong.)

    .
    “well, that just sounds like pretty basic primate behavior to me”

    true, the second example doesn’t really make the point i was aiming at which is a twisted version of reciprocal altruism:

    “an organism acts in a manner that temporarily reduces its fitness while increasing another organism’s fitness, with the expectation that the other organism will act in a similar manner at a later time”

    the point i was trying to get at is that having lots of dangerous people around reduces fitness quite dramatically – because they’re dangerous – but not as much as not having them if the other side does i.e. it’s not a positive thing, it’s a lesser negative – kind of a reciprocal masochism. which is why as soon as people have the ability to create a rule of law they (almost) always will (except in Glasgow).

    and why an empire that makes creating a rule of law their first priority will need less soldiers than one that doesn’t.

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  23. Hmm. I must retrieve my copy of Albion’s Seed from my pastor. Y’all do know that the State Motto of West Virginia is “Montani, Semper Liber”, right? (Mountaineers, Always Free) I sorta admire the Afghans in that respect.

    My people are from Georgia and Mississippi. The GA branch seems more Anglo and nerdy (all the guys went into USAAF in WWII and later), the MS branch more rowdy and “Scotch-Irish”, who all went into the Marines.

    Nonetheless, the proudest boast I can make about my family is that all four of my great-grandfathers served honorably against the United States of America in the Lincoln War. My Dad’s paternal grandpa went around the left with Jackson at Chancellorsville and lost an eyeball for his trouble. Obviously he survived, unlike Jackson (suspected Aspie; Yay!) or I would not exist.

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  24. @g.w. – “however in Glasgow – (this may be 20 years out of date now but the argument still holds for back then) – both sides have a culture of strict religious monogamy. plus there’s no loot, no cattle rustled, just lots of people sliced up with boxcutters for no advantage.”

    sure, but like you say, glasgow was a mistake. it threw together a couple of different sets of “clannish” people in a setting which was unnatural — and they just kept right on behaving as they would’ve if they’d been confronted with a rival clan back in their “natural environment” (back in the highlands, or wherever), only there it would’ve been on their territorial border, not all jumbled up in the close quarters of an urban setting. i don’t see that as culture, but just as biological behaviors that have been scr*wed with. like caging up three or four male pitbulls together, maybe with a view of a couple of females. it’s just asking for trouble.

    i would think, too, that the various glaswegian groups were also in competition over resources — jobs, housing, good schools.

    i call it biology, but i’m just nit-picking like i said. (^_^)

    @g.w. – “having lots of dangerous people around reduces fitness quite dramatically – because they’re dangerous – but not as much as not having them if the other side does i.e. it’s not a positive thing, it’s a lesser negative – kind of a reciprocal masochism.”

    i think you’re absolutely right. this is similar to trying to understand honor killings — seems like such a sacrifice, such a waste — until you put it into context.

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  25. @justthisguy – “Y’all do know that the State Motto of West Virginia is ‘Montani, Semper Liber’, right? (Mountaineers, Always Free)”

    i didn’t know that! i love it! (^_^)

    @justthisguy – “Nonetheless, the proudest boast I can make about my family is that all four of my great-grandfathers served honorably against the United States of America in the Lincoln War.”

    cool! the war of northern aggression. boo. =/

    i remember that in sixth grade, to the great annoyance of my history teacher, i got into a very heated argument/debate with her over the civil war. believe it or not, normally i was very quiet and well-behaved — the wallflower aspie girl who normally went unnoticed in the back of the class. but i got all worked up when she said something about how the north had to go to war with the south ’cause the south had no right to secede. that just didn’t make any sense to me ’cause we had just spent several weeks learning all about the u.s. constitution, and i, for one, couldn’t remember a single clause in there that said anything about not being able to leave the union! (~_^)

    i may have been raised amongst yankees, but … montani, semper liber, d*mn*t! (^_^)

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  26. @g.w. – lag time is what i’m getting at.

    you take several different “clannish” groups and throw them together in an urban setting and, of course, that’s going to be bad ’cause people (or animals or whatever) can’t change their natures over night.

    there will be always some lag time before whatever average behavior(s) we’re talking about changes.

    given enough time, the problem will sort itself out one way or another. either the more peaceable individuals are selected for and everyone lives happily ever after, or the more violent individuals are selected for and you wind up with an urban afghanistan. certainly, without enough inter-breeding between the two groups, it’ll be difficult to get to the more peaceful scenario.

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  27. The South had an excellent Constitutional case for secession, but it was, well, let me say, unwise of them to do that. I blame the hotheads in South Carolina, where my Dad’s family came from. (we didn’t show up in GA ’till about 1830)

    Someone said at the time that South Carolina was too small to be an independent country and too big to be a lunatic asylum.

    I, too, am a shy mild-mannered Aspy most of the time, and try to avoid fights as a good Christian should, but the times other people picked fights with me I immediately got with the program and gave a good account of myself.

    I don’t care if you are a boy or a girl, if you aren’t willing to defend yourself you ain’t even sh!t.

    Oh, and further: One of the secessionists at the time offered to soak up in his handkerchief all of the blood which would be spilled as a consequence of Secession. He would have required a very big handkerchief, methinks.

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  28. The inhabitants of the Atlantic coastal South were more violent than Northerners long before the Scotch-Irish and Borderers began arriving in the early 18th century. The colonists who settled this region were English (according to Albion’s Seed, mostly from southern England) and during the 19th century their descendents would come to dominate the region we now call the Deep South. Their background was very different from the background of those in Appalachia, but the culture of honor, along with higher rates of violence, can be found in both areas.

    Reply

  29. hbd chick,

    “well, there’s british, and there’s british. hackett fischer says they wuz different. (~_^)”

    Interesting, I have never heard of that book, will have to check it out.

    Personally I can live with the Scots-Irish, but England could’ve kept the Quakers…

    Reply

  30. @jack r – “The inhabitants of the Atlantic coastal South were more violent than Northerners long before the Scotch-Irish and Borderers began arriving in the early 18th century.”

    oh, yeah? can i ask what you base that assertion on? you may very well be right — just wondering. (^_^)

    Reply

  31. @luke – “I am with Lincoln on the right of secession.”

    well, you two may be right, but that still doesn’t mean that “no state can leave the union. eveh.” was ever a part of the deal (i.e. the constitution). (~_^)

    Reply

  32. The higher southern rates of violence are covered in the section of Albion’s Seed dealing with the migration of English cavaliers to the Chesapeake. Fischer describes a greater acceptance of violence (and concern with honor) in the tidewater region compared to New England even in 17th century. I think he showed that, compared to New England, rates of violent crime were higher in the south, though rates of some other types of crime were lower.

    In most dicussions that I have seen of Fischer’s work, people focus on the backcountry when describing the southern U.S., but the book actually describes two southern regions. Both of these regional cultures remain distinct even today (as do the two northern cultures).

    Reply

  33. since this post is still drawing comments I want to point something out. I just referred to my copy of “Everyday Life in Early America” by David Freeman Hawke, a very good book about 17th c. English colonies–but Hawke says something which contradicts Fischer–he says that there were actually -fewer- nobles in Virginia than in NE and the Middle colonies, because the extremely high mortality rate in the Chesapeake drove off most of them. I’m not sure which author is correct. He also makes a lot of interesting observations about how social conditions diverged in the different colonies which touches on a lot of HBD themes, I think. Worth reading.

    Reply

  34. @bleach – “Hawke says something which contradicts Fischer–he says that there were actually -fewer- nobles in Virginia than in NE and the Middle colonies, because the extremely high mortality rate in the Chesapeake drove off most of them. I’m not sure which author is correct.”

    hmmm. interesting.

    i was just reading chap. 2 of “Albion’s Seed” (typical me to not start at the beginning) — the chap. about virginia — and fischer says that the big settlement of virginia happened in the ca. twenty years from ’round about 1645 to 1665. also, the aristocratic settlers of virginia were primarily “second sons” — you know, the ones who wouldn’t inherit the family estate back home.

    dunno if those facts go any way towards reconciling hawke and fischer?

    thnx for the hawke reference! (^_^)

    Reply

  35. hbd chick- “wait. german hillbillies?! that’s something i never, ever contemplated.”

    My family is german hillbillies, though getting less hillbilly over time. They spent centuries in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Some of the lines were german.

    The Upper South of Appalachia and Ozarks along with the Southern Plains down to Texas have a fair amount of german ancestry. You just don’t find much german ancestry in the Deep South, but even in the Upper South it is hard to detect the cultural remnants of germans. You only see much surviving german culture in the Midwest, especially the Upper Midwest.

    If you have doubts about the idea of culture, I’d suggest you read some of David Hackett Fischer’s books along with American Nations by Coin Woodard.

    Reply

  36. hbd chick – Asking about violence in the Chesapeake, you said:

    “oh, yeah? can i ask what you base that assertion on? you may very well be right — just wondering.”

    There was the different ethnicities that came with different settlement patterns. In the North, entire families and entire villages tended to migrate together and settle together, immediately re-creating the town where they came from with village centers, churches and schools. In the South, there were high rates of single men and a culture that was less interested in building towns.

    The Scots-Irish didn’t much care for towns, preferring kin groups with larger tracts of land. The Cavaliers built plantations and because of the waterways boats could come directly to the plantation without any need for a central town for trading. They were much more independent from the society around them and got most of the goods they needed produced back in Britain.

    When the early colonists in Chesapeake were starving to death and turning to cannibalism, the French further North were dining with the natives and were doing just fine. The death rate down in Chesapeake was horrific. There weren’t slaves yet, but the indentured servants were treated maybe worse than slaves. They just kept shipping new boatloads in to make up for all the continuous massive death. There wasn’t much respect for life.

    Also, the Southern aristocracy in the Chesapeake were particularly caught up in the culture of honor along with other activities to prove their manhood such as hunting. Their death rate was extremely high. Few Southern aristocrats grew to old age. This led to the strange phenomenon of a patriarchal society where many of the plantations were being run by women, as their husbands were dead.

    Reply

  37. @benjamin – “If you have doubts about the idea of culture, I’d suggest you read some of David Hackett Fischer’s books along with American Nations by Coin Woodard.”

    i have read albion’s seed, thanks (notice i referenced it in the post (~_^) ). i have yet to read woodard’s book, though. it’s on the list!

    certainly culture is important, but, as i always like to ask: where does culture come from?

    for that matter: from what regions in germany did the “german hillbillies” come? anybody know?

    Reply

    1. hbd chick – I’m sorry that I didn’t read your post carefully. I was looking at several your posts simultaneously and missed that little detail about you already having read Fischer’s book. BTW his other books are equally worth reading. He is a fount of insight.

      Asking where culture comes from is the same thing as asking where human consciousness and will comes from. You can reduce everything to materialism, but that doesn’t ever seem quite satisfactory. Reductionism would just lead us to conclude we are genetic-driven automatons… which might be true, then again it might not be true.

      I can tell you where my german hillbillies came from. They were from the german/french border region of Alsace-Lorraine. It says they came from France on some census records and from Germany on other census records. So, they were a people who lived on a violent border region, just like the Scots-Irish, another part of my ancestry. Then they came to America and they quickly moved to the violent pioneer border. Some of my ancestors even went to the border region specifically to fight in the Indian Wars.

      They apparently were accustomed to living on violent borders. It felt like home, I suppose.

      Reply

      1. @Benjamin:

        “Asking where culture comes from is the same thing as asking where human consciousness and will comes from.”

        Not exactly, but the objection you just brought up is in the same category for both (i.e., both nonsensical, and both miss the point of what HBD Chick asked).

        “You can reduce everything to materialism, but that doesn’t ever seem quite satisfactory.”

        Sure it does.

        “Reductionism would just lead us to conclude we are genetic-driven automatons… which might be true, then again it might not be true.”

        No, that’s not where “reductionism” leads.

        The point is that saying a difference between two peoples is “cultural” is uninformative. As noted above, all behavioral traits are heritable, and all human ethnic groups genetically differ from all others. Hence, any manifest behavior between the two could (and likely does) have genetic roots. To claim otherwise is just making stuff up, and essentially a point of dogma on the person making such a claim.

  38. @benjamin – “Also, the Southern aristocracy in the Chesapeake were particularly caught up in the culture of honor along with other activities to prove their manhood such as hunting. Their death rate was extremely high. Few Southern aristocrats grew to old age.”

    thanks! i need to read the chapter about the “distressed cavaliers” again. i don’t have a good handle on them at all. and American Nations, too. maybe over the long weekend! (^_^)

    Reply

  39. hbd chick – “thanks! i need to read the chapter about the “distressed cavaliers” again. i don’t have a good handle on them at all. and American Nations, too. maybe over the long weekend!”

    I’m sorry that I can’t recall where I’ve read all of this from. There are quite a few interesting books about the different aspects. Some of it would come from Fischer and Woodard, but other pieces of the puzzle would be in other books.

    BTW on my dad’s maternal side, there is a family line (Peebles) that originates with one of those early Virginia slaveholding plantation owners, back in 1650. Many of these aristocrats were Cavaliers, but I don’t think my family was even though the patriarch fought with the Loyalists. They were probably English, but they came from the Northern border region which isn’t the area where Norman ancestry was concentrated..

    The name Peebles means “tent dweller”. The kin group they came from lived in tents and they built pits below the tents. They were regularly attacked and so they put the women and children in the pit. After the attack, they would return and make new tents. So, even though my family line had become wealthy somehow as they came with many slaves to America, they were also of a violent border people.

    Reply

  40. JayMan – No need for all the defensiveness. Let’s just have a calm discussion.

    “Not exactly, but the objection you just brought up is in the same category for both (i.e., both nonsensical, and both miss the point of what HBD Chick asked).”

    No, it isn’t nonsensical. That is making a lot of assumptions. My point was that we can question all assumptions, not just the ones we don’t like or agree with or understand. It doesn’t matter if it seems nonsensical to you.

    “Sure it does.”

    It all depends on which assumptions you make. I could one up you. Go read Thomas Ligotti’s The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. Ligotti brings pessimism to its ultimate conclusion and it is quite compelling. It makes sense based on certain assumptions. The problem is how do we ascertain whether certain assumptions are sensical or nonsensical? These kinds of assumptions precede our rationality and consciousness.

    “The point is that saying a difference between two peoples is “cultural” is uninformative.”

    Yes, it appears uninformative based on your assumptions. Our assumptions determine what we see as informative and the information we can see.

    “As noted above, all behavioral traits are heritable, and all human ethnic groups genetically differ from all others.”

    That is oversimplifying what genetics research has shown. Genetics manifests as behavior. Also, behavior alters genetics, not just through inheritance. There has been a lot of interesting research in recent years.

    Reply

  41. @HBD Chick:

    “i need to read the chapter about the “distressed cavaliers” again. i don’t have a good handle on them at all. and American Nations, too. maybe over the long weekend!”

    I definitely recommend focusing more on Woodard’s book to understand the American South. According to Woodard, the “distressed cavaliers” that went on to form the Tidewater colony didn’t get much past eastern Virginia/NE North Carolina (see this map):

    World Wide Woodard: Presenting the (slighty revised) American Nations map

    According to Woodard, it was the Charleston colony that went on to expand across the South, and gave us much of what we known as Southern culture. According to him, they seem to originate in roughly the same area of Britain as the Virginia colonists, but they started business as sugar plantation men in the Caribbean. Indeed, Woodard notes that they brought some of the first Black slaves to the 13 colonies from the Caribbean, and started the trend of African Slavery that only slowly took hold in Virginia.

    I’d love to see your analysis of progenitors of both the Virginia and Charleston colonies. For one, the settlers there were a much more representative stratum of British society (colonists to New England were screened, and those to Pennsylvania were those who ascribed to the Quakers’ beliefs). As well, their worldview was seemingly descended from Norman feudalism. As per your earlier posts, outbreeding took a bit longer to get established in Western Britain. All evidence points to this being the case, but we have yet to see a good analysis from you on these regional differences.

    But, I still have that post on Fischer’s and Woodard’s books that I need to publish. Perhaps something to do in time for the 4th? :)

    Reply

    1. @JayMan:

      “I definitely recommend focusing more on Woodard’s book to understand the American South. According to Woodard, the “distressed cavaliers” that went on to form the Tidewater colony didn’t get much past eastern Virginia/NE North Carolina”

      As an alternative perspective, read David Hackett Fischer’s Bound Away: Virginia and the Westward Movement. Fischer points out how many vast numbers of people first came to Virginia before spreading out across all of the South and much of the Midwest. It was one of the biggest exoduses in American history which left Virginia depleted of much of its population. As I recall, he sees the Southern dialect as largely originating from or most heavily being influenced by Virginia.

      It’s a very worthy book, as are all of the books by Fischer. But I like Woodard equally well. They make useful companion viewpoints.

      Reply

  42. @benjamin – “As an alternative perspective, read David Hackett Fischer’s Bound Away: Virginia and the Westward Movement.”

    oh, excellent! thanks for the recommendation. i will definitely read it! (^_^)

    Reply

  43. @jayman – “According to Woodard, the ‘distressed cavaliers’ that went on to form the Tidewater colony didn’t get much past eastern Virginia/NE North Carolina…. According to Woodard, it was the Charleston colony that went on to expand across the South, and gave us much of what we known as Southern culture.”

    ah ha! i see. thanks! (and why am i not following woodard’s blog?! i know you’ve linked to it before, but i … dunno … forgot! (*^_^*) )

    @jayman – “I’d love to see your analysis of progenitors of both the Virginia and Charleston colonies.”

    yes, i’d love to see that, too. (~_^) to be honest, i didn’t have a lot of luck before tracking down info on the histories of mating patterns for the western parts of britain — or the midlands. i shall have to give it another go — i have more tricks up my sleeve now (i.e. i’ve got a better understanding of where the info might be hidden, for example searching for “kinship” often results in some hits).

    @jayman – “But, I still have that post on Fischer’s and Woodard’s books that I need to publish. Perhaps something to do in time for the 4th? :)”

    do it! (^_^)

    Reply

  44. @benjamin – “Genetics manifests as behavior. Also, behavior alters genetics, not just through inheritance.”

    yes, but it’s the inheritance that really counts when we talk about persistent behavioral differences between populations. (except, of course, in cases of severe nutritional deprivation, especially in childhood.)

    what irritates me about the nesbitt & cohen study above is, here they have results of physiological changes in their subjects — physiological states that probably affect, but are at least definitely connected to, their subjects’ subsequent behaviors (i.e. testosterone levels go up after an insult, the southern men become more aggressive) — and then n&c’s conclusion is that this has to do with culture — 100%! they don’t even consider the biology!

    they conclude: culture –> biology –> behavior.

    whereas i think the more obvious conclusion would be: biology –> behavior + culture.

    most people think it’s obvious with other animals that their biologies affect their behaviors — e.g. almost everyone would agree that dobermans are, or are potentially, more agressive than labradors who you’d have a hard time getting to be aggressive under most any circumstance. why not with humans?

    and then if different populations of humans have different average sets of behaviors, why shouldn’t that affect the culture that they come up with? like a more (potentially) aggressive population having a culture all about defending one’s honor … in an aggressive way!

    Reply

  45. @hbd chick – I must admit that I’m biased toward a cultural view. There does seem to be a compelling argument that, even as much or even most of the genetics change with immigrants, the first most dominant culture remains dominant and to a surprising degree manages to assimilate lare numbers of people from diverse backgrounds.

    The trick is determining the mechanism by way this happrns. This is where you rightly point out with an equally compelling counter-argument that there is genetic factor to be considered as central to the entire process. I think the problem with Nesbitt and Cohen like most professional scholars is over-specialization. They are focued on what they know which allows them to offer a useful perspective but also blinds them to other perspectives.

    I, however, am not a specialist or professional anything and so I can specilate wildly for my own amusement. I’m not worried about maintaining the respect of my peers. I have a mind that sees all of the connections and it is hard for me to favor any of them too much with amount of objectivity. I can only state my humble opinion that it is complex and that behind that complexity something very very interesting is going on, and I hope one day we get even better data to work with.

    Someone should study this process in action, from multiple angles simultaneously: biology, behavior, culture, etc. Who knows what might be discovered? There are still inbreeding societies out there that could be studied by an anthropologist. That would be an awesome study. Maybe someone has already done a study like that. I’d love to hear abut it, if it exists.

    That said, I’m happy enough to take in the multiple perspectives: Fischer, Woodard, Nisbett, Cohen, and yours of course; plus, I’d add all the traits researchers. Any single piece of the puzzle is interesting, but one begins to glimpse many possibilities about how those pieces might fit together.

    I was thinking of examples of ‘culture’ in non-human animals. There is the gorilla who was taught sign language and then she taught it to her own child. There are the mounain lions who have family lines that specialize in hunting one particular species and so train their young to specific hunting techniques that go beyond mere biological instinct. Nonhuman animals might be an even better place to study becuase social behavior is manifest in simpler ways. I wonder how much research has been done on the correlation between inherited genetics and learned social behavior in animals.

    BTW have you looked into the traits research such as the Big 5?

    Reply

  46. […] a fully corporate system as the other Britons had. They also retained the culture of honor common to clannish peoples. They weren’t as attached to their extended family to the extent the Borderlanders were, but […]

    Reply

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