linkfest – 04/13/14

Svante Paabo talk at NIH“According to Dr. Paabo, Ust-Ishim has longer Neandertal chunks than modern humans and this can be used to estimate that the admixture with Neandertals happened 331+/-99 generations before its time of 45,000y BP, or around 50-60,000y BP…. This pretty much proves that there were modern humans in Eurasia before the Upper Paleolithic revolution and disproves Richard Klein’s theory that modern humans together with UP technologies spread Out-of-Africa only after 50,000 years ago.” – from dienekes.

Europeans have three times more Neanderthal genes for lipid catabolism than Asians or Africans“Contemporary Europeans have as many as three times more Neanderthal variants in genes involved in lipid catabolism than Asians and Africans. Although Neanderthals are extinct, fragments of their genomes persist in modern humans. These shared regions are unevenly distributed across the genome and some regions are particularly enriched with Neanderthal variants.”

The really old Europe is mostly in Eastern Europe“‘These results confirm Sardinia as a refuge area where ancestry related to Early European Farmers has been best preserved, and also the greater persistence of WHG-related ancestry in present-day Eastern European populations. The latter finding suggests that West European Hunter-Gatherers (so-named because of the prevalence of Loschbour and La Braña) or populations related to them have contributed to the ancestry of present-day Eastern European groups.'” – @eurogenes blog.

More on Deafness“Seems to me that limited verbal stimulation is not a very plausible primary cause of low test scores and low academic achievement in blacks, because the degree of deprivation needed to cause a 1-standard deviation decline is extreme (deafness), and because there is an even greater depression of nonverbal scores, which, judging from the results in deaf children, should not be affected at all by limited verbal stimulation.” – from greg cochran.

Language structure: You’re born with it“Humans are unique in their ability to acquire language. But how? A new study shows that we are in fact born with the basic fundamental knowledge of language, thus shedding light on the age-old linguistic ‘nature vs. nurture’ debate.”

Selection for complex traits leaves little or no classic signatures of selection“We present empirical evidence to suggests little discernible ‘selection signature’ for complex traits in the genome of dairy cattle despite very strong and recent artificial selection.” – h/t razib!

Whole genome sequencing of six dog breeds from continuous altitudes reveals adaption to high-altitude hypoxia“To understand the genetic bases of adaption to high altitude in dogs, we performed whole-genome sequencing of 60 dogs including five breeds living at continuous altitudes along the Tibetan plateau from 800 to 5,100 m as well as one European breed…. Comparison of the breeds from different altitudes reveals strong signals of population differentiation at the locus of hypoxia-related genes including endothelial Per-Arnt-Sim (PAS) domain protein 1 (EPAS1) and beta hemoglobin cluster. Especially, four novel non-synonymous mutations specific to high-altitude dogs are identified at EPAS1, one of which occurred at a quite conserved site in the PAS domain. The association testing between EPAS1 genotypes and blood-related phenotypes on additional high-altitude dogs reveals that the homozygous mutation is associated with the decreased blood flow resistance, which may help to improve hemorheologic fitness. Interestingly, EPAS1 was also identified as a selective target in Tibetan highlanders, though no amino acid changes were found. Thus, our results not only indicate parallel evolution of humans and dogs in adaption to high-altitude hypoxia, but also provide a new opportunity to study the role of EPAS1 in the adaptive processes.” – h/t joe pickerell!

Facial Width-To-Height Ratio Relates to Alpha Status and Assertive Personality in Capuchin Monkeys“fWHR was positively associated with alpha status and with a dimensional rating of assertive personality in both males and females. Moreover, fWHR showed significant sexual dimorphism in adults but not juveniles, suggesting a developmental change may occur during puberty. In a sub-sample, sex differences were mediated by weight, suggesting fWHR dimorphism does not exceed what would be expected by differences in body weight. This is the first report of an association between face shape and behaviour in a non-human species.” – h/t stuart ritchie!

The relationship between Microcephalin, ASPM and intelligence: A reconsideration“Microcephalin is strongly associated with DNA repair, which indicates a special role for this allele in the intrinsic anti-viral immune response. Enhanced immune functioning may have advantaged both hunter–gatherer and agrarian societies coping with the heightened disease burden that resulted from population growth and exposure to zoonotic diseases, making it more likely that such growth and concomitant increases in intelligence could occur.” – from michael woodley et al. – see also The riddle of Microcephalin – from peter frost.

Caucasian Boys Show Highest Prevalence of Color Blindness Among Preschoolers“The first major study of color blindness in a multi-ethnic group of preschoolers has uncovered that Caucasian male children have the highest prevalence among four major ethnicities, with 1 in 20 testing color blind. Researchers also found that color blindness, or color vision deficiency, in boys is lowest in African-Americans, and confirmed that girls have a much lower prevalence of color blindness than boys.”

Humans and saber-toothed tiger met in Germany 300,000 years ago

One of the Key Characteristics of Ancient DNA, Low Copy Number, May be a Product of its Extraction – h/t hbd bibliography!

Give it up, Psmithe – steve sailer on greg clark’s The Son Also Rises.

Why I am now skeptical of the hypothesis that dysgenics has had substantial real-world effects – elijah (doin’ his superman thing (~_^) ).

El capital humano de las naciones: ¿Más allá de PISA? – h/t billare! who tweeted: “Take Lynn & Vanhanen’s 2012 estimates, correlate them to PISA math & science results, find an r of 0.98.”

The grasping reflex of babies: a vestigial trait? – from jerry coyne.

Social influence constrained by the heritability of attitudes – h/t andrew sabisky! who tweeted: “more heritable attitudes are more resistant to social pressure.”

What Are Relatives Good For?“The battle over every aunt and uncle’s favorite evolutionary theory.”

Genetic Influences Are Virtually Absent for Trust“Here we examine a population-based sample of 1,012 twins and relatives. We show that the genetic influence on generalized trust in other people (trust-in-others: h2 = 5%, ns), and beliefs regarding other people’s trust in the self (trust-in-self: h2 = 13%, ns), is virtually absent…. We show that, relative to cognitive abilities, psychiatric disorders, and classic personality variables, genetic influences are smaller for trust, and propose that experiences with or observations of the behavior of other people shape trust more strongly than other traits.” – h/t rene bekkers!

Psychopaths: how can you spot one?“But is psychopathy a disorder – or a different way of being…? If someone’s brain lacks the moral niceties the rest of us take for granted, they obviously can’t do anything about that, any more than a colour-blind person can start seeing colour. So where does this leave the concept of moral responsibility? ‘The legal system traditionally asserts that all people standing in front of the judge’s bench are equal. That’s demonstrably false,’ says the neuroscientist David Eagleman, author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. He suggests that instead of thinking in terms of blameworthiness, the law should deal with the likelihood that someone will reoffend, and issue sentences accordingly, with rehabilitation for those likely to benefit and long sentences for those likely to be long-term dangers.” – h/t (heh! (~_^) ) heartiste!

IQ, Neuroticism, booze, and those damn vegetables again – from dr. james thompson.

Tweet of the Week“‘[H]umans are very good at attributing causality when it does not exist. That has led to confusion between correlation and cause on an industrial scale, not least in attempts to work out the effects of diet on health.'” – @jayman’s.

Is there a gene for procrastination? – there’d better be or else i’m all outta excuses! (*^_^*) see also: Genetic Relations Among Procrastination, Impulsivity, and Goal-Management Ability – Implications for the Evolutionary Origin of Procrastination.

Biological evidence of positive and negative people in the world“The ability to stay positive when times get tough — and, conversely, of being negative — may be hardwired in the brain, finds new research.”

“Grounds of War” – A New Paper on Territoriality with Remarkable “Similarities” to the Work of Robert Ardrey – from helian.

Equal ≠ The Same: Sex Differences in the Human Brain“At the root of the resistance to sex-influences research, especially regarding the human brain, is a deeply ingrained, implicit, false assumption that if men and women are equal, then men and women must be the same. This is false. The truth is that of course men and women are equal (all human beings are equal), but this does not mean that they are, on average, the same. 2 + 3 = 10 – 5, but these expressions are not the same. And, in fact, if two groups really are different on average in some respect, but they are being treated the same, then they are not being treated equally on average.”

Inbreeding is associated with lower 2D: 4D digit ratio. – in turkey. meanwhile, classic post from heartiste: Is Finger Length Ratio Evidence Of A Woman’s Fidelity?

diana fleischman speculates on that “perceived intelligence of faces” research that came out recently.

Thinking about a majority-minority shift leads to more conservative views“Facing the prospect of racial minority groups becoming the overall majority in the United States leads White Americans to lean more toward the conservative end of the political spectrum, according to research. The findings suggest that increased diversity in the United States could actually lead to a wider partisan divide, with more White Americans expressing support for conservative policies.”

The ‘Love Hormone’ Can Make You Hate: Study“A study from the Netherlands suggests that oxytocin might only make you love people in your in-group, and can contribute to conflict with outsiders.”

Bacteria Turn Plants and Insects into Zombies“A parasitic phytoplasma deploys proteins to manipulate the plants it infects as well as the insects that spread the microbe.”

Zombie Snipers at the Doorstep“Colony-living insects like ants have a kind of social immune system — they behave in ways that prevent infections from spreading through their nests. They clean each other and remove the corpses of their nestmates. Sick ants, which have been infected by killer fungi, are often shunned by their fellow workers, and sometimes leave the nest to die alone.” – h/t john durant!

Germs Rule the World“The new germ theory: Infections play a role in many, many diseases—in ways we’re just beginning to understand.”

The Remarkable Self-Organization of Ants“It turns out that ants perform these complex tasks by obeying a few simple rules…. The organization of insect societies is a marquee example of a complex decentralized system that arises from the interactions of many individuals.”

The World’s Murder Capitals“[A] group of countries — all of them in either the Americas or Africa — accounting for just 11 percent of the global population are the location of 46 percent of the world’s homicides…. Men accounted for 95 percent of the perpetrators and 79 percent of the victims of homicide in 2012….”

Fearing Punishment for Bad Genes“[M]any people are avoiding the [dna] tests because of a major omission in the 2008 federal law that bars employers and health insurers from seeking the results of genetic testing.” – h/t kevin mitchell!

‘Everything should be open to question’ – h/t claire lehmann!

*A Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead*, by Charles Murray. see also “The Curmudgeon’s Guide”: A Q&A with Charles Murray.

bonus: The Moral: Aesop Knew Something About Crows

bonus bonus: Fruit flies maneuver like tiny fighter jets

bonus bonus bonus: This 3000 Year Old Amulet Kind of Looks Like a Gummy Bear

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Measure Yourself by the Standard of the Capybara

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: White wing supremacist: swan attacks foreign students – h/t ed west!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Mike Judge Skewers Silicon Valley With the Satire of Our Dreams“The creator of Beavis and Butt-Head aims his snark cannon at the tech startup scene in his new HBO show, Silicon Valley.”

(note: comments do not require an email. capybara and friend!)

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linkfest – 09/08/13

Digesting Milk in Ethiopia: A Case of Multiple Genetic Adaptations“A team of geneticists from UCL, University of Addis Ababa and Roskilde University have shown that five different alleles are found in the Ethiopian population that cause adult lactase production, one of which is newly confirmed.” – h/t andrew badenoch!

Friendship and Natural Selection“More than any other species, humans form social ties to individuals who are neither kin nor mates, and these ties tend to be with similar people. Here, we show that this similarity extends to genotypes. Across the whole genome, friends’ genotypes at the SNP level tend to be positively correlated (homophilic); however, certain genotypes are negatively correlated (heterophilic). A focused gene set analysis suggests that some of the overall correlation can be explained by specific systems; for example, an olfactory gene set is homophilic and an immune system gene set is heterophilic.” – via charles!

Scientists to sequence genomes of hundreds of newborns

Bone dates ‘earliest northerner’, say archaeologists in Liverpool“Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Nottingham analysed a leg bone found in Cumbria and found it to be more than 10,000 years old.” – [winter is coming….]

Convergent evolution seen in hundreds of genes“Bats and dolphins may have developed echolocation via similar mutations.”

Darkness in Anthropology: A Conversation with Napoleon Chagnon“Probably the single most anthropologically unacceptable thing I did was to take ‘biology’ seriously…. I began using commonly known ways to ‘measure’ relatedness between organisms — Sewall Wright’s coefficient of inbreeding and its extended concept, the coefficient of relatedness. This was very unusual in cultural anthropology. In short, I was discussing Yanomamö kinship with *the biological meaning* of kinship in mind — at a time when the vast majority of cultural anthropologists assumed that ‘kinship’ and ‘the biological meaning of Yanomamö kinship’ were, at best, only vaguely similar and any allusion to this was generally ‘suspect.’ But since ‘kinship’ was traditionally a central focus of anthropological theory, I began developing ways to show precisely, using my meticulous genealogies on the Yanomamö, that people took sides in fights according to how closely *genetically* they were related to each other and fought against people they were *less related to genetically*. Many of the most prominent anthropologists held the extreme view that ‘kinship’ among humans had *nothing* to do with the biological meaning of kinship as is assumed in the fields of biology, genetics, or animal husbandry. A common claim was something to the effect that ‘whatever kinship among humans was about, it was NOT about biology.'” – h/t g-nice!

Penn Biologists Show That Generosity Leads to Evolutionary Success – stewart and plotkin “examined the outcome of the Prisoner’s Dilemma as played repeatedly by a large, evolving population of players. While other researchers have previously suggested that cooperative strategies can be successful in such a scenario, Stewart and Plotkin offer mathematical proof that the *only* strategies that succeed in the long term are generous ones.”

Confusions about race: A new installment [pdf] – from neven sesardic. – h/t holtz!

Why Do Black Women Have A Higher Risk of Death from Heart Disease Than White Women? – more atypical symptoms than white women, apparently.

How Inbred are Europeans? – now that’s my kinda post! (^_^) – from jayman.

Arabs and Liberal Democracy: A Primer – @thosewhocansee.

