a few thoughts

jayman’s got a cool new post up on clannishness and western inventiveness! here are a few thoughts from me…

jayman said re. the abstract thinking type of westerners vs. the holistic thinking type of easterners (a la nisbett) [my emphasis]:

“[A]nother key difference between Western vs. Eastern (i.e., WEIRDO vs. clannish) thought: the former see things (and themselves) as atomized individuals, while the latter view objects in the world as part of an interconnected whole. This is a defining aspect on the clannishness dimension: low-clannishness peoples (WEIRDOs) see themselves as atomized individuals, who form associations voluntarily and not necessarily based on kinship. High-clannishness peoples see themselves as inherently part of the group (e.g., family, clan, tribe, village/town, etc.)….

“How did this penchant for abstraction come about among NW Europeans? I suspect that part of it has to do with the rise of high-trust and social atomization (i.e., individualism) in NW European societies. As clannishness disappeared, and as people were no longer bound to their families or clans (and indeed, we were free to interact with non-relative in cooperative ventures), people became more free to engage in intellectually stimulating thought. Mental space previously devoted understand one’s place in society and keep ahead of schemers now could be used on more abstract pursuits.

while it’s an interesting idea, i don’t think that freed up mental capacity once dedicated to clannish traits was co-opted in the brains of westerners (nw europeans) in their post-clannishness state and then devoted greater abstract thought. maybe. but i suspect the connection is (somehow) much more direct: i think (theorize, speculate, etc.) that in simply becoming more independent individuals — i.e. less genetically like others around them thanks to outbreeding — that the mindset simply shifted. atomized individuals, atomized (and, therefore, abstract) thinking. please don’t get your panties all in a bunch. yes, this is complete and wild speculation on my part. i can’t even guess what the mechanism might have been, so don’t sue me if i’m wrong. (nw europeans, btw, began to think of themselves as individuals in the middle of the eleventh century a.d.)

another much more informed guess: that nw europeans’ exceptional ability for inventiveness especially in science (which cannot be divorced from their high average iqs — as jayman pointed out, africans are pretty inventive, but without enough iq points, no one there’s going to the moon) has a LOT to do with the selection pressures that happened thanks to the manor system which was found in nw europe during the middle ages, specifically bipartite manorialism.

to back up for a sec: inventiveness/creativity/scientific reasoning in east asians, or the relative lack of it. jayman suggests that their tendency for holistic — and, therefore, not abstract — thinking hobbles east asians when it comes to inventiveness, etc. that, i think, makes a lot of sense. i do think, though, that the cochran-harpending idea of conformity in east asia (“nails hammered down”/low levels of adhd) also makes a lot of sense. the two ideas go well together, imho. wrt the “nails hammered down” hypothesis, my bet is that that selection process goes waaaay back. complex chinese civilization (that centered around the yellow river valley) is three or four thousands of years old. i think they’ve been hammering down the contrarians/independent thinkers there for a very long time. greg cochran has mentioned that the high-altitude adaptation of tibetans works better than those of other groups adapted to living in the clouds because the tibetan adaptations have been under selection for longer (even some acquired from the denisovans and/or other archaic humans?). i suspect that this is why conformism/lack of independent thinking is so strong in east asia: it’s been under selection there for a very long time. northwest europe’s civilization is obviously much, much younger.

now, to return to northwest “core” europeans: i strongly suspect their inventiveness/abstract thinking style/scientific thinking (and other behavioral traits, for that matter) were selected for thanks to the the following medieval trifecta:

– outbreeding (i.e. the abandonment of close cousin marriage) which meant that the selection for nepostic altruism was curbed since family members would no longer share so many “genes for altruism” in common (see: renaissances), PLUS individuals became “atomized” (therefore more abstract thinking arose, etc.);
– change in family types from extended to nuclear, which again would limit the selection for nepotistic altruism since individuals would interact more with non-kin than family;
bipartite manorialism, which began in frankish territories in northeastern france/belgium and spread across nw and central europe in areas that are pretty much coterminous (prolly not coincidentally) with the hajnal line.

oh. and the ostsiedlung.

bipartite manorialism, in which tenant farmers would work for (later pay rent to) the head of a manor but also farm for themselves, operated as a sort-of franchise system in which the tenants on their individual farms had to make it or break it independently (i.e. without support from an extended family/clan, the dumber members of which would no longer be a drag on our independent farmers). there was, no doubt, cooperation between the tenant farmers which, once the outbreeding reduced the selection for nepotistic altruism, could’ve resulted in the selection for a more general, reciprocal altruism. but bipartite manorialism, i think, would’ve also selected for other traits like a propensity to be hard working, delayed gratification, and inventiveness: those individuals who came up with new ideas for improving their farming (or related) techniques could’ve bettered their place on the manor and been more successful reproductively.

chonologically, bipartite manorialism came first, arising out of the abandoned latifundia system in what had been roman gaul perhaps as early as the 500s. there also appears to have been pressure from very early on on these manors for nuclear families, so the reduction in family size may very well have come next. finally, the avoidance of cousin marriage came into full swing in the frankish territories in the 800s.

the final stage — at least as far as the medieval period goes — in the selection for “core” europeans was the ostsiedling: this was The Big Self-Sorting to the east of individuals who were already well underway to being outbred/manorialized in western germanic regions — in other words, they were well underway to being westernized as we know it. i don’t think it can be a coincidence that the heart of human accomplishment in western europe (which is also pretty much the heart of human accomplishment) is found in the manorialized regions of europe and very much where the ostsiedlung happened (see also here). my bet is that it was very much hard-working, innovative (especially, at the time, in agricultural/engineering techniques), high-achievers who went forth into the east during the medieval period. and they prospered and multiplied once they were there.

so that’s the picture as i see it so far. i reserve the right to change my mind/be utterly and completely wrong. (~_^)
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oh. wrt to thinking like a westerner (abstract/atomized) vs. thinking like an easterner (holistic/group), i still suspect that peripheral europeans (like me!) might think more like easterners (i.e. holistically) than northwest “core” europeans. dunno for sure, and i didn’t have enough data to confirm or refute this little idea, but i’m still hanging on to it for now. really wish an actual scientist would check it out.
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jayman also said [his emphases]:

“The reality is that evolution proceeds much quicker than you think. Just as HBD’ers generally understand that human evolution didn’t stop 50,000 years ago, it also did not stop 10,000 years ago, or even 1,000 years ago, or even 500 or 200 years ago. Evolution continues right up to the present day. The reason I bring this up is because I keep hearing about how X group was doing this 2,000 years ago or about how Y group was doing this 1,000 years ago, so how could they be so different now? The reason is that they have changed since that time.

hear, hear! and…duh! human evolution is recent, both global and local, ongoing, and can be pretty rapid. not in one generation, obviously, but twenty or forty is plenty of time. also, gene frequencies in populations move upwards or downwards over time — they do not (have to) remain stagnant. i quoted stephen stearns recently (here):

“Well I think what is very probably going on is that selection is moving a population up and down all the time. It goes off in a certain direction for a while, and then it goes back in the other direction. It’s only if you get a significant change in the environment that it will then continuously go in a new direction.”

and average differences in gene frequencies in populations is all you need for average differences in behavioral traits, etc. for example, i think the ancient greeks might’ve moved from a shame to a part-guilt and back to a shame culture again thanks (at least in part) to changes in mating patterns over the course of several hundreds of years. evolution does not have to be unidirectional.
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anatoly karlin said:

“Ancient Greeks did a lot of abstract thinking, and produced the greatest cultural/scientific peak until the Renaissance (according to the same Charles Murray’s figures). During the Middle Ages, in pure scientific terms, the Islamic world was most advanced. The Renaissance began in northern Italy. Only in the 17th century did the bulk of scientific discoveries move to NW Europe.”

as i mentioned above, it looks like the ancient greeks (the athenians) went from inbred to outbred and back to inbred again. mind you, i only have some pretty slim historic/literary evidence for that, so you should take my claim with a large grain of salt, but i’ll keep working on the Greek Question. the romans, who were also pretty sharp, at least when it came to engineering, were very clearly outbred (they bequeathed their outbreeding practices to us). the renaissance did begin in northern italy, and that doesn’t come as a big surprise to me ’cause northern italy was the most heavily manorialized part of italy (i’ll tell you more about this in my long overdue series on manorialism). northern italians were also prboably quite outbred during the medieval period, although further research is required on that front, too. the scientific revolution, however — especially the development of the scientific method — was very much a north european baby, though. from what i understand of science in the medieval islamic world, most of that was down to the persians. can’t tell you anything about medieval persian society, unfortunately, ’cause i don’t know anything about it.

that’s it. outta energy. more soon!

(note: comments do not require an email. De revolutionibus orbium coelestium.)

there and back again: shame and guilt in ancient greece

william hamilton wondered if renaissances/enlightenments happened in places roughly 800 years after some hardy altruism genes were introduced by barbarians into panmictic (really outbred) populations. i wonder instead if what happens is that renaissances/enlightenments occur after ca. 500 years or so of outbreeding which results in nepotistic altruism (or clannishness) being reduced or even mostly eliminated which, in turn, leads to greater cooperation and reciprocal altruism within the populations — conditions i think you might need to have a renaissance at all (see also here).

where intensive outbreeding (and manorialism) happened in medieval europe — and there is a lot of good, strong evidence for it — certainly seems to match well with where the european renaissance occurred. after some fits and starts in the 500s to 700s, the practice of avoiding close cousin marriages really took hold in exactly the areas where the renaissance/reformation/scientific revolution/enlightenment later happened — i.e. core europe — in short: england, france, the netherlands, germany, and northern italy. scandinavia a bit, too. oh…and the lowlands of scotland.

the evidence for outbreeding in ancient greece is much more tenuous. it appears fairly certain that the upper classes outbred during the archaic period in greece (800-480 b.c.). whether they outbred during the entire time period or began the practice sometime before or after 800 b.c., i don’t know. it may also be, judging by something hesiod said, that the lower classes followed suit, but it’s impossible to know for certain going by just one comment from one ancient writer.

some circumstantial evidence that might offer further support to the outbreeding-in-archaic-greece theory is that, in the 400s to 200s b.c., there was a shift in kinship terminology in ancient greece. the distinctions in the greek language between the paternal and maternal sides of the family began to disappear — for example, uncles on both sides came to be called just “uncle,” rather than there being specific words for paternal vs. maternal uncle, and so on and so forth. the same sort of linguistic shift happened in medieval europe. in germany, for instance, that shift happened between the 1100s and 1400s. at the end of the day, all cousins came to be called simply “cousin” rather than “father’s brother’s cousin” or “mother’s brother’s cousin.” the lesson seems to be: change the kinship structures and the long-term mating patterns in a society, and it shouldn’t be surprising that the kinship terminology will also change. no need to specify different sorts of cousins if all of them are off-limits as marriage partners.

michael mitterauer points out that there was a time lag in the linguistic shifts in medieval europe — the terminology changed ca. 300 to 600 years after the mating patterns began to change. perhaps something similar happened in archaic greece — the linguistic shift happened in ca. the 400s to 200s b.c. so perhaps we can infer that the mating patterns had changed to a more outbred form a few hundred years earlier. maybe right around the end of the greek dark ages and the beginning of the archaic period. dunno. complete speculation.

now i’ve come across another piece of circumstantial evidence that outbreeding may have been happening in archaic greece and that is that there was a(n incomplete) shift in the society during the time period from being a shame culture to being a guilt culture. i’m getting this from The Greeks and the Irrational, a book originally published in 1951 and written by classical scholar e.r. dodds (who was kicked out of oxford for supporting the easter rising — troublemaker! (~_^) ). presumably there have been works criticizing dodd’s thesis written since the 1950s, but i’m afraid i haven’t read any of them yet. i’m just going to run with dodd’s idea for now, but, please, consider this a sort-of thought experiment. more speculation.

