evolving social norms

in Experimenting with Social Norms ensminger and henrich compile several very interesting studies on prosocial “fairness” norms conducted on various populations of different types — ranging from hunter-gatherers to urban factory workers — from around the world. three different economic experiments were conducted on the various populations (although it’s not clear to me if all three were run on each group — i haven’t read through all of each of the studies chapters yet): the ultimatum game, the third-party punishment or altruistic punishment game, and the dictator game.

the authors conclude that [pgs. 89-90]:

“1. Fairness and punishment show both reliable patterns and substantial variability across diverse populations.
2. Fairness increases with a population’s degree of market integration.
3. Fairness increases with an individual’s participation in a world religion.
4. Willingness to engage in punishment increases with community size.”

they ultimately conclude “that social norms evolved over thousands of years to allow strangers in more complex and large settlements to coexist, trade and prosper” — but they just mean that the norms and the cultures evolved, not the peoples.

possible biological/evolutionary reasons for the findings are given some consideration, but only across one and a half pages, and the authors end with the following [pg. 139]:

“Genetic differences between populations or groups would most likely account for the behavioral patterns we observe if they arose in response to stable differences in the culturally evolved social norms and institutions (formal and informal) found in different societies. Norms and institutions, in creating stable regularities in the local social environment, can theoretically produce conditions for natural selection to act on genes that make individuals better adapted to those particular norms and institutions (Henrich and Boyd 2001; Laland et al. 2010; McElreath, Boyd, and Richerson 2003; Richerson et al. 2010). This is an intriguing and provocative possibility, but there is no evidence at this point supporting a suspicion that such a culture-gene coevolutionary process has occurred.”

…and it’s too scary to think about anyway, so we won’t give it any more ink here. (>.<)

in 2010, re. pretty much the same data sets/findings, they had this to say [my emphasis]:

“These findings indicate that people living in small communities lacking market integration or world religions — absences that likely characterized all societies until the Holocene — display relatively little concern with fairness or punishing unfairness in transactions involving strangers or anonymous others. This result challenges the hypothesis that successful social interaction in large-scale societies — and the corresponding experimental findings — arise directly from an evolved psychology that mistakenly applies kin and reciprocity-based heuristics to strangers in vast populations (4,5), without any of the ‘psychological workarounds’ (42) that are created by norms and institutions. Moreover, it is not clear how this hypothesis can explain why we find so much variation among populations in our experimental measures and why this variation is so strongly related to MI, WR, and CS. The mere fact that the largest and most anonymous communities engage in substantially greater punishment relative to the smallest-scale societies, who punish very little, challenges this interpretation.”

this is old school evolutionary psychology at its worst — that human nature and the human psyche (and there’s only one sort in this viewpoint) stopped evolving at the end of the last ice age when a majority of us quit being hunter-gatherers.

well, i’ve got news for them: evolution in humans is ongoing, recent, can be pretty rapid (within some constraints), and has been/is localized (as well as global). in fact, human evolution has sped up since the agricultural revolution since the number of individuals, and therefore mutations, on which natural selection might work skyrocketed in post-agricultural societies.

remember, too, that all human behavioral traits are heritable (and more down to biology than many like to think), “every society selects for something,” and that we’re talking about frequencies of genes in populations and that those frequencies can fluctuate up and down over time.

given all of the above, there are NO good reasons for dismissing genetic or evolutionary explanations for variations in social norms between populations (and individuals for that matter). since we are biological creatures, biological explanations should be ruled out (properly!) first before moving on to other sorts of explanations.

again ensminger and henrich said:

“This result challenges the hypothesis that successful social interaction in large-scale societies — and the corresponding experimental findings — arise directly from an evolved psychology that mistakenly applies kin and reciprocity-based heuristics to strangers in vast populations, without any of the ‘psychological workarounds’ that are created by norms and institutions.”

