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More on Farming and Inheritance Systems – Part I: IQ

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Earlier I discussed the origin of modern levels of IQ and the origin of modern ideologies.   I noted that both of these things have roots in the societal conditions during the Middle Ages.  But what, exactly, about this period led to the evolution of these traits?  In this multi-part series, I’m going to look at the evolutionary forces that may have been involved more closely.  In this part, I’m going to look at the evolution of modern levels of IQ in Europe.  In part II, I’m going to take a look at how conditions in this time helped to forge modern ideologies.  In part III, I’m going to look at both of these things in East and Southeast Asia.

In the case of IQ in Europe, I propose that a complex interaction between late marriage, the level of outbreeding, farming vs pastoralism, and climate during the Middle Ages gave us modern European intelligence.

The Middle Ages was an important time for the evolution of many traits that would eventually lead to modern society—not the least of these being IQ.   But how did this happen?  An important factor was examined by historian Gregory Clark. In his book, A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World, he discovered that the well-to-do of this time had an enormous survival advantage compared to their poorer peers.  By examining wills from pre-industrial England, he found that the wealthy had far more surviving children than the poor.  Similar patterns have been seen in continental Europe and probably also occurred in East Asia.  I suspect that was this case for most of the civilized world in the northern latitudes.  This created a selective pressure that favored evolution of “bourgeois” traits in the population, as “people gradually developed the strange new behaviors required to make a modern economy work. The middle-class values of nonviolence, literacy, long working hours and a willingness to save emerged.”  It is this process that likely raised IQs of First World peoples to their present levels (and perhaps even higher).

Researchers such as Richard Lynn and J.P. Rushton have postulated that prehistoric selective forces, such as environmental conditions encountered by humans during the Ice Ages, boosted the average IQs of northern peoples. However, while evolution during this time probably did select for increased intelligence, it probably didn’t bring IQ quite to modern levels.  We can see this by looking at the Inuit.   The Inuit—who lived without being subjected to the selective pressures of civilization until very recently—have only developed an average IQ of 91.  Pre-state Europeans and Asians probably only had average IQs in this range.

But there is another problem with the prehistoric selection theory: modern Europeans are, for the most part, not descended from the hunter-gathers that lived on the continent during the Ice Ages; rather, they are descended from Neolithic farmers coming out of the Middle East (supplanted to various degrees by farmers/herders coming out of the Caucasus and points north—a group which includes the Indo-Europeans).  Hence, any traits that were crafted during the Ice Age in Europe would have been mostly lost in modern Europeans.

This indicates that it is recent evolution—selection since the advent of agriculture—that gave us many of the traits of modern First World peoples.  Indeed, this is the central point of physicist/geneticist Greg Cochran’s and anthropologist Henry Harpending’s book, The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution.  It was the selective forces during this time that gave us modern civilized people.

Average IQs of 100 or higher, as found in Northern Europe and East Asia, likely arose during the Middle Ages.  Cochran and Harpending detail the painful process involved (pp 100-105):

Imagine that a population of farmers is doing well: They have plenty to eat. It’s easy for them to raise more than two children per family—they do so, and the population increases. It continues to increase as long as conditions remain the same. More people need more food, but then there are more workers producing food. As long as per capita production stays the same, the standard of living does not change, even as population increases. However, eventually this expanding population runs out of land, and farmers in the next generation have to farm smaller plots. They may be able to keep per capita production the same by working harder, but in the next generation plots become even smaller. If the methods of food production remain the same, eventually per capita production must decrease as population increases and per capita resources decrease. That decrease will continue until the average farmer produces just enough food to raise two children, at which point population growth stops.  Suppose that farming methods improve, so that productivity per acre goes up by a factor of ten. The population begins to grow—let’s say fairly slowly, with each family managing to raise 2.5 children (on average) to adulthood. The population is growing 25 percent per generation. In ten generations—about 250 years—the population has caught up with those improved methods. Living standards are low again, and population growth stops. But 2.5 children per family is by no means an especially high rate of population growth: In colonial America, the average family raised more than 7 children to adulthood. At that rate, population growth could catch up with a tenfold increase in productivity in just two generations. The point is that even moderate rates of population growth can rapidly catch up with all plausible improvements in food production.  Thus, populations should spend most of the time near a Malthusian limit, and there should be no lasting improvement in the standard of living.


