russians, eastern europeans, runs of homozygosity (roh), and inbreeding

greying wanderer (thanks, grey!) pointed out to me (via) a very interesting study of russian/eastern european genetics which includes some runs of homozygosity (roh) data (which can provide clues of inbreeding/close matings among other things): A Genome-Wide Analysis of Populations from European Russia Reveals a New Pole of Genetic Diversity in Northern Europe. (dienekes has a really good explanation of roh here.)

in this latest study, khrunin et al. took a look at a handful of different ethnic russian sub-populations (from different locations in russia) as well as some other eastern european groups. most of the samples from russia they collected themselves — the rest came from other studies. here’s a list of which groups were included and where they came from:

– russians (n=384) from the archangelsk (mezen district, n = 96), vladimir (murom district, n = 96), kursk (kursk and oktyabrsky districts, n = 96), and tver (andreapol district, n = 96) regions
veps (n=81) from the babaevo district of the vologodsky region
komi (n=150) from the izhemski (izhemski komi, n = 79) and priluzski (priluzski komi, n = 71) districts of the komi republic.

all of these samples were collected by the authors — except for those from tver — and the researchers ensured that the subjects AND their parents were originally from whatever region in which they happened to find them (i like that!).

the data from other studies which they used are described in this paper and include:

– finns – samples from helsinki (n = 100) and kuusamo (n = 84) – kuusamo is really remote
– estonians (n = 100) – samples collected across the entire country
– latvians (n = 95) – samples collected in riga – parents had to be latvians
– poles (n = 48) – from the west-pomeranian region, so just on the border with germany
– czechs (n = 94) – from prague, moravia, and silesia
– germans (n = 100) – from schleswig-holstein in the north and the augsburg region in the south
– italians (n = 88) from tuscanyhapmap
– russians (n = 25) from the human genome diversity panel (hgdp) – i believe from the vologda oblast.

the data collected by khrunin et al. are really good, imho, since 1) they went to all the trouble of collecting samples from different regions of russia, and 2) the researchers tried to control for ethnic/regional origin. the quality of the data from all the other studies is kinda mixed, for my interests anyway. for instance, taking in samples in large, capital cities — meh — not so great. the residents of those cities could’ve come from all over the country. the northern versus southern sampling in germany is better; unfortunately, those data sets were combined together in this study (they’re kept separate in another really cool study which i will post about soon!). the estonian data set is interesting because the samples came from across the country. otoh, the polish data set is also interesting because it’s from such a specific region (and right on the border with germany).

ok. one last thing before i show you the results (i made a map!). different researchers define roh differently (*sigh*) — while there do seem to be some standards, there’s also quite a bit of variation, and different researchers choose to look for roh of varying lengths. in this study, the researchers looked for roh that were 1.5Mb in length (i’ve seen other researchers look for 1Mb in length). 1.5Mb is pretty short as far as roh go. if you recall, when a population has a lot of longer roh (like 4-8Mb or more), that’s a pretty good indicator of inbreeding. 1.5Mb — not so much. lots of short roh are a better indicator of something like a population bottleneck in the distant-ish past. but, what’s a girl to do? gotta work with what’s available, and if it’s short roh, so be it.

here (finally!) is the map. i took the data from this table. the map (first column of data) is of the average number of roh (of 1.5Mb) found in individuals in the different populations (nROH):

russia nroh

the most obvious thing to note is that the small, endogamous groups (the veps and the komi) have more roh than any of the other populations, except for the finns up in kuusamo (and i think that that’s probably due to a bottleneck — ethnic finns really only migrated to, and began to settle in, the area seriously in the 1600s, and i imagine it wasn’t very many of them — and being so far away from anybody else!). the veps and the komi are small populations and, historically, they didn’t marry out much (that’s why we have veps and komi people today), so they are somewhat inbred. definitely more so than the surrounding population.

another curious thing is the pretty high number of rohs in the baltic populations: latvians=0.58, estonians=0.61, and finns in helsinki=1.13. wow! what happened there? that’s something like three to five times the number of roh we see in italians (from tuscany) or germans.

the most interesting point for me, though, is that there is an east-west divide. it’s kinda vague, maybe, but i think it’s there: italians (tuscans) and germans at ca. 0.20, and then the czechs and poles right next door at 0.35 and 0.51 respectively. and everyone to the east, except the russians in kursk, higher again than those two figures. i think these results hint at what i’ve found in the history books on medieval europe, i.e. that western europeans began outbreeding earlier than eastern europeans and as a result wound up being more outbred. (see, for example, here and here — and the “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column.)

finally, the authors of the study point out how it appears that the average number of roh in individuals in a population increases with latitude — and they mention that this has also been shown elsewhere (i’ll be posting on that paper — very soon!). if you look at the various ethnic russian populations, for instance, the russians down in kursk (Rus_Ku=0.28) and murom (Rus_Mu=0.39) have fewer roh than the russians further to the north in tver (Rus_Tv=0.49) and way up in mezen (Rus_Me=1.63!). however, the hgdp russian samples, apparently from the vologda oblast which is pretty far north, have relatively low numbers of roh (Rus_HGDP=0.44), so that doesn’t seem to fit. still, it does look like a real pattern to me. the authors suggest that this is due to the general pattern of how europe was settled (from the south to the north), as well as the fact that the farther north you go, the fewer people there are to mate with (so the more inbred you wind up being).

as i’ll show in my next post, though, while there does seem to be a north-south pattern to roh frequency in europe with more roh in populations to the north than the south, curiously the numbers seem to increase in southern europe as well (as compared to places in central europe like germany and france) — and strangely in the balkan region as well. i can’t imagine why! (^_^)

previously: ibd and historic mating patterns in europe and ibd rates for europe and the hajnal line and runs of homozygosity and inbreeding (and outbreeding) and runs of homozygosity again

(note: comments do not require an email. kuusamo traffic jam!)

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64 Comments

  1. Interesting. But probably not of great real world significance.

    As you have convincingly argued a lot, high inbreeding is associated with higher levels of corruption, nepotism, etc. However, in Russia corruption tends to increase as you go south and west. And even as regards the Baltics, Latvia say is a lot more corrupt than Estonia, while Estonia is more corrupt than Finland; even though the ROH goes in the precise opposite direction.

    So yes. It seems to have little to do with inbreeding anytime in the recent past, and a lot to do with population bottlenecks in the distant past.

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  2. @anatoly – “However, in Russia corruption tends to increase as you go south and west.”

    you got data for that?

    @anatoly – “And even as regards the Baltics, Latvia say is a lot more corrupt than Estonia….”

    maybe that’s ’cause there’s a greater percentage of russians in latvia than in estonia. (~_^) seriously — multiculturalism makes everything worse.

    @anatoly – “And even as regards the Baltics, Latvia say is a lot more corrupt than Estonia, while Estonia is more corrupt than Finland; even though the ROH goes in the precise opposite direction. So yes. It seems to have little to do with inbreeding anytime in the recent past, and a lot to do with population bottlenecks in the distant past.”

    the argument isn’t that there’s an exact, direct relationship between inbreeding and, say, corruption. it’s more subtle than that (like everything in biology/evolution) — i.e. that lots of inbreeding sets the stage for the possible/likely selection for “familial altruism” or whatever you want to call it (see here and here for example).

    the pattern still holds. western europe has a long history of outbreeding and has very low corruption rates — eastern europe has a long history of inbreeding (more than western europeans) and has comparatively high corruption rates. finland is likely the exception that proves the rule.

    also, note the “problems” with these data. it would be better to check for longer roh rates. i’m “making do” with this data ’cause that’s all that i’ve got (right now).

