pathogens and consanguinity and democracy

so at long last, the final point from the woodley & bell paper that i want to draw attention to (there are lots more neat points in the paper that you can read for yourself here): pathogens and consanguinity and democracy.

yesterday’s post was about how there seems to be some sort of a connection between the frequencies of pathogens in any given environment and consanguineous matings. it’s not the strongest of connections, but it seems to be there (i’m convinced anyway).

woodley & bell found that pathogen load does, indeed, have an impact on how (liberally) democratic societies are or not — but via consanguinity. there is a correlation between pathogen load and presence/absence/degree of democracy, but it’s not a direct one. here are their path analyses from their paper (more details in previous post). follow the arrows:

so it’s: pathogen load -> consanguinity -> democracy (or not).

i’d amend that a bit and say it’s: pathogen load + other social/economic factors -> consanguinity -> democracy (or not).

if i were to amend it even further in a theorizing sort-of way (that’s theorize with a small “t” not a big one), i’d say it’s:

pathogen load + other social/economic factors -> long-term consanguinity/endogamous matings -> democracy (or not) and/or a whole lot of other neat things like individualism and low levels of corruption and nepotism and so on and so forth.

that is all! (^_^)

previously: consanguinity and democracy and consanguinity and islam and democracy

(note: comments do not require an email. how to reduce pathogen load in the population.)

3 Comments

  1. @hbd chick “a connection between the frequencies of pathogens in any given environment and consanguineous matings” I’m not sure this is relevant, but many years ago a paper was published in NATURE that said there were two kinds of primates:promiscusous (almost all) and mate-for-life (just a few) All the promiscuous species had very robust immune systems. The faithful ones had weak ones. The title of the article declared that this proved the promiscuity was a good thing. I drew the opposite conclusion. When I went back not that long ago and found the article it didn’t seem as slick as it did the first time, but I think the same principle holds: humans evolved to be faithful. If we were to rut like dogs we would all die (absent modern medicine.) Extending loyalty to spouse to loyalty to kin might be a stretch. The politics of the promiscuous primates seem pretty much totalitarian, but I don’t know anything about the faithful ones.

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