Giving Bigotry a Chance

W.D. Hamilton’s description of kin selection and inclusive fitness in 1964 led to a major remake of ethology and behavioral biology. He pointed out, for example that since full sibs share half their genomes, anything one does for the other also propagates his own genome, discounted by one half in this case.

In general the discount is given by the coefficient of relationship between the actors: one half between full sibs or between parent and offspring, one quarter between actor and grandchild, and so on.

In the subsequent development and application of the theory, attention remained focused on such genealogical kinship. A kind of shared consensus dominated, especially when thinking about humans: more remote relationship was too small to be of any significance. In particular: ethnic tension, bigotry, and racism were acknowledged to be divorced from mechanisms of inclusive fitness.

Part of this consensus reflected another consensus in anthropology: pots moved in the past but people did not. The dominant model was of an earth carpeted with sessile yet relatively open communities doing limited mate exchange with their neighbors, all facing a common Malthusian limit.

The kind of eruptions familiar from history and recent prehistory, like the expanions of the Bantu or the Han or the Indo-Europeans or the Turks were dismissed as relatively recent consequences of agriculture. We did, after all, spend 99% or our evolution as foragers, just like Kalahari Bushmen, or so the reasoning went.

It is easy to toss out the 99% since people unambiguously like ourselves show up about 45,000 years ago, and agriculture took hold and spread 10,000 years ago. The 99% has to come down to 35/45 or 80%, but even so why would anyone think that Aurignacian invaders of Europe could be modeled by Kalahari Bushmen?

In this imagined homogeneous landscape (this is the crucial point) no one ever encountered anyone very different from himself so there could be nothing in our past to favor evolution of ethnic or racial discrimination and enmity.

Perhaps it is time to give bigotry another chance. With large sets of SNP typings on individuals we can bypass the whole genealogy issue and look directly at DNA differences over the whole genome.

I have been looking at populations in the HGDP (Human Genome Diversity Project) database, which can be gotten at http://www.hgdp.org. I am speaking here about what is called the coefficient of kinship, usually half the coefficient of relationship, because with kinship the algebra makes much more sense.

This figure shows, in the top panel, kinship measured between all possible pairs of 29 French in the French HGDP sample.

No one knows, by the way, how sampling was carried out for this nor for any of the HGDP populations.

The mass at f~0.5 represents kinship with self, more or less that 0.5 according to whether the individual was relatively inbred or outbred. The bottom panel shows, for each person in the sample, the kinship with his closest “relative” (who is probably not a known genealogical relative).

The second figure shows the same statistics for 29 Japanese. Again, the bottom panel shows that, from the viewpoint of kinship, one person is not very different from another person. In other words, with respect to inclusive fitness, there is almost nothing here nor in France to let it work.

Now imagine that these were two communities near each other living in quiet harmony. Then Washington hears about the situation and sends a social improvement team to furnish each community with more diversity by merging them into a single community. Here is the new distribution of kinship in the top panel and, in the bottom panel, the distribution of closest kin for each of the 58 members of the new merged community.

In the new diverse community the average person can find someone related as f~0.06, corresponding roughly to a great-grandchild at f=1/16. Suddenly there is a fitness payoff to discrimination.

Anything I do for my nearest cryptic kinsman is equivalent to doing .06/.5 12.5% of the same thing for myself, or rather for my Darwinian fitness. Suddenly there would be not-insignificant selection for kin and ethnic discrimination, even bigotry or racism.

The above two examples, French and Japanese, are large populations with deep gene genealogies. The HGDP also has several small ethnic populations in their sample, and the distribution of kinship within these populations is quite different.

This figure shows the data from the Druze, a community in the Middle East that has endured episodes of very small effective size.

Here opportunities for discord and clannishness are high as individuals able to discriminate kin would ally against the “others.”

In this kind of social/genetic environment one would predict very different patterns of family and clan and group loyalty and cooperation. One is reminded for example of the discord and acrimony that is often reported about reservation politics in North America.

Anoyone who writes academic or research papers knows that one writes a draft, puts it in the drawer to stew for a week or more, goes over it carefully, usually rethinks a number of points and sees new ones, and repeats the process until it is ripe.

The above isn’t like that. It has had a whole day and a half in the drawer during which it received perhaps two hours total of thoughtful revision. I am putting it out here because I think it must be interesting but I don’t have it all very clear in my head. If I can crowd source some of it it will be a big help.

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79 Responses to Giving Bigotry a Chance

  1. norbit says:

    I read the article thinking the author was Cochran, then I got here:

    “I am putting it out here because I think it must be interesting but I don’t have it all very clear in my head. If I can crowd source some of it it will be a big help.”

    and realized that that is a request he’d never make in a million years.

    I wonder if his agoraphobic/antisocial tendencies are reflected in the conclusions he draws from his research. Hmmm…

  2. Greying Wanderer says:

    Random thoughts

    “A kind of shared consensus dominated, especially when thinking about humans: more remote relationship was too small to be of any significance. In particular: ethnic tension, bigotry, and racism were acknowledged to be divorced from mechanisms of inclusive fitness.”

    1) Even if this were true as long as one group maintained a culturally constructed sense of kinship they would have an advantage over others who had abandoned any level beyond limited extended family. It’s a kind of unilateral disarmament.

    2) Most western inner cities now are a patchwork of ethnic enclaves. Is it because people are attracted to similarity or repelled by difference? If people’s real behavior is based on the 2% difference all the stuff about humans being 98% the same (or whatever it is) is irrelevant.

    3) There are a lot of places where people will attack outsiders on sight or rather where a certain percentage of the locals will attack outsiders on sight or yet another way there are a percentage of individuals who will attack anyone on sight *unless* they are restrained somehow and one of those restraints is kinship or membership of the same group. The group can be elastic e.g. football hooligans might fight each other one day, join together for an international game the next and then go back to fighting each other the next but at each level you’re safer in than out of the group. Although the hyper-violent cause lots of problems within the group people will tolerate them (in inverse proportion to the local strength of the rule of law) as protection against the hyper-violent individuals from other groups. Given that it seems to me the longterm proportion of violent and lethality violent traits will be inversely proportional to the local rule of law then in historical terms it seems to me extremely likely that people would have developed not xenophobia but xeno-fear traits as a defence mechanism.

    A lot of academics may not have recent experience of the *normality* of that kind of physical threat as the potential source of a decision-making mechanism and by normality i don’t mean everyone but the normality of there being a percentage of hyper-violent individuals as part of human groups.

    4) Are there empathic restraints on violence proportional to genetic similarity? Is trust proportional to genetic similarity? If these things are then they just are whether people like them or not.

    5) Is the driver genetic similarity at the level of close relatives and then relative difference when you get further away.

    6) It’s easy not to be prejudiced from a distance.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “A lot of academics may not have recent experience of the *normality* of that kind of physical threat as the potential source of a decision-making mechanism”

      On reflection probably unfair to single out academics there as it’s probably true for most of the educated third, half or possibly even two-thirds of the western world as that kind of random terriotorial or raiding violence had been mostly eradicated by the 60s (?) except at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.

    • harpend says:

      Can’t disagree with any of your comments, and I think you are hitting the right issues.

      In Utah there is a lot of bad feeling between Mormons and non-Mormons, and both groups are mostly white bread northern Europeans. It is a completely constructed ethnic tension but it is still strong and pervasive.

  3. Michael 2 says:

    Is the reason why the French and Japanese have “smooth” kinship relations with strangers and the Druze don’t cousin marriage? The cousin marriage ban has only been in place for a thousand years in certain societies.

    • harpend says:

      I don’t think so, I think we are seeing differences in effective population size. Large populations have deeper gene genealogies between individuals.

  4. j says:

    Then Washington hears about the situation and sends a social improvement team to furnish each community with more diversity by merging them into a single community.

    It has been the desire of all governments of all times to homogeneize the populations they rule, since Alexander ordering his soldiers to marry Persians, to Ferdinand VII expulsing Jews and Moors from Spain. Could it be possible that terminology (eg “Diversity”) got you confused? What Washington is trying to do is to eliminate racial diversity and reduce communal stress.

    • Neckerbrecker says:

      J wrote: What Washington is trying to do is to eliminate racial diversity and reduce communal stress.

      I initially thought that comment could be classified as “Insane but sincere.” Then I realized I’d got the negative particle in front of the wrong adjective.

  5. Greying Wanderer says:

    “It has been the desire of all governments of all times to homogeneize the populations they rule”

    Then a government that starts with a homogenous population wouldn’t need to do anything.

    “What Washington is trying to do is to eliminate racial diversity and reduce communal stress”

    Washington is increasing racial diversity.

    • Konkvistador says:

      You are under the strange delusion that the Empire of the US state department and Pentagon ends at the borders of the US. It has not been like that for quite some time.

      I suggest you read some Mencious Moldbug http://moldbuggery.blogspot.com/

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        “You are under the strange delusion that the Empire of the US state department and Pentagon ends at the borders of the US.”

        I was responding to the poster above so the delusion would be there, wouldn’t it?

        ###

        23 words
        - two straw men
        - one passive-aggressive ad hom

      • gcochran9 says:

        Moldbug is a fool. Just so you know.

  6. j says:

    Wanderer,

    The only significant population change I have seen is a massive influx of Mexicans into the USA. All the rest is small change. And it was not Wahington that organized the transfer of fifty or more million Mexicans but it happened spontaneously, being wage differentials so large. To keep Mexicans out would have required a Stasi-like police state and then, employers would not have allowed it. They need hands.

    Washington is trying to smoothen out racial tensions and break up racial communities. It seems to be working, as intermarriage (once inexistent) is growing. Cochran can easily calculate the year the US will resemble – from that point of view – Brasil or other recently homogenized countries.

    I think these processes are not planned or managed and please, dont attribute me intentions (I am not for nor against Nature).

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “I think these processes are not planned”

      Washington has laws specifically to increase diversity.

      http://www.greencardlotteryus.org/default8bf5.html?PageID=22

      “break up racial communities”

      Only White ones. 100% Chinese, Jewish, Hispanic, Black etc neighborhoods are already 100% diverse.

      “To keep Mexicans out would have required a Stasi-like police state and then”

      Israel seems to manage.

      However this is getting off the point of the post. You recognize that homogeneity is a more natural human state and that diversity, especially the worst kind, can be immensely harmful and that’s the main thing.

      • j says:

        No, unfortunately Israel is failing in this endeavour. We are too close to Sudan, Erithrea, Ethiopia, which are friendly countries we dont want to offend.

        However, I do recognize that diversity is unconducive to social harmony and successful warfare. That’s why every state-building leader combatted diversity and enforced homogeneization.

    • Anon says:

      “And it was not Wahington that organized the transfer of fifty or more million Mexicans but it happened spontaneously, being wage differentials so large. To keep Mexicans out would have required a Stasi-like police state and then, employers would not have allowed it. They need hands.”

      This is not true, it happened over the course of decades after our borders were opened up in 1965, and via multiple amnesties plus our retarded chain migration policies. Had that immigration network not been built, they would not be here.

      Likewise employers have dealt with both labor shortages, and the end of guest worker programs before, and in a productive,economy growing manner. Tomato production didn’t evaporate after the braceros program for example, quite the contrary.

    • gcochran9 says:

      “To keep Mexicans out would have required a Stasi-like police state ”

      Nonsense. When people wanted the border closed, it was closed with minimal effort.

      • You have probably already indicated why, but I don’t remember seeing it. Can you tell me in a nutshell what’s wrong with ol’ Moldy? (I personally have no opinion on whether he’s a fool or not, but I think he’s interesting.)

      • Uhh, I meant to post that reply to your “Moldbug is a fool” post.

        (I definitely agree that the border could be closed at the drop of a hat if Congress wanted to.)

      • gcochran9 says:

        From what I’ve seen, he’s tendentious and wrong about damn near everything.

      • Konkvistador says:

        I think he has some points on revisionist history of the McCarty era. As he does about the strong influence mostly informal power the media and segments of academia hold in the West. Also he does make the correct point (thought this is far from something original) that the USG is something is not something to anthropomorphize or even consider an organization with coherent long term plans.

      • Konkvistador says:

        Ugh I should really get coffe before posting online in the morning. Corrected for errors:

        I think he has some strong points on his revisionist history (or rather narrative) of McCarthyism and Soviet-US relations in the first half of the 20th century. I also think he is right about the strong influence (and consequently mostly informal power) the media and segments of academia hold in the West. He also explains in quite some detail (thought this is far from original original) why the USG is not something that it is useful to anthropomorphize or consider it an organization with coherent long term plans or even actions.

  7. Bill says:

    Greying Wanderer,

    “J” is Jewish.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      Ah so.

      • j says:

        I am an Israeli Jew. We have some experience in this blog’s subject matter.

      • Dan says:

        From reading his blog, “J” has also migrated and lived in other countries.

        And it’s not just Israeli Jews who would have experience in this blog’s subject matter, but non-Israeli Jews, diaspora Jews as well. Multi-territorial, mobile nations would have even more experience.

      • Dan says:

        From reading his blog, “J” has also migrated and lived in other countries.

        And it’s not just Israeli Jews who would have experience in this blog’s subject matter, but non-Israeli Jews, diaspora Jews as well. Multi-territorial, mobile nations would tend to have even more experience.

  8. RKU says:

    Yes, this seems a pretty obvious point, which I’ve sometimes myself made on various blogs over the years.

    A crucial distinction must be made between innate and socially-constructed tendencies toward ethnocentricity/tribalism.

    For example, some people, especially WN types, sometimes claim that the Chinese are a highly ethnocentric race. But let’s think this through. I’d guess that until the last generation or two, something like 99% of the Chinese living in China had scarcely had a single ancestor who’d ever even encountered a non-Chinese during the previous thousand-odd years. For the last couple of thousand years, virtually everyone a Chinese person encountered was another Chinese, usually genetically-indistinguishable. Given that a trait such as ethnocentricity carries significant negatives, including reactive problems and false-positives, I’d say that finding ethnocentricity among the Chinese is about as likely as finding wings on a gopher. Same for the Japanese and various other peoples.

    By contrast, consider India. That society has long contained hundreds or even thousands of genetically differentiated and highly endogamic sub-castes, mostly living side-by-side and often mutually hostile. One would expect the evolution of extremely strong innate tribalistic tendencies in such an environment.

    Obviously, these evolved tendencies can be modified or over-written by social conditioning in either one direction or the other. But the underlying behavioral tendencies are useful to keep in mind.

    • Matt says:

      I’m tentatively putting this out there (as I’m half certain Henry or Greg can easily demolish this) but the question here is, well, does ethnocentricity “evolve” as a mechanism because

      a group, isolated for a time is then thrown into the presence of other groups, and ethnocentricism is then an optimal protective or expansive strategy

      or

      because it is a kind of basic, efficient in group altruism and cohesion mechanism for communities which can be superseded by other forms of group cohesion in other situations (i.e. sometimes in more ethnically diverse situations, but sometimes in non ethnically diverse situations).

      It doesn’t really seem clear to me which is a more likely hypothesis a priori.

      Obviously WN types who tend to disfavour and hate Jewish people often favor the former.

      While those who disfavour other groups tend towards the later. For example those who cite the behaviour of the Chinese and the very high “in group” collectivism of all the East Asian nations – http://thosewhocansee.blogspot.com/2012/01/german-by-any-other-name.html#more and http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cGdUBxrKrx4/TweWM8XnW1I/AAAAAAAAASE/Wqv1qDG_kWI/s1600/Germany+collectivism+tables.png. High in group collectivism is found in Chinese, whether or not it seems “about as likely as finding wings on a gopher”. And it seems peculiar to assume that in group collectivism, if high in East Asians is kind of a “Well, that’s just not biological at all” while it is in say, India.

      I think you are assuming the former. It may be that that neither or both of these forms of logic operate to some extent.

      • harpend says:

        I am afraid that the issues you raise are way way beyond anything I have come up with here. The point of the exercise I describe is to ask whether individuals who favor “kin” in the sense of overall genotypic similarity would be favored by natural selection. A hint from the data is that favoring such similar people in a population like the French or Japanese (and several others in the HGDP) would not evolve since everyone is related to everyone else to about the same extent.

        In my hypothetical half and half diverse population, on the other hand, discrimination according to overall similarity would indeed be favored. If you are Japanese in this hybrid population, and you have some windfall that you can’t use, helping another Japanese (in terms of reproduction, i.e. fitness) is like helping yourself discounted to 12% while helping a Frenchman hurts your own Darwinian fitness by the same amount. In a population like this selection ought to favor genetic discrimination. Maybe with some better data we could even put a number on it: it would depend on the ecology and economy of the population.

      • hbd chick says:

        @henry – “A hint from the data is that favoring such similar people in a population like the French or Japanese (and several others in the HGDP) would not evolve since everyone is related to everyone else to about the same extent.”

        yes. except this might not apply to the french and/or japanese if the hgdp data from france and/or japan are are local samples (i.e. not representative of the broader populations).

    • anon666 says:

      This sounds wrong because the the Han were originally just a confederation of tribes living in Northern China — they didn’t constitute 91 percent of the population of the geographic area that is present day China. The formation of the Han identity relied upon the incorporation of other East Asian people who were not originally Han, and thus were foreign.

      • harpend says:

        Doesn’t matter, I think, since a few generations of strong mixing yields a population with a flavor all its own just like any other population. Uygurs for example are an old blend of East and West but they sure have their own ethnic identity and problems.

    • hbd chick says:

      @rku – “For the last couple of thousand years, virtually everyone a Chinese person encountered was another Chinese, usually genetically-indistinguishable.”

      the chinese have a long, long tradition of inbreeding, i.e. marrying their cousins (mostly their mother’s brother’s daughters, unlike middle easterners who marry their father’s brother’s daughters — see my comment below). this shows up still in their clannish behaviors today — which tptb in china know is a problem and which is quite possibly why cousin marriage was banned in china in 1980. (they tried to ban cousin marriage at least once before back during the ming dynasty.)

  9. Nanonymous says:

    no one ever encountered anyone very different from himself so there could be nothing in our past to favor evolution of ethnic or racial discrimination and enmity.

    Can’t this be rejected outright based on empirical observations? The trait most reliably observed in humans today and through history is ingroup/outgroup recognition. E.g., paying attention to skin color, stature, body marks, etc is almost as instinctive as arachnophobia.

    • drawbacks says:

      Well, you might suspect that a system attuned to picking up subtle differences would go into overdrive at gross differences in skin color, physiognomy, etc. Tooby and Cosmides (maybe not HCH & GC’s favorite theorists) and Robert Kurzdan seem to suggest that an ability to home in on the contextually important difference(s) is key:
      ‘That hypothesis is that racism is actually an unfortunate by-product of another phenomenon—a tendency to assign people to “coalition groups”, and to use whatever cues are available, be they clothing, accent or skin colour, to slot individuals into such groups (or “stereotype” them, as modern usage might term it). The good news is that experiments done by the researchers suggest that such stereotypes are easily dissolved and replaced with others. Racism, in other words, can be eliminated.’
      http://www.economist.com/node/904534

    • harpend says:

      Of course, but if you really really believe that what you observe can’t possibly be true then you can talk yourself out of believing it. But let us not descend into politics….. :)

  10. Sean says:

    Martin Nowak doesn’t accept there is anything to KS/ IF

    • Nanonymous says:

      Well, he is wrong.

    • harpend says:

      As I understand it he has shown that one can write the equations, i.e. do the accounting, in a different way that does not involve the idea of inclusive fitness. Perhaps his way has advantages? But I don’t think that he “doesn’t accept that there is anything to ….”

      Here is the difference. Hamilton sums up for each individual what he does to other people. The other way is to sum up what everyone else does to an individual. This latter always seemed way more awkward to me but perhaps Nowak has come up with a trick to make it easier.

      • Sean says:

        In his The Super Cooperators Nowak contrasts “Hamilton’s idea” with the “standard” or “common sense” approach. He says of IF “it is not at all a universal or a robust idea but rests on particular mathematical assumptions.”

  11. MikeP says:

    Hilarious and really interesting! Exactly why I like this blog.

  12. dearieme says:

    “something like 99% of the Chinese living in China had scarcely had a single ancestor who’d ever even encountered a non-Chinese during the previous thousand-odd years”: apart from their occasional conquerors, you mean?

  13. Greying Wanderer says:

    I think ethno-centrism starts at the level of the extended family and works upwards. In remote Han villages the ethnic conflict might be between extended families and clans and could be just as vicious. The scale of “us” and “them” is elastic.

    Matt
    “ethnocentricism is then an optimal protective or expansive strategy
    or
    because it is a kind of basic, efficient in group altruism and cohesion”

    I’d say even at the level of the extended family it’s a mixture of both.

    But what happens next though?
    - family groups that learn how to combine potentially threaten those that haven’t thereby pushing them to combine also?
    - groups may develop to the point where there are peaceful economies of scale that require larger scale cooperation?
    - all these little groups fighting each other and a Thomas Aquinas type wants to find a way to reduce it?

    There must have been a process to get from forager bands to larger scale groups. I think it was a mixture of the benefits of group altruism and fear of threat but to what extent and in what order who knows.

    Anecdote. During the troubles in Northern Ireland people on both sides – at least the ones who did the actual killing – said they could recognize a prod face or a taig face. I doubt anyone else in the world could tell them apart. I certainly couldn’t. But then my life didn’t depend on it.

    • hbd chick says:

      @g.w. – “Anecdote. During the troubles in Northern Ireland people on both sides – at least the ones who did the actual killing – said they could recognize a prod face or a taig face. I doubt anyone else in the world could tell them apart. I certainly couldn’t. But then my life didn’t depend on it.”

      i think that most americans who don’t come from a traditional society don’t realize how well people who do can recognize the members of other groups.

      i’m a 1 1/2 generation american — one of my parents comes from “the old country” — and whenever i travel back to the small town where my family comes from, someone that i’ve never seen before will stop me and say, “oh, you’re one of the x’s, aren’t you?” people back there also just recognize people from other villages ’cause they look such-and-such as way — like the people from village x who all have big ears. (^_^) even i’ve gotten good at spotting some people from different villages, and i didn’t spend my life over there.

      spotting “the other” is just a matter of if: 1) there are distinguishing characteristics, which there are in extended families, and 2) you pay attention.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        “i think that most americans who don’t come from a traditional society don’t realize how well people who do can recognize the members of other groups.”

        Yes. If there is a visual mechanism for recognizing genetic similarity then it will be honed in proportion to perceived threat / xeno-fear which might be a function how long since vendetta was the law?

        Somali clans for instance are partial exceptions to the ethnic enclave rule in that clans with vendettas from Somalia will live opposite sides of town.

    • harpend says:

      You say “I think ethno-centrism starts at the level of the extended family and works upwards.”

      Populations like the Druze sample are ripe for that as the distribution of closest kin shows.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        Yes except i wonder about relative [difference / threat / resource competition] though. An extremely clannish population that perceives itself as surrounded by and competing with *close* enemies from different ethnic groups (at the national scale of ethnic) might be different from one which is more isolated e.g.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feud

        “In Albania, the blood feud has returned in rural areas after more than 40 years of being abolished by Albanian communists led by Enver Hoxha. More than 5,500 Albanian families are currently engaged in blood feuds. There are now more than 20,000 men and boys who live under an ever-present death sentence because of blood feuds. Since 1992, at least 10,000 Albanians have been killed due to blood feuds

        So in the Albanian case the pressure of threat / competition at the national ethnic scale is low because they’re isolated up in their mountains but there is (or is perceived to be)still high threat / competition at the extended family scale. I don’t know if the Druze fit the first model or the second or a bit of both.

  14. hbd chick says:

    @henry – “No one knows, by the way, how sampling was carried out for this nor for any of the HGDP populations.”

    this seems like a major oversight and i’m amazed that as much genealogical information as possible was not collected for each of the samples taken. it certainly makes working with the data very confusing and the results suspect.

    take the 29 samples from france, for instance. you’ve shown here that they’re all very alike genetically, but where have these samples come from?

    the ceph folks give a cartographic coordinate of 46N, 2E for the french samples. does that mean all of the french samples come from saint-sulpice-les-champs? if so, well perhaps it’s not a surprise that they all look very similar because, perhaps, they’re mostly the members of one village, i.e. a rather extended extended family.

    also if so, then these samples do not tell us anything about how related frenchmen from different regions of france are to one another. different regions of france have historcially had different degrees of inbreeding/outbreeding [see pg. 616 of this article - h/t to m.g. miles], so it is possible that you would find the distribution of kinship to be quite different from what you found now if you had samples from across france.

    other samples from the hgdp seem to be even smaller/more local — like the tuscany ones (the folks who were recently found to have the most number of neanderthal alleles in europe). in that case, all of the samples come from one town or region (bergamo — it’s not clear if it is the town of bergamo or the commune) — and there are only 8 samples. for all we know, these could represent the members of just one nuclear family.

    on the other hand, the 31 japanese people sampled seem to have been aboard ship anchored some distance off the west coast of japan. (~_^) pirates, perhaps?

    the japanese like the french — probably more so than the french — also have a history of inbreeding. in fact, many japanese villages at the turn of the last century were really just very large extended families which inbred amongst themselves.

  15. hbd chick says:

    you might be interested in michael wade and felix breden’s mathematical models of inbreeding and the evolution of altruistic behaviors. (math. eeek!)

  16. hbd chick says:

    the druze (and many other populations in the middle east) have been inbreeding (marrying their cousins) for a very long time — probably since well before christ.

    they (and many other populations in the middle east) also practice a peculiar form of inbreeding known as father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage which results in even greater inbreeding rates since all the members of the same lineage or clan always mate with each other, i.e. within the lineage/clan. fresh blood from the outside is, relatively speaking, rarely brought in to the group (unlike other forms of cousin marriage).

    so it’s not strange that you should find the kinship measurements that you did amongst the druze.

    the inbreeding coefficients for some first-cousins in the saudi and pakistani populations — two other groups that have been praciticing fbd marriage for centuries — have been found to be as high as 11%, almost twice as much as what we expect to find in randomly mating populations.

    • harpend says:

      Right but we are probably talking about different levels of population here. Recent inbreeding, cousin marriage for example, facilitates local clanning but probably does not have much of an effect at the higher level.

      The clan thing is stunning in the Middle East. A relative lives in Jordan. Within ten minutes of going into a bar there I always get grilled on what clan I am.

      • hbd chick says:

        @henry – “Recent inbreeding, cousin marriage for example, facilitates local clanning but probably does not have much of an effect at the higher level.”

        recent local inbreeding can facilitate clanning, like you say, because suddenly all of the inbred cousins would have a greater genetic interest in being more altruistic towards their relatives and more unaltruistic towards non-relatives.

        but surely long-term inbreeding facilitates the selection for altruism alleles within the population because all of these clans act as sort of mini versions of the french vs. the japanese in washington’s new society. particularly if they stick to this fbd marriage and almost never marry out. thus (maybe) you get the uber-tribal behavior of arabs and pashtuns, etc.

        the converse would be that outbreeding does not facilitate the selection of the same sort of altrusim alleles and/or un-does whatever sort of selection for altruism alleles may have gone before.

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  19. Steve Sailer says:

    “One is reminded for example of the discord and acrimony that is often reported about reservation politics in North America.”

    From the AP today:

    COARSEGOLD, Calif. — Authorities say rival factions of a Central California Indian tribe have agreed to extend a stay-away order after a violent standoff earlier this week.

    Madera County Sheriff John Anderson told the Fresno Bee ( http://bit.ly/z63o2K) on Thursday that he negotiated with both sides in the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians to extend the cooling-off period until 2 p.m. Monday.

    The previous order was scheduled to end Thursday afternoon.

    It came after a fight that left three injured when a group tried to take over tribal offices on Tuesday. Its leaders claim they were denied their rightful place on the tribe’s governing council in the wake of a disputed election in December.

    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/03/02/4306826/calif-tribal-factions-extend-cooling.html#storylink=cpy

  20. Robyn says:

    @ GreyingWanderer – funny you should say that about the “Northern Irish” as I have had personal experience as an Australian travelling in Northern Ireland on a British passport. At the border crossing from Northern Ireland to the South the machine gun carrying guard told me I had an English face (he had not seen my passport). As I had been evacuated from a bomb scare in Belfast the previous day I felt a moment of irrational terror as I hastily kept telling him I was Australian not English.

    But of course if I thought for a moment then obviously he was British being an official and hence we were both “on the same side” and there was no danger he would shoot me. But fear makes you irrational. Both my parents are English so he was quite right that I had an English face. But I thought it was such a strange thing for a border guard to have said. Now it makes sense from what you have said – the ability to infer friend or foe quickly by facial structure is a very important skill to learn in a war zone.

    I think the inclusive fitness and inbreeding explanation makes 100% sense and is why racism and discrimination will never go away no matter how hard the powers that be will try. New tribalisms will pop up just as fast as old ones are dismantled. We successfully make artificial tribes and do battle all the time with sport teams and call it entertainment. I think its a way of mostly harmlessly satisfying vicariously our deeply hard wired instincts for warring against the out group. I think international sport is a major aspect of peace keeping as we can symbolically ‘do battle’ with our ‘enemies’ without much blood being shed or treasure and land lost. It gives me more patience in understanding many men’s obsession with sports and the high importance they place upon it when I realise what deep drives they are satisfying with the escape from everyday life.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “the ability to infer friend or foe quickly by facial structure is a very important skill to learn in a war zone.”

      Yes, i think either humans have an innate very highly tuned ability ro recognize small differences which is one or both of
      1) energy-intensive
      2) highly stressful
      so is only used in proportion to percieved threat.

      or

      The ability is strengthened (or weakened) over time within a population according to their experience of threat i.e. maybe there’s a direct relationship between this and how long ago they were living under a vendetta culture?

      You could possibly test this by comparing Somalis (from the vendetta regions) with a control group on judging the order of relative fst from themselves just from photographs?

  21. Luke Lea says:

    Could you explain the vertical and horizontal axes a little more clearly?

    • harpend says:

      Sure, I did say this post was carefully thought out for about an hour and a half.

      The figures are histograms of the kinship between pairs of people in the sample. So the Y axis on each is “number of pairs.” The top panel in each figure is all possible pairs, including kinship with self. The lump of pairs at around 0.5 represents kinship with self, slightly more or less than 0.5 according to whether or not that person was relatively outbred or inbred. It may not be visible on the post but in the Japanese sample one person has a kinship with self of about 0.63, meaning that his parents had kinship of about 0.25, probably either full sibs or else father-daughter incest.

      The x-axis is just (an estimate) of the coefficient of kinship: think of it as a correlation coefficient. Your kinship with me is a measure of how similar we are. If the number is negative we are more dissimilar than the average pair, while if it is positive we are more similar. This number depends on the population in which we are embedded: the more diversity there is in our population the more dispersed this number will be. Roughly one adds genealogy to Fst among the populations. So in a textbook large random mating population my kinship with my child 0.25 but in, say, a population that is Heathrow Airport my kinship with my son is greater, perhaps 0.30, since the reference population is more diverse.

      • Luke Lea says:

        Explain what a kinship of 0.5 means?

      • Luke Lea says:

        Scratch that. You answered the question. sorry

      • harpend says:

        Almost all the literature on kin selection is written in terms of the coefficient of relationship, which is unity with oneself, one half with a parent or child, and so on. The coefficient of relationship was first described by the great American geneticist Sewall Wright for use in analyzing pedigrees. The problem with it is that down deep it does not seem to be very well defined.

        One can get clean algebra by using instead what is called the coefficient of kinship. This is also called in the literature the coefficient of consanguinity, of parenté, and probably other names. It is appropriate to be suspicious because it’s origin is French (Gustave Malécot, one of the founders of population genetics) and in general anthropology has not benefitted from anything French.

        In the simplest case relationship is just twice kinship, but beyond that relationship doesn’t play nice. For example if you are inbred your kinship with yourself is greater than 0.5 but your relationship to yourself is still unity. It seems that the appropriate transform is that the relationship of person a to person b is the kinship between a and b divided by the kinship of a with himself. This means the relationship of a to b is not in general the same as the relationship of b to a.

        I wrote a paper about all this years ago (Harpending, Henry C. “The Population Genetics of Interactions.” American Naturalist 113 (1979): 622-630.) in which I said that this was what relationship means. At the time it seemed so obvious to me that it was not worth elaborating. Today I have no idea on earth where I got that. Michael Bulmer gives the same formula in his monograph (Bulmer, Michael. Theoretical Evolutionary Ecology. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer, 1994.) but again with no explanation.

      • hbd chick says:

        @henry – this is off-topic, but why isn’t the differential inheritance of the x- and y-chromosomes taken into consideration when calculating the coefficients of relatedness or inbreeding? i’ve been wondering this for a while now, because it does seem to make a difference in how the different grandmothers treat their various grandchildren. are the differences just too marginal to make much of a difference in the calculations at the end of the day? thanks!

  22. Steve Sailer says:

    Another thing to think about is not just who your relatives are but who your in-laws might turn out to be. It’s sensible to act in a more sporting fashion toward people whose children your children might marry.

    • harpend says:

      Oh yes, there are all sorts of icky social phenomena that will steer how this would all work out in the real world. So much easier to stick with the simple algebraic models…..

    • hbd chick says:

      another thing is who’s going to/who needs to inherit the wealth. my favorite fbd marriage seems to fit well with pastoralists in marginal environments who need to keep the herds together, for instance.

  23. Steve Sailer says:

    Speaking of diversity among the French, here is the synopsis of the biggest box office movie in French cinema history, “Welcome to the Sticks,” which has, as far as I know, never been released in the U.S. because almost nobody in America has ever heard of these intra-France geographical stereotypes that comprise the appeal of the movie:

    “Focuses on the people who live in north France, making fun of the region’s unflattering stereotypes to reveal the warmth of the people. A post office manager in Provence is punished when his superiors reassign him north. When he hears that “north” does not mean Lyons or even Paris, he despairs. Colleagues tell him of a freezing dark place where it rains all year, people live in red-brick terrace houses and dunk Maroilles cheese in their coffee. When he arrives in Bergues, his car collides with Antoine Bailleul, a postman and carillon ringer in the town belfry. He believes that Antoine has a fractured jaw, but it is just his accent. The outsider, of course, finds that the Ch’timi have hearts of gold and are friendly to strangers, unlike Parisians or southerners.”

    John Derbyshire says that Chinese comedy TV programs largely consist of making fun of people from different parts of China.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “He believes that Antoine has a fractured jaw, but it is just his accent”

      lol. I was wondering about this vis a vis outbreeding. If you have a very outbred population where visual distinctions have been blurred i wonder if accents take on a bigger role as clan marking? It’s different now with immigration – accents are coalescing – but 30-40 years ago accents in England would vary every few miles and the locals could tell them apart.

  24. Greying Wanderer says:

    “It seems that the appropriate transform is that the relationship of person a to person b is the kinship between a and b divided by the kinship of a with himself. This means the relationship of a to b is not in general the same as the relationship of b to a.”

    I think there’s two forces: the kin-positve force and the notkin-negative force. The notkin version of that relationship would include a third individual, c and the relationship becomes is b closer to me than c? Although after writing that i wonder if the whole thing could be generalized that way i.e. altruism is always a threeway – a choice between self and any two others – expressed as difference rather than similarity?

    I need to go do a mathematics degree.

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  29. Pingback: Intro to kinship and inbreeding coefficients. « Secular Blood

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