On the Relevance of Science to Morality“[I]ssues of morality can’t be answered by scientific experiments because there are no such entities as issues of morality…. Moral emotions are part of the behavioral repertoire of several species of animals, including human beings.” – helian makes me smile. (^_^)

The Clannish World of Organized Crime“[T]he way clannishness and OC go hand in hand like described above can’t be a coincidence. Rather, it makes perfect sense given the very definitions of these concepts. Clannishness is taking care of yourself and your group, often with violence, at the expense of other people and society. OC can be described in the exact same way.” – oh, yes. – from staffan.

Obesity in Germany: The fault-line divides the nation again – from agnostic.

Why are we the naked ape?“Loss of body hair was a long-term evolutionary trend in ancestral hominids and even ancestral primates, being perhaps a response to a greater need for social signaling. In ancestral humans, the selection pressure seems to have gone through three stages, initially targeting infants and only later women and then men.” – from peter frost.

Are girls too normal? Sex differences in intelligence“Girls are more normal, boys are more extreme, so there are more boys at extremes, and the more extreme the extremes, the more boys.” – from dr. james thompson. – [are girls too normal? – i’m not! (~_^) ]

Spot The Alpha – heh! – from heartiste (who else?).

National stereotypes of business meetings – @steve sailer’s.

Individualism and Collectivism: U.S. State Comparison – from benjamin david steele.

Racial Differences in Masculinity-Femininity? – @the occidentalist. h/t jayman!

The New Science of Mind“Any discussion of the biological basis of psychiatric disorders must include genetics. And, indeed, we are beginning to fit new pieces into the puzzle of how genetic mutations influence brain development.”

Ability to delay gratification may be linked to social trust“A person’s ability to delay gratification — forgoing a smaller reward now for a larger reward in the future — may depend on how trustworthy the person perceives the reward-giver to be, according to a new study….”

Bigger and healthier: European men grow 11cm in a centurybigger is better! (~_^)

A Game of Homs“What striking about Syria is how so many people insist on speaking about it in profoundly moralistic, Manichaean terms. This is complete nonsense, given that its civil war isn’t a showdown between democracy and dictatorship, but an ethnic and religious conflict. Here’s a more realistic guide.” – really good stuff from anatoly!

Ed West interview: debating the ‘illusions’ of a diverse society

America’s greatest days lie ahead – provided she is true to herselft.greer says: “Daniel Hannan(!) reviews America 3.0 and its Emmnauel Todd theory of America.”

Children with behavioral problems more at risk of inflammation“Children with behavioral problems may be at risk of many chronic diseases in adulthood including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, as well as inflammatory illnesses (conditions which are caused by cell damage).”

Slaughtered bodies stripped of their flesh – a gruesome glimpse of Iron-Age massacre at UK’s largest hill fort“Hundreds if not thousands stripped of their flesh and chopped up, say archaeologists.”

Carbon dating shows ancient Egypt’s rapid expansion“The powerful civilisation of ancient Egypt took just a few centuries to build, according to a radiocarbon dating study that sets the first solid chronology for the period…. Archaeologists have assumed it developed gradually from the pastoral communities that preceded it, but physicist Mike Dee from the University of Oxford and his colleagues now suggest that the transition could have taken as little as 600 years.” – see also A chronology of ancient Egypt @dienekes’.

Declassified spy photographs reveal lost Roman frontier“Declassified spy photography has uncovered a lost Roman Eastern frontier, dating from the second century AD. Research by archaeologists at the Universities of Glasgow and Exeter has identified a long wall that ran 60 kilometers from the Danube to the Black Sea over what is modern Romania. It is considered the most easterly example of a man-made frontier barrier system in the Roman Empire.” – trajan’s rampart!

Melting Snow Reveals Iron Age Sweater“A boat neck sweater made of warm wool and woven in diamond twill was a dominating fashion trend among reindeer hunters 1,700 years ago, according to researchers who have investigated an extremely well preserved Iron Age tunic found two years ago under melting snow in Norway.”

bonus: Underwater volcano is Earth’s biggest“Tamu Massif rivals the size of Olympus Mons on Mars.” – cool!

bonus bonus: Evidence Found for Planet-Cooling Asteroid 12,900 Years Ago – which triggered the agricultural revolution…?

bonus bonus bonus: Making Sense of the Syrian Rebels’ Order of Battle

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Two years after Libya’s revolution, government struggles to control hundreds of armed militias – h/t mark krikorian! see also: Special report: We all thought Libya had moved on – it has, but into lawlessness and ruin. =(

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Car-theft epidemic at the border with Poland [and germany] – “Brandenburg police has repeatedly scolded German car owners for being naive. ‘They simply park their cars in the street….'” – imagine that!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The city that went to the dogs: With 60,000 on the streets, there is one stray for every 31 people in Bucharest

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Poll: Majority Of Americans Approve Of Sending Congress To Syria – heh! (~_^) – via mr. mangan, esq.

(note: comments do not require an email. wtf is this weird web-tower thing?)

linkfest – 07/16/13

not sure if this is a late linkfest from this past sunday or an early linkfest for next sunday…. (~_^)

Patterns of selection on Neanderthal alleles in modern humans“‘We identified Neandertal alleles that are at higher frequency than expected under a model of neutral evolution, and identify dozens of genomic locations in Europeans and East Asians at which the Neandertal alleles are the targets of positive selection. Interestingly, there is evidence for more extensive positive selection in East Asian than in European populations.'” – @race/history/evolution notes.

On the antiquity of language: the reinterpretation of Neandertal linguistic capacities and its consequences“[W]e argue here that recognizably modern language is likely an ancient feature of our genus pre-dating at least the common ancestor of modern humans and Neandertals about half a million years ago.” – via mr. mangan, esq.!

World’s Oldest Calendar Found in Scotland“British archaeologists have found what they say is the world’s oldest calendar, dating back to about 8,000 BC.”

Paternal age and fitness in pre-industrial Finland“‘Individuals whose fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers fathered their lineage at age of 20 were ~9% more likely to survive to adulthood than those with 40-year-old male ancestors.'” – @race/history/evolution notes.

Law alone?“People of northwestern European descent put the least emphasis on the blood bond of a nation’s population…. The paradox presented here for many like myself is that the places inspiring the warmest feelings and that I would like most to live in are the places that tend to put the least effort into maintaining what they have. It’s tragic.” – yup. =/ from the awesome epigone.

Ethnic background influences immune response to TB“Over the thousands of years that humans have been infected with TB, people of different ethnicities have evolved different immune mechanisms for handling the bacteria, a finding that could affect the outcome of planned trials for new TB drugs…. [D]ifferences in the way TB affects the body are also linked to ethnicity. For example, he found that most infections in Europeans are in the lungs, for example, while Asians and Africans get most TB infections in other organs.” – @new scientist. also: Scientists discover ethnic differences in immune response to TB bacterium.

Link between low vitamin D blood levels and heart disease varies by race“Low vitamin D blood levels are linked to greater risk of heart disease in whites and Chinese, but not in blacks and Hispanics.”

Early spatial reasoning predicts later creativity and innovation, especially in STEM fields“Exceptional spatial ability at age 13 predicts creative and scholarly achievements over 30 years later, according to results from a new longitudinal study published in Psychological Science.” – via futurepundit! see also steve sailer: Something intelligent and interesting in the news.

Nature, nurture, and expertise“More than half of the difference between expert and normal readers is genetic…. Less than a fifth of the expert-normal difference is due to shared environment.” – via mr. mangan, esq.! see also dr. james thompson.

‘Genes’ a reason poor kids struggle at school, says [an australian] government report“In a controversial new report released today, the Productivity Commission cites ‘parents’ cognitive abilities and inherited genes’ as one of five main reasons why kids from low-income families lag behind those from wealthy homes.” – surely heads must be rolling!

Who’s Having the Babies? – from jayman … who’s having a baby! (~_^)

Brain scans of inmates turn up possible link to risks of reoffending“Those with low ACC [anterior cingulate cortex] activity were about twice as likely to commit crimes within four years of being released as those with high ACC activity.” see also Born to Kill from jared taylor.

Chinese People May Be at Higher Risk for Stroke Than Caucasians“[T]he research found a slightly higher overall risk of stroke in Chinese people than in Caucasians, with a range of 205 to 584 strokes per 100,000 Chinese people age 45 to 74, compared to 170 to 335 strokes per 100,000 Caucasian people the same age. Chinese also had a higher risk of intracerebral hemorrhage, a type of stroke due to bleeding into the brain from a ruptured blood vessel, compared to Caucasian people, or 33 percent of all strokes compared to 12 percent of all strokes in community-based studies. Chinese people had a lower average age of stroke onset of 66 to 70 years-old, compared to 72 to 76 years-old for Caucasians.” – via hbd bibliography!

Study: Even with similar cancer treatment, African Americans don’t live as long as other patients“It’s likely ‘not related to the treatment,’ Ferrajoli speculated, ‘it’s probably a different biology.'” – via amren!

Child food neophobia is heritable, associated with less compliant eating, and moderates familial resemblance for BMI – via jayman!

Poles in the Tent“[I]f high-quality protein were the long pole in the tent, male provisioning of meat, which we see in chimpanzees, might matter quite a bit more than you would think from the number of calories alone.” – from greg cochran.

Dark Counsel From The Durants“‘Inequality is not only natural and inborn, it grows with the complexity of civilization. Hereditary inequalities breed social and artificial inequalities; every invention or discovery is made or seized by the exceptional individual, and makes the strong stronger, the weak relatively weaker, than before.'” – dark stuff, indeed! from malcolm pollack. here’s the durants’ The Lessons of History.

The Death of Enlightenment – or How Nebraska Beats California – from staffan.

‘Big Givers’ Get Punished for Being Nonconformists“People punish generous group members by rejecting them socially — even when the generosity benefits everyone — because the ‘big givers’ are nonconformists.” – you just can’t win with humans!

Genetic diversity, economic development and policy – from jason collins.

Emmanuel Todd’s Theory of Modernity from t.greer.

The other slave trade“Europe used to export slaves to the non-European world.” – from peter frost.

D.N.A. Backs Lore on Pre-Columbian Dogscarolina dogs! — or dixie dingos! woof! (^_^)

Dementia Rate Is Found to Drop Sharply, as Forecast

bonus: make sure to check out elijah armstrong’s new blog!

bonus bonus: Chinese Logographs vs. the Latin Alphabet“[C]ultural systems *do* matter when it comes to cultural advancement and enrichment.” – @habitable worlds.

bonus bonus bonus: Review of “Shots Fired” by Sam Francis – from foseti.

bonus bonus bonus bonus: The rise of identitarian thought… – @occam’s razor.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Social Truth Vs Objective Truth and Social Truth II and Social Truth III – from the assistant village idiot.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Dyslexia is Britain’s secret weapon in the spy war: Top codebreakers can crack complex problems because they suffer from the condition

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Isolated Afghans contemplate mass exodus“The 1,100 ethnic Kyrgyz living in this isolated sliver of Afghanistan wedged between Tajikistan, Pakistan and China have been spared the violence that has plagued the rest of their country. But they have also done without the burst of foreign aid that has helped reconstruct one of the world’s poorest nations.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: A Village Invents a Language All Its Own“The language, called Warlpiri rampaku, or Light Warlpiri, is spoken only by people under 35 in Lajamanu, an isolated village of about 700 people in Australia’s Northern Territory. In all, about 350 people speak the language as their native tongue.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Pictured: ‘Vampire’ graves in Poland where skeletons were buried with skulls between their legs – cool!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Genetic Differences That Let Octopods Flourish – octopod biodiversity!

(note: comments do not require an email. a dixie dingo!)

liberal democracy vs. consensus building

as we’ve seen, some societies experience a lot more difficulties implementing liberal democracy (or any sort of democracy) than others, and very often the ones that have these difficulties have a history of cousin marriage (see here and here).

liberal democracy (fwiw) is, of course, a relatively modern invention, but it’s not as though democratic tendencies weren’t around before the enlightenment. many societies have, or have had, democratic elements to them even if they are/were not fully functioning democracies, probably mostly because people will have a say in matters. there’s even been talk that the ancient sumerians engaged in a “primitive democracy” so … well … there you go.

in The Tribal Imagination, robin fox described so well what is so ODD about our modern liberal democray. i quoted him once before on liberal democracy, and here i go again [pg. 60 – bolding added by me]:

“Again in England, it was not until 1688, after a bitter civil-religious war and a period of hard totalitarianism, that we were able to set up a system whereby political factions could compete for votes and, most amazingly, the loser would *voluntarily cede power*. This transformation took a long time and hard practice with many missteps.”

to voluntarily cede power. very odd system, indeed!

in digging around for stuff on mating patterns in different societies, i’ve found that i keep coming across an alternate democratic system that seems to pop up again and again in places with more inbreeding than the anglo world, and that is consensus democracy. and if it’s not a democratic system, it’s a system of governing that involves getting/having a consensus in some shape or form. i don’t know if this is an actual general pattern or not — i.e. more consensus building in more inbred societies — it’s just something i’ve noticed lately.

tribal societies, like those in the arab world, definitely seem to operate with consensus building systems [pg. 212 – emphases added by me]:

“Arab society during Muhammad’s day and for more than a century afterward never really developed a stable political order worthy of being called a state. There was no state per se and no administrative structure of government. Arab society remained what it had always been, a tribal society characterized by personal leadership and appointed retainers that drew no distinctions between the social, religious, and military aspects of life. Indeed, there was never a formal army as such. Instead, there was an alliance of powerful tribal chiefs who led their personal retinues in battle. There was no financial system, and what treasury there was came from gifts and booty obtained in raids. Government was essentially an enlarged tribal system of negotiated consensus among powerful tribal chieftans, and it was these warrior chiefs who controlled the Arab populace and the army. Governance was effected indirectly through tribal intermediaries. This system of indirect rule plagued the Muslim Empire until its end. Power ebbed and flowed from the center of authority, but no caliph ever was able to retain control of the tribal and regional armies for very long. Revolts and insurrections rooted in jealousy, political interests, religious apostasy, and blood feuds went on for centuries.”

but i’ve also noticed the concept of “consensus” in other places like in the medieval republic of novgorod which is meant to be one of these examples of early democracy in eastern europe. however, consensus was a big part of novgorod’s democratic system [pg. 47 – link and emphasis added by me]:

“Another source of stability in the region which is grounded in the historic inheritance of Novgorod is the concept of democratic consensus. Although, in Novgorod’s history, consensus was sometimes achieved through violent means (the medieval chronicles depict how recalcitrant minorities within the assembly, or veche, might face physical assault, including being hurled off the principle bridge of the city into the river Volkhov), the idea that elected representatives have an obligation, once in power, to seek consensus for the good of society beyond narrow partisan, ethnic, or geographic interests has been critical in helping to achieve stability…. As former First Deputy Governor Valery Trofimov put it, ‘all of civil society’ — elected officials, academics, entrepreneurs — worked together to forge a policy commonly referred to as ‘politics of the round table.'”

and poland’s era of golden liberty — another example of early democracy in eastern europe — was undone by its consensus building mechanism, the liberum veto [emphasis added by me]:

“The liberum veto (Latin for ‘the free veto’) was a parliamentary device in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It allowed any member of the Sejm (legislature) to force an immediate end to the current session and nullify any legislation that had already been passed at the session by shouting Nie pozwalam! (Polish: ‘I do not allow!’). From the mid-16th to the late 18th century, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth had the liberum veto, a form of unanimity voting rule, in its parliamentary deliberations….

“This rule evolved from the principle of unanimous consent, which derived from the traditions of decision making in the Kingdom of Poland, and developed under the federative character of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Each deputy to a Sejm was elected at a sejmik (the local sejm for a region) and represented the entire region. He thus assumed responsibility to his sejmik for all decisions taken at the Sejm. A decision taken by a majority against the will of a minority (even if only a single sejmik) was considered a violation of the principle of political equality.

in other words, there had to be consensus.

i might be wrong, but it seems to me that consensus building systems have something to do with the presence of different interest groups — in the case of tribal societies, different tribes — in the case of clannish societies, different clans. i think you might wind up with liberal democracy arising naturally only in places where these interest groups have been removed from the system — like in england where society was “atomized” into bunches of individuals and their nuclear families in the early medieval period.

let’s see — who else likes consensus? oh, yes — some north american native americans in canada, eh! probably have a history of mating endogamously. the sveeedes. late outbreeders. and, my personal favorite, one of those rabble-rousing scots-irishmen, john c. calhoun!:

“The ‘Disquisition on Government’ is a 100-page abstract treatise that comprises Calhoun’s definitive and fully elaborated ideas on government; he worked on it intermittently for six years before it was finished in 1849. It systematically presents his arguments that 1) a numerical majority in any government will typically impose a despotism over a minority unless some way is devised to secure the assent of all classes, sections, and interests and 2) that innate human depravity would debase government in a democracy.

“Calhoun offered the concurrent majority as the key to achieving consensus, a formula by which a minority interest had the option to nullify objectionable legislation passed by a majority interest.”

hmmmm. that “innate human depravity would debase government in a democracy.” how true.

previously: consanguinity and democracy and pathogens and consanguinity and democracy and “hard-won democracy”

(note: comments do not require an email. wild man, john c. calhoun.)

civicness in poland – redux

in two posts last year (here and here) i looked at the uncivicness of eastern europeans, civicness being determined by looking at data from the world values survey regarding membership in volunteer organizations. in those posts, i looked specifically at active members — people who are not just card-carrying members but who actually regularly participate in voluntary activities.

then i revisted this topic last week for poland and germany showing that there appears to be less civicness in poland than in germany and that civicness decreases as you move from west to east across germany to poland. (i’m planning to look at more countries in europe to see if there are any broader geographic patterns to civicness on that continent, so stay tuned!)

szopeno referred me to a very interesting research article — Civil Society Weakness in Post Communist Europe: A Preliminary Assessment [pdf] — in which the argument is made that some of the post-communist european countries are more civic than others. in other words, a population having experienced living under a totalitarian, stalinist regime is not the only explanation for subsequent uncivic behavior. the authors point out, for instance, that former soviet central asian countries are, for the most part, much less civic than anything you find in eastern europe. needless to say, they didn’t consider that central asian societies are generally first-cousin marrying, tribally-based populations whereas the majority of eastern europeans are not either of those, but that’s a discussion for a later date.

the interesting thing i came across in the article was a reference to the CBOS — Centrum Badania Opinii Społecznej or the Center for Public Opinion Research. the good folks at the centrum do lots of surveys of people in poland — some published in english. here’s one in polish that caught my eye: AKTYWNOŚĆ POLAKÓW W ORGANIZACJACH OBYWATELSKICH W LATACH 1998–2010 [pdf] — ACTIVITY OF THE POLES IN CIVIL ORGANIZATIONS IN 1998-2010. (^_^)

by using the data in table 1 on page 3 — and via the magic that is google translate — i’ve been able to compare this polish survey of volunteerism with the world values survey. i thought it would be a good way to check to see if the world values survey is right at all.

the world values survey i looked at in the previous post was conducted in 2005, so i compared it to the 2006 polish study (it was either that or 2004). both surveys looked at active members. i tried to match the categories as best i could, but there weren’t always perfect matches. here’s what i came up with in my comparison:

– WVS = 2005
* Polish survey = 2006

– Environmental organization = 1.6%
* Organizations for environmental protection = 1.8%

– Political party = 1.10%
* Parties or political associations = 0.7%

– Labor unions = 4.4%
* Trade unions = 3.9%

– Sports or recreation = 4.2%
* Organizations (associations, clubs and associations) sports = 3.5%

– Professional organization = 2.6%
* Associations and professional associations = 0.5%

– Church or religious organization = 12.9%
* Organizations, religious movements, church, parish communities = 3.4%

– Charity, humanitarian organization = 3.1%
* 5.6%
* Charities working for children in need = 3.5%
* Charitable organizations that work for people in need – old, poor, homeless, sick, disabled, victims of natural disasters, victims of wars, etc. = 2.1%

– Art, music, educational = 4.6%
* 7.6%
* Organizations for educational, such as committee parent, parent council, a foundation school, college, Social Educational Society, etc. = 4.8%
* Organizations, artistic associations, such as choir, orchestra, band dance, theater = 1.6%
* Scientific societies = 1.2%

– Other = 3.3%
* 24.7%
* Volunteer Fire Department, Mountain Volunteer Ambulance Jackets, etc. = 3.4%
* Associations, gardeners, farmers, fishermen, hunters = 2.5%
* Youth organizations such as scouts, youth clubs, Student unions and associations = 2.3%
* Organizations pensioners, senior citizens clubs = 1.8%
* Society for animal lovers, animal care = 1.6%
* Organizations supporting health care facilities = 1.5%
* Self-help organizations such as associations of persons with disabilities, single fathers, alcoholics, people with unemployed = 1.3%
* Local and district, residential areas, such as council people, House committees = 1.2%
* Veterans organizations, veterans, war victims = 1.2%
* Labour governments (councils) = 1.1%
* Committees are seeking a settlement of the case (eg parking lot), a group protest = 1.0%
* Local governments = 0.9%
* Organizations, tourism associations = 0.9%
* Other organizations, associations, movements, clubs or foundations = 0.9%
* Women’s organizations such as the wheel of the Rural = 0.8%
* Association of enthusiasts of the city, region, such as dealing with historic preservation, development of regional culture = 0.8%
* Associations, clubs, collectors, collectors, hobbyists = 0.7%
* Society for friendship with other countries, nations = 0.6%
* Provincial and district governments = 0.2%

the majority of the results of the comparable categories in the world value survey and the polish survey are within three percentage points of each other. that’s very close. one is quite off — interestingly, church/religious organizations — with a difference of 9.5%.

and then there is the “other” category.

there were lots of types of organizations that were asked about on the polish survey that weren’t touched upon at all on the world values survey, and i can imagine that many people just didn’t think to mention them as “other” when they were taking the world values survey. so, in the polish survey, there is an additional 21.4% of “yes” responses than on the world values survey.

that sounds like a lot — and it IS a lot — and it certainly raises poland quite a bit above the average scores from the arab world. however, poland still scores really low compared to anglo countries, for instance great britain.

if we add together all the percentages of the “yes” responses for poland from the world values survey, we get 37.8%. adding together all the percentages of “yes” responses for poland from the polish suvey, we get an improved 51.7%. but, if we add together all the percentages of “yes” responses for great britain from the world values survey, we get a whopping 143.5%. the two countries are just not in the same league.

so, i think that even if the world values surveys underestimate the true civic participation rates for some or all of the countries involved, they still offer a pretty accurate picture of how civic different populations are relatively speaking.

don’t get the wrong idea, though. lower civicness doesn’t necessarily mean that a population is overall less caring or less kind or less helpful. it’s just that, i think, their energies are directed differently. in the arab world, for instance, i’m sure that individuals are helping out and working with others plenty — it’s just that they help out and work with family members more so than strangers. and the latter is (mostly) what civic organizations are all about.

previously: civic societies and civic societies ii and “civicness” in germany and poland

(note: comments do not require an email. my other favorite polish thing. (^_^))

historic mating patterns in poland

in case you have noticed, one of the ongoing projects around here is to compile any and all evidence (good evidence) for the historic mating patterns (going back as far as possible) for … heh … EVERYbody on earth! (^_^) should only take, oh, the rest of my days here on the planet. (~_^)

tonight: poland.

below are some notes taken from Marriage Strategies in Poland: Social and Spatial Differences (16th-18th Centuries) [opens pdf]. first, a few summary points:

– during this time period (1500s-1700s), marriages in the upper classes in the city of gdańsk on the baltic coast were arranged and clan relationships were taken into consideration by those making the arrangements. a lot of these people would’ve been immigrants from germany.

– in the city of warsaw in central poland between 1740-1779, most marriages occurred in the local community. since this is a city, however, some amount of the individuals (or their families) were probably immigrants from the countryside. dunno how many. ca. 3% of marriages were mixed catholic-protestant.

– in the town of toruń in north-central poland, marriages from outside the town were rare as well as was migration into the town.

– between 1641 and 1800 in the small town of brzeżany, which today is located in the ukraine, marriages were very local and migration into the town was rare. most marriages were between members of the same faith (catholic or greek orthodox).

– the peasants of upper silesia, which is in the center of poland, were usually stuck in feudal relationships, so their marriages were “territorially endogamic” — so probably biologically endogamic as well — and in many areas of upper silesia they became even more so during the time period (1500s-1700s).

so, most marriages in the 1500s-1700s in poland were local, but the populations themselves in towns and rural areas would’ve been more local than in larger urban areas.

here are some exerpts from the article:

gdańsk – city
“As Maria Bogucka points out, a marriage was in most cases the result of negotiations carried out by the relatives and friends rather than the most interested parties. The selection of the partner was based on the following principles: an equal social position, economic benefits and the advantages resulting from uniting the families. Beauty, individual preferences or feelings did not play an important role. It was not only economic matters, but also familial bonds, sentiments of the members of the older generation as well as the political and economic competition among clans that influenced the decision about a marriage, even if it was against the feelings of the prospective partners. Only among the poorest members of the society could one choose a partner more freely and often according to individual feelings.”

warsaw – city – 1740-1779
“Mixed marriages entered into in the parish of St. Cross were more frequent in the seventeen forties and fifties (3.0-3.1% of all marriages), with a decreasing tendency in the following decades…. [I]n the last fifteen years of the 18th century over 80% of the bridegrooms lived (were born?) in the parish of the future bride. It means that the marriages were made up within the local community.”

toruń – town
“Low mobility constitutes a very characteristic feature of the analysed population of Toruń. Marriages with either of the spouses coming from outside the town were rare. Migration from the country was also very small. With time, it resulted in an increase in the number of marriages between distant relatives. It could be the cause of genetic impoverishment of successive generations and in consequence a significantly lower resistance to diseases.”

brzeżany in the red russia province – very small town – 1641 – 1800
“The bride and bridegroom mostly came from the territory of the Roman Catholic parish of Brzeżany, some of them from an unknown location, and the rest from very distant places. According to the available public marriage registers (both Roman and Greek Catholic) 67.8% of men and 74.2% of women came from the Brzeżany parish, 20.2% of men and 21.5% of women from an unknown location, and 12% of men and 4.3% of women from outside the parish.

“The bride and the bridegroom usually came from the same place, where they also lived after the wedding, i.e. those living in a town also came from that town, those from a suburb lived in the same suburb, and of course those from a certain village lived in that village. Newcomers from other places were a minority. The migration from the country to the town in the analysed parish was very small.

“Marriage was generally contracted by people of the same religious persuasion. Of all the marriages between 1641 and 1800 that took place in the parish church, 96.3% were contracted by Roman Catholics, 3.5% by Greek Catholic men and Roman Catholic women, and 0.2% by Roman Catholic men and Greek Catholic women. In Greek Catholic parish marriage registers 99.9% of marriages were contracted by members of the Greek Catholic Church.”

upper silesia – peasants
“Marriage played a key role in the process of creation and functioning of peasant households. For the marriage of feudally dependent country folk a permission of the feudal landlord was required. The lack of such permission could result in a fine for the bride and the bridegroom along with the priest who celebrated the wedding….”

“In Silesia, if a marriage resulted in leaving the village and an extinction of the feudal relationship, a special contribution had to be paid to the landowner….

In parishes included in the studies almost all marriages could be described as territorially endogamic. Since the end of the 17th century we can observe a slight decrease in the number of marriages between partners form different parishes. For example, in Krapkowice parish at the end of the 17th century almost one third of men and one fifth of women came from outside the parish. But in the first half of the 18th century the number dropped to 19% and 10%, whereas in the second half to 25% and 13% respectively. In Krzanowo parish 43% were couples coming from the parish, 36% from the neighbouring territories, and one fifth from more distant places. In Ziemięciny at the turn of the 17th century over 80% of the newly married couples came from the parish, but at the end of the 18th century only about 60%.”
_____

if we go back to my previous post on poland for a sec, since we now know that polish peasants of this time period were generally marrying very endogamously, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that:

“[W]e find Galeski referring to the ‘strong ties of kinship among the families which make up the community.’ This is reinforced by the frequent intra-village marriages and results in the fact that ‘there are usually only a few family names in the village community. The village consists of several interrelated large families (or clans). For this reason, a village is sometimes defined as a family neighbour group….’

late medieval/early modern polish rural society, then, was clannish.

