happy halloween 2013!

death-star-pumpkin

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politically correct dracula

Bela_Lugosi_as_Dracula,_anonymous_photograph_from_1931,_Universal_Studios

as you probably already know, bram stoker’s count dracula was based upon vlad the impaler who, last time i checked, is famous for defending medieval southeastern europe against the invading ottoman turks…and is infamous for sticking thousands of those turks’ heads on spikes (and plenty of other people’s, too…who knew?!).

an exellent choice as far as inspirational-historic-individuals-for-evil-vampires goes, really!

vlad, like his father before him, was a member of the order of the dragon, sworn to:

“…crush the pernicious deeds of the same perfidious Enemy, and of the followers of the ancient Dragon, and (as one would expect) of the pagan knights, schismatics, and other nations of the Orthodox faith, and those envious of the Cross of Christ, and of our kingdoms, and of his holy and saving religion of faith, under the banner of the triumphant Cross of Christ….”

yeah. bit over the top, maybe, but the order was established to keep the turks at bay and keep (their approved version of) christianity as the rule of the day (it was the 1400s). a chivalric order. crusaders. like it or not, these are the guys who helped to keep europe european.

well, now, the new sky/nbc Dracula series has got

SPOILER AERT!

…count dracula (working with van helsing?!) seeking revenge on the order of the dragon guys ’cause they’re all bad guys…apparently they were in the middle ages, and they still are in the late-1800s when dracula is “resurrected.”

no, no, no. don’t mess with the story like THAT! *facepalm* making it totally politically correct. *sheesh*

is NOTHING sacred anymore?! =/

oh, and like stephen king (sorta) said: vampires should be scary, not sparkly. but that’s a whole other discussion.

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“the greatest pain of all”

men have been trying to figure out what to do about (us) women for…well, for millennia, apparently!

here is the poet semonides of amorgos writing about the fair sex in the seventh century b.c. (he must’ve had a HORRIBLE wife, if he was married at all). see if you can recognize any of these types (~_^) …

From the start, the gods made women different.
One type is from a pig–a hairy sow
whose house is like a rolling heap of filth;
and she herself, unbathed, in unwashed clothes,
reposes on the shit-pile, growing fat. (5)
Another type the gods made from a fox:
pure evil, and aware of everything.
This woman misses nothing: good or bad,
she notices, considers, and declares
that good is bad and bad is good. Her mood (10)
changes from one moment to the next.
One type is from a dog–a no-good bitch,
a mother through and through; she wants to hear
everything, know everything, go everywhere,
and stick her nose in everything, and bark (15)
whether she sees anyone or not.
A man can’t stop her barking; not with threats,
not (when he’s had enough) by knocking out
her teeth with a stone, and not with sweet talk either;
even among guests, she’ll sit and yap; (20)
the onslaught of her voice cannot be stopped….

Another type a horse with flowing mane
gave birth to. She avoids all kinds of work
and hardship; she would never touch a mill
or lift a sieve, or throw the shit outside,
or sit beside the oven (all that soot!). (60)
She’ll touch her husband only when she has to.
She washes off her body every day
twice, sometimes three times! then rubs herself
with perfumed oil. She always wears her hair
combed-out, and dressed with overhanging flowers. (65)
Such a wife is beautiful to look at
for others; for her keeper, she’s a pain
–unless he is a king, or head of state
who can afford extravagant delights….

Another type is from a bee. Good luck
in finding such a woman! Only she (85)
deserves to be exempt from stinging blame.
The household that she manages will thrive;
a loving wife beside her loving man,
she’ll grow old, having borne illustrious
and handsome children; she herself shines bright (90)
among all women. Grace envelops her.
She doesn’t like to sit with other women
discussing sex. Zeus gratifies mankind
with these most excellent and thoughtful wives.

But by the grim contrivances of Zeus (95)
all these other types are here to stay
side by side with man forever. Yes,
Zeus made this the greatest pain of all:
Woman.

If she seems to want to help
that’s when she does her keeper the most harm. (100)
A man who’s with a woman can’t get through
a single day without a troubled mind.
He’ll never banish Hunger from his house:
unwelcome, hateful lodger, hostile god.
Just when a man seems most content at home (105)
and ready for enjoyment, by the grace
of god or man, that’s when she’ll pick a fight,
her battle-helmet flashing, full of blame.
A household with a woman is at a loss
to give a decent welcome to a guest. (110)
The wife who seems the most restrained and good,
she’s the most disastrous of them all;
for while her slack-jawed husband gapes at her
the neighbors laugh at how he’s been deceived.
Each man will diligently praise his own (115)
and blame the next man’s wife; we just don’t see
that we all share alike in this hard luck.
For Zeus made this the greatest pain of all
and locked us in a shackle hard as iron
and never to be broken, ever since (120)
the day that Hades opened up his gates
for all the men who fought that woman’s war.

“that woman” was helen, of course.

i didn’t quote the whole poem. you can read it in its entirety here.

(i have been spending waaaay too much time @chateau heartiste. (~_^) )

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renaissances

in Innate Social Aptitudes of Man: An Approach from Evolutionary Genetics [pdf], william hamilton suggested that, perhaps, one gets a renaissance by (re-)introducing barbarian altruism genes into a too outbred population, letting the mixture ferment for ca. 800 years or so, and then enjoying the fruits of everyone’s labors. he’s talking here, of course, about the european renaissance of the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries … and classical greece/athens after the dorian invasion of ca. 800 years earlier? i think. if it happened at all (link inserted by me):

“The incursions of barbaric pastoralists seem to do civilizations less harm in the long run than one might expect. Indeed, two dark ages and renaissances in Europe suggest a recurring pattern in which a renaissance follows an incursion by about 800 years. It may even be suggested that certain genes or traditions of pastoralists revitalize the conquered people with an ingredient of progress which tends to die out in a large panmictic population for the reasons already discussed. I have in mind altruism itself, or the part of the altruism which is perhaps better described as self-sacrificial daring. By the time of the renaissance it may be that the mixing of genes and cultures (or of cultures alone if these are the only vehicles, which I doubt) has continued long enough to bring the old mercantile thoughtfulness and the infused daring into conjunction in a few individuals who then find courage for all kinds of inventive innovation against the resistance of established thought and practice. Often, however, the cost in fitness of such altruism and sublimated pugnacity to the individuals concerned is by no means metaphorical, and the benefits to fitness, such as they are, go to a mass of individuals whose genetic correlation with the innovator must be slight indeed. Thus civilization probably slowly reduces its altruism of all kinds, including the kinds needed for cultural creativity (see also Eshel 1972).”

“self-sacrificial daring” is probably the equivalent of greying wanderer’s “aggression”, chris’ “drive”, staffan’s “persistence under negative reinforcement”, and/or my “contrarianism” or independent-mindedness.

the connection between these two renaissances might, indeed, be the reintroduction of some good altruism genes, but i think that maybe what these two “rebirths” have in common — what led to them occur at all — are the ca. 400-800 years of outbreeding which happened right before they began. in medieval europe we have the catholic church banning close cousin marriage around the year 500, and many secular authorities banned close cousin marriage at various points after that. and in archaic greece — the period just before classical greece/athens — we apparently have at least ca. 400 years of outbreeding — amongst the upper-classes most probably — and possibly amongst the lower classes, too (hesiod in his Works and Days recommends that a man — an ordinary man, a farmer — marry a nice girl from the neighborhood — from the kome or village — so, if archaic greeks actually did this, their mating patterns would’ve been quite endogamic, but not necessarily to close cousins — maybe third or fourth cousins or something — see A Companion to Archaic Greece).

i think you need some loosening of the genetic ties in populations — enough to get rid of a lot or most of the “clannishness” — so that you can have a “wikification” of those societies, i.e. societies where individuals are really willing to openly share their ideas with other like-minded people (see, for example, harold’s comment on the scientific revolution in england). but outbreed too much, and you might lose that “self-sacrificial daring” — because as hamilton said:

“…the benefits to fitness, such as they are, go to a mass of individuals whose genetic correlation with the innovator must be slight indeed.”

share your innovative ideas — your scientific inventions — with the entire world, and you might wind up benefitting all of those people more than your own descendents (if you’ve got any).

already at the start of the classical period in greece/athens, the mating patterns began to narrow [pg. 67]…

“[W]ith the emergence of the *polis*, exogamy began to give way in some places to endogamy — to marriage within the community. For the upper classes, this meant marriage within a tight circle of aristocratic families living in the same *polis*.”

…so it’s maybe no surprise that the athenians battled throughout the classical period against various aspects of clannishness (cleisthenes’ reforms are one huge example of this struggle) and that their renaissance didn’t last more than a couple hundred years. europeans, on the other hand — especially northern europeans — have continued to outbreed for something like over ca. 1000-1400 years — which, perhaps, is leading to another sort of problem for society — that it’s simplying fraying away at the seams because the weave is not tight enough.

maybe. dunno. all wild speculation on my part, obviously.

previously: archaic greek mating patterns and kinship terms

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our political nature and human biodiversity

just started reading avi tuschman‘s Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us. so far it’s very good! mind you, i’ve only read the first two chapters (there are twenty-three altogether). (~_^)

according to tuschman, his goal in writing this book is [from the preface – my emphasis]:

“[T]o paint a compelling and accurate portrait of our nature as political animals. Today’s political commentators would have us believe that we vote based on our views about the main issues of the day, on our economic circumstances, or on our longtime affiliations with this political party or that. That’s wrong, or at least incomplete. Step by step, I will explain that our political orientations are not simply intellectual constructs, flowing from our upbringing, our schooling, our peer groups, or which newspapers we read. No, our political orientations are actually natural dispositions, molded within each of us by powerful evolutionary forces.

excellent!

in the first two chapters, tuschman reviews some of the major research out there which has found that personality is largely innate and that personality strongly influences our political orientations (left-wing or right): the blocks’ study showing that personality at age four strongly correlates with political orientation as an adult (in one’s 20s) [pdf], for example, and alford et al.’s twin studies which showed that identical twins reared apart have very much the same political orientations [pdf], and so on.

well, he doesn’t need to persuade me! (~_^) left and right — we are “born this way.”

furthermore, tuschman says we’ll find these innate left/right personalities in all societies. he draws, though, what i think is a slightly awkward comparison between all of the rebellious folks in the arab spring and the occupy wall street movement in the western world [chapter 1]:

“[I]t was precisely Basboosa’s [the tunisian man who immolated himself triggering the so-called arab spring] moral *rejection of inequality* that activated one of these universal hot buttons residing within him, and within so many of his compatriots. And this is why his story resonated with a critical mass of people in the Middle East, for whom Basboosa symbolized the humble, well-meaning common man systematically abused by government fiat and corruption.

“Now, the story of Basboosa might seem rather remote to many American readers. But the same hidden trigger at play in the Middle East underlies the concurrent transformation of the political landscape in the United States. As the Arab Spring was unfolding, the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement emerged on the far left of the US spectrum. The demonstrators in New York shouting, ‘We are the 99 percent!’ were railing not against Middle Eastern dictators, but rather against bankers and large corporations. And yet the same issue that ignited the Arab Spring had inspired and galvanized their movement: a moral rejection of economic and social *inequality*.”

well, yeah … sort of … maybe. but i’m not certain that there are equally as many individuals in tunisia — or north africa — concerned about equality for everybody as there are in the united states or western europe. there might be a lot of people p*ssed off in the arab world/middle east/north africa that they, personally, experience so much corruption in their daily lives and that they and their families are often cheated by others, but are they really morally rejecting economic and social inequality to the same degree that, say, a swede does? i dunno, but it’s worth asking.

just looking quickly at one set of responses from the world values survey [1981-2002 waves] to the question…

“How would you place your views on this scale? – Incomes should be made more equal vs We need larger income differences as incentives.”

…we find that north africans are very much for GREATER income inequality [click on chart for LARGER view]:

wvs - income equality

i think it would be very safe to bet that different populations will vary not only in the numbers/proportions of leftists vs. rightists found within them but also in how liberal or conservative their left- or right-wingers are.

but i think i’m getting ahead of tuschman and that he’s actually going to get to this later in the book. for instance, in chapter two, he does say:

“What happened when groups of very different genetic backgrounds live in the same environment? In this case, each group’s average personality scores differed according to the *origin of their ancestors*. For example, the personality traits of white South Africans clustered closer to the Swiss, while black South Africans had personalities more similar to Zimbabweans. Likewise, groups that have traditionally lived in geographically adjacent territories have more similar average personalities than groups separated by large distances.”

so i should prolly finish reading the book before i say any more on this. (^_^)

previously: well this sounds familiar…

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geek vs. nerd

taken from here:

“Moving up the vertical axis, words become more geeky (‘#music’ → ‘#gadget’ → ‘#cosplay’), and moving left to right they become more nerdy (‘education’ → ‘grammar’ → ‘neuroscience’). Words along the diagonal are similarly geeky and nerdy, including social (‘#awkward’, ‘weirdo’), mainstream tech (‘#computers’, ‘#microsoft’), and sci-fi/fantasy terms (‘doctorwho,’ ‘#thehobbit’). Words in the lower-left (‘chores,’ ‘vegetables,’ ‘boobies’) aren’t really associated with either, while those in the upper-right (‘#avengers’, ‘#gamer’, ‘#glasses’) are strongly tied to both. Orange words are more geeky than nerdy, and blue words are the opposite.”

these are all based on tweets:

geek vs. nerd

i went ahead and circled (very unscientifically) all the words that i “identify” with — in other words, the topics/words that i believe that i think about/use frequently. seems like i’m slightly more of a nerd, but am also pretty geeky. i can live with that. (^_^)

geek vs. nerd - me

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linkfest – 10/27/13

Ancient DNA Links Native Americans With Europe“…from the complete nuclear genome of a Siberian boy who died 24,000 years ago — the oldest complete genome of a modern human sequenced to date. His DNA shows close ties to those of today’s Native Americans. Yet he apparently descended not from East Asians, but from people who had lived in Europe or western Asia. The finding suggests that about a third of the ancestry of today’s Native Americans can be traced to ‘western Eurasia,’ with the other two-thirds coming from eastern Asia…. It also implies that traces of European ancestry previously detected in modern Native Americans do not come solely from mixing with European colonists, as most scientists had assumed, but have much deeper roots.” — see also: The First of the Mohicans from greg cochran.

Your face may have been sculpted by junk DNA“There is a huge degree of variation in human faces but, as family resemblances show, the overall shape is heavily constrained by genetics. However, so far, geneticists have identified only a small number of genes that influence the shape. These explain just a tiny fraction of the variation seen in human faces. According to Axel Visel of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California and his colleagues, more variation is controlled by distant-acting enhancers. These are short sequences of DNA, in non-coding regions of the genome, that can influence the activity of the facial genes, even if they are a long way along the DNA strand.”

Behavior problems in preschool and child care centers may be an issue of genes“A new study suggests that some children may be genetically predisposed to developing behavioral problems in child care and preschool settings…. [B]irth parents who had high rates of negative emotion and self-control, based on a self-reported temperament scale, were more likely to have children who struggled with behavioral issues such as lack of self-control and anger, in child care centers. They controlled for adoptive parent’s characteristics, and still found a modest effect based on the genetic link.”

Your Ethnicity Determines the Species of Bacteria That Live in Your Mouth“[P]eople from each of the four different ethnic groups represented in the study (all participants self-identified as either Caucasian, African-American, Chinese or Latino) generally had similar species of bacteria, especially underneath the gums. As a result, simply by counting which varieties of bacteria appeared in this area, the researchers developed a model that was able to guess a person’s ethnicity with an accuracy significantly better than chance — it got it right 62 percent of the time. Some groups were even easier to identify via the bacteria than others: It could correctly identify Latinos 67 percent of the time and African-Americans with 100 accuracy. The variation along ethnic lines, they believe, is a reflection of genetics, not environment. That’s because, if you assumed that the mouth microbiome is totally dependent on environmental factors, you’d expect that members of the same ethnic group would have different mixes of bacteria depending on whether they were first-generation immigrants to the U.S. or had family histories that stretched back generations in the country. Instead, people’s background — in terms of foods they ate and other lifestyle trends — didn’t seem to have any correlation with the bacterial communities in their mouths. – h/t super bob!

Herpes virus genome traces the ancient path of human migration“Researchers…sequenced the genomes of 31 samples of herpes simplex virus type-1 to reconstruct how it hitchhiked on humans as they dispersed around the world. The results match the pattern proposed by the ‘Out of Africa’ theory, which has become the most widely accepted scenario for ancient human migration. The analysis showed that African strains of the virus contained the most genetic diversity — suggesting that they had the oldest roots.”

Genetic variation alters efficacy of antidepressant“Having a different form of a gene that regulates the brain chemical noradrenaline influences how well men remember negative memories after taking the antidepressant drug reboxetine, according to a study published in the October 23 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The findings demonstrate how genes can influence antidepressant response.” – see also: Genes predispose some people to focus on the negative.

Much Earlier Split for Neanderthals, Humans?“This suggests that the last common ancestor of H. sapiens and Neanderthals lived sometime earlier, perhaps as far back as one million years ago.”

Denisovans in Wallacea? – from greg cochran.

Life on Earth Was Not a Fluke“Figuring out how biomolecular self-organization happens may hold the key to understanding life on Earth formed and perhaps how it might form on other planets.” – h/t jayman!

Genetics made very simple – from dr. james thompson.

Low historical rates of cuckoldry in a Western European human population traced by Y-chromosome and genealogical data“[W]e estimate that over the last few centuries, EPP rates in Flanders (Belgium) were only around 1–2% per generation. This figure is substantially lower than the 8–30% per generation reported in some behavioural studies on historical EPP rates, but comparable with the rates reported by other genetic studies of contemporary Western European populations. These results suggest that human EPP rates have not changed substantially during the last 400 years in Flanders and imply that legal genealogies rarely differ from the biological ones.” – h/t rob brooks!

‘Endowment Effect’ Not Present in Hunter-Gather Societies“‘The more isolated Hadza traded about 50 percent of the time — which is what rational people should do,’ Azevedo said. People near the village traded about 25 percent of the time, which is much closer to the 10 percent we see with Western students.” – h/t jason collins! – previously: personality goes a long way… in which researchers find just big TWO personality traits in a group of hunter-gatherers (the tsimane).

speaking of the tsimane: UCSB anthropologist studies the evolutionary benefit of human personality traits“‘Being more extroverted, open, agreeable and conscientious –– and less neurotic –– was associated with having more kids.'” in tsimane men. (if they really have all those personality traits…see link immediately above.)

What Happens When a Language Has No Numbers? – on the pirahã. – h/t nn!

Can Your Genes Predict Whether You’ll Be a Conservative or a Liberal?“Scientific research shows political partisanship transcends economics, environment, and upbringing.” – from avi tuschman.

Life expectancy and the dawn of agriculture – from jason collins.

Origins of Americans (Looking At HLA Haplotypes) – from our very own chris davies! previously from chris: human leukocyte antigen (hla) haplotypes and human biodiversity.

Number sense in infancy predicts mathematical abilities in childhood“Preverbal number sense in 6-month-old infants predicted standardized math scores in the same children 3 years later. This discovery shows that number sense in infancy is a building block for later mathematical ability and invites educational interventions to improve number sense even before children learn to count.” – h/t simon baron-cohen!

Black Suits, Gowns, & Skin: SAT Scores by Income, Education, & Race – @the unsilenced science. see also: Obama Administration: Moynihan’s Law of Canadian Border kinda right from steve sailer.

Of Race and Intelligence – from helian.

Sex on the Mind“It is a truth universally acknowledged — at least by biologists — that every person owes his or her existence to parents who successfully reproduced, each of whom, in turn, had two parents who did the same … and so on, going back hundreds of millions of years to the first ancestral blob (or two) of protoplasmic goo that trundled onto terra firma from the early earth’s organic soup.” – from david barash. — see also: Why Have Sex? – from the advanced apes.

Lust Is Love – from heartiste.

Kids Are More Likely to Trust Attractive Adults – h/t hbd bibliography!

Asymmetries in altruistic behavior during violent intergroup conflict“Some empirical studies on intergroup conflict in hunter-gatherer societies and chimpanzees indicate that fitness relevant risks and potential benefits of attacks and defenses might have differed substantially under ancestral conditions. Drawing on these studies, it is hypothesized that the success of defenses was much more important for individual and kin survival and that a disposition to act altruistically during intergroup conflict is thus more likely to evolve for the strategic situation of defense…. Analyzing detailed historical case data from 20th century wars, this study finds that altruistic behavior towards members of the in-group indeed seems to occur more frequently when soldiers are defending themselves and their comrades against enemy attacks.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Who gives? Multilevel effects of gender and ethnicity on workplace charitable giving.“[E]thnic minorities donate less money to workplace charity than do Whites.” – and men less than women. – via richard lynn @amren.

Paradoxes of the Nordic Model II“Denmark is a high trust, highly cooperative society. There is very low crime. Most parked bicycles are not even locked. Bank employees may not work very efficiently, but nobody tried to swindle me. In theoretical terms, what it means is that when there are very few defectors, the amount of common good produced overall is maximized. So everybody is well of, even though they don’t work hard – but they don’t free-ride, either….” – from peter turchin.

Ma’am, Your Burger Has Been Paid For – paying it forward in america! – h/t charles murray!

Napoleon Chagnon: The Fierce Sociobiologist“[Yanomamo] Men from the highland villages were much less belligerent than men from villages along the river. Heterogeneity in belligerence existed even within this single tribe.”

Where Have All the Geniuses Gone?

Aboriginal Hunting Practice Increases Animal Populations – monitor lizards, anyway.

“Science has lost its way, at a big cost to humanity“Researchers are rewarded for splashy findings, not for double-checking accuracy. So many scientists looking for cures to diseases have been building on ideas that aren’t even true.” – h/t outsideness! – see also: Trouble at the lab“Scientists like to think of science as self-correcting. To an alarming degree, it is not.”

These Unresolved Ethical Questions Are About to Get Real

bonus: Hunted by their own government – the fight to save Kalahari Bushmen“Survival International, which campaigns on behalf of tribal peoples, has called for tourists to boycott holidays in Botswana, which is forcing Kalahari Bushmen off their reserves.”

bonus bonus: How did ancient Greek music sound? – beautiful apparently! – h/t ed west!

bonus bonus bonus: Author: In China, ‘everyone is guilty of corruption’ – on guanxi.

bonus bonus bonus bonus: The couple having four babies by two surrogates“A British couple are to become parents of two sets of twin babies carried by two Indian surrogate women they have never met. Experts say twiblings – or children born to separate surrogates but created from the same batch of embryos – are not uncommon in India.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Gang Rape in India, Routine and Invisible“[T]he Mumbai case provides an unusual glimpse into a group of bored young men who had committed the same crime often enough to develop a routine. The police say the men had committed at least five rapes in the same spot. Their casual confidence reinforces the notion that rape has been a largely invisible crime here, where convictions are infrequent and victims silently go away.” – see also: Trying to Make Sense of India’s Sexual Violence, State by State from t.greer.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Insects aren’t gay, they’re just enthusiastic! Scientists discover same-sex mating in bugs is down to a rush to reproduce – h/t hbd bibliography!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Mysterious hum keeping people up all night ‘could be mating fish’“A council investigation was launched in Hythe, Southampton after some people had to move away because of the drone ‘pulsating’ through their homes.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Are conspiracy theories destroying democracy?“The more information we have about what governments and corporations are up to the less we seem to trust them. Will conspiracy theories eventually destroy democracy?” – h/t avi tuschman!

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archaic greek mating patterns and kinship terms

i’ve got this idea that the more specific a group’s mating patterns, the more specific their kinship terms — and vice versa.

so, if you’re the arabs, and you prefer father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage, you’ll have some rather specific kinship terms for all of your different aunts and uncles and cousins, because you want to be able to identify who your bint ‘amm is. if you’re the chinese, and you have an historic preference for mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) marriage, you’ll also have specific kinship terms for all of your relatives. in fact, both of these societies have the most complicated of kinship terminology systems: the sudanese kinship system.

on the other hand, if you’re not picky about which cousin you can marry OR if all of your cousins are off-limits (like in christian europe), then you might not bother to designate any differences between your cousins (or other relatives). in the hawaiian kinship system, for instance, the only differentiation between relatives is sex and age, so all your brothers and male cousins are just “brother” and all your sisters and female cousins are just “sister.” and in traditional hawaiian society, marriage was very flexible.

meanwhile, in pre-christian europe, most all european populations had different terms for male and female, paternal and maternal cousins — like the arabs or chinese. after converting to christianity and adopting the church’s cousin marriage bans, the kinship terminology shifted to one in which cousins were no longer individually identified (see, for example, German Kinship Terms, 750-1500: Documentation and Analysis and this previous post). as michael mitterauer describes, this process took a few hundred years to happen [pgs. 68-69]:

“Fundamental trends in the changing kinship systems in Europe can best be deduced from the modified kinship terms in various European languages. Initially, terminological analyses will only yield very general clues that other indicators can differentiate and refine. Above all, these analyses cannot allow us to conclude anything about how some of the concepts used mirror a certain contemporaneous social order. Kinship terminology often outlasted by hundreds of years the conditions that gave rise to it. We frequently come upon phenomena of cultural lag when tapping this linguistic source in the attempt to learn about historical kinship systems, but that a change in a social situation must have preceded a change in vocabulary lies beyond a shadow of doubt.

so what does any of this have to do with archaic greece (800 BC – 480 BC)? (or classical greece and athens for that matter?)

well, from mitterauer again we have [pg. 69]:

“Greek was the first European language to eliminate the terminological distinction between the father’s and mother’s side, a transition that began as early as between the fifth and third century BC.35

so that’s just at the transition point between archaic greece and classical greece. but starting at least in the early part of the archaic period and lasting throughout to the classical period the archaic greeks were outbreeding! at least the upper class ones were — difficult/impossible to know about the lower classes. from Women in Ancient Greece [pg. 67]:

“Marriages were arranged by the prospective groom and the prospective bride’s guardian, and the wife usually (although not always) went to live with her husband’s family. In the early Archaic Age [800 BC – 480 BC], to judge from the evidence of Homer’s poems (e.g. ‘Odyssey’ 4.5), male members of the upper classes generally married women who were not related to them, and who came from different areas. This upper-class habit of exogamy — marrying outside the community — was related to the political importance which marriage possessed in these circles. Marriage exchanges were one of the means by which noble families created political alliances with groups living in other areas, and in this way they made a considerable contribution to the aristocracy’s stranglehold on power. This practice survived to the end of the Archaic Age. However, with the emergence of the *polis*, exogamy began to give way in some places to endogamy — to marriage within the community. For the upper classes, this meant marriage within a tight circle of aristocratic families living in the same *polis*.”

so there was outbreeding in archaic greece for a few hundred years (at least amongst the upper classes), and, then, eventually — after about 400 years or so — there was a linguistic shift to more general kinship terms which reflected that outbreeding. in other words, there was a lag time between the “social situation” (or mating patterns) and the linguistic shift in the kinship terms. in medieval german, the shift to more general terms for cousins began in the 1100s, about 300-600 years after the cousin marriage bans arrived in northern europe (depending on what region you look at).

that’s all for now. more anon!

previously: loosening of genetic ties in europe started before christianity? and demokratia

(note: comments do not require an email. archaic greek chicks.)