hybrid vigor and the middle kingdom

in his post on how to make humans waaaay smarter, greg cochran** suggests that one way to do that might be to cross a couple of breeds of people:

“[W]e might able to harness hybrid vigor. Sometimes hybrids of two populations are considerably more vigorous and productive than members of either parent population. The best-known example is hybrid corn, which is genetics’s biggest practical success. This can mean being smarter, as well. For example, mules are stronger, hardier, have more endurance and are more intelligent than either of their parental species.

Hybrid vigor is unpredictable, in that some pairs of parental populations produce improved offspring and some don’t. Two populations whose exhibit hybrid vigor are said to ‘nick’. It may be that some human populations ‘nick’. If so, we would have a practical zero-tech way of producing enhanced humans.”

like the professor says, tho, this crossbreeding business is tricky — it’s difficult to know beforehand exactly what you’re gonna get. you might get something that’s waaaay better than what you had to start with; then again, you might not. will we get a race of super-smart superhumans by crossing mexicans with americans and/or turks/north africans/pakistanis with europeans? who knows? maybe. maybe not. (which is why i think it’s a bit crazy to undertake such a risky project without having thought about it much beforehand, but that’s just me.)

one place where i think something cool DID happen with the crossing of two different human populations is where the germanic folks met the britons/gauls (and maybe north italians). ihtg recently linked to an article that i’ve been looking for for ages (thnx, ihtg!) about the economic “spine of europe” — a region which, according to the author of this article, paul belien, says stretches “from Amsterdam in the north to Siena in the south”:

“The Flemish provinces experienced their heyday in the Middle Ages, when the Netherlands was a confederate cluster of autonomous provinces. The provinces were dominated by powerful cities, such as Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels, who made it quite clear to the nominal dynastic ruler that he had to leave the burghers in peace or face rebellion. In northern Italy, the situation was almost similar, with powerful city-states running their own affairs. And so it was all along the 700 kilometers that we have just traveled. The cities along the Rhein, such as Cologne and Strasbourg, enjoyed considerable autonomy, while Switzerland was a confederation of tiny, sovereign republics of Alpine farmers. This was not a coincidence. In fact, these regions have a common history that goes back to the time when Charlemagne’s empire was divided, almost 1,200 years ago.

“Charlemagne, king of the Franks, a Germanic tribe, conquered most of continental Western Europe and was crowned Emperor in 800 AD. He was the first ruler France and Germany had in common. His son, Louis the Pious, was the last. In 843, the Carolingian empire was divided. Charlemagne’s grandsons, Charles the Bald and Louis the German, became the first kings of, respectively, France (West Francia) and Germany (East Francia). There was, however, a third brother, Lothar, the eldest. He inherited the lands that lay between those of his brothers: Middle Francia.

“Lothar’s kingdom was named after him: Lotharii Regnum or Lorraine. Today, Lorraine is the name of a province in the east of France. It is the province where Joan of Arc, France’s national heroine came from. However, contemporary Lorraine is only a tiny part of the Lorraine of old. In Lothar’s time, Lorraine comprised all the countries that lie between France and Germany today — the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and Switzerland — plus the eastern part of present-day France, the western part of Germany and the northern half of Italy.

“When Lothar’s son died without offspring in 875, the middle territories were divided between Charles the Bald and Louis the German. However, as these regions lay on the periphery of their heartlands, generations of kings of France and Germany were never able to establish a firm rule over them. The result was that throughout the Middle Ages, and for some up to the 18th century and even today, the lands of Lothar, Old Lorraine, were made up of self-governing republics of farmers, independent counties controlled by burghers or city republics.

“Self-governing, with little interference from greedy princes, their tax controllers and meddling civil servants, these lands became very prosperous. Capitalism has its origins here. This whole axis from Amsterdam in the north to Siena in the south developed into the economic spine of Europe. The former Carolingian Middle Lands saw not only the birth of capitalism but also of limited government. A decentralized political culture developed where the burghers governed themselves without caring much about faraway rulers.