no, of course not. a more likely scenario is that the behavioral traits realted to social norms in large-scale societies — post-agricultural societies (and post-post-agricultural societies) — evolved with some rapidity away from what had existed before in smaller societies thanks to: 1) the larger population size itself (generating a greater number of mutations), and 2) the larger societies and the structures that developed exerting new selective pressures on those populations in sort-of giant feedback loops — society selects for genes for new behavioral traits which in turn produces new societal forms, and so on.

more from the authors:

“Moreover, it is not clear how this hypothesis can explain why we find so much variation among populations in our experimental measures….”

well, that’s easily explained if you remember that human evolution is ongoing, recent, pretty rapid, and can be local.

to take just one example from their findings, if we look at their results from the dictator game…

mean dictator game offers

…it was primarily members of the hunter-gatherer or horticulturalist groups who gave low offers in the game, african agriculturalists (or pastoralists) middling offers, and the residents of hamilton, missouri, the highest. (annoyingly, a couple of the populations — accra and isanga — are groups of mixed ethnicities, so it’d be difficult for anybody to tease apart what’s going on.)

well, hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists — like the hadza, the tsimane’, the au, and the sursurunga — have largely missed out on the agricultural revolution and its evolutionary effects. the middling offers from the mostly african (mostly bantu) agriculturalists are not a surprise either since agriculture and the development of large-scale societies got going comparatively late in sub-saharan africa. and that the hamiltonians offered up the most money — and have the highest market integration — probably owes a lot to the fact that that population is a part of the u.s. midlands and are descended from a group that experienced the agricultural revolution back in the neolithic, and furthermore went through the selection pressures created by medieval manorialism and long-term outbreeding (and who knows what else?).

those are just a few ideas for starters. i’m sure it’s much more complicated than that. for instance, why are the tsimane’ forager-horticulturalists so stingy while the au from papua new guinea, who are also forager-horticulturalists, quite generous? i dunno, but one possibility i suggest checking out is the difference in the family structures of the two groups (prolly will be difficult to do this very far back in time): the interconnectedness of au families, which stretch between villages, is quite complex, while tsimane’ families are not so much (afaik). among many other possibilities and scenarios, we should be looking for the selection pressures created by family types and the flow of genes (especially for behavioral traits like altruism) through different family types.

one final thing – ensminger and henrich et al. from 2010:

“Methodologically, our findings suggest caution in interpreting behavioral experiments from industrialized populations as providing direct insights into human nature.”

well, quite. but it works in the other direction, too: we should also be cautious in interpreting behavioral experiments from non-industrialized populations as providing direct insights into human nature(s).

see also: The 10,000 Year Explosion

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inclusive fitness

there’s some amount of confusion out there in the hbd-o-sphere (and beyond!) about inclusive fitness, which is understandable since the concept is not that straightforward — especially for those of us who are not scientists. i thought it’d try to dispel some of that misunderstanding by sharing my layman’s understanding of the concept — i think i grok the idea pretty well now (in a basic sorta way) — hope i don’t add to the confusion!

to start with, inclusive fitness is NOT some sort of biological law that organisms (including humans) will automatically be altruistic towards other individuals with whom they share a lot of genes (or vice versa if vice versa). if you hold that idea — and i get the impression that a lot of people do — get it out of your mind right now! you’ll feel better for it, trust me.

inclusive fitness is simply a concept or model which explains HOW certain social behaviors — especially altruism — might’ve evolved at all. period. full stop.

to understand inclusive fitness, we need to back up a sec first and think about fitness and what that is. very (very!) simply, fitness refers to an organism’s ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment. traits — including behaviors — that enable an organism to survive and successfully reproduce will be selected for simply because that organism *is* able to survive and reproduce in its environment. this is natural selection. pretty simple, really, darwin’s dangerous idea.

when it comes to certain social behaviors in humans, it’s readily understandable why many of them were selected for. for example, mothers who devote a lot of time and energy to care for their infants — who obviously can’t take care of themselves and would die without any care — will be more fit than those mothers who don’t. the genes that predispose for those behaviors get selected for since children get half of their dna from their mothers, and the ones that are cared for are much more likely to survive.