In many parts of the Old World, particularly among farmers living under strong states, famine and malnutrition were the main factors limiting population. With internal peace, population rapidly bumped up against carrying capacity. In those societies, people living on the bottom rungs of society were regularly short on food, so much so that they often couldn’t raise enough children to take their place. However, elites must have had above-replacement fertility, and their less successful offspring would have replaced the missing farmers. Gregory Clark, in A Farewell to Alms, shows that in medieval England the richest members of society had approximately twice the number of surviving offspring as the poorest. The bottom of society did not reproduce itself, with the result that, after a millennium or so, nearly everyone was descended from the wealthy classes. There is reason to think that this happened in many places (eastern Asia and much of western Europe, for example), but wealth was not acquired in the same way everywhere, so selection favored different traits in different societies.

These “different traits in different societies” are key to understanding the origins of today’s ideologies, which I’ll discuss in my next post.  Likely the above process was most brutally efficient in the cold northern climates, where farming was very difficult.   Each year, all the necessary activities, from sow to harvest, had to be completed before the long, cold, and dark winter set in.  As well, enough food needed to stockpiled to last until the harvest of the next crop.  Only the hardest working and most resourceful survived.

However, looking at the distribution of average IQs across the continent, we find that climate is only part of the puzzle. To see this, let’s take a look at my map of European average IQs with the Hajnal line overlain:

The region behind the Hajnal line in Western Europe is historically unique in the world in a variety of ways, giving the much praised and lamented traits of Northwestern Europeans.   In addition to the late marriage that was the norm in this region, this region was also roughly the area in which—unique to itself—outbreeding was high, as we can see on this similar map:

This is a map delineating the regions of Europe with historically low levels of inbreeding from those with higher levels.  It is roughly coterminous with the Hajnal line, and very closely follows the spread of manoralism. (see endnote 1)

One thing that we notice is that all peoples behind the Hajnal line have average IQs around 100, while the peoples on the periphery have average IQs that are much more variable.  This brings me to the first set of factors important to the evolution of high IQ: the effect of late marriage and outbreeding.

Marriage was delayed in Western Europe due to two factors: the Church’s ban on cousin marriage and the manor system. The ban on cousin marriage removed the guarantee of having a mate.  In a clannish/tribal society, the less able members can live off of the more able members of their clan/tribe, and can look forward to marrying a cousin, as HBD Chick describes in great detail as it occurs in the Muslim world.  Clans were essentially the original welfare system, where the clan served as a welfare state open to family members only.

However, in the manor system under the church’s ban on cousin marriage, an individual had to “prove him/herself” to a degree.   Peasants had to obtain permission both to marry and to obtain a tract of land to farm from their lord. Presumably the lords would have selected their best/most skilled (and most docile and compliant) laborers to award with plots of land to farm.  This would have selected for individuals who would have delayed marriage until they could establish themselves economically.  This type of behavior would have carried over as the manors evolved into independent farms.

A key product of this arrangement was that the within-clan welfare state was shut down.  Individuals were on their own, and the less able would have fell by the wayside (or at the very least would have had far fewer surviving offspring).  Since some variant of this system was in place all over Western Europe, average IQs would have risen accordingly.

The outliers of this system, northwestern Britain, southern Iberia, and southern Italy, were exempt from this tight selection pressure in one form or another to a degree.  In all these areas, inbreeding and clan-based living persisted. Within-clan welfare would have kept the dullards going in these places.

A look at the Celtic fringe brings me to my next important factor: the type of agriculture practiced.  In this case, it is the difference between a primarily farming based subsistence and a pastoral one. Presumably, the rough terrain of Scotland (among other things) helped to limit the spread of the manor there.  As well, a herding lifestyle favors inbreeding as to not breakup the herds too much, as we see with the Muslim world.

