Archives for posts with tag: asians

i was thinking about the idea of genetic pacification, specifically via the state or some authority eliminating the most violent individuals from a population (like by execution as frost and harpending propose happened in medieval europe — see also here), and i got to wondering how other societies have meted out justice to violent offenders.

so, like hermione granger, i went to the library (heh! — no, really i just googled it) and found a few interesting things. one of them is that in traditional igbo society, the punishment for murder was left in the hands of the culprit(!) [pg. 285]:

“[T]he Igbo believe that there are both divine and man-made laws, but that the greatest penalties are reserved for breaches of divine law. Thus, a murderer would not be put on trial, because if the evidence were clear and convincing no earthly court could have jurisdiction. Indeed, the penalty prescribed by Igbo tradition is that the murderer is expected to hang himself…. [A]ny Igbo guilty of breaking a divine law would be required to do penance personally to be restored to the good favor of the gods.”

now you might think that leaving enforcement of the death penalty up to the criminal is a really bad idea — and maybe it is — but i was thinking that it might work in a shame culture. an especially strong shame culture. certainly worked in japan (at least among certain classes), which admittedly is the poster child of shame cultures.

couldn’t figure out whether or not igbo society is a shame culture, although most societies lean more toward shame than guilt. however, i do know that igbos — igbo slaves in the new world — had a reputation for committing suicide [pgs. 52-53 and 127-128 – links added by me]:

“Suicide as an ethnic or cultural ‘trait’ is usually associated with Bight of Biafra imports, especially Igbos, in the Americas. As Daniel Littlefield contends, the principle reason why they were among the least desirable of African slave imports was due to the perception among American planters that Igbo or Calabar slaves had ‘a deplorable penchant for committing suicide.’ More recently, Michael Gomez has summarized the historical and contemporary view of Igbos, noting that ‘the sources are therefore unanimous in ascribing to the Igbo greater self-destructive tendencies….’

“Biafran imports were often much cheaper than other Africans. In 1755, Igbo slaves sold in Charleston for only £270 while Africans from other regions cost £300. Henry Laurens — the noted slave merchant of colonial South Carolina — claimed in 1755 that very few Calabar Africans could be sold in the Charleston slave market when others were available. He then recommended the importation of a ‘few fine Negro Men, not Callabars.’ In a letter to Richard Oswald dated May 17, 1756, Laurens also noted that ‘slaves from the River Gambia are preferr’d to all others with us save the Gold Coast, but there must not be a Callabar among them.’

“Much of this prejudice against Igbos and others from the Bight of Biafra was due to their alleged propensity to commit suicide. Guerard complained, ‘As to bite Slaves, I protest against them at any Rate there has been so many instances of their Distroying themselves that none but the Lower sort of People will Medle with them.’ South Carolina planters who did purchase Calabar slaves were advised to buy only ‘young People from 15 to 20’ who were typically ‘not accustom’d to destroy themselves’ like their older compatriots. Based on this assumption, Henry Laurens advised that Bigt of Biafra slaves under the age of fourteen should be the only Africans from that region purchased by Low Country planters. In another assessment by ship captain John Adams, who made ten visits to the Niger River delta between 1786 and 1800, the Ibgo were considered to be ‘naturally timid and desponding, and their despair on being sent on board a ship is often such that they use every stratagem to effect the commission of suicide, and which they would often accomplish, unless narrowly watched.'”

can’t say as i blame them.

the usual explanation offered today for why slaves from the bight so often committed suicide is the belief, widely shared by peoples in west africa, in spiritual transmigration — when you die, you get to go to where your friends and family are — where your living friends and family here on earth still are. so, maybe death was not viewed as a bad solution for a biafran captive who was dragged halfway across the world. in their minds, they’d get to go home. alternatively, maybe they just didn’t want to be slaves. ooorrr…maybe there was an element of shame involved, but that’s pure speculation on my part. would be interesting to find out, though.

no idea if violence is lower among the igbo than other west african groups. need to find out. interesting that they were described as “naturally timid” though.

