top ten list 2015 and best laid plans 2016

here’s a top ten-ish selection of my posts from this year, selected by me (this blog is not a democracy! (~_^) ). they weren’t necessarily the most read or most commented upon posts, but just the ones that i like the best and/or think are the most important, and that i’d like people to read. ymmv!

‘fraid it was rather slim pickings this year due my general state of unwelledness. am feeling better! and i hope to get back to a more regular blogging schedule next year (see the best laid plans below). i won’t be doing any blogging for the rest of this year — prolly won’t get back to it until after the holidays are over and the eggnog’s all gone. (~_^) you might find me goofin’ off on twitter, though. if you’re not on twitter, you can follow my feed down there (↓) near the bottom of the page in the center column.

many thanks to all of you out there for reading the blog, and for all of your informative and insightful comments! thank you, too, for all of your support and the well wishes while i’ve been ill. they were MUCH appreciated! (^_^) (btw, if you’ve emailed me in the past couple of months, and i haven’t gotten back to you, i am very sorry! am terribly behind on emails, but i’m trying to work through them! behind on replying to comments, too, for that matter. sorry again!)

so, here you go! my top ten list for 2015:

family types and the selection for nepotistic altruism“the logic of the mating patterns/inbreeding-outbreeding theory goes that, given the right set of circumstances (i.e. certain sorts of social environments), selection for nepotistic altruism/clannishness ought to go quicker or be amplified by inbreeding (close cousin marriage or uncle-niece marriage) simply because there will be more copies of any nepotistic altruism genes (alleles) that happen to arise floating around in kin groups. in other words, inbreeding should facilitate the selection for clannishness…if clannish behaviors are being selected for in a population…. northwestern “core” europe has had very low cousin marriage rates since around the 800s-1000s, but it has also, thanks to manorialism, had nuclear families of one form or another (absolute or stem) since the early medieval period — nuclear families are recorded in some of the earliest manor property records in the first part of the ninth century from northeastern france [see mitterauer, pg. 59]. on the other hand, eastern europeans, like the russians and greeks, while they also seem to have avoided very close cousin marriage for several hundreds of years (which is not as long as northwestern europeans, but is quite a while), have tended to live in extended family groupings. you would think that nepotistic altruism could be selected for, or maintained more readily, in populations where extended family members lived together and interacted with one another on a more regular basis than in societies of nuclear family members where individuals interact more with non-kin.

what did the romans ever do for us?“so the romans avoided close cousin marriage, established a republic based on democratic principles, had a legal system founded upon universalistic principles, expanded their polity into a vast and one of the world’s most impressive empires (iow, invaded the world), eventually extended roman citizenship to non-romans and allowed barbarians to come live inside the empire (iow, invited the world), and, then, well…oops! *ahem* … anyway, there is a direct link between ancient rome’s and medieval/modern northern europe’s cousin marriage avoidance. that link is quite obviously the catholic church which adopted all sorts of roman institutional structures and practices; but more specifically i’m referring to several of the church fathers….” – see also: st. augustine on outbreeding.

there and back again: shame and guilt in ancient greece“there was a(n incomplete) shift in the society during the time period from being a shame culture to being a guilt culture…. the transition may have been incomplete — in fact, may have even gone into reverse — because inbreeding (cousin marriage) became increasingly common in classical athens…. the ancient greeks might’ve gone from being a (presumably) inbred/shame culture in the dark ages, to an outbred/quasi-guilt culture in the archaic period, and back to an inbred/shame culture over the course of the classical period. maybe. Further Research is RequiredTM…. in any case, evolution is not progressive. (heh! i’ve just been dying to say that. (~_^) ) there’s nothing to say that evolution cannot go in reverse, although perhaps it wouldn’t go back down the exact same pathway it came up. there’s no reason why we — or, rather, our descendants — couldn’t wind up, as greg cochran says, back in the trees*.”

outbreeding and individualism“northern europeans began to think of — or at least write about — themselves as individuals beginning in the eleventh century a.d…. the individualistic guilt-culture of northwest (‘core’) europeans today came into existence thanks to their extensive outbreeding during the medieval period (…and the manorialism). the outbreeding started in earnest in the 800s (at least in northern france) and, as we saw above, by 1050-1100 thoughts on *individualis* began to stir.”