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  3. HBDChick, remember that Poles “just from the border with the Germany” are in fact most likely descendants of people being resettled there from what is now Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine.

    Though I expected them being less inbreed, since this resettlement was pretty much a forced mixing program…

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  4. you got data for that?

    Corruption map (red is bad, green is good; based on polls) ~ definite gradient there.

    Electoral falsifications (green – fair; yellow – statistically significant falsifications; red – total falsifications) ~ again, a distinguishable gradient, if not quite as sharp as for corruption.

    maybe that’s ’cause there’s a greater percentage of russians in latvia than in estonia. (~_^) seriously — multiculturalism makes everything worse.

    That’s a plausible suggestion, but probably invalid, as it would not explain Lithuania which has by far the smallest percentage of Russians but which is nonetheless more corrupt than Latvia (and possibly even Russia itself).

    finland is likely the exception that proves the rule.

    also, note the “problems” with these data. it would be better to check for longer roh rates. i’m “making do” with this data ’cause that’s all that i’ve got (right now).

    Clarification appreciated.

    To the contrary I think that what Finland proves is that as long as you have a long-term commitment to and tradition of outbreeding, it doesn’t really matter all that much if a long-ago population bottleneck forced them into substantial inbreeding for a few generations.

    In Eastern Europe in particular we have to recall that the region still suffers from lingering pathologies of the socialist and transition eras. According to the inbreeding/corruption correlations, it should be worse than the Germanics but better than the Meds; in reality, it’s worse than both (although Greece is arguably right down there among them). So we have to be careful about reducing too much to just the historic breeding patterns.

    PS. In support of your theory… I remember you commented on an earlier comment of mine that Korea was in fact extremely outbred relative to China and Japan. Probably not a coincidence, then, that only 1% of Koreans reported paying a bribe in 2010-11, relative to 9% of Japanese (where inbreeding only began to be suppressed from the Meiji period on) and 9% of Chinese (even later). Chalk it up as one more additional pillar of support to your thesis.

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  5. “And even as regards the Baltics, Latvia say is a lot more corrupt than Estonia….”

    And, one more thing… according to your link, Russians make up 27% of the population in Latvia and 25% of the population in Estonia. That difference is basically a margin of error as far as Censuses go (especially as applied to ethnic Russians in those countries, a group which is highly transitory with many of them traveling to work abroad in the EU).

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  6. @AK
    My knowledge of Russia is severly limited by the corruption map rather shows corruption of ethinc Russians (slavs) vs. the rest (except Caucasus). Places like Murmanskaja oblast, Sankt Peterburg and Primorskij krai prove that.

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  7. @krakonos,

    You do know more about Russia than average (that it has ethnic minorities) but unfortunately it leads you down a dead end (vastly overestimating the demographic and geographic reach of said ethnic minorities).

    In reality, all the north-eastern republics in green are majority Russian; even where there are substantial numbers of minorities they are at most 25% of the population as in Komi, in others they are 10% as in Karelia. All the other provinces north-east of Moscow are >90% ethnic Russian.

    The only majority ethnic minority places are the southernmost Caucasus republics (all in red); Kalmykia (no data); and the two southernmost Siberian republics of Buryatia and Tyva (neither of which have data in the corruption map). Apart from Tyva and Buryatia, the rest of Siberia is overwhelmingly (>90%) Russian.

    That St.-Petersburg (and Moscow) are red probably has more to do with them being capital and semi-capital cities than anything else. A bureaucrat is always within spitting distance there.

    Finally, while the Far East does radically break the declining gradient of corruption from south and west to north and east, that ironically might have its own cultural or even HBD reason. About half of “Russian” Far Easterners are descended from Ukrainians (the place was actually briefly known as “Green Ukraine” during the Civil War). And today Ukraine is almost certainly more corrupt than the Russian average.

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  8. @szopen – “HBDChick, remember that Poles ‘just from the border with the Germany’ are in fact most likely descendants of people being resettled there from what is now Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine.”

    ah ha! thanks. i did have in the back of my mind the idea that this could be some funny little sub-population, but i wasn’t sure who they might be. i actually wondered if we could be seeing, perhaps, hanseatic germans who, in the medieval period, seemed to have had a tendency to marry each other and not marry out very much, but maybe not. maybe it’s people from farther east, like you suggest.

    @szopen – “Though I expected them being less inbreed, since this resettlement was pretty much a forced mixing program…”

    well, depends on how much the married out after the move(s).

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  9. @anatoly – “Corruption map (red is bad, green is good; based on polls) ~ definite gradient there.

    “Electoral falsifications (green – fair; yellow – statistically significant falsifications; red – total falsifications) ~ again, a distinguishable gradient, if not quite as sharp as for corruption”

    thanks! cool. i knew you’d have it. (^_^)

    i agree — looks like there’s more corruption/dodgy-ness to the southwest than in the north/northeast (until you get all the way east). but, again, like i said, i’m not saying that there’s a direct one-to-one relationship between inbreeding and corruption, etc. — just that there are correlations — and i think that the correlations relate to “clannishness,” or “clannism” as mark weiner puts it in his new book — and that clannism is connected, for evolutionary reasons, to inbreeding.

    the more long-term inbreeding, the more likely your society is going to be based on extended-families/clans/tribes, and the more likely you’re going to favor your family members — which, under the right (or maybe i should say the wrong) circumstances can lead to things like corruption and nepotism.

    of course local circumstances and history matter. my guess is that there’s more corruption in southwestern russia because it’s more densely populated, hence more competition over resources (whatever they may be).

    the big pattern remains, though (and it’ll become clearer — i think — whenever i get my next post on roh and western europe up), and that is the western europe/outbreeding/low-levels of corruption vs. eastern europe/more inbreeding/higher-levels of corruption pattern. (and, of course, the similar northern vs. southern europe pattern as well — consider the piigs)

    the fantastic thing on the corruption map is the deep red color of the caucasus oblasts. that is one corrupt area! and you know they have a history of marrying very closely.

    thanks again for those maps!

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  10. @anatoly – “That’s a plausible suggestion, but probably invalid, as it would not explain Lithuania which has by far the smallest percentage of Russians but which is nonetheless more corrupt than Latvia (and possibly even Russia itself).”

    well, i was (mostly) kidding about the presence of russians — thus the little winky face >> (~_^).

    in fact, maybe the more russians the better because, if lithuania really is more corrupt than latvia (and estonia?), it’s interesting to note that they’ve got the fewest ethnic russians and the most “natives” (i.e. lithuanians) as compared to either latvia or estonia. maybe lithuania needs to import more russians! (^_^)

    you, undoubtedly, know much more about these baltic countries than i do. i don’t know what their story is. i remember reading several years ago that that region has the highest per capita murder rate in europe. wild bunch!