what was — and to some extent still is — a big mystery is why other sorts of altruistic behaviors were ever selected for even though they hurt an organism’s fitness. how would self-sacrificing altruistic behaviors directed towards non-descendants ever be selected for? for instance, why on earth would somebody feel compelled to run into a burning building to save a neighbor (who wasn’t their child) at great risk to their survival and, therefore, to their fitness? we can see how “genes for altruistic behaviors towards offspring” could be passed down from mother (or parents) to kids, but how were genes for more general altruistic behaviors selected for?

here is where william hamilton‘s absolutely genius idea — inclusive fitness — comes in: perhaps certain social behaviors, which on the surface appear to reduce an organism’s fitness, and so shouldn’t get selected, might’ve been selected for if those behaviors were directed toward other close kin with whom individuals also share much dna in common.

everybody gets half of their dna from each of their two (for now, anyway) parents. but we also share dna with siblings and (blood-related) aunts and uncles and (wait for it…) cousins. given this inheritance pattern, probability says, for instance, that, in a randomly mating population, an individual should share 12.5% of their dna with a first cousin. so, if an individual with certain “genes for altruism” behaves altruistically toward their first cousins, odds are not bad that those first cousins might also have those same “genes for altruism.” here, then, we have a mechanism for how apparently self-sacrificing social behaviors can be selected for: since the altruistic individual 1) aids close kin with whom he shares much of his dna AND 2) probably in many instances shares the same “genes for altruism,” his being altruistic toward those kin 1) does not reduce his fitness AND 2) the “genes for altruism” get selected for, too. mystery solved. (see also: kin selection.)

one way i like to think of inclusive fitness — which, perhaps, isn’t entirely the right way to look at it, but i feel it helps my understanding — is that if you wanted to calculate an individual’s total fitness by adding up how many actual copies of his genes he passed on, you need to add together those found in his offspring and those in his close relatives’ offspring. in other words, you need to add together his own direct fitness plus his close relatives’ fitness to get his inclusive fitness (or his total fitness).

it seems likely that many of the altruistic (or spiteful, etc.) behaviors we’re talking about are pretty general in nature, i.e. not that specific behaviors like “be altruistic to your close kin” were selected for, but rather more like “be altruistic to the people around you, because they’re probably your close kin” were. it remains to be seen how much kin recognition plays a role in altruism in humans, but that’s a topic for another post anyway. for right now, i just wanted to make clear what inclusive fitness is — and isn’t. again, inclusive fitness is a concept which explains HOW altruistic behaviors MIGHT be selected for. it does NOT predict that individuals will DEFINITELY be more altruistic toward those with whom they share much dna.

the whole topic of inclusive fitness is, of course, much more complicated than all that, but i think this is a good basic intro to the concept. hope so, anyway! (^_^)

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why human biodiversity is true…and why jason richwine is right

human biodiversity — the set of biological and genetic differences between (and within) groups — is true because The Theory of Evolution is true, and since The Theory of Evolution is true, human biodiversity must be the case. (of course, The Theory of Evolution might be wrong. if so, everyone will have to head back to the drawing boards. but all the scientific indications are that The Theory is correct, so now it’s simply a matter of working out all the details.)

most of the hysteria surrounding jason richwine’s crimethink (i.e. that hispanics have a lower average iq than whites) is coming from the politically correct chattering classes — most of them on the left of course, but there are plenty of examples to be found on the right as well. these are people who probably claim to be smart (and most of them are probably pretty smart, actually), modern, and well-read. many of them are likely skeptics and atheists, too. most all of them no doubt “believe” in evolution. the problem is that they don’t understand evolution.

if they did understand evolution, they would know that, thanks to natural selection, genetic differences between populations having had long histories of developing in different types of environments are inevitable. and if they understood anything at all about biology (perhaps i’m asking too much), they would know that dna contributes to (not determines) variance in all sorts of traits in humans and other animals like personality, physique, and yes … intelligence. frankly, we’d be one really WEIRD species if there were NO differences between us all! (the pc-crowd would all probably be horrified to learn that this evolution in humans has sped up in the past 10,000 or so years thanks to the hugely increasing sizes of our populations — i.e. the more individuals you have, the more mutations there’s gonna be, and the more on which natural selection can work.)