keep in mind that, according to roman catholic canon law during this time period, individuals closer than third cousins should not have been allowed to marry. who knows what enforcement was like, though. i think the same or a similar rule probably applied in the greek orthodox church at the time, but i don’t know for sure — there was probably some sort of ban on cousin marriage in any case. the german protestants in gdańsk? not sure. many protestant churches okay-ed cousin marriage after the reformation, but some did not. don’t know what the protestant churches in northern poland thought about cousin marriage at this time. further research is required. (~_^)
_____

szopeno, who has shared a lot of great info about marriage and the family in historic poland over the last couple of days (thanks, szopeno!), suggests two things that might’ve served to decrease inbreeding in poland during this time period: wars and zbiegostwo.

wrt wars, szopeno means that soldiers passing through regions would’ve left some of their genes behind in the population. absolutely! and, unfortunately, there certainly weren’t a shortage of wars in poland during these centuries. the only thing about wars, though, is that — not surprisingly — they tend to make people close ranks. for example, inbreeding (close cousin marriages) in italy increased following both world wars, so it’s hard to know what the total effects of a war(s) on a gene pool might be.

zbiegostwo refers to the practice of polish pesants voting againt cr*ppy feudal conditions with their feet, i.e. literally fleeing whatever situation they found themselves in. here’s a google translation from the encyklopedia wiem entry for zbiegostwo chłopów (“peasant flight” [maybe]):

“From the fifteenth century took on a mass scale, reaching the largest scale in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the continual growth in size of serfdom and limiting personal freedom of the peasants.”

where did these people go? did they wind up in other (hopefully better) feudal positions? they don’t seem to appear much in the marriage records of toruń or brzeżany or upper silesia (see above). maybe they wound up in big cities like warsaw. then the question is, how successful at mating and leaving progeny behind were the lower classes in late medieval/early modern urban center in poland? presumably not very, but i really don’t know. open question.

SOME of them are believed to have joined up with the cossacks! now there’s an alternative lifestyle for you. (~_^) no idea how many fleeing peasants wound up doing that.

dobranoc!

previously: traditional family systems in medieval and modern poland

(note: comments do not require an email. my favorite polish thing! great. now i’m hungry.)

“civicness” in germany and poland

in a post last year, i showed that eastern europeans score very low on “civicness” — i.e. membership in voluntary organizations — at least according to data from the world values survey, 2005-2008. out of the slavic nations, poland (and moldova) scored above the eastern european average, but still well below anglos:

szopeno suggests that this low civic spirit is related to the after effects of living under totalitarian communist regimes:

“In Poland, most of lawyers, doctors, enterpreneurs were executed by nazis, and the rest was killed/deported by soviets. In USSR for generations all those, who were individualistic were executed, escaped to the west etc…. Most never returned…. You have a generations of living in system, were everyone could be your enemy, when you couldn’t talk freely with strangers, when state was your enemy. This had profound effects on psychology….”

i think the first part there — a nation losing its best and brightest — will definitely have a negative effect on society, possibly for quite a few generations. but i don’t really buy that there would be long-lasting effects on a nation’s psyche (unless there are some sorts of epigenetic effects of living in stressful circumstances 24/7 for decades?). i think there’s something deeper going on wrt “civicness.” i have a hard time believing that it’s just a coincidence that regions as diverse as the arab world and eastern europe and spain and italy — all places with a long history of you-know-what — have low scores on civicness. i think there’s something biological going on.

szopeno also suggested that “civicness” might be different in eastern germany than in western since the population in the east was under a totalitarian regime for so long. so, i’ve taken a closer look at “civicness” in west and east germany and in poland.

what i’ve done is taken an average of the percentages replying “belong” (as opposed to “not mentioned”) for the following questions from the world values survey, 1999:

Please look carefully at the following list of voluntary organisations and activities and say…which, if any, do you belong to?

– Social welfare services for elderly, handicapped or deprived people
– Religious or church organisations
– Education, arts, music or cultural activities
– Labor unions
– Political parties or groups
– Local community action on issues like poverty, employment, housing, racial equality
– Third world development or human rights
– Conservation, environment, animal rights groups
– Professional associations
– Youth work (e.g. scouts, guides, youth clubs etc.)
– Sports or recreation
– Women’s groups
– Peace movement
– Voluntary organisations concerned with health
– Other

i’ve used the ’99 survey because it breaks down the responses by region, whereas the later surveys unfortunately do not. for germany and poland, the data are broken down by the sixteen german länder and the sixteen polish voivodeships. the questions are slightly different from the 2005-2008 wave, but some of them are the same. in my previous post, though, i considered “active” members; the 1999 wave options were basically just member or not member.

note that some of the sample sizes for some of the regions are rather small. i should’ve cleaned those out, but didn’t have (make!) the time right now, so consider this post a rough draft!

i’ve plotted the averages against the longitudes of each region (acquired from wikipedia’s geohack) with the idea that both outbreeding and the presence of medieval manorialism (which helped to break down clans and tribes in europe) have a longer history in western europe than in the east, and due to the spread of these practices from west to east across northern europe, i’d expect to find more “civicness” in western europe than in the east, perhaps moving along some sort of gradient from west to east. indeed, i found a negative correlation of 0.76 (-0.76) between membership in a voluntary organization (“civicness”) and longitude (west to east). here is a nifty chart of that (click on image for LARGER version) — the blue squares indicate german länder, the red squares indicate german länder that used to be a part of east germany, and the pink squares indicate polish voivodeships:

so, at least across germany-poland, there is a general west-to-east decrease in civicness.

however, when i checked for correlations between civicness and longitude within each of the countries, while i found a negative 0.66 (-0.66) correlation in germany, there was only a negative 0.39 (-0.39) correlation in poland. so, uncivicness seems to be present across the board in poland, but runs from west-to-east in germany.

hmmmm. those results — less civicness in east germany and across the board in poland — could back up szopeno’s idea of communism’s lingering effects on civic attitudes. maybe he’s right! otoh, manorialism and outbreeding reached eastern germany and poland comparatively late (late medieval period at the earliest for poland) and poland sits astride the hajnal line, so maybe i’m right! (^_^)

never fear! i’ll be looking more at mating patterns and family types in poland (and eastern europe) — and there are other sources on “civicness” in poland to be looked at — so stay tuned!

btw, that blue dot with the 1% (0.93%) average responding that they were members of some sort of voluntary organization? that’s hamburg. the number of samples was on the low side for hamburg, but if the survey results are at all correct, the only “odd” thing i can think of regarding the city is that it is a rather vibrant one. i suspect it might be the low numbers, though. the highest scorer — pretty much as far to the west as you can get in germany — was saarland with nearly one in ten saying that they belonged to some sort of voluntary organization.

and, oh. i also checked for any correlation between “civicness” and latitude. didn’t find anything in germany (-0.39) — but i got an almost perfect uncorrelation for poland (-0.01)! never saw such an uncorrelation before. cool! (^_^)

previously: civic societies and civic societies ii

(note: comments do not require an email. or a membersip in a voluntary organization.)

traditional family systems in medieval and modern poland

*update below*

i had a post up a few months ago about mating patterns in medieval eastern europe which i said at the time was just a preliminary view on that whole region of the world since eastern europe is a pretty big place and i want to look at the mating/family patterns for that whole region from at least the early medieval period up until today (*whew! – hbd chick wipes brow*). here goes another post on part of the region — poland — which, again, should just be viewed as an initial peek at what’s been going on mating-wise in that part of the world over the past several hundreds of years.

szopeno left a comment on the previous post the other day saying that the zadruga, which i had mentioned in the post, is/was mostly just a southern slav thing and not a western slavic institution.

sho’nuff, according to wikipedia, a zadruga is/was:

“[A] type of rural community historically common among South Slavs….