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  11. @anatoly – “In Eastern Europe in particular we have to recall that the region still suffers from lingering pathologies of the socialist and transition eras. According to the inbreeding/corruption correlations, it should be worse than the Germanics but better than the Meds; in reality, it’s worse than both (although Greece is arguably right down there among them).”

    sure. like i said above, circumstances matter and history matters.

    however, i would ask — and i have asked (and so have others like emmanuel todd, who also suggested an answer, which i don’t fully buy btw) — WHY all that communist/socialist craziness in eastern europe? why eastern europeans? what was it — or is it — about you guys?

    i think that some sociobiological explanations ought at least to be considered (and i’m not just talking about my inbreeding/outbreeding one — even i don’t think that that explains the history of communist tyranny of eastern europe).

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  12. I too suspect that tribalism/inbreeding is linked to corruption although there are other factors too. Perhaps adding some of these factors could give a clearer picture. For one, large countries seem more corrupt than small. I have a hunch that personality can be a factor as well. It seems that introverted countries are less corrupt. I think this might be a better indicator than intelligence.

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  13. @anatoloy – “PS. In support of your theory… I remember you commented on an earlier comment of mine that Korea was in fact extremely outbred relative to China and Japan. Probably not a coincidence, then, that only 1% of Koreans reported paying a bribe in 2010-11, relative to 9% of Japanese (where inbreeding only began to be suppressed from the Meiji period on) and 9% of Chinese (even later). Chalk it up as one more additional pillar of support to your thesis.”

    ooo, thanks! i like pillars. (^_^) ionic ones, mostly. those corinthian ones are too fancy for my tastes.

    i think it’s interesting, too, that many, many more koreans (south koreans) are christians compared to the japanese or chinese (ca. 29% vs. 2-4%). there’s something there, too, i think. (what to say about the north koreans, though…?)

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  14. @staffan – “For one, large countries seem more corrupt than small.”

    if by large you mean population size, then i think you’re probably right. i think what it is is some sort of ratio between population size and resources (whatever the “resources” happen to be, from coconuts to junk bonds — whatever) — plus “clannism” — plus other factors, too, probably. biology is messy. (^_^)

    @staffan – “I have a hunch that personality can be a factor as well. It seems that introverted countries are less corrupt. I think this might be a better indicator than intelligence.”

    that’s an interesting idea! have you ever investigated/posted about this?

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  15. No, but it’s fairly easy to run Lynn’s numbers and the Transparency index in a correlation/scatterplot. I’m thinking introversion would entail more introspection and cognitive dissonance. Oh well, now I have to do it – subclinical OCD : )

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  16. @hbdchick,

    thanks again for those maps!

    Glad to be of help.

    i remember reading several years ago that that region has the highest per capita murder rate in europe.

    No, that honor goes to Russia. But the Baltics aren’t very far behind.

    Lithuania does however have the distinction of having the world’s highest suicide rate last time I checked.

    However, I have to stress that while homicide rates might have heavily HBD causes in some places, that does not describe Eastern Europe at all. It’s almost entirely a function of chronic binge drinking there.

    however, i would ask — and i have asked (and so have others like emmanuel todd, who also suggested an answer, which i don’t fully buy btw) — WHY all that communist/socialist craziness in eastern europe? why eastern europeans? what was it — or is it — about you guys?

    Not going to win many plaudits on this from anybody, but my opinion is that it was dumb luck – or more accurately, the lack of it – more than anything else. Germany and Hungary could have well gone Communist in 1918-1919. In the late 1940’s, a range of European countries like Greece, Italy, and even France would have probably elected Communist Parties to power had not elections there been substantially falsified.

    The Bolsheviks however did not win the elections of 1917. They got 25%, much less than conventional socialist / social democratic types. They essentially seized power via an undemocratic coup.

    And obviously Communism would have been very unlikely to spring up in places like Poland and the Czech Republic (if not Hungary) without it being imposed from abroad.

    So I don’t think there is anything very specific to Eastern Europe that enabled the “communist/socialist craziness.” In fact, I daresay the more interesting question is this: Why is the Anglo-Saxon (and Scandinavian) region virtually the only part of the world where Communism has never, ever enjoyed popular support of above 5% or so at most?

    i think it’s interesting, too, that many, many more koreans (south koreans) are christians compared to the japanese or chinese (ca. 29% vs. 2-4%). there’s something there, too, i think. (what to say about the north koreans, though…?)

    Interesting little fact: Pyongyang in 1945 was the most Christian of all the major Korean cities. (source) Quite a bit has changed since, obviously.

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  17. @staffan – “No, but it’s fairly easy to run Lynn’s numbers and the Transparency index in a correlation/scatterplot.”

    iq and corruption has already been done [pdf], btw. (did anyone ever blog about this paper? i don’t remember ever hearing about it.)

    @staffan – “I’m thinking introversion would entail more introspection and cognitive dissonance.”

    i’d like to see corruption plotted against introversion/extroversion. let me know if/when you post something about it! (^_^)

    @staffan – “Oh well, now I have to do it – subclinical OCD : )”

    heh! tell me about it. (^_^)

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  18. @anatoly – “In fact, I daresay the more interesting question is this: Why is the Anglo-Saxon (and Scandinavian) region virtually the only part of the world where Communism has never, ever enjoyed popular support of above 5% or so at most?”

    this is exactly the question that emmanuel todd asked — and his answer was that the anglo-saxon world (and parts of scandinavia) were societies that were for a very long time based on the nuclear family (see also here). (to which my response is: but that’s ’cause of all the oubreeding! (~_^) )

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  19. I would like to note that, as a general rule, one’s dislike of an idea doesn’t, in and of itself, constitute evidence against it. The converse is also true (i.e., liking an idea isn’t, by itself, evidence for it).

    I will note that all differences between groups of people separated by space or (sufficient) time likely has a biological basis, at least in part. Remember, all human behavioral traits are heritable.

    The evidence for hbd chick’s general theory is robust. Small inconsistencies with imperfect data are to be expected.

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  20. @JayMan,

    I hope that’s not addressed to me? I try my best to keep any claims data-based, and I don’t think the small critiques I’ve made here were on unsupported.

    @hbdchick,

    this is exactly the question that emmanuel todd asked — and his answer was that the anglo-saxon world (and parts of scandinavia) were societies that were for a very long time based on the nuclear family (see also here).

    Perhaps. But then again, how to explain Germany? As I recall from your older post, it took Scandinavia even longer to form a nuclear family tradition than it did most of Germany.

    But Germans made very good Communists. This necessarily has to be based on anecdote and observation rather than hard empirical data, but according to numerous accounts, the East Germans were far, far more enthusiastic about the whole enterprise than, say, the Poles. Or the Czechs.

    But Polish traditional family structure was a lot more similar to the Russian than to the German, as I recall, while the German was a lot more similar to the Anglo-Saxon.

    Maybe the Poles just hated Communism because they associated it with Russia, as resistance to Russia is in its national character. Had Russia not been Communist, maybe they’d have been far more partial to it. Ideologies are remarkably susceptible to becoming associated with national character: For instance, to many Americans, you simply cannot be a patriot unless you support capitalism (this is certainly not the case in, say, Russia, or France). As it was viewed as a foreign element, and moreover one associated with a historical adversary, Poles might have developed an artificially high level of antipathy to Communism. But that still begs the question – why did the East Germans become enthusiastic Communists? After all, Russia is a historical adversary of Germany too.

    Anyway, I don’t think this speculation is going anywhere, so I’ll stop. Maybe you could come up with some better ideas.