a further thought i had is that perhaps long-term inbreeding can amplify shame in populations. the japanese used to marry their cousins (although i don’t know how far back that practice went) and they have an extremely strong shame culture. the arabs, too — long-term inbreeders and there’s a lot of shame there, too (family honor, etc.). perhaps shame is a sort-of familial altruism, i guess is what i’m trying to say. dunno. Further Research is Required TM.

in the wake of chanda chisala’s post over at, several people asked me so what about the igbo? are they inbreeders or what?

i haven’t read much about the igbo, but what i do know is that they avoid all cousin marriage. don’t know how far back this goes — whether it’s pre-the introduction of christianity there or not. might be. might not be. they do practice polygamy, though, especially traditionally, which ought to narrow the genetic relatedness between individuals in the population in a way similar to cousin marriage, but…well, more on polygamy another day.

very interestingly, in their traditional society, the igbo had a “quasi-democratic republican system of government” — that’s if wikipedia is to be believed. the igbo also had non-kinship based trading associations or “houses” [pg. 137]:

“In order to exploit the rapidly expanding trade [with the newly arrived europeans] and now having the resources to do so, the delta peoples living in single settlements on the rivers and islands surrounded by protective intricate waterways developed systems of governance for their own city-states. City-states are well known in history, and many have in common a maritime presence. In Europe there were the famous Greek city-states, Athens and Sparta. In East Africa there were the coastal Swahili city-states of Mombasa, Malindi, and Kilwa among others. On the coast of West Africa there were the city-states of the Niger Delta whose citizens devised the means to adminster law and order, justice, and to make war and peace in order to promote their commerce. Each delta city-state, like those of the Greeks, had its own distinct methods of governing. Some had kings elected by the heads of wealthy and prominent families — Bonny, New Calabar, and Warri. Others were like small republics, ruled by the members of political organizations not unlike senates — Brass and those on the Cross River in Old Calabar — Creek Town, Henshaw Town, Duke Town, and Obutong. In the city-states of Old Calabar the *ekpe* or Leopard Association of wealthy men, mostly merchants, ruled the town principally to insure the flow of peaceful trade. Anyone was free to join the *ekpe* if they could afford the exorbitant entry fee that insured that those in power represented only the interests of the wealthy merchants. They regulated the terms of trade with the Europeans and made the rules by which the community was governed by its constituent organizations, known as the ‘house system.’

“Traditional African societies were based on the clans and lineages of large families that were not always the most effective means to carry on business. Rather than the family firm, the house was a cooperative commercial trading company run not by kinship but by the ability of the head of the house, his immediate family, and a host of assistants, servants, and even slaves whose status in the company depended on their success in promoting its trade rather than kinship ties or social privilege.”

the ability to form strong, functioning non-kinship based associations like that usually goes along with long-term outbreeding, in my experience.

well, that’s all i’ve got for you for now.

i finally have admitted to myself — and now i will to you, too, dear readers — that i am too unwell at the moment to write my (what will be a lengthy!) response to prof. macdonald or, unfortunately, to work on my promised (threatened!) medieval manorialism series. am having difficulties putting two coherent thoughts together these days. (yeah, yeah — more so than usual! (~_^) ) so, i’ll just have to leave those on the back burner for now and get to them when i can. i’m due to have some medical tests done in the next few weeks, so hopefully after that, i can get myself sorted out and back in working order. in the meantime, i’ll do some more flakey posts like this which just involve me rambling some of my random thoughts.

more soon! (^_^)

previously: quick review of frost and harpending on the genetic pacification of europeans and fulani, hausa, igbo, and yoruba mating patterns

(note: comments do not require an email. igbo yam festival…in dublin, ireland!)

here’re some random notes on the history of mating patterns in korea!:

from Marriage, Social Status, and Family Succession in Medieval Korea (Thirteenth-Fifteenth Centuries) [pg. 133 – links added by me]:

“Marriage between those with the same surname and the same family origin was prohibited by law since the early Koryô Dynasty [918–1392]. Prohibition orders were issued twelve times throughout the Koryô Dynasty. It was the goal to expand the range of prohibited marriages from a first cousin in 1058 to a second cousin in 1096. Marriage among those with the same surnames was also prohibited in 1309. Because of the prohibition order in 1309, intermarriage between Kwôn families decreased rapidly from about 35 percent to less than 5 percent in the mid-fourteenth century (Figure 4).

“There were, however, cases of marriage between those with the same surname and the same family origin, even up to the Chosôn Dynasty [1392–1897]. In the years 1606 and 1630, in the Saneum Household Register, intermarriage was recorded at 5.9 percent and 5.8 percent respectively.”

so, first cousin marriage was banned in 1058, second cousin marriage in 1096, and marriage to all cousins from the patriclan in 1309. however, note that the first and second cousin marriage bans were also cousins from the patriclan, so marriages to the mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) or father’s sister’s daughter (fzd), neither of whom would share a male ego’s surname, were still permitted — and were practiced. (mbd marriage is quite typical for east asia, especially in china traditionally.)

the dates of the bans on cousin marriage are a few hundred years after northwest europe — ca. 500 a.d. versus ca. 1000 ad. plus, of course, the catholic church in europe banned marriage to all forms of cousins, not just those of the same patriclan. the rates of cousin marriage in the 1600s in korea are very low — not much higher than, say, the upper classes in england in the nineteenth century — but, again, marriages to the mbd or fzd are not included in these figures.

from Forbidden Relatives: The American Myth of Cousin Marriage [pg. 10]:

“In Korea, for example, traditional matrimonial rules forbid marriage between a man and a type of second cousin (the daughter of his grandfather’s brother’s son’s daughter) but allow a man to wed a kind of first cousin (the daughter of his mother’s brother).”

this is, of course, because the second cousin is from the patriclan (shares the same surname as the man), whereas the first cousin is not.

and from Voices of Foreign Brides: The Roots and Development of Multiculturalism in Korea [pgs. 28 and 171 – links added by me]:

“Historically, most Korean dynasties imposed the incest taboo. In Koguryo (37 BC to AD 668) and Paekche (18 BC to AD 660), marriage within the same lineage (or clan) was prohibited, while Silla (57 BC to AD 935) encouraged close kin marriages beyond the third degree of relationship (beyond uncle and aunt) and with members of the same clan, especially among royal and upper-class families. In the early dynastic period, Koguryo followed the Silla system, allowing close kin marriage even within a two-degree relationship (even brother and sister, if the mothers were different) in royal families as an effort to maintain the ‘same blood’ and protect the purity of the royal blood line. In fact, King T’aejo of the Koguryo dynasty encouraged close-kin marriage.”

so before the bans of ca. 1000 a.d. mentioned above, close cousin marriage of all sorts was present in large parts of the korean peninsula.

“The prohibition of marriage between members of the same lineage or clan…. This taboo rule had come into being in the Choson dynasty after the adoption of Ta Ming Lu (Law of the Great Ming), the comprehensive body of administrative and criminal law of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) of China.”

i think the law of the great ming was adopted in korea around 1397 [pg. 21], although the source above says that marriage within the patriclan was banned in 1309.

“Nevertheless, *yangban* [members of the ruling class – h.chick] in many cases ignored the rule and continued to marry matrilineal cousins (siblings of a mother’s sisters and father’s sisters).”

well, that shouldn’t have been a problem, since those cousins do not have the same surname/are not part of the patriclan.

“In Korea, unlike China, several different clans may share one *song*, and clans with different surnames may share a *pon*, in which case the rule of clan exogamy is applied…. Under this rule, some clans with millions of members have been prohibited from intermarrying….”

again, this is the patriclan. some footnotes from Voices of Foreign Brides:

“13. Kim, Kimchi and IT, p. 113. And rules regulating marriage customs, specifically those prohibiting marriage between close relatives, were first initiated by the tenth king of the Koryo dynasty (918-1392), Chongjong (1034-1046). During his reign, the children of close kin marriages could not be appointed to government positions. Nevertheless, such a prohibition mainly had an impact on upper-class nobility and not commoners. Some believe that such a rule reflected the influence of China, but others disagree. If Koryo was either forced to initiate or willingly adopted the Chinese system, the incest taboo might have extended to entire surname groups as in China. Instead, Koryo merely imposed a prohibition of marriage between close relatives (ibid.; Lee, Han’guk kajok-ui sajok yon gu, pp. 64-65).

