recognizing your un-kin

if you want to be un-altruistic toward some un-kin of yours, it might be useful if you could spot who they are.

here’s some neat research [pdf] suggesting that perhaps we can do just that (further research is required, of course). this is one of those manipulated photographs studies — you know — where they take photos and alter them to look more or less like the subjects. note that the study was done on w.e.i.r.d. students — and way more females (n=112) than males (n=32):

“Kin recognition: evidence that humans can perceive both positive and negative relatedness” (2012)

“… The evolution of spite would have been greatly facilitated by the ability to recognize negative relatives (West & Gardner, 2010). The current study is the first to find such an ability among humans, one of only a handful of species (Keller & Ross, 1998; Giron & Strand, 2004) for which there is evidence of negative relatedness recognition, by introducing a novel cue to negative relatedness (negative self-resemblance). Specifically, we found opposing effects of positive and negative self-resemblance – cues to positive and negative relatedness, respectively – on trusting and attractiveness attributions, as predicted. This result provides a foothold for the possibility of the evolution of spiteful behaviour among humans. Future research should examine this possibility.

“Although the effects of positive and negative self resemblance in our study were generally small, our study was an experimental one. Thus, we controlled the strength of the manipulation. It was our intention to make the stimuli subtle, to ensure that the participants would not discover the nature of the manipulation. A subtle manipulation, however, will tend to lead to subtle effects. What we hoped to show was not that the positive and negative self-resemblance manipulations had large effects on preferences or behaviour in the context of a laboratory experiment, but that they had predictable effects at all, especially as these effects speak to theory (Prentice & Miller, 1992).

Relative to matched participants, focal participants generally had positive preferences for their own positive self-resembling faces but negative preferences for their own negative self-resembling faces across contexts….

here’s the relevant graphic:

negative relatives

Spite is hypothesized to evolve under relatively restrictive conditions (West & Gardner, 2010), and so it is expected to be rare. However, two conditions may, together, favour its evolution: (1) ‘viscous’ breeding systems and (2) the ability to recognize negative relatives. Population viscosity can make competition increasingly local among individuals (Taylor, 1992a,b), and local competition encourages the evolution of spite (Gardner & West, 2004). Furthermore, individuals immigrating into a viscous population may be strongly negatively related to members of the indigenous population, because immigrants are highly unlikely to bear the same (relevant) alleles as indigenous individuals (Krupp et al., 2011).”

for “viscous breeding systems” i think we can safely insert “inbreeding” or “cousin marriage” or “consanguineous matings.” they are all certainly viscous.

“Negative relatedness recognition can improve the targeting of a spiteful action to increase indirect fitness benefits (by delivering harm specifically to negative relatives whilst sparing positive ones), and our results provide evidence that humans have the mechanisms in place to do precisely this. Moreover, countless animal species use phenotype matching to determine relatedness, and other kin recognition systems exist that might also be employed to discriminate against negative relatives (reviewed in Krupp et al., 2011). Further discoveries that organisms have the capacity to recognize negative relatives will lay a foundation for the study of spiteful behaviour, arguably the last great unexplored problem of social evolution….”
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what i’d like to see is some research done on actual inbred populations. maybe a comparison between a non-inbreeding population and an inbreeding one to see if either of the two groups is better at spotting their kin or un-kin.

for that matter, i wonder if kin in inbred populations actually look more like one another than kin in outbred populations (and, therefore, look more unlike non-kin). you would think they ought to since they share more of the same genes with one another. you’d think that’d affect appearance, too. remember the ghoul brothers from syria (click on picture for LARGER view)?:

ghoul brothers

redzengenoist said about them: “It really is striking how much they look like one another. Far more than I would expect the average family group to have similar appearance…. I’m thinking of selection for markedness of ingroup-ness. I can’t help but wonder if having a distinct ‘look’ helps to facilitate the evolutionary advantages of inbreeding….”

i noted: “and, like the big families i’ve known (from my slightly inbred area of the world), some of them look more like each other than they do to the others. the two (chubby guys, roundish faces) on the right and the guy all the way on the left look similar — those three look like mom? or dad? and the other five look more like each other — like the other parent (whichever one).”

maybe it’s easier to spot kin and non-kin in a “viscous” population. the more viscous the better, perhaps.