so, the fact that the average iq of hispanics has been found, by many psychometricians btw, to be lower than the average iq of whites — and, i’ll note, that the average iq of whites has been found to be lower than the average iq of east asians — should not be surprising. that is, that there are differences between the average iqs of these different groups should not be surprising. those are the sorts of differences you’re gonna get with EVOLUTION.

do these differences mean that some peoples should be considered superior or inferior to others? no. do these differences mean that some peoples should be treated differently before the law (or in our daily lives for that matter)? of course not. do these differences mean that we should give pause for thought when considering which groups — and, perhaps more importantly, how many of any one group — to allow to immigrate to our country? absolutely!

jason richwine was right in his ph.d. thesis to suggest that we ought to consider the natures of the peoples we allow to immigrate to the u.s. if we want america to remain american in nature, since different peoples are different by nature. the addition of large numbers of foreigners to any country changes the culture and the workings of that country. jason has apparently said that immigrants to the u.s. in the past — the irish and the italians, for instance — successfully assimilated, while hispanics will not. i would suggest that what, in fact, happened was that the irish and the italians, et al., while assimilating to a certain degree also changed the nature of the country. perhaps less so than tens of millions of hispanics will do, but they altered it from a mostly anglo-saxon nation into a more generic western european nation.

all mass immigration serves to alter recipient nations to some degree or another. even the slightest bit of rational thinking based upon an understanding of evolution would lead anyone to realize that is an inevitable consequence of human biodiversity.

sadly, we live in irrational times.

see also:
White v. Hispanic cognitive gap across 39 studies with 5,696,529 sample size from steve sailer.
Generations of Exclusion from greg cochran via steve sailer.
NYT: Dr. Richwine guilty of not being oblivious to the obvious from steve sailer.
“Burn The Witch!” Heritage Foundation Scuttles Away From Jason Richwine — And The Cold Hard Facts – from john derbyshire.
Christopher Jencks – “Who Should Get In?” – New York Review of Books from steve sailer.
The Crucifixion of Jason Richwine – from michelle malkin.
Jason Richwine and a bottle of Rich Wine from james thompson.
Jason Richwine’s Racial Theories Are Nothing New @the atlantic.
The IQ Test @slate.

further reading on human biodiversity:
– jayman’s hbd fundamentals
hbd bibliography

update: see also “to disbelieve in witchcraft is the greatest of heresies”

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where do clans come from?

in “Family Structure, Institutions, and Growth: The Origins and Implications of Western Corporations,” stanford economist avner greif wrote [pgs. 308-09]:

“There is a vast amount of literature that considers the importance of the family as an institution. Little attention, however, has been given to the impact of the family structure and its dynamics on institutions. This limits our ability to understand distinct institutional developments — and hence growth — in the past and present. This paper supports this argument by highlighting the importance of the European family structure in one of the most fundamental institutional changes in history and reflects on its growth-related implications.

“What constituted this change was the emergence of the economic and political corporations in late medieval Europe. Corporations are defined as consistent with their historical meaning: intentionally created, voluntary, interest-based, and self-governed permanent associations. Guilds, fraternities, universities, communes, and city-states are some of the corporations that have historically dominated Europe; businesses and professional associations, business corporations, universities, consumer groups, counties, republics, and democracies are examples of corporations in modern societies….

“In tracing the origins of the European corporations, we focus on their complementarity with the nuclear family. We present the reasons for the decline of kinship groups in medieval Europe and why the resulting nuclear family structure, along with other factors, led to corporations. European economic growth in the late medieval period was based on an unprecedented institutional complex of corporations and nuclear families, which, interestingly, still characterizes the West. More generally, European history suggests that this complex was conducive to long-term growth, although we know little about why this was the case or why it is difficult to transplant this complex to other societies….

“The conquest of the Western Roman Empire by Germanic tribes during the medieval period probably strengthened the importance of kinship groups in Europe. Yet the actions of the church caused the nuclear family — consisting of a husband and wife, children, and sometimes a handful of close relatives — to dominate Europe by the late medieval period.

The medieval church instituted marriage laws and practices that undermined kinship groups…. The church … restricted marriages among individuals of the same blood (consanguineous marriages), which had historically provided one means of creating and maintaining kinship groups….

“European family structures did not evolve monotonically toward the nuclear family, nor was their evolution geographically or socially uniform (Greif, 2006, chap. 8).** By the late medieval period, however, the nuclear family was dominant. Even among the Germanic tribes, by the eighth century the term ‘family’ denoted one’s immediate family and, shortly afterwards, tribes were no longer institutionally relevant. Thirteenth-century English court rolls reflect that even cousins were as likely to be in the presence of nonkin as with each other. The practices the church advocated (e.g., monogamy) are still the norm in Europe. Consanguineous marriages in contemporary Europe account for less than 1 percent of the total number of marriages, in contrast to Muslim and Middle Eastern countries where such marriages account for between 20 and 50 percent per country (Alan H. Bittles, 1994). Among the anthropologically defined 356 contemporary societies of Euro-Asia and Africa, there is a large and significant negative correlation between the spread of Christianity (for at least 500 years) and the absence of clans and lineages; the level of commercialization, class stratification, and state formation are insignificantly correlated (Andrey V. Korotayev, 2003).”

the presence (or absence) of clans in societies is somehow connected to the mating patterns of societies. in fact, it seems to be that a whole range of kinship-based societal types is somehow connected to a whole range of mating patterns: the “closer” the mating patterns in a society, the more “clannish” it tends to be — the more distant the mating patterns, the less “clannish.”

so we see a spectrum of “clannish” societies ranging from the very individualistic western societies characterized by nuclear families and, crucially, very little inbreeding (cousin marriage, for instance) to very tribal arab or bedouin societies characterized by nested networks of extended families and clans and large tribal organizations and having very high levels of inbreeding (specifically a form of very close cousin marriage which increases the degree of inbreeding). falling somewhere in between these two extremes are groups like the chinese whose society is built mostly around the extended familiy but in some regions of china also clans — or the medieval scots (especially the highland scots) whose society for centuries was built around the clan (h*ck, they even coined the term!). these “in-betweener” groups are, or were, characterized by mid-levels of inbreeding (typically avoiding the very close cousin marriage form of the arabs).

furthermore, not only do the degrees of extended family-ness/clannish-ness/tribal-ness in societies seem to be connected to the degrees of inbreeding in those societies, the degrees of “clannism” also seem to be connected to the degree of inbreeding — the more inbreeding, the less civicness, the less democracy, the more corruption, and so on.

it’s not clear what exactly the mechanism(s) behind this inbreeding-leads-to-clannishness pattern is, but since mating patterns are involved, and mating is a very biological process, it seems likely (to me anyway) that the explanation is something biological — i.e. some sort or sorts of evolutionary process/es — like natural selection — resulting in different/different degrees of behavioral traits related to “clannism” in different populations with inbreeding acting as a sort of accelerant for those processes.

clans and clannism, then, are not things that peoples “fall back on” in the absence of a state as mark weiner suggests in The Rule of the Clan [kindle locations 106-108]:

“[I]n the absence of the state, or when states are weak, the individual becomes engulfed within the collective groups on which people must rely to advance their goals and vindicate their interests. Without the authority of the state, a host of discrete communal associations rush to fill the vacuum of power. And for most of human history, the primary such group has been the extended family, the clan.”

rather, people’s attachments to their extended families/clans/tribes — and, more importantly, their tendencies towards clannish behaviors — are likely innate behaviors. and those behaviors likely vary, on average, between populations since (long-term) mating patterns have varied — and, indeed, still vary — between populations.

such innate behaviors cannot be changed overnight — certainly not within a generation or even two (evolution does take some amount of time — but not, necessarily, extremely long amounts of time either) — and definitely not by simply changing a few laws here and there in the hopes of encouraging individualism. as avner greif grasped, although probably not fully because he’s likely missed the underlying biology of what he’s noticed, family structures need to be altered in order to effect changes to larger societal structures (again, all via tweaks to innate behavioral tendencies). and, again, that can’t be done overnight — as greif pointed out, the process in europe began in the early medieval period (with the church’s bans on cousin marriages) and didn’t really start to take hold until the late medieval period — i.e. a 500 year (or, conservatively, a ca. 25 generation) timeline.

see also: Cousin Marriage Conundrum by steve sailer and Why Europe? by michael mitterauer (in particular chapter 3) and Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy: Lessons from Medieval Trade by avner greif.