Throughout Scotland, farmland had been historically poor, especially in the highland areas of the northwest.  Pastoralism was the dominant way to make a living.  Many of the communities throughout the country remained geographically isolated from one another, thanks to the rough terrain.  These communities lived in an economically self-sufficient manner, without much trade between them or the outside world.  It’s little wonder that inbreeding persisted for quite some time here, long after it declined in England.  

While the average IQ of Scotland today is pegged at 97, this may have something to do with the fact that much of the Scottish Highlands were forcibly depopulated, with many of its former residents ending up in North America and Australia.

However, in Ireland, a similar situation persisted.  Throughout the Middle Ages, its inhabitants relied on herding rather than farming, and inbreeding was prevalent.  Hence, today its average IQ is only 92.  As well, interestingly, and perhaps related to its historically high levels of inbreeding, schizophrenia (a heritable mental disorder) appears to be endemic in Ireland.

These places exemplify that even in a cold northern climate, agricultural lifestyles do make a difference.  Presumably, the cognitive demands of a pastoral life are less than those of a farming one.  The clan system “welfare” system would have also helped the dim-witted along, as described.   Further, the violent nature of clan life (the clans frequently clashed with each other) would have selected for more aggressive (and not necessarily brighter) individuals, particularly without strong state authorities culling these individuals.   Tribal tough guys would have remained a significant fraction of the population, and this may have prevented the average IQ from rising too high.  As well, without a manorial lord to report to, breeding in these places would have been more “wild,” in contrast to the “domesticated” (i.e., semi-controlled) breeding of the peasantry of England and continental Europe.  The population would have also resisted the genetic incursion of upper-class blood, with varying degrees of success.

Southern Spain (and presumably, Portugal) is by comparison more straightforward.  Muslim invaders conquered much of the peninsula in the 8th century and would have conquered the rest of the continent if there wasn’t a concerted effort by the European armies to stop them.  The Muslims remained in control of the southern part of the peninsula, being slowly pushed back—and eventually expelled—by Christian forces.  During this time, Muslim-style cousin marriage was prevalent.

The situation in Italy was quite similar.  Here, as in Britain, geographic differences help explain why the different parts of the country developed so differently.  The two parts of Italy were politically separated throughout much of the Middle Ages (indeed, only unifying in the early modern period).   Pastoralism is common here as it is across the Mediterranean and presumably was very important during the Middle Ages.  And, as with Scotland and Ireland, these are the conditions that favor inbreeding, which as late as the 20th century was highly prevalent in Southern Italy, giving us the famed (or infamous) qualities of Southern Italian culture.  Presumably, the same forces that depressed the IQs of the Scots, Irish, and southern Iberians operated here. (also see endnote 2)

As we see, inbreeding and agricultural systems apparently play big roles in the evolution of IQ.  However, if we look to the east of the Hajnal line, they’re clearly far from the whole story.

In Eastern Europe (which in this instance includes Greece), average IQs are notably more variable, though they display a distinct north-south divide.  IQs high for the West and East Slavs, but noticeably lower for the South Slavs and the Greeks. Throughout the Slavic lands, historically the predominant living system was a communal dwelling known as the obshchina in Russia or the zadruga among the South Slavs.  These were essentially proto-communist systems where equitable distribution of land and crops were enforced.  From Wikipedia:

Peasants in these communities became reliant upon each other in times of need. With the Russian climate being so harsh and unpredictable, it wasn’t uncommon for peasants to suddenly lose all of their crops or livestock. In times of famine, one farmer might lose everything and his adjacent neighbor could lose nothing at all; because of this, the villagers set up a system in which they would support one another in times of need. This system however also set up a sense of “ceiling and floor” within the obshchina. Members of the obshchina who were prospering the most would usually be the ones looked upon to help others in their times of need; creating a form of “ceiling”. When other families were experience rough times, others in the village were forced to step in and help; creating a sense of “floor”, and preventing any one family from falling under in the community.

