Simple Mobility Models

Greg’s previous post reviewing Gregory Clark’s new book has generated some interesting discussion. Reviewers elsewhere and some of our customers have been surprised at the persistence of social class by surname and speculated that this implies genetic transmission of class. Does it?

A way to pursue the issue is to construct the simplest possible competing models and to compare their predictions. This is nearly the universal procedure in all of science. First we can construct a pure social science model in which class i simply culturally transmitted. A typical paper in the literature (these days about income) divides a sample into quintiles and describes (agonizes, often) about mobility between income quintiles. We can shorthand these, calling families under the twentieth percentile “lower”, the next quintile “lower middle”, then “middle”, then “upper middle”, then “upper.” We might find, then, that 15% of the sons of lower class families are lower middle class the next generation, and so on.

Cultural Transmission

At this point some pop social scientists and journalists rely for interpretation on a covert assumption (or sleight of mind) that this is equivalent to a transition between states in a Markov process, that is that particles (i.e. families) forget their pasts. Our 15% transition rate from lower to lower-middle is an estimate of the probability of jumping to lower middle given a middle class family in one generation. Now we may see that the corresponding transition probability from from lower-middle to middle is, say, 10%. If the social structure is static we immediately deduce that the probability that a lower class surname is middle class after two generations is simply the product, 0.15 * 0.10 or 1.5%. Under this kind of model one’s status becomes independent of that of the more distant ancestor and randomly distributed across classes, assuming that all classes are reachable, eventually, from all other classes.

The justification for the Markov assumption is, in our toy model, that class is purely culturally transmitted some someone from a lower-middle class family’s progress is determined by cultural transmission of lower-middle class culture plus some error term that leads to switching class. We do not assume family transmission, just class transmission, because family transmission would just mimic genetic transmission. [This needs worked out, since there is no explicit model of what cultural transmission really is that we know about.]

Genetic Transmission

A simple quantitative genetic model must rely on the assumption of an underlying normal distribution of something, EQ we can call it, that is the additive genetic part of whatever determines income. We can impute this since, now, we have no way to measure it. Like IQ originally, and like our construction of AQ (‘amish quotient’) a few weeks ago, we could come up with an estimator of it if we could measure what we think we ought to measure. For the moment we assume that there is such a direction in character space. An immediate problem is that income is far from normally distributed but we can impute a mapping from the observed income distribution to EQ. Income percentiles are well known and published for many countries. The figure below shows data given by Björklund and Jäntti (1997).


The top panel of the figure shows the conventional Lorenz for the Swedish data: the horizontal axis is income rank and the vertical axis is the percentile of national income at that rank, i.e. it is a conventional cumulative distribution of income. The bottom panel has the same vertical axis but the distribution along the horizontal axis is the imputed normal distribution of EQ. For example the 50th percentile of income maps to the mean of the imputed distribution, the 84th percentile maps to +1 standard deviation of a standard normal, the 16th percentile maps to -1 standard deviation, and so on. This figure gives us estimate of the income of a person given his value of an underlying normally distributed EQ. The virtue of this is that we can instantly apply a century’s worth of quantitative genetic theory and knowledge.

Given a quantitative genetic model we know, for example, that offspring of a couple should be distributed symmetrically around the mid-parent value, if heritability is complete, with standard deviation of sqrt{2}/2. If not, we add regression to the mean. If mating is assortative we add that to the model. We can go one and on adding bells, whistles, and coontails to the model but we start simple.

From this we can compute, and perhaps derive explicit expressions, for the long term movement, i.e. EQ, of one’s descendants. In other words we can test this model against the kind of data that Gregory Clark has gathered and falsify, or not, the genetic model.

We can see right away that the pure cultural model (our version) is falsified since status persists. Our genetic model of diffusion along an EQ axis shows that the Markov assumption is far from satisfied. If someone is at EQ 0.91, corresponding to the 82nd percentile, toward the lower end of the upper class, his offspring are much more likely to fall to the upper-middle class than is someone at EQ 1.5, corresponding to the 93rd income percentile. On the other hand, those fallen offspring are much closer to the upper class threshold that are offspring who entered the upper-middle class from the middle class. They are much more likely to diffuse back up a generation later. Once we lump people into quintiles that Markov property vanishes along with the pop-social-science interpretations of mobility statistics.

Since this is the sort of model that is familiar to physicists, I think we can agree that Greg owes it to us to work out more of the details.


Intergenerational income mobility in Sweden compared to the United States. A. Björklund and M. Jäntti. The American Economic Review (1997):1009–1018.

The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility. G. Clark. Princeton University Press (2014).

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35 Responses to Simple Mobility Models

  1. melendwyr says:

    The section title “Cultural Trahsmission” should have an ‘n’ instead.
    I find it sadly appropriate that while people like you are trying to test their hypotheses about non-cultural factors, people adhering to blank slatism or similar models have no interesting in doing so. Science operates at a profound disadvantage in the realm of social interactions – a good scientist is required to be intellectually honest, while a good demogague is required not to be.

    • JayMan says:

      “a good scientist is required to be intellectually honest, while a good demogague is required not to be.”

      Well said!

      • melendwyr says:

        Not well said enough to have written ‘interest in’ instead of ‘interesting’.
        I swear, the portions of my brain that compose language and that directs my typing fingers are only loosely connected.

  2. Aaron Gross says:

    I don’t see where you can get by comparing “simplest possible competing models.” Anyone can see major problems with a first-order Markov assumption right off the bat (yeah, I know all models are wrong, but still), so I wouldn’t expect it to do a good job at predicting anything. When that model gets beaten by another one, it just tells us that a first-order Markov chain is a crappy model for this, which is what we guessed already. It doesn’t tell us much of anything about how good a competing genetic model is, much less answer our real question of whether or not there’s a substantial genetic cause of the phenomenon.

    Seems to me the only way to think about it as far as modeling is, we just don’t know. Environmentalists probably don’t have a good model to apply. Hereditarians may or may not have a good model for measuring the genetic effects, I wouldn’t know, but even if they have a good model they don’t have any data to plug into it (as Henry Harpending commented on the previous post), so the model would probably be unusable. I’m just a layman and I know I’ll get slammed for this, but it just seems impossible to answer this question – whether there are substantial genetic influences in this phenomenon – with the conceptual tools that exist today in social science and behavioral genetics.

  3. dearieme says:

    “Conceptual tools” and “social science” in the same sentence? Splutter, splutter; it wasn’t like that in my day.

  4. Sandgroper says:

    I think we might be over-reading this.

    Consider the relatively simple example of the Normans in England. After the Conquest, no more than about 8,000 Normans (I assume this means males) settled in England, which at the time had a population of say 3,000,000. They replaced the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy as the elite ruling class. At the time of Conquest they were clearly culturally distinguishable and spoke a different language. Initially they continued to get wives from Normandy, but subsequently freely inter-married with high-born locals.

    There’s no doubt the Normans had moxie, in abundance. But then the old Anglo-Saxon aristocracy were a pretty moxified bunch too. The Battle of Hastings was a prolonged and bloody affair, and in other circumstances the Normans could have failed to win and might have had to retreat back to France. It was certainly not a forgone conclusion. And that battle was just the opener – it took the Normans a long time to pacify England afterwards. I think you could argue that the Normans were somewhat smarter, on the evidence – for their numbers, they over-performed. They were highly militarised and ambitious people, no doubt unpleasant, but not wimps, and not stupid.

    Certainly by 1450, people with Norman names were still the ruling class, but by now they were genetically mixed, spoke Middle English, and identified themselves as English – notably during the 100 Years War with France, which seems to have had a polarising and democratising effect. They were no longer identifiable as a separate clearly distinguishable ethnic group, except by surname (which means >98% by Y DNA, in effect), although by now their autosomal DNA must have been pretty mixed, with the original Norman admixture progressively diluted. But clearly, there was still assortative mating by class.

    Fast forward 550 years, and Greg Clark tells us that Norman surnames (i.e. Y DNA) are still over-represented at England’s two highest ranking universities. By now, the proportion of Norman DNA in those people must be pretty trivial, in fact the total Norman ancestry among the English as a whole must be pretty trivial – certainly very much less than Anglo-Saxon or Celtic ancestry, so I assume this is not long range genetic transmission/perpetuation of some magic Norman genes. Assortative mating by class seems like a cultural thing, but the outcome is genetic – the smart moxified upper class perpetuate themselves by marrying within-class. There is the thing of inherited wealth, though, which looks like it progressively degrades with time.

    I don’t understand these kinds of models very well, but it looks to me like it cannot be simply modelled as a culture-genes dichotomy, especially if we don’t know how cultural transmission happens, aside from assortative mating for something or other, which I assume in this case is wealth/class, which turn out to be a proxy for something else.

    I should probably read Clark’s book, but there’s too much other interesting stuff to read, and I just don’t care that much. If his thesis is that assortative mating results in long-range transmission of genes for IQ + moxie, it seems like too much of a no brainer to me to be really interesting. Whether that transmission takes place by genes or culture seems like a not-even-wrong type of question.

    If Greg Cochran flourishes a simple model which shows that the injection of genes from 8,000 smart, moxified Normans could make that much difference over almost 1,000 years, I’d be persuaded, though. That would be interesting.

  5. dave chamberlin says:

    Well said Sandgroper. Might I add that Greg Clark’s first book “Farewell to Alms” was very much worth reading and I expect I will get around to reading this one eventually only because his first book was so good. What is drawing more of my interest isn’t the idea of moxie being inherited but the power of assortative mating. I’ll go back to the best example, the one so well illustrated in “The 10,000 year Explosion,” that of the Ashkenazi Jews. There are only 13 million Jews world wide of which approximately 75% are Ashkenazi. Their contribution in light of the fact they comprise one seventh of one percent of the world’s population is nothing short of incredible. Here we have an another example that assortative mating has lasting as well as profound consequences. Now we live in an utterly different world from just 100 years ago, but following the subject of the last few threads, one in which assortative mating by IQ is without question happening at a greater rate than was ever done in our past. If 10 million Ashkenazi Jews can greatly contribute to the human revolution that has swept the globe since the advent of the industrial revolution what can 100’s of millions of people who scored in the upper 1% of IQ tests scores accomplish when they are grouped together in our elite universities and the follow up job market so that they are more than likely to choose each other as mates. We can lament together about the end result of women whom drop out of high school averaging twice as many children as women whom obtain graduate degrees but what matters most, average intelligence or number of geniuses whom are well trained and contribute to society with their applied brilliance. Kindly excuse my diverting from the thread topic Henry, I hope my thoughts provoke interest.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      I made a math error. 1% of 7 billion, the worlds population, is 70 million, so instead of 100’s of millions I should have said tens of millions.

  6. Anthony says:

    Given the changes in environment over the past 1047 years, and assuming EQ is some combination of ‘g’ and heritable personality traits (ambition, conscientiousness, adaptability?), I think it’s obvious that the “family transmission” model is not quite the same as the “genetic” model, and that the genetic model is more likely to be true. What skills would a elite parent have taught their child in the 1920s and 30s that would ensure success in the 1950s and 60s? Or an elite parent of the 1890s and 1900s taught that would ensure success in the 1920s? How about the elite parent during the Commonwealth? Or the late Stuarts? Or during Henry VIII’s reign?

    Things changed quickly enough often enough that if parentally-provided education were substantially more important than good genes, it would have failed spectacularly several times, and we’d have seen wholesale turnover in English elites several times in the past millennium.

  7. Arntor says:

    The AQ is by far your funniest simulation model so far, hope your wells of creativity don’t run dry.

  8. Sandgroper says:

    947 Years.

    On reflection, I don’t think assortative mating has much of a cultural component at all. Upper class British people used to use terms like “of good breeding”, “of noble lineage” and “of good yeoman stock”. The use of the word “stock” is a dead giveaway – it’s a horse breeding term. These are animal husbandry references. They might have evaluated people in terms of somewhat vague or antiquated “qualities”, but they clearly had the idea.

    • Matt says:

      Old English stocc “stump, post, stake, tree trunk, log,” also “pillory” (usually plural, stocks), from Proto-Germanic *stukkaz “tree trunk” (cf. Old Norse stokkr “block of wood, trunk of a tree,” Old Saxon, Old Frisian stok, Middle Dutch stoc “tree trunk, stump,” Dutch stok “stick, cane,” Old High German stoc “tree trunk, stick,” German Stock “stick, cane;” also Dutch stuk, German Stück “piece”), from PIE *(s)teu- (1) “to push, stick, knock, beat” (see steep (adj.)).

      Meaning “ancestry, family” (late 14c.) is a figurative use of the “tree trunk” sense (cf. family tree). This is also the root of the meaning “heavy part of a tool,” and “part of a rifle held against the shoulder” (1540s). Meaning “person as dull and senseless as a block or log” is from c.1300; hence “a dull recipient of action or notice” (1540s).

      Meaning “framework on which a boat was constructed” (early 15c.) led to figurative phrase on stocks “planned and commenced” (1660s). Taking stock “making an inventory” is attested from 1736. Stock, lock, and barrel “the whole of a thing” is recorded from 1817. Stock-still (late 15c.) is literally “as still as a tree trunk.”

      Etymology is a fine thing.

  9. Sandgroper says:

    Do you think people will get the connection between ancestry and breeding, or should we spell it out?

  10. dave chamberlin says:

    I have long wondered if our preoccupation with a symmetrical face (beautiful or handsome depending on sex) in whom we are attracted to is for a very practical reason. Is this the best window we have to look at the genetic health of a prospective mate? There is a news blurb floating around that older fathers have uglier children. The source as far as I can tell is newspapers of poor credibility so I cannot say I trust the information but what makes it interesting is it fits what Cochran was saying earlier regarding older fathers passing on more mutations to their children then younger fathers.

    • Patrick Boyle says:

      Some energetic reader might test this notion by tabulating the age of the fathers of notably attractive movie stars at the time of their famous children’s conception. George Clooney’s father was only 21 or 22 when he sired ‘Red’ George.

      Also the Irish were said to have quickly raised their age of marriage after the Potato Famine. Before the Famine they married around twenty. Afterwards maybe thirty. If that is so there should be some record of the Irish as a people suddenly getting uglier. No?

    • JayMan says:

      @dave chamberlin:

      It’s legit, though it took me a long time to find it.

      No, they didn’t control for parental attractiveness (they didn’t have it). But they did analyze mother’s age at time of birth. No effect. Still, I’d be more convinced if they controlled for the attractiveness of the parents (or compared siblings).

  11. Richard Sharpe says:

    Following on from someone else’s comment, I wonder what the result would be if sexual identity was under the control of cultural transmission? In one generation? Two? 100?

    • melendwyr says:

      Then probably inborn tendencies to identify as a heterosexual would be strengthened immeasureably.
      If sexual orientation and identity are at least partly a matter of learning, and people in past times generally had children regardless of their strictly personal inclinations, then there wasn’t all that much selective pressure.
      Now that people are increasingly free to engage in sexual lifestyles that don’t involve children, I expect there will be considerable self-selection against people whose inherent preferences don’t involve baby-making, and even against people who are sufficiently neutral as to be willing to adopt such lifestyles.
      We’ll likely end up with a new strain of humanity that is positively interested in having and raising children… or too irresponsible to bother with contraception.

  12. RS says:

    > the total Norman ancestry among the English as a whole must be pretty trivial

    You theorize (implicitly) that they shipped up there, charged into ranked lances that you could shave with, and held their own brothers in their arms choking on blood, in order to pillage some fine silverware? They did it for incongruously-smoking-hot ‘laundry girls’ and the coolidge effect/drive. I’m not sure how this squares with ‘nonpaternity’ and surnames vs Y-chromes, but I’m not sure surnames were set by then. Being restricted to persons of high rank, the effect may not have been that great – per generation – anyway.

    hbdchick excerpted some academic’s text once about illegitimate children – I’m almost sure it was about Europe, prolly NW Europe. They were, well, illegitimate, so they weren’t titled, but people knew who they were and they weren’t under some heavy stigma ; after all their old man is ‘the man’. (Naturally Savonarola or Puritans don’t typify ‘actually-existing’ Christendom.) I’ll bet Norman autosomal material is amplified bigtime.

    • RS says:

      And since they were fit, and got the fittest autochthonous women, the rise of their DNA would have continued well after they/’they’ blood-assimilated, spoke Middle English, felt no question of allegiance to Paris, etc.

    • RS says:

      laura betzig makes a convincing argument that, especially for the elites — both secular and clerical (think popes and bishops) — marriage in medieval europe might have been monogamous, but mating wasn’t. not only were the elites not all that monogamous in their mating practices, many of them were also incestuous [pgs. 185-86]:

      […] This count was buried with twenty-three bastards in attendance, besides ten living legitimate daughters and sons (p. 94).

      […] ‘Illegitimacy was a normal part of the structure of ordinary society — so normal that illegitimate children, especially males, were neither concealed nor rejected’ (Duby 1983, p. 262). They always had the right, at least, to bed and board in their father’s house. ‘That house was always open to them’ (p. 263.) Bastards like these, the cream of the illegitimate crop, are most likely to have made up the twenty-three who watched when Baudouin was interred.”

    • Sandgroper says:

      “You theorize (implicitly)…” That’s just stupid. I didn’t theorise any such thing. It wasn’t a Viking raid. The reasons they went there are clear from history.

      “I’m not sure surnames were set by then” Then you don’t know much.

      I’m not suggesting there were no bastards bred with peasant girls, that would also be stupid – bastards didn’t get kicked off the property, but they didn’t inherit the family manor either. That is the whole point. The Normans were horse-mad, and I don’t doubt they had a much better grasp of animal breeding than most people today. They wouldn’t have understood regression to the mean explicitly, but there’s a pretty good chance they got it implicitly. I think it’s also safe to assume that the bastard thing is overdone for the same sorts of reasons that people in the chattering classes overdo the non-paternity thing.

      What I am suggesting is that *even if* the Normans are trivially represented in the modern autosomal DNA of England (and considering respective origins, I don’t know how you could possibly tell – it’s not like they invaded from Tierra del Fuego), assortative mating has resulted in the names (for inheritance/Y DNA reasons) being over-represented at elite universities. The outcome is the same.

      That the Normans had a profound cultural impact on England is beyond question. That culture even further entrenched and perpetuated assortative mating among the elite, and the cultural/genetic reasons for that are, I am suggesting, a ‘not even wrong’ type of question – the feudal/class system and inheritance laws were likely based on some intuitive grasp of genetics. I’m willing to hypothesise that they were.

    • Toad says:

      “charged into ranked lances”

      They would ride up to the enemy line, chuck a javelin and turn around and go back to get another javelin and repeat for hours. If the line breaks up its formation you can then charge in, but a formed up line could not be attacked.

      • Sandgroper says:

        Plus the constraints of the terrain of the battlefield chosen by Harold – William couldn’t mount a full frontal cavalry charge with couched lances even if he wanted to. They had to ride up singly and chuck ’em over-arm, while trying to say out of range of the Saxon axe-men in the shield wall. William had 3 horses killed under him, which is strongly suggestive of what the problem was.

        You don’t get this sense from the Bayeux tapestry at all, but given how long the battle went on for (basically the whole day in terms of sunlight), it suggests that the Norman-Breton-Flemish infantry must have been a lot more involved in a shield-pushing match than is depicted. It’s kind of interesting for Hastings-obsessives to speculate why that was. My speculation is that (1) the wealthier/higher ranked guys had horses, and the client for the tapestry was a higher ranked guy, and (2) the cavalry ultimately proved decisive anyway.

  13. RS says:

    > charged into ranked lances that you could shave with

    This was just poetic license. But it’s annoying to be licentious about that kind of thing here, where fine detail is of great concern. I repent, and thank both of you for the nonfiction about Anglo-Norman combat.

    > Laura Betzig tries too hard.

    Well, I haven’t looked at her less-anecdotal matter, and one anecdote isn’t convincing. Nor is a second one, the unrepentant confession of Montaigne, who tried not at all to conceal his youthful woman-chasing, though he mentions no illegitimate offspring in that passage. But is Betzig in clear conflict with anything you know? Particularly if

    ++this behavior was limited to high elites, not ‘elites’… Montaigne was pretty high(?)
    ++illegitimates were usually granted the surname, once surnames arose in a given country
    ++all this diminished over time from the pre-renaissance to the bourgeois society we know from late centuries. Such diminishment being consistent with the overall civilizing trend in Europe from 1000 AD until the totalitarian states. Not all decline in bastardy need stem from reduced infidelity ; if bastardy is increasingly stigmatized, there are partially-effective means that don’t rely on material tech. Apparently coitus interruptus was the chief means of the decline in French TFR circa 1789 (including at least a decade or three before 1789), if you believe some scholar I read

    The anti-burden of general macro-theoretic a priori considerations also favors Betzig, granting of course that actual evidence is much more important. While I’m skeptical of our perfect macro-theoretic grasp on higher organisms, mainly humans — I’m thinking of mind/qualia/will/(self-)consciousness — it still seems like a great overall model of humans is that they simply try to persist and proliferate, alongside everything from chordates down to retrotransposons. Qualia are mysterious in purpose, and free will seems quite disruptive if indeed it exists, but any fitness-reducing manifestations of the two seem well-controlled by selection at least in the long run. Which brings me to….

    > The reasons [Normans] went there are clear from history.

    I’m all ears, if you’re in the mood to talk. But I bet what you’ll say could equally well be put in other words, namely fitness, persistence, and proliferation.

    Unless they were a reincarnation en masse of the Sacred Band of Thebes . . . in that case maybe they really did pass through living hell just to nick some fine silverware and tasteful decor. Jokes aside, I think the purpose of conquest or any participation in organized violence is fitness enhancement, at least as a strong null hypothesis. It seems like exceptions would be likely to involve free will and/or conscious thought/memes as discussed above, or social domination, which is not just human. It may also figure very strikingly in behavior and fitness outcomes of /Polistes/ wasps — a well-studied, but not necessarily extraordinary case. With respect to conquest it’s more like, we’re advancing now, so if you’re not advancing much you are gonna get court-martialed and shot, or just shot. (Yanomamo don’t have means for such enforcement, so guys chicken out a lot on raids — but they probably don’t get very hot wives.) Anyway, wasps or men, the abstraction at work is pleasingly abstract and simple : you join a social group, you get dominated — you might try to leave the group, but that’s seldom cost-free.

    Obviously, men can be hired, and pay is fitness-enhancing. It gets you a (genotypically and phenotypically) fitter wife, gets you better conditions for your kids under malthus pressure or other pressures. So you don’t have to be non-monogamous to enhance fitness. I don’t propose that every Norman (or member of a similar conquering group) necessarily got a harem, or even a mistress.

    > I think it’s also safe to assume that the bastard thing is overdone for the same sorts of reasons that people in the chattering classes overdo the non-paternity thing.

    Right, it’s lurid. But that’s a basis for inference, not for safe/strong inference.

    > What I am suggesting is that *even if* the Normans are trivially represented in the modern autosomal DNA of England (and considering respective origins, I don’t know how you could possibly tell – it’s not like they invaded from Tierra del Fuego),

    I understand geographic variation in DNA can be very fine indeed, though obviously migration plays heck with that. Maybe you could find the Norman fraction just from data of living people, but maybe it’s too messy considering the mess of other incursions. However, get ye some dead-people autosomes — any Normans, but English Conquest ones especially — and I bet you’d have a shot at real clarity.

    > [quotation continuous from the above] assortative mating has resulted in the names (for inheritance/Y DNA reasons) being over-represented at elite universities. The outcome is the same.

    While I note that your statement is somewhat qualitative in nature, the outcome is probably not the same, quantitatively. I think the quantitative difference could be very nontrivial. I don’t feel certain, though ; it feels pretty complicated.

    Anyway, what I reacted to in the first place was merely your suggestion that the Norman fraction was trivial — that suggestion in itself. I say, small chance. You estimate the initial admixture as roughly 8K/3M=0.27%. I’m sure you allow it to rise at least some over time. But I neoconservatively guesstimate (assuming 0.27% as initial fraction) that the fraction is most likely over 5% — and I say that was very likely the primary point of shipping up there and, in many cases dying, often slowly, or even protractedly. Who wants to get a gut wound, or gangrene, or fight peripheral gangrene with a round or three of (non-aseptic) amputation, or have to decide when to give up? Though we know it, it’s worth underscoring that war is living hell. While I concede that controlling England may also have been part of a Norman grand strategy, ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy’, ergo the main purpose of so macro an acquisition as England was just having England. The rise in blood fraction would partly be because Normans (especially the ones that didn’t get killed up there) had slightly higher general fitness to start with, compared to native warriors, and especially compared to natives in general — but probably more because Normans and Norman-admixed persons used social dominance to garner wealth, and fitness-enhancing mates male & female. This picture doesn’t strictly require (especially from a relatively more qualitative point of view) that their high elites sired fairly numerous illegits, but I bet they did.

    I wouldn’t quite faint away if the fraction were actually 15%.

    • RS says:

      > the decline in French TFR circa 1789 (including at least a decade or three before 1789)

      The decline /starting/ circa that time, I should say. It probably went down some more going forward. (I once looked at a lot of data on this for various European countries, because of its import for the balance of power.)

    • RS says:

      You know, I never heard of people sequencing Isaac Newton or something, so I decided to look up whether you would be apt to get useable autosomes from a Norman grave:

      Due to their obvious signs of morphological preservation, many studies utilised mummified tissue as a source of ancient human DNA. Examples include both naturally preserved specimens, for example, those preserved in ice, such as the Ötzi the Iceman (Handt et al. 1994), or through rapid desiccation, such as high-altitude mummies from Andes (c.f. Pääbo 1986; Montiel et al. 2001) as well as various sources of artificially preserved tissue (such as the chemically treated mummies of ancient Egypt).[25] [****]However, mummified remains are a limited resource, and the majority of human aDNA studies have focused on extracting DNA from two sources that are much more common in the archaeological record – bone and teeth.

      So it sounds as though common remains, not in a bog or desert or glacier, may be tractable? At least at high latitude? (England’ll get plenty warm at times, but temps are quite different six feet under.)

      I suppose what the bone and tooth does is largely exclude water, O2, microbial DNases, and acidifying or alkalinizing microbes.

      Same article says old DNA tends to be pretty banged up. Doubt that’s any problem. All you need do is look at a few 10,000s of SNPs or something. There are a lot more SNPs than that, and it doesn’t matter which ones you are able to work with (see ‘nearly-neutral theory’).

      I still don’t feel certain, just because, again, I never heard of much sequencing of old material that I explicitly know has just been laying around in environments that are nothing special.

      Acidic soil gets rid of bone and teeth : that’s why we have virtually no fossils of chimps or their near kin. The African jungle is acid. Chimp-line great apes move out into savanna, voila you’ve got fossil australopithecus and such.

    • melendwyr says:

      “Qualia are mysterious in purpose,”
      Even more mysterious in existence, as no one can demonstrate such. Or even a provide a definition of the concept that would permit such demonstration.

      If ever I need to be reminded of why we should be skeptical of popular lines of argument, I just think of ‘qualia’, and my skepticism is renewed.

    • Sandgroper says:

      In the words of Jean Manco (who is definitely worth reading, if you haven’t, although as Greg commented, she inclines towards the kinder gentler interpretation of things) the Normans had a ‘warrior class’, many of whom were landless. Every guy left standing on the Norman side at the end of the battle was rewarded with land in England, which was both the incentive to participate and also the control system installed to keep what was gained. At the end of the battle, they systematically went around and killed all of the English wounded. That gives you the answer – yeah, it was about land/money/power/projecting their genes.

      In all the Y DNA testing of living people that they do in the UK, Normans never seem to get mentioned. But they’re stupid about it – the understandable British aversion to the French might be making them interpret everything as ‘Viking’, which is not actually a huge improvement or much different, it just sounds better.

      Me, I have a Norman name, so I would be quite happy to consider that I carry the genes for ruthless cruelty and craven viciousness.

    • Sandgroper says:

      The invading army comprised one division of Normans, one division of Bretons (likely descendants of Celts driven out England by Anglo-Saxons), and one division of Franco-Flemish. The Normans had already been in Normandy long enough to become mixed, and to have adopted French speech and manner (which tells you that the Norwegians and Danes who invaded Normandy were mostly male, so they got local wives there after they invaded). So, if I was a gambling man, I’d be willing to take your money on the 15%. I’m just not confident of finding a clear autosomal Norman signature.

      • RS says:

        Ah, I had no idea their army was so mixed. Indeed, that, in combo with the Danelaw and Viking raids, and the probable Brythonic origin of Bretons — perhaps mixed with French Celts or Franks? — may all make it pretty hopeless to extract a highly-quantifiable signature of William’s army. To my knowledge.

        Heck, I’ve even heard there were Germanics there even before the Anglosaxon/etc invasion.

        In context of the times, I don’t think the coup-de-grace and/or murder of the wounded ranks so high on the world’s list of nasty things, unless there was torture. Warriors kill and get killed. But if we start in on morality we will surely debate til the end of time.

        Getting back to names, what happened to the Breton and Franco-Flemish names? I am not too interested, but just mention the idea in case someone else finds it neat to look at, or even analyze. Or maybe Clark already did.

      • Sandgroper says:

        Well, they were related by marriage and stuff. It was complicated. It makes it difficult to think through, because when Clark was talking about ‘Norman names’, who was he talking about – only the Normans, or maybe some of the others? I don’t know, but some of the others, the high ranked people, had names, and they also settled in England. When I said that 8,000 Normans settled there after the Conquest, I meant that collectively, to include the Bretons and Flemish as well. The highest estimate for William’s army was 15,000, so 8,000 sounds like the portion of the army that was left alive.

        So I think the safe assumption is to assume that Greg Clark only chose a few Norman names to track, or he chose more, that might have included some of the Bretons and Flemish.

        I took the killing of the wounded to mean that they were trying to take out permanently as many of the elite level Saxons as they could. Harold was so badly disfigured that they had to get his common law wife to go to identify his body from body markings only she would be familiar with, so it sounds like they bashed him around pretty comprehensively. Still, it was a brutal age. But clearly William was so affronted by this level of brutality that he sent one guy back to France, with no grant of land, as a punishment for his unchivalrous behaviour.

  14. RS says:

    > I took the killing of the wounded to mean that they were trying to take out permanently as many of the elite level Saxons as they could.

    Sounds apt. Might as well marry their daughters (nice germlines, hearty somas) something the fathers would resent and seek to obstruct — along with possibly seeking to delimit your whole politic. Maybe even marry their widows too. No idea if any of that happened, but it makes fitness sense unless the marriage be too resentful.

    Though also as you or someone mentioned, she warn’t over jes yet after the shootout at Hasty’s ranch — and had she been, they’d not have known so. Whoever recovered from his wounds might fight again . . . gangrene for you, your brother, friend. Whether the invaders would win, lose, or die to a man, it would be painful and zero-sum all the way in any case. Anyway everyone was good old boys who signed up to kill and be killed arma virumque. Limited disruption of civvies I should think, though maybe some rape and force-marriage in so coarse a time. It’s not like the Thirty Years war or something, though perhaps mainly because it ended lots faster, before production could be so disrupted and things turn so hungry, bitter, and abjectly heartless.

    Torture and its like, and anything befalling women and kids, are worse. Heck any siege ancient or modern is worse to my mind, afflicting a bunch of women and children. I’d include WW-I, which seems to have ended on the home front — surely (on the margin) from the blockade and its mass hunger and death, what else? But there’s never been much war without siege. So try not to start a war I guess, nor — what is so much less conspicuous to the mind — do stuff apt to set one up. It probably won’t be as ‘nice’ as 1066, or even horrid-but-clean like the US Civil war.

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