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where do clans come from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

such innate behaviors cannot be changed overnight — certainly not within a generation or even two (evolution does take some amount of time — but not, necessarily, extremely long amounts of time either) — and definitely not by simply changing a few laws here and there in the hopes of encouraging individualism. as avner greif grasped, although probably not fully because he’s likely missed the underlying biology of what he’s noticed, family structures need to be altered in order to effect changes to larger societal structures (again, all via tweaks to innate behavioral tendencies). and, again, that can’t be done overnight — as greif pointed out, the process in europe began in the early medieval period (with the church’s bans on cousin marriages) and didn’t really start to take hold until the late medieval period — i.e. a 500 year (or, conservatively, a ca. 25 generation) timeline.
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see also: Cousin Marriage Conundrum by steve sailer and Why Europe? by michael mitterauer (in particular chapter 3) and Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy: Lessons from Medieval Trade by avner greif.

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

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inbreeding and outbreeding

i keep saying that i’ll define more clearly what i mean by “inbreeding” and “outbreeding,” but i never do. finally! — here i am, and i’m gonna do it! (^_^)

from the oxford dictionary of biology:

inbreeding: “Mating between closely related individuals, the extreme condition being self-fertilization, which occurs in many plants and some primitive animals.” (see also wikipedia.)

outbreeding: “Mating between unrelated or distantly related individuals of a species.”

great. but what’s “closely related” or “unrelated” or “distantly related”? self-fertilization doesn’t really apply to humans (at least not very often — i hope), so where to draw the line between “closely related” and “distantly related”?

i’m primarily interested in the evolution of altruism and other “innate social aptitudes” in man [pdf] — and here’s where inclusive fitness comes into the picture, btw — and the role that inbreeding and outbreeding might play in all that.

inbreeding in and of itself does not change the frequencies of genes in a population — it just moves them around, concentrating them in certain lineages. however, wade and breden showed in some mathematical wizardry modelling that, under certain circumstances, long-term, sustained inbreeding can, in fact, lead to increased frequencies of “genes for altruism” in a population.

wade and breden looked at four inbreeding scenarios: 1) self-fertilization (doesn’t happen in humans); 2) if the mating individuals shared half (50%) their genomes in common (like parent-offspring matings or sibling matings); 3) if the mating individuals shared 20% of their genes in common (this is somewhere in between first cousins and double-first cousins or uncle-niece/aunt-nephew); and 4) if the mating individuals shared no genes in common (not the typical pattern in human matings). most human populations do not practice parent-offspring/sibling matings — in fact, it’s usually avoided and considered by most as really icky. but quite a lot of peoples regularly marry first cousins, and some (in the arab world/middle east) even often marry double-first cousins — nor is the world short on uncle-niece pairings (southern india, for example — or hasidic jews).

wade and breden found that, under certain circumstances, long-term, sustained matings between individuals that share 20% of their genomes in common can lead in an increase in altruism genes in that population. first cousin marriage, probably the most common form of inbreeding in humans, is a little short of what wade and breden looked at, but it’s not terribly far away either (12.5% relatedness vs. 20% relatedness). you would think that the slope of the line for inbreeding at 12.5% relatedness would fall somewhere in between that for 0% and 20% (solid black line) on wade and breden’s lower graph here:

wade and breden 02 small

in clinical genetics, most researchers look at degrees of inbreeding that are between second cousins or closer, commonly referred to in the literature as consanguineous marriages. since i get a lot of my data on inbreeding from such studies, it’s kinda handy for me to define inbreeding as anything between second cousins or closer, but in reconsidering wade and breden’s results, i’m thinking that maybe i should only concentrate on first cousins or closer. for now i think i’ll stick to second cousins or closer, but i reserve the right to change my mind (it is a woman’s prerogative, isn’t it? still?).

so, on this blog:

– inbreeding = in a population, a general pattern of regular and sustained mating between individuals who are related to one another as second cousins or closer.

