Archives for posts with tag: scandinavians

oooooooohhhhhhhh! from Reimagining Europe: Kievan Rus’ in the Medieval World, 988-1146 [pgs. 58-60]:

“The medieval period pre-1215 was an especially interesting time in the history of consanguinity legislation because during this era the church stretched consanguinity to seven degrees, an increase from the four that was common in the late Roman world, and the degrees were calculated in a new manner. Instead of siblings being related in two degrees, as was held previously, the new method of calculation made siblings related in the first degree. This may at first appear to be a small change, but in fact it was enormous. The original method, and the one returned to after the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, was to count connections between people; thus, for siblings, one degree up to the shared parent, and one degree down to the sibling, for a total of two degrees. For first cousins, a more likely target for marriage than siblngs, it was one degree up to your parent, another degree up to your grandparent, a degree down to your uncle/aunt, and a degree down to your cousins, resulting in a relationship of four degrees.

“The new method of calculating consanguinity was based on degrees to a common ancestor, which resulted in a one-degree relationship for siblings (a common ancestor is one generation back) and two degrees for a cousin (a common ancestor is two generations back). When this concept was applied to seven generations of ancestors, it expanded the pool of consanguineous relations to anyone with whom one shared a great-great-great-great-great-grandparent….

“The Orthodox Church, like the church in Rome, also maintained a policy against consanguineous marriages. Marriages were also forbidden in the seventh degree, but the Orthodox Church never changed its method of calculating degrees, which created a much smaller pool of consanguineous relations.”

oooooooohhhhhhhh! why didn’t they say so in the first place?! =P

so, what this means is, all those cousin marriage regulations out to the “seventh degree” which we hear about from eastern europe (re. orthodox populations)…they’re just referring to SECOND cousins, not SIXTH the way that western european experienced it for a couple hundred years in the medieval period (from about 1000 to 1215). that’s not to say that most medieval western europeans somehow managed to obey the bans out to sixth cousins, but just that there’s apparently never been the same extreme push against close kin marriage in eastern europe. interesting.

from “Marriage Causes in Late Medieval Sweden: The Evidence of Bishop Hans Brask’s Register (1522-27)” in Regional Variations in Matrimonial Law and Custom in Europe, 1150-1600 [pg. 240], on consanguineous marriage in sweden in the sixteenth century:

“Considering the number and type of cases, the Swedish may have been somewhere in between the ‘incestuous’ late-medieval Netherlands, discussed by Vleeschouwers-Van Melkebeek, the carefree Poles described by Brozyna and the English and Parisians who, according to the of Helmholz and Donaghue, had internalized the rules of incest better and did avoid matrimony with relatives. Perhaps ordinary Swedish peasants in the see of Linköping had easier access to dispensations. Possibly the control of the impediment of consanguinity before the voluntary ecclesiastical solemnization also managed to unearth the ties of kinship between fiances. Moreover, the children’s later loss of inheritance rights may have been a risk some couples were unwilling to take if they were discovered to have known about the impediement prior to their marriage. Swedish synodal statues stressed that children born to couples whose marriage was later discovered to be incestuous would only be considered legitimate if their parents had solemnized *in facie ecclesiae* and the banns had been read without opposition.”

most of this picture fits what i’ve been saying: that (some of) the french and english were the earliest adopters of outbreeding in europe (i posted about donahue’s studies here), the scandinavians came to the party a bit later, and eastern europeans (the example in the excerpt above, the poles) much later. i don’t know who these “‘incestuous’ late-medieval” netherlanders were — i’ve been under the impression that the dutch (minus the frisians) are some of the long-term outbreeders along with the french and english. the source for this is: “Incestuous Marriages: Formal Rules and Social Practice in the Southern Burgundian Netherlands” by monique vleeschouwers-van melkebeek in Love, Marriage, and Family Ties in the Later Middle Ages, which is not available on google books at the moment. (dr*t!) what’s not clear to me is whether vleeschouwers-van melkebeek looked at netherlanders in general or just the aristocracy (which these studies often do). i shall have to find out!

from The Jews of Eastern Europe, 1772-1881 [pg. 48]:

The spread of Hasidim stopped only when it reached the invisible border that separated German Jewry from Eastern European Jewry — the boundary between the western central part of the Ashkenazi diaspora and its eastern part. With the exception of one quasi-Hasidic community established in Frankfurt, the Hasidic *tzaddikim* did not succeed in gaining a foothold in Germany as the movement spread.”

previously: historic mating patterns of ashkenazi jews

from Jews Against Zionism: The American Council for Judaism, 1942-1948 [pg. 23]:

“Antagonism between the established, well-to-do German Jews and the new, working-class East European immigrants was unavoidable. To the East Europeans, the German Jews, whom they called *Yahudim*, were not authentic Jews; their Reform Judaism was a sham. They seemed to lack a feeling of closeness to fellow Jews. The native German Jews, on the other hand, frightened by the ‘Russian invasion,’ tended to regard the new immigrants as primitive, ‘medieval,’ clannish, Asiatic, unrefined, and radical. German Jews even coined the word *kikes* for the Eastern Europeans.”

from The Jews of Chicago: From Shtetl to Suburb [pgs. 95-96]:

“The German Jews…embarked on an extensive program of financing and running a number of educational, health, and social-service institutions, mostly in the Maxwell Street areas. These proved very helpful to the poorer Eastern European immigrants. Socially, the German Jews kept apart from the newer immigrants, living separately and maintaining their own clubs, synagogues, fraternal organizations, and community centers, at which the Eastern European Jews were not welcomed. Later, as the Eastern European Jews progressed, they built a parallel set of their own institutions, such as a hospital, old peoples’ homes, charities, and orphanages. Although the distinction between the two groups was gradually blurred, for decades the social distance between the groups remained great. The German Jews, for example,

“‘did not wish to have these Jews to close to them. These Russians were all right — of that they were quite certain — but, like the southern Negro, they had to keep their place. All sorts of philanthropic enterprises were undertaken in their behalf, but in the management of these enterprises the beneficiaries were given no voice. Charity balls by the debutantes of the German-Jewish elite in behalf of the wretched West Side Jews were held at the splendid clubs of the German Jews, which by this time had increased to four, and charitably inclined young Jewish men and ladies-bountiful spent their leisure hours in alleviating the hardships of the Jewish slum dwellers.

‘But the Russians did not take altogether willingly to the American ways of dispensing *zdoko* (charity). They were accustomed to assisting one another in the Old Country in much more informal style. The Jewish communities they had known in Russia were self-sufficient large families. These German Jews of the ‘societies’ asked all sorts of embarassing questions before they dispensed their financial and other aid. They made investigations and kept records. Most of all, they did not understand — they did not know — their own people; in fact, they were only halfway Jews; they did not even understand *mama loshon* (the mother-tongue), or Yiddish.'”

(note: comments do not require an email. judische auswanderer.)


Ancient Jomon people not like present-day East Asians“‘We found a unique genetic position of the Jomon people who had diverged before the diversification of most of present-day East Eurasian populations including East Eurasian Islanders. This indicates that Jomon people were a basal population in East Eurasia and genetically isolated from other East Eurasians for long time.'” – h/t charles!

Uncovering the Genetic History of the Present-Day Greenlandic Population“[W]e analyzed ∼200,000 SNPs from more than 10% of the adult Greenlandic population (n = 4,674). We found that recent gene flow from Europe has had a substantial impact on the population: more than 80% of the Greenlanders have some European ancestry (on average ∼25% of their genome). However, we also found that the amount of recent European gene flow varies across Greenland and is far smaller in the more historically isolated areas in the north and east and in the small villages in the south. Furthermore, we found that there is substantial population structure in the Inuit genetic component of the Greenlanders and that individuals from the east, west, and north can be distinguished from each other. Moreover, the genetic differences in the Inuit ancestry are consistent with a single colonization wave of the island from north to west to south to east. Although it has been speculated that there has been historical admixture between the Norse Vikings who lived in Greenland for a limited period ∼600–1,000 years ago and the Inuit, we found no evidence supporting this hypothesis. Similarly, we found no evidence supporting a previously hypothesized admixture event between the Inuit in East Greenland and the Dorset people, who lived in Greenland before the Inuit.” – h/t razib!

Y chromosome super-fathers“Most of these lineages are so young that there are good chances that their founders were figures from history or mythology.” – from dienekes.

Bone Tool Discovered at Neanderthal Site in France“A bone tool from the Grotte du Bison at Arcy-sur-Cure in France is further evidence that Neanderthals had abilities usually attributed solely to modern humans….”

Early age of alcohol initiation is not the cause of alcohol use disorders in adulthood, but is a major indicator of genetic risk. A population-based twin study.“The association between early age of alcohol initiation and alcohol use disorders in later life does not reflect a causal relationship, but is due almost entirely to common genetic risk factors.”

α-Actinin-3: Why Gene Loss Is an Evolutionary Gain – h/t billare! who tweeted: “Positive selection for broken proteins: Derived ACTN3 mutation seems to help fast-twitch muscles fatigue less slowly.”

Do viruses make us smarter?“[R]etroviruses seem to play a central role in the basic functions of the brain, more specifically in the regulation of which genes are to be expressed, and when.”

Estimating the genotypic intelligence of populations and assessing the impact of socioeconomic factors and migrations – from davide piffer who tweeted: “New version of my paper with genetic distances. Migrations or drift less likely to explain results.” also, from the paper: “The results also provide preliminary evidence in favor of the hypothesis that poor environmental conditions (i.e. economic and sociocultural) tend to depress national IQ scores. Countries with lower per capita GDP and a lower index of Human Development tended to have larger positive ‘residuals’, that is the difference between the score predicted by the regression (of IQs for developed countries on the 4 SNPs g factor) and the actually measured IQ was larger in countries with lower GDP and HDI (r around 0.7). Thus, poorer and less developed countries have yet to reach their full intellectual potential. The results of this study indicate that the gaps in intellectual performance between some populations can be narrowed via adequate improvement of environmental conditions, however the overall pattern of intellectual scores is due to relatively stable and fixed (genetic) factors and cannot be substantially altered.” – see also terrific post from anatoly karlin on this paper!: Genetics, IQ, and Convergence.

Evidence of polygenic selection on human stature inferred from spatial distribution of allele frequencies – also from davide piffer.

Geographical Variation in Dementia: Examining the Role of Environmental Factors in Sweden and Scotland“We found a 2- to 3-fold geographical variation in dementia odds in Sweden, after twin random effects — likely to capture genetic and shared environmental variance — were removed. In Scotland, we found no variation in dementia odds in childhood but substantial variation, following a broadly similar pattern to Sweden, by adulthood. Conclusion: There is geographical variation in dementia rates.” – h/t erwin schmidt! – also Genetics and Underlying Pathology of Dementia.

Archaeogenomic insights into the adaptation of plants to the human environment: pushing plant–hominin co-evolution back to the Pliocene“The colonization of the human environment by plants, and the consequent evolution of domesticated forms is increasingly being viewed as a co-evolutionary plant–human process that occurred over a long time period, with evidence for the co-evolutionary relationship between plants and humans reaching ever deeper into the hominin past. This developing view is characterized by a change in emphasis on the drivers of evolution in the case of plants. Rather than individual species being passive recipients of artificial selection pressures and ultimately becoming domesticates, entire plant communities adapted to the human environment.” – h/t george perry!

Son of Edar“[S]omebody should look for characteristic racial differences in tears, sebaceous glands, Meobomian glands, and salivary glands. And possibly fingernails. They may well exist, be driven by this EDAR mutation, and some might play a role in its selective advantage.” – from greg cochran.

Quality vs Quantity“To the extent that human capital is a product of genetic factors (quite a lot), this tradeoff *does not exist*.” – also from greg cochran.

Lower mortality rates among Asian, Hispanic lupus patients“Asian and Hispanic patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have lower mortality rates compared to Black, White, or Native Americans with the disease, scientists have found. Findings indicate that the risk for death among White patients is much lower than in Black and Native American SLE patients.”

Genetic errors linked to more ALS cases than scientists had thought – h/t jayman!

Is your face special?“Face recognition is highly heritable and weakly related to *g* so it probably has its own module, or a favoured set of circuits which only partly taps into the central processor power of general intelligence. So, not only is your face is special. but your specialised ability to recognise faces is even more special.” – from dr. james thompson.

Are flu shots effective? Your genetics determine how the immune system responds

Environment, more than genetics, shapes immune system“Everyone’s immune system is slightly different—a unique mixture of hundreds of these cells and proteins. But the main driver of this variation is unclear. Although scientists know that our immune system can adapt to our environment—that’s why vaccines work, for instance—it is also built by our genes…. After recruiting 210 identical and fraternal twins between 8 and 82 years old, Davis and colleagues took blood samples and measured more than 200 parameters of their immune systems. For example, they measured the numbers of 95 kinds of immune cells and 51 kinds of proteins. Today, the researchers report online in Cell that identical twins’ immune systems were too different for the variation to boil down to genetics. Indeed, environment overshadowed inheritance in three-quarters of the measurements, and half showed no measurable genetic influence. Moreover, younger twins were more similar than were older twins, evidence that as the twins aged and were exposed to different environments, their immune systems diverged over time.”

Levels of Selection Are Artefacts of Different Fitness Temporal Measures“I show by comparing the fitness of individuals with that of collectives of individuals in the same environment and over the same period of time – as required to decide if one or more levels of selection is acting in a population – that the selection of collectives is a by-product of selection at the individual level; thus, talking about two or more levels of selection represents merely a different perspective on one and the same process.”

Does incidental disgust amplify moral judgment? A meta-analytic review of experimental evidence [pdf] – “We meta-analyzed all available studies, published and unpublished, that experimentally manipulated incidental disgust prior to or concurrent with a moral judgment task (k=50). We found that there is evidence for a small amplification effect of disgust (d=.11), which is strongest for gustatory/olfactory modes of disgust induction. However, there is also some suggestion of publication bias in this literature, and when this is accounted for, the effect disappears entirely (d=-.01). Moreover, prevalent confounds mean that the effect size that we estimate is best interpreted as an upper bound on the size of the amplification effect. The results of this meta-analysis argue against strong claims about the causal role of affect in moral judgment and suggest a need for new, more rigorous research on this topic.” – h/t stuart ritchie!

The DNA photofit: Amazing breakthrough means police can tell suspect’s colour, height and even age – from a tiny speck of blood – daily mail.

The Coming Stability? The Decline of Warfare in Africa and Implications for International Security“The years 2010–2013 saw an increase of 35 per cent in African battle deaths over 2005–2010, but they still are 87 per cent lower than the 1990–1999 average…. Consequently, there is no Africa exception to the systemic shift towards lower levels of armed conflict.” – h/t mugwump!

The Scariest Explanation for America’s Vast Prison Population: We Want It That Way“[I]n federal prisons at least, Hispanics have overtaken blacks in the dubious distinction of being the most disproportionately imprisoned. Nor can we blame the war on drugs. The idea that vast numbers of Americans are in prison for smoking pot or snorting blow turns out to be a fantasy. About 20 percent of inmates are in for drug-related crimes, but those crimes are rarely limited to their own casual use. According to a 2004 estimate, only about 12,000 people were incarcerated for simple possession, without intent to traffic or distribute.”

Sorry, liberals, Scandinavian countries aren’t utopias“Finland, which tops the charts in many surveys (they’re the least corrupt people on Earth, its per-capita income is the highest in Western Europe and Helsinki often tops polls of the best cities), is also a leader in categories like alcoholism, murder (highest rate in Western Europe), suicide and antidepressant usage….” – [huh. even with all that tango dancing!] – “It turns out that the ‘warrior gene’ — actually the enzyme monoamine oxidase A, which is linked to impulsive behavior, violence and alcoholism — is especially prevalent in Finland. ‘Dark’ doesn’t just describe winter in the Arctic suburbs, it applies to the Finnish character.” – h/t ninja economics!

The relationship between anti-gay prejudice and the categorization of sexual orientation“[I]ndividuals reporting higher levels of anti-gay bias appear to be less accurate judges of sexual orientation.” but “Italians reporting greater anti-gay bias miscategorized fewer gay faces as straight.” – h/t ben southwood!

Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Couples and Family Formation“It has long been debated how legalizing same-sex marriage would affect (different-sex) family formation. In this article, I use data on OECD member countries for the period 1980–2009 to examine the effects of the legal recognition of same-sex couples (through marriage or an alternative institution) on different-sex marriage, divorce, and extramarital births. Estimates from difference-in-difference models indicate that the introduction of same-sex marriage or of alternative institutions has no negative effects on family formation…. In addition, the country-by-country case studies provide evidence of homogeneity of the estimated effects.”

Pair-Bonding, Romantic Love, and Evolution – The Curious Case of Homo sapiens“We conclude there is interdisciplinary support for the claim that romantic love and pair-bonding, along with alloparenting, played critical roles in the evolution of Homo sapiens.”

Sex ratio effects on reproductive strategies in humans – among the makushi people of guyana.

Antiquity of dairy farming in Ireland revealed“Research published today in the Journal of Environmental Archaeology shows that dairying on the island goes back approximately 6,000 years, revealed through traces of ancient dairy fats found in pots dating to around 4,000 to 2,500 BC.” – h/t frau katze!

The origin and evolution of maize in the American Southwest

A Breeder Apart: Farmers Say Goodbye to the Bull Who Sired 500,000 Offspring“Fans Commemorate ‘Toystory,’ a Dairy Legend With a Ravenous Libido” – the genghis khan of bulls! h/t mr. robert ford!

Items lost in the Stone Age are found in melting glaciers“Mittens, shoes, weapons, walking sticks – lost in the high mountains of Norway thousands of years ago – are now emerging from melting ice.”

bonus: ‘I can haz genomes’: cats claw their way into genetics“Canine dominance bows to tabby chic as cat sequencing takes off.”

bonus bonus: Some Microbes Can Eat And Breathe Electricity – whoa.

bonus bonus bonus: Britain’s oldest person Ethel Lang dies aged 114“Ethel Lang was believed to be the last person living in the UK who was born in the reign of Queen Victoria.” – h/t ed west!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Two New Studies Posit At Least Two New Planets Out Beyond Pluto

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Whaleworld: Looking for cetacean culture – h/t steve stewart williams! who tweeted: “Millions of years before human culture appeared, there was culture in the ocean.” – cool!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Medieval Apps.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Archaeologists find 132-year-old Winchester rifle leaning against Nevada desert tree

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Irn Bru release 57 Scottish tartan labels and clan finder website promotion (~_^)

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: “At some German crossings you can play a game of Pong with the person standing at the other side.” (^_^)

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: If birds in a truck fly, does the truck get lighter? – hey…don’t bogart that joint, new scientist!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Publish a Novel About Sherlock Holmes’s Brother Mycroft – danced a few dances with kareem! (^_^) (not a euphemism. for anything!)

(note: comments do not require an email. i can haz genomz?)

at the beginning of this year i said that, since there are so many scandinavian readers of the blog (skål!), i would post about the historic mating patterns of scandinavians/nordic folks … aaaaaaand now it’s december and it never happened. (*^_^*) (did i mention that i come from a population that doesn’t have terrific future time orientation? as han solo said: “it’s not my fault!” (~_^) ) sorry!

i did have good intentions! i swear! back in april i picked up this article: “Norwegians and Europe: The Theme of Marriage and Consanguinity in Early Norwegian Law” from Scandinavia and Europe 800-1350: Contact, Conflict, and Coexistence. so now, in order to assuage my guilt, and so that i might sleep well at night once again, i am finally going to take a look at that article! (^_^)

there were four legal areas in medieval norway (indicated on map below) — the borgartingslag (B), the eidsivatingslag (E), the frostatingslag (F), and the gulatingslag (G):


each of these regions had its own set of secular laws up until the 1270s when magnus the law-mender issued a common law for all of norway. they also each had their own set of ecclesiastical laws which, of course, included regulations on marriage. although there are a couple of differences between these law codes wrt marriage, the upshot is that marriage between sixth cousins or closer was banned in all four regions as well as marriage between affinal family members (i.e. in-laws) related to one another within five degrees (e.g. fourth cousins-in-law or closer). the regulations on blood relations are in line with canon law issued from rome at the time (the ones on in-laws are not) and appear to have been included in norwegian canonical legislation sometime after 1152 (when nicholas breakespear, papal legate in scandinavia and later pope adrian iv, introduced the sixth cousin bans to norway/scandinavia). the penalties in these four norwegian law codes ranged from fines and having to do penance to the splitting up of the couple and even to banishment (“outlawry”).