This system was born out of necessity—for not the least reason to ensure a healthy tax base for the nobles.   The Russians and other Slavs evolved to dependent on this system, something I will discuss in greater detail when I delve into my post on ideology.  In addition to marriage being early, as it was in most parts of the world (girls married at an average age of 19, with the legal minimum age at times being as young as 13), cousin marriage, especially of the mother’s-brother’s-daughter type, was much more common in Eastern Europe than in the West.

Life in the zadruga was a very top-down enterprise, with the senior patriarch overseeing the lives of several generations beneath him (which seems to describe many modern-day aspects of Slavic society).

However, unlike in Western Europe, inbreeding appears to have been a fact of life all over Eastern Europe.  Yet, the northern parts have average IQs similar to their Western counterparts.  The southern areas of Eastern Europe are more in line with what you’d expect for an inbred society.  Why the distinction?  It is here that I argue that climate (and, to a lesser extent, geography) made the difference.

In inbred Eastern Europe, much like the rest of the world, the forces of climate were more important in governing the selection of IQ.

The left is a map of the average minimum winter temperatures across Europe; the right is a map of average annual precipitation.  While Europe has experienced several climatic swings throughout the Middle Ages, a general pattern can be seen here.   While Eastern Europe is in general colder and drier than Western Europe, the Northeast is much colder than the Southeast, leading to the infamously brutal Russian winters.  Throughout this entire area, communal dwellings were the rule, and inbreeding occurred at fairly significant levels.   Early marriage did not present the same selective forces on Easterners as late marriage presented to individuals in the West; Easterners would have had to “prove” themselves less than individuals did in Western Europe.  Communal/clan living would have increased the odds of the less able individuals surviving.

However, I would posit that conditions in the colder areas of Russia and Poland were so harsh that communities that accumulated too many poor producers—especially with their communal sharing system—were doomed.  Whole households probably fell by the wayside in particularly harsh winters (or perhaps dispersed into surrounding communes). Wealthier families, presumably including the princes, nobles, and tsars themselves, would have enjoyed a greater survival advantage.

The period of serfdom in Russia might have also helped to select for intelligent individuals just as it did in the West.

The Ashkenazi Jews are also an example of this process.  While the Jews inbred (also here), at a rate that appears to be higher than the surrounding populations, particularly in the West, the intense selection they faced thanks to their specialization in cognitively demanding “white collar” occupations would have nonetheless selected for intelligence.

With the South Slavs, and by extension the Greeks, the situation may have been a bit different.  The climate wasn’t anywhere near as harsh as in Russia, allowing for much more success, on average.   This would have included the less intelligent/able individuals.  The zadruga would have acted as a within-family welfare state of the kind seen in most tribal/clannish societies.  As such, the selective pressure on IQ would have been much weaker than its counterparts in Western Europe of roughly the same latitude (in this case, Northern Italy and Southern France/Northern Spain, where landlords would have been selecting for competent workers and marriage depended on economic viability).  The preference for early marriage would have aided this process by relieving individuals from having to prove their mettle as they would in the West.

Another aspect of Eastern Europeans, especially of the former Yugoslav nations and of the Greeks, is their very tribal nature.  Southeastern Europe had long been under Turkish domination as part of the Ottoman Empire.  Apparently, the Turks weren’t very concerned with the local affairs of their subjects and allowed them a fair degree of autonomy with respect to local matters.  Communities here remained quite isolated from one another, which may have something to do with the geography of this region:

Southeastern Europe, particularly in the former Yugoslavia and Greece, is highly mountainous.  As we saw with other parts of the world, rough terrain disconnects people and separates them into isolated pockets, which discourages travel and necessarily leads to inbreeding.  As with mountain dwellers elsewhere (or people who live in areas interspaced by mountains), these people are necessarily clannish/tribal, as we saw to deadly effect during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s and with the current economic crisis in Greece.  In contrast, the areas of Russia and Northeastern Europe were flatter, which may have encouraged a greater flow of people between communities.

