linkfest: 05/27/14

Quick Questions for Peter and Rosemary Grant“There is widespread misunderstanding about evolution; that it occurs extremely slowly and therefore cannot be studied in a person’s lifetime. This was the view of Charles Darwin. Many biologists and others now know that this is not correct…. The idea that animals as large as birds might evolve before our eyes is not so well known, yet our study in the entirely natural world of Daphne Major island has revealed this does in fact happen when there is a change in the environment, and it takes place over a period as short as a year, and repeatedly.” – h/t billare!

Is DNA Multilingual?“The genetic code has traditionally been viewed as a universal set of instructions, exquisitely tuned to maintain robust stability and allow evolution-sustaining mutations. But the pervasive occurrence of recoded stop codons, and the backchannel crosstalk between microbes and viruses, paints a more intricate picture of multilingual genetic instructions.”

Jelly genome mystery“The uniqueness of this ctenophore’s nervous system leads Moroz and his team to argue that it must have evolved independently, after the ctenophore lineage branched off from other animals some 500 million years ago.”

Genomic divergence in a ring species complex“Ring species provide particularly clear demonstrations of how one species can gradually evolve into two, but are rare in nature…. Here we use genome-wide analyses to show that, although spatial patterns of genetic variation are currently mostly as expected of a ring species, historical breaks in gene flow have existed at more than one location around the ring, and the two Siberian forms have occasionally interbred.” – h/t razib!

Natural selection and infectious disease in human populations“The ancient biological ‘arms race’ between microbial pathogens and humans has shaped genetic variation in modern populations, and this has important implications for the growing field of medical genomics. As humans migrated throughout the world, populations encountered distinct pathogens, and natural selection increased the prevalence of alleles that are advantageous in the new ecosystems in both host and pathogens. This ancient history now influences human infectious disease susceptibility and microbiome homeostasis, and contributes to common diseases that show geographical disparities, such as autoimmune and metabolic disorders.”

High genetic differentiation between populations often driven by classic selective sweeps“‘We demonstrate that while sites of low differentiation represent sampling effects rather than balancing selection, sites showing extremely high population differentiation are enriched for positive selection events and that one half may be the result of classic selective sweeps. Among these, we rediscover known examples, where we actually identify the established functional SNP, and discover novel examples including the genes ABCA12, CALD1 and ZNF804, which we speculate may be linked to adaptations in skin, calcium metabolism and defense, respectively. Conclusions: We have identified known and many novel candidate regions for geographically restricted positive selection, and suggest several directions for further research.'” – @dienekes’.

Mendelian-Mutationism: The Forgotten Evolutionary Synthesis – h/t neuroskeptic! who tweeted: “Did geneticists ‘crack’ the secret of evolution much earlier than believed?”

this one’s for linton!: Why Marrying Your Cousin May Pay Off“In line with previous findings, the researchers found that among non-foraging societies, a couple’s relatedness was linked with having more surviving children. But among foraging societies, the opposite was true: More-closely related spouses had fewer surviving children. Furthermore, the more family intermarriage in a society, the greater the benefit of intermarrying on the number of children couples had. In other words, in societies in which people frequently married their relatives, intermarrying showed a stronger link to having more children.”

The Closest of Strangers“[I]dentical twins who are aunts and uncles invest more in caring for the children of their twins (their ‘genetic’ sons and daughters) than do fraternal twins.”

Why Do Honor Killings Defy the First Law of Homicide? And Will Smaller Families Lead to Fewer Of Them? – h/t tom farsides! – previously: inclusive inclusive fitness.

Genetic and educational assortative mating among US adults“We find that spouses are more genetically similar than two individuals chosen at random but this similarity is at most one-third the magnitude of educational similarity.”

Irish fair skin can be traced to India and the Middle East“A major new US study at Penn State University has found that Europeans’ light skin stems from a gene mutation from a single person who lived 10,000 years ago…. Keith Cheng from Penn State College of Medicine reported that one amino acid difference in the gene SLC24A5 is a key contributor to the skin color difference between Europeans and West Africans…. ‘The mutation in SLC24A5 changes just one building block in the protein, and contributes about a third of the visually striking differences in skin tone between peoples of African and European ancestry, he said…. The mutation, called A111T, is found in virtually everyone of European ancestry. A111T is also found in populations in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent, but not in high numbers in Africans. All individuals from the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa and South India who carry the A111T mutation share traces of the ancestral genetic code. According to the researchers, this indicates that all existing instances of this mutation originate from the same person.” – h/t 23andMe!