“Later, and gradually, French and German monarchs succeeded in bringing most of the regions of the ancient Middle-Frankish realm under their control. The kings of France and Prussia succeeded in subduing their part of the Rhen region. The French Revolution swept away all the existing self-governing systems, and after the fall of Napoleon only Switzerland returned to its old constitutional order. To a large extent, however, the spirit of Old Lorraine lives on today in the lands of the former Middle Kingdom where citizens are still influenced by centuries of independence, self-reliance and adherence to a local identity that opposes centralizing authorities in far-away capitals….”

here’s middle earth the middle kingdom, lotharingia, right here (the green bit … in the middle!):

i think this “spine of europe” extends right up into england (what place has been more of a creative, economic boomtown than london?!) — and up into northern england (where the industrial revolution was born), edinburgh, and even all the way to iceland (some awfully creative music comes out of iceland … not to mention northern england again).

all of the outbreeding, imho, was important to lay the altruistic foundation on which modern, liberal, “corporate” societies could be constructed; but a certain clever and creative spirit was required, too. as m.g. asked, was it just “the alchemy of Germanics + Celts + some Scandinavians = a new, super-individualist ethnic group, the English?” yeah, in part. but that blend of germanics with britons/gauls/north italians happened all along a line from iceland to siena. and i think … interesting … things happened there. and i think it might have to do with hybrid vigor.

that’s my little pet theory, anyway, and i’m sticking to it. (^_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. **you think someone should tell him you’re not supposed to say or even THINK eugenical stuff anymore? (~_^) )

religious affiliation of international migrants

from pew (pew! pew!): Faith on the Move.

nearly three-quarters of all immigrants in the u.s. today (er, well, 2010) are christians (that’s ’cause we’ve got so many mexicans):

39% of immigrants in the e.u. originating from outside the e.u. are muslim:

one-quarter of all jews in the world today have migrated to a new country (a lot of them to israel):

“Of the seven groups considered in this study, Jews have by far the highest level of migration, in percentage terms. About one-quarter of Jews alive today (25%) have left the country in which they were born and now live somewhere else. The proportions of Christians (5%) and Muslims (4%) who have migrated across borders also exceed the global average of 3%.”

370,000 foreign-born jews live in the united states.

(note: comments do not require an email. why so many?)

the transition to manorialism

luke asked a while back: “I’m a little hazy on the transition to manorialism. Was it imposed by military force? Did it begin amidst the political anarchy at the end of the Roman empire?”

good questions. i’m (more than) a little hazy on the transition, too. and you know what? we’re not alone! so are the historians. (^_^)

i found what seems like a good summary of what is known about the shift from slave or kinship-based agricultural systems to manorialism in the early medieval period in “A Millennium of Family Change: Feudalism to Capitalism in Northwestern Europe.” i’m just gonna cut and paste some relevant sections from the book because it’s complicated … and really interesting. here goes! [pgs. 44-46, 50-53, 58-62]:

“The transition from Antiquity to feudalism remains an obscure chapter in European history, despite considerable advances in historical knowledge secured in the past three decades, primarily by means of the rapid expansion and technical refinement of archaeological fieldwork….

“Developments in the Late Roman Empire

“In its prime, the Roman Empire had been based on a combination of agricultural modes of production, with a slave labour force at its heart working the great estates of central and southern Italy and Sicily. This force had been built up in the Republican era by means of the massive importation of bondmen, acquired by taking prisoners in the course of military conquest and selectively enslaving peoples on the Empire’s expanding periphery. The encouragement of childbearing among the salves of rural Italy was by no means rare, but the population in bondage failed to reproduce itself. High mortality rates were a major cause of this dearth, but Roman slaves also manifested extraordinarily low fertility. Marriage between slaves was illegal, and so long as replacements were plentiful, masters had no strong incentive to foster enduring conjugal relations among common field slaves.

greg cochran was just talking about this over @west hunter.