The East and West Slavs are probably somewhat less inbred than the South Slavs because of this.  Since there appears to be an “optimal” level of inbreeding, that is between 3rd and 4th cousins, perhaps this may be another factor involved in the IQ differences between the two regions (1st and 2nd cousin marriage may have been more prevalent with the South Slavs, whereas perhaps it was between more distant cousins points north).

To racap, a complex interaction of the levels of outbreeding, farming vs pastoralism, and climate gave us modern European intelligence.  In the West, outbreeding left individuals to fend to themselves more often, favoring competent, self-reliant individuals.  In the areas of the West where inbreeding persisted, the selective pressure on intelligence were more relaxed because individuals were able to depend on their clans to survive and reproduce, often relying on a herding lifestyle which presented weaker cognitive demands and favored aggression.  In the East, communal living and inbreeding were common all over, so that climate played the larger role in selecting for IQ.  In Russia and there abouts, the harsh climate may have selected for greater intelligence despite the inbreeding.  In the south, less inhospitable climate may have may made prospects better for the less able.

I hope that with the factors I’ve examined (climate/geography, agricultural systems, level of inbreeding/outbreeding), I will have made some inroads in unraveling the mysteries behind the evolution of modern IQ levels.   The distribution of IQ in Europe comes with the usual statements about Europe’s economic future, which remains an ongoing drama that is keeping us all at the edge of our seats.  In part III, I will look at Asia and note that this same framework works just about as well in explaining average IQs there.  In the following part, however, I will take a look at how these systems have impacted the prevailing ideologies of Europeans today.

  1. There are some uncertain areas.   Those include the British Isles, which seem to have a complex history regarding inbreeding/outbreeding; Finland, which is traditionally placed outside the Hajnal line but has some historical and cultural traits that are more closely aligned with the West; and the eastern region border region between Germany and the West Slavs; the latter of which have some traits in common with Westerners.  More on this in part II.
  2. An interesting area in this whole analysis is the Alpine region.  As we’ve seen, this area seems to have a higher average IQ. This area is snowy, rough, and cold.  But despite being a mountainous area, they might not have gone the route of the other mountainous areas because the people there went to literally great lengths to outbreed.  With outbreeding strong, clannish societies and their kin-based welfare systems could never develop.  The harsh conditions of the mountains then presented a greater selective pressure for IQ.

Dysgenic Fertility Among Blacks? Apparently, Yes

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In the spirit of (partial) full disclosure, in my earlier post on the topic, I announced that I’m liberal.  In this post, I’ll announce that I am Black.  That is, at least, according to American hypodescent; I’m a mixed Black/White/Chinese second generation Jamaican-American.  As such, of course I have a soft spot for the American Black community, and would like to see the best for Blacks in America (and all citizens—indeed, all people in the world).  M.G. of Those Who Can See, (who has a recent post up about the problems of Black governance), left a comment to my earlier blog noting that while the Black fertility rate in America is at replacement level, he recalls that it is highly dysgenic.   So to examine this, I once again turned to the GSS data.

This is the average number of children of Black Americans, ages 44-55, by WORDSUM score, from the 1990-2010 GSS data.  As we can see, of the Black equivalents of the White Baby Boomers, fertility was highly dysgenic.

This chart—for more contemporary relevance, is the mean number of children of Blacks, ages 35-43, by WORDSUM score. While fertility among the current generation also appears to be highly dysgenic, this mostly occurs on the extremes of IQ, being fairly steady in the middle.

I thought that there might be a strong sex difference in fertility among Blacks by IQ, so I decided to look at the sexes separately:

Sample sizes are pretty small, but for men, it seems that the effect of IQ on fecundity is about neutral.  Presumably, Black men benefit from the higher incomes that come with higher education.   But for Black women, fertility appears to be highly dysgenic.  A large number of intelligent Black women go without having children, as discussed by the Inductivist.