**see “mating patterns in europe series” in left-hand column below ↓ for further details.

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“history as biology”

the best opening paragraph of a history book. ever!

from a book entitled Expansions: Competition and Conquest in Europe since the Bronze Age by an icelandic historian (or an icelandic fellow who trained as a historian, anyway), axel kristinsson [pg. 1]:

“1. History as Biology

“We are animals and the study of animals belongs to the realm of biology. I do not wish to sound extreme but the logic is inescapable. Our societies belong to the same general category as the societies of wolves or ants — groups of animals living together, interacting and depending on each other for their survival. Humans may very well be more interesting than either wolves or ants (at least to ourselves) and our societies are far more complex, which is why several scientific disciplines are dedicated to researching them. Nevertheless, they are *the same sort of things* as the societies of other animals, which is why we can expect some general principles of biology also to apply to humans and human society. In particular, human history should have some affinities to evolutionary biology. The evolution of human societies is the evolution of biological phenomena and the principles of evolution established by Charles Darwin might prove illuminating for human history as well.”

hear, hear!! (^_^)

unfortunately, he loses the thread pretty quickly [pg. 2]:

“Genetic evolution is an extremely slow process depending on random mutations and a reshuffling of genes to produce solutions that are beneficial to survival. These new genes then only become dominant over many generations as their benefits slowly assert themselves in the population. Significant changes often take millions of years.”

wrong. wrong, wrong, wrong.

still — the spirit is definitely right! (^_^)

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family types and the evolution of behavioral traits

m.g. and jayman (and maybe some others of you out there?) have been saying for a while now that they think that family types/structures are very important when thinking about the structures/functioning of different societies (see also both of their blogs here and here) — and i’ve been hearing them, but maybe not listening very closely. (once my little aspergian, ocd brain starts following a line of thought — e.g. mating patterns and the structures/functioning of different societies — it can be difficult to re-focus. (~_^) )

anyway, i’m sure that they — and emmanuel todd (and others) — ARE on to something very important!

i said before that i was sure that todd was on to something, but i didn’t buy his explanations which are sorta a cross between sociology and freudianism. i mean: meh. i complained in this post here:

“i haven’t finished ‘The Explanation of Ideology’ yet, but so far todd has described some very interesting patterns in relationships between family types and political ideologies. he’s definitely on to something here; but his work, to my mind, is ‘only’ descriptive (i put ‘only’ in quotes because i don’t mean to belittle his work in any way — it’s an enormous contribution to understanding ideologies, i think!). but, he doesn’t really get down to why family structures and kinship should affect ideologies in the ways that they appear to do. what he’s missing, i think, are some biological concepts like inclusive fitness and all the sorts of behaviors that follow from that.

even though todd’s work, to me, seemed to be “only” descriptive, it is still a powerful description. his connections between family types and national or societal ideologies seem to be very right on. for instance, here’s his “exogamous community family” type and communistic societies (think slavs):

exogamous community family
– cohabitation of married sons and their parents
– equality between brothers defined by rules of inheritance
– no marriage between the children of two brothers
– russia, yugoslavia, slovakia, bulgaria, hungary, finland, albania, central italy, china, vietnam, cuba, north india (note that many of these countries, the eastern european ones, also have a tradition of marrying young)
– communism, edit 01/08/12: socialism

what bothered me about todd’s explanations (or lack of them, afaiac) was that they didn’t take biology into account. but what just dawned on me in the last couple of days (took so long ’cause of my aspergian, ocd brain!) is that the biological explanation he’s missing is evolution by natural selection! eureka! (or, duh! *facepalm* basic principles, hbd chick. basic principles.)

it was something jayman said the other day that made it click in my (dense little) brain:

“The key factor is communal vs nuclear families, it seems. As you and others had discussed, nuclear families promote individuality since one often had to stand and succeed on one’s own, rather than depending on the family for support and guidance (probably also very important for men seeking mates as well).

