the law of jante

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. (~_^) )

on being trusting

ihtg said about trust: “Unlike IQ/g, trust isn’t (IMO) an innate personal attribute encoded within one person’s brain. It’s a variable in a man’s interaction with his peers. Its existence depends on that interaction.”

well, yes … and no.

clearly trusting someone else happens during an interaction, yes. and the level of trust will be higher or lower depending on the circumstances in which that interaction happens — it’s prolly much easier to be trusting nowadays in peaceful, middle class minnesota than in war-torn congo.

but being trusting is also a personality trait — being more or less trusting is something innate — at least partly. and, like all the other personality quirks, it varies from individual to individual — and from population to population. from “Heritability of cooperative behavior in the trust game” in which the researchers studied twins taking part in the trust game [pgs: 3724-25, link opens pdf]:

“Our results thus suggest that humans are endowed with genetic variation that can partially account for differences in trust and trustworthiness when interacting with anonymous partners in the laboratory….

“Although we do find that genetic differences play a significant role for behavior in the classic trust game, the largest portion of the variance is explained by differences in unique environment. This is consistent with general results from the trust game that indicate behavior is more susceptible to state (unique mood, context) than trait. However, a result that may surprise some social scientists is that genetic differences appear to be a more important source of phenotypic variation than differences in common environment. This finding is in line with a broad consensus in the behavior genetics literature. Indeed, the second ‘law of behavior genetics’ proposed by Turkheimer is that the effect of being raised in the same family is generally smaller than the effect of genes.”

swedes appear to be more trusting than americans to me. unfortunately, “american” is such a catch-all description, it’s difficult to know what sort of ethnic groups we’re talking about here (note that the americans had more options of how much to share than the swedes did):

and the heritability of trust amongst swedes seems to lean a bit more towards a genetic explanation than amongst americans. (interesting that the shared environments of the twins seems to have amounted to diddly squat.):

people who are more agreeable — as in agreeableness in the big five personality traits — tend to be more trusting:

“People who score high on this dimension are empathetic, considerate, friendly, generous, and helpful. They also have an optimistic view of human nature. They tend to believe that most people are honest, decent, and trustworthy…. [I]n general, people who are concerned about others also tend to cooperate with them, help them out, and trust them.”

i’m not very agreeable (32nd percentile). i just know i’m gonna wind up a cranky, old cat-lady yelling at the kids to GET OFF MY LAWN! (~_^)

previously: trust and i’m abnormal

(note: comments do not require an email. get off my lawn!)

inbreeding in 18th and 19th century sweden

here’s a little more on inbreeding in sweden, again from this article: The Influence of Past Endogamy and Consanguinity on Genetic Disorders in Northern Sweden.

the researchers looked at parish record books to work out who married whom — and if and how they were related — in 18th and 19th century skellefteå which is right here:

the researchers assure us that, despite being a hair’s breadth away from the arctic cirle, skellefteå was not (is not!) a completely off piste locale and traded regularly with stockholm, etc., etc. so, skellefteå should not be a too a-typical example of mating patterns in sweden at the time. (still, like steve sailer pointed about about sweden in general, skellefteå is not exactly a cross-roads sorta place like istanbul or sicily. so, apart from the swedes and maybe some finns and a few sami and drunken mooses, it prolly wasn’t a very cosmopolitan place in the 18th and 19th centuries.)

how much inbreeding did they do? well, i’m glad you asked! [pg. 551]:

“Of the 14,639 marriage records examined, 3,043 (20.8%) were between couples related as sixth cousins or closer (F ≥ 0.00006), with a mean coefficient of inbreeding (α) for the total study population of 0.00204. First cousin unions comprised 2.05% of all marriages, and unions between couples who were second cousins and third cousins accounted for 2.24% and 2.91% of marriages, respectively.”

those are the averages of first-, second- and third-cousin marriages over the whole time period from 1720-1899. here are the percentages of first- through third-cousin marriages for each of the time periods looked at (click on chart for LARGER version):

as you can see, the rates increase up to the middle of the nineteenth century and then sorta drop off a bit in the last couple of decades. we’ve seen the increase in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries before in italy and spain, and increasing cousin marriage rates was, apparently, the general pattern for much of europe in the nineteenth century:

“Prior to industrialization an inbreeding pattern characterized by increasing values throughout the 19th century was common to many societies, both European (Calderón et al. 1993; Morales 1992; Pettener 1985) and American (Gradie et al. 1991; Madrigal and Ware 1997). In many European populations, inbreeding was highest in the period from 1875 to 1915 (O’Brien et al. 1988)….” [source]

so, sweden was pretty typical for its times in this regard.

how do the swedish cousin-marriage rates compare to other european countries during the same period? well, for england, we’ve got a first-cousin marriage rate of 2.25% for rural areas in 1876. sweden’s first-cousin marriage rate for about the same time (1860-1879) was 2.66%, so pretty much in the same ballpark.

again, these rates come nowhere near the rates for early-twentieth century southern italy where the first-cousin marriage rate hit 56.97% in reggio calabria between 1910 and 1914. northern italy, on the other hand, is more like sweden (and england) in the nineteenth century with rates like 2.28% in rovigo between 1910 and 1914.