So why this gender gap?  Either intelligent Black men are having children with much less intelligent Black women, as possibility indicated by the earlier chart of both sexes, or—as the stereotype suggests—intelligent Black men marry outside their race more (yup, my girlfriend is White), or both.  Unfortunately, the GSS doesn’t seem to have a data point for the race of respondent’s spouse, so I’m not able to check this here.

It’s important to note that these data almost certainly underestimate the dysgenic nature of Black fertility.  I doubt the GSS interviewers conduct many interviews in the poorest parts of the inner city (though I could be wrong).  As well, incarceration rates are very high for Black males, presumably removing their contribution from this sample.

Overall, it is quite clear that Black fertility is highly dysgenic.  While the Black population remains roughly static in number, its quality is unfortunately greatly deteriorating.  For intelligent Blacks, this seems to be the norm (or even well above average):

Whereas for unintelligent Blacks, this may be more common (click photo for story):

It would seem that the methods I suggested previously for curbing the fertility of the underclass of all races are very important for Blacks.  Welfare reform, as I discussed, coupled with heavy marketing/availability of Planned Parenthood seems quite prudent.  It’s only too bad that there isn’t a highly effective non-surgical long-term contraceptive for men, but considering the fellow in the previously linked article, an option for voluntary sterilization for individuals who seem to sire more children than they can support might not be that politically unpalatable.

It’s also worth noting that the more intelligent Blacks are more heavily White in ancestry, as I am.  Discouraging breeding among unintelligent Blacks would, over time, make Black Americans much more White in ancestry.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that either way.  I see no issue if the overall level of African ancestry among American Blacks were to stay the same, decrease, or increase, so long as Blacks’ average IQ increases—or at least stops decreasing.  However, I’m sure some may take exception to increasing level of European ancestry among Black Americans.

I’ll leave off with this reggae song—a favorite of mine, which seems fitting.


A follow-up: Ethnicity and Politics

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In my previous entry, I noted that the ethnic origins of White Americans can’t be neatly correlated to their political attitudes.  This appears to be because Whites within each part of the country hold similar political views to the other Whites in that region.  At least, so it appeared from comparing the maps of the distribution of the various European ancestries in America with each region’s voting habits.

So I decided to see if this is in fact the case when one looks at the political orientation of the different ethnic groups in the different parts of the country.  Once again I turned to the GSS data, using the ETHNIC variable to identify the ancestry of the various whites.

I have sorted White Americans into the following categories:

English (England and Wales).
Scottish and Scotch-Irish (Scottish, American only)
German  (German, Austrian, Swiss)
Scandinavian (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland)
French (French, French Canadian, Belgian)
Slavic (Polish, Czechoslovakian, Russian, Yugoslav)
Mediterranean (Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece)

The last category seems justified because Italians make up the overwhelming bulk of that category in every region.  As well, the “American only” category of the GSS is assumed to be overwhelmingly Scotch-Irish, which seems to be the case in most of the country.

The regions of the country are the same as before, with the “West” area split between the Mountain states and the West Coast.

This chart are the totals for all ethnicities across the country:

As well, here the results grouped by ethnicity, compared in each of the different regions of the country:

While there is some variation, these data show a fairly strong regional consistency between the various ethnic groups, especially in the Northeast and in the South.  Most groups are fairly liberal in the Northeast, and most groups appear highly conservative in the South.  The classic divide between the Britons of the Northeast and those of the South a la Albion’s Seed is very evident here.  Mediterranean groups seem to be quite liberal in the Midwest and points west.  We can assume that this is due to these groups being primarily urban dwellers in the West.

Patterns in the Mountain West, which would be of interest here, are probably weakened by small sample size and the outsized effect of populated urban cores in this region, such as Denver or Las Vegas.

It is worth noting that this is based on self-reported political orientation.  Audacious Epigone has discovered that liberals in Red States are much more conservative that those in Blue States—likewise for conservatives and moderates.  As such, these charts may somewhat mask the true political lean of the people in these areas, and may underestