more on genetics and the historical decline of violence

the good professor harpending who, unlike me, actually knows what he’s talking about when it comes to population genetics, took a mathematical look at my suggestion (guess!) that there might have been enough time over the medieval period for genetic changes in the population to have resulted in the historical decline of violence in nw europe that pinker described in The Better Angels (see also eisner).

prof. harpending concludes that — yeah, sure — there might’ve been enough time (from the 1300s to the modern period) to effect such a genetic change. it would’ve been a bit of a push, but it could’ve happened:

“In the present case we need a response of 1/28 of a standard deviation per generation. Assuming an additive heritability of 0.5 (the true value is probably 0.8 or so from literature on the heritability of aggressive behavior in children) the selective differential must be about 1/14 or .07 standard deviations per generation. In terms of IQ this would correspond to a one point IQ advantage of parents over the population average and in terms of stature parents with a mean stature 0.2 inches greater than the population average. This would occur if the most homicidal 1.5% of the population were to fail to reproduce each generation.”

no, i didn’t understand most of that either.

i do understand that he thinks he went conservative in his calculation (i.e. using an additive heritability [<< two links there] of just 0.5 although he thinks it’s probably more like 0.8), so that might mean that his calculation should actually be even more in the hbd-ist’s favor. in any case, he concludes that natural selection against “genes for violence” (or selection for “genes for nonviolence”) could explain the historical decline of violence in nw europe “if the most homicidal 1.5% of the population were to fail to reproduce each generation.” a bit of a push, maybe, but possible. (if they really did fail to reproduce.)

he suggests:

“Justice was famously brutal and harsh in Medieval and Renaissance England so this may not be an entirely meaningless exercise. In this excellent essay Peter Frost suggests that the nearly the same selection against violence occurred in the several centuries before the fall of the Roman Empire, and he provides grisly details of Roman treatment of criminals.”

that is one route to go — have the state simply remove the bad guys out of the gene pool.

i’d like to suggest another route (and this is where i’m going to start sounding like a broken record): that they got rid of clannishness in medieval nw europe.

why should getting rid of clannishness matter? because, for whatever reasons (i think the reasons are connected to inclusive fitness), clannish people are violent. blood feuds, honor killings, general obstreperosity — clannish people are just not peaceful.

why? i think it’s ’cause clannish populations are inbreeders and inbreeding alters the possible inclusive fitness payoffs. if you’re from an inbred group, you don’t have to stick your neck out for two brothers or eight cousins to increase your inclusive fitness. if your group is inbred enough, you might only have to be altruistic (in the biological sense) to just one brother or only four cousins (’cause you share that many more genes with your inbred relatives than individuals in an outbred population would, capiche?).

in an inbred population, violent clannish behaviors — which are just the flip-side of being altruistic towards one’s relatives (i.e. be really un-altruistic towards one’s un-relatives) — would/could quickly be selected for since the inclusive fitness payoffs are greater for each altruistic act. and this is exactly what wade and breden (1981) found: inbreeding can accelerate the selection for altruism genes (see also here).

so, to get rid of violence, you could get rid of clannishness. and to get rid of clannishness, you need to get rid of inbreeding. which is exactly what happened in medieval europe starting in the early part of the period. the roman catholic church, supported by secular authorities, banned cousin and other close marriages beginning in 506 (i think that’s when the first ban on cousin marriage was laid down).

enforcement of the various cousin marriage bans, which ranged from first to sixth cousins depending on what century you’re talking about, wasn’t easy — at least not in the beginning. the church, for instance, didn’t require that a marriage ceremony take place in a church until something like 1000 or 1100, so enforcement by the church in the early middle ages was probably patchy at best. however, there were LOTS of secular laws throughout nw europe banning close marriage, including very much so in anglo-saxon england. just a couple of examples: the law of wihtred from the 690s outlawed cousin marriage — and the punishment for cousin marriage in another anglo-saxon law from sometime the 900s-1000s was slavery for the perpetrators. again, difficult to know how well these laws were enforced; but that there were plenty of such laws indicates that the authorities were keen to do something about all this close marriage.

the law of wihtred is, i think, the earliest anglo-saxon law that i’ve come across which made cousin marriage illegal (at least in the part of england where the law of wihtred applied). so the push against inbreeding in anglo-saxon england started at least as early as 690 a.d. again, it may not have been very effective at that point, but england’s outbreeding project had begun by that point.

lorraine lancaster, still considered the authority on anglo-saxon kinship, concluded that, although its importance was beginning to wane (as indicated by a shift in who would be awarded wergeld in the event of a crime against a person, that person’s kinsmen or their guild), an individual’s extended kindred remained of importance in anglo-saxon/english society well into the 1000s. that suggests to me that “clannishness” was still around in the 1000s in england. feuding was definitely still a regular event.

the situation had changed quite a bit by the 1300s when nuclear families were all the rage and englishmen no longer relied so extensively on their extended families. people were still violent in 1300s england, but of course the shift from clannishness to non-clannishness — i.e. from violence to non-violence — would’ve taken some time. evolution doesn’t happen overnight.

the state’s monopoly on violence and outbreeding don’t have to be mutually exclusive explanations for why there may have been a genetic change in nw europeans leading to a decline in violent behaviors. the answer might be both. like jayman said

“Inbreeding, and hence clannishness, can interfere with this process, because while the State is selecting for less violent people, clan conflict presents a counteracting selective pressure for people who are more violent (and can fight feuds).”