“14. Martina Deuchler offers an explanation for the adoption of this law (Martina Deuchler, “The Tradition: Women during the Yi dynasty,” in Virtues in Conflict: Tradition and the Korean Women Today, Sandra Mattielli, ed., pp. 1-47 [Seoul: The Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch, 1977], p. 4). The Choson literati-official (*sadaebu*) became aware that indigenous Choson customs often stood in the way of implementing reform policies, which could not be carried out successfully without legal sanctions (Kim, Kimchi and IT, p. 113). The adoption of the Ta Ming Lu was therefore an introduction of the rule of law to supplement the rule of goodness. However, Choson interpreted the entire Ta Ming Lu so literally that lineage and clan exogamy, the rule of marriage that requires a person to marry outside his or her own group, was institutionalized in Korea….

“16. In July 1977, however, the constitutional Court of Korea handed down a landmark decision ruling that prohibition of marriage between clan members beyond eight-degree relationships (third cousins) was unconstitutional. Since then, clan members whose kinship was beyond eight degrees could marry legitimately, and family registries could issue marriage licenses for such couples…. A court ruling handed down on February 3, 2005, followed by the passage of a new statute on March 2, 2005, changed the system of giving surnames. This is turn has altered clan exogamy.”

(note: comments do not require an email. traditional korean dress. the friggin’ BEST traditional dresses in ANY culture! (^_^))

via t. greer (thanks, t!), here are some excerpts from nisbett‘s The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently…and Why [pgs. 62-65, 69 – links and highlights added by me]:

“Similar data have been collected by Charles Hampden-Turner and Alfons Trompenaars, who are professors at an international business school in Holland. Over a period of several years they gave dozens of questions to middle managers taking seminars they conduct throughout the world. The participants in their seminars — fifteen thousand all told — were from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Singapore, and Japan (and a small number from Spain and Korea, as well). Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars presented their students with dilemmas in which independent values were pitted against interdependent values.

“To examine the value of individual distinction vs. harmonious relations with the group, Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars asked the managers to indicate which of the following types of jobs they preferred: (a) jobs in which personal initiatives are encouraged and individual initiatives are achieved; versus (b) jobs in which no one is singled out for personal honor, but in which everyone works together.

More than 90 percent of American, Canadian, Australian, British, Dutch, and Swedish respondents endorsed the first choice — the individual freedom alternative — vs. fewer than 50 percent of Japanese and Singaporeans. Preferences of the Germans, Italians, Belgians, and French were intermediate….

“Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars asked their participants to choose between the following expectations: If I apply for a job in a company, (a) I will almost certainly work there for the rest of my life; or (b) I am almost sure the relationship will have a limited duration.

More than 90 percent of Americans, Canadians, Australians, British, and Dutch thought a limited job duration was likely. This was true for only about 40 percent of Japanese…. The French, Germans, Italians, and Belgians were again intermediate, though closer to the other Europeans than to the Asians.

“To examine the relative value placed on achieved vs. ascribed status, Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars asked their participants whether or not they shared the following view: Becoming successful and respected is a matter of hard work. It is important for a manager to be older than his subordinates. Older people should be more respected than younger people.

More than 60 percent of American, Canadian, Australian, Swedish, and British respondents rejected the idea of status being based in any way on age. About 60 percent of Japanese, Korean, and Singapore respondents accepted hierarchy based in part on age; French, Italians, Germans, and Belgians were again intermediate, though closer to the other Europeans than to the Asians….