“But in communal societies, individuality was not so important. Indeed, it may have been a detriment, as this may have made living in the communal home difficult. Perhaps Eastern peoples are so accepting of authority because most spent much or all of their adult lives under the yoke of the patriarch, and this may have selected for different traits than in the west.”

of course! yes, yes, yes! family types (like mating patterns) have placed selection pressures on populations. (thnx, jayman!)

in any particular society, whatever personality or emotional or even intelligence traits that enabled the individuals living in a certain family type to leave the most descendants behind would become most common in that population.

thus, like m.g. says:

“I’ve often wondered why Communism was able to latch on and survive for so long in the Slavic lands. Perhaps it has more to do with their very old, peculiar system of dividing property–communally, not individually.”

yes. for whatever quirky historical reasons (i.e. circumstances), those slavs who succeeded reproductively were those that lived in extended family-groups headed by a male patriarch. after living like this for pretty much thousands of years (the russians apparently took a bit of a break for a few hundred years during the medieval period), you’d think that personality traits that would lead to the acceptance of the redistribution of food and goods amongst the members of the communal group — and even those traits leading to the acceptance of following a single, strong male leader in an almost unquestioning manner — would’ve been selected for.

todd says [pgs. 33 & 39]:

“According to the handbooks of the Third International, communism is the dictatorship of the proletariat. But I would like to suggest another definition which seems to correspond more closely to the sociological and geographic reality of the phenomenon: communism is a transference to the party state of the moral traits and the regulatory mechanisms of the exogamous community family. Sapped by urbanization, industrialization and the spread of literacy, in short by modernization, the exogamous community family passes on its egalitarian and authoritarian values to the new society. Individuals with equal rights are crushed by the political system in the same way they were destroyed in the past by the extended family when it was the dominant institution of traditional Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese or Serbian society….

“The creation of a communist structure allows individuals to be reintegrated into a family setting which is authoritarian and egalitarian. The party replaces the family. Its cells artificially reproduce relationships of fraternity which are dense and intolerable. Even deadly. Its hierarchy replaces paternal authority literally on every level. At the base, the secretary of the cell intervenes in the family life of Soviet couples. At the top, the father follow one after the other: a dynamic, talkative and violent father in Lenin; a sadistic father in Stalin; and aged father in Brezhnev, who carried the metaphor of the Russian political family to its limit.”

lemme re-write those two sentences i highlighted:

– communism is a transference to the party state of the innate moral traits and the biologically-based regulatory mechanisms within populations which had been selected for after generations of living within the exogamous community family.
– the exogamous community family passes on its egalitarian and authoritarian values, which are innate behavioral traits of its members that have been selected for after generations of living within this family type, to the new society.

there. that’s better! (^_^)

previously: “l’explication de l’idéologie” and mating patterns in medieval eastern europe

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the middle ages

working hypothesis: that the medieval period was a d*mned interesting time wrt selection pressures on europeans (and by europeans i mostly mean northern europeans, altho interesting stuff undoubtedly happened in the south, too) and a lot of the genes for the characteristics we associate with h. europaeus were selected for during this time period.

i know — it’s a long time period, but that doesn’t make it any the less interesting or remarkable.

you’ve got:

– the ashkenazi jewish iq thing [opens pdf], a la cochran, laurel and hardy, and harpending. (you might quibble that they’re not really europeans — ashkenazi jews, that is, not cochran, et. al. my point is, tho, that their high average iq — the ashkenazis, that is — seems to have been selected for in medieval europe.)

– the middle class traits and general independent spirit of the english (and possibly other northern europeans) prolly being selected for starting in the medieval period.