“Since many more males than females were enslaved, there was a persistent shortage of the latter. The sex ratio of urban slaves has been estimated in one study as three males to every two females, and in another, as two males to every female. While this is a staggering imbalance, it is probable that the rural ratio was more severely skewed. Family formation among agricultural slaves was not unknown, but the sex ratio in itself meant that a majority of bondmen would not have had the opportunity to form enduring unions and create families. Through the widespread manumission of older slaves as their labour-power declined, masters sought to keep the dependency ratio low, evading the costs of keeping the elderly alive. Continuous restocking from abroad was necessary to maintain the labour force at strength. Italian slavery in the Republican era was an import-replacement regime by default, if not as a matter of conscious Senatorial policy. This does not imply that slave-breeding was rare, merely that it was insufficient, given very high death rates, to replace the servile labour force indigenously over time.

“After the territorial expansion of the Empire ceased (with Trajan’s conquest of Dacia in AD 106), the Roman legions were thrown increasingly on to the defensive…. As the supply of enslaved youth from the hinterlands ebbed, slave prices rose. In the face of persistent shortages, with no prospects of obtaining alternative sources, the aristocracy made a belated attempt to convert to a self-sustaining regime of indigenous reproduction. Successive emperors decreed subsidies and tax breaks for the owners of slave progeny: ‘Slave owners and jurists began, in the second century if not earlier, to respect … family relationship[s] and to see slave families as entities which should be left undisturbed insofar as possible.’ Owners were inititially exhorted to avoid breaking up families through sale or inheritance; by the late fourth century, it became illegal to do so. The overall demographic effect of this effort is unclear, but it was probably modest….

“[T]he traditional mode of production on the latifunda — ganged labour under intensive supervision, subsisting on rations and domiciled in barracks — proved increasingly unprofitable. Gradually, it was abandoned and estates were sectored in two. While the home farm continued to be worked by domestic slaves, field slaves were granted small plots from which they were expected to subsist while surrendering a portion of the crop. Accompanying the elevation in status which occurred with the ceding of direct access to the means of subsistence was the dissolution of slave barracks — the notorious ergastula. Servi casati (literally, hutted slaves) were able to form families, put their children to work on their own land and transfer allotments to them upon decease…. Yet the familial autonomy of the servi casati was extremely limited:

“‘Slaves fortunate enough to be given plots of their own were obliged to spend one out of every two or three days inside the dominial court doing whatever they were ordered to do; on those days they took their meals in the refectory and were thus reincorporated into the master’s family. Their women were obliged to perform communal labor with the other women of the estate. The master took children from their huts as needed to replenish the ranks of his full-time servants.’

“While never being recognized in Roman law, the domicile and familial rights of slaves gradually began to be conceded de facto on large estates, under the burgeoning influence of the Christian Church. When this bundle of rights became customary, the servi casati had achieved the status of serfs.

“Outside Italy and Spain, peasant cultivators possessing hereditary land were the mainstays of agriculture throughout the Roman Empire, while slaves were primarily employed as domestics in aristocratic households. Peasant families were engaged in a broad range of class relations, from freehold ownership to servile dependency. Across the full breadth of this spectrum, their position gradually deteriorated from the second century AD on; an increasing proportion of them were enserfed. In the last two centuries of the Western Empire, ex-slaves and tenant farmers gradually converged. ‘What difference can be understood between slave and adscripticii’ (peasants bound to the land), Justinian asked rhetorically in the sixth century, ‘when both are placed in their master’s power and he can manumit a slave and alienate an adscripticius with the land?’ In this blending, ‘the major question was that of domiciling: once genuine independence of the hut had been acquired [by ex-slaves], fusion with free coloni or tenants followed….’

“The Germanic Peoples in Transition

“By Caesar’s time, the Germanic federations had left their nomadic, pastoral roots far behind. Since their social formations were extremely varied, generalization is difficult, but archaeological evidence indicates that most had become lightly settled agriculturalists by the pre-Roman Iron Age (1200-700 BC). They lived in widely scattered farmsteads, hamlet clusters and small villages, ‘islands of light soils … in a green sea of woods and waste’ where they combined the raising of cattle, sheep and goats with the cultivation of barley, oats, corn and wheat. In pre-Roman times, theirs was an extensive agriculture organized around stock-raising; a form of semi-sedentary pastoralism wherein cereal crops appear to have played a secondary but indispensable role. They practised slash-and-burn agriculture using scratch ploughs on impermanent fields, lacking regular layouts, crop rotation and systematic soil restoration. But in the first four centuries AD, there was a major expansion of settlements beyond loess soils, field layouts became more regular, wood ploughs more substantial and sophisticated, capable of cutting deeper furrows on light clays and intermediate loams, and there are even indications at one site of primitive forms of soil restoration…. Soil restoration could not have been widespread, since archaeological evidence indicates shifting cultivation, long fallow, two-course cropping, and repeated rearrangement of huts and field boundaries, the mark of semi-permanent villages….

“What, then, of the kinship forms of the Germanic peoples? By the time the Sippe (the Germanic kindred network) appears in historical texts, it is already a structure in decline. In the barbarian successor states, the political functions of the kindred — providing for territorial defense, domestic security and dispute settlement — were beginning to be replaced by the dependency of peasants upon local landlords and the extension of the latter’s authority….

“In those barbarian successor states where manorialization succeeded in establishing the permanence of land in cultivation, family groups held land, not the Sippe….

“Before widespread manorialization and the emergence of a standardized family holding in the ninth and tenth centuries, partible traditions prevailed across most of Northwestern Europe: all sons were entitled to marry in, raise families and subsist from the land of their fathers. In Anglo-Saxon England, where the primogeniture privilege was already emerging, the first son acquired the parental home; continental traditions appear more even-handed. The fissiparous potential of partible customs was held in check by the larger kin group, whose elder leaders enforced a strong tradition of joint management of farmsteads between brothers. Co-parceny inheritance may well have involved the establishment of separate residences (as Thomas Charles-Edwards argues was the norm in Anglo-Saxon England), but it was unlikely to have entailed the division of the parental holding.

“The kindred group, whose membership was in a constant state of flux, probably did not exceed fifty households. Yet whenever they were densely settled in a district, the group had a definite presence there. This took the form of a domain (a villa or fundus), an extensive ensemble of ‘arable, vine and orchard, undivided pasture, forest and waste, of demense and dependent tenancies.’ With the intensifications of plough agriculture, the domain was internally subdivided and conjugal families became more sharply distinguished from the larger kindred; but the group none the less maintained its external boundaries and genealogical identity. Alienation of the kindred’s land to outsiders was generally prohibited, strangers migrating to new lands were expected to declare their kindred, and settlements bore the name of their reputed ancestral owners….

The structure of landholding in the Roman West was deeply shaken by the barbarian takeovers, yet great estates persisted in England, Gaul and Germania. While many were comprised of dispersed small-scale holdings, most were at least partly concentrated and centrally administered….

“As the kindred ceased to be a sufficient basis of collective settlement, agricultural co-ordination and land management [because of, according to the author, ‘the transition from scratch plough agriculture and impermanent settlement to heavier iron plough cultivation and fixed site development’ – hbd chick], the resulting vacuum encouraged the mass commendation of communities of free cultivators into the thrall of the emergent seigneurial class. Within the landholding elite, a parallel shift from a ramified, ancestrally based kin ensemble to a more streamlined estate lineage may also have paved the way for the rise of the military retinue, cutting across ancient kin ties.

“Conventional wisdom tends to foster an exaggerated image of the kindred in terminal decline, of a dying institution overwhelmed by the inexorable and deeply antagonistic forces of lordship. In reality, ‘kinship remained immensely strong in daily life.’ Certainly, kin extension was truncated and realigned within the field of seigneurial jurisdiction; in the event of conflict between the two systems of loyalty, kinship was subordinated. But we should not overestimate their antagonism. Kin solidarity persisted throughout the feudal epoch as a profound and necessary complement to the class of bonds of loyalty and service…. If we envision a complete atrophy of kin bonds extending between domestic groups, ‘the conjugal family’ emerges from the early medieval mists standing on its own. Alan Macfarlane has painted such a picture for medieval England, but his argument has been widely criticized by historians. If the solitary nuclear family thesis is somewhat misleading for England, it is sharply at odds with evidence from the continent, where extended kin bonds were common in long-standing village communities.

“With the expansion and consolidation of manorial authority, a more intensive common-field agriculture was established in larger village settlements, with short strip furlongs in open fields, communally regulated crop rotation, seasonal grazing on the stubble, and deeper plough cultivation extending on to heavier soils. By the tenth century these general features had appeared along the Rhine, in Franconia, Hesse, Dijonnais, Artois and the Paris basin: ‘Seignorial lordship prevailed in all the common-field regions of Europe.’ Ancient settlements were reorganized and newly established ones were laid out in regular forms from their inception….”

previously: medieval manorialism and selection … again and medieval manoralism and the hajnal line and behind the hajnal line and english individualism ii

(note: comments do not require an email. ightham mote manor house.)

democracy and military takeover

heh. here’s a good one! again, from the world values survey, 2005-2008:

Many things may be desirable, but not all of them are essential characteristics of democracy. Please tell me for each of the following things how essential you think it is as a characteristic of democracy. Use this scale where 1 means *not at all an essential characteristic of democracy* and 10 means it definitely is *an essential characteristic of democracy*: The army takes over when government is incompetent.

here are the 10s:

5.3% of americans think that an ESSENTIAL characteristic of democracy is that the army should take over when the government is incompetent?! wtf?? that’s about 5% too many, afaiac. (at least we scored better than burkina faso, tho.)

southerners (not texans) and folks in the nw think this way more than those in other parts of the country. you southerners — you’re always causing trouble! (~_^)

btw. there’s something wrong with the data from sweden — there are no figures for responses three through nine, so i wouldn’t believe that 17% number.

previously: dēmos kratos and democracy and civil rights and democracy and the redistribution of wealth and libyans on democracy: meh and what egyptians want

(note: comments do not require an email. hmmmm. nope. can’t see the bit about the military taking over if necessary….)

democracy and the redistribution of wealth

more fun with the world values survey, 2005-2008!:

“Many things may be desirable, but not all of them are essential characteristics of democracy. Please tell me for each of the following things how essential you think it is as a characteristic of democracy. Use this scale where 1 means *not at all an essential characteristic of democracy* and 10 means it definitely is *an essential characteristic of democracy*: Governments tax the rich and subsidize the poor.

here are the percentages of people who answered 10 — government taxing the rich and subsidizing the poor is definitely an essential characteristic of democracy — for each nation:

for a change, i’m glad to see the anglos scoring so low. (^_^) i’m surprised that the scandinavians didn’t score higher; i guess they must simply understand that redistributing wealth, which is something they like to do, just isn’t an essential feature of democracy. the germans, always the over-achievers, score above average though.

in the u.s., more blacks (13.3%) than whites (5.8%) think that the redistribution of wealth is definitely an essential feature of democracy. hispanics are in between (7.0%) (click on table for LARGER view):

same in south africa. many more blacks (31.9%) and coloureds (24.7%) think that the redistribution of wealth is an essential feature of democracy than south african whites (6.9%):

and, what’s up with india?! 72.7% of the population think that the redistribution of wealth is an essential feature of democracy. wow. i did a breakdown by region, and northerners seem to hold this idea more than other regional populations of india, whereas easterners are not as fond of the idea:

what’s up with argentina, for that matter?

previously: dēmos kratos and democracy and civil rights and libyans on democracy: meh

*update 08/14: see also a sense of entitlement and a sense of entitlement ii

(note: comments do not require an email. the redistribution of wealth.)

pre-christian germanic eugenics

from Children and Material Culture [pg. 184]:

“Citing documentary evidence, Molleson notes that Germanic tribes in continental Europe subjected newborn infants to rigorous ‘fitness’ tests by immersion in running water. If the infant survived it was kept, if not the body was simply left in the river. Because of the lack of infant burials on British Anglo-Saxon sites, Molleson suggests that Germanic tribes may have brought this custom with them to England.”

that’s pretty harsh. =/ wonder whose job it was to take the baby to the river?

(note: comments do not require an email. question about eugenics.)

two things

1) inclusive fitness — hamilton’s idea that your genetic success should be calculated by considering both your direct descendants AND other individuals who happen to share copies of your genes and whom you have aided in some way — means that individuals who are more altruistic towards those other individuals with whom they share a good deal of genes, close-ish family members being the most likely candidates, increase their total fitness. inbreeding, because it amplifies the relatedness between family members, can amplify the altruistic behaviors between them.

2) altruistic behaviors are behavioral traits that are selected for under certain conditions (selective pressures) because such behaviors pay off (i.e. increasing an individual’s fitness or inclusive fitness). there are many, many, many types of altruistic behaviors, including those that are on the “dark side” of altruism (bigotry, waaaaycism, genocide), so there cannot possibly be just one “gene for altruism.” inbreeding, because it amplifies the relatedness between family members, can make the evolution of “genes for familial altruism” easier/happen more quickly (see here and here).

(ok. so technically that’s more than just two things. so sue me! (^_^) )

regarding the first point — inbreeding, because it amplifies the relatedness between family members, can amplify the altruistic behaviors between them — let’s take two examples: a population that breeds entirely randomly (doesn’t really exist in humans) and a population that inbreeds (cousins marry cousins regularly, for instance).

in the randomly breeding (diploid) population, the relatedness between the various family members looks like this. in such a population, first-cousins will probably share 1/8th (12.5%) of their dna in common; that’s an inbreeding coefficient of 6.25%.

first-cousins in the regularly inbreeding population will share a greater amount of dna in common because they share so many ancestors in common, so their inbreeding coefficients will be higher. for instance, some first-cousins from pakistan and saudi arabia, two societies with very long histories of cousin marriage, have inbreeding coefficients of 11%, almost double those in a randomly mating population.

so, all else being equal (which is obviously never the case), if we take a totally made-up example of an altruistic behavior — the sharing of bananas — one would expect to find that the first-cousins in the inbreeding population, since they are more closely related to one another, share more bananas with each other on average than the first-cousins in the randomly mating population. the first-cousins in the randomly mating population should share more bananas with each other than they do with their second-cousins, because they share more genes with each other than they do with their second-cousins — but overall their altruistic behaviors won’t hold a candle to the inbred first-cousins.

got that? (^_^)

macaque monkeys provide a good example of how more closely related family members are more altruistic towards one another than more distantly related family members. the closer the genetic relationship, the more grooming between two macaque relatives; the more distant the relationship, the less grooming

confused beetles provide a good example of how more inbred family members are more altruistic towards their close relatives than randomly mated family members are. in this case, we’re talking about an example of the “dark side” of altruism: randomly mated confused beetles cannibalize other related confused beetle larvae more than inbred ones.

steve sailer applied these ideas to humans way back in 2003. from Cousin Marriage Conundrum:

“Are Muslims, especially Arabs, so much more loyal to their families than to their nations because, due to countless generations of cousin marriages, they are so much more genealogically related to their families than Westerners are related to theirs? Frank Salter, a political scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Germany whose new book ‘Risky Transactions: Trust, Kinship, and Ethnicity’ takes a sociobiological look at the reason why Mafia families are indeed families, told me, ‘That’s my hunch; at least it’s bound to be a factor.’

“One of the basic laws of modern evolutionary science, quantified by the great Oxford biologist William D. Hamilton in 1964 under the name ‘kin selection,’ is that the more close the genetic relationship between two people, the more likely they are to feel loyalty and altruism toward each other. Natural selection has molded us not just to try to propagate our own genes, but to help our relatives, who possess copies of some of our specific genes, to propagate their own.

“Nepotism is thus biologically inspired. Hamilton explained that the level of nepotistic feeling generally depends upon degree of genetic similarity. You share half your personally variable genes with your children and siblings, but one quarter with your nephews/nieces and grandchildren, so your nepotistic urges will tend to be somewhat less toward them. You share one eighth of your genes with your first cousins, and one thirty-second with your second cousin, so your feelings of family loyalty tend to fall off quickly.

“But not as quickly if you and your relatives are inbred. Then, you’ll be genealogically and related to your kin via multiple pathways. You will all be genetically more similar, so your normal family feelings will be multiplied. For example, your son-in-law might be also be the nephew you’ve cherished since his childhood, so you can lavish all the nepotistic altruism on him that in an outbred family would be split between your son-in-law and your nephew.

“Unfortunately, nepotism is usually a zero sum game, so the flip side of being materially nicer toward your relatives would be that you’d have less resources left with which to be civil, or even just fair, toward non-kin. So, nepotistic corruption is rampant in countries such as Iraq, where Saddam has appointed members of his extended family from his hometown of Tikrit to many key positions in the national government….”

what i got interested in was the flip-side of what steve talked about. in other words, if inbreeding leads to the sort of nepotistic behaviors we see in the middle east, maybe not-so-much inbreeding — or even outbreeding — leads to the opposite. lots of inbreeding in humans seems to lead to all sorts of family-oriented, clannish behaviors, not just nepotism. it even seems to, as randall parker pointed out, impede the development of democracy because everyone’s so focused on their extended families/clans/tribes. again, maybe outbreeding does just the opposite. i think there’s a lot of pretty good evidence pointing in these directions (see the Mating Patterns series down below ↓ in the left-hand column), but so far it’s all circumstantial.

furthermore, point number two from the top: inbreeding, because it amplifies the relatedness between family members, can make the evolution of “genes for familial altruism” easier/happen more quickly. not only are inbred populations of humans more likely to be more altruistic to their near kin than not-so-inbred populations because they are more closely related to one another (like the confused beetles), various “altruistic alleles” related to familial altruism ought to develop more quickly and be more frequent in the inbred populations (again, see here and here).

greg cochran’s not convinced. he said: “Your general notion that the degree of inbreeding does something, by itself, in the short run, is incorrect.”

i think he’s misunderstood my argument (well, how much can one communicate in a couple of comments to a blog post?). i am not arguing that “inbreeding does something by itself — except for potentially amplifying already existing altruistic behaviors (see the beetle example again). nor am i arguing that “inbreeding does something, by itself, in the short run.” no. of course, any “genes for altruism” would have to be selected for (or not) over some amount of generations.

wade and breden found that inbreeding accelerates the spread of altruism genes in a population, and that “genes for altruism” would already be on the increase after just fifty generations if the selection was strong and the genes dominant. populations like arabs in the middle east have certainly been inbreeding closely for well over fifty generations (i’ve over-estimated the length of generations at 25 years/generation to come up with a conservative guess of how long they’ve been inbreeding). and northwest europeans have been doing just the opposite for something like fifty generations or so. the one group is almost freakishly oriented towards the extended-family/clan/tribe; the other, as m.g. miles put it, to the commonweal.

i think there’s been an almost exactly opposite evolutionary history in terms of altruism in these two populations over the last one thousand years (how cool is that?!) — an evolution that’s ongoing, of course, since middle easterners are still inbreeding and northwest europeans are outbreeding more and more.

greg also said:

“Imagine that in much of history, people lived in small groups that often fought with their neighbors. In that sort of situation, selection for group altruism is at least possible, since the group is full of close relatives, while the opponents are less closely related. Both sides are probably members of the same broad ethnic group or race, but that doesn’t matter: only the kinship coefficients matter.

“Suppose that many people emerge on to the stage of history with this impulse to fight for their side: in the past, this always meant closely related people. Now, with the emergence of states, they find themselves fighting in armies, which feel like their side, but are no longer closely related – not a bunch of cousins and such. It could well be that many individuals are actually willing to risk themselves for that state. They’re willing to die for truth, justice and the Assyrian Way. It’s not genetically smart, but their adaptations are wired for past circumstances….

Over time, this misfiring of altruism should decrease. Patriotism burns itself out. Dying for Assyria doesn’t do your close relatives any good at all. Some people will be more prone to this, some less, and that tendency will be heritable. Those with a tendency to volunteer (in the service of anything other than close relatives) should dwindle away over time.

yes. familial altruism (all sorts of behaviors!) can be misapplied in new circumstances. but i think that what greg describes would only occur IF you started off with a population with lots of smaller, somewhat related but inbred sub-groups which had lots of “genes for familial altruism” and then brought them together into a state. maybe like the roman empire. or any of the chinese empires.