– outbreeding = in a population, a general pattern of regular and sustained mating in which individuals avoid second cousins or closer.

notice the “regular and sustained” bit. that’s important. we’re not talking here about occasional marriages between cousins. it has to be a regular practice in a society. i’m not sure what the frequency of the inbreeding needs to be. it will vary according to population size, of course — the smaller the population, the more closely related everyone’s going to be anyway (e.g. the yanomamo). in a larger population? — dunno. definitely when 50% of marriages are consanguineous over the long-term i think the frequencies of “genes for altruism” are going to increase pretty rapidly (i’ll come back to what sorts of altruism in another post). 30%? probably. 3%? not really.

outbreeding, too, needs to be “regular and sustained” to have any effect, i.e. to have a population slide back down wade and breden’s slope in reverse. one generation of outbreeding probably won’t have much of an effect, i think. evolution (natural selection) does take some time, after all. also, if one inbreeding group interbreeds with another inbreeding group, that’s NOT outbreeding according to my definiton. technically it is in biological circles, but if we’re talking about two populations that have been inbreeding for a long time and, therefore, have acquired a lot of genes for my “familial altruism,” then all they’re doing by interbreeding is swapping familial altruism genes. for example, if you’re the early medieval irish and are clannish because you’ve been inbreeding for who-knows-how-long, the “outbreeding” that you do with the vikings when they show up (probably) doesn’t count wrt altruism, because they’re a long-term inbreeding group, too.

to have any effect on the frequency of certain “genes for altruism,” outbreeding — like inbreeding — needs, i think, to be regular and sustained over the long-term, as it was with europeans (mostly northwest europeans) since the early medieval period (see also mating patterns in europe series in left-hand column below ↓ for more details) and, perhaps, some other groups like the semai in malaysia.

previously: inbreeding and the evolution of altruistic behavior

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consanguinity and democracy

steve sailer posted about this paper the other day — from the amazingly awesome michael woodley and his partner in crimethink edward bell:

Consanguinity as a Major Predictor of Levels of Democracy: A Study of 70 Nations

oh, how such a study just warms hbd chick’s cold, little heart! (~_^)

using the good, ol’ consang.net data on cousin marriage rates (which are great but have a lot of problems — i’ll get into that in another post) and data on democracy from polity iv and the eiu democracy index, woodley and bell found pretty strong negative correlations between first-/second-cousin marriage rates in societies and how democratic those societies are: –0.632 between consanguinity and the polity iv data, and –0.771 with the eiu data. (as steve points out, a -0.6 correlation in the social sciences is something to make you stop and go hmmmm, never mind a -0.77 correlation.)

in other words, the more cousin marriage in a society, the less democracy.

woodley and bell also looked at a lot of other neat stuff like economic freedom+consanguinity+democracy and percent muslim+consanguinity+democracy and pathogen index+consanguinity+democracy (i like that one!), but i’ll get to those in another post. (in fact, the rest of this week is probably going to be devoted to the woodley and bell paper here on hbd chick, so if you’re sick to death of hearing about inbreeding and democracy, don’t say you haven’t been warned!)

woodley and bell say:

“Consanguinity … appears to severely restrict the political and social fluidity characteristic of democratic systems, as individual allegiances are primarily to kinship groupings where sophisticated group-level free-rider detection and social identity mechanisms serve to discourage expressions of self-interest that do not maximize collective utility (MacDonald, 2001, 2002). This process of collective utility maximization is consistent with the notion of inclusive fitness in which individuals exhibit altruistic behaviors toward those with whom they share genes, thus indirectly increasing their fitness (Hamilton, 1964; Rushton, 1989, 2005; Trivers, 1971).”

they also say:

“A further shortcoming of the study is its cross-sectional nature; a panel study using data gathered at regular intervals would be ideal for testing the hypotheses and models presented in this study.”

yes. i’ve been thinking that there are at least two things going on with regard to inbreeding and man’s innate social aptitudes (and their expressions like democracy or no democracy):

1) genetic similarity. so, as woodley and bell said, “individuals exhibit altruistic behaviors toward those with whom they share genes.” thus, in highly inbred societies, individuals favor their own extended family members at the expense of their neighbors and unrelated members of their society simply because they are much more genetically related to their [edit] extended family members than individuals in outbred societies are to theirs. this is a very direct effect — change the relatedness, change the behavior patterns. and, so, liberal democracy will simply never work in inbred societies — or not work very well anyway — because you get clannishness.

2) the evolution of “genes for altruism” over the longer term. i think that, in addition to genetic similarity, we’re also looking at populations with different types and/or frequencies of “genes for altruism” due to their long-term mating patterns. i think it could’ve made a difference that northwest europeans have been outbreeding a lot since the early medieval period while arabs having been inbreeding a lot since … well, i’m not sure … probably since at least whenever some jewish tribes from the levant migrated into the arab peninsula. this is a long-term effect — change the relatedness over the long-term, and you might change at least the frequencies of “genes for altruism” in the population. you’d think the selection pressures for different sorts of altruism genes would change, too, if you went from an outbred to inbred society (bushmen vs. yanomamo, for example) or vice versa. in other words, you’d think different altruism genes might be selected for in different types of societies.

this is one of the reasons that i say there are problems with the consang.net data, i.e. that they lack time-depth or, as woodley and bell said, they offer only a cross-sectional look at consanguinity.

for instance, the consang.net data for china averages to a rate of 5% (per woodley and bell), but all of the data for china come from the twentieth century. however, the chinese have been seriously marrying their cousins since at least the third century b.c. and, as far as i know, the rates only slowed down in the twentieth century (and maybe not to the extent one would think from looking at the consang.net data) — and after that, they kept on marrying very locally (endogamously) until very, very recently.

i think woodley and bell would find much higher correlations between consanguinity and democracy if they had long-term consanguinity data. (what will probably need to be used is some sort of genetic data.)
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the woodley and bell paper [pdf].

the classics: Veil of Fears by stanley kurtz; Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development by parapundit; and Cousin Marriage Conundrum by steve sailer.

previously: democracy and endogamous mating practices and the corporate nature of european societies and liberal democracy and “hard-won democracy” and consanguinity + corruption = correlation

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genetic similarity and altruism

there’s some good evidence that, on average, people:

– feel more grief over the death of a child who was most like themselves;

– care more for their grandchildren with whom they share the most genes (at least grandmas do anyway);

– are sexually attracted to individuals with whom they share genes if they don’t experience westermarck imprinting (or is it reverse imprinting?), and are more sexually attracted to those individuals with whom they share more genes.

all of this makes sense from an inclusive fitness point-of-view. on average, people really seem to behave according to the “two brothers or eight cousins” rule.

so i’ve been thinking, if you took two human populations with exactly the same evolutionary histories so that they had all of the same sorts and frequencies of genes — including those for altruism (and other social behaviors) — and then had one of the groups inbreed for a generation or two, the inbred group ought to start being more altruistic/whatever to their family members, on average, simply because they would share more genes with — be more genetically similar to — their family members than the non-inbred group members would be to their family members.

i’m guessing, then, that there are two things going on with inbreeding/outbreeding and altruism/other innate social behaviors:

– genetic similarity within a population directly and immediately affecting how people behave towards one another,
– and the evolution of genes for altruism over the longer term.

greying wanderer is ahead of me on this one (^_^):

“I think altruistic behaviour is the *product* of two separate things: relatedness and altruistic genes multiplied together, so the more related people are the less strong their altruistic genes need to be. If the human default is inbreeding then i think this makes more sense as an inbred group would then only have needed to develop very small amounts of altruism genes to create an altruistic effect. If so then it’s only when people outbreed that they need to develop *more* altruism genes to compensate for the drop in relatedness and it’s this that explains how those people can then come to display altruistic type behaviour towards non-kin.”

i thought before that maybe oubred groups evolved different altruism genes (i.e. ones for reciprocal altruism vs. familial altruism) rather than more altruism genes, but i like g.w.’s idea, too. definitely food for thought!

of course, genetic similarity+inbreeding+altruism is pretty much what steve sailer talked about in “Cousin Marriage Conundrum.” (^_^)

see also j.p. rushton’s genetic similarity theory.

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consanguinity + corruption = correlation

the awesome epigone has found a correlation of .44 between the amounts of (mostly) current consanguineous (first-/second-cousin) marriages in various societies as indicated by the data available on consang.net and perceptions of corruption by the people in those societies as found by transparency international (thnx, a.e.!). that’s higher than i would’ve guessed beforehand — i gave a bunch of reasons for that over @m.g.’s place which the epigone included in his post, so i won’t bother repeating them here.

i know that correlation is not causation, but it does “waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing ‘look over there,” so i’ll bet anyone a nickle — no, a dime! — that there is a connection here (and that connection is altruism/other innate social aptitudes [pg. 329+]).

i think audacious’ correlation would be even larger if there was some time depth to the inbreeding/endogamy data. what i’d like to see is:

– all the genes for altruism (and other innate social aptitudes) in man discovered so we (meaning teh scientists) can see the hbd differences in altruism, etc., in different populations and trace the evolutionary histories of all these genes in different populations. then someone could check for correlations between the gene frequencies and corruption (and other neat behaviors like nepotism).

in lieu of that, what i’d like to see is:

– all, or at least lots, of the people on the planet getting their dna sequenced so we (meaning teh scientists) can work out the degrees of relatedness within different populations so we (meaning teh scientists) could at least guess at the evolutionary histories of all these genes for altruism. then someone could check for correlations between the actual degrees of relatedness in different populations and corruption (and other neat behaviors like nepotism).

in lieu of that, what i’d like to see/do is:

– what the audacious epigone did but just with some time depth added to the inbreeding/endogamy data. plus, also, some consideration given to the fact that some forms of cousin marriage (i.e. fbd marriage) amount to more inbreeding than other forms of cousin marriage (e.g. mbd marriage).

for example, maybe two points could be awarded for each (likely) generation in which consanguineous marriages were common (haven’t considered what the cut off oughta be), and one point for each (likely) generation of endogamous marriage. zero points for marrying out. bonus point for fbd marriage. add ’em all up and then compare/contrast with corruption, et. al.

the problem is figuring out exactly how much inbreeding happened at any given point in the past for a population. i know there are ways to get at it by looking at dna — maybe what should be looked for are any correlations between runs of homozygosity in populations and corruption, etc. that would still be looking at a sort of proxy for the presence/frequencies of different sorts of genes for altruism, but it might be interesting anyway.

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inbreeding and the evolution of altruistic behavior ii

in Understanding Human History, michael hart did a real nice job of explaining how kin selection or inclusive fitness works and how “genes for altruism” could be selected for [pgs. 37-38]:

“For about a century after Darwin proposed his theory of evolution, the origin of altruistic behavior in animals remained a puzzle. It was not until the 1960s, when William D. Hamilton proposed his theory of kin selection, that a satisfactory explanation was given. That theory can perhaps best be explained by an example:

“Suppose a man sees his identical twin drowning in a river, and estimates (correctly) that if he were to jump in and try to save his brother the probability of success would be 80%, while the probability that he would die in the attempt would be 20%. Consider these two alternatives:

“a) Some of the man’s genes strongly dispose him to rescue his brother, and he therefore jumps in and tries to save him (‘altruistic behavior’).

“b) The man does not have genes that dispose him to rescue his brother, and he therefore stays on the shore and lets his brother drown (‘selfish behavior’).

“In case (b), exactly one copy of the man’s genes survives, and may later be replicated. However, in case (a), if the rescue attempt is successful, two copies of the man’s genes survive (one in his own body, one in his brother’s). As this will happen 80% of the time, on average 1.6 (= 0.80 × 2) copies of the man’s genes will survive. In this situation, therefore, genes that dispose a person to altruistic behavior will — on average — have more surviving copies than genes that dispose a person to act selfishly and will be favored by natural selection.

“Now consider a slightly different example. Suppose that the man on shore is a brother — but not a twin — of the person who is drowning. Case (b) will still result in one copy of his genes being preserved. However, since ordinary siblings share only 50% of their genes, if the man on shore succeeds in rescuing his brother then (on average) 1.5 copies of the man’s genes will survive. Since 80% of the attempts will be successful, case (a) will on average result in 1.2 (= 0.80 × 1.5) copies of the altruistic genes surviving. Since 1.2 is greater than 1.0, the altruistic genes will be favored by natural selection in this case too.

“Suppose, however, that the two men were not brothers, but merely first cousins. First cousins, on average, share only one-eighth of their genes. In this case, altruistic behavior results in only 0.9 (= 0.80 × 1.125) copies of the man’s genes surviving, and natural selection will therefore favor the genes for selfish behavior.

“The upshot is that a gene that disposes its bearer to behave altruistically toward a close relative can have a selective advantage over one that disposes its bearer to act completely selfishly. Furthermore, this can occur even though the relative never returns the favor, and even if the survival of the relative does not increase the group’s chances of survival. It is not necessary that either reciprocal altruism or group selection operate for kin selection to result in the spread of genes that dispose their bearer to act altruistically toward close relatives.”
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what’s missing from these examples is, of course, inbreeding. and depth of time.

take michael’s second example up there…

“Suppose that the man on shore is a brother — but not a twin — of the person who is drowning.”

…but let’s add that the parents of these brothers were first-cousins. that makes these two guys: brothers AND second-cousins (i.e. the children of two first-cousins). so they probably share not only 50% of their genes in common as brothers, but also 3.13% of their genes in common as second-cousins. so the “push” to jump in the water to save the brother/cousin must be somewhat stronger in the inbred pair than for the brother to save just a plain ol’ brother.

now let’s take this example of michael’s…

“Suppose, however, that the two men were not brothers, but merely first cousins. First cousins, on average, share only one-eighth of their genes.”

…but let’s make them double first-cousins rather than just first-cousins. what happens then?

well, while first-cousins probably share 1/8th or 12.5% of their genes in common, double first-cousins share … well, double that! … or 1/4 or 25% of their genes in common.

what happens to michael’s calculation then?

“In this case, altruistic behavior results in only 0.9 (= 0.80 × 1.125) copies of the man’s genes surviving, and natural selection will therefore favor the genes for selfish behavior.”

in the case of double first-cousins the calculation becomes 0.80 x 1.25 = 1.0. that’s just breaking even using michael’s example, but what if the odds of saving the cousin from drowing are better than 80%?

or what about the depth of time i mentioned above? what if the family of my double first-cousins has been inbreeding for a very long time. a very, very long time. like for fifty generations or more. then the relatedness between all the family members, including these double first-cousins, will be even closer. natural selection ought, then, to favor such double first-cousins jumping in to save each other.

as wade and breden showed (see also previous post), inbreeding can help to accelerate the rate of the evolution (or frequency in a population) of altruism genes [pg. 846]:

[T]he increase in matings between homozygous parents decreases the genetic variance within families, because these matings produce genotypically homogeneous arrays of offspring.”

repeated inbreeding in a family reduces the diversity (whoa!) of the allele types within that family, and if we’re talking about “genes for altruism” here, then the variety of those must get reduced within inbred families, too. in a population that consists of, say, ten inbreeding families, the one that has super-duper altruism genes that lead all of its family members to help each other out more than the members of the other families will have the advantage (provided selection favors that advantage for whatever reasons). and those super-duper altruism genes will no doubt eventually spread to the other families since, in reality, no family groups inbreed 100% of the time anywhere — there will pretty definitely be gene flow between families. so then you’ll get a whole population of super-duper family altruists (note that these people are NOT altruistic to unrelated individuals).

the human populations on earth today that inbreed most closely (within patrilineages) and often practice double first-cousin marriage — AND have been doing this for prolly at least a couple of thousand years (time depth) — are the arabs (who later spread these mating practices to the maghreb, the mashriq and far off places like iraq and afghanistan and all the other ‘stans) and some peoples in the levant like the druze. i think that, because of their long-standing mating practices, they are the prime human examples of wade and breden’s accelerated evolution of altruism thanks to inbreeding.

previously: inbreeding and the evolution of altruistic behavior and more on inbreeding and the evolution of altruistic behavior

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hbd day essay

here’s my hbd day essay that appeared on olave’s hbdday.com site yesterday:

Altruism and Human Biodiversity

Human biodiversity comes in all shapes and sizes. There are average physical differences between various human populations, average intellectual differences, average behavioral differences. In addition to all of these, there are differences between human populations in certain social behaviors such as the types of altruistic behaviors displayed (reciprocal altruism versus what I will call “familial altruism”), nepotism and corruption. These social behaviors all relate to a biological concept known as inclusive fitness.

