previously: surfer vader
Hello Hbd Chick,
I found your site yesterday and spent most of the day reading it, and related articles/blogs. And now I wake this morning and find you have posted a photograph of me, how weird is that!!
But this is good because I was wondering how to comment as I don’t think I have quite the scientific expertise of your regulars and I don’t want to lower the caliber of discussion with my naivety.
re. the article by Nesbitt and Cohen. I read this paper years ago, maybe as a conference paper, and I understood it quite differently at the time; I was just glad that someone was linking culture/behaviour with biology/physiology. But I take your point that there is no consideration as to how the underlying physiology was arrived at.
Do you think that we under estimate the effect of cultural events on gene pools? or is the time scale too short to make a difference, e.g. Usain Bolt’s idea about fitness of West Indians
I’ve been interested in the Scots-Irish for a while (not least Eastwood and Olyphant) and they seem to be English peasants who were ‘trouble’ and got dumped in Ulster and then transported to America, or were transported direct from the Borders to Australia. I think they were Celtic (Rb) groups of people, is that your understanding?
Wrt ‘safe space’ – body position seems to be a very important form of communication in animals. So what humans have to decide, for their particular culture, is what distance is safe – it’s the classic conversation in a corridor. Do you think this fine tuning could be epigenetic?
Re: architecture – On my estate there are some semis that have a single fence around both properties. The rest of the estate is 70s open-plan. I suppose Google Earth would show that.
re: pair bonding – looking at MacDonald’s (Illinois) Haplogroup maps. Europe (particularly West) seems to be the only large area where the maternal and paternal lines exhibit around 50% or more prevalence of one of each (Rb/Rh). East/Southeast Asia is characterized by one dominant paternal line (O) and a mixture of the same four maternal lines (two pairs of related haplogroups M, Md, Rb and Rf) in varying proportions. Central and Southwest Asia are characterized by a plurality of paternal and maternal lines. So maybe very early on people were breeding out more much more, breeding on the hoof it seems to me. Europe, as seen on a curving map, is about as far away from the main (Africa to Asia and West Asia to East Asia and vice versa) action as a migrant could get.
re. IQ in Europe – do you think high IQ led to diminished family size (and orientation towards public space and goods) or did orientation towards public goods enhance IQ? Considering diminished family size seems to be leading to an evolutionary dead-end, maybe it wasn’t so smart a strategy. Maybe the trade off is IQ vs survival, a bit like Lovecraft, the more you know the less able you are to survive – I don’t know the name of the book/game (probably got the author’s name wrong too).
re. to summarize, there are really only two cultures – one that can be characterized by kin and one that emerged with European civilization and can be characterized by an orientation towards public goods. the problem now is that if the two are mixed the orientation towards public goods will always lose out. plus, I think the ‘capital’ that has been dislocated from geography has realized that countries provide more profit if there is no public sector – the Big Society is really a call to take back our relatives. Young people cannot earn enough to leave home and the care-home concept is becoming too costly.
re. why England? England has been a key player, but surely Portugal and Spain were the biggest players when naval expansion kicked off?
Well, it’s been a pleasure talking. Your site is very interesting.
PS when you say Spaghetti, do you mean made in Europe or just brilliant cinema? I think Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid is one of the best films ever made. And I recommend that film with Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando in it, and The Missing – if I could look that stylish in a blizzard… :)
In case you only look at comments on your most recent post…
This is for you and Dr. Cochran: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7n36qV4Lk94
@e.h. – “In case you only look at comments on your most recent post…”
no, that’s not what i do, and yes, i saw your previous comment, thanks! (^_^) haven’t had a chance to watch the video, yet, but i will do.
@big nose kate – “And now I wake this morning and find you have posted a photograph of me, how weird is that!!”
heh! (^_^) welcome to the blog — and thanks for your extensive comments! gimme a little time to get back to you on all that you’ve said (prolly tomorrow [monday] as i’ve got a bunch of stuff going on today…). (^_^)
@big nose kate – “…I don’t think I have quite the scientific expertise of your regulars and I don’t want to lower the caliber of discussion with my naivety.”
oh, h*ll — I don’t have the scientific expertise of my regulars! (~_^)
@big nose kate – “re. the article by Nesbitt and Cohen. I read this paper years ago, maybe as a conference paper, and I understood it quite differently at the time; I was just glad that someone was linking culture/behaviour with biology/physiology. But I take your point that there is no consideration as to how the underlying physiology was arrived at.”
yes, i’m glad that someone’s linking culture and biology, as well — but it irritates the h*ck out of me that, even though they found physiological changes in the southern men, their automatic “go to” explanation for those changes is that it’s something about southerners’ culture. i mean — ok, maybe, yes. but they didn’t even consider a possible genetic/biological explanation — i.e. that southern men might be in some way or another genetically different from yankees.
it just seems bizarre to me that anyone would leave out even considering — or mentioning — the possibility — when they found phyiological changes in the southern guys! i mean, something biological is going on there!
