where everybody’s fourth cousins

in response to the “people befriend their fourth cousins” study, smersh makes an excellent observation:

“You referenced some of this in your counter currents interview but this study makes things more clear.

Friends are as close to each other as fourth cousins.

Jews are also as close to each other as fourth or fifth cousins.

Therefore it is easy for Jews to make close friends by hanging out with other Jews.

Meanwhile, it is harder for gentiles to make close friends in mass societies, as people move around and no longer live in a village near a bunch of closely related people.

Certainly seems like it might explain a lot without implying a malicious intent on the part of certain parties.”

yes! maybe.

if it’s correct that people generally befriend their fourth cousins — and this is something that could vary between different populations (Further Research is RequiredTM) — then, perhaps, this could explain why places like iceland work so well, too. i don’t know what the average relatedness there is (does anybody know?), but presumably it’s something like fourth or fifth cousins as well. maybe then it IS really easy in such a place to have a — whatever — redistributive socialist system when it feels like almost anyone in your population could be your friend.


btw, that counter currents interview was, in fact, originally a hoover hog interview that somehow got syndicated over on cc. just want to give credit where credit is due. (^_^)

previously: friendship and natural selection (and human biodiversity)

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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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and so my next question naturally is…

…what sort of selection pressures for, say, behavioral traits and iq existed under the manoralism system in medieval europe versus the earlier tribal system? (obviously these are pretty broad categories that changed in nature quite a bit over time and between places, but still….) i’m thinking along the lines of “The 10,000 Year Explosion” in which (duh!) human evolution is ongoing and, like in the case of ashkenazi jews in europe, what happened during the medieval period was obviously important.

so, what happened to the germanic peoples during the middle ages evolutionarily speaking? anything? nothing? a lot?

in a tribal system, you’d think that within any given clan or tribe, most or all of the members would be kinda-sorta taken care of since everyone is family. you’d think that a lot of the members, therefore, would be able to leave at least some descendants behind. obviously, the chief of a clan might be able to leave behind the mostest descendants of all, but might it be that in a tribal system, more of the members might be reproductively successful than maybe…

…in the manoralism system, where the extended family system is gone and we’re left with pretty much just nuclear families operating in a corporate sort of world. in the manor system, there were different classes of peasants/laborers from free tenants to slaves (again, depending on when and where you’re talking about). but, clearly, those more able to succeed under the manor system prolly left behind more descendants than some others (’cause they were more fit to that environment, no?). so, those able to work their way up to and maintain the status of peasant or free tenant presumably were the most successful reproductively (after the lords, of course).

given that these peasants had to work their own land as well as do a lot of work on the manor — and given that many of them settled and opened up new territories in eastern europe (in which to farm the new grains with the new techniques) — what traits might have served the successful ones well?

obviously, you couldn’t be too dumb. maybe even practical, 3-d rotation intelligence would be good to have for engineering drainage systems and the like. i’d say that personality traits like hard-working and industriousness would also be selected for. i guess that might sorta be conscientiousness in a way, but not exactly. law abiding? conformity? i.e. not rocking the manoralism boat too much?

i also think in this new, non-tribal corporate world, whatever “genes for reciprocal altruism” might exist would prolly be selected for at greater rates than in a tribal society ’cause in the latter, kin selection altruism should be enough to keep things ticking along amicably. but not in a society where people are not so closely related.

anything else? any of this sound completely far out?

previously: medieval manoralism and genetic relatedness and more on inbreeding in germanic tribes and loosening of genetic ties in europe started before christianity?

(note: comments do not require an email. the peasants are revolting!)

more on the cinderella effect

greying wanderer suggested the other day that a murderous person would prolly stab a stranger with a knife up “to the hilt,” but if he went to stab his brother, he might, at the last second, have a change of heart and only stab the blade in an inch or two.

there might be something to that notion. what he said reminded of something i read a while ago now, around the time i had a couple of posts about the cinderella effect, i.e. that step-parents generally don’t treat their step-kids as well as biological parents do. this makes sense, of course, if you keep inclusive fitness in mind, ’cause step-parents are (usually) not related to their step-kids.

what i read was a really interesting, but depressing (esp. for a chick, i think), article entitled “Some Differential Attributes of Lethal Assaults on Small Children by Stepfathers versus Genetic Fathers.” what the researchers found was that, not only do step-parents kill their step-kids at much greater rates on average than biological parents, but that when they do, it’s usually a more violent, brutal affair. when biological parents do kill their own kids, they tend to do it in a rather clean, almost humane way. and they more often kill themselves as well afterwards.

“Killings of children less than five years of age by stepfathers versus (putative) genetic fathers are compared on the basis of Canadian and British national archives of homicides. In addition to previously reported differences in gross rates, the two categories of killings differed in their attributes. Beatings constituted a relatively large proportion of steppaternal homicides, whereas genetic fathers were relatively likely to shoot or asphyxiate their victims. A substantial proportion of killings by genetic fathers, but almost none of those by stepfathers, were accompanied by suicide and/or uxoricide. These contrasts lend support to the hypothesis that the differential risks incurred by children in different household types reflect the differential parental solicitude that is predictable from an evolutionary model of parental motivation.”

here are some charts.

methods of killing of children under five, canadian study — that first category is “beat”:

methods of killing of children under five, uk study — the categories from left to right are “hit, kick, blunt object,” “shoot,” “suffocate, strangle, exhaust fumes,” and “all other”:

relatedness matters. even — or maybe especially — in the most gruesome scenarios.

so, if you’re a parent, and you’re thinking of re-marrying (or re-shacking-up, altho that’s prolly a bad idea anyway), CHOOSE CAREFULLY.

btw — you would think that it would also make a difference if, say, a child was mixed-race or mixed-something. in such a case, the biological parent would clearly be less genetically related to their child than in a family that was 100% swedish or chinese, for example. not to mention all the cousin-marriage scenarios i’ve been talking about (ad nauseum). you would think, all else being equal (like economic circumstances), that there ought to be less child killing by parents in a place like saudi arabia.

and, that’s all i’m going to write about this subject (for now anyway), ’cause it’s just too d*rn sad.

previously: evo psych in need of a little hbd? and killing kids & step-kids, part ii and the cinderella effect, again… and even plants do it and more plants playing favorites

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“l’explication de l’idéologie”

i’ve had in my mind for some time now the idea that ideology, whether religious or political, is somehow connected to human reproductive patterns. not that all of ideology is dictated by our mating patterns, but that at least some of it is influenced by our mating patterns.

i got this idea from what steve sailer and stanley kurtz and parapundit had to say a couple of years ago about cousin marriage (specifically, fbd marriage) and democracy, i.e. that the two don’t go together. which made me think that, gee, well i guess the corollary is prolly true as well, i.e. that NOT marrying your cousins must be conducive to democracy. and then i started to think about what other ideologies might be affected by mating patterns — and vice versa — and why and how.

the first question to ask, maybe, is what are ideologies for? i mean, what do they do? why do we have them? for all sorts of reasons, of course, but one set of reasons, i think, has to do with regulating who gets to mate with whom in your society. (this is crucial, of course, because successful reproduction of your genes is what life is all about.) islam, for instance, doesn’t say you have to marry your fbd, but it certainly has all sorts of regulations about the mixing of the sexes — in order that mating is controlled. christianity also controls mating, as we’ve seen (if you’ve been following along), by generally not allowing us to marry our cousins. exogamy is strongly encouraged.

so, anyway, somewhere along the line in all this thinking and reading about human mating patterns, i came across a reference for emmanuel todd’s “The Explanation of Ideology: Family Structures and Social Systems.” i was immediately intrigued by the summary blurbs about the book (from the back cover):

“Some parts of the world are dominated by communism, others by Catholicism or by Islam and yet others by liberal doctrines. Why should this be? And why has communism triumphed in Russia, China and Cuba [the book was published in 1985], yet failed in Poland, Cambodia and Indonesia? Why should English society be distinctively individualistic, French egalitarian and Russian authoritarian? No one knows. Certainly no clear answer lies in variations of climate, environment, race or even economic development.”

well, being an hbd chick, i’m not convinced by that last sentence. i think that some of the differences between how different populations structure their societies are likely due, in part, to innate differences in, for example, the average intelligence and/or average personality types of those different populations, etc., etc. for instance, i’m sure that the fact that a certain allele related to adhd is extremely infrequent in east asian populations must affect the way(s) east asian societies are constructed — broadly speaking — as compared to, say, european or african societies.

anyway, more from the back of the book:

“The argument of this book is that world variations in social ideology and belief are conditioned by family structure. The author analyses the distribution of family forms throughout the world and examines the relations between particular structures and (for example) communism, totalitarianism and individualism, as well as the links between these forms and a variety of social phenomena: illegitimacy, suicide, infanticide, marital stability and inheritance laws. He offers convincing evidence to support the belief that family structures and kinship patterns lie behind the ideologies that have shaped the history of the twentienth century.”

ah ha! kinship patterns. that’s related to mating patterns. as are family structures.

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.

todd identifies seven (or eight) different family types that occur around the world. he bases his types, in part, on the typology of nineteenth century french sociologist, frédéric le play, who studied families throughout europe. rather amusingly, le play identified two basic principles or forces within european families which, he felt, resulted in the outward familial structures that could be seen: liberty and equality. (heh. but what about fraternity?!)

liberty, in le play’s definition of family structures, refers to the parent-child relationships — do adult children continue to live with their parents after marriage or not? how much authority do the parents, especially fathers, have in running the family? those are the sorts of features that fall under liberty. equality, for le play, refers to the sibling relationships — especially, how does inheritance work? are all the (male) children treated equally, or is there, for instance, primogeniture?

to me, these features are descriptive and, perhaps, somewhat explanatory, but they don’t get down to the nitty-gritty. why are some families communal and others not? is that a response to the environment? does it have to do with relatedness between the family members? population density? what? very useful and interesting descriptions, but not explanatory enough for me.

todd adds two more characteristics of family/kinship structures to le play’s typology in order to define a range of family types and these are, very importantly, endogamy versus exogamy. do family members marry other family members, or do they marry non-relatives?

so, using these three sets of dichotomies — liberty vs. non-liberty, equality vs. inequality, endogamy vs. exogamy — todd comes up with seven basic family types (he adds an eighth, too — i’ll get to that in a minute). here they are with their defining characteristics, the countries in which they are found, and their matching ideologies:

absolute nuclear family
– no cohabitation of married children with their parents
– no precise inheritance rules; frequent use of wills
– no marriage between the children of brothers
– anglo-saxons, netherlands, denmark
– christianity, capitalism, ‘libertarian’ liberalism, feminism

egalitarian nuclear family
– no cohabitation of married children with their parents
– equality of brothers laid down by inheritance rules
– no marriage between the children of brothers.
– northern france, northern italy, central and southern spain, central portugal, greece, romania, poland, latin america, ethiopia
– christianity (catholicism); the “liberte, egalite, fraternite” form of liberalism

authoritarian family
– cohabitation of the married heir with this parents
– inequality of brothers laid down by inheritance rules, transfer of an unbroken patrimony to one of the sons
– little or no marriage between the children of two brothers
– germany, austria, sweden, norway, belgium, bohemia, scotland, ireland, peripheral regions of france, northern spain, northern portugal, japan, korea, jews, romany gypsies
edit 01/08/12: socialism/bureaucratic socialism or social democracy, catholicism. fascism sometimes, various separatist and autonomous (anti-universalist) movements (think german federalism)

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

endogamous community family
– cohabitation of married sons with their parents
– equality between brothers established by inheritance rules
– frequent marriage between the children of brothers
– arab world, turkey, iran, afghanistan, pakistan, azerbaijan, turkmenistan, uzbekistan, tadzhikistan
– islam

asymmetrical community family
– cohabitation of married sons and their parents
– equality between brothers laid down by inheritance rules
– prohibition on marriages between the children of brothers, but a preference for marriages between the children of brothers and sisters
– southern India
– hinduism; a variety of communism unlike that found elsewhere

anomic family
– cohabitation of married children with their parents rejected in theory but accepted in practice
– uncertainty about equality between brothers: inheritance rules egalitarian in theory but flexible in practice
– consanguine marriage possible and sometimes frequent
– burma, cambodia, laos, thailand, malaysia, indonesia, philippines, madagascar, south-american indian cultures

the eighth family type, which is additional to todd’s scheme (i.e. it doesn’t fit the three definitional dichotomies he uses, which maybe indicates a problem with his definitions?), is the african family. todd sort-of throws his hands up in the air and declares that african family systems are simply hopeless to understand (because they don’t fit his model) — and, anyway, there’s not enough data on them (which was prolly true in the early 1980s — and maybe still is now!). anyway, here’s all he has to say about the africans:

african systems
– instability of the household
– polygyny

heh. yes, very true. but i’d like those systems explained, too, along with african ideologies.

so, well, i’ll most likely post more on this in the future. i’m sure i’ll refer to it going forward ’cause this is exactly the topic i hope to pursue on the ol’ blog here: mating patterns and how they affect our behaviors and ideologies — and vice versa.

stay tuned!

oh, if anyone’s read “The Explanation of Ideology” or “The Invention of Europe” (or any of todd’s other works), i’d love to hear your thoughts on what he has to say (that means you, m.g.! (~_^) ).

previously: the explanation of ideology and exogamy

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genes for altruism

what if there aren’t any genes for altruism.

what if the default setting is just: be un-altruistic to “not self” (i.e. what if there are just genes to be un-altruistic).

we already have inbuilt systems to repel what’s foreign — immune system, physical barriers like the walls of cells, etc.

what if altruism is just behaving towards individuals that register as “like self” (’cause they share genes with “self”) kinda as if they were “self,” as opposed to treating them as foreign, the default setting for behaving towards others (here in my scenario).

so, there wouldn’t have to have been any evolution for altruism genes; altruism would just be normal behavior towards self/”like self” — the flip-side of un-altruism (or whatever you want to call it).

it’s kind-of an easier scenario, don’t you think? no need to evolve special altruism genes.

hamilton’s rule would still apply, tho, ’cause we’d all still be interested in how related we were to other individuals.

(yes, there is also reciprocal altruism, too.)

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papa was a rolling stone

researchers have found that, in zebra finches, cheating on a partner (zebra finches are pretty monogamous usually) is an inherited trait.

from new scientist:

“Zebra finches form monogamous lifetime partnerships, but both males and females indulge in extramarital sex. The benefit for the males is clear: the chance to sire more offspring than fidelity would permit. But why would females cheat when that means risking losing their lifetime partners and catching diseases?

A new study suggests females are promiscuous simply because they inherit many of the same genes responsible for promiscuous behaviour in males.”

the researchers found that both male and female finches who had fathers that had “strayed” were more likely to engage in extrapair copulations themselves. this was the case even when daddy was not around to raise them, so they couldn’t learn the behavior through watching him (the researchers were very sneaky and shuffled eggs between nests!).

from the research article:

“Here we show that in the socially monogamous zebra finch, individual differences in extrapair mating behavior have a hereditary component. Intriguingly, this genetic basis is shared between the sexes, as shown by a strong genetic correlation between male and female measurements of extrapair mating behavior. Hence, positive selection on males to sire extrapair young will lead to increased extrapair mating by females as a correlated evolutionary response. This behavior leads to a fundamentally different view of female extrapair mating: it may exist even if females obtain no net benefit from it, simply because the corresponding alleles were positively selected in the male ancestors.

and more:

“In humans, individual differences in attachment style, fidelity, and sociosexuality are known to have a hereditary basis. The degree to which variation in physiological mechanisms of attachment and of sexual arousal is shared between the sexes is not sufficiently known to predict whether between-sex correlations [like in the finches] can be expected. At the phenotypic level, sexual fidelity correlates with several of the major axes of personality variation (extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness) and, importantly, these correlations are largely consistent between the sexes. The apparent multitude of aspects of personality that may influence sexual fidelity is in agreement with the hypothesis of Halliday and Arnold: such a genetically complex trait would represent a large target for new mutations that would typically have similar (correlated) effects on both sexes.”

in other words, a similar pattern of selection for “infidelity genes” might also be the case in humans (not to mention other animals). maybe.

so, just to be safe, if you’re looking for a mate who will remain faithful, find out how faithful their father was. (especially if you’re a zebra finch.)

(note: comments do not require an email. and i don’t mind if you read other chick blogs, either. no really i don’t. *sniff*)


there was some discussion in another comment thread (starting here) about genocide and what, exactly, it is (i.e. how to define it).

bill hamilton thought that genocide (and some wars, in fact) is a reponse to differential birth rates between two (or more, i guess) populations sharing the same environment. from “Narrow Roads of Gene Land, Volume 2“, p. 280 (via race/hist/evolution notes, a treasure trove of interesting info, btw!):

“Increase of Ashkenazi Jews in eastern Europe in the span of the nineteenth century is said to have been almost fourfold (S. Jones, In the Blood: God, Genes and Destiny (HarperCollins, London, 1996)). This implies a doubling about every generation. Very surprisingly this fact seems almost never to be discussed as part causative background to the holocaust, an omission that continues even when claims of group competition are the focus.”

and more (from the introduction)…

“I suggested [during some speech] it might be useful for us to discuss the psychology of population situations and to give special attention to those where closely placed or intermixed distinct groups had strikingly different rates of increase. In particular, it might be useful to consider what this might do to competitive birth rates and aggressive instincts connected with population perceptions — in fact, also with the inception of wars. There was silence as I stopped. I’d wanted to explain my thought as far as I could in words that didn’t bring in my pet and as yet little accepted views about the importance of genetical kinship for human altruism and aggression. It had seemed to me that my case for the interest of this topic could be made for present purposes without that and based on known historical instances by themselves.

“The silence that came surprised and unsettled me, so I added something about every one having pride in his or her family and, perhaps not wanting to see descendants lost in a sea of strangers; while, in anything like a democracy, people would be not liking to imagine their own preferences and way of life being over-ridden by decisions deriving from ways of life either — for example, not caring about the countryside, urbanizing as far as possible, and so on [. . .]

“In an effort to be more explicit and to be taken more seriously, I then exposed some corner of my actual work, saying something about how we were all expected, as a result of population genetical processes — natural selection in fact — to have psychological biases that wouldn’t necessarily be easily visible on the surface but whose reality would come to the fore in situations where these rapid changes in a population’s composition were imminent. There was a matter of within- and between-group variances involved here, this applying to the very genes that made us. It wasn’t necessary to such ideas, I added, that shortages of land or whatever would be apparent right when divisive psychology took effect; it would be in this nature of the group psychology to anticipate what might be about to happen. [. . .] If we really wanted to understand why population is a difficult issue to discuss and to do anything about it in the world, I continued [. . .], it is very essential that we understand the evolutionary forces that have moulded reproductive and territorial psychology in humans — the features must be old, of course, started doubtless mainly in our Old Stone Age past. If we wanted to recommend policies to affect population trends in any direction today, we perhaps needed to discuss first the underlying motivations that all people had to possess — that must be there from the very fact that they themselves came form successful parentage and successful families of the past….”

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