the other country for which i’ve got data from the same time period is spain. (remember that these numbers are probably not representative for the whole of spain. gredos is a mountainous area and remote, mountain populations tend to have higher than average inbreeding rates.) here are the percentages for first- through third-cousin marriages in gredos, spain, in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries:

only the two first periods here sorta overlap with the last two periods of the swedish data:

spain — sweden
1874-1884 = 17.30% — 1860-1879 = 11.42%
1885-1894 = 16.62% — 1880-1889 = 10.06%

so, gredos, spain, had quite a bit more first- through third-cousin marriages in these decades than sweden — but, again, gredos might not be representative for the whole of spain.

overall, then, the swedes did not have very high inbreeding rates in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. the cousin marriages rates for sweden during the period were comparable to those in england and probably also northern italy and perhaps even spain. remember, however, that the swedes do not have the same depth of outbreeding as other areas of northern europe. they may have had similar cousin marriage rates to other northern europeans in modern times, but they were likely marrying their cousins for longer during the early medieval period.

previously: inbreeding in sweden

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

inbreeding in sweden

ok. moving northwards for a sec … sveeeeeden.

inbreeding (or outbreeding) in scandinavia in the dark ages? who knows? no written records, obviously, except for the odd runic inscription here and there. it’s probably a safe assumption to guess that the scandis were like the germanic tribes and did, indeed, practice some form of endogamous mating — likely some cousins, but who knows which ones and how frequently? we’re not even exactly sure what the marriage practices of the germanic tribes were like and we have some (late in the period) written laws from them.

there were norse clans, tho — ætts — kinda like the scots in the past or the chinese today, so that hints at endogamous mating practices:

The Scandinavian clan or ætt was a social group based on common descent or on the formal acceptance into the group at a þing. [T]he clan was the primary force of security in Norse society, as the clansmen were obliged by honour to avenge one another. The Norse clan was not tied to a certain territory in the same way as a Scottish clan, where the chief owned the territory. The land of the Scandinavian clan was owned by the individuals who had close neighbours from other clans. T he name of the clan was derived from that of its ancestor, often with the addition of an -ung or -ing ending.”

so, there you go.

christianity arrived relatively late way up north so that, while some of the german groups on the continent were already being told not to marry their second-cousins in the 500s, the swedes were still having battles between christians and pagans as late as the 1000s. presumably this meant that more swedes were following their old mating practices rather than the new-fangled christian ones until a much later date — as late as the 1100s maybe. so i would guess that the scandinavians do not have the depth of outbreeding that, say, the english and other north-west european populations have.

fast-forward to the reformation — most of the protestant churches in europe did not ban cousin marriage the way that the roman catholic church had done (and still does with first-cousin marriage). the new churches went with what the bible said, particularly leviticus — and the old testament, having been written by the ancient hebrews, was of course ok with cousin marriage.

the exception to this rule of protestant churches was the swedish luthern church which banned cousin marriage (i believe) right at the start of its foundation in the 1500s until 1680 when one could get a dispensation to marry a first-cousin (but see quote below). so, cousin marriage was, presumably, not practiced by the catholics in sweden and, then, also not practiced once the church there became luthern [pgs. 550 & 552-53]:

“Although strongly Protestant, the Lutheran Church in Sweden initially banned marriages between first cousins throughout the country, but from 1680 a dispensation for first cousin marriage could be granted by the King in Council. The expense involved was, however, a major disincentive and during this period first cousin marriages were rare and principally contracted among the nobility (Alstrom, 1958). After unsuccessful attempts in 1809 and 1823 to remove the requisite fee for first cousin marriage dispensation, it was reduced by the Swedish Riksdag (Parliament) in 1829. Then, after another failed attempt at reform in 1841, in 1844 the Riksdag formally revoked the requirement for royal dispensation, leaving first cousins free to marry should they so desire. The history of consanguineous marriage within Sweden can therefore be conveniently sub-divided into three separate time periods: pre-1680, 1680–1843, and 1844 onwards….


“Prior to the introduction of royal dispensation in 1680, first cousin marriages were very rare in Sweden, since they were not sanctioned by the Lutheran Church (Alstrom, 1958). Thereafter, the prevalence increased nationally to an estimated 0.2% in 1750, 1.0% in 1800 and 1.5% by the mid-19th century. This study also reported a distinct north-south cline, with the highest rates of consanguinity in the more sparsely populated northern regions abutting Finland, that are home to most of the Swedish Saami (Lapp) community. Investigations during the first half of the 20th century, mainly based on first cousin marriages only, confirmed the continuing north-south cline of consanguinity (Fraccaro, 1958), with an upper prevalence of 6.8% first cousin unions in a remote northern parish (Book, 1948), compared to 1.7% and 1.3% first cousin marriages in southern and western rural regions of the country (Book & Mawe, 1955; Larson, 1956).

so, first-cousin marriage rates in sweden in more modern times:

1750 = 0.2%
1800 = 1.0%
mid-19th c = 1.5%
early-20th c = 1.3%-1.7% (western & southern sweden)

compare the early 20th century rates of sweden with the rates for first-cousin marriage in italy between 1910-1914: anywhere from 2.28% in northern italy to (mamma mia!) 56.97% in southern italy.

edit: also compare the mid-19th century rate of first-cousin marriage sweden — 1.5% — with the mid-19th century rate for consanguineous marriages (only first-cousin?) amongst protestants in alsace-lorraine — 0.186%. and, amongst catholics in alsace-lorraine — 0.997%.

of course, the swedes could very well having been marrying their second- and third-cousins (spoiler alert: they did), but it’s late now so i’ll take a look at that in another post (hopefully tomorrow).

previously: clientelism in greece and whatever happened to european tribes? and inbreeding amongst germanic tribes and more on inbreeding in germanic tribes and early medieval germans…again!

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