“Westerners prefer to live by abstract principles and like to believe these principles are applicable to everyone. To set aside universal rules in order to accomodate particular cases seems immoral to the Westerner. To insist on the same rules for every case can seem at best obtuse and rigid to the Easterner and at worst cruel. Many of Hampden-Turner and Trompenaar’s questions reveal what a marked difference exists among cultures in their preference for universally applicable rules vs. special consideration of cases based on their distinctive aspects. One of their questions deals with how to handle the case of an employee whose work for a company, though excellent for fifteen years, has been unsatisfactory for a year. If there is no reason to expect that performance will improve, should the employee be (a) dismissed on the grounds that job performance should remain the grounds for dismissal, regardless of the age of the person and his previous record; or (b) is it wrong to disregard the fifteen years the employee has been working for the company…?

More than 75 percent of Americans and Canadians felt the employee should be let go. About 20 percent of Koreans and Singaporeans agreed with that view. About 30 percent of Japanese, French, Italians, and Germans agreed and about 40 percent of British, Australians, Dutch, and Belgians agreed. (Atypically for this question, the British and Australians were closer to continental Europeans than to the North Americans.)

“As these results show, Westerners’ commitment to universally applied rules influences their understanding of the nature of agreements between individuals and between corporations….

“The work of Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars makes clear that the West is no monolith concerning issues of independence vs. interdependence. There are also substantial regularities to the differences found in Western countries. In general, the Mediterranean countries plus Belgium and Germany are intermediate between the East Asian countries on the one hand and the countries most heavily influenced by Protestant, Anglo-Saxon culture on the other….

i see dead people more or less this same pattern over and over again:

– brits, americans, canadians, australians, dutch, swedes
– germans, italians, belgians, french, other mediterraneans
– japanese, koreans, singaporeans

the top group — especially the anglos wherever they be in the world — are:

– the most outbreeding of populations in the world — AND have a long history of doing so (see mating patterns series below ↓ in left-hand column)
– the most civic
– amongst the least corrupt
– the best at handling liberal democracy — in fact, they invented it
– and, what else … oh yes … are amongst the least violent populations in the world.

and the funny thing about that last point is that the violence rates — the homicide rates — dropped in these various countries over the course of the medieval period in pretty much (afaict) the very same pattern as hampden-turner and trompenaars’ independence/universalism vs. interdependence/particularism pattern above:

– england
– belgium/netherlands
– germany/switzerland
– scandinavia
– italy

i find it hard to believe that all of these co-incidences are all just a bunch of coincidences.

and given that the history of outbreeding in all of these places also seems to fit the same pattern (again, see mating patterns series below ↓ in left-hand column), i think (as you already might have started to suspect) that the mating patterns and all these behavioral/cultural patterns are tied together.

(however, if some of the apparent cognitive differences are also tied to the mating patterns, i will be genuinely shocked!)

need to have a look at the hampden-turner and trompenaars book to see where the scores of the middling european countries fall. another reason to get out of my pjs (and put on some street clothes!) and head to the library. (^_^)

see also t. greer’s “West and East and How We Think.”

previously: universalism vs. particularism

(note: comments do not require an email. not my pjs. =( )

**update: the “solution” is in the comments here. see also here. (^_^) **

or an easterner (east asian)?

in which group does the flower at the bottom belong: group a or group b?

east west flowers

feel free to leave your answer in the comments and — only if you like — the reason(s) for your choice and/or your ethnic background. (^_^) (you don’t have to be specific — you can say “eastern” or “southern” european, etc., if you prefer.)

this little test was lifted from the documentary below (thanks, gottlieb!). i haven’t watched the entire thing yet, but it looks to be good!



see also t. greer’s excellent post: “West and East and How We Think.” (btw, t. greer has a really neat blog in general!)

(note: comments do not require an email. wild westerner?)

…is all it takes to get some of the most recognizable of racial differences between human populations.

via steve sailer, from nicholas wade in the nyt:

East Asian Physical Traits Linked to 35,000-Year-Old Mutation

“Gaining a deep insight into human evolution, researchers have identified a mutation in a critical human gene as the source of several distinctive traits that make East Asians different from other races.

The traits — thicker hair shafts, more sweat glands, characteristically identified teeth and smaller breasts — are the result of a gene mutation that occurred about 35,000 years ago, the researchers have concluded….