…so in places where inbreeding has not abated or did not abate as early as in england — the arab world/middle east, china (or parts of it anyway — h/t luke!), the highlands of scotland, the auvergne — the state hasn’t managed to quell violence as easily. the combo of outbreeding + an effective state seems to be a winning one. better yet if you don’t need such a very strong state (modern nw europe) and the population is just non-violent naturally.

this is all just a theory, of course — theory with a small “t”. but, as cochran and harpending have said (h/t kiwiguy!):

“Whereas tests of hypotheses ought to be careful and conservative, generation of hypotheses ought to be speculative and free-ranging.”

so there! (^_^)

there ought to be a way of mathematically modelling my suggestion — i.e. that the historical decline of violence in nw europe is at least partially the result of the de-selection (if you can say that) of “genes for violence” due to a reduction in inbreeding — but since i’m pretty much numerically illiterate, i won’t be the one working up those models. i would think, though, that in addition to using the breeder’s equation in the calculation, you’d also want to factor in inbreeding/outbreeding somehow.

see also: Genetics and the Historical Decline of Violence?

previously: what pinker missed and “violence around the world” and outbreeding, self-control and lethal violence

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“violence around the world”

from steven pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, chapter 3: The Civilizing Process (links and emphases added by me):


“The Civilizing Process spread not only downward along the socioeconomic scale but outward across the geographic scale, from a Western European epicenter. We saw in figure 3–3 that England was the first to pacify itself, followed closely by Germany and the Low Countries. Figure 3–8 plots this outward ripple on maps of Europe in the late 19th and early 21st centuries. [click on image for LARGER view. – h.chick]:

FIGURE 3–8. Geography of homicide in Europe, late 19th and early 21st centuries.

In the late 1800s, Europe had a peaceable bull’s-eye in the northern industrialized countries (Great Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, and the Low Countries), bordered by slightly stroppier Ireland, Austria-Hungary, and Finland, surrounded in turn by still more violent Spain, Italy, Greece, and the Slavic countries. Today the peaceable center has swelled to encompass all of Western and Central Europe, but a gradient of lawlessness extending to Eastern Europe and the mountainous Balkans is still visible. There are gradients within each of these countries as well: the hinterlands and mountains remained violent long after the urbanized and densely farmed centers had calmed down. Clan warfare was endemic to the Scottish highlands until the 18th century, and to Sardinia, Sicily, Montenegro, and other parts of the Balkans until the 20th. It’s no coincidence that the two blood-soaked classics with which I began this book — the Hebrew Bible and the Homeric poems — came from peoples that lived in rugged hills and valleys.”

this is the same pattern we’ve seen several times now: an epicenter of england (+ poss. the netherlands) with some feature originating and spreading out from there (or thereabouts) to eventually encompass most of “core” nw europe — england, france, belgium, the netherlands, northern italy, germany, denmark and maybe sweden/norway — but missing out the periphery of europe — highland scotland, ireland, parts of southern france, spain and portugal (especially to the south), southern italy, the balkans including greece, and eastern europe.

we see this pattern in the history and spread of manorialism in medieval europe (the epicenter is actually more northern france/belgium in this case); we see it in the hajnal line; we see the pattern in the varying levels of civicness in different european populations; pinker’s seen it in the dropping levels of violence in europe over the course of history (see also this post); and, of course, it seems to be the general pattern of the history of outbreeding in europe, i.e. more/longer in the epicenter, and less and less the further away you get from it. as ya’ll know, i think that last one is important.

here’s more from pinker from earlier in the same chapter:

“In 1981 the political scientist Ted Robert Gurr, using old court and county records, calculated thirty estimates of homicide rates at various times in English history, combined them with modern records from London, and plotted them on a graph. I’ve reproduced it in figure 3–1, using a logarithmic scale in which the same vertical distance separates 1 from 10, 10 from 100, and 100 from 1000. The rate is calculated in the same way as in the preceding chapter, namely the number of killings per 100,000 people per year. The log scale is necessary because the homicide rate declined so precipitously. The graph shows that from the 13th century to the 20th, homicide in various parts of England plummeted by a factor of ten, fifty, and in some cases a hundred—for example, from 110 homicides per 100,000 people per year in 14th-century Oxford to less than 1 homicide per 100,000 in mid-20th-century London.

“FIGURE 3–1. Homicide rates in England, 1200–2000: Gurr’s 1981 estimates.

“The graph stunned almost everyone who saw it (including me—as I mentioned in the preface, it was the seed that grew into this book). The discovery confounds every stereotype about the idyllic past and the degenerate present. When I surveyed perceptions of violence in an Internet questionnaire, people guessed that 20th-century England was about 14 percent more violent than 14th-century England. In fact it was 95 percent less violent….

“Were the English unusual among Europeans in gradually refraining from murder? Eisner looked at other Western European countries for which criminologists had compiled homicide data. Figure 3–3 shows that the results were similar. Scandinavians needed a couple of additional centuries before they thought the better of killing each other, and Italians didn’t get serious about it until the 19th century. But by the 20th century the annual homicide rate of every Western European country had fallen into a narrow band centered on 1 per 100,000….

FIGURE 3–3. Homicide rates in five Western European regions, 1300–2000.”

of course the scandinavians needed a couple of extra centuries to become not-so-violent — they were a couple of centuries behind the rest of nw europe in converting to christianity and, therefore, in starting their outbreeding project. but once they did, they took the cousin marriage regulations to heart — the swedes, at least, continued to ban first cousin marriage even after the protestant reformation. and the italians — well, they just never took the church’s precepts seriously, especially in the south.

huh. i just noticed that there was an increase in homicides in nw europe in the nineteenth century — see those bumps there on the last chart? apparently, there was also an increase in cousin marriage rates in many countries in europe in the nineteenth century (see second half of this post). hmmmm….

previously: outbreeding, self-control and lethal violence

(note: comments do not require an email. better angels << you’ll like this one! (~_^) )

random notes: 11/17/12

in a post entitled Are blacks scared straight by the law or by hell-raisin’ whites?, agnostic finds that african-american incarceration rates are lowest in areas of the country where “celtic” whites predominate, his “celtic” whites being, afaics, borderlands/backcountry folks. and he thinks it has to do with this:

Compared to other white Americans, those of Celtic ancestry are more clannish and warlike, more honor-driven and less law-regarding. The hell with being tattle-tales to law enforcement — how about we just settle this little thing ourselves, like men. Picking up that vibe from whites at the grassroots level must make black criminals think twice about stepping on the wrong man’s dick — if he doesn’t pursue you to within an inch of his own life just to bring about your death, then his kinfolk may just round up a party and track you down like an animal, unencumbered in whatever they do by legal regulations since the authorities won’t know about it….

“In contrast to the Culture of Honor prevailing among the more pastoralist-influenced Celts, there’s a greater Culture of Law among the more agriculture-influenced English, Scandinavians, French, and Germans. “

yup to the part in bold: “culture” of honor and hatfields and mccoys.

from an article in the American Anthropologist, July-September 1921, “The ‘Blond’ Eskimos” (links added by me):

“Several travellers had noticed [eskimo] individuals who markedly resembled Indians; Collinson had observed acquiline noses and a Jewish caste of countenance in Walker Bay, in Victoria Island, and Murdoch had noticed the same thing at Point Barrow, in Alaska; Petitot had seen a Scotch- or Russian-looking individual in the Mackenzie River regions, while one or two other travellers elsewhere had observed Scandinavian types. These variations were noticed all the way from Greenland to Alaska and as far south as Labrador…”

wait. what? “blond” eskimos?! how come nobody told me?! you guys have been holding out on me! (~_^) there’s more…

“…for to the authors quoted by General Greely we have to add, besides Murdoch to whom we have already referred, the old Jesuit missionary Pere Lafitau, who says of the Labrador Eskimos, ‘They are tall, well built, and whiter than other savages. They allow their beards to grow, and have curly hair which they cut below the ears. Their hair is almost always black, but a few have light-colored hair (Fr. blonds), and some red hair (Fr. roux), like the people of Northern Europe.

Mr. Stefansson first encountered the Copper Eskimos at Cape Bexley, in Dolphin and Union Strait. Even there, he says, he had noticed a certain peculiarity in some of the natives, a certain lightness in the color of the moustache and beard that he had never observed farther west. But it was only when he crossed the strait and met the Hanerak and Puivlik groups of southwestern Victoria Island that he became fully conscious of the change. ‘We had been told by our guide,’ he says, ‘that we should find the Victoria Islanders of a light complexion, with fair beards, but still we were not prepared for what we saw…. Here (in Victoria Island) are men with abundant three-inch-long beards, a light brown in their outer parts, but darker towards the middle of the chin. The faces and proportions of the body remind of ‘stocky,’ sunburned, but naturally fair Scandinavians.’ Mr. Stefansson finally sums up the physical characteristics of the Copper Eskimos as follows: ‘Of something less than a thousand persons, ten or more have blue eyes … some of the men eradicate their beards … but of those who have beards a good many have light brown ones; no one seen has light hair of the golden Scandinavian type, but some have dark-brown and rusty-red hair, the redness being usually more pronounced on the forehead than on the back of the head, and perhaps half the entire population have eyebrows ranging from a dark brown to a light brown or nearly white. A few have curly hair.’ Mr. Stefansson then compares the form of head of the Copper Eskimos with that of the Eskimos in other regions, and comes to the conclusion, (1) that the Copper Eskimos show clear evidences of hybridism, and (2) that their European-like appearance is most easily explained by the theory that they have European blood in their veins, for which the old Scandinavian colony in Greenland furnishes the only explanation.”

genetic studies don’t seem to back this idea up: DNA tests debunk blond Inuit legend.

chinese clans again:

“Ideology, vested interests: Why China’s reforms have hit brick wall”
“By Willy Lam, Special to CNN
“November 16, 2012

“[W]hile aspects of the economy are being integrated with the global marketplace, about 120 yangqi or centrally-held enterprises will continue to enjoy monopolies over key sectors, ranging from oil and gas to banking and telecommunications.

“Moreover, an unprecedented number of the spouses and children of party elders have gone into business. Some have become the yangqi’s senior managers. Even more have used their sterling political connections to start highly successful private businesses in lucrative areas such as finance and real estate. These so-called ‘red capitalists’ are evenly represented by members of the party major factions.

“Critics of the government do not seem to be exaggerating when they say that 100 or so of the biggest clans that represent the country’s ‘red aristocracy’ control the largest chunk of the economy.

“The official China Daily has reported that the top 1% of Chinese families owns 41.4% of the nation’s wealth….”

previously: the return of chinese clans and the return of the return of chinese clans and the problem with china

(note: comments do not require an email. dreamed i was an eskimo….)

random notes: 11/09/12

about the semai, i forgot to mention that, apart from conflict, they also don’t like competition in activities like sports — from wikipedia (see also Cooperation and competition in peaceful societies):

“The games Semai children play are non-competitive…. A game of badminton for example uses no partition nets and keeps no score. The shuttlecock is deliberately hit so that it could be easily intercepted by the other player and passed back, and so forth.”

more on the clannish albanians:

“An Insider’s View of EU Efforts in Kosovo”
“‘We Have Achieved Almost Nothing’

“Since 2008, the EU has had thousands of soldiers, judges and prosecutors in Kosovo to help it become a Western-style constitutional democracy. But a German police officer with years of experience there says it is still dominated by corruption, clan loyalties and drugs — with officials just waiting for the high-minded reformers to leave….

“[A] recent report by the European Court of Auditors finds that there have been hardly any successes. It concludes that levels of organized crime and corruption remain high, while the judiciary is inefficient and suffers from too much political influence. A German police officer familiar with conditions in Kosovo for many years confirms the report’s findings based on his own experiences in the country….

“It’s my impression that corruption is quite high among Kosovar police officers. I was told that, if you’re caught with a stolen car, all you have to do is pay the officer a bribe to take care of the problem.

The major criminals are already out of reach, protected by traditional clan structures and the old-boys’ networks within the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), from which many police officers were recruited….

Kosovo is a country in which centuries-old traditions live on, and blood feuds are part of the culture. We Central Europeans have not been able to convince the Kosovars of the benefits of adopting a new legal and value system like the one we have in the West. That’s because they see that the old structures remain powerful while government institutions are weak. I fear that the Kosovars will ride us out, just as the Taliban are waiting for Western troops to withdraw from Afghanistan….”

the danes consider decriminalizing incest. danish geneticist points out that inbreeding can be a good or a bad thing:

“Aarhus siblings’ love child sets off incest debate”

“The recent case of a brother and sister in the city of Aarhus who said that they are in love and have a five-month-old child together has raised a national debate about sibling sex. The couple, who share the same father but have different mothers, face jail time for violating Denmark’s current statute prohibiting incest and inbreeding….

“The possibility of passing on genetic defects and damaging the social order have been the main reasons cited for making it illegal for siblings to have sex and produce offspring. But Niels Tommerup, a professor of genetics at the University of Copenhagen, said that mutations resulting from inbreeding can be both positive and negative.

“‘Our focus is always on the negative consequences like diseases and malformations,’ he told Information newspaper. ‘But positive mutations help develop the species.’

Tommerup said that mutations like those that occur due to inbreeding can be ‘biologically positive’.

“‘It is hard to imagine that there would be the formation of new species without some form of inbreeding,’ he said.

“Tommerup would not go as far as changing the law prohibiting sex between brother and sister, however. He recommended that family sex get no closer than cousins.

“He said that the famous Danish blue eyes are a mutation that could only have occurred via inbreeding sometime in history.

‘If inbreeding is banned, the possibility of promoting new, positive variants could be lost,’ he said.

“Vagn Greve, a law professor at Copenhagen Business School, would like to see even more taboos removed. Greve said there is ‘no logical reason’ that sex between parents and their children should be against the law.

“‘In my view, we should decriminalise sex between father and daughter as long as they are both adult and the relationship is voluntary,’ Greve told metroXpress newspaper. ‘There is no reason to treat the biological family different from the social family, but the age limit should be 18 or 20-years-old.’

Greve said that sex among immediate family members has been legal in countries like Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and France for 200 years, and that there is no evidence that it has damaged either families or society….


(note: comments do not require an email. yay, denmark!)

the semai

some of you have requested/hoped/prayed that, for a change already(!), i would post about some nice group of people who don’t engage in clannish fighting or tribal battles, and who aren’t so retarded when it comes to civicness or familism or corruption (other than my “core” northwest europeans, that is (~_^) ).

well, here they are! the semai of malaysia:

the semai are one sub-group of the senoi peoples who are some of the indigenous groups of malaysia (i.e. they were there before “the malaysians” got there). they’re not related to the indigeneous negritos of malaysia, but rather are another indigenous group that live in the center of the peninsula — they prolly arrived sometime after the negritos. the semai are swidden agriculturalists who also practice a bit of hunting and gathering (at least that’s what they did traditionally).

aaaaaaaand … they are famous for being peaceful. from “Two Paths to Peace: Semai and Mehinaku Nonviolence” in A Natural History of Peace [pg. 161]:

“Violence within and between Semai communities is nearly nonexistent. Husbands do not beat their wives nor parents their children. Neighbors do not fight with one another, nor do communities contest violently. There are no reliable reports of Semai engaging in intergroup or intragroup warfare or raiding. Over the past three or four decades [this was published in 1996 – h.chick], there are fewer than a half-dozen reliable reports of homicides in the entire population, and nearly all of these, in one way or another, involved outsiders (see Dentan 1988)….”

the semai pretty much don’t appear at all on steven pinker’s “deaths during warfare” scale either (from The Better Angels of Our Nature – click on chart for LARGER view):

the semai simply hate conflict. they hate, hate, hate it and do everything to avoid it. from Societies at Peace: Anthropological Perspectives [pgs. 36-7]:

“[In completing a] sentence-completion test … [t]o the item ‘More than anything else he/she is afraid of’, the model response, more frequent than ‘tigers’, ‘spirits’, or ‘death’ combined (all of which were cited), was ‘becoming embroiled in a dispute’….”

so what else characterizes the semai? their individualism and independent mindedness. from Rethinking Social Evolution: The Perspective from Middle-Range Societies [pg. 95]:

The Senoi value social and emotional isolation as well as personal autonomy. ‘From an early age, the autonomy of the will of the individual is culturally affirmed. No child can be forced to do anything he or she does not wish to do’ (Robarchek 1989, 37). ‘One of the consequences of this reluctance to surrender autonomy is an exteme difficulty in organizing any collective action unless everyone can be convinced that it is in his or her best interest’ (40). At the same time, the desire for autonomy is tempered by the recognition of interdependence between people. This is exemplified by the concept of *pehunan*, the state of vulnerability to dangers that results from frustrating an individual’s wishes. While this concept is central to Senoi attitudes of dependency, it also gives a privileged position to individual’s wishes (38-9). According to Robarchek, ‘The injunctions to share food and to avoid violence are the most important moral imperatives in [Senoi] Semai society’ (34)….”

that’s not to say that the group is ignored or neglected. quite the contrary. the group is important to the semai, but it’s the whole group, not just extended family or clan members [pg. 37]:

“The Semai ethic of sharing mandates that aid be given when it is needed (with the exception, to be sure, that it will be reciprocated by someone at some later date when the giver is in need), but any accounting or direct reciprocation is unacceptable. This was made very clear to me early in my fieldwork when I offended a neighbour by trying to make explicit return of food that had been given to my wife and me. Accepting help thus does not entail an accumulation of debt nor does it imply subordination, and is not a route to subjugation. Nor is sharing or giving help a route to dominance; it is merely what is expected, part of the minimal definition of what it is to be a member of a Semai community….

of course, a lot of the individuals in a semai village are relatives, but many are often not — or are distant relatives — due to the semai fission-fusion settlement traditions [pg. 330]:

“[L]ocal groups of Semai periodically fission, the splinter group forming a new village or fusing with an already established village.”

the big question, then, is: what are the mating patterns of the semai?! *drumroll please!* … from Migration and Colonization in Human Microevolution [pgs. 98-99]:

“Semai settlements are generally small, ranging from 25 to more than 270 persons. Semai have no formal rule regarding settlement endogamy or exogamy. There is, however, a general mistrust and fear of ‘strangers’ (Dentan 1968) and most Semai would prefer to marry someone they know or know about. This preference translates into a tendency to marry endogamously when possible and often into a family already connected by marriage (Benjamin, 1986 notes this preference for marrying affines among other Senoi of Peninsular Malaysia).

A stronger rule is that prohibiting marriage between close kin. Semai say this proscription includes *all* relatives but it seems to apply usually to kin within the range of second cousins (in a group of 129 marriages for which genealogical information was sufficient to gauge, no first cousin and only nine second cousin marriages [7%] occurred; Fix 1982a). Since relatives are often localized in the settlement of residence, and the smaller the population, the greater the likelihood of a potential spouse being kin, this rule may have a strong affect on endogamy…. Among the Semai, the strong sense that consanguineal kin should avoid marrying combined with an ideology of kin solidarity leads to an apparent conflict. Coresidents often express their unity by stating, ‘we are all kin here’, by inference, all the members of the local group will cooperate and help each other as would kin. Syllogistically, if *all* members are truly kin, then *no* member can marry any other and the group must be exogamous. When presented to them in this way, some Semai agreed that local groups were exogamous. Actual data on marriages (Table 2.2), however, showed some 45 percent of spouses were both born in the same settlement and a greater number were coresident at the time of marriage. The endogamy rate in any settlement, then, depends on the presence of non-kin in local groups. The fission-fusion structure of Semai settlement histories usually ensures that some more distantly related persons will be available within a settlement….

“To summarize, a Semai preference to marry endogamously is constrained by the proscription on marrying near kin….”

OUTBREEDERS! relatively speaking.

they’re not a large population (ca. 34,000), but they do have a tradition of generally avoiding marrying anyone closer than a second cousin, although that does happen sometimes. and if/when they do marry relatives — distant relatives for the most part — they are maternal relatives [pg. 189]:

“In contrast to the Semang, Semai prefer affinal kin [in-laws, i.e. maternal relatives] as marital partners, a practice that increases the density of the kin network locally.”

and the kicker, from “Two Paths to Peace: Semai and Mehinaku Nonviolence” [pg. 183]:

“Even in a very large and heavily acculturated settlement where consumption of inexpensive Malay palm ‘toddy’ had increased to the point where many Semai men were intoxicated nearly every night, there was little increase in the expression of emotion and virtually no expression of hostility.”

that, to me, sounds like the semai just don’t have (many) “genes for violent behavior” (whatever they might be). even when their inhibitions are drowned in palm toddy, the semai don’t become violent. sounds like it’s just not in their nature.

it should be noted that the semai live in upland, mountainous areas of the malaysian peninsula, and so seem to be a possible exception to the (possible) inbreeding mountain folks “rule.” perhaps the fact that they’re not pastoralists is a clue(?).

btw – here is the classic book on the semai – i haven’t had a chance to read it yet: The Semai: A Nonviolent People of Malaya.

update 11/12: see also random notes: 11/09/12

(note: comments do not require an email. semai lady.)

familism, justifiability of divorce, and corruption

following up from the last post on familism and corruption (familism, respect for parents, and corruption), here is the second element in lipset & lenz’s “familism index”: “the percentage of people [responding on the world values survey] who think that divorce is unjustifiable.” i looked at the 1999-2002 world values survey wave. the relevant question is:

“Please tell me for each of the following statements whether you think it can always be justified, never be justified, or something in between: Divorce.”

i took the “Never justifiable” responses and plotted them against the 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index results — and got a correlation of -0.58. not as high a correlation as between “respect for parents” and corruption (-0.72), but still pretty high. so the more you feel that divorce is unjustifiable whatever the circumstances, the more corrupt you’re likely to be (click on chart for LARGER view):

here’s the data table for the above chart sorted by the “Never justifiable” responses (highest to lowest). i’ve got the fbd marriage groups (the arabs & co.) in red, and the european groups that i think have been outbreeding for the longest (netherlands, germany, great britain, belgium and france) in blue (click on table for LARGER view):

again, italians and the irish in ireland more familistic on this scale than the people in great britain. and mexicans MUCH more so.

previously: familism, respect for parents, and corruption and familism in the u.s. of a. and anglo-american vs. mexican family values and hispanic family values and familism and facebook

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random notes: 11/02/12

some eskimo groups engaged in blood feuds. ruh-roh. from Eskimos and Explorers about the mackenzie eskimos (mackenzie inuit) [pg. 195]:

“Murders committed in anger were relatively common, and blood revenge led to further retalitory murders and family feuds. In one instance a woman’s rejected suitor killed her as she slept. In another a man who refused to sell his belt was stabbed in the back and killed by a person who hoped to buy the belt.

“A feud that erupted about 1860, soon after intensive historic contact, was recorded by Nuligak, a Mackenzie Eskimo. One man hoped to marry the daughter of another, but the father of the girl refused to permit the match. The rejected suitor took a valuable steel-bladed knife from one of the father’s younger sons, and the father was furious. At the first opportunity he killed not only the thief but one of his companions. As the feud spread, a cousin of the original murderer allied himself with the thief’s relatives, and more people were killed. Finally the father of the girl and the betraying cousin killed each other, but the feud continued on. As Nuligak wrote, ‘In the olden days the Inuit slew those who killed their kinsmen. One vengeance followed another like links in a chain.’

“Terrible feuds have been reported among most Eskimos, and they often spanned a number of generations….”

dunno about the mackenzie inuit, but the yupik eskimos (are mackenzie eskimos yupik eskimos? i didn’t figure that out…) have one of the highest incidence rates of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) — and carriers of CAH alleles can show “symptoms of androgen excess” — like being more aggressive, perhaps? dunno. melykin pointed out that there are high rates of violent crime in areas of canada populated by eskimos.

from ed west in the telegraph u.k.:

“The EU was dreamed up in French and German. That’s why the British have never fitted in”

“The European project developed in the region between Paris, Brussels and the Rhineland, the heartland of the old Frankish Empire….”

isn’t THAT curious?! the modern european feudal project (for what else is the e.u. apart from feudal with a bunch of local [i.e. national] politicians playing vassals to the eurocrats?) had its origins pretty much right where medieval feudalism got going — austrasia. what is it about those people in that region?

more on extended family human traffickers (can’t we just call them slavers?) from the balkans:

“Police bust Balkan child trafficking ring in Nancy”

“French police have arrested seven people for running an international child trafficking ring in Nancy, north east France.

“The ring is thought to have bought children from Macedonia or Kosovo for €1000 to €1500 and then sold them on to Belgium and Germany for €10,000.

Seven members of a family originally from the Balkans were arrested on Tuesday after a month of police investigation.

“According to local paper Est Républicain, several other members of the family had also been arrested in Germany in relation to the ring.

“Police took in two girls, both about 12-years-old, for questioning. They say they do not believe the girls were subjected to sexual abuse or used as slaves, but traded in line with ‘local customs’ in the traffickers’ home countries.”

in line with WHAT “local customs”?!

corruption in china — it’s a family affair. from the nyt:

“Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader”

“[N]ow 90, the prime minister’s mother, Yang Zhiyun, not only left poverty behind, she became outright rich, at least on paper, according to corporate and regulatory records. Just one investment in her name, in a large Chinese financial services company, had a value of $120 million five years ago, the records show.

“The details of how Ms. Yang, a widow, accumulated such wealth are not known, or even if she was aware of the holdings in her name. But it happened after her son was elevated to China’s ruling elite, first in 1998 as vice prime minister and then five years later as prime minister.

“Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives — some of whom, including his wife, have a knack for aggressive deal making — have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion….

“Unlike most new businesses in China, the family’s ventures sometimes received financial backing from state-owned companies, including China Mobile, one of the country’s biggest phone operators, the documents show. At other times, the ventures won support from some of Asia’s richest tycoons. The Times found that Mr. Wen’s relatives accumulated shares in banks, jewelers, tourist resorts, telecommunications companies and infrastructure projects, sometimes by using offshore entities.

“The holdings include a villa development project in Beijing; a tire factory in northern China; a company that helped build some of Beijing’s Olympic stadiums, including the well-known ‘Bird’s Nest’; and Ping An Insurance, one of the world’s biggest financial services companies.

“As prime minister in an economy that remains heavily state-driven, Mr. Wen, who is best known for his simple ways and common touch, more importantly has broad authority over the major industries where his relatives have made their fortunes. Chinese companies cannot list their shares on a stock exchange without approval from agencies overseen by Mr. Wen, for example. He also has the power to influence investments in strategic sectors like energy and telecommunications.

“Because the Chinese government rarely makes its deliberations public, it is not known what role — if any — Mr. Wen, who is 70, has played in most policy or regulatory decisions. But in some cases, his relatives have sought to profit from opportunities made possible by those decisions.

“The prime minister’s younger brother, for example, has a company that was awarded more than $30 million in government contracts and subsidies to handle wastewater treatment and medical waste disposal for some of China’s biggest cities, according to estimates based on government records. The contracts were announced after Mr. Wen ordered tougher regulations on medical waste disposal in 2003 after the SARS outbreak.

“In 2004, after the State Council, a government body Mr. Wen presides over, exempted Ping An Insurance and other companies from rules that limited their scope, Ping An went on to raise $1.8 billion in an initial public offering of stock. Partnerships controlled by Mr. Wen’s relatives — along with their friends and colleagues — made a fortune by investing in the company before the public offering….”

tptb in china NOT amused by nyt story.

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familism, respect for parents, and corruption

m.g. points out (thanks, m.g.!) that in “Corruption, Culture, and Markets,” lipset & lenz worked up a “familism index.” unfortunately, they don’t seem to have published it anywhere — at least not that m.g. or i can find. they do describe it in the above mentioned chapter, though, along with a terrific summary of familism and its related … problems. here is a longish quote from them [pgs. 119-120 – links and emphases added by me]:

“Amoral Familism

“The second major cultural framework, one derived from Plato via Banfield, assumes that corruption is in large part an expression of particularism — the felt obligation to help, to give resources to persons to whom one has a personal obligation, to the family above all but also to friends and membership groups. Nepotism is its most visible expression. Loyalty is a particularistic obligation that was very strong in precapitalist, feudal societies. As Weber implied, loyalty and the market are antithetical. The opposite of particularism is universalism, the commitment to treat others according to a similar standard. Market norms express universalism; hence, pure capitalism exhibits and is sustained by such values.

“Plato contended two and a half millennia ago that family ties, especially those between parents and children, are the chief forces underlying institutionalized social classes and ascription. He argued that to create an egalitarian society, a communist one, such ties — the family itself — would have to be eliminated. Children would have to be reared from birth in public institutions, not knowing their parents. Plato, of course, could not have believed that a society without parental ties was viable, but his discussion points up the social power he attached to the family.

“In trying to understand capitalism’s initial rise in Protestant cultures, Weber noted that the pre-industrial norms in Catholic societies were communitarian, requiring above all that the society, the family, and the dominant strata help the less fortunate. He believed that these vales worked against the emergence of a rationally driven market economy. Conversely, a stress on individualism, concern for self, is more conducive to capital accumulation. Calvinism and Protestant sectarianism fostered such behavior. Sectarians believe that God helps those who help themselves. Weber pointed out that ‘the great achievement of … the ethical and ascetic sects of Protestantism was to shatter the fetters of the sib [the extended family].’ As Lawrence Harrison notes, ‘There is evidence that the extended family is an effective institution for survival but an obstacle to development.’ Solidarity with the extended family and hostility to the outsider who is not a member of family, the village, or perhaps the tribe can produce a self-interested culture.

“Edward Banfield, studying southern Italy, carried the analysis further with the concept of ‘amoral familism’: a culture that is deficient in communitarian values but fosters familial ties. He writes: ‘In a society of amoral familists, no one will further the interest of the group or community except as it is to his private advantage to do so.’ There is little loyalty to the larger community or acceptance of behavioral norms that require support of others. Hence, familism is amoral, gives rise to corruption, and fosters deviance from norms of universalism and merit. Anything goes that advance the interests of one’s self and family. The Mafia is an extreme example of amoral familism. Banfield, in effect, argues that corruption in southern Italy and comparable traditional societies is an expression of forces similar to those that sustain the Mafia.

“The World Values Survey 1990, together with aggregate statistics from the World Bank, provide data that we employ to create a scale of familism. The first item in the scale deals with unqualified respect for parents, measured by the percentage of people who agreed that regardless of the qualities and faults of one’s parents, a person must always love and respect them. The second item is the percentage of people who think that divorce is unjustifiable. The third, from the World Bank, is the mean number of children per woman.

Those nations that score high on this scale tend to be among the more corrupt. Known for their strong familial ties, most Asian nations rank among the more corrupt. On the other hand, Scandinavians are by far the lowest on the familism scale — as noted, these countries are considered the least corrupt. Regression analysis affirms the association. The familism scale and CPI relate strongly. The relationship remains significant when controlling for per capita income. A model that includes the familism scale, the achievement scale, and purchasing power parity explains a great deal of the variation in the CPI.”

i don’t think that what we’re witnessing here — the differences between particularistic and universalistic societies — is a cultural phenomenon. i’m sure that cultural practices reinforce the behaviors that you find in these two types of societies, but what i think we’re looking at are innate behavioral tendencies that differ between these different population types due, in part, to their mating patterns histories. it’s partly mating patterns (inbreeding or outbreeding) and partly selection for which of these sets of behavioral traits worked in the various populations’ evolutionary histories (the two things are connected, i think).

lots of inbreeding over the course of many, many generations alters the relatedness between family members which, in turn, can eventually — via a little evolutionary magic — affect how altruistic these family members wind up being towards one another and/or towards unrelated individuals. so the english and other nw europeans, with their (comparatively) long history of (comparatively strong) outbreeding (see mating patterns in europe series below ↓ in left-hand column), tend towards universalism, lack of familism, low levels of corruption, high levels of civicness and liberal democracy. at the opposite end of the spectrum, arabs and other middle eastern/maghrebian/mashriqian/south asian muslims with their (comparatively) long history of (comparatively strong) inbreeding (see also here), tend towards particularlism, strong familism, high levels of corruption, low levels of civicness and difficulties with liberal democracy.

familism, then, i think — although interesting in and of itself — is a symptom of a set of underlying innate behavioral traits, namely those connected to familial altruism. the more “genes for familial altruism” (whatever they might be) your population possesses, the less universalistic, etc., etc., it is going to be — and vice versa. familism reflects another aspect of human biodiversity, and is not just an example human cultural diversity.

(sorry if i sound like a broken record, but there’ve been some new folks stopping by here lately — hi, new folks! — and i thought they might appreciate a crash course on The Theory.)

so, lipset & lenz hinted around at a familism index that they had devised, but not published anywhere(?), so i thought i’d try to reconstruct it as best as i could. the first element in their index is “unqualified respect for parents, measured by the percentage of people who agreed [on the world values survey] that regardless of the qualities and faults of one’s parents, a person must always love and respect them”. lipset & lenz looked at the world values survey for 1990 — i looked at a more recent wave: 1999-2002. the question is:

With which of these two statements do you tend to agree?:
A. Regardless of what the qualities and faults of one’s parents are, one must always love and respect them.
B. One does not have the duty to respect and love parents who have not earned it by their behaviour and attitudes.

i took the “A. Always” responses and plotted them against the 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index results — and got a correlation of -0.72 (so the more you feel you should always love/respect your parents no matter how horrible they are, the more corrupt you’re likely to be – click on chart for LARGER view):

here’s the data table for the above chart sorted by the “Always” responses (highest to lowest). i’ve got the fbd marriage groups (the arabs & co.) in red, and the european groups that i think have been outbreeding for the longest (netherlands, germany, great britain, belgium and france — there might be a few more that need to be included — like the swedes?) in blue (click on table for LARGER view):

note that the italians exhibit much more familism (79.40%) on this scale than the population of great britain (65.10%) and are also more corrupt (3.9 on the cpi versus 7.8 for the british). this appears to support what i found in my familism in the u.s. of a. post the other day — that italian-americans are more familistic than anglo-americans. (see this post for some recent history on inbreeding in italy.)

similarly, the irish (in ireland) respect their parents no matter what more than the british (71.90% vs. 65.10%), but they’re not at all as corrupt as the italians (7.5 on the cpi). and the roman catholic irish in the u.s. are more familistic than anglo-americans. (see this post for a brief history of inbreeding/mating patterns in ireland.)

and mexicans! 90.20% said they’d respect their parents no matter what. 3.0 on the cpi. and very familistic in the u.s. (see this post for a little info on the history of inbreeding/mating patterns in part of mexico.)

these, i think, are innate, not just learned, feelings (reinforced by cultural practices, i’m sure), and they’re not going to change anytime soon as shown by the fact that italian- and irish-americans are still very familistic despite living amongst the anglo-americans for several generations now.

previously: familism in the u.s. of a. and anglo-american vs. mexican family values and hispanic family values and familism and facebook

edit – see this comment below for explanation:

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