Originally, generally formed of one family or a clan of related families, the zadruga held its property, herds and money in common, with usually the oldest (patriarch) member ruling and making decisions for the family, though at times he would delegate this right at an old age to one of his sons….

The zadruga eventually went into decline beginning in the late 19th century, as the largest started to become unmanageable and broke into smaller zadrugas or formed villages. However, the zadruga system continues to color life in the Balkans; the typically intense concern for family found among South Slavs even today is partly due to centuries of living in the zadruga system. Many modern-day villages in the Balkans have their roots in a zadruga, a large number of them carrying the name of the one that founded them.

Villages and neighbourhoods that originated from zadrugas can often be recognized by the patronymic suffixes, such as -ivci, -evci, -ovci, -inci, -ci, -ane, -ene, etc., on their names.”

so that’s the southern slavs. what about the western ones? – in particular the poles?

in The Explanation of Ideology, emmanuel todd says that the traditional family system in poland was the egalitarian nuclear family (see map here) which is also found in parts of france and spain and southern italy. the characteristics of his egalitarian nuclear family include:

– no cohabitation of married children with their parents
– equality of brothers laid down by inheritance rules
– no marriage between the children of brothers

todd’s sources for poland, however, number only four. two of them are a census and a survey both from the 1970s. while those are interesting, they don’t tell us much about the (evolutionary) history of polish family- or mating-types. the third source [in french] relates to the 1700s, again fairly “recent,” especially given that todd claims to be talking about traditional family systems dating from 1500 to 1800 — i already discovered that he had some very late data for ireland — now it looks like todd’s kinda fudged the data for poland, too. anyway…

his final source is a book entitled Poland, Its People, Its Society, Its Culture [pg. 348]:

“The Polish family is characterized by marked internal strain and attenuation of family ties which are the final product of a long process of disintegration. Before Poland’s partition in the late eighteenth century the family was given cohesion by an ideal of family solidaritary extending to a large number of relatives by blood and marriage. The ideal, which is still held by all strata of the population [this was published in 1958 – h. chick], stressed the feeling of belonging to the family group, the integration of activities of family members to obtain common objectives, the utilization of family resources for needy members, and the maintenance of continuity between the parental family and new family units. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, family ties had become so attenuated that the ideal was rarely attained except by upper-class and intelligensia families. The nuclear family of husband, wife, and children, rather than the extended family (which includes many other relatives), became the norm among all social groups.”

so the nuclear family is relatively new in poland — the first partition of poland was in 1772, so 1770s until 2010s that’s ca. twelve conservative generations (a generation equalling twenty years).

in the medieval period in poland, community families were the thing. from East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500, Volume 3 [pg. 85]:

“A common residential pattern in the villages of medieval East Central Europe was an extended family of some kind. Nuclear families were not unknown, but the larger kinship group offered greater economic security in an uncertain environment, since its members could help one another. In Poland the so-called large family typically included three generations of men with their wives and children. The entire family worked the land together under the direction of the father or grandfather, and constituted the basic unit of social life.”

i don’t know if that qualifies as a zadruga, but the poles were definitely living in communal family arrangements in the middle ages.

here’s more from alan macfarlane [pgs. 18, 24-25, 31-32]:

“The central feature of traditional East European peasantry was that ownership was not individualized. It was not the single individual who exclusively owned the productive resources, but rather the household…. Galeski writes about the Polish family farm that ‘the children are both the heirs of, and workers on, the farm. As heirs they are also co-owners.’ ‘The farm is handed down from generation to generation, while the family — the successive usufructuries — carries a responsibility to its own children (and to village opinion) for the property in its charge….’

“[O]n the whole peasant societies are geographically relatively immobile. In the context of Poland, for example, this is taken for granted, our authors only alluding to it in asides. Thomas and Znaniecki suggest that one reason for the absence of romantic love is that it is psychologically impossible because ‘in most cases … all the possible partners are known from childhood.’ Galeski refers to the ‘marked spatial stability’ of the inhabitants of villages, stating that it is ‘a characteristic of the village community that the persons living in it are connected primarily by social, but also by territorial origin. They were usually born in the village or in a neighbouring village….’ The idea that people should spend their lives in half a dozen villages, or move from village to town and then back to the village is largely absent. Most of those who live in a community pass through all the major phases of their life in one area among a group of people they know from cradle to grave. Many of those around them are neighbours, but many are also kin, for one consequence of limited geographical immobility and an association between land and family is that territories fill up with kin….

[W]e find Galeski referring to the ‘strong ties of kinship among the families which make up the community.’ This is reinforced by the frequent intra-village marriages and results in the fact that ‘there are usually only a few family names in the village community. The village consists of several interrelated large families (or clans). For this reason, a village is sometimes defined as a family neighbour group….’

“Shanin [who was writing about russian peasants – h. chick] observes that ‘the village community operates to a great extent as an autonomous society….’ This author speaks in many places of this community-based society, of the hostility to ousiders, the satisfaction of all wants within the community, and other features. The same phenomenon is noted by Galeski for Poland, where he argues that the local community acts as the central economic, ritual, cultural and social control unit: the ‘village community is a primary group. Relationships among the inhabitants are based on personal contacts.’ The result of this is that a peasant society is made up of a host of largely identical, but mutually antagonistic and bounded territorial groups…. Although it is clear that peasant societies will vary in strength of community boundaries, it appears to be generally true that such nations could be called ‘particularist’ rather than ‘universalist.‘”

so, from around 1000 to 1500, poles were mostly living in community family groups. i’m not sure what happened after 1500, but it sounds as though extended families and strong family ties lasted well up and probably into the 1800s.

what i don’t know is what the mating patterns of poles were historically. did they marry cousins? the russians did from time to time, but hey — that’s the russians. the poles became roman catholics in 966, so they ought to have followed all the church’s bans on cousin marriages. but being catholic and marrying cousins never bothered the irish much and, of course, dispensations have often been available (southern italians have very frequently married their cousins up until quite recently). from galeski we learn that, at the very least, marriage was pretty endogamous amongst polish peasants. sounds like the poles are more like the greeks than the english or the medieval rural northern italians.

macfarlane quotes galeski as saying:

“Relationships among the inhabitants are based on personal contacts.”

well, not just personal contacts but genetic relatedness. most of a polish peasant’s relationship were with immediate family, extended family, or distant family. as macfarlane said, territories pretty quickly fill up with kin.

update 04/18: i don’t have access to this dissertation, but it looks like a good deal of medieval poles paid little heed to the church’s regulations on marriage. not surprising. several other medieval (and modern!) european societies did the same (egs. the italians, the irish).

previously: mating patterns in medieval eastern europe

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