carts before horses“the usual explanation offered up for why the societies in places like iraq or syria are based upon the extended family is that these places lack a strong state, and so the people ‘fall back’ on their families. this is *not* what happened in core europe — at least not in england. the importance of the extended family began to fall away *before* the appearance of a strong, centralized state (in the 900s). in any case, the argument is nonsensical. the chinese have had strong, centralized states for millennia, and yet the extended family remains of paramount importance in that society. even in the description of siedentorp’s Inventing the Individual we read: ‘Inventing the Individual tells how a new, equal social role, the individual, arose and gradually displaced the claims of family, tribe, and caste as the basis of social organization.’ no! this is more upside-down-and-backwardness. it’s putting the cart before the horse. individualism didn’t arise and displace the extended family — the extended family receded (beginning in the 900s) and *then* the importance of the individual came to the fore (ca. 1050)…. a lot of major changes happened in core european societies much earlier than most people suppose and in the opposite order (or for the opposite reason) that many presume.”

community vs. communism“‘By the end of the nineteenth century, then, it was evident that there were two Europes, long separated by their histories and, thus, by their politics, economics, social structure, and culture….’ so how did northwestern ‘core’ europe (including northern italy) differ from russia historically as far as participation in civic institutions goes? the short answer is: civicness in ‘core’ europe began centuries before it did in russia or the rest of eastern europe, at least 500-600, if not 800-900, years earlier…. there is NO reason NOT to suppose that the differences in behavioral traits that we see between european sub-populations today — including those between western and eastern europe — aren’t genetic and the result of differing evolutionary histories or pathways…. the circa eleven to twelve hundred years since the major restructuring of society that occurred in ‘core’ europe in the early medieval period — i.e. the beginnings of manorialism, the start of consistent and sustained outbreeding (i.e. the avoidance of close cousin marriage), and the appearance of voluntary associations — is ample time for northwestern europeans to have gone down a unique evolutionary pathway and to acquire behavioral traits quite different from those of other europeans — including eastern europeans — who did not go down the same pathway (but who would’ve gone down their *own* evolutionary pathways, btw).”

eastern germany, medieval manorialism, and (yes) the hajnal line“most of east germany (the gdr) lies outside of the region formerly known as austrasia, as does large parts of both today’s northern and southern germany. southeast germany was incorporated into the frankish kingdom quite early (in the early 500s — swabia on the map below), but both northern germany and southwestern germany much later — not until the late 700s (saxony and bavaria on map). *eastern* germany, as we will see below, even later than that. the later the incorporation into the frankish empire, the later the introduction of both manorialism and outbreeding. and, keeping in mind recent, rapid, and local human evolution, that should mean that these more peripheral populations experienced whatever selective pressures manorialism and outbreeding exerted for *shorter* periods of time than the ‘core’ core europeans back in austrasia…. when east germany was eventually settled by germanic peoples in the high middle ages, it was comparatively late (six or seven hundred years after the germans in the west began living under the manor system); the manor system in the region was *not* of the bipartite form, but rather the more abstract rental form; and the migrants consisted primarily of individuals from a population only recently manorialized or never manorialized. in other words, the medieval ancestors of today’s east germans experienced quite different selection pressures than west germans. so, too, did northern germans on the whole compared to southern germans. these differences could go a long way in explaining the north-south and east-west divides within germany that jayman and others have pointed out.”

human self-domestication events – just ignore what i said about humans and “the domestication syndrome” – pay attention to this, tho: “much of the current thinking seems to be centered on the idea that humans self-domesticated ‘in the more distant past,’ but the fact that humans have been able to dwell together *at all* in ridiculously large numbers beginning around the time of the agricultural revolution suggests that human self-domestication did not stop ‘in the more distant past’ and is probably even ongoing. this is 10,000 Year Explosion territory, and cochran and harpending have been here already…. what i’d like to draw attention to is the idea that there have been multiple (probably multiple multiples of) human self-domestication events which occurred at different places and at different times — all sorta within the broader human self-domestication project which began back in some stone age or, perhaps, even before. one of these, i propose, was the manorialism/outbreeding/execution-of-violent-criminals combo of medieval europe which left ‘core’ europeans with a very specific set of behavioral traits. another might very well be whatever domestication package went along with rice farming in southern china as peter frost has discussed. others undoubtedly include the sorts of civilizations described by cochran & harpending in the passage quoted above — those ‘strong, long-lived states’ — like those found in ancient egypt, ancient china, and ancient india.”

there’s more to human biodiversity than just racial differences“much of the variation between human populations is NOT found at the level of races, nor does it have anything to do with race.” – see also hbd chick’s three laws of human biodiversity.

know thyself – me exhorting ya’ll to do just that. see also me, myself, and i. and see also don’t take it personally.

– bonus: historic mating patterns of ashkenazi jews“i think — going by some things that i’ve read — that the historic mating patterns of ashkenazi jews (i.e. whether or not they married close cousins and/or practiced uncle-niece marriage) were quite different between western vs. eastern ashkenazis…. it seems to me that jews — wherever they have lived (outside of judea/israel, i mean) — have generally copied the broader population’s mating patterns. in medieval western europe, they avoided close cousin marriage and, according to mitterauer, were very worried about incest in the same way that the rest of western europe was at the time. in eastern europe, though, they appear to have married their cousins with greater frequency, probably down through the centuries not unlike the rest of eastern europeans…. as i mentioned in my self-quote at the start of this post, though, european jews did *not* experience whatever selection pressures were connected to the bipartite manorialism of medieval europe.” – see also ashkenazi jews, mediterranean mtdna, mating patterns, and clannishness.

– bonus bonus: my politics – if you’re at all interested. (they’re really dull, actually.)

– and my favorite post from this year by another blogger was jayman’s The Rise of Universalism! (^_^) you should read it. i also meant to mention my favorite post by another blogger in last year’s top ten list, but i forgot, so here it is now: staffan’s The Myth of the Expanding Circle or You Can’t Learn How to Be an English Vegetarian. read that one, too, if you haven’t!
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best laid plans for 2016:

– will start off the year with more thoughts on family types and the selection for nepotistic altruism/clannishness.

– i swear to whoever it is we agnostics swear to that i WILL do that series on manorialism in medieval europe!

– i’d like to take a closer look at the reduction of violence/homicides over the course of the middle ages. i think there’s more to it than just the removal of violent individuals from the gene pool (although it is that, too, imo).

– will explore more the rise of individualism, universalism, guilt, etc., in northwest european populations.

– and i may even finish that post discussing the fact that many of the jihadis in europe (france, belgium, spain) appear to be berbers.

– last year i had hoped to respond to prof. macdonald’s post in which he responded to some things i’ve had to say about jews (especially ashkenazi jews). not sure i’ll get to it this year, either. depends on if i’m up to it or not. i think i’ll need to read/reread his books before i respond, and i just may not get around to that this year. we’ll see. same for salter’s On Genetic Interests.

previously: top ten list 2014 and best laid plans 2015

east vs. west?

so! i tallied up all the responses to do you think like a westerner? and the repeat (see bottom of post for the results). (^_^) this was definitely fun, but the results here don’t tell us a whole lot (especially ’cause this was a very UNscientific poll).

one thing that i have to agree on with several commenters is that i think this little survey hints that nisbitt’s east-west cognitive divide is not a completely clear cut one (presumably he never said or meant that anyway — don’t want to put words into his mouth here). granted i only asked you guys about one of the tests, but, out of the individuals who identified themselves as of wholly european extraction, 38 responded “A” (the east asian response!) while only 25 answered “B” (the western response). another seven did switch from “A” to “B” so that does boost the “B” responses total up to 32. and one person switched from “B” to “A”. (there’s always one! (~_^) ) still, seems like a lot of westerners think like easterners — more collectivist and holistic than individualist and reductionistic — at least sometimes (including me!). so what’s going on?

i tried mapping the results (of only those people who said they were wholly european, so sorry jayman and santoculto, you guys are not on the map!), but didn’t have much luck. there were no clear patterns that i could see — two possible hints at patterns, but they’re very slight. ok. here’s the map:

europe map - do you think like a westerner 03

each colored square indicates one individual (irregardless of the size of the square). red=”A”, dark blue=”B”, light blue=”A to B”, pink=”B to A”. the yellow lines are the hajnal line, of course, just ’cause i can’t help myself anymore.

the large squares represent those individuals who only gave me a general region where they (or their ancestors) were from as opposed to a specific country. so we’ve got “Europe” (which i just positioned in the center of europe), “Northern Europe”, “Western Europe”, and “Eastern Europe”. the large squares should, therefore, not be read as being located in a specific country — they indicate regions only.

the smaller squares represent those individuals who stated their ethnic background. they’re generally just placed in the center of the country that the person indicated (as in the cases of ireland or spain or poland), but sometimes the person was very specific (“germany, baltic coast”), so i went with that. the small red square above the set of larger “N. Europe” squares represents someone who said they were irish + norwegian. the red square (heh!) on the border of germany and poland is a person who said they were from “in between eastern and western europe.” the two blue squares on the border of poland and belarus identified themselves as northern slavs. the small blue square by “W. Europe” is the person who said they were dutch + italian. and the red square on the border of france and spain represents the person who said they were ashkenazi + sephardic jewish.