first of all, in shame cultures, bad behavior is checked by the fear of being caught — of being shamed and embarassed. in guilt cultures, bad behavior is checked by one’s inner voice — feelings of guilt occurring before any action is taken. these are behavioral traits that must have been variously selected for in different human populations. secondly, shame cultures are all tied up with honor — especially family honor. japan — with its meiwaku and seppuku — is the classic example of a shame culture, but china with its confucian filial piety is not far behind. the arabized populations are definitely shame cultures with their honor killings and all their talk of respect. even european mediterranean societies are arguably more honor-shame cultures than guilt cultures [pdf].

if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ll recognize all of those shame cultures as having had long histories of inbreeding: maternal cousin marriage was traditionally very common in east asia (here’re japan and china); paternal cousin marriage is still going strong in the arabized world; and cousin marriage was prevelant in the mediterranean up until very recently (here’s italy, for example). it’s really, once again, the outbred northwest “core” europeans who are unique here with their guilt culture (although perhaps there are other guilt cultures out there as well). my guess is that long-term inbreeding tends to result in shame-honor cultures, while long-term outbreeding leads to guilt cultures. i’ve said so before.

back to dodd, his thesis is that ancient greece went through something of a transition from a shame to a guilt culture, but that shift was incomplete. the trend may even have reversed in classical athens. dodd points to several thematic shifts in greek literature from the iliad to the writings of plato including: a move away from blaming human failings on atē or the direct, external influences of the gods to more personal “demons,” often seen only by the individual person; the gradual adoption of the idea that individual humans have “souls” or independent “personalities”; a move away from the idea that people’s failings are due to a lack of knowledge (again coming from outside the person) as opposed to, perhaps, their own culpability; that zeus over time becomes more and more a dispenser of justice rather than just a being who capriciously interferes in human affairs (justice being important in guilt cultures as opposed to revenge in shame-honor cultures); and that philosophers and thinkers increasingly complained that the inheritance of guilt down through a family line was unjust. here from dodd on that last point [kindle locations 669-671]:

“Solon speaks of the hereditary victims of nemesis as άυαίτιοι, ‘not responsible’; Theognis complains of the unfairness of a system by which ‘the criminal gets away with it, while someone else takes the punishment later’; Aeschylus, if I understand him rightly, would mitigate the unfairness by recognising that an inherited curse may be broken.”

the idea that only the transgressor should be punished (as in guilt cultures) as opposed to additional or all of his family members (as in shame-honor cultures) doesn’t actually occur to these writers, so they haven’t quite arrived fully into a guilt culture, but they do seem to have been on the way there. much more so than earlier writers anyway. again, dodd emphasizes that [kindle locations 587-588]:

“[M]any modes of behaviour characteristic of shame-cultures persisted throughout the archaic and classical periods. There is a transition, but it is gradual and incomplete.”

the transition may have been incomplete — in fact, may have even gone into reverse — because inbreeding (cousin marriage) became increasingly common in classical athens (see here). from “Agnatio, Cognation, Consanguinitas: Kinship and Blood in Ancient Rome” in Blood and Kinship: Matter for Metaphor from Ancient Rome to the Present [pgs. 24-26], we saw in a previous post that while “aristocrats in early [archaic] Greece…married beyond the limits of their *patris*”, in classical athens “members of the *anchisteia*, the legally defined kinship group including first cousins once removed, were the preferred marriage partners.” 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.

(yes, i know. it’s all very tenuous. i told you it was speculative!)

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*.

i think the way to think of the evolution of behavioral traits like nepotistic and reciprocal altruism in humans — especially perhaps in recent human evolution — is like a big simmering cauldron of stew where bubbles of certain behaviors rise up in some places only to sometimes pop and deflate and almost disppear again. outbreeding appears to have occurred many places, although whether or not over the long-term is not always clear: archaic greece (maybe), ancient rome, the bamileke of cameroon, the igbo of west africa, the turkana of east africa, the semai of malaysia, the bushmen of southern africa (aka The Harmless People), and europeans since the early medieval period — especially northwest europeans. the ancient greek experiment seems to have run out of momentum and collapsed on its own; the roman example probably popped thanks to the barbarian invasions; and the northwest european one is…currently ongoing. for now.

previously: renaissances and the transition from shame to guilt in anglo-saxon england (and “core” europe) and archaic greek mating patterns and kinship terms and ελλάδα
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*“Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.”

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

different mutation rates in different human populations

well this seems important! via race/history/evolution notes, an abstract from the society for molecular biology and evolution 2014 conference (in puerto rico! – teh scientists are always good to themselves whenever they can be (~_^) ):

Evidence for different mutation rates across human populations
Ron Do, David Reich
Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA

Although mutation rates (per base pair) have clearly changed across primate evolution, many analyses continue to assume that all present-day human populations have the same mutation rates. Recently, William Amos analyzed 1000 Genomes Project and Complete Genomics sequences and found evidence of significantly higher divergence rates on African than on non-African lineages since separation (W. Amos, PLoS One 4, e63048). The detected pattern was strongest in genomic regions of high polymorphism rate, a pattern that the author hypothesized was due to ‘heterozygote instability’, whereby gene conversion events surrounding heterozygous sites increase the mutation rate. To further test this observation, we measured the relative accumulation of mutations in lineages drawn from two different populations, using 25 deep genome sequences generated according to the same experimental protocol using the Illumina technology. We carried out pairwise comparisons of five sub-Saharan African (Dinka, Mandenka, Mbuti, San, Yoruba) and eight Non-African populations (Australian, Dai, French, Han, Karitiana, Mixe, Papuan, Sardinian) on all divergent sites. We observed statistically significant differences in the relative accumulation of mutations for many pairs of African and Non-African populations. Among the strongest differences is significantly more lineage-specific mutations in Mbuti than in Han Chinese (R=1.044, standard error (SE) =0.0015). On average, we observed about 1% more mutations on African lineages compared to Non-African lineages. We also observed some significant differences across non-African populations, with the Han Chinese who have experienced extreme expansions in population size associated with agriculture having more mutations than the Karitiana, a hunter-gatherer population from Amazonia who did not experience such expansions (R=1.015, SE=0.0014). The results are consistent across both European and African segments of the human reference sequence, so are not an artifact of reference sequence bias. Taken together, these results support the view that per-base pair mutation rates may be dynamically and substantially changing across humans.

cool!

wrt to greater number of mutations in african lineages: polygamy (and, therefore, older fathers)? life in the tropics?

(note: comments do not require an email. old san juan. (^_^) )

response to jayman’s post

this is my response to jayman’s post of yesterday, Where HBD Chick’s Hypothesis Works. i was going to leave these thoughts in a comment to his post, but i quickly realized that my comment was going to be pretty long, so i figured i’d just make it a post here. i should just say at the outset that i agree with pretty much everything jayman had to say (^_^) — with a couple of minor quibbles — so this comment will mostly be me rambling about those, plus i’ll be throwing in a couple of “thoughts for future research.” you should definitely go read his post first if you haven’t already before reading my comments. pay attention to his map of how well the hypothesis works in different areas — it’s great! (^_^)

ok. jayman says:

“As we see, from what we know of historic mating patterns and behavior of people today, HBD Chick’s hypothesis works excellently across much of the world. This is especially true across Europe, the Middle East, and much of the Muslim world, and in China.”

yes. on several occasions i’ve wondered if this inbreeding/outbreeding idea really applies mainly, or only, to the indo-european world + the arabs. but the situation of china seems to fit well, too, so i think the general theory is probably more widely applicable (assuming for a sec that it’s correct at all — which it might not be). as i’ll argue below (one of my quibbles), i think the theory might also hold pretty well for japan although Further Research is RequiredTM. (actually, Further Research is RequiredTM for most areas of the world — especially lots of actual genetic/real scientific research!)

more from jayman:

“There are however a couple of places that don’t seem to fit as well. Most poignant of these is sub-Saharan Africa. HBD Chick’s hypothesis doesn’t cover much of Africa, especially the non-Muslim parts. It’s unclear if the historic mating among non-Muslim Blacks was particularly consanguineous (though it was, and remains in many places, polygynous). However, as we clearly know, sub-Saharans do behave like considerably clannish people in some ways, yet a lot more like typical outbreeders in other ways.”

even though i haven’t posted much about sub-saharan africa — yet! — i have been reading up and taking notes on the mating patterns of sub-saharans africans, and let me tell you — there are a LOT of sub-saharan african populations (tanzania alone has more than 120, or more than 260, ethnic groups depending on how you count them! whew!), so, as you can imagine, there is a wiiiide variety of mating patterns on the continent. if i were to make an off-the-cuff guess from what i’ve read so far, i’d estimate that maybe 40%-50% of sub-saharan populations currently practice cousin marriage or did in the recent past (none of them practice the really inbred fbd marriage type of the arabs — except for some northern muslim populations — and even they don’t marry their fbds as consistently as the arabs do). that is just a guess, though. and, then, there’s the polygamy, which also serves to narrow the genetic relatedness in populations, and, so, might trigger similar selection processes for “genes for clannishness” (whatever they might be). and polygamy seems to be very common throughout sub-saharan africa — it’s found almost everywhere (although not everyone can afford to practice it, of course).

the trick will be to try and reconstruct, if at all possible, the historic mating patterns of sub-saharan african populations, especially since historical records for the continent are few and far between. there are historic records for some sub-saharan populations, mainly dating from post-european contact times, of course, and many of them might be useful — a lot of missionaries were hobby ethnographers and recorded loads of cultural data about the people they hoped to convert. genetic data would no doubt be more useful still. (btw, see what i had to say about the mating patterns of african americans and the igbo of nigeria in the comments thread over on jayman’s blog.)

in jayman’s paragraph above, he referenced this old post of mine — civic societies ii — in which i pointed out that the sub-saharan africans surveyed in the world values survey are quite civic, i.e. they are frequently active in voluntary organizations, much more so than peoples in the middle east or eastern europe (see the charts in that previous post). that seems, to me, to be an outbred trait — at least it is very characteristic of northwest europeans. the bamileke of cameroon, too, have a lot of non-familial associations in their society, and they have probably avoided cousin marriage for at least a couple of hundred years.

seven sub-saharan african countries were included in those world value survey results (see this post) — burkina faso, ethiopia, ghana, mali, rwanda, south africa, and zambia — a selection which offers a fairly good regional spread around the continent. i should drill down into those world values survey results to see if i can find out more specifically which subgroups in those populations (if any in particular) were surveyed in each of the countries, and i should try to find out more about the historic mating patterns of those groups. there’s a plan for some future blogging right there!

from jayman again:

“However, farther south in Africa are the San hunter-gatherers (the Bushmen), who were intentional outbreeders, with marriage occurring across tribes. However, overall rates of violence among them are comparable to those found in their Bantu neighbors.”

ack! i still haven’t read more about the bushmen. put that down on the Further Research is RequiredTM list as well!

and this:

“Muslim Central Asia (including the Uyghur province) hasn’t been directly looked at by HBD Chick. But presumably mating patterns there have been similar to the rest of the Muslim world, which would seem to explain the levels of clannishness and corruption there.”

from what i’ve read, the central asians — especially in all of the -stans — tend to avoid any marriage within the paternal clan out to the seventh generation, so in that way they are very unlike the arabs and pakistanis and afghanis. father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage really does seem to have stopped at the edges of the eighth century caliphate. in some regions of central asia, there is also an avoidance of close cousin marriage within the maternal line out to the third generation; in other places central asians do marry their first and second cousins in the maternal line — or have done until fairly recently. this fits with the broader preference of mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) marriage in asia (where cousin marriage occurs). also, these patterns of avoiding marriage especially in the paternal line, and even sometimes in the maternal line, matches with at least some of the subgroups in tibet. as we saw the other day, first cousin marriage was commonplace in and around lhasa (at the very least) in the 1700s, but has disappeared since that time. perhaps close cousin marriage was also more common throughout central asia and has disappeared in more recent times — or is still in the process of disappearing. dunno. Further Research is RequiredTM.

“India and Southeast Asia also haven’t been discussed much by HBD Chick, either.”

india. *sigh* gotta love india (and indians!) for all of its anthropological diversity, but i have to admit that i have been avoiding india due to the complexity of the mating patterns there. all of those castes!! *sigh* the one very, very general broad pattern that i do know about india right now is that consanguineous marriages are more frequent in southern india than in the north (see the map on consang.net) AND a lot of those consanguineous marriages have been awfully close — uncle-niece marriage is common in southern india — up until very recently (there’s still quite a bit of uncle-niece marriage in the south nowadays, i believe). so, if the theory’s right, then (looking away from the muslims and christians and sikhs, etc., and just focusing on the hindus) there ought to be more clannishness and nepotism and corruption in southern india than in the north. i don’t know if that’s the case or not, but that ought to be how it is. the population ought to be more clannish in the south. similarly, there ought to be more clannishness/corruption/etc. in southern than in northern china — and i do know that clans are more important in southern china than in the north. again, need to try to reconstruct if close marriages were common historically in india and/or china — this should be easier for these populations than for africa since india and china are, obviously, literate civilizations and have been for many millennia.

southeast asia i just haven’t gotten around to yet, unfortunately.

“The Muslim sections of Southeast Asia fit the pattern seen with the core Muslim world, it would seem.”

yes and no. like the central asian muslims — and unlike the arabs/pakistanis/afghanis — the muslims of southeast asia probably avoid fbd marriage. it would be interesting to know if the population of aceh province in indonesia happens to practice particularly close marriage, though, since they have some of the strictest islamic codes of anywhere in indonesia.

jayman again:

“And the Papuan people of New Guinea are famous for being the most tribal people in the world, with the island hosting over *1,000* different languages!

like sub-saharan africans, png-ers have a wide variety of mating patterns! some groups absolutely, definitely have a preference for marrying close cousins while others outbreed. look for a post real soon on some apparent outbreeders from png — the baining!

more jayman!:

“Korea and especially Japan do not fit quite as seamlessly. Japan has had a history of cousin marriage, and the situation in Korea is unclear. Yet neither country is fractured into mutually distrustful clans as is China. Indeed, Japan has a functioning ‘commonweal’ society. However, it is not necessarily like the outbred Northwest Europeans either, possessing some characteristics of a clannish society [those are all unique links in this sentence-h.chick]. It is possible that these countries, like Finland & Iceland in Europe, are also ‘inbetweeners’ of sorts, and possess a distinct hybrid between clannish and non-clannish, as was the topic of my post Finland & Japan.”

yeah. can’t tell you anything at all about korea, because i still haven’t read up on korea yet! (except what misdreavus told me, which is that the upper classes in korea avoided close marriages. interesting.)

japan. yes, japan. japan is probably some sort of “inbetweener” group like jayman suggests — inbetweeners being not extremely inbred (like the arabs) but not being very outbred either (like northwest europeans). japan is apparently not as squeaky clean civic-wise as most of us think, although obviously the japanese are WAY more civically behaved than most peoples! if you look at anatoly karlin’s corruption reality index, the japanese actually score lower than most northwest europeans, and group together with bulgaria, croatia, france, and argentina, as far as corruption goes. and nearly as bad as italy! in 2010, nine percent of japanese people responded that they had to pay a bribe during the previous year, whereas zero percent of danes reported this, one percent of british people, two percent of germans, and five percent of americans. (meanwhile, eighty-nine percent of liberians did! and eighty-four percent of cambodians.) i also had a researcher tell me that, in a study which they conducted (not published yet, i don’t think), the japanese actually scored pretty low on interpersonal cooperation tests — which surprised these researchers. so, something is up with the japanese. they did marry close cousins at a pretty significant rate (ca. 22% — that’s roughly half the rate of sicilians in the early twentieth century) right up into the early twentieth century (see also here). so, i think that the japanese might actually fit the “clannishness” model more than is supposed. they don’t behave as clannishly as the chinese, but they are rather clannish.

jayman had this to say about the japanese and east asians — with which i heartily agree:

“The other possible ingredient could be this: local conditions – often imposed by the State or other local powers – may affect the course of evolution of a people despite the local frequencies of inbreeding/outbreeding. We see this to an extent in China, where considerable genetic pacification – under the direction of the State – served to reduce aggressiveness of the Chinese people despite their considerable clannishness. Perhaps this explains what we see in Japan.”

also this:

“As well, of course, the initial characteristics of the people in each of these areas may have some bearing on their outcomes today, as these traits may affect the precise course of evolution in these places.”

absolutely!

the other populations of the world that jayman mentions that i haven’t discussed (like australian aborigines) i just simply haven’t researched. yet! Further Research is RequiredTM! (^_^)
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i’m obviously not the first person to think that mating patterns + inclusive fitness might affect the selection of genes related to social behaviors. that would be william hamilton [pdf]. other population geneticists have played around with the idea, too. in the blogosphere, steve sailer was the first to connect cousin marriage with things like nepotism and an absence of (liberal) democracy in societies — after parapundit pointed out the odd connection between those things in the middle east. even saints augustine and thomas aquinas (and st. ambrose, btw) figured there was probably a connection between mating patterns and the structures and functioning of a society. so does the economist avner greif [pdf], although he doesn’t consider the biological side of it (which is completely ok!).

furthermore, the historian michael mitterauer — who specializes in the history of the european family — understands that there is some sort of connection between mating patterns and family types and size (and the functioning of society), although he doesn’t grasp that the explanation is probably biological either (which is completely ok!). (the more inbred the larger the family; the more outbred, the smaller — i think.) and all sorts of thinkers from engels to weber to durkheim to todd have figured out, in different ways, that family types and structures affect the workings of society.

so even if the specific inbreeding/outbreeding theory discussed on this blog is wrong, i think it’s valuable to examine the mating patterns and family types of human populations. who mates with whom — in other words, the ways genes flow through a population down through the generations — has got to be one of the more important topics in population genetics, afaics! and, at the very least, the prevalence of specific family types in populations must affect selection pressures, since families are a large part of the social environment in any society.

in any event, i just personally find all the different mating patterns and family types interesting! especially in the light of sociobiology. so i’m probably not going to stop blogging about them any time soon. don’t say i didn’t warn you! (~_^)

oh, and very importantly — thanks, jayman! (^_^)

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chinese cleaners smarter than western professionals

here’s the latest re. the most recent pisa test results (various news outlets are reporting that the below also applies to the u.s. and canada – check google news for pisa+oecd):

“China’s poorest beat our best pupils”

“Children of factory workers and cleaners in Far East achieve better exam results than offspring of British lawyers and doctors, says OECD.

“British schoolchildren are lagging so far behind their peers in the Far East that even pupils from wealthy backgrounds are now performing worse in exams than the poorest students in China, an international study shows.

“The children of factory workers and cleaners in parts of the Far East are more than a year ahead of the offspring of British doctors and lawyers, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development….

“As part of the study, children were asked to name their parents’ occupation to determine its effect on pupil performance. Across the world, children whose parents work in professional careers generally outperform those in elementary jobs such as caterers, cleaners, factory workers and labourers.

“The study, involving more than 500,000 pupils worldwide, found children of elementary workers in many Far Eastern nations outperformed the sons and daughters of professional British children.

“The children of UK professionals scored an average of 526 points in maths. But this was overshadowed by an average score of 656 registered by the children of professionals in Shanghai-China and 569 among children of the country’s elementary workers. The children of parents in unskilled jobs in the UK scored an average of 461, the equivalent of two and a half years behind.

“Elementary workers’ children in Hong Kong (542), South Korea (538) and Singapore (534), also outperformed more affluent British peers. In Japan, Vietnam, Liechtenstein, Japan and China-Taipei, relatively poor children were only marginally behind the wealthiest British pupils.

“The report said: ‘In the United States and the United Kingdom, where professionals are among the highest-paid in the world, students whose parents work as professionals do not perform as well in mathematics as children of professionals in other countries — nor do they perform as we as the children in Shanghai-China and Singapore whose parents work in manual occupations….'”

no idea if any of these results were broken down by race, ethnicity, etc.

and a related story from a while back:

“Report: Chinese Third-Graders Falling Behind U.S. High School Students in Math, Science”

“According to an alarming new report published Wednesday by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, third-graders in China are beginning to lag behind U.S. high school students in math and science.

“The study, based on exam scores from thousands of students in 63 participating countries, confirmed that in mathematical and scientific literacy, American students from the ages of 14 to 18 have now actually pulled slightly ahead of their 8-year-old Chinese counterparts.

“‘This is certainly a wake-up call for China,’ said Dr. Michael Fornasier, an IEA senior fellow and coauthor of the report. ‘The test results unfortunately indicate that education standards in China have slipped to the extent that pre-teens are struggling to rank among even the average American high school student….'”

(~_^)

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random notes: 02/09/14

some random notes on the history of mating patterns in china…

on the recommendation of john derbyshire, we have been listening to some of the great courses lectures here at home. that’s not the royal “we” by the way — i mean the d.h. and me. anyway…in From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History, the lecturer, kenneth hammond — an excellent lecturer and, incidentally, one of the kent 25 — mentions that during the southern song period (1127–1279) elites in china changed their marriage patterns. in the preceding northern song period (960-1127), the elites — the intelligensia and bureaucrats running the country — had a tendency to marry other elites from all over the kingdom. the bureaucrats — provincial administrators, for instance — would all meet up with some regularity in the capital at kaifeng and, when they were there, one of the things they’d do was to arrange their children’s marriages between their respective families. however, in the southern song period, the elites — according to the current paradigm of teh historians — began to marry much more locally. really locally, apparently — not on a national basis, and not even on a provincial basis, but within very local areas.

the first thing that came to my mind when i heard this was that it probably just reflects the general pattern in china of closer marriage in the south than in the north. my impression so far from the little i’ve read on the history of mating patterns in china — and it is so far just an impression, so don’t quote me on this! — is that there has been a greater amount of cousin marriage in southern china than in northern china (who knows for how long?) — and as a result, there is a greater importance of clans in southern china than in the north (which there definitely is). if this general pattern is true, then it’s perhaps not surprising that marriage amongst the elites became more local in the southern song period since we’re presumably talking about elites from the south. the general pattern (if it exists) would also fit with the “flatlanders vs. mountaineers” theory of inbreeding and outbreeding, since southern china is mountainous while the north has a nice big plain.

in Portrait of a Community: Society, Culture, and the Structures of Kinship in the Mulan River Valley (Fujian) from the Late Tang Through the Song (2007), hugh clark, after looking through the genealogies of the elites in this mulan river valley place in the southern province of fujian during the southern song period, has this to say about their marriage patterns [pgs. 134-135]:

[T]hese links point to a phenomenon called ‘patrilateral cross-cousin marriage’, a pattern of reoccurring affinal exchange in which sone of a union most often took the daughters of a maternal uncle as wives [mother’s brother’s daughter or mbd marriage – h.chick].

Such links, which were common in traditional Chinese culture, helped to cement ties between patrilines that could render all manner of mutual assistance, be it fiscal, political, or social, to their affines.”

so…there you go. i’ll be keepin’ my eye open for more info on all this!
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in The Elementary Structures of Kinship, claude lévi-strauss concluded that a preference for mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) marriage had a long history in china. speaking of history, it’s been ages since i’ve read Elementary Structures, so i don’t recall exactly how lévi-strauss’ argument went, but apparently he based his conclusion on the kinship terms in the chinese language. lewis h. morgan thought similarly — that peoples categorize their relatives based upon which ones they were permitted to marry and which ones were forbidden to them. i happen to think this is correct. it’s not the only reason for why peoples name their relatives in the ways that they do, but it’s probably one of the main ones. thus the arabs have a pretty complicated naming system for all of their cousins, since marriage to some cousins (the father’s brother’s daughter or the bint ‘amm) is preferred. the chinese also have a complicated kinship terminology (but some of that is related to an age hierarchy/ancestor worship). most europeans, on the other hand, don’t differentiate between their cousins, since cousin marriage was banned for so long in europe. before the church’s cousin marriage bans, most (all?) europeans — especially northern europeans (the greeks are a bit of an exception in this story) — did name their cousins differently — the european naming system changed after the mating patterns changed — about three or four hundred years later in the case of the germans, for example.

anyway, i can’t quote lévi-strauss on mbd marriage in china for you, because i don’t have a copy of his book. but i can quote jack goody on lévi-strauss. from The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive: Systems of Marriage and the Family in the Pre-Industrial Societies of Eurasia (1990) [pg. 23]:

“Attempting a historical reconstruction which has some affinities with the parallel undertakings of L.H. Morgan (1870) and W.H.R. Rivers (1914), Levi-Strauss compares China with the Miwok of North America largely on the basis of terms for kin relationship and concludes his own study of China with words that reflect the earlier tendency to derive structure from terminology:

“‘We are thus brought to the hypothesis of the coexistence, in ancient China, of two kinship systems: the first, practised by the peasants, and based on a real or functional division into exogamous moieties, the exchange of sisters, and marriage between bilateral cross-cousins; the other, of feudal inspiration, and based on cycles of alliance between patrilineages (distributed or not into exogamous moieties), and marriage with the matrilateral cross-cousin and niece. That is, a system of restricted exchange and a system of generalized exchange.’ (1969:368-70)”

no idea if this theory bears any resemblance to reality, but it’s certainly interesting.
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finally, from Why Europe? (2010), here’s michael mitterauer on china [pgs. 83-85]:

“The quite substantial differences between Europe and China are more apparent if we take the terminology of relationship as a prime indicator of kinship systems. There is no Chinese counterpart to the parallelling process [i.e. naming paternal and maternal relatives the same – h.chick] discernible in Europe from antiquity on. Quite the opposite: an exceedingly complex system of kinship terminology was further differentiated and elaborated upon in China. Claude Levi-Strauss speaks in this connection of an ‘overdetermined system’ against which he counterposes the ‘marked tendency toward *indeterminism*’ in European cultures. Historical dictionaries from after the second century BC list no fewer than 340 Chinese terms for the different relationships between kinfolk. Typical examples of this differentiation are the terms for ‘uncle.’ The European languages have managed with one word since the great transformation in its terminology, whereas Chinese has five different words, depending on whether the father’s older brother (*bo*) is meant, or his younger brother (*shu*), the mother’s brother (*jiu*), the aunt’s spouse on the father’s side (*gufu*) or on the mother’s side (*yifu*). This example illustrates the four distinguishing criteria on which this terminology is by and large based: gender, relative age, the generation, and filiation. The strict separation of the paternal and maternal lines is particularly vital. A distinction is drawn in China and Tibet between ‘relatives of the bone’ and ‘relatives of the flesh’; it also is found in a larger area stretching from India to Siberia and embracing the Mongolian and Turkic peoples of Russia. What is meant by these forms are paternal and maternal relatives, respectively, with the former being given preference. As this example demonstrates, the terminological distinction between an older and a younger brother is made only in the patriline, a differentiation that the Chinese system of kinship shares with many cultures in its extensive surroundings. It occurs as far away as southern Europe, where Indo-European roots cannot even begin to explain this significant feature. In this case we might have to think about possible influences from the steppe nomads who came from the East….

“The traditional rules of marriage in China display the same basic outlines of a strict patrilineal ordering of kinship that is found in the terminology of kinship. From the Tang dynasty [618–907 ad – h.chick] on, legal codes prohibited marriage to a woman from four classes of relatives: first and foremost, marriage to women with the same surname, then to widows of members of the same household, to women of another generation of fairly close kinship on the mother’s side or by marriage, and finally to sisters from the same mothers by a different father (half-sisters). In China identical surnames meant in principle descent from the same patriline. The ban on marriage was valid even if the common ancestor was a long way back in the male line. The Chinese family held to these basic principles of exogamy, which can be found in many other cultures in Eurasia with an analogous kinship structure. In early medieval Europe, far-reaching rules concerning exogamy were also established, but they were confined to certain degrees of relatedness. They mainly concerned the paternal and maternal lines completely symmetrically. In China, on the other hand, the emphasis on the father’s line led to crass inequalities when it came to enlarging the list of banned female marriage partners…. Marrying relatives from the mother’s side was not forbidden in principle. In earlier times, marriage in China even between cross-cousins not only used to be permitted but was common practice. Among China’s neighbors it can be found up to this day as a preferred form of marriage.”

previously: abridged history of cousin marriage in china

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questions some of us thought to ask

joshua keating wrote on his foreign policy blog last week:

Questions you never thought to ask: Is inbreeding bad for democracy?

heh. (~_^)

well, some of us HAVE thought to ask that very question, a couple of people waaaay before i did — going back to 2002 in fact:

Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development from parapundit.
Cousin Marriage Conundrum – from steve sailer. steve’s essay was also included in a volume co-edited by steven pinker, The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2004.

keating is referring to the woodley and bell paper, Consanguinity as a Major Predictor of Levels of Democracy: A Study of 70 Nations, which was published last year and which i blogged about here (and here and here and here) — and steve sailer also blogged about at the time.

just to refresh everyone’s memory, woodley and bell found a negative correlation (r = –0.632, p < 0.001) between the frequency of consanguineous marriages in the 70 nations at which they looked and the level of democracy in those countries. in other words, the greater the amount of consanguineous marriages in a country, the less democracy it probably has.

keating is not convinced:

“As a counterpoint, Iceland — a country so isolated and sparsely populated that people need an Android app to keep them from hooking up with a close relative — has had a representative parliament since the 10th century and a culture of individualism so strong they write Nobel Prize-winning novels about it. So there.”

two things.

first of all, it should be remembered that woodley and bell specifically looked for success at liberal democracy (fwiw, ymmv). from the paper:

“As conceived here, democracy refers to a system in which there is opportunity for competitive elections and deliberative referendums, with broad public participation encouraged for both (Vanhanen, 2003). Democracy in this instance refers exclusively to the liberal variety where the emphasis is on competitive politics, rather than the classical type in which the focus is on consensus building and statesmanship (Werlin, 2002). Two key characteristics of liberal democratic systems include the presence of institutions that permit citizens to express preferences for alternative policies and leaders, and the existence of institutionalized constraints that prevent the misuse of power by an executive elite (Inglehart, 2003; Lipset, 1959; Marshall & Jaggers, 2010).”

secondly, tenth century icelandic democracy was not an example of liberal democracy — and wasn’t right through to 1262 when the norwegian crown took over the governance of iceland. rather, the icelandic commonwealth was a system based on consensus which i posted about previously here.

early medieval icelanders were represented at their alþingi by regional chieftans known as goðar. nobody elected these goðar — they were the local strongmen from various areas of iceland, and they typically inherited their position, although these chieftainships were sometimes sold. you could, in theory, pick your own goði to whom you swore allegiance, but apparently in practice this rarely ever happened — because a lot of medieval icelanders were kin to their goðar [pdf], and it’s almost always bloody awkward to break it off with family — especially when you can’t easily move to the other side of the island or something.

so these early medieval icelandic “representatives” bore little resemblance to the representatives we have in modern, parliamentary systems (h*ck – maybe that was a good thing!). if you were an early medieval icelander, your alþingi representative was likely your kin, and you were probably stuck with him for life — until his son took over. this was not liberal democracy.

did the early medieval icelanders marry their cousins? i’m not sure. it’s very likely that their immediate ancestors from norway did (like the early medieval swedes probably did), and the medieval icelanders ignored many other of the church’s teachings and regulations on marriage at the time [pdf], so i wouldn’t be surprised if they did. the fact that medieval icelandic society seems to have devolved from one in which kinship was comparatively unimportant to a state where large clans controlled the place also suggests to me that they married their cousins — or at least mated awfully closely (they may not have had to marry very close cousins since they were such a small population to start off with).
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having said all that, when trying to work out why the medieval icelanders — or any other group for that matter — didn’t/don’t have liberal democracy, it’s not really important whether or not they were marrying their cousins at the time in question. well, it is … and it isn’t. (don’t pull your hair out just yet.)

what is important (i think) is whether or not the medieval icelanders — or any group-X — had been marrying their cousins over the long-term. i don’t think that there’s an instantaneous connection between cousin marriage (or other close mating) and failing to manage a functional liberally democratic system. what i think that there is are longer term evolutionary processes connected to inbreeding/outbreeding patterns and the selection for individualism vs. familism or clannism. and if you have clannism, liberal democracy will just not work.

woodley and bell acquired their consanguinity data from consang.net. here’s a map of those data:

consang net

what stands out right away is that consanguinity rates are very high in the arab world, the middle east, north africa, and places like pakistan and afghanistan, while rates are really low in the u.s. and scandinavia. that seems to fit the cousin-marriage-doesn’t-promote-democracy theory. but the cousin marriage rates in china are very low — same range as england and western europe. why don’t the chinese manage to have a liberal democracy then?

what you have to understand is that this map is a snapshot. it is a moment in time (mostly the twentieth century). it doesn’t tell us much about the history of cousin marriage in any of these societies — whether any of it’s been short-term or long-term — and without knowing that, we can’t even start to guess at any effects the mating patterns (and related family types) might’ve had on the evolution of behaviors in these populations, including those related to clannishness.

once you know, for instance, that up until very recently, the chinese actually preferred cousin marriage, then you can — i think — begin to understand why they’re clannish (or, at least, extended family-ish). and why, therefore, liberal democracy doesn’t work there — or didn’t arise there in the first place either.

rinse and repeat for all the other locales on the map.
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see also Cousin Marriage and Democracy @marginal revolution.

previously: liberal democracy vs. consensus building and democracy and endogamous mating practices and “hard-won democracy”

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“the rule of the clan”

john derbyshire pointed out this new book to me (thanks, john!)…

The Rule of the Clan – What an Ancient Form of Social Organization Reveals About the Future of Individual Freedom

…written by a fellow named mark weiner.

(clans are so IN nowadays! (~_^) )

here’s a little taste of what’s in the book — from the introduction [kindle locations 120-140]:

“What exactly is the rule of the clan? When I refer to the rule of the clan, I mean three related contemporary phenomena.

“First, and most prominently, I mean the legal structures and cultural values of societies organized primarily on the basis of kinship-societies in which extended family membership is vital for social and legal action and in which individuals have little choice but to maintain a strong clan identity. Today these societies include many in which the United States and its allies have a major strategic interest, such as Afghanistan, Yemen, Nigeria, and Somalia, but they have existed across history and throughout the world. Sometimes they are described as ‘tribal,’ though I tend to avoid the term because in English it carries a host of negative and racialist connotations. This strict form of the rule of the clan also includes the traditional Hindu caste system and Indian joint family, despite the manifest great differences between tribal societies and rapidly modernizing democratic India.

“Second, by the rule of the clan I mean the political arrangements of societies governed by what the Arab Human Development Report 2004 calls ‘clannism’….”

“clannism.” i like that.

These societies possess the outward trappings of a modern state but are founded on informal patronage networks, especially those of kinship, and traditional ideals of patriarchal family authority. In nations pervaded by clannism, government is coopted for purely factional purposes and the state, conceived on the model of the patriarchal family, treats citizens not as autonomous actors but rather as troublesome dependents to be managed.

“Clannism is the historical echo of tribalism, existing even in the face of economic modernization. It often characterizes rentier societies struggling under the continuing legacy of colonial subordination, as in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, where the nuclear family, with its revolutionary, individuating power, has yet to replace the extended lineage group as the principle framework for kinship or household organization. A form of clannism likewise pervades mainland China and other nations whose political development was influenced by Confucianism, with its ideal of a powerful state resting on a well-ordered family, and where personal connections are essential to economic exchange….”

uh huh. additionally, actual clans have also been making a comeback in china as of late.

“Third, and most broadly, by the rule of the clan I mean the antiliberal social and legal organizations that tend to grow in the absence of state authority or when the state is weak. These groups include petty criminal gangs, the Mafia, and international crime syndicates, which look a great deal like clans and in many respects act like them….”

and, of course, the mafia, and many other international crime syndicates (like balkan criminal gangs which have spread across europe during the past decade or so), ARE extended family-/clan-based. make no mistake — a lot of these groups are not just clan-like.

looks to be a very interesting book — and information packed! i look forward to reading it, and no doubt i’ll have more to say about it soon! (^_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. yemeni clansmen/tribesmen.)