theories

so i think the connection between inbreeding (or outbreeding) and the evolution of the “innate social aptitudes of man” [pdf] works something like this:

inbreeding in and of itself does not change the frequency of genes (alleles) in a population [pg. 65], but it does move them around, concentrating them in certain family lines.

if, then, some sort of genetic mutation arises in one family line which, let’s say for the sake of argument, results in the carriers somehow behaving more altruistically towards their fellow family members than strangers, and this results in them being able to increase their inclusive fitness, then that genetic mutation will be selected for.

it will really be selected for (i.e. the selection rate will be accelerated) because of the inbreeding because: 1) since the inbred family will have greater than average numbers of this “altruism gene” because it is inbreeding, its members will likely execute a greater total number of altruistic behaviors towards one another and, so, they will really benefit fitness-wise from this new gene. also, 2) perhaps — perhaps — all else being equal, the inbred family members will feel even more strongly altruistic towards their fellow family members than an outbred family would since they are so much more genetically similar to their family members. to be honest with you, i’m not so sure about that second proposition, so i’m just going to skip it for now and focus on the first one.

wrt the first proposition, that the rate of selection of “genes for altruism” is faster in an inbreeding population is exactly what wade and breden found when they ran some models — the more inbreeding, the more rapid the selection of the altruism genes:

you can imagine why.

if you have a bunch of different families in a population, and one of those families possesses some sort of “familial altruism” gene which means that its members help each other out (or whatever) more than the members of the other families do, and this increases the fitness of a majority of this special family’s members, then they are simply going to be more successful than the other families. they’ll leave more descendants behind and, thus, more of those genes behind. IN ADDITION, if this successful family ALSO inbreeds, each of its members is much more likely to have at least one, or even two, copies of this familial altruism gene, so more members of this successful family will be even more altruistic to each other and voilà! — they’ll increase their fitness and success even more than they would have done without the inbreeding.

these familial altruism genes — genes that lead to behaviors in which individuals somehow favor their own family members over non-family members — and by family members i mean extended-family members — are only going to arise, of course, in a population in which there is more than one family. if you’ve got some tiny band somewhere that has absolutely no contact with any other group (doubt that’s ever existed), then my evolutionary scenario simply won’t happen. it’s the competition between the individuals from the different families that is driving this.

naturally, genes in any population — even an inbreeding one — won’t remain restricted to any one family for very long. no family anywhere inbreeds 100% exclusively, so if some successful familial altruism genes do arise in some inbreeding family somewhere, they will quickly spread to the other families in that population. thus, there is probably an ongoing familial altruism genetic arms race in inbreeding populations.

also, i think fewer familial altruism genes — or not such strong ones, perhaps — are going to arise in a comparatively outbreeding population. the accelerated selection due to the inbreeding won’t be there, nor will this arms race to keep one step ahead of the joneses when it comes to familial altruism. additionally, i think that in an outbreeding population, there’ll be greater selection pressures than in an inbreeding population for “reciprocal altruism” genes — i.e. genes which lead people to be willing to cooperate more with non-family members — since more of those sorts of behaviors will likely be required to be successful in life.
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so what do these “familial altruism” genes look like?

i dunno.

maybe there are differences in oxytocin-related genes? — the luuuuv hormone that “turns out to be the hormone of the clan.”

or — ya’ll know that i’m kinda fascinated by interclan fighting which is the flip-side of being nice to your family (i.e. be extra un-nice to your non-family) — so maybe one familial altruism gene is the “warrior gene” (MAO-A gene)? dunno.

one that i speculated about before is CYP21A2, the gene connected to congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), a recessive genetic condition which affects the production cortisol which, in turn, affects the production of androgens (like testosterone) — notably, in the most common form of CAH, androgen levels are increased. the condition is a recessive one, so you need to have two copies of the deleterious allele to have the condition, but as i mentioned in my previous post on CAH, carriers with one copy of the allele have been found to have excess androgens — and androgens have been connected to aggression. (also, children with CAH have been found to have smaller amygdalae, so … they’re less fearful? don’t know if this also holds true for adults with CAH.)

increased aggression? fighting at the drop of a hat? interclan fighting? see where i’m going with this?

the interesting thing is — at least i think it’s interesting — is that there are different frequencies of CAH found in different populations. what we’d really want to know, of course, are the gene frequencies for CAH for different populations, but in lieu of those … here are some incidence rates of classical CAH in different populations [numbers acquired from or via here and here]:

1:282 – Yupik Eskimos, Alaska
1:2,141 – La Reunion
1:4,081 – Western Australia Aborigines
1:5,000 – GLOBAL
1:5,000-7,000 – Moroccan Jews
1:5,041 – Zurich, Switzerland
1:7,000 – Kuwait
1:10,866 – France (Whites)
1:10,866 – Italy (Whites)
1:11,500 – Sweden
1:11,764 – Netherlands
1:14,300 – Hungary
1:14,403 – Croatia
1:14,500-23,344 – New Zealand
1:14,869 – Western Australia
1:15,518 – Emilia-Romagna, Italy (Whites)
1:15,800-18,000 – Japan
1:17,098 – Scotland
1:19,939 – Minas Gerais, Brazil
1:20,000 – Norway

i dunno, but i see — maybe — the more inbred clannish fighters (yupik eskimos, moroccan jews, kuwaitis) having more cases of CAH than the more outbred peaceniks (new zealanders, norwegians, even northern italians). also…

“The Texas data indicate a lower disease frequency in African-Americans when compared with Caucasians, and international data indicate higher frequencies in native Yupik Eskimos, Brazilians, residents of La Reunion, and Filipinos.” [source]

“The prevalence of the disease [non-classical CAH] in Ashkenazi Jews was 3.7%; in Hispanics, 1.9%; in Yugoslavs, 1.6%; in Italians, 0.3%; and in the diverse Caucasian population, 0.1%.” [source] (non-classical CAH refers to a less severe form of CAH which might not get noticed until adulthood when it expresses itself in features like a woman having, perhaps, a bit too much facial hair.)

again, what we’d really want to know are the gene frequencies for CAH in different populations. then the über-human savants that we call population geneticists could do their math wizardry to see if these genes were under positive selection or not (zey hav vays av mayking ze data talk). (another interesting thing, btw, is that there are many different mutations in this gene which cause a range of CAH conditions from mild to severe — and different mutations are more common in different populations — see here and here and here for instance.)

of course, maybe these mutations in CYP21A2 aren’t being selected for for increased aggression/upside-down familial altruism. maybe it’s something else. witchel, et al., found that heterozygotes for mutated CYP21A2 alleles (i.e. individuals with just one copy of the cr*ppy gene) had increased cortisol levels and cortisol is, apparently, important for the immune system, so maybe these mutants simply survive infections better. others have found a possible connection between higher iq and CAH (masculinization = higher iq?) — see here and here and here — so maybe that’s it.

or maybe these genes are not being selected for at all. however, fertility rates of people (women) with CAH are low, so it seems like a strange bunch of genes to have around if they don’t have some sort of benefit.

previously: inbreeding and the evolution of altruistic behavior and looking for altruism genes and visions of altruism genes

(note: comments do not require an email. CAHt.)

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30 Comments

  1. It makes good sense to me. I didn’t follow the specific gene story. If I have a high IQ gene it appears to be asleep today. But so far is inbreeding leading to more alturism, toward family. Yes, that works. As you probably expect me to bring up, marrying in family increases fertility so long as you don’t overdo it. So that lends strenth to your argument. Family mating folks are a very good source of genes of all sorts. Of course chances are that in the long run they are the ONLY source of genes. Cities never replace themselves. Pity poor Singapore. It’s all city. No countryside at all. they have the lowest fertilty in the world, about .78 per woman. The first couple of times I read that I thought it was 1.78, which would already be lethal.
    I notice that the lowest rate of CAH is in Norway, where they are very phlegmatic. They also have the highest per capita income in the world.

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  2. @linton – “I didn’t follow the specific gene story. If I have a high IQ gene it appears to be asleep today.”

    heh. (^_^)

    well, i’m just trying to imagine what sorts of genes would lead to greater familial altruism. i mean, what genes should we be looking for/at? where on the genome?

    one of the most obvious sets of familial altruism behaviors is, at least to my mind, all this interclan fighting (that’s sorta the flip-side of familial altruism — be rather nasty to those to whom you are NOT related, and that will, or may, indirectly benefit your family members).

    and what seems to characterize clannish peoples? quickness to anger, as far as i can see. like amongst southerners in the u.s.

    so, what sorts of genes would lead to individuals being quick to anger? maybe those that increase androgen (including testosterone) levels? i don’t know this for sure — i’m just thinking out loud.

    and, here is one gene — CYP21A2 — which, when altered by mutations, affects cortisol and increases androgen levels — and causes CAH. i happened across it when i looked at common congenital conditions in arab populations. and, now, it seems as though, maybe, CAH is very common in clannish/tribal populations and not so common in non-clannish populations.

    a “gene for familial altruism” (at least some variations of it)? i dunno. just speculating. wildly.

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    1. @hbdchick: “and what seems to characterize clannish peoples? quickness to anger, as far as i can see. like amongst southerners in the u.s.” Maybe. Among my own southern family I have only seen a temper lost once. Oh, there’s me. I’ll lose it if I think a helpless person is being hurt. That’s about it. I lived many years up north. They act as if they are angry even when they aren’t. So I’m not so sure.
      The genes for eye color are all lined up on one chromosome. So I’d bet if there are for family alturism they are all lined up together, too.

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  3. @linton – “Maybe. Among my own southern family I have only seen a temper lost once…. I lived many years up north. They act as if they are angry even when they aren’t. So I’m not so sure.”

    well, i was thinking of things like nisbett and cohen’s study [pdf] of how southerners are quicker to anger over a slight than northerners:

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

    also, from hackett fischer (from the Borderland to the Backcountry chapter, section titled: Backcountry Gener Ways: Border Rituals of Love and Violence):

    “There was yet another paradox in the tone of these relations [between men and women] — which were filled with love and violence both at the same time. Gilmer told another tale of a hard-drinking backsettler who called himself Colonel Nicholas Johnson. One day, Colonel Johnson got drunk and assaulted his daughter and wife:

    “‘Col. Johnson threw one of his daughters on the floor, and made such a plausible feint that he intended to take her life, by sticking his knife into the floor near her head, that his wife interfered to save her child. He immediately let go his daughter, and attempted to seize his wife. She fled from the house to Broad River, about half a mile distant. Whilst seated over the water, considering the question whether it were better to be or not to be, she was suddenly precipitated into the river, and turning her head, saw that her husband’s hand had done the deed. As soon as he perceived that his wife’s life was in imminent peril, his whole nature underwent a sudden revulsion. He was sober in a moment. Unable to swim, to have jumped into the water would have been certain destruction to both. He looked around with the quickness of thought for means to save her. He found nothing at hand, but a long weed. Extending it at once towards her, he spoke gently, and begged her to take hold. The voice of love never fails to find a vibrating chord in a woman’s heart. Her clothes held her up for a moment. She saw the change in her husband’s feelings, and did as she was implored to do.’

    “Love and violence together were common ingredients of back-country marriages — both expressed with an emotional intensity that rarely appeared in Massachusetts or the Delaware. Gilmer told another tale of love and violence in the backcountry family of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Meriwether:

    “‘His love for his wife was without intermission, and … his gallantry equalled his love. When she tired of sleeping on one side, and turned on the other, he always crossed over, if awake, that they might be ever face to face.’

    “But Thomas Meriwether did not hesitate to use violence to dominate the woman he loved so deeply. Once he and his wife attended a camp meeting, and she began to be caught up in the process of conversion. ‘Tom Meriwether,’ we are told, ‘became alarmed, lest his wife’s love might be drawn away from him, and placed upon what he took no interest in. He seized her by the arm, and led her forcibly away,’ dragging her violently from the camp meeting.”

    see? tempermental!

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    1. @hbd chick “tempermental” sure if you insult a southerner you’ll get a reaction. he doesn’t expect it. the northerner has been insulted all his life and doesn’t even notice. I don’t see how it proves much. And back country legends are anecdotal. Do more stories indicate more violence or is it simply more interesting because of the rareity. You might well be right. And of course my impression is decades out of date.

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  4. @linton – “I’ll lose it if I think a helpless person is being hurt.”

    that’s funny. me, too. i usually get angrier/more annoyed/more on the defensive on behalf of others than i do for myself. kooky! (but, perhaps, an expression of clannishness?)

    @linton – “The genes for eye color are all lined up on one chromosome. So I’d bet if there are for family alturism they are all lined up together, too.”

    maybe. although, human behavior is awfully complicated, much more so than eye color, so i could imagine that our behavior-related genes are all over the place.

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    1. @hbd chik “human behavior is awfully complicated, much more so than eye color, so i could imagine that our behavior-related genes are all over the place.” Could be. Actually I don’t even know why the eye color genes are lined up. It has the effect of letting you keep one color on a chromosome for a couple of generations. But what did that accomplish? If I knew I might suggest the same reasoning applies to behavior.

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  5. @hbd chick – “well, i’m just trying to imagine what sorts of genes would lead to greater familial altruism. i mean, what genes should we be looking for/at? where on the genome?”

    Let’s see now, we have been evolving as primates for over 50 million years into being a social species, as opposed to tigers for example. In order to do this we acquired the ability to tolerate others, to do things for them and to expect things from them. Since doing anything for anyone has a cost, it is altruistic behavior. Of course there are degrees of altruistic behavior, risking your life for others costs much more than handing out a spare banana, however are we sure that there are different gene groups involved in these two behaviors? In primates altruistic behavior evolved within groups of related individuals, so inbreeding is our default setting. Then at some point, after say 1000 years of outbreeding in NW Europe, civic society arises. All of a sudden the degree of trust previously reserved for close blood relations is spread out to everyone, democracy becomes possible and so do various economic activities outside the extended family that demand a great level of mutual trust. On the basis of your posts about outbreeding in NW Europe, these developments occurred at the same time in different societies, they did not start out in a small population and then spread out from there. Furthermore they were initiated by two social and economic developments, the church enforced prohibition of inbreeding and the manorial system. Both of these developments directly shattered the previous clan system.

    My question here is, did NW Europeans evolve in 1000 years in a way that drastically changed the direction to which they had been evolving for the previous 50 million years or is modern western civic society simply the mode of adaptation of intelligent altruistic primates to an environment where operating in closed clans is no longer the most adaptive behavior? In the second case, which I consider more probable, it is exactly those altruistic genes, which inbreeding endowed us with, that make us able to do apparently absurd things, such as to exchange a hard days work or tangible assets for elaborately printed pieces of paper from people with whom we have no blood relation whatsoever.

    Of course in the new environment some characteristics that were very valuable when we were herding cattle are less adaptive or even totally maladaptive, while other characteristics we already had become much more useful. The brawny fellow with the short temper was our hero when we needed to repel cattle rustlers, today he may be unemployed or incarcerated. Ulysses had to be good with his bow as well as good with his tongue, today he could be a highly paid lawyer without ever having so much as seen a bow or any other weapon. It remains a fact though that for all species the final arbitrator of evolutionary achievement is the environment.

    We note around us that people feel closer to people whom they perceive as being more similar to them. This does not apply only to families, it also applies to fans of the same football team, people who share the same hobby, even to people who drive the same model of car. Is there a gene group for this behavior too or do the same old altruistic genes inbreeding gave us make us altruistic to anyone we perceive to be similar to us either by blood relation or in any other way?

    It seems to me that our genes for altruism actually form the basis of modern civic society, once developments in our environment make our previous clannish behavior counterproductive.

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  6. @linton – “I don’t see how it proves much.”

    well, i think the fact that nisbett and cohen found large increases in cortisol and testosterone levels in insulted southerners and NOT in northerners (meaning yankees, of course — don’t think about nyc italians or boston irish!) proves that there’s something biological going on here — and whatever it is, it’s different in southerners (i.e. some of them being descendants of the long-fighting border reivers) versus the northerners. and, unlike nisbett and cohen, i don’t think that something is “culture.”

    @linton – “And back country legends are anecdotal. Do more stories indicate more violence or is it simply more interesting because of the rareity.”

    oh, linton! don’t go all pc on me now! (~_^) the backcountry boys are descended from the border reivers, who you know yourself were given to intense clan fighting and general violent behavior. you just don’t get the same sorts of hatfields and mccoys stories from new england — or east anglia — because clan fighting just didn’t happen in those places.

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    1. @hbdchick “oh, linton! don’t go all pc on me now! (~_^) ” Oh don’t worry about that. As a Reiver I am probably incapable or it. Let’s see. As a boy I was in two fights, both one on one, won one lost one. That was among southerners. In high school none. That was among southerners. In college, I was involved in two; both times I was attacked by yankees, more than one each time. They never had a chance. Small sample, of course.

      The Hatfield McCoy thing was a single abberation. I heard from another mountain man, “Why do people go on about that? It was just the one case.”

      It may have something to do with courtesy. Maybe southerners are courteous in order to contain our raging blood lust. Or maybe we just don’t get in each others faces that much and the yanks are burnt out, unable to respond to a deliberate affront and unable to muster the needed adrenalin when the chips are down. Should be easy enough to test. All you need is to get some yankees to be nice for a generation or two.

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  7. @vasilis – “Let’s see now, we have been evolving as primates for over 50 million years into being a social species…”

    wait! stop right there. (^_^) what i’ve been trying to do is to take a page out of cochran & harpending’s book, The 10,000 Year Explosion, and attempt to envision what sorts of changes might’ve happened to our “genes for innate social aptitudes” (including altruistic behaviors) since the agricultural revolution.

    so, while what you say…

    “In primates altruistic behavior evolved within groups of related individuals, so inbreeding is our default setting.”

    …is, of course, correct, i think/hypothesize that/wonder if some of our fundamental mammalian/primate sociality/altruism genes have been heavily tweaked since humans started living in larger populations (larger here meaning anything between a few hundred to several millions of individuals). inbreeding and familial altruism might be our default setting, but i wonder if even that has been altered via some of the very close inbreeding that some humans do (e.g. the arabs — even female chimps generally leave their troops — the preferential form of arab marriage is within the patriline — over the long term, you’d think that would have some selective effect).

    @vasilis – “On the basis of your posts about outbreeding in NW Europe, these developments occurred at the same time in different societies, they did not start out in a small population and then spread out from there.”

    actually, i think the epicenter of this shift is something like southeast england-the netherlands-former austrasia, and that it did spread out from there, especially eastwards across europe with the german ostsiedlung.

    @vasilis – “My question here is, did NW Europeans evolve in 1000 years in a way that drastically changed the direction to which they had been evolving for the previous 50 million years or is modern western civic society simply the mode of adaptation of intelligent altruistic primates to an environment where operating in closed clans is no longer the most adaptive behavior?”

    i don’t think it’s either of those (and i think the clans are simply gone in “core” nw europe — england, the netherlands, belgium, most of northern france, germany, northern italy, probably denmark, possibly norway and sweden). i think what happened in nw europe was a shift in the balance from more familial altruism (more common in most human populations) towards more reciprocal altruism (which, interestingly, is not really found in any other animals).

    @vasilis – “…it is exactly those altruistic genes, which inbreeding endowed us with, that make us able to do apparently absurd things, such as to exchange a hard days work or tangible assets for elaborately printed pieces of paper from people with whom we have no blood relation whatsoever.”

    i think it’s a lot easier to do all these absurd things when you have more “genes for reciprocal altruism” (whatever those are) than if you have too many “genes for familial altruism” (whatever those are). and i think nw europeans — and maybe peoples like the semai and the bushmen (and possibly some others i haven’t heard about yet) — have more of those reciprocal altruism genes than most other peoples. it’s not that inbred populations cannot do these things, but they do them less efficiently (lots of corruption and nepotism, etc., which requires a lot of expensive policiing).

    @vasilis – “It remains a fact though that for all species the final arbitrator of evolutionary achievement is the environment.”

    absolutely! but for humans, of course, a large part of our environment is other people (i.e. society).

    @vasilis – “Is there a gene group for this behavior too or do the same old altruistic genes inbreeding gave us make us altruistic to anyone we perceive to be similar to us either by blood relation or in any other way?”

    again, i think there are (at least) a couple of different variations of altruism here: what i like to call familial altruism and reciprocal altruism. i don’t think any population is completely devoid of either type of altruism — it’s just a matter of degree (and some variations in type, i think). i suspect that populations which ardently follow sports teams (i.e. pretty much western nations) do so more because of their reciprocal altruism genes than anything else. if your society is based upon individualism and reciprocal altruism and is of a corporate nature, than you can build the best sports teams and pay for and trade the best players, etc., etc., and turn the whole operation into a multi-billion dollar industry. if your society is a clannish/tribal one, you and your clan will more likely just compete against the neighboring clan every sunday for possession of a goat carcass. (~_^)

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  8. @hbd chick – …what sorts of changes might’ve happened to our “genes for innate social aptitudes” (including altruistic behaviors) since the agricultural revolution.
    @hbd chick – i think what happened in nw europe was a shift in the balance from more familial altruism (more common in most human populations) towards more reciprocal altruism (which, interestingly, is not really found in any other animals).

    So 10.000 years ago we were not under any evolutionary pressure to be kind to strangers, same as all other animals. Until then any stray “be kind to strangers” gene mutations would be counterproductive and they would be selected against. Then we started to live in larger groups since such were the demands of agriculture, but a visit to Sicily, Calabria or even Iraq will convince anyone that we can till the land while inbreeding just fine. In the period before Christianity, or to expand it a bit, in the period before the reforms of Cleisthenes or the foundation of Rome (100 generations ago), what benefit would any European have by being kind to strangers? We can phrase this in modern day standards, what benefit would a Saudi Arabian have today by being kind to strangers in Saudi Arabia? We can bring it to Europe, what benefit would a Sicilian farmer have today by being kind to strangers, unless he was also in the tourism business? It seems to me that their main benefit would be better adaptability to living in California or Milan, but there was no benefit to be gained when California and Milan did not exist. For at least 7.500 of those 10.000 years of agriculture, no European would benefit by being kind to strangers and any such genes would be selected against. On the contrary genes for being kind to your kin would be most useful at that time.

    Whatever happened in Athens or Rome 100 generations ago giving rise to Athenian Democracy and the Roman Republic probably did not spread and certainly did not endure, so the whole “be kind to strangers” thing is 1000 years old (40 generations) and it is centered in NW Europe. However it cannot be a new mutation since it appeared in a brief period of time in the whole region between southeast England and former Austrasia. It just popped up once the church and the nobles made it counterproductive to be clannish. This is why I do not believe that there are any “genes for reciprocal altruism”, there is simply not enough time for them to appear, spread and dominate. We all just have the same good/bad old familiar altruism genes that make us altruistic to whoever we perceive to be most like us for any reason at all. In Iraq that covers the extended family, in Sweden it covers all of Sweden.

    @hbd chick – …but i wonder if even that has been altered via some of the very close inbreeding that some humans do (e.g. the arabs — even female chimps generally leave their troops — the preferential form of arab marriage is within the patriline — over the long term, you’d think that would have some selective effect).

    This seems to be an Arab thing, does anyone outside Arabic influence inbreed to this degree? Actually I had the opportunity to notice this personally, since I have worked in Arabic countries, but before I stumbled on your blog I admit that the full implications of this practice escaped me. The following incident happened 25 years ago in Iraq, when a Greek was infatuated with a local girl; her father took him aside and gave him the talk: “I don’t care if you will convert to Islam, I don’t care if you are the richest man in the world, she will marry her cousin”.

    @hbd chick – i suspect that populations which ardently follow sports teams (i.e. pretty much western nations) do so more because of their reciprocal altruism genes than anything else.

    Henry Kissinger, who is an avid football fan (soccer), once stated that he could gauge the psychology of any nation by how they play football. Usually as you go SE in Europe you get diminished team play, until you end up with 11 people wearing the same colors and each playing his individual game. In the Emirates they have given up on this and they just import players. Note however that the best European football by far is played in Spain.

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    1. @Vasilis “Then we started to live in larger groups since such were the demands of agriculture, but a visit to Sicily, Calabria or even Iraq will convince anyone that we can till the land while inbreeding just fine.”

      That is an excellent point. My own take is that the farmers can “inbreed” (or to use Parick Bateson’s term “optimally outbreed” indefinitely. It’s the elite in an urbanized who have to cooperate in a large community. Suppose you are supervising canal mainainance in ancient Mesopotamia. You don’t have to visit every place every year. But you have to travel all the time, confering with the locals and going back the the capital and explainng who will need resources next. And you have to deal the the military, both in competition for resources and because you need security services. Optimal outbreeding is pretty much out of the question. You breed out and so do your children, since they are probably going to be elite as well and have far flung responsibilities.

      That works just fine for a few generations. But the effects are going to build up. It has been demonstrated that those who outbreed (say out past 7th cousin) have fewer children then those who optimally oubreed (say third or fourth cousin) There are also fewer grandchildren. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the Royal society shows the effect gets even stronger with great grandchildren. For this to work of course you have to accept that outbreeding is a characteristic of the rich now, just as it was in old Mesopotamia.

      (Low fertility increases descendant socioeconomic position but reduces long-term fitness in a modern post-industrial society Proc. R. Soc. B 2012 279, 4342-4351 first published online 29 August 2012 Anna Goodman, Ilona Koupil and David W. Lawson).

      In fact it seems that there is a kind of 300 year brick wall for civilizations. By then the elite are in catastrophic decline, or so it would seem. Here’s a link if you want more.

      http://nobabies.net/Orlando%20meeting.html

      This is no way contradicts your point. Those elite flourished but it would appear that they didn’t confer genes on us much. The rapid rise in widespread cooperation in Europe, then, doesn’t seem to be unique. It’s one of the things people have demonstrated as far back as you can tell. It would be nice if we could have it both ways: the entertainment of an urban society and the durability of a rural one.

      Reply

  9. @linton – “As a Reiver I am probably incapable or it.”

    (^_^)

    @linton – “The Hatfield McCoy thing was a single abberation.”

    no, that’s not true at all. interclan fighting was a way of life in the backcountry (just as it had been back in the borderlands of scotland/england). from hackett fischer:

    “Long after it had lost its reason for being, family loyalty retained its power in the American backcountry.

    An example was the persistence of the family feud, which continued for many centuries in the southern highlands. These feuds flowed from the fact that families in the borderlands and back-country were given moral properties which belonged mainly to individuals in other English-speaking cultures. Chief among them were the attributes of honor and shame. When one man forfeited honor in the backcountry, the entire clan was diminished by his loss. When one woman was seduced and abandoned, all her ‘menfolk’ shared the humiliation. The feuds of the border and the backcountry rose mainly from this fact. When ‘Devil Anse’ Hatfield was asked to explain why he had murdered so many McCoys, he answered simply, ‘A man has a right to defend his family.’ And when he spoke of his family, he meant all Hatfields and their kin. This backcountry folkway was strikingly similar to the customs of the borderers.

    “Historians of a materialist persuasion have suggested that the feud was a modern invention in the southern highlands. One has called it a ‘response to industrialism.’ Another has interpreted it as the product of changes in the means of production. These modern processes would indeed provide many occasions for feuds. But they were not the cause of the feuding itself, which had deeper cultural roots. Other historians have argued that southern feuds were mainly a legacy of the Civil War. But feuds occurred in the backcountry before 1861. They were part of the brutal violence of the American Revolution in the backcountry. Strong continuities in family feuding may be traced from the borders of North Britain to the American backcountry — a pattern that persisted throughout the southern highlands even into the twentieth century.

    here are some of hackett fischer’s references related to the matter:

    – Charles G. Mutzenberg, Kentucky’s Famous Feuds and Tragedies (New York, 1917)
    – S. S. McClintock, “The Kentucky Mountains and Their Feuds,” AJS 7 (1901), 1-28, 171-87
    – O. O. Howard, “The Feuds in the Cumberland Mountains,” I 56 (1904), 783-88.

    Reply

  10. @linton – “Or maybe we just don’t get in each others faces that much….”

    yes, that fits with what nisbitt and cohen found about southern men:

    “Nisbett and Cohen recruited a 6’3” 250 lb (190 cm, 115 kg) American style football player whose task was to walk down the middle of a narrow hall as subjects came the other direction. The experimenters measured how close subjects came to the football player before stepping aside. Northerners stepped aside at around 6 feet regardless of whether they had been insulted. Un-insulted Southerners stepped aside at an average distance of 9 feet, whereas insulted Southerners approached to an average of about 3 feet. Polite but prepared to be violent, un-insulted Southerners take more care, presumably because they attribute a sense of honor to the football player and are normally respectful of others’ honor. When their honor is challenged, they are prepared and willing to challenge someone at considerable risk to their own safety.”

    Reply

    1. @HBDCHICK “presumably because they attribute a sense of honor to the football player” Much of what you say seems reasonable. This quote won’t wash. My experience is that the southerner would give more room to a woman, a child or a helpless person than to the robust athlete. So what if you hit him? He can handle it. But the helpless? Maximum courtesy. that “presumably” to me means I toss out anything this white-hater has to say.

      Reply

  11. @vasilis – “…so the whole ‘be kind to strangers’ thing is 1000 years old (40 generations) and it is centered in NW Europe. However it cannot be a new mutation since it appeared in a brief period of time in the whole region between southeast England and former Austrasia. It just popped up once the church and the nobles made it counterproductive to be clannish. This is why I do not believe that there are any ‘genes for reciprocal altruism’, there is simply not enough time for them to appear, spread and dominate. We all just have the same good/bad old familiar altruism genes that make us altruistic to whoever we perceive to be most like us for any reason at all. In Iraq that covers the extended family, in Sweden it covers all of Sweden.”

    maybe you are right, but i’m still not convinced.

    reciprocal altruism seems to be a uniquely human thing — they (meaning teh scientists) haven’t really found it in other animals (maybe cleaner fish…?). it certainly doesn’t occur in some of our close relatives like chimps — they don’t share their bananas (or carrots) with any strange chimp! (i’m still surprised about this — i thought for sure that quite a few other creatures out there would be reciprocally altruistic, but i guess not.)

    but i think most human populations do show reciprocal altruism — just some more than others. arabs are reciprocally altruistic towards unrelated arabs sometimes, it’s just that they’re more focused on the familial altruism.

    i made this point in a previous post — i.e. that we’re probably mostly not starting from scratch with brand new altruism (either familial or reciprocal) genes here — i think we’re mostly talking about frequencies of genes in populations, with maybe some new variations here and there. so, all human populations have “genes for reciprocal altruism,” just nw europeans (and the semai) have a greater frequency of them in the population — plus they also have lower frequencies of familial altruism genes.

    so, the “be kind to strangers” thing is not just 1000 years old — but the “really be *very* kind to (and cooperative with) strangers more so than you are to your extended family” is (i think. maybe.).

    Reply

  12. @vasilis – “there is simply not enough time for them to appear, spread and dominate.”

    i agree with not enough time for them to appears, but if they’re already there (see comment above), then i think there was plenty of time for them to spread and dominate a la cochran, hardy and harpending [pdf] on ashkenazi jewish iq, for instance.

    Reply

  13. @vasilis – “Whatever happened in Athens or Rome 100 generations ago giving rise to Athenian Democracy and the Roman Republic probably did not spread and certainly did not endure….”

    i’m not sure what happened with republican rome (i.e. how it arose), but athenian democracy was not all it’s cracked up to be!

    Reply

  14. @vasilis – “This seems to be an Arab thing, does anyone outside Arabic influence inbreed to this degree?”

    the pakistanis have a LOT of first cousin, fbd marriage, but they picked that up (at least the fbd part) from the arabs.

    the yanomamo of venezuela/brazil also have some really close marriage practices (gonna post a post about them … any day now!) which basically results in everyone in a yanomamo village being related to one another as though they were all first cousins (everyone beyond nuclear family members, obviously). there’s probably a bunch of other small groups like them out there who have very close mating patterns, but as far as big civilizations go, the arabs (and the middle east, maghreb, mashriq and pakistanis and afghanis) are the winners.

    @vasilis – “The following incident happened 25 years ago in Iraq, when a Greek was infatuated with a local girl; her father took him aside and gave him the talk: ‘I don’t care if you will convert to Islam, I don’t care if you are the richest man in the world, she will marry her cousin’.”

    oh, yeah! no messing with their daughters! (~_^)

    Reply

  15. @vasilis – “Usually as you go SE in Europe you get diminished team play, until you end up with 11 people wearing the same colors and each playing his individual game. In the Emirates they have given up on this and they just import players.”

    you’ve probably already seen zlatan “i’m a ferrari, not a fiat” ibrahimovic’s latest (~_^):

    apparently, he scored all four goals for sweden in this game against england. something tells me he’s not a team player the way a german — or swedish — footballer might be. (~_^) zlatan is, not surprisingly, bosniak and croatian.

    edit: i forgot to say — i enjoyed very much how zlatan tore off his shirt and paraded around like a proud peacock after making that goal (and not [just] ’cause he tore off his shirt (~_^) ). he reminded me of the very proud yanomamo when they return from a successful hunt. humans are so much fun to watch! (^_^)

    Reply

  16. @linton – “Low fertility increases descendant socioeconomic position but reduces long-term fitness in a modern post-industrial society Proc. R. Soc. B 2012 279, 4342-4351 first published online 29 August 2012 Anna Goodman, Ilona Koupil and David W. Lawson”

    interesting reference! thanks!

    Reply

  17. @linton – “My experience is that the southerner would give more room to a woman, a child or a helpless person than to the robust athlete.”

    well, perhaps, but these researchers didn’t check for that, unfortunately.

    in any case, their findings can’t be argued with: un-insulted southern men gave the football guy more space (9 feet) than un-insulted northern men did (6 feet). on the other hand, insulted southern men gave the football guy less space (3 feet) than the insulted northern men whose distance didn’t change (still 6 feet). the implication seems to be that southern men get more “in your face” with a challenging attitude when they feel they’ve been insulted. more tempermental (i’d call it).

    Reply

    1. @hbdchick “a challenging attitude when they feel they’ve been insulted. more tempermental (i’d call it).” Of course that’s possible. But for this to be evidence you need to control for how often the person has been insulted in the past. Otherwise it just sounds like more Yankee hate mail. It’s that “presumably he wants to honor the athlete” that is the giveaway. That’s not presumable at all. Such an assertion demands evidence.

      Hate mail isn’t hard to find. Remember 5th Element? Oldham’s character, the incomprensibly evil one, was given a gratuitous southern accent. And in dances with wolves even the bad Yankee soldiers have southern accents.

      Oh, well. Maybe we’ll get used to it eventually, too. But if we do it sort of would weigh against the notion of a biological basis, so let’s hope the South doen’t give up soon, eh?

      Reply

    2. @hbd chick “more tempermental (i’d call it).” Oh yes. Another thing. I have it on good authority that at least on electrician who went up north to help them with hurricane Sandy got attacked. And a couple of years ago Tampa ways playing football agaisnt Philadelphia. Philadelphia fans would hang out in the bathrooms and attack Tampa fans. I don’t see that much difference. I’ve got family on both sides, and they seem very similar in regards to tempers. Other things, maybe yes. The southerners are more affectionate and sentimental. But I don’t see it with regard to violence.

      Reply

  18. This is why I do not believe that there are any ‘genes for reciprocal altruism’, there is simply not enough time for them to appear, spread and dominate.

    They may already be there and it’s simply the frequency that changes e.g. if there was a gene for propensity to fall in love then that would be selected against very strongly and often fatally in an FBD culture but might be selected against less strongly – or even selected for – in a more outbred culture where mates were more self-chosen. I think this is a part of it – inbred cultures select *against* non-conforming traits much more strongly.

    They would still be reciprocal altruism genes though or genes with a propensity to support reciprocal altruism, just older than 1000 years, suppressed rather than new.

    .
    We all just have the same good/bad old familiar altruism genes that make us altruistic to whoever we perceive to be most like us for any reason at all. In Iraq that covers the extended family, in Sweden it covers all of Sweden.

    I think this is at least partly true also. However again there may be differential selection for the frequencies. For example if one such trait was propensity to be violent by default to the unfamiliar e.g. throwing spears at any stranger that comes near the terriotorial boundary, then that trait might be selected against much more strongly in a non-clan culture. If women have more freedom in a culture then selection against a propensity for sexual violence might be stronger while possibly being ignored completely in a culture where it helps proscribe women’s choices – especially mating ones.

    Familiarity may be actually familial or it may be artificial e.g. the kind of artificial band of brothers effect armed forces try to recreate – often successfully. Maybe the original version of the genes developed back when only families were familiar but the same genes are sitting there waiting to be used and can be activated just by wearing the same football scarf – but maybe not.

    Maybe this works on euros *because* they are outbred enough for it to work because we no longer have the ability to recognize close kin as close kin. Maybe inbred populations do recognize their close kin better and by extension non-kin also which is why they are relatively incapable of artificial families like armies. A lot of the research into creating artificial kin using coloured scarves etc has been done on WEIRD populations. It may not apply universally.

    So different frequencies of the same familiar altruism genes and also possibly different *effects* from the same genes because some of them work partly on the ability to recognize close kin which may involve things like longer runs of homozygoity having surface physical consequences i.e. family resemblences may be stronger among inbred than outbred populations.

    Reply

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