some squares are floating out in the middle of seas or oceans. *gasp!* those represent people with mixed ancestries, and i tried to position their square approximately equidistant from each of their various nations of origin — like there’s a light blue square out in the atlantic — that person said they were “irish + southern european”. the two small blue squares off the southern tip of sweden are individuals with scottish and russian jewish ancestry.

there are ten individuals treading water in the north sea in between england and the netherlands. they are the following:

– irish + german (A)
– scots + irish + german (A)
– english + euro (A)
– english + german (A)
– english + scottish + german (A)
– irish + scottish + french + swiss + german (B to A)
– english + austrian (B)
– english + scottish + afrikaner (B)
– english + german (B)
– english + german (B)
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so, like i said, no obvious pattern(s).

the only hints of patterns that i can maybe see (if i squint really hard) are: 1) more “B” (western) answers from individuals from the broad regions of northern and western europe than those who just said “europe” — no idea what, if anything, that might mean; and 2) in looking at just the british isles, perhaps a trend of more scots and irish individuals + people of mixed ancestry including scots and irish responding “A” than english individuals + people of mixed ancestry including english responding “A”.

consider that, to start with, there are no “B” responses from scotland at all, in ireland the ratio of “A” to “B” answers is 2 to 1, and among the scots irish (in northern ireland there) it’s 2 to 1.5. but in england the ratio is 3 to 1. (extremely small “n” obviously. can’t be counted on for anything!) if we also take into consideration the floaters, all four of the “B” respondents there have some english ancestry (one also has scottish), but four out of the six “A” respondents have some irish and/or scots ancestry. so, maybe, perhaps, kinda/sorta there are more “As” from the scottish and irish than the english. maybe.
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i told you. no obvious patterns, really! except for the fact that there are westerners out there who, at least some of the time, think a bit — or a lot — like east asians, i.e. more holistic rather than individualistic.

and you KNOW which groups of europeans i’d put my money on if i were to bet on which ones (if any) think more holistically than the others…*cough*PERIPHERALEUROPEANS*cough*. (~_^)

and while i’m in the mood to gamble my money away, i’d also happily wager that there was a shift from more holistic to more individualist thinking in core europe beginning sometime right around the eleventh century.

that is all! thanks everybody for playing! (^_^)
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>> “A” (38) <<
– irish
– irish-american
– irish + german
– irish + norwegian
– scots irish
– scottish
– scottish
– scottish (from twitter)
– scottish + irish + scots irish
– scots + irish + german
– english + euro
– anglo
– anglo
– english + german
– english + scottish + german
– british (aussie. placed in england.)
– german (baltic sea)
– scandinavian
– scandinavian
– swedish + norwegian
– viking-american
– frisian
– northern european
– northern european
– nw euro
– nw european
– north european + europe (off germany)
– westerner (w. euro)
– westerner (w. euro)
– ashkenazi + sephardic jewish
– italian
– between western and eastern european
– eastern european
– hungarian + cuman + jewish
– euro
– european
– multiple euro ethnicities
– white american
NOT INCLUDED IN COUNT OR ON MAP
– scottish/english + amerindian + german
– scottish + lebanese + french
– mostly northern european, also mediterranean, dash of chinese
– south italian + german + native american
– mexican-american
– egyptian
– cameroon
– indo-guyanese + tamil-sri lankan
– chinese
– han chinese
– doesn’t say
– doesn’t say
– doesn’t say
– doesn’t say
– doesn’t say

>> “B” (25) <<
– irish
– scottish + ashkenazi jewish + russian
– scots irish
– english + russian jewish
– english + austrian
– english + scottish + afrikaner
– english + german
– english + german
– southern (american) white
– belgian french
– swedish
– scandinavian
– nw european + finnish
– finnish (swedish-speaking)
– dutch + italian
– slavic
– north slavic
– european
– northern european
– northern european
– northern european
– nw european
– western european
– western european
– western european
NOT INCLUDED IN COUNT OR ON MAP
– english + black + chinese
– black + amerindian + iberian + italian + sephardic jewish
– european + native american
– american
– east asian
– eastern
– a taxonomist
– doesn’t say
– doesn’t say
– doesn’t say
– doesn’t say
– doesn’t say
– doesn’t say (from facebook)

>> “A” to “B” (7) <<
– irish + southern european
– scots irish
– german
– polish
– north european
– iberian
– turkish
NOT INCLUDED IN COUNT OR ON MAP
– dominican + puerto rican (african descent)
– african american

>> “B” to “A” (1) <<
– irish + scottish + french + swiss + german

(note: comments do not require an email. one of these things is not like the other! (~_^) )