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  21. @AK
    That’s may be part of the explanation, but I think more important is the fact that Poland was and even now IS heavily religious and catholic country. Contrary to what Russians think, we do not particularly hate Russians (though there are exceptions, there are a lot of russophobes). However we like our independence and we, well, do not exact love Russia as a country.

    As my father put it once, when i was 6 or something like that
    “Father is that right that Russians are our friends?”
    “No son, Russians are our brothers. You are allowed to choose and switch your own friends”

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  22. AK
    “However, I have to stress that while homicide rates might have heavily HBD causes in some places, that does not describe Eastern Europe at all. It’s almost entirely a function of chronic binge drinking there.”

    Interesting. Although perhaps, like the northwestern fringe e.g. Scotland, the binge drinking is *partly* due to HBD reasons as well i.e. tolerance/reaction to alcohol?

    (Just one of my pet theories.)

    .
    “Why is the Anglo-Saxon (and Scandinavian) region virtually the only part of the world where Communism has never, ever enjoyed popular support of above 5% or so at most?”

    “The Bolsheviks however did not win the elections of 1917. They got 25%, much less than conventional socialist / social democratic types. They essentially seized power via an undemocratic coup.”

    Yes, i think that is the scale of it, 25% vs 5% rather than yes vs no.

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  23. @AK
    The only data about ethnic minorities in Russia I have is from documentaries (sad, I know). And they present many non-european characters outside Western Russia. Especially in villages. Maybe there is a division between cities and small villlages. I do not know how exactly migration to the East changed ethnic composition and maps. And who the migrants were. Prisoners? Dissent? Workers?

    One thing which might surprise you about Czechs and communism is that, as the only country in the eastern block, they cheerfully voted themselves to communism in 1946 elections (38%). Subversion was easy then. There was no real uprising – unlike in Hungary or Poland.

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  24. I am not so sure corruption is about inbreeding-outbreeding, but rather if you lived in a community where the members were free to punish corrupt officials.

    From Wikipedia

    A hundred is a geographic division formerly used in England, Wales, South Australia and some parts of the United States, to divide a larger region into smaller administrative divisions; similar divisions were made in Denmark, Germany (Southern Schleswig), Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Norway. Other terms for the hundred in English and other languages include wapentake, herred (Danish, Norwegian Bokmål), herad (Norwegian Nynorsk), hérað (Icelandic), härad or hundare (Swedish), Harde (German), kihlakunta (Finnish) and kihelkond (Estonian)
    …..
    Hundred courts

    Over time, the principal functions of the hundred became the administration of law and the keeping of the peace. By the 12th century the hundred court was held twelve times a year. This was later increased to fortnightly, although an ordinance of 1234 reduced the frequency to once every three weeks. In some hundreds, courts were held at a fixed place; while in others, courts moved with each sitting to a different location. The main duties of the hundred court were the maintenance of the frankpledge system. It was formed of 12 freeholders, or freeman.[5] They crossed jurisdictions of manorial courts,[5] i.e. courts baron and courts leet. Tithings handled many problems involving villeins, but since freeholders were outside the frankpledge system, any suits involving them would need to be held in a hundred court

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundred_(country_subdivision)

    This article is skewed towards the English system, and I don’t know it well, but in Fenno-scandia the members of the Hundreds chose their own lawspeakers and jury members and punished transgressors, for at least a 1000 years. (At least 800 years for Finland)

    A corrupt individual would just not be chosen to a position of local authority, unless he was really good at hiding it. After all, when the electors would have known you since birth, so they would have known pretty good, if you could be trusted or not.

    That the Hundred system has had a cultural impact when it comes to corruption is pretty certain, but because it existed for so long, it might have had a genetic effect as well.

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  25. “Why is the Anglo-Saxon (and Scandinavian) region virtually the only part of the world where Communism has never, ever enjoyed popular support of above 5% or so at most?”

    You don’t need communism if the ordinary people have control over their own courts as jury members, because they then have rights they will lose under a communist system.

    In Norway it was already ancient customary law that the rich people in the community had to pay for the upkeep of the poor. As a return, the rich people denied the poor the right to marry.

    The right to marry part broke down with industrialization and the sail ship era, because the ease of emigration, but that the rich have to pay for the poor, is still very much in place.

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  26. Thanks for the Dienekes link explaining the importance of runs of homozygosity (ROH). May I suggest you always use the phrase rather than the acronym for us poor souls who can’t keep up with the jargon? Now for a question: if rohs greater than five million are indicative of recent inbreeding, why try to build a case based on rohs only one third that size?

    Reply

  27. @luke – ” if rohs greater than five million are indicative of recent inbreeding, why try to build a case based on rohs only one third that size?”

    ’cause that’s the only data available right now. =( (until i get myself a new computer, that is…. (~_^) ) and, i’m not only interested in recent inbreeding.

    Reply

  28. Here’s an interesting comment (by someone, not me, who must remain anonymous) about Hamilton’s rule, in connection with the new bio that is just coming out:

    Hamilton’s Rule says that a behavior that costs the actor but benefits a
    relative of the actor is favored by natural selection as long as the
    benefit/cost ratio satisfies B/C>1/r, where r is the coefficient of
    relatedness of actor to beneficiary – the expected fraction of the
    beneficiary’s genes present in the recipient by common descent, over and
    above what they have in common just by virtue of being part of the same
    population. If this condition is met, then the actor is helping more
    copies of her genes get into the next generation.

    In deriving Hamilton’s Rule it’s necessary to make some assumptions, and
    if these assumptions are violated the rule may break down. For example,
    the rule ignores strategic interactions between players. Suppose that we
    have not just a potential benefactor and a potential recipient, but two
    related players (brothers say) playing a game. Before either payer has
    made a move, the expected probability of their sharing a gene affecting
    game behavior is the standard ½, the coefficient of relatedness for
    brothers. But if Player A makes move 1, and player B also makes move 1,
    you have to revise the estimate of their being identical by descent at
    the locus for game behavior – it may no longer be ½. This means that a
    simple minded application of Hamilton’s Rule to the game — just treat
    each player trying to maximize their inclusive fitness — no longer
    describes the evolutionary dynamics of the game. You have to do some
    explicit and probably messy calculation of genetic dynamics.

    Another assumption in deriving the Rule is that there is only weak
    selection between the time a gene is present in an ancestor and the time
    it is active in descendants. But suppose this isn’t true. Suppose before
    you face the choice of whether to rescue a sibling, many of your
    siblings have already died in rescue attempts. Then you’re no longer
    allowed to assume that your potential beneficiary has the altruism gene
    with probability ½, because a lot of your altruistic siblings are dead.
    So Hamilton’s Rule again doesn’t work. This is going to be especially
    important where individuals are related due to a lot of distant
    ancestors in common, rather than a few close ones.