– the shift from tribes to not-tribes via the changing mating patterns which prolly impacted altruism genes amongst other behavioral traits.

– manoralism. not sure what traits might’ve been selected for due to the manoralism system in europe. for one thing, the manors, along with the church, contributed to the, relatively speaking, genetic unrelatedness within some european populations. that the manor system never really took hold in places like greece and italy (according to mitterauer) might explain a lot about those populations. also, i’m guessing that manoralism — which wasn’t very powerful in england either (feudalism arrived quite late there, no?) — might’ve select for somewhat docile personalities. you know — individuals who will go along with what the masser (whether that be the monastery or the lord of the manor) or the group has to say rather than being fiercely independent? conformists, in other words. think: germans.

– the ostseidlung. the eastward expansion of germans (and others) in many cases within the manor system again. selective pressures?: for hard, efficient workers. again, not too uppity. high-ish iq?

– meanwhile, southern spain and italy had arab/north africa settlement and rule for a time. ireland and other “celtic fringe” areas ignored the church regulations on marriage and didn’t really adopt the manor system, either. eastern europe? who knows? (somebody other than me!)

– the black death.

new year’s resolution for 2012 (is it too early to make resolutions?): think and learn more about the selective pressures on european populations during the middle ages.

previously: and so my next question naturally is… and setting the stage

(note: comments do not require an email. think, think, think.)

four things

four things i’ve been meaning to mention about inbreeding and altruism (and other social behaviors). well, i’m sure there’s waaay more than just four things that could be said about the subject, but i’ve got four on my mind (it’s like spinning plates!), so here goes…

1) we’re talking here about the evolution of “genes for altruism” (and other social behaviors) — evolution by natural selection — and evolution takes some time — and depends on what selection pressures are/were involved;

2) given #1, and knowing how biology/natural selection works in general, then there must be different “genes for altruism” (and other social behaviors) — and different types of altruistic (and other social) behaviors — and, like other traits, their presence/frequency probably differs in different populations;

3) inbreeding can make the evolution of “genes for altrusim” (and other social behaviors) easier;

4) inclusive fitness means it pays off to be more altruistic (or more of those other social behaviors) to some individuals than others — i.e. those individuals who share more genes with you. individuals that are more inbred than others ought to show more altruistic (and other social) behaviors to their family members on average than non-inbred individuals since they share more genes with their family members. this should also apply to whole populations (especially considering #3) — however, #1.

points #1 and #3 are why i’ve been so interested in how long a population has been inbreeding or outbreeding. a population is not just going to become more or less altruistic overnight. we’re talking about the evolution of traits — not some magical inbreeding determinism — so there will be some lag-time.

for instance, if you somehow persuaded the entire population of saudi arabia to outbreed as much as possible in the next generation — really shuffle up the extended families there — you would not automatically wind up with a population behaving the way europeans do towards family members and strangers, because whatever “genes (alleles) for altruism” they possess would still be there in great numbers.

you would, however, have altered the conditions in which their altruism genes act, so you would think you would see some differences in behavior patterns. you should, i would think, see some changes in inclusive fitness-related behaviors (#4) since individuals would no longer be sooo related to their family members.

how long would it take to get rid of, or substantially change, whatever “genes for altruism” a population happens to have? i dunno. as you have prolly already figured out, i’m NOT an evolutionary theorist/population geneticist — and i don’t even play one on the innerwebs. (but i do want to be one when i grow up! (~_^) )

where it gets confusing (ok, ok — it’s ALL confusing) is when you realize that the social structure of a population — who is related to whom, and by how much — is not just a product of mating patterns, but is also part of the environment in which humans live and love and try to reproduce successfully.

so you have “genes for altruism” being selected for, or against, due to the conditions in whatever environment in which they’re operating (assuming that they matter at all for the fitness of individuals, which they prolly do) — but, meanwhile, these “genes for altruism” are also partly creating that very environment. talk about a feedback loop!

in other words … it’s complicated.

previously: which altruism genes? and setting the stage? and and so my next question naturally is…

(note: comments do not require an email. great moments in evolution.)