consanguinity and islam and democracy

i said last week that the week would be devoted to the woodley & bell consanguinity and democracy paper … and then i got distracted. typical. so, now, back on track…

aside from looking for any straight up connection/s between consanguinity and democracy (see previous post), woodley & bell also looked at consanguinity and democracy and several other possible factors that might affect the success of democracy in the nations included in the study: economic freedom, inequality, exports of fossil fuels (the “resource curse”), pathogen load (i’ll come back to that one!), and islam.

using path analysis, they found that islam seems to have a direct impact on democracy in muslim nations and ALSO that islam has an indirect impact on democracy via consanguinity.

recall that woodley & bell used two different indices of democracy: data from the polity iv project and the eiu democracy index. so they worked up two path analyses (click on charts for LARGER view). percent muslim for each country came from pew:

both analyses indicate: “that Islam has both direct effects on democracy and effects that are mediated by consanguinity, although the direct path from percentage Muslim to democracy [in the first model] only approached the conventional cutoff for significance (p = .096).”

from the paper (pg. 12):

“The largest impacts on consanguinity in the path models were produced by pathogen load and the effect of the percentage of Muslims within a nation. In the first path model the latter variable did not have a significant direct path to democracy, which suggests that its effects on democracy are largely mediated by consanguinity. Both pathogen prevalence and the influence of Islam have been described in the literature as having an inhibitory effect on democracy (e.g., Fincher et al., 2008; Fish, 2002; Fukuyama, 2001; Huntington, 1984; Thornhill et al., 2009). Here we indicate that these variables, which had previously been posited to have independent effects on democracy, are actually mediated by consanguinity.”

so, if a nation is islamic, that will affect how democratic it is (or not!), but what seems to be more important is if the population practices cousin marriage. it’s islam+consanguinity that is the key here, not just islam.

i think it makes sense that the effects islam has on democracy are “mediated” by how much cousin marriage there is in a society. cousin marriage directly affects the genetic relatedness between the individual members of a population, making individuals more related to their family members than would happen in an outbred society, while making those same individuals less related to non-family members, again unlike in an outbred society. i think this pretty clearly leads to clannish or tribal behavioral patterns which, as woodley and bell point out, are not conducive to liberal democracy at all.

islam doesn’t demand cousin marriage, but it doesn’t prohibit it either. since muslims are supposed to emulate mohammed (who married a cousin – see below), it probably rather encourages it. and anyway — which came first, cousin marriage or islam? yup. cousin marriage. one of mohammed’s wives was a cousin of his (his fzd) — and ali (yes that ali), who was mohammed’s cousin, married mohammed’s daughter, ali’s first cousin once removed. cousin marriage was very much the norm amongst the arabs in mohammed’s day. and, unlike roman catholic church policy makers, neither mohammed nor any imam since him (at least none that count) seem to have come down against cousin marriage afaik.

furthermore, good ol’ father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage, the form of cousin marriage that leads to the most inbreeding, and that is still the preferred form amongst many muslims, was probably already well established amongst the arabs in mohammed’s day. fbd marriage was probably introduced to the arabs by jewish tribes from the levant who migrated into the arab peninsula starting in the second century b.c. so not only is cousin marriage amongst the arabs old, it’s really old — and it’s fbd marriage to boot. the arabs went on to introduce fbd marriage to the peoples of north africa, the mashriq and south asia (like the pakistanis and the afghanis).

my guess is that it’s not just the amount of consanguinity in a nation that negatively affects the success of democracy in that country, but the length of time the people have been practicing cousin marriage AND how close that cousin marriage is. like i said in the previous post, i think the evolution of “genes for altruism” comes into play here, not just the immediate genetic relatedness between the individuals in these societies, although it’s important, too.

so, i would bet that democracy would fare the worst in the levant, where fbd marriage originated, and the arab peninsula, where fbd marriage has been present for so very long, and that distance from that core region would predict better odds of democracy working at all.

kinda looks that way, don’t it? (eui democracy index 2011 – click on map for LARGER view):

syria, saudi arabia, yeman and oman have the worst scores for democracy in the muslim world (in the world!). iran, turkemenistan and uzbekistan have similar scores and all three of those countries were “arabized” in the early- to mid- seventh century a.d. pakistan was not brought under the arab sphere of influence until later (the early eighth century) and conversion to islam and arabization (and, presumably, the adoption of fbd marriage) took some time. this, i think, might partially explain why, even though pakistan today has similar consanguinity rates to saudi arabia, it does better as far as having a democratic state goes — the pakistani populations haven’t been marrying their fbd for as long as arabs.

similarly, at the other end of the “arab” world, north africans are relatively better at democracy than the saudis since they, too, were arabized — and adopted fbd marriage — comparatively late. the far flung islamic nation, indonesia, manages democracy fairly ok since they’ve hardly adopted fbd marriage at all, although they’ve probably been marrying their mother’s brother’s daughters for a while like other east asian populations.

previously: consanguinity and democracy

(note: comments do not require an email. albatrosses!)