    Edward O Wilson, both in a coauthored article and in a book has argued
    that Hamilton’s Rule involves so many special assumptions it just isn’t
    worth much. Along with a lot of other folks, I think he’s going
    overboard. On the one hand, it’s useful to remind people who get their
    math second hand that Hamilton’s Rule is not some universal shortcut. On
    the other, people who know the math have known this for a long time –
    you can find John Maynard Smith, for example, making some of the same
    points I make above. Or here is Steven Frank, in a major work on the
    subject (Foundations of Social Evolution, 1998, p. 47) “I take a middle
    position between these opposing views. On the one hand, kin selection,
    when properly used, is a powerful analytic tool. Complex problems can be
    reduced to simple models in which the biological interactions are
    clarified. On the other hand, the common practice of applying rB-C>0 to
    reason about social evolution often fails. It is not so much a failure
    of the rule, but that the rule as stated hides too much. The inviting
    simplicity leads to hasty conclusions without careful specification of
    the biological interactions and the control of phenotypes. My view is
    that overly simplified analyses based on kin selection are too common,
    but that the full power of kin selection as an analytical tool is rarely
    employed.”

    Or maybe put it this way: You can compare Hamilton’s Rule to Ricardo’s
    theory of comparative advantage. Someone who doesn’t know Hamilton is
    going to be at a major disadvantage understanding the evolution of
    kinship; someone who doesn’t know Ricardo is going to be at a major
    disadvantage understanding international trade. But you can also get in
    trouble reducing Hamilton or Ricardo to slogans like “Maximize inclusive
    fitness!” or “Up with free trade!” without considering some of the
    limitations of the theories. ______________________

    Reply

  29. @luke – thanks!

    @luke – “Suppose that we have not just a potential benefactor and a potential recipient, but two related players (brothers say) playing a game. Before either payer has made a move, the expected probability of their sharing a gene affecting game behavior is the standard ½, the coefficient of relatedness for brothers.”

    i can’t do ANY of this math, but from what i’ve read, yes, there are often a lot of special exceptions that have to be made using hamilton’s equation (again, not like i understand any of it).

    but what i REALLY don’t understand is why everyone seems to ignore inbreeding wrt inclusive fitness. yes, the “standard ½, the coefficient of relatedness for brothers” is true — of RANDOMLY mating populations (which don’t even exist in the real world, not even my outbred populations mate completely randomly). the only guys that i’ve been able to find who took a look at inbreeding and the evolution of “genes for altruism” were wade and breden back in 1980-something. what happened?

    my point is that in, for example, a very inbred population like the arabs, the probability that two brothers share a gene affecting game behavior — or altruistic behavior — is going to be greater than ½ because they are cousins as well as being brothers.

    i don’t know why this is consistently overlooked. maybe i’m missing something. -?-

    @luke – “…the new bio that is just coming out….”

    new bio? what new bio? by whom?

    Reply

  30. Anatoly makes some excellent points.

    HBD* Chick:

    I understand that you’re looking to uncover the seemingly invisible forces which work behind the scenes to shape societies. But the surface political contingencies and accidents still matter. A lot.

    In some respects, English society seems made for Protestantism. But if the Pope had given Henry VIII a divorce, maybe England would still be Catholic.

    If Kaiser Wilhelm hadn’t allowed Lenin and his 32 revolutionaries their “sealed train” to the Finland Station, they’d have been marooned in Switzerland and Russia would not have gone Communist. And if Russia hadn’t gone Communist, none of the east European countries conquered by the Red Army in 1945 would have gone Communist.

    It’s amazing how, after 44 years, none of those east European Communist governments grew lasting roots in their societies. In 1989 Michael Gorbachev announced that the USSR would no longer use brute force to maintain the Communist character of east European governments. By the end of the year, not one of those Communist governments were still in power.

    So saying, “what is it about the mating patterns of Poles and Czechs that makes them Communist?” is missing the point. In 1940, Norway and the Netherlands had Fascist governments but Britain did not. This was because they were conquered by Germany but Britain was not.

    Reply

  31. Greying Wanderer:

    “Yes, i think that is the scale of it, 25% vs 5% rather than yes vs no.”

    You have to put the Bolshevik 25% in the context of World War One, which was devastating Russia, and which had already removed the Romanovs. In 1917 the Bolsheviks were the only “peace now” party. All the other parties were committed to continuing the war against Germany.

    Nordic politics hasn’t really faced that kind of intense jeopardy – i.e. total collapse of the old social and political order plus military disaster.

    Also, remember that Germany could easily have turned Communist at the end of World War One, during the German Revolution. It didn’t largely because the German left was too factional; i.e. the usual Peoples Front of Judea versus the Judean Peoples’ Front disagreements, this time involving Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg.

    Reply

  32. Your continuing attempts to fit random data into the straitjackets of your theories are immensely amusing. Please, never stop and also consider publishing them in high impact factor journals if possible.

    Reply

  33. @georgesdelatour:

    “I understand that you’re looking to uncover the seemingly invisible forces which work behind the scenes to shape societies. But the surface political contingencies and accidents still matter. A lot.”

    Quite likely they do. Indeed, likely a great deal. But here’s the problem: you don’t know when they do or to what extent. You cannot decide a priori when biological differences matter and when they do not. Indeed, that’s how we fell into the trap of denial of biology in the first place. Biological factors involved in political and ideological differences may run against orthodoxy (indeed, against much of what we learned in history class), but that fact certainly doesn’t invalidate them.

    “In some respects, English society seems made for Protestantism. But if the Pope had given Henry VIII a divorce, maybe England would still be Catholic.”

    Unless the English equivalent of Martin Luther came along.

    “If Kaiser Wilhelm hadn’t allowed Lenin and his 32 revolutionaries their “sealed train” to the Finland Station, they’d have been marooned in Switzerland and Russia would not have gone Communist. And if Russia hadn’t gone Communist, none of the east European countries conquered by the Red Army in 1945 would have gone Communist.”

    Unless Stalin was then the Lenin of the story.

    See the problem with going down that road of thought?

    “It’s amazing how, after 44 years, none of those east European Communist governments grew lasting roots in their societies. In 1989 Michael Gorbachev announced that the USSR would no longer use brute force to maintain the Communist character of east European governments. By the end of the year, not one of those Communist governments were still in power.”

    It is interesting. You know what else is interesting? The Western Slavs and to a lesser extent the South Slavs seem to have something resembling functioning democracies today. Yet, not one of the Eastern Slavic nations do. That itself speaks to an interesting difference (i.e., likely a biological one) between these groups.

    “So saying, ‘what is it about the mating patterns of Poles and Czechs that makes them Communist?’ is missing the point.”

    No, this question misses the point. The point is not that there is necessarily something about the mating patterns of Eastern Europeans that made them inclined to accept communism, but to investigate if there is one. Or more broadly, whether biology plays a role in crafting those differences To ask the question is to examine the matter and see if that pans out. In the end, it may not, but you can’t causally dismiss the notion before you thoroughly investigate it.

    Reply

  34. @AK:

    “But then again, how to explain Germany? As I recall from your older post, it took Scandinavia even longer to form a nuclear family tradition than it did most of Germany.

    But Germans made very good Communists. This necessarily has to be based on anecdote and observation rather than hard empirical data, but according to numerous accounts, the East Germans were far, far more enthusiastic about the whole enterprise than, say, the Poles.”

    Perhaps the explanation is that the Germans are just more conformist and. The German need for order and structure may have left them a people that run with whatever system is in vogue. They may simply be accepting of authority, whether that be the authority of the Kaiser, of democracy, of Nazism, of communism, or again of democracy.

    Indeed, the Germans might illustrate how memes, such as “we’re all the same” might be quite pervasive, because they may be a people especially susceptible to convention because of their need to conform to authority.

    “But Polish traditional family structure was a lot more similar to the Russian than to the German, as I recall, while the German was a lot more similar to the Anglo-Saxon.”

    The Polish seem to have embraced a type of nuclear family common to other Catholic countries. That could be your difference.

    Reply

  35. georgesdelatour
    “You have to put the Bolshevik 25% in the context of World War One”

    Sure. The point i was trying to make was if these underlying social forms do have an effect it’s in creating differential tendencies in certain directions rather than absolutes.

    .
    Luke
    “Edward O Wilson, both in a coauthored article and in a book has argued
    that Hamilton’s Rule involves so many special assumptions it just isn’t
    worth much.”

    I must admit i don’t understand this objection at all. It seems to imply the need for some kind of conscious decision making. If you assume evolution works on the basis of random mutations followed by selection then it seems to me all you need are random traits that are *coercive* and the rest works on probability.

    For example if you have a trait that creates distress at distress e.g. caused by a baby crying or someone drowning in a river, and that distress at distress is at least partially proportional to relatedness then that and probability is all you need. People who run to pick up babies or jump into rivers to save people don’t make rational calculations: something coerces them.

    How could the level of distress at distress rise and fall among a population until it found an optimal point?

    1) Fall.
    If the average level of that distress at distress behavior among a population led to too much altruistic behavior towards non-kin then there would be no reproductive advantage and the average level would fall. That’s easy enough to see.

    However if the level was lower than optimal then it would similarly require a mechanism for the average level to increase to the optimal level.

    2) Rise.
    A candidate for that simple mechanism would be making people with above average levels of distress at distress behavior more attractive (up to the optimal level) to the opposite sex. This also should be easy to see. Mating isn’t an individual game it’s a couple game so it’s in the interests of an individual to marry an altruist (up to a point). If you’re a man then a woman with high levels of distress at distress behavior will put your children before herself. If you’re a woman then a man with high distress at distress levels will jump in between the lion and your kids – and male-pattern familial altruism and female-pattern familial altruism are generally deemed attractive traits.

    .
    If you have *coercive* traits then you all you need to make Hamilton’s rule work is probability.

    (Seems to me anyway, could be wrong.)

    Reply

  36. JayMan

    “The point is not that there is necessarily something about the mating patterns of Eastern Europeans that made them inclined to accept communism, but to investigate if there is one.”

    What would you count as data?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uprising_of_1953_in_East_Germany
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarian_Revolution_of_1956
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_wall
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prague_Spring
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solidarność

    To me, these don’t suggest a differentially stronger inclination of Slavs to accept communism compared with other groups. Of course, most people in any society aren’t fearless heroes, so most people weren’t acting like Jan Palach. Still, Soviet policy towards its east European satellites from 1945 to 1989 is only intelligible on the working assumption that they realised the locals were resentful.

    The “Stalin Note” of 1952 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalin_note) suggests even Stalin may have thought Soviet-style communism couldn’t last in eastern Europe; and he was contemplating other arrangements to guarantee Soviet security.

    Reply

  37. @lold – “Your continuing attempts to fit random data into the straitjackets of your theories are immensely amusing.”

    i’ve said many times here on the blog (and here, too) that my little theory may very well be wrong. in fact, it is likely wrong. in spite of that, i still think it is better to brainstorm and theorize rather than not.

    roh are not “random data” as far as looking for inbreeding (or outbreeding) in populations. they are pretty much exactly what i want. unfortunately, these data above have drawbacks because the researchers looked at short roh. longer roh would be more interesting/useful to me. as i said above, the only reason i bothered looking at this study is because no one is looking at long roh (at least not in individual populations). such data is not yet available.

    in fact, no one is taking into account the ca. 1200-1500 years of outbreeding that occurred in northwest europe. not the population geneticists. not the sociobiologists. and definitely not the evolutionary psychologists (they’re all stuck on the paleolithic). the only ones who have been interested in the historic mating patterns of europeans have been the historians. it’s starting to be embarassing, really.

    Reply

  38. JayMan
    03/20/2013 at 6:40 AM

    @georgesdelatour:

    “I understand that you’re looking to uncover the seemingly invisible forces which work behind the scenes to shape societies. But the surface political contingencies and accidents still matter. A lot.”

    ‘Quite likely they do. Indeed, likely a great deal. But here’s the problem: you don’t know when they do or to what extent.’

    Sort of like IQ scores. They tell you not a great deal about the future success (or failure) of a particular individual, that being influenced by many other contingencies, but a great deal about a large group’s prospects (if you know its average IQ.).

    Reply

  39. @luke – “Nature’s Oracle: The Life and Work of W.D. Hamilton. By Ullica Segerstrale. Oxford University Press.”

    ah ha! thank you! (^_^)

    from here:

    “The opposition he aroused on the way up can be partly explained by his conviction that unfashionable ideas were the most interesting: as the inaugural president of the American ‘Human Behaviour and Evolution Society’ he urged his audience to ‘dare… to try out ideas which might estrange colleagues and ruin careers’, telling them to look out for ‘the poor stranger among those ideas who may be a king in disguise’.”

    (^_^)

    if you haven’t read his Narrow Roads of Gene Land, btw, you really must. his introductory essays to each paper are absolutely delightful!

    Reply

  40. @georgesdelatour – “I understand that you’re looking to uncover the seemingly invisible forces which work behind the scenes to shape societies.”

    it’s called biology. (note that i didn’t say genetics.)

    @georgesdelatour – “But the surface political contingencies and accidents still matter. A lot.”

    yes. as i said. above.

    Reply

  41. Greying Wanderer:

    Luke
    “Edward O Wilson, both in a coauthored article and in a book has argued
    that Hamilton’s Rule involves so many special assumptions it just isn’t
    worth much.”
    ‘”I must admit i don’t understand this objection at all. It seems to imply the need for some kind of conscious decision making. If you assume evolution works on the basis of random mutations followed by selection then it seems to me all you need are random traits that are *coercive* and the rest works on probability.’

    Just to be clear those weren’t my thoughts but those of a contributor to a private list-serve, which is why I did not use his name (nor ask his permission — I hope I don’t get into trouble). I thought his comments were interesting, not that I agreed with him.

    That said, I sometimes wonder why theorists don’t consider the idea of proxies. Just because two people grew up in the same household or hunting band doesn’t mean they are closely related necessarily. But throughout evolutionary history they almost always were. Therefore growing up together might be the only cue needed to trigger certain kinds of altruistic behavior. Proxies — surely these have been investigated, haven’t they. Even nature has its down and dirty ways.

    Another idea occurs to me. Smell. Is it possible that many of the genes we share with close (or even not so close) kin generate distinct bodily odors (and maybe special smell receptors to detect them). Has this possibility been experimentally explored? We might be influenced by subtle odors and not even be consciously aware of the fact. How much discrimination is the human nose capable of? This might be a way around the complicated math.

    Reply

  42. @georgesdelatour – “It’s amazing how, after 44 years, none of those east European Communist governments grew lasting roots in their societies.”

    the interesting thing about the communist era in eastern europe was not, of course, the so-called communist part (which it wasn’t) but the dictatorship part — which was stronger in russia but also, interestingly, pretty d*mn strong in places like serbia. and before the revolution what did you have in russia? a loooooong line of dictators (the tzars) — or pretty absolute rulers — and a loooooong history of a lack of individual freedom (serfdom, for example) — right up until modern times.

    why, i ask? and, again, i’m not the only one who’s asked in the way that i ask, i.e. looking at the broad patterns and not just the historical accidents — which are important, too, as i had already said.