in the 1270s, when magnus was “mending” all the laws in the country, the cousin marriage bans in norway were scaled back to the fourth degree (i.e. third cousins). this was a bit later than the rest of western europe where the cousin marriage bans were changed in 1215. for this reason, the author of the article suggests that the ban out to sixth cousins probably wasn’t ever strongly enforced in norway, since the authorities didn’t bother to update this regulation right away — like it was a sleeping law or something. that certainly might’ve been the case, and i tend to favor this idea actually. the sixth cousin ban was difficult to enforce right across europe — who knew who their sixth cousins were?! — which is why it was dropped after only a couple of hundred years or so (although thomas aquinas offered other theoretical reasons for scaling back the bans as well) — and i can’t imagine why the situation should’ve been any different in rather remote norway/scandinavia. on the other hand, perhaps the norwegian authorities just decided to hang on to these stringent bans for longer for whatever reasons. that certainly happened in neighboring sweden at the time of the reformation — unlike many of the other newly minted protestant/lutheran churches (as in the german lands, for instance) which did away with cousin marriage bans altogether, the swedish authorities made it difficult for most people to marry cousins right up until 1844.

whatever the case, marriages to closer than third cousins were banned in norway after the 1270s. how well these bans were enforced is, of course, another question. in all likelihood, like elsewhere in europe, enforcement probably became more rigorous and consistent over the course of the medieval period as christianity and the church and its norms permeated norwegian society. remember the example of the franks in the early medieval period: cousin marriage was banned by the frankish kings in the mid-700s, but it wasn’t until sometime in the 800s that the people began thinking that marrying a cousin was unseemly — and that someone ought to tell the bishop if the neighbor had! presumably there was a similar delay with cousin marriage bans gaining traction in norway (and everywhere else, for that matter).

all of this is assuming that the pre-christian norwegians married their cousins to some degree or another in the first place. i don’t know for sure or not if that was the case — Further Research is RequiredTM — but it seems likely that the scandis would’ve behaved similarly to other germanic peoples who certainly did marry their cousins before conversion (see “mating patterns in europe series” below, esp. the posts on the germans and the anglo-saxons) — and they all shared similar kindred structures and feuding practices which seem to go along with cousin marriage, so….

there’s some evidence for a few norwegian christians here and there in the 900s, but the real push for conversion came with olaf ii who was king of norway in the early 1000s, so it’s more than likely that cousin marriage was present in norway right up until this point, although who knows what the frequency was.

one of the earliest — if not the earliest — introductions to norway of the crazy idea to ban cousin marriage at all probably happened in 1022 when the moster assembly (which looks to me to be in the gulatingslag) passed some ecclesiastical cousin marriage bans suggested by bishop grimketel (grimkell), english bishop of selsey. these were based on king æthelred‘s laws from the early eleventh century in which marriage to fourth cousins or closer was banned (this is news to me, btw!).

the arrival of christianity and cousin marriage bans, then, obviously occurred quite a bit later in norway than in the populations closer to the center of “core europe” — i.e. the franks (belgians and dutch) and the southeastern english — whose outbreeding projects were well underway by sometime in the 800s. the norwegians probably lagged behind in outbreeing by three or four hundred years, but, again, no idea exactly how much they’d been marrying their cousins beforehand. (similar case with the swedes.)

a couple of other notes from the article not directly related to norway:

– sometime between 1161 and 1172, pope alexander iii gave dispensation to a certain group of people who were a part of the archbishopric of niðarós and who were having difficulties obeying the canon law banning sixth or closer cousin marriage. these people lived on an island “twelve days’ journey from Norway” and are believed by historians today to have been the residents of greenland! they were granted permission to marry their fourth, fifth, and sixth cousins. whew!

– the author of the article notes that the cousin marriage bans in iceland were probably never higher than the fourth degree (i.e. third cousins). in other words, icelanders never experienced the crazy bans out to the sixth cousins.

previously: inbreeding in sweden and inbreeding in 18th and 19th century sweden

(note: comments do not require an email. erroneous norwegian claim re. the paper clip!)

happy father’s day to all you dads out there! (^_^)

Genetic switches play big role in human evolution“A Cornell Univ. study offers further proof that the divergence of humans from chimpanzees some 4 million to 6 million years ago was profoundly influenced by mutations to DNA sequences that play roles in turning genes on and off. The study, published in Nature Genetics, provides evidence for a 40-year-old hypothesis that regulation of genes must play an important role in evolution since there is little difference between humans and chimps in the proteins produced by genes.”

The lost cousins of Homo sapiens in Asia and the South Pacific – on Homo denisova and Homo floresiensis.

The Causes of Group Differences in Intelligence Studied Using the Method of Correlated Vectors and Psychometric Meta-Analysis“It is concluded that these findings are strongly in line with a substantial genetic component in group differences in intelligence. This suggest that the large group differences in school achievement and work achievement are stable and that I/O psychologists should find ways to deal with them instead of ways of trying to change them.” – @meng hu’s blog! via hbd bibliography.

Researchers conclude that what causes menopause is — wait for it — men“[M]enopause is actually an unintended outcome of natural selection – the result of its effects having become relaxed in older women. Over time, human males have shown a preference for younger women in selecting mates, stacking the Darwinian deck against continued fertility in older women, the researchers have found.”

Why Extroverts Like Parties and Introverts Avoid Crowds“[E]xtroverts are more likely to associate the rush of a feel-good brain chemical with the environment they are in at the time.” – see also: Are You an Introvert or Extrovert? Here’s How to Tell (true x 20 (^_^) ).

Your Hormones Tell You How to Vote“The scientific search is on for the chemical cocktail that makes you vote Republican (or Democrat).”

Mind-reading monkey brains look similar to ours“Macaques and humans share similarities in a brain structure involved in theory of mind – the ability to infer what others are thinking or feeling.”

How the pacification of Europe came to an end – from peter frost.

Gay Germ Fallout? – from jayman.

Darwin’s Dangerous Clan? A Response to the Critics – @habitable worlds.

Yale researchers unravel genetics of dyslexia and language impairment

DNA tests estimate that Prince William is 0.3 to 0.8 percent Indian – cool!

Is distinctive DNA marker proof of ancient genocide?“A controversial theory holds invaders from Iberia may have massacred much of Ireland’s male population” – h/t ed west.

Pathological Altruism“An understanding that altruism can produce great evil as well as good is crucial to the defense of human freedom and dignity.”

Moral Molecules, Modern Selves, and Our “Inner Tribe” – h/t mark weiner!

Does Geography Influence How a Language Sounds?“A linguist finds a correlation between ‘ejective consonants’ and high altitude…. Everett speculated that ejectives are easier to produce at high altitudes because air pressure decreases with altitude, and it takes less effort to compress less-dense air.”

Laughter and the Brain

Sociopaths are coming out of the closet. Here are five reasons to embrace your inner psycho. see also: Why Social Psychology Sucks from staffan.

The Laws of the Cathedral. Obey or Perish!“This is a rough draft and work in progress. It is also a group project, which potentially includes you.” – @occam’s razor.

America 3.0 – with todd’s family types even! – from t.greer!

When the Lamps Went On“Did intellectual progress truly only begin when thinkers began to question religious authority? Kenneth Minogue reviews Anthony Pagden’s ‘The Enlightenment.'”

The First Vikings“Two remarkable ships may show that the Viking storm was brewing long before their assault on England and the continent.” – via mr. mangan, esq.

Revealed: a lost city and a holy temple“Mahendraparvata, a lost mediaeval city where people existed on a mist-shrouded mountain called Phnom Kulen 350 years before the building of the famous Angkor Wat temple complex in north-western Cambodia.”

The new racial classification (I) – tl;dr for me, but some of you out there might be interested in this. (thnx to the person who pointed it out to me!)

bonus: America’s tipping point: Whites to be minority in children under age 5 by next year – demographics is destinty. see also: The Joy of Ethnomasochism from the derb.

bonus bonus: Study: Blacks, Hispanics say Zimmerman arrested earlier if victim White“Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to believe that George Zimmerman would have been arrested immediately had he shot a white person, according to a newly published study. Blacks are more likely than both Hispanics and whites to believe race was a factor in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager. And blacks also are more likely than whites to follow the court case closely. Hispanics are less likely than all groups to follow the case closely.”

bonus bonus bonus: Trayvon Affair à la française – m.g.’s back! (^_^) @thosewhocansee.

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Snowflake the Albino Gorilla Was Inbred, Study Finds“Spanish researchers have sequenced the gorilla’s entire genome, revealing that Snowflake was probably the offspring of a pairing between an uncle and a niece.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: India’s Poorest Women Coerced Into Sterilization – eugenics in india. h/t chris! also: Belgian Parliament Posed To Approve Child Euthanasia Law. (posed?)

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from a paper by manuel eisner entitled “Modernization, Self‐Control and Lethal Violence” about how the homicide rate has been steadily dropping in europe since at least the middle ages:

“[T]he data suggest that the secular trajectories of low homicide rates differ among large geographic areas. It appears that English homicide rates were already considerably lower in the late sixteenth century than during the late Middle Ages and that they declined continuously along a log-linear trend over several centuries. Extant estimates for the Netherlands and Belgium suggest a very similar structure trend in these areas. In the Scandinavian countries, the transistion to the decreasing trend occurs notably later, namely in the first decades after 1600. Despite huge gaps in the data, the German-speaking areas may also be assumed to have joined the declining trend from the early seventeenth century onwards. For Italy, however, all the available data indicate that acts of individual-level lethal violence remained very frequent until the early nineteenth century. It is not until the mid-nineteenth century that the rate begins to decline, but then very steeply.”

hmmmm. now where have i heard a pattern like this before? england, the netherlands, germans earliest in something … scandinavians later … italians last. (~_^)

let’s look at eisner’s charts first (logarithmic scales):


“In the thirteenth and fourteenth century, the mean of almost 40 different estimates lies around 24 homicides per 100,000. The average homicide rates are higher for the late fourteenth century than for the thirteenth century, but it seems impossible to say whether this is due to the difference of the sources used or reflects a real increase related to the social and economic crises in the late Middle Ages. When estimate start again after a gap of some 150 years, the average calculated homicide rates are considerably lower with typical values of between 3-9 per 100,000. From then onwards, the data for Kent line up with surprising precision along a straight line that implies a long-term declining trend for more than 350 years.” [pg. 622]


“When plotted on a graph, the respective secular trends are very similar to those found for England. During the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, counts of murder and manslaughter cases in cities like Antwerp, Leuwen, Utrecht or Amsterdam consistently result in estimated homicide rates of between 30 and 60 cases per 100,000. Spierenburg presents a series of estimates for Amsterdam between the sixteenth and the early nineteenth centuries based on autopsy reports. He finds somewhat lower levels of about 20 per 100,000 in sixteenth-century Amsterdam…. Seventeenth-century homicide rates in both Amsterdam and Brussels are considerably lower and range between four and 11 per 100,000.” [pg. 623]


“In total, I found more than 30 estimates referring to various cities in the thirteenth and fourteenth century. They range between approximately eight and 80 homicides per 100,000, with an overall mean of 35…. Schwerhoff and Eibach present homicide rates based on convictions in the city of Francfourt am Main between the sixteenth and the late eighteenth centuries. A cluster of estimates around 1600 yields an average homicide rate of about 10 per 100,000.” [pg. 625]


“[The figure] suggests first that homicide rates typically ranged from 10 to 60 cases per 100,000 between the mid-fifteenth and the mid-seventeenth centuries and that the average rate may have been at about 25. Strikingly, the Scandinavian evidence shows no sign of declining homicide rates until about 1600. Yet by 1740, when the first Swedish national vital statistics are available, homicide rates are already below 1 per 100,000. The data thus suggest a spectacular decline of lethal personal violence by a factor of at least 10:1 within a period of only 150 years.” [pg. 624]

(just how fast can selection for certain traits happen?)


“The secular pattern in Italy … diverges decisively from the trend found for norther Europe. There exist isolated estimates for a number of Italian cities, such as Bologna, Florence, Mantova and Venice, whereby Florence shows the absolute highest homicide rate with 150 homicides per population of 100,000 in the fourteenth century. Blastenbrei provides homicide rates of 30 to 80 per 100,000 for Rome in the sixteenth century…. [T]he exant estimates do indicate that for a long period between the high Middle Ages and the seventeenth century in Italy, there was a slight decline in the frequency of homicides. However, Italy may be a particularly problematic case because of the vast differences between different areas. For example, Doneddu gives a homicide rate of 22 for late eighteenth-century Sardegna, while the data presented by Sardi for the duchy of Tuscany yield a rate of 4-5 per 100,000. Starting from 1881 … [t]he rate begins at about 8 per 100,000 and then — with the exception of higher rates during the final years of both world warsfalls steeply up to the mid 1960s.” [pgs. 626-27]

furthermore: “Durkheim showed that in the late nineteenth century an arc of high murder rates ranging from Ireland over Spain, Italy, Austria, and Hungary encircled a zone of low homicide rates.” [pg. 631]

eisner comes a hair’s breadth away from a good sociobiological explanation for why all of this happened, but he missed it (prolly ’cause he’s a criminologist and not a biologist — not that there’s anything wrong with that!):

“[T]he work of Norbert Elias probably forms the most prominent theoretical framework discussed by those historians of crime who are interested in explaining this long-term trend. Elias’s well-known theoretical model of the ‘civilizing process’ embraces long-term social dynamics at a macro level as well as changes in typical psychological traits and the developments in characteristic modes of behaviour. In a nutshell, the theory of the civilizing process holds that over a period of several centuries a type of personality has come to prevail that is characterized by increasing affect control, decreasing impulsivity, and a rationalized manner of living — in brief: high levels of self-control. Higher levels of self-control imply, in turn, the gradual pacification of everyday interactions, which becomes manifest by lower levels of violent behaviour…. [pg. 619]

all of these traits, like impulse control (deferred gratification), are undoubtedly at least partly rooted in our natures. i think it’s likely that what happened over time in europe (and elsewhere?) is that greater impulse control, etc., etc., was selected for in the population — but i’m a reductionist (hey, i’m in good company!), so you knew i’d say that. (~_^)

eisner offers up one of the standard explanations for the decrease of violence over time and that’s the role of the state. the state took over as the executor of revenge (we call it justice now) so individuals/families no longer had to mete it out — AND the state really, really discouraged violence in general — if you were violent, you’d go to jail or maybe be executed. i think the idea that the state has played a big role in the reduction of violence over time makes a lot sense, ’cause these things that the state started doing sure sound like selection pressures — clearly the second one is especially if you execute violent criminals. you just take them and all their personality traits right out of the gene pool, no?

but eisner also mentions an idea of émile durkheim‘s related to the reduction of violence that’s right up my alley:

“Durkheim saw the decline of homicide rates as resulting from the liberation of the individual from collective bonds rather than as the consequence of the coercive potential of the state. High levels of lethal violence thus mirror the intensity of ‘collective emotions’, which bind the individuals to ‘groups of things that symbolically represent these groups’. Violence thus declines to the degree that the person becomes liberated from its sacred obligation to the group, and the rise of moral individualism….”

“This is in accordance with a society in which ‘honour’ constitutes highly important social capital of the male person as a representative of his group…. Such a theoretical framework may help to better understand why the secular decline in homicide rates primarily seems to have been due to a decrease in male-to-male fights. And it may also offer a point of departure for understanding the high violence rates in Italy, where a culture of honour persisted despite the early development of administrative and judicial structures in the city states.” [pg. 632]

yes! but, again, what’s missing is the biology of it.

the individual in (parts of) europe was liberated from the “collective bonds” because europeans started outbreeding in the early medieval period and, over the subsequent generations, the frequencies and perhaps even types of altruism genes changed in the populations. europeans quit behaving like inbred pashtuns who are always looking for revenge when their familiy’s honor is tainted because they (the europeans) were no longer inbred.

england, the netherlands, belgium, germany and switzerland saw the earliest reduction of violence because they were the european populations who started outbreeding the earliest (in some cases, as early as the 500s). the scandinavians — the swedes and the norwegians, anyway — probably didn’t start outbreeding until sometime after ca. 1000 a.d. when they converted to christianity. that could amount to nearly 500 years less outbreeding compared to the franks and the english, and their reduction in crime was a few hundred years later as well.

populations on the periphery — the irish, the spanish, the italians, the hungarians — all continued to be much more violent than “core” europe for a much longer time AND they also all kept inbreeding in one form or another longer than the germans or the english. and the italians? — differences between the north and south, again! — the south being more violent than the north.

i know, i know. i start to sound like a certain individual (won’t mention any names!) who has only one explanation for everything. i don’t think inbreeding/oubreeding and altruism explains everything. REALLY! but i do think it applies in this case. it’s not the entire explanation (i think the role of the state is important, too, for instance) — and there’s more to it than just how much inbreeding/outbreeding there is. like greying wanderer said:

“i think there’s likely to be a compounding effect too. as the clannishness recedes it becomes easier – and in fact neccessary as the only previous rule of law was clan vendetta – to institute a communal rule of law instead.”

absolutely! with all of the outbreeding, european societies became more “corporate” simply because the old extended-family/clan/tribal ties disappeared. everything had to be arranged differently. but europeans — northwestern europeans more than others — also just felt differently about the world and their place in it and their relationships with others than their ancestors had. ’cause they were different.

h/t to halvorson for pointing out a post by agnostic on this paper from a couple of years ago @gnxp. thnx, halvorson!

(yes, i’ve got pinker’s new book sitting and waiting for me on my kindle. and i am planning on reading it. any day now…. (~_^) )

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roosh has got a post up about jante law — i guess it was impeding his game in denmark (oh noes!). jante law is a scandinavian phenomenon that sounds like tall poppy syndrome on steroids:

– Thou shalt not presume that thou art someone.
– Thou shalt not presume that thou art as good as we.
– Thou shalt not presume that thou art any wiser than we.
– Thou shalt never indulge in the conceit of imagining that thou art better than we.
– Thou shalt not presume that thou art more knowledgeable than we.
– Thou shalt not presume that thou art more [important] than we.
– Thou shalt not presume that thou art going to amount to anything.
– Thou art not entitled to laugh at us.
– Thou shalt never imagine that anyone cares about thee.
– Thou shalt not suppose that thou can teach us anything.

well, minnesota’s starting to make a lot more sense now! (~_^)

björn over at roosh’s offers an explanation for jante law:

“Janteloven is a stable social compromise that has stood the test of time in that part of the world. Since resources were traditionally so scarce, you could’t afford to make enemies by acting superior, or people would refuse to interact with you and you would starve to death – or kill yourself – in the long dark winter.”

maybe. but do jante law sorts of traditions exist in other places where “resources were traditionally so scarce?” i mean in such a strong form. do the russians, who also live through a pretty harsh winter every year, have their own version of jante law? how about the mongolians? or north american native americans? i’m genuinely asking, ’cause i dunno!

and jante law has “stood the test of time?” how long of a time? according to a couple of researchers, its spirit may have been around in the nineteenth century [in section titled Who Do You Think You Are?]…

“But there is more behind the spirit of envy than Jantelagen. There may be a historical basis for these beliefs as well. In Myterna om Svensken (Myths about the Swedes), David Gaunt and Orvar Lofgren explain that nineteenth-century farmers were required to help neighbors who were less well-off, due in part to a belief in Luck, the very unpredictable whim of ‘Lady Fortuna.’ People believed that there was only a finite amount of Luck in life; for one man to become rich, another must become poor. Thus anyone who had great luck, made a lot of money, or had a good harvest shared his success with his less fortunate neighbors, for Luck is fickle and can be reversed (Gaunt and Lofgren 1984).”

…but it seems like jante law wasn’t really applied across the board until the twentieth century [same source as above]:

“Envy, however, did not typically extend beyond one’s own class; there was a marked (and accepted) difference between the nobility and the peasants. Only in the twentieth century did equality begin to be seen as more universal. Swedish ethnologist Åke Daun speculates that the growing income differentials now emerging in Sweden ‘will in the end bring about the weakening of the famous Swedish envy in that gaps between people will be considered part of the natural order: it is between equals that envy flourishes’ (1996, 212).”

i was just reading about medieval scandinavia last night, and it’s not like there weren’t different classes back then, with some individuals having ENORMOUS wealth compared to others — and showing it off by doing things like building castles and such. one guy, bo jonsson (grip), owned one-third of sweden — and finland. like, ALL of finland. seriously! was jante law present in medieval sweden/scandinavia? enquiring minds want to know!

jante law sentiments would certainly go a long way in explaining scandinavia’s early and apparently enthusiastic adoption of political correctness. it also maybe explains their fondness for wealth redistribution.

and it fits with the scandinavian (and, more broadly, germanic) preferences for societal collectivism (from those who can see)…

…and Ordnung (strong preference for rules and order)…

re. the evolution of altruism genes/behaviors in scandinavia, remember that the swedes adpoted christianity rather late compared to other europeans, so they were probably inbreeding for longer than other populations in northwest europe (i’m gonna be looking more into this, and the other scandis, too). by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, though, swedish inbreeding rates were very low, comparable to those of other northwestern (“core”) europeans (like the english and germans).

(note: comments do not require an email. typical swede. typical norwegians. typical dane. typical minnesotan. (~_^) )