The puzzle of European hair, eye, and skin color“The physical appearance of Europeans seems to result from a selection pressure that acted primarily on women and only secondarily on men. This is especially true for highly visible traits on or near the face—the focus of visual attention.” – from peter frost.

The Dark Triad of Personality – special issue of Personality and Individual Differences. – h/t claire lehmann!

Heritability of brain volume change and its relation to intelligence“Human brain volumes change throughout life, are highly heritable, and have been associated with general cognitive functioning…. Results show that changes in volumes of total brain (mean=-6.4ml; -0.5% loss), cerebellum (1.4ml, 1.0% increase), cerebral white matter (4.4ml, 0.9% increase), lateral ventricles (0.6ml; 4.8% increase) and in surface area (-19.7cm2, -1.1% contraction) are heritable (h2=43%; 52%; 29%; 31%; and 33%, respectively). An association between IQ (available for 91 participants) and brain volume change was observed, which was attributed to genes involved in both the variation in change in brain volume and in intelligence. Thus, dynamic changes in brain structure are heritable and may have cognitive significance in adulthood.”

Cognitive abilities amongst the Sámi population“Lapps have an IQ around 100.8 are tilted towards visuospatial ability and away from verbal ability.” – from elijah armstrong, michael woodley the younger, and richard lynn. edit: original paper here on elijah’s blog! (^_^)

The Flynn Effect in a Nutshell – from elijah.

Does brain structure determine your political views?“‘People like to believe that their own political beliefs are rational, that they’re a sensible response to the world around them, so when we come along and say, “Maybe there are these predispositions, influential but perhaps not fully in your conscious awareness,” that’s not the way we like to view our own political beliefs.'” – h/t mr. robert ford!

Sex-Related Neuroanatomical Basis of Emotion Regulation Ability“Behavioral research has demonstrated that males have a higher capability of regulating their own and others’ emotions than females; however, little is known about the sex-specific brain mechanisms involved in emotion regulation ability…. we found the sex differences in the neuroanatomical basis of emotion regulation ability. Males showed a stronger positive relation between emotion regulation ability and regional gray matter volume (rGMV) in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. In contrast, females demonstrated a stronger positive relation between emotion regulation ability and rGMV in an anatomical cluster that extends from the left brainstem to the left hippocampus, the left amygdala and the insular cortex.”

More Maps of the American Nations – from jayman.

Privilege and Morality“Our species isn’t good at nuance. The ‘privilege’ debate will and must take place in a morally charged context. It is not possible to sanitize the discussion by scrubbing it free of moral emotions. That is one of the many reasons why it is so important to understand what morality is and why it exists. It does not exist as a transcendental entity that happened to pop into existence with the big bang, nor does it exist because the Big Man upstairs wants it that way. It exists because it evolved.” – from helian.

Economic Growth & Human Biodiversity“Economic growth in lower-IQ countries does not invalidate either the reality of IQ differences between countries or the persistence of those disparities.” – from pseudoerasmus.

Good Fences: The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Peaceful Coexistence“Switzerland is recognized as a country of peace, stability and prosperity. This is surprising because of its linguistic and religious diversity that in other parts of the world lead to conflict and violence. Here we analyze how peaceful stability is maintained. Our analysis shows that peace does not depend on integrated coexistence, but rather on well defined topographical and political boundaries separating groups, allowing for partial autonomy within a single country. In Switzerland, mountains and lakes are an important part of the boundaries between sharply defined linguistic areas. Political canton and circle (sub-canton) boundaries often separate religious groups. Where such boundaries do not appear to be sufficient, we find that specific aspects of the population distribution guarantee either sufficient separation or sufficient mixing to inhibit intergroup violence according to the quantitative theory of conflict. In exactly one region, a porous mountain range does not adequately separate linguistic groups and that region has experienced significant violent conflict, leading to the recent creation of the canton of Jura.”

Was Territoriality Important in the Pleistocene? A Commentary on Johnson and Toft – @peter turchin’s.

Southern Europe is suspicious: the evolution of trust in the EU – ess and wvs results.

Trust and In-Group Favoritism in a Culture of Crime [pdf] – h/t ben southwood! who tweeted: “Areas in Palermo with high Mafia involvement have lower generalised trust but higher in-group favouritism.”

In dogs’ play, researchers see honesty and deceit, perhaps something like morality – woof!

What is Phonemic Diversity? — And Does It Prove the Out-of-Africa Theory? – h/t james winters!

How a Protestant spin machine hid the truth about the English Reformation“It seems that in 1533, the year of Henry’s break from Rome, traditional Catholicism was the religion of the vast majority of the country. And in most places it was absolutely thriving. It had developed a particularly English flavour, with a focus on the involvement of ordinary people in parish churches, village greens, plays, and pageants – much of which seemed to involve a good deal of community parties, dancing, and drinking. It is true that English religion in the early 1500s was not especially studious or erudite. The people did not spend hours a day in biblical studies, contemplation, and moralising in the manner of the more intense European reformers. But England had a nationally cohesive spirituality that was alive and exuberant, with a distinctly community feel…. The conclusion of this modern grassroots scholarship is that bulldozing the Catholic Church off the face of medieval England was not a ‘bottom up’ revolution in which Henry merely acquiesced to his people’s wishes by throwing off a widely hated foreign domination. To the contrary, it looks increasingly like Henry and his circle imposed the Reformation ‘top down’, unleashing 100 years of deep anger and alienation that was only overcome by sustained politicking and ruthless force.” – h/t william briggs!

bonus: “No Oxygen? No Problem!” Says Squid That Can Shut Down Its Metabolism – h/t kyle hill!

bonus bonus: A Theory on How Flightless Birds Spread Across the World: They Flew There

bonus bonus bonus: Chicken project gets off the ground“Effort aims to unravel the history of bird’s domestication.” – cluck!

(note: comments do not require an email. humble humboldt squid!)

linkfest – 09/08/13

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

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

Scientists to sequence genomes of hundreds of newborns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arabs and Liberal Democracy: A Primer – @thosewhocansee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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family honor, honor killings, and family likeness

something greying wanderer said recently (thanks, grey!)…

I think at a bare minimum there’ll be family resemblance which on average ought to be increased by inbreeding through linkage effects. I’m not sure if that’s generally accepted or not?”

…got me to thinking about family honor, honor killings, and family likeness.
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first of all, family honor: i haven’t done a systematic study of it yet, but all indications are that family honor is more important — oftentimes much more important — in long-term inbreeding societies than long-term outbreeding ones. family honor expresses itself in behaviors like feuding and honor killings. many of the usual suspects are included here (from wikipedia):

– the middle east – noted example, the bedouins
– turkey
– south asia: afghanistan, pakistan, and india
– china and japan: not so much honor killings as not disgracing the family by failing your exams!
– europe: the mediterranean region – “In Italy, infidelity of women was seen dishonorable, thus crimes of passion were classified as second-degree murders until 1970s.” (from here.)
– the old south (u.s.a.)
– hispanic cultures – including brazil.

and about honor in northern european societies (from here – my emphasis):

“[I]n Northern Europe it has a more individualized meaning that is focused on personal accomplishments and qualities.”

mmm-hmmm.

anyway, so i think it’s pretty safe to bet that family honor issues go together, for whatever reasons (i have my own ideas on the matter, of course), with long-term inbreeding. we’ve seen before that honor killings really seem to be connected to father’s brother’s daughter’s (fbd) marriage, which is mostly practiced in the arab world/north africa/middle east/parts of south asia and which pushes towards greater degrees of inbreeding (than other forms of cousin marriage).
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what about family likeness then? do the members of long-term inbreeding families look more like one another, on average, than the members of long-term outbreeding families? do they share more personality traits with one another? do they behave, on average, more like one another? i don’t know — and i don’t know of any research looking into these questions (anybody?).

remember the ghoul family though (hope they’re ok! =/ ) and how similar the brothers look to one another?:

ghoul brothers

are they indicative at all of what you get with long-term inbreeding? i really don’t know.
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but let’s assume, just for the sake of argument, that the members of long-term inbreeding families are more like one another on average than the members of outbreeding families, and that the likeness is not just in appearance but also in personality traits, behaviors, etc. perhaps this (if it’s true) might help explain honor killings.

family honor, at least with regard to honor killings, is a public thing. from what i’ve read — and i’m sorry that i don’t have any references at hand at the moment — honor killings usually happen when the trangression becomes publically known, or at least becomes known outside the immediate family. in societies where family honor is important, people don’t typically kill their errant daughters if they can keep their bad behavior a secret — that would be a waste of all the time and effort and money invested in raising her, and it obviously must be emotionally a very difficult thing to do (although maybe the family honor feelings over-ride that to some extent?).

honor killings are a sort of altruistic act, and i mean altruistic in the scientific meaning of the word (from here)…

“[A]ltruism refers to behaviour by an individual that increases the fitness of another individual while decreasing the fitness of the actor.”

…but in the case of honor killings, the altruistic behavior of the actor (the person who kills the daughter) doesn’t result in the decreasing of the actor’s own fitness, but, rather, the daughter’s (obviously). and, then, it’s the fitness of other members of the family that would be increased, namely any young family members who are of reproductive age or younger, since if the family honor is tarnished, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get spouses for the other children. i half-jokingly referred to this before as “inclusive inclusive fitness” — you’re not sacrificing your own fitness to benefit another’s (whose genes you share), you’re sacrificing someone else’s — but you share a lot of genes with them, too, so in a way you are sacrificing the fitness of your own genes, just not those in your own person.

what if the underlying reason driving honor killings is because, in inbred societies, everybody knows from loooong experience that family members are really *very* like one another, so then, of course, you’d NEVER marry your kid to a member of THAT family because they had that one daughter who behaved very badly, and — conclusion — the rest of the family is probably like that, too?! maybe it’s crucial, then, for a family in an inbreeding society to distance itself from its badly behaving member by sacrificing her (and it usually is a her) in order to show the rest of society that the remaining members of the family do NOT condone the behavior and, implying, that they would never, EVER behave that way themselves.

don’t know. just an idea.
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see also: Family honor and Cultures of honour and cultures of law

previously: father’s brother’s daughter marriage and why fbd marriage amounts to more inbreeding than mbd marriage and father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage and honor killings and inclusive inclusive fitness and mating patterns, family types, social structures, and selection pressures

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sex and “the other”

“the other” is a shapeless concept in anthropology/the social sciences which i never quite understood — prolly ’cause the anthropologists/social scientists don’t understand it themselves. it’s got something to do with how we react to people who are unlike ourselves somehow or in some way … different headdresses or tattoos or taste in music … or something like that. it might’ve been a useful concept if they’d looked at it from the p.o.v. of genetics, but they mostly didn’t so … never mind….

anyway.

in light of the scandals in rotherham, i thought i’d take some time out from the regularly scheduled program to present a couple of very vague ideas i have related to sex and genetic relatedness between individuals/groups. i haven’t really thought through these ideas, so they’re very vague. don’t say i didn’t warn you. (also, could be that actual scientists have already thought through/done lots of research on all of these already and i’m not aware of it. if so, just ignore me.)

vague thought number one:

if the prime directive is to reproduce your genes (or at least those that would have an effect in this case) as much as possible, one tactic in achieving that goal might be to reduce how much your competitors — those individuals unrelated to you who don’t share your genes — manage to reproduce their genes. you could do that by a) killing them, and/or b) preventing them from reproducing in some other way.

one way to prevent “the other” guys from reproducing (so much) would be to mate as much as possible with, if you imagine two neighboring tribes, their usual mates. then, not only do you reduce the actual reproduction of “the other” guys’ genes, you also increase your own and spread your genes even that much further than you would’ve if you just stuck to the members of your own tribe. so it’s possible — possible — then that a special drive for mating with “the other” could’ve been something that was selected for ’cause it might’ve paid off.

however, you would think this would be a better strategy for men than for women since reproduction for human females is such a long, drawn-out, costly affair, whereas men can just spread their seed hither and thither without a care in the world. a drive for sex with “the other” might, then, be stronger in men than in women, and might even result in a certain amount of sexual coercion (to put it nicely) since the women don’t really want to engage in this sex with “the other” so much. and this coercion might be applied more often to unrelated/unlike females than to related/like females a la ghengis khan and his band of literal brothers sweeping across eurasia raping and pillaging wherever they went (that’d be one of the more extreme examples — extreme in terms of behaviors exhibited and in terms of success).
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vague thought number two:

in my world of inbred populations, familial altruism rules the day because it pays more — inclusive fitness-wise — to be altruistic towards your family members, since you share an inordinate number of genes with them compared to non-family members. perhaps, too, in an inbred society it would also pay more to mate with “the other” (as described above) if and when you could since, in an inbred society, the different extended families/clans are less related to one another than families in an outbred society. by mating with your unrelated neighbor’s sister, you’re (heh) screwing him genetically more than a guy in an outbred society would do to his neighbor. in other words, perhaps a stronger drive to mate with “the other” could be selected for in inbred societies because the effect of “vague thought number one” would be amplified. (perhaps this is why peoples in the arab world/middle east cover their women up in burkas — for their own protection just like they often say!)
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vague thought number three:

glenn daniel wilson has suggested that rape is/was a reproductive strategy of — i guess the gameboyz would call them beta males — guys who didn’t have access to females ’cause some alpha males had all or most of the access. maybe, then, the drive to rape is a response to polygamy. maybe. if so, that would certainly seem to fit the arab world and might explain why they are overly protective of their women (burkas, purdah). might even explain what happened in rotherham. i have to admit, i’m not 100% convinced by this one. i think it might be part of the explanation, but not the sole one.
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vague thought number four:

i’ve been meaning to do a post on this, but just haven’t gotten around to it, so i’ll just tack it on here. sex drives and the hajnal line — something which jayman mentioned in the comments here.

you’ve probably all seen henry harpending and greg cochran’s recent (very cool!) discussions about fathers’ ages and mutation rates (most recent example here). my question, wrt the late marriage trend in western europe for both men and women, is: has there been any selection for behaviors related to these late marriages?

if — if — over the last few hundred years, those nw europeans who married (i.e. mated) at a later age were more successful at leaving their genes behind than those who married young, were certain behavioral traits related to this selected for? greater ability to delay gratification, for instance (in this case sexual gratification!)? relatively lower libido (“no sex, please, we’re british!” — see also monty python)? other traits i haven’t thought of?

like jayman said in his comment, in most of the world even today — and in many more parts up until very recently — a 14, 15, 16 year-old girl is/was considered very marriable/matable. maybe nw europeans feel that relatively less so. dunno.

(note: comments do not require an email. funny headdress.)

inclusive inclusive fitness

inclusive fitness means you can increase your own (genes’) fitness by somehow being altruistic to other individuals out there who share your genes, family members being the most obvious choice (’cause they typically share a lot of your genes — especially if you’re a bee). an altruistic behavior is defined in biology as some action which helps out another individual(s) while costing the altruistic individual a chance at reproducing or even surviving.

let’s take my example from my last post on altruism: the suicide bomber. the suicide bomber makes the ultimate sacrifice — 100% of his genes on behalf of, presumably, some or all of his extended family members. here he is — mr. light-blue square. by blowing himself up — and possibly taking some of his family’s enemies’ genes with him — he forfeits all of his genes, outlined in red, that are found in his own genome:

but, there are other copies of his genes in other people — that’s kinda the whole point.

now, remember mr. light blue and miss light pink from this post? well, here they are again. they’re first-cousins so (barring any other inbreeding) they prolly share 1/8th of their genes in common, thus they overlap:

and here, they’ve mated and had a daughter, miss deep-pink, who has inherited half of her father’s chromosomes and half of her mother’s, but she’s gotten some duplicate copies of genes (alleles) because her parents shared genes (alleles) in common (i.e. where they overlapped). (like her brother, mr. deep-blue, she’s “less of an individual” than an outbred person.):

i’ve purposefully picked first-cousin marriage here because i want to take a look at another example of altruism from the muslim world — honor killing (i know — honor killings are not restricted to muslim societies).

what happens genetically when a parent — or often parents — kills one of his kids?

well, in the suicide bombing example above, the individual sacrificed 100% of his genes for his family. in the case of honor killing, he sacrifices half of his genes for his family plus the extra copies of his genes/alleles that his daughter carries due to the inbreeding — according to my calculations, that means he’s sacrificing (prolly) 56.84% of his genes (in an fbd marriage scenario, which is a typical cousin-marriage pattern found in the muslim world). (all of this can be flipped around to view it from the mother’s p.o.v., obviously.) here again, outlined in red, are the genes that he altruistically sacrifices.:

it doesn’t really matter if he sacrifices his genes within his own genome or his genes within his daughter’s genomeeither way, he’s still sacrificing some of his own genes for a greater number of his own genes found in other individuals.

and 56.84% vs. 100%? — honor killing is clearly an altruistic bargain compared to suicide bombing. =/

also, in the honor killing situation, dad’s still around to live another day and possibly even reproduce some more. still, it is something to sacrifice the young who probably have before them more opportunities to reproduce than dear old dad. they are the future, obviously. (i’ve read somewhere that honor killings often or typically take place when whatever the scandal is becomes publically known — otherwise, of course, a family will try to cover things up. why sacrifice a family member if you don’t have to? unfortunately, can’t find the reference where i read that. pretty sure it was daniel pipes.)

but who is benefitting from this altruistic killing? well, westerners often belittle the claims that muslims and other peoples make when they say that they’re saving their familiy’s honor in murdering a daughter (or two or three) — but if your other children are unable to marry** because of one child’s bad behavior, then obviously honor killing becomes an altruistic act, since in total you will benefit a greater number of your genes by sacrificing some of them. that’s the biological definition of altruism.

honor killings are really an example of inclusive inclusive fitness since the altruistic individual’s genes that are sacrificed on behalf of copies of his genes in other individuals are other copies of his genes in other individuals. (got that?)

the long history of inbreeding in middle eastern/north african/south asian muslim societies is important here, too, ’cause remember — inbreeding means that the evolution of altruism in a population is made easier. whatever genes that influence the willingness, for ultimately altruistic reasons, to kill an offspring, a pretty extreme step — genes that make individuals within these societies, on average, more willing to do it than otherwise — seem to have arisen and flourished in these populations, undoubtedly because of their particular evolutionary history.

no, of course i’m not condoning honor killings — or any other kind of killing for that matter (self-defense is ok). i’m only trying to explain them. by understanding where the drive for them comes from, maybe people can put an end to them (if they want to).

**remember how in “Pride and Prejudice,” miss elizabeth bennett fretted that that she and her other sisters would have difficulties marrying because of the disgrace lydia brought on the family…?

previously: which altruism genes?

(note: comments do not require an email. can’t think of anything funny to say about honor killings. =/ )

segregation is good

ethnic enclaves are bad. if you want to keep people alive and prevent ethnic conflict, that is.

a couple of real world examples…

first, guatemala. in “Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Civil Violence: Guatemala 1977-1986,” timothy gulden found, amongst other things, that [pg. 29]:

The amount of killing in a municipality was correlated with its ethnic mix….

“The distribution of ethnic population among municipalities was highly polarized and the distribution U-shaped, as suggested by the gray bars in the histogram presented as Figure 3.

“Thus, at both ends of this histogram, where one group or the other [ladinos vs. mayans] represented more than 90 percent of a local population, and also in the middle, where neither group was more than 75-percent dominant, killings of Mayans, the principal victims, were fewer.”

here’s the histogram:

more from gulden [pg. 34]:

The ethnic mix histogram showed the greatest number of killings in municipalities with predominantly Mayan populations, but fewer killings in the most heavily Mayan areas. This pattern might have been produced by an attempt to clear Mayans from mixed Mayan-Ladino areas but a disinclination to do the same, to attempt ‘ethnic cleansing,’ in the Mayan heartland. The ethnic mix histogram also showed a small rise in killings where Mayans were between 10 and 25 percent of the population. Minority populations of such proportions might somehow have threatened or annoyed a local Ladino majority without effectively restraining it. Members of the smallest Mayan populations were safer; they might typically have been individual servants or laborers, with or without families, well known to Ladino employers.”

re. switzerland and the former yugoslavia — from an article i posted about the other day, “Good Fences: The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Peaceful Coexistence”, the authors found that, in both switzerland and the former yugoslavia, there was the least amount of ethnic conflict in those areas where topographical and/or political boundaries clearly separated different linguistic, religious and/or ethnic groups, but where there were porous borders, there was more conflict. the former situation is more characteristic of switzerland on the whole, while the latter characterizes the former yugolavia, ergo more ethnic conflict in the former yugoslavia [pgs. 10-12]:

“Our work clarifies the ambiguities of mixed language and religion Swiss cantons by showing that in most cases the natural geography of the populations conspires to lead to a low level of violence, so that additional boundaries were not necessary; where they were needed, as in Graubunden, they were established. The highest calculated propensity to violence is between linguistic groups in the northern part of the canton of Bern, where historically unresolved real world tensions actually exist. Our analysis indicates that both administrative and natural barriers can play a significant role in mitigating conflict between religious and linguistic groups. Historical evidence suggests that for religious groups the boundaries in Switzerland were created to provide autonomy to a group with a shared identity and avoid conflict among multiple groups. Ongoing efforts to reduce tensions in Bern include introducing new political boundaries. The many political, social and economic factors that play roles in reducing violence build on a strong foundation of geographical borders.

diversity is strength … in killing games. =/

(note: comments do not require an email. swiss diversity!)