    Reply

  43. @jayman – “Perhaps the explanation is that the Germans are just more conformist and. The German need for order and structure may have left them a people that run with whatever system is in vogue. They may simply be accepting of authority, whether that be the authority of the Kaiser, of democracy, of Nazism, of communism, or again of democracy.”

    i think there’s something there about the germanics, especially the ones on the continent (including the scandinavians). i don’t think it’s an accident that The Emperor’s New Clothes was written by a germanic fellow! not to mention An Enemy of the People.

    Reply

  44. @anatoly – “‘this is exactly the question that emmanuel todd asked — and his answer was that the anglo-saxon world (and parts of scandinavia) were societies that were for a very long time based on the nuclear family (see also here).’

    “Perhaps. But then again, how to explain Germany? As I recall from your older post, it took Scandinavia even longer to form a nuclear family tradition than it did most of Germany.”

    there’s todd’s theory — that family structure affects political structure — and then there’s my theory — that inbreeding leads to clannism, outbreeding the opposite. while you do seem to get extended families/clans with a lot of inbreeding, and nuclear families with a lot of outbreeding, todd’s theory and mine are not exactly the same (although there is some overlap). i think that the scandinavians started outbreeding later than the mainland germans (there were some exceptions along the coast, though), but todd only looks at family structures going back to the 1500s.

    i was referring to todd’s theory when i said that scandinavia was based on the nuclear family for a very long time, not my theory. (sorry for the confusion.) i brought up todd’s theory because you asked pretty much exactly what he asked in his book — almost down to the percentage points:

    “In fact, I daresay the more interesting question is this: Why is the Anglo-Saxon (and Scandinavian) region virtually the only part of the world where Communism has never, ever enjoyed popular support of above 5% or so at most?”

    todd says you need his “exogamous community family” for there to be any significant support for communism — and, according to him, you find (or found) the exogamous community family in: russia, (former) yugoslavia, slovakia, bulgaria, hungary, finland, albania, central italy, china, vietnam, cuba, north india.

    his central italy example is interesting [pg. 45]:

    “[G]eographical fluctuation is typical of most of the major communist parties. It is exactly the case in Italy where the Italian Communist Party, despite a period of slow but steady growth between 1945 and 1970 which has made it the dominant left-wing group, is not as strong in the north or south of the country as it is in the centre: for example, it receives 47 per cent of the votes cast in Emilia, compared to a mere 20 per cent in Venetia, 120 kilometres away.

    he goes on to make the case that the family structure of central italy is (or was) the exogamous community family.

    that’s todd’s explanation, but i’m not convinced since he doesn’t take an evolutionary/biological approach to these things. however, i think he’s noticed some very interesting patterns.
    _____

    @anatoly – But Germans made very good Communists.”

    eastern germans, who — according to my theory — would’ve started outbreeding later than western germans since that is how the spread of christianity/manorialism happened during the medieval period, west to east. and that spread of western christianity (as opposed to eastern orthodoxy) and manorialism hit a wall somewhere right around poland/the baltic states/russia.

    @anatoly – “But Polish traditional family structure was a lot more similar to the Russian than to the German, as I recall, while the German was a lot more similar to the Anglo-Saxon.”

    yes. but there’s this west-east gradient of outbreeding-inbreeding from the medieval period that you have to keep in mind. which is why, i think, you see things like a general west-east decrease in civicness [see chart in this post], for instance, as you travel from germany to poland. and the civicness drops even further when you get all the way to russia.

    Reply

  45. @mediakrig – “Over time, the principal functions of the hundred became the administration of law and the keeping of the peace. By the 12th century the hundred court was held twelve times a year. This was later increased to fortnightly, although an ordinance of 1234 reduced the frequency to once every three weeks.”

    interesting! thanks.

    @mediakrig – “In Norway it was already ancient customary law that the rich people in the community had to pay for the upkeep of the poor.”

    i’ve heard this before about scandinavia (norway and sweden), but i’ve never read this anywhere (but i’ve never looked). you wouldn’t happen to have a reference, would you? i can always try to look it up myself, but if you can save me the time and effort…. (~_^) thanks beforehand!

    @mediakrig – “As a return, the rich people denied the poor the right to marry.”

    well that would definitely have been a eugenical practice!

    Reply

  46. hbd chick

    “maybe. but maybe not. there had been reformation-like rumblings in england way before henry viii.”

    And in France too. John Calvin was a Frenchman. Hence the Huguenots. But the politics worked out differently in France, so they remained an essentially Catholic nation.

    One seemingly small act which has had profound consequences in our own time was Giscard d’Estaing’s decision to allow Ayatollah Khomeini to leave France for Iran on a chartered Air France plane. If Khomeini had not reached Iran, the Iranian revolution would have turned out very differently.

    Reply

  47. re: reformation-like rumblings in england way before henry vii

    I recommend Trevelyan’s England in the Age of Wycliffe, one of the best history books I’ve ever read. And don’t forget Piers Plowman, a truly great (and highly readable!) piece of work much neglected, which is full of Protestant rumblings.

    Reply

  48. Luke

    “Just to be clear those weren’t my thoughts but those of a contributor to a private list-serve”

    Sure, i just like to push the coercive traits idea because i’ve known a lot of the sort of people who run into burning buildings and jump into rivers to rescue people and they don’t calculate – it’s a coercive force that *makes* them do it. I’ve not seen this aspect mentioned in game theory type analysis.

    .
    “Just because two people grew up in the same household or hunting band doesn’t mean they are closely related necessarily. But throughout evolutionary history they almost always were. Therefore growing up together might be the only cue needed to trigger certain kinds of altruistic behavior. Proxies — surely these have been investigated, haven’t they. Even nature has its down and dirty ways.”

    Agree. that’s what i mean when i talk about things acting accidentally i.e. a random mutation that does *something* not necessarily directly connected to kin-selection at all but which in the *context* it arose in had a kin-selecting effect and therefore spread.

    .
    “Another idea occurs to me. Smell. Is it possible that many of the genes we share with close (or even not so close) kin generate distinct bodily odors (and maybe special smell receptors to detect them). Has this possibility been experimentally explored? We might be influenced by subtle odors and not even be consciously aware of the fact. How much discrimination is the human nose capable of? This might be a way around the complicated math.”

    I think this is the most likely explanation for the Israeli kibbutz thing. I also think it may be relevant militarily i.e. a platoon who all sleep in a barracks dorm may be more cohesive than a platoon who all sleep in 2 or 4 man rooms.

    Reply

  49. @AK:

    “To me, these don’t suggest a differentially stronger inclination of Slavs to accept communism compared with other groups. Of course, most people in any society aren’t fearless heroes, so most people weren’t acting like Jan Palach. Still, Soviet policy towards its east European satellites from 1945 to 1989 is only intelligible on the working assumption that they realised the locals were resentful.”

    Quite possibly. Indeed, as I’ve noted, it is possible if not likely the Western Slavs were not as readily coerced into such systems as say the Eastern Slavs are, which apparently remains the case.

    In either case, it’s really hard to know either way. The biological connection is hard to ignore, but we do need more investigation and more data.

    Reply

  50. At some point, I’m going to continue my planned series and make a post on the possible evolution of modern ideology in the developed world, which does seem to be strongly related to family and inheritance systems.

    Since we know that the conditions of the Middle Ages and the early modern period were instrumental in crafting the cognitive and behavioral traits of modern people, it stands to reason that the specifics during this period in each society affected the final outcome of people. Two things that seem to systematically vary across the now developed world are family and farming systems. One could imagine that these differences selected for different type of people, since one needed one set of traits in one place and a different set of traits in another. In England, with its absolute nuclear family, it seems the average person was most on his own, and had to sink or swim on his ability to relate to his fellow Englishmen, many of which weren’t close relatives. This probably called for a different set of traits than it would in say Eastern Europe, where (during some eras) each man could depend on receiving his share of the family farm, and married early accordingly. It probably selected for something different than it did in say France, where equal inheritance was more the rule.

    The puzzle is far from complete, but these are almost certainly pieces.

    Reply

  51. @jayman – “Since we know that the conditions of the Middle Ages and the early modern period were instrumental in crafting the cognitive and behavioral traits of modern people, it stands to reason that the specifics during this period in each society affected the final outcome of people.”

    absolutely!

    if you’re thinking of looking further into what happened in china, i suggest finding out more about landlordism in china — vs. manorialism in europe. from the sounds of it, landlordism resulted in a more sink or swim situation for the chinese than the europeans — it was a more competitive system. you weren’t sorta guaranteed some sort of protection for life in china, which perhaps made them more competitive?

    i think that the manorial system in europe may have started out more like landlordism (in the early days under the franks, for instance), but then it shifted at some point (don’t know when exactly) to a system in which sons typically inherited their fathers’ farms on the manor.

    the other confusing element is the presence of extended families/clans in china. i really don’t know how landlordism and extended families/clans went together in china. -?- i do know that clans are more prevalent in southern china, so perhaps landlordism was more common in the north? i really don’t know.

    Reply

  52. @georgedelatour – “And in France too. John Calvin was a Frenchman. Hence the Huguenots. But the politics worked out differently in France, so they remained an essentially Catholic nation.”

    i’ve written at some length on this blog about how the “core” europeans (english, germans, french [esp. northern french], the dutch, northern italians) have been the greatest outbreeders, while those populations on the periphery (highland scots, irish, spanish, portugese, southern italians, greeks and other balkan groups, all of eastern europe) to varying degrees have been inbreeders. (i don’t know if you’ve been following these posts or not — there are a lot of them — too many to link to here — but you can check out the “mating patterns in europe series” below in the left-hand column if you haven’t.)

    then, look at this map.

    there are my peripheral inbreeders — the most remote highland scots, the irish, the spanish and portugese, the italians — all remained pretty much catholic. the core outbreeders were the reformers — either luthern or anglican. the french seem to be the exception to the rule. the eastern europeans and balkan groups are a mixed bag, but they’re mostly orthodox in some shape or form (orthodox christian or muslim).

    the curious ones are, i have to admit, the calvinists. i’ve never noticed this before, but they seem to be my “middling” inbreeders — the frisians and the lowland scots. the swiss (who i haven’t posted about yet) and the southern french (again, haven’t posted about them yet, either). kinda interesting, imo.

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  53. hbd chick: “i really don’t know how landlordism and extended families/clans went together in china.”

    From my extensive reading on Chinese society in general, the landlords were often rich peasants (like Mao’s father) who prospered and gradually expanded their domains. Many would continue to work in the fields themselves, at least in their early years, and would employ day laborers as the number of their fields increased. If and when their holdings got too big to manage that way they would start leasing sections out to tenants.

    Another source of landlords — especially the really big ones — involved the families of high degree holders in the Chinese examination system. The empire was administered (which meant mostly tax collection (they were tax farmers basically, with enormous discretion and powers of enforcement) and law enforcement by judicial decree. Torture was standard procedure, as was bribery. (China has never been a rule based society.) At any one time there were roughly ten thousand of these civil servants administering tens of thousands of subjects.

    Holding such an absolute position — there were no checks and balances unless you count a protest letter to the Emperor — was tantamount to being a Duke in Western Europe: the opportunities for graft and extortion were enormous and were seldom missed. Not to enrich oneself and ones closest relatives after retirement by milking the populations in the foreign province one rules would be a breach of ethics (family ethics) which was almost unthinkable. Village clans would expend enormous resources on the education of promising candidates, most of whom failed the exams, if not at the local level, then at the district and provincial levels. They saw it as an investment in a lottery, the winners of which would tour the provinces they administered in sedan chairs accompanied by large retinues banging drums and other percussion instruments (the Chinese have always been a very noisy people!). They reaped a bonanza and would use the proceeds to establish estates which would stay into the family until they had been divided up many times by each succeeding generation.

    All this is my general takeaway from a bunch of books I read last year, a couple of hundred in all. I hope I got it right.

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  54. Incidentally, the Chinese system of mandarin rule was in some ways like the “arenda” system (look it up) in Poland: absentee nobility (instead of the emperor) would bid out the management of their estates to a foreign element (from other parts of the empire in China’s case, to Ashkenazi Jews in Poland’s) who were set free to exploit the local population with full support of the state: they farmed the taxes, for the privilege of which they bid) enjoyed special legal privileges, controlled the mills where peasant wheat was turned into flower, had a monopoly on salt and on the sale of alcoholic beverages, (for the rights of which they also bid) and operated the pawn shop and pay-day-loan operations of their day, which were also a feature of Chinese society by the way.

    This led to abuses (no kidding?) which led in turn to periodic peasant rebellions in China, occasional turn-overs of Dynasty, and in Eastern Europe to the famous cossack rebellion in the Ukraine, where the rebelling lower class soldiery went after the Polish nobility and their Jewish “enablers” indiscriminately. The Jews were essentially being “used” by the Polish nobility. They were literally tools of exploitation, as were the mandarins in China.

    No doubt there were major differences between Polish and Chinese rural society though I’m not sure exactly what they all were or all the consequences. (The Poles were serfs for one thing, whereas in China the poor became landless and often starved in times of famine to be replaced by new supplies of the the locally impoverished.)

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  55. @luke – “Village clans would expend enormous resources on the education of promising candidates, most of whom failed the exams, if not at the local level, then at the district and provincial levels.”

    right. i guess what i haven’t been able to wrap my head around yet is … were entire clans landlords hiring in non-clan members? or was it that some individual members of clans were the landlords and they hired in non-clan members? if it was the latter, did they hire fellow clan members to work on their estates, too?

    i just don’t know how the system was structured. and presumably it varied by location and era.

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  56. @luke – “The Jews were essentially being ‘used’ by the Polish nobility. They were literally tools of exploitation, as were the mandarins in China.”

    absentee landlords are never popular and the middlemen always hated.

    @luke – “…in China the poor became landless and often starved in times of famine to be replaced by new supplies of the the locally impoverished.”

    that’s a real selection pressure there and why i think that landlordism must be one of the keys for understanding the chinese.

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  57. “that’s a real selection pressure there and why i think that landlordism must be one of the keys for understanding the chinese.”

    It does sound more like a “farewell to alms” scenario. I wonder what the geographical spread was? Maybe the hinterland had – and still has? – the clans and the main arteries had the landlordism?

    Reply

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