“The first of those sites to be studied contains the gene known as EDAR. Africans and Europeans carry the standard version of the gene, but in most East Asians, one of the DNA units has mutated.

“Seeking to understand if the gene was the cause of thicker hair in East Asians with the variant gene, a team of researchers led by Yana G. Kamberov and Pardis C. Sabeti at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., decided to test the gene in mice, where its effects could be more easily explored….

“The Broad team engineered a strain of mice whose EDAR gene had the same DNA change as the East Asian version of EDAR.

When the mice grew up, the researchers found they did indeed have thicker hair shafts, confirming that the changed gene was the cause of East Asians’ thicker hair. But the gene had several other effects, they report in Thursday’s issue of the journal Cell.

One was that the mice, to the researchers’ surprise, had extra sweat glands. A Chinese member of the team, Sijia Wang, then tested people in China and discovered that they, too, had more numerous sweat glands, evidently another effect of the gene.

Another surprise was that the engineered mice had less breast tissue, meaning that EDAR could be the reason that East Asian women have generally smaller breasts.

“East Asians have distinctively shaped teeth for which their version of EDAR is probably responsible. But the mice were less helpful on this point; their teeth are so different from humans’ that the researchers could not see any specific change….

“A team led by Dr. Sabeti and Sharon R. Grossman of the Broad Institute has now refined the usual scanning methods and identified 412 sites on the genome that have been under selection. Each site is small enough that it contains at most a single gene.

Each race has a different set of selected regions, reflecting the fact that the human population had dispersed from its African homeland and faced different challenges that led to genetic adaptation on each continent. About 140 of the sites affected by natural selection are in Europeans, 140 in East Asians and 132 in Africans, the authors report in another article published Thursday in Cell….

so cool!

(note: comments do not require an email. east asians.)

i should just move the linkfests to mondays … get it over with. (~_^) (then at some point i’d prolly switch to publishing them on wednesdays or thursdays … and eventually, someday, they’d migrate all the way back to sundays again!)

Are Liberal or Conservative Americans More Likely to Support Restrictions on Racist and Anti-Religious Speech?

Singapore is world’s least emotional country, poll finds – see also steve sailer (who is not the world’s least emotional country).

Does being fat make you more jolly?“The FTO gene makes a protein associated with obesity and fat mass…. [H]aving one copy of this mutant in your genome decreases the risk of depression by 8 per cent; two copies doubles that dip…. Based on its prevalence among ethnic groups, it should prevent 6.7 per cent of the cases of depression that would otherwise afflict Africans, 5.3 per cent of cases in Europeans, and 2.2 per cent in Chinese.”

Longer life link to low vitamin D – in some dutch people. h/t sean!

Meat, Cooked Foods Needed for Early Human Brain

The Evolutionary Mystery of Homosexuality – i know, i know. greg cochran would say there’s no mystery here. (~_^)

Conservatism is white men – from the awesome epigone.

Why Is Intelligence the Measure of Ultimate Human Worth? – from kanazawa.

Mitochondrial DNA in Ancient Human Populations of Europe (der Sarkissian 2011)“This work presents direct evidence that Mesolithic eastern Europeans belonged to the same Palaeolithic/Mesolithic genetic background as central and northern Europeans. It was also shown that prehistoric eastern Europeans were the recipients of multiple migrations from the East in prehistory that had not been previously detected and/or timed on the basis of modern mtDNA data. Ancient DNA also provided insights in the genetic history of European genetic outliers; the Saami, whose ancestral population still remain unidentified, and the Sardinians, whose genetic differentiation is proposed to be the result of mating isolation since at least the Bronze Age.” – @dienekes’.

Archaeologists discover 10,000 year-old home – in scotland.

People who live in tropics more likely to die seven years earlier“Overall mortality in the region was affected by disease, conflict, poverty and food insecurity….”

Improved Water Supplies In Africa Increase Poverty – ’cause of lower death rates. that s*cks. – from parapundit.

bonus: Fraud fighter: ‘Faked research is endemic in China’

bonus bonus: The Black Cat Analogy – from jayman!

bonus bonus bonus: Think twice before using “mankind” to mean “all humanity,” say scholars – scr*w that!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Camel Genome Holds Desert Survival Secrets“[M]any of the Bactrian genome’s rapidly evolving genes regulate the metabolic pathway…. [C]amels can withstand massive blood glucose levels owing in part to changes in genes that are linked to type II diabetes in humans.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Larry Hagman: the superstar who made history“In 1991, a Bedouin tribe delayed its annual migration across the Sahara because its elders were not prepared to miss the last episode of Dallas.” – heh.

(note: comments do not require an email. baby camel – awwww!)

late again! pretty soon they’re gonna start docking my pay….

Working out who’s top dog“A new study reveals how the brain interprets information about social hierarchy.” – woof.

Their Right StuffThe Grant study has … made the bizarre discovery that subjects’ late-life mental health is strongly associated with the longevity of maternal grandfathers. That indicates a link to both traits somewhere on the X chromosome…. Just as communism, according to an old Hungarian joke, was the long road from capitalism to capitalism, psychiatry now looks like the long road that led from Darwinism to Darwinism.” – heh.

If you are a perfectionist – blame your parents: Aiming to be the best is determined by your genes“Perfectionists are born – not made – scientists claim”

The genetics of stupidity – from greg cochran.

Research suggests that humans are slowly but surely losing intellectual and emotional abilities“With the development of agriculture, came urbanization, which may have weakened the power of selection to weed out mutations leading to intellectual disabilities. Based on calculations of the frequency with which deleterious mutations appear in the human genome and the assumption that 2000 to 5000 genes are required for intellectual ability, Dr. Crabtree estimates that within 3000 years (about 120 generations) we have all sustained two or more mutations harmful to our intellectual or emotional stability.”

Some guys get all the babes – not exactly – from jayman. (luv the photo! (~_^) )

Mongolia and the Altai Mountains: Origins of genetic blending between Europeans and Asians“[T]his blending was not due to an eastward migration of Europeans, but to a demographic expansion of local Central Asian populations, thanks to the technological improvements the Scythian culture brought with them.”

How Do You Raise a Prodigy?

Children suffer effects of parents’ divorce into adult life“The children of divorced parents can suffer the effects of the break-up well into their adult life, a report has found.”

Culture: Diverse diagnostics“Perhaps the most dramatic demonstration of this is a study of more than 55,000 children in South Korea, which estimated autism prevalence at 2.64%. That’s more than twice the autism prevalence in the United States estimated by the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and more than 50 times higher than the South Korean government’s figure for autism prevalence of 0.046%. One reason for that higher estimate may be that the researchers screened children in the general population for autism symptoms, rather than recruiting them only from clinics for autism and other developmental disorders.”

Does cloudy weather make you ginger?“Provisional statistics indicate that between two and six per cent of northwest Europeans are redheads, compared to an average of one or two per cent in the world population. But in the UK the numbers are much higher, with 13 per cent of Scots, 10 per cent of the Irish, and six per cent of individuals in England having read hair.”

Hacking the President’s DNA“The U.S. government is surreptitiously collecting the DNA of world leaders, and is reportedly protecting that of Barack Obama…. In the not-too-distant future, they may provide … the basis for the creation of personalized bioweapons that could take down a president and leave no trace.”

Childhood obesity more likely to affect children in poorer neighborhoods

India’s dwindling Parsi population to be boosted with fertility clinics“The Indian government is to fund new fertility clinics to help save its dwindling Parsi population which is now under threat of extinction.”

bonus: ‘Super-Earth’ exoplanet spotted 42 light-years away – when are we leaving?

bonus bonus: Fungus that controls zombie-ants has own fungal stalker – hyperparasites!

bonus bonus bonus: New carnivorous harp sponge discovered in deep sea

(note: comments do not require an email. ping-pong sponge!)

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

well, here they are! the semai of malaysia:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OUTBREEDERS! relatively speaking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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