Evolution is, of course, all about the survival of the fittest, or those individuals who, via reproduction, pass on the most copies of their genes into the succeeding generation. However, according to the concept of inclusive fitness, an individual can also increase his fitness not only by reproducing, but also by helping others with whom he shares genes to successfully reproduce as well. The other people with whom individuals usually share the most number of genes are their family members, so by helping out nieces and nephews for example, a person can increase his own fitness since he shares a good deal of his genes with these relatives.

In his now classic article, “Cousin Marriage Conundrum,” Steve Sailer pointed out how the concept of inclusive fitness explains why some populations with high degrees of inbreeding, such as Arab and South Asian societies, exhibit greater amounts of nepotism and corruption than Western societies. This is because the inclusive fitness payoff described above is greater for inbred groups than outbred groups. As he put it, in inbred populations:

“[Y]ou’ll be genealogically related to your kin via multiple pathways. You will all be genetically more similar, so your normal family feelings will be multiplied. For example, your son-in-law might be also be the nephew you’ve cherished since his childhood, so you can lavish all the nepotistic altruism on him that in an outbred family would be split between your son-in-law and your nephew.

“Unfortunately, nepotism is usually a zero sum game, so the flip side of being materially nicer toward your relatives would be that you’d have less resources left with which to be civil, or even just fair, toward non-kin. So, nepotistic corruption is rampant in countries such as Iraq….”

I like to think of these sorts of altruistic behaviors that are directed towards family members, such as nepotistic behaviors, as “familial altruism.” An alternative form of altruism, which is often directed towards non-family members, is reciprocal altruism in which an individual is altruistic towards another individual in the hopes that the favor will be returned at some later point. Both forms of altruism are undoubtedly found in all human populations everywhere, but familial altruism occurs more frequently in inbred populations due to the greater inclusive fitness payoff, probably at the expense of reciprocal altruism.

In addition to explaining why some groups of people are more nepotistic than others, inclusive fitness also helps us to understand the evolution of these behaviors in humans (and other animals). Significant amounts of inbreeding in a population over numerous generations can lead to increased frequencies of those genes that are related to familial altruistic behaviors, whatever they may be. If inbred individuals are more successful at passing their genes on than non-inbred individuals because they are naturally more inclined to practice familial altruism, then, thanks to natural selection, “genes for familial altruism” will gradually spread through the population (see also here). In contrast, such genes will hardly spread at all through an outbreeding population since the inclusive fitness payoff to be extra altruistic towards family members isn’t so great in these populations.

What does any of this have to do with the real world as we know it?

Well, not only do different human populations today inbreed or outbreed to differing degrees as Steve Sailer alluded to in “Cousin Marriage Conundrum,” but different human populations have different histories of inbreeding and outbreeding; histories during which various frequencies of different types of genes (alleles) related to altruistic behaviors might have been selected for.

For instance, the Arabs have been regularly and frequently marrying their first-cousins since well before Muhammad’s time, probably since the time of Christ or even before. Arabs, with their tribalistic societies, exhibit some of the greatest amounts of familial altruism of any human population on the planet. Society operates almost exclusively around the extended-family, the clan and the tribe; nepotism and corruption are the norm; and liberal democracy, which is based on individual freedoms and rights, is difficult if not impossible to implement in these societies.

The Arab form of cousin marriage, what is known as father’s brother’s daughter marriage, spread to the populations of the Maghreb, the Mashriq and parts of South Asia during the Middle Ages, and today these other societies behave tribally just as the Arabs do. Father’s brother’s daughter marriage is almost exclusive to this part of the world. It is the most incestuous of the cousin marriage forms since both mother and father come from the same (paternal) lineage.

The most common form of cousin marriage in the world is mother’s brother’s daughter marriage and it has a very long history in China going back to at least the third century B.C. This form of cousin marriage involves less inbreeding than the Arab type since parents come from different lineages, but it is still a form of inbreeding. That the relatedness of family members in Chinese populations is not as close as in the Arab world is reflected in the shape of Chinese society versus Arab society: the extended family and the clan is important, but society is not fractured along tribal lines. Nepotism and corruption are still rampant, however, and again liberal democracy is difficult to implement. The influence of familial altruism is still too strong in Chinese society.

Due to an historical accident, namely the introduction of Christianity, the one area of the world in which human populations have been outbreeding for a significant amount of time is Europe, more specifically Western Europe, and even more specifically Northwestern Europe. Starting as early as the fourth century A.D., the Roman Catholic Church banned cousin marriage in Europe (and civil codes often backed up these bans). Which cousins you could or could not marry according to the Catholic Church, and later the Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches, has varied over the centuries; but from the 1200s through the 1800s, marriage up to third cousins was forbidden in the Catholic Church (although dispensations have been available to different degrees at varying times).

In other words, for a good 800 to 1600 years, Europeans have not been inbreeding. The conditions which, as described above, can promote the spread of familial altruism genes in a population were removed from European populations. Not surprisingly, European societies today are not tribalistic and very few are clan-based or even centered around the extended family. European societies, especially Northwestern European societies, are founded upon the individual and the nuclear family. Nepotism and corruption are much less frequent. It was here that liberal democracy, based on the rights and obligations of individuals in reciprocally altruistic relationships to one another, was born.

There are some exceptions to the historic pattern of European outbreeding. The periphery of Europe held on to inbreeding practices for much longer than “core” Europe, core Europe being the English, the French, the Germans, the North Italians and possibly the Scandinavians.

Working counter-clockwise around the periphery of Europe, the following populations continued inbreeding, to different degrees and for different lengths of time, beyond the Early Medieval period, sometimes well beyond, unlike core Europeans: the Irish, the Spanish, Southern Italians, the Greeks, the Poles, the Russians and Eastern Europeans in general. Most of these societies still place emphasis on the extended family rather than the individual and the nuclear family; most have relatively high levels of corruption and nepostism and clientelism; and many have shaky democratic systems. It’s probably no coincidence that Europe’s P.I.I.G.S. are found in this group of historic inbreeders. Again, familial altruism still reigns supreme in these populations, although to a lesser degree than in the Arab world.

How can this information be of any use to us? Like any knowledge grounded in human biodiveristy, we can come to understand that all human populations are, on average, not indentical in nature. It is very likely that populations with long histories of inbreeding have greater frequencies of whatever genes are related to familial altruism; and because of these innate differences, it would be very difficult to get any of these populations, the inbred ones or the outbred ones, to change their average altruistic behavioral patterns overnight.

The Arab Spring will never look like the American Revolution and produce liberal democratic societies because Arab populations are too innately tribal. Their tendency toward familial altruism affects their thoughts and feelings on how to interact with others on an everyday basis. It is sheer folly to insist on “bringing democracy” to these populations, and frankly it is insulting to them to insist that they adopt our ways when they think and feel very differently about the right ways that family- and non-family relationships should work.

The European Union is also doomed to failure because it is an attempt to unite individualistic outbreeders with more family-oriented (recent or current) inbreeders. The combination will never work because, again, the innate attitudes of the people in each of the populations are too different. The one side operates as a group of “atomized” individuals collectively working towards “the common good;” the other is still too focused on “me and mine.”

Finally, the implications of the effects of long-term inbreeding on altruistic behaviors for the immigration policies of Western societies are enormous. To allow the mass immigration of peoples with very different historic mating patterns to Western nations is simply a recipe for disaster. The outcome, at least in the short term, will very much resemble a mixture of oil and water: the two simply will not blend since their compositions are too dissimilar.

Human biodiversity – it matters!

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