Advertisements

consanguinity and democracy

steve sailer posted about this paper the other day — from the amazingly awesome michael woodley and his partner in crimethink edward bell:

Consanguinity as a Major Predictor of Levels of Democracy: A Study of 70 Nations

oh, how such a study just warms hbd chick’s cold, little heart! (~_^)

using the good, ol’ consang.net data on cousin marriage rates (which are great but have a lot of problems — i’ll get into that in another post) and data on democracy from polity iv and the eiu democracy index, woodley and bell found pretty strong negative correlations between first-/second-cousin marriage rates in societies and how democratic those societies are: –0.632 between consanguinity and the polity iv data, and –0.771 with the eiu data. (as steve points out, a -0.6 correlation in the social sciences is something to make you stop and go hmmmm, never mind a -0.77 correlation.)

in other words, the more cousin marriage in a society, the less democracy.

woodley and bell also looked at a lot of other neat stuff like economic freedom+consanguinity+democracy and percent muslim+consanguinity+democracy and pathogen index+consanguinity+democracy (i like that one!), but i’ll get to those in another post. (in fact, the rest of this week is probably going to be devoted to the woodley and bell paper here on hbd chick, so if you’re sick to death of hearing about inbreeding and democracy, don’t say you haven’t been warned!)

woodley and bell say:

“Consanguinity … appears to severely restrict the political and social fluidity characteristic of democratic systems, as individual allegiances are primarily to kinship groupings where sophisticated group-level free-rider detection and social identity mechanisms serve to discourage expressions of self-interest that do not maximize collective utility (MacDonald, 2001, 2002). This process of collective utility maximization is consistent with the notion of inclusive fitness in which individuals exhibit altruistic behaviors toward those with whom they share genes, thus indirectly increasing their fitness (Hamilton, 1964; Rushton, 1989, 2005; Trivers, 1971).”

they also say:

“A further shortcoming of the study is its cross-sectional nature; a panel study using data gathered at regular intervals would be ideal for testing the hypotheses and models presented in this study.”

yes. i’ve been thinking that there are at least two things going on with regard to inbreeding and man’s innate social aptitudes (and their expressions like democracy or no democracy):

1) genetic similarity. so, as woodley and bell said, “individuals exhibit altruistic behaviors toward those with whom they share genes.” thus, in highly inbred societies, individuals favor their own extended family members at the expense of their neighbors and unrelated members of their society simply because they are much more genetically related to their [edit] extended family members than individuals in outbred societies are to theirs. this is a very direct effect — change the relatedness, change the behavior patterns. and, so, liberal democracy will simply never work in inbred societies — or not work very well anyway — because you get clannishness.

2) the evolution of “genes for altruism” over the longer term. i think that, in addition to genetic similarity, we’re also looking at populations with different types and/or frequencies of “genes for altruism” due to their long-term mating patterns. i think it could’ve made a difference that northwest europeans have been outbreeding a lot since the early medieval period while arabs having been inbreeding a lot since … well, i’m not sure … probably since at least whenever some jewish tribes from the levant migrated into the arab peninsula. this is a long-term effect — change the relatedness over the long-term, and you might change at least the frequencies of “genes for altruism” in the population. you’d think the selection pressures for different sorts of altruism genes would change, too, if you went from an outbred to inbred society (bushmen vs. yanomamo, for example) or vice versa. in other words, you’d think different altruism genes might be selected for in different types of societies.

this is one of the reasons that i say there are problems with the consang.net data, i.e. that they lack time-depth or, as woodley and bell said, they offer only a cross-sectional look at consanguinity.

for instance, the consang.net data for china averages to a rate of 5% (per woodley and bell), but all of the data for china come from the twentieth century. however, the chinese have been seriously marrying their cousins since at least the third century b.c. and, as far as i know, the rates only slowed down in the twentieth century (and maybe not to the extent one would think from looking at the consang.net data) — and after that, they kept on marrying very locally (endogamously) until very, very recently.

i think woodley and bell would find much higher correlations between consanguinity and democracy if they had long-term consanguinity data. (what will probably need to be used is some sort of genetic data.)
_____

the woodley and bell paper [pdf].

the classics: Veil of Fears by stanley kurtz; Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development by parapundit; and Cousin Marriage Conundrum by steve sailer.

previously: democracy and endogamous mating practices and the corporate nature of european societies and liberal democracy and “hard-won democracy” and consanguinity + corruption = correlation

(note: comments do not require an email. paranoia.)