BUT there are other sorts of altruism beyond familial altruism — like reciprocal altruism — tit-for-tat sorts of behaviors, for example.

if you started off, not with a population that consisted of sub-groups with lots of “genes for familial altruism,” but rather a population with more “genes for reciprocal altruism,” the patriotism may not be quite so artificial. i suspect — but have no real proof, of course — that northwest europeans are such a population.

to quote myself from over @west hunter [links added]:

“i wondered before, though, if an opposite of these sorts of kin-oriented altruism alleles might be certain types of reciprocal altruism alleles. you know: the ones behind tit-for-tat sort-of behaviors, etc.

“if you have a population that oubreeds A LOT (nw europeans from the middle ages onward) in which family and kin connections are downplayed (prolly because of the outbreeding) — AND you have the ‘right’ sort of selection pressures (something that selects for cooperation and corporate behavior, like medieval manorialism and farming in a cold climate) — then maybe the frequencies for whatever alleles code for reciprocal altruism increase because lots of reciprocal altruism increases your success at reproducing.”

if you kept warring, you would still burn through the most patriotic members of the group (think wwi and wwii), but you wouldn’t be left with clans at the end of the day (see the rest of greg’s comment below). perhaps bunches of self-oriented nuclear families/individuals, but not clans.

speaking of misapplied altruism, i think our reciprocal altruism is now being misapplied in the face of migrating mexicans and muslims and all sorts of third world populations who, on the whole, are not big into reciprocation.

finally, greg said:

“But states are older in some places than others, and some have made greater demands than others. Imagine a region where states have been around longer, a place in which the locals have lived through empire after empire after empire. They should have had the patriotism bred clean out of them. They should feel altruistic about their families, maybe their clan – and nothing else.

yes, they do — middle easterners (the strongest of the inbreeders) and to a lesser extent the chinese (who also have a very long history of inbreeding) feel more altruistic about their families and their clans, but that’s not because they had the altruism/patriotism bred out of them. they’re sooo inbred (the muslims way more than the chinese) that they never had any patriotism in the first place! they have such strong drives for familial altruism that anything like patriotism doesn’t even enter into the picture. feelings of patriotism — nationalism — have historically been strongest amongst northwest europeans — the most outbred, civic, and “corporate” peoples in the world.

i think there are some really cool evolutionary histories that led to these differences in altruistic behaviors — differences which are some of the most profound, innate differences between human populations that are out there — the instinctive feelings guiding us in how to treat the others around us.

see also: Giving Bigotry a Chance and Your country’s not your blood from henry harpending and greg cochran @west hunter (who seem to have caught the inbreeding/outbreeding & altruism bug! (~_^) ).

previously: inbreeding and the evolution of altruistic behavior and four things and which altruism genes? and inclusive inclusive fitness

(note: comments do not require an email. altruism. what’s in it for me?)

democracy and civil rights

another question on democracy from the world values survey, 2005-2008:

“Many things may be desirable, but not all of them are essential characteristics of democracy. Please tell me for each of the following things how essential you think it is as a characteristic of democracy. Use this scale where 1 means *not at all an essential characteristic of democracy* and 10 means it definitely is *an essential characteristic of democracy*: Civil rights protect people’s liberty against oppression.

here are the percentages from each country for the people who responded 10 — that civil rights protect people’s liberty against oppression is an essential characteristic of democracy:

the germanics do pretty well here: sweden, germany and switzerland all scoring well above the average. the dutch and the norwegians are below average, though. the anglo scores are pretty abysmal, imho: the u.s. just squeaks in above average, while australia, canada and great britain (almost dropping off the table) are well below average. as are the french. the thais are in last place again. not sure what they think democracy is.

here’s a breakdown of the u.s. according to ethnicity, i.e. races + hispanics (click on image for LARGER view, should open in new tab/window):

whites = 45.6%
blacks = 42.5%
hispanics = 37.6%

the spread between whites and blacks/hispanics widens if we consider everybody who responded above 5 (i.e. 6-10):

whites = 83.4%
blacks = 73.7%
hispanics = 70.3%

previously: dēmos kratos and libyans on democracy: meh

update 03/08 – see comment below (click on images for LARGER view):

(note: comments do not require an email. why democracy.)