@big nose kate – “Do you think that we under estimate the effect of cultural events on gene pools?”
yes, i think so (although i don’t think bolt’s theory is correct, but it’s nice to hear regular folks out there thinking about these things!). but the paradigm is shifting — there’s starting to be more and more understanding that human evolution didn’t stop in the paleolithic (to be replaced by culture — what a weird idea!) — and clearly odd/unexpected cultural or historical events can surely potentially have big impacts on gene pools.
my little theory is that a pretty long history of outbreeding in europe (esp. nw europe) led to some interesting changes in the genetics related to altruism in those populations — and that outbreeding got going bizarrely because the roman catholic church (and some kings and princes) demanded it. odd, but true (i think).
@big nose kate – “I think they were Celtic (Rb) groups of people, is that your understanding?”
i think there are some anglo-saxons thrown in there, as well, from northern england, but i don’t know how much.
@big nose kate – “…not least Eastwood and Olyphant….”
(look away now, gentlemen…) two excellent, excellent choices! (~_^)
@big nose kate – “So what humans have to decide, for their particular culture, is what distance is safe – it’s the classic conversation in a corridor. Do you think this fine tuning could be epigenetic?”
don’t know. perhaps. interesting idea!
however, something to remember is: epigenetics is not magic. (~_^)
@big nose kate – “re. to summarize, there are really only two cultures – one that can be characterized by kin and one that emerged with European civilization and can be characterized by an orientation towards public goods.”
yes. although there is some fine-tuning that can be done when focusing in on the “kin cultures” depending on how closely the group has inbred and for how long. arabs, for example — very closely inbred (father’s brother’s daughter marriage) for a very long time — very kin-oriented. the chinese, otoh — rather closely inbred (mother’s brother’s daughter marriage) for a very long time — rather kin-oriented.
plus, there are some other groups out there besides europeans (nw europeans) who outbreed. bushmen (so i am told) and the peaceful semai are a couple of examples.
@big nose kate – “the problem now is that if the two are mixed the orientation towards public goods will always lose out.”
yup. =/ (at least that’s how it’s looking so far….)
thank you thank you
I think you are underestimating the shift from Catholic to Protestant. Descartes travelled from Cath France to Prot Holland so that he could publish. Protestantism preaches reciprocal altruism, there may even be another word for when you try and do more for others than they do for you – ‘to give is to receive’ and that doesn’t mean beware of people bearing gifts nor does it refer to scratching backs, rather to wearing scratchy shirts, it means ‘to give and not to count the cost’.
It’s a real shame that in the UK the Church of England is being destroyed on the basis that it is not used for ritual worship – have people understood nothing of the transition from ritual worship to serving the community? I spent years studying social capital and ‘safety nets’ in South Asia and yet in my own backyard they are removing the best safety net ever created.
The outliers you refer to in Start Here are Catholic countries.
We have a strong secular lobby in the UK. [Can you think of any other country with a national religion and a secular, some would even say anti-the nation religion, legislature?]
Whenever religion is discussed the focus is on irrational beliefs about a supernatural being. This actually is irrelevant. there’s no way to tell if someone does or doesn’t believe so not much point discussing it. What is relevant though is the ideology of religion. Even Buddhism is an individual behavioural undertaking. Protestantism otoh is a mandate for nosiness. The disappearance of the McCann girl prompted many Portuguese to criticise the parents for not watching their children – there is not quite the same understanding of public space as being a shared space with shared responsibilities, in Catholic countries as in Protestant. ?
An unrelated issue (I’m sorry my posts are all over the place) when you talk about out-breeding in NW Europe, my feeling is that because the whole region was probably as genetically homogenous as it gets, people weren’t out-breeding to the same extent as regions with a history of multiple migrations might have been? Kurds for instance have stayed in one place (indigenous G and I) and absorbed the Arab (J), Mongol (C) and ‘European’ (R) invasions. Maybe warriors fathered illegitimate children which the Kurds brought up as their own. Sorry, that sounds really confused but I am trying to get to the bottom of why some of the most strongly defended ethnicities are really quite diverse in origin and yet Europeans are not being allowed to do the same thing, preserve their ethnicity through a moving genetic profile. Probably not any clearer – I’ll go back to reading!
@big nose kate – “…when you talk about out-breeding in NW Europe, my feeling is that because the whole region was probably as genetically homogenous as it gets, people weren’t out-breeding to the same extent as regions with a history of multiple migrations might have been? Kurds for instance have stayed in one place (indigenous G and I) and absorbed the Arab (J), Mongol (C) and ‘European’ (R) invasions. Maybe warriors fathered illegitimate children which the Kurds brought up as their own. Sorry, that sounds really confused….”
no, no — that doesn’t sound confused. but it is a slight — but understandable — misunderstanding of “the theory.”
the (working) theory around here is that long-term close mating — such as mating regularly with your first cousins for umpteen generations — structures the genetic relatedness between extended family members in such a way so as to make (what i call) “familial altruism” behaviors pay off genetically (i.e. inclusive fitness) in a large way. what you get as a result of this is selection for “familial altruism” genes (whatever they are).
that second part there is the crucial part of the theory (see this post for more). it’s not just the patterns of inbreeding or outbreeding in and of themselves that alter peoples’ behaviors. it’s that those mating patterns set up the population for certain selection pressures to work (in inbred populations you’re more likely to get “familial altruism” genes selected for — in outbred populations you’re more likely to get “reciprocal altruism” genes selected for … or something like that).
so with your example of the kurds being variously overrun by the arabs and mongols and whomever else — yes, that is a sort-of outbreeding — BUT if those other populations were also inbreeding populations (like the kurds are) then they are likely to just introduce more of the same “familial altruism” genes into the kurdish population. and both the arabs and mongols were definitely cousin-marriers.
as i said in a comment over here (the discussion was about all the slaves brought into ancient rome):
“you have to ask yourself, wrt to altruistic behaviors (which is what i mostly talk about around here), is from what sorts of populations were all these slaves drawn from? were the slaves from inbreeding populations as well? because, if so, they might’ve been just as clannish/tribal in their natures as the pre-christian european slave-holding populations were — so any new altruism-related genes introduced by the slaves into the slave-holding populations might’ve been just as clannish/tribal as the slave-holding populations’ genes.
i mentioned this before in an example of native mexicans and the influx of spanish genes after colonization. spaniards — especially southern spaniards — have a long history of inbreeding, and so (i think) it’s likely that they’ve got a lot of “familial altruism” genes. same goes for (at least some of) the mexicans. so the mixing of those two groups probably didn’t change much.”
it’s a kind-of subtle argument. kind-of “special” really. (~_^)
@big nose kate – “…there may even be another word for when you try and do more for others than they do for you – ‘to give is to receive’….”
“pathological altruism” maybe. =/
@big nose kate – “I think you are underestimating the shift from Catholic to Protestant.”
well, the funny thing is, part of the reformation had to do with doing away with the roman catholic church’s bans on cousin marriage. luther and others pointed out that there was nothing in the bible prohibiting cousin marriage — and that the whole thing was just another one of the rc church’s money making operations (in the form of dispensations).
following the reformation, several of the newly protestant countries (or locales) allowed cousin marriage. and the cousin marriage rates did go up a bit — but not all that much! (some protestant countries, like sweden, kept the cousin marriage ban — until the 1800s i think it was.)
meanwhile, in rc countries like italy — especially southern italy — cousin marriage rates went through the roof!
it’s a little irony of the whole story that protestant nations — which allow cousin marriage — don’t have that much of it, while rc nations — which don’t allow it (at least the church doesn’t) — do!
hmmm I see
well here’s another random thought (remember that cartoon with a brain in a bell jar? wouldn’t it be great if I could just sit your brain on my dining table? no? don’t have kids/watch cartoons? I’ve been reading Emma Kennedy’s analysis of The Killing – no, not the American version! – why didn’t thingy-perp shoot Sara in the head when he had the chance at the end of series 2? because he was in love with her brain, of course) :)
It’s just come to my attention that the local Scout Group has been under-cutting the postal service (flashback to Charlton Heston galloping across the Plains with a leather satchel full of letters)
I looked at the You-Tube clip about self-organising grass huts, suppose that NW Euros developed genes for a self-organising behaviour pattern, so that whatever situation they found themselves in they would organise their way out (it does seem to be their main party trick does it not?) is that suggestion even worth contemplating from a genetic perspective?
@big nose kate – i love other people’s streams of consciousness. (^_^)
btw, are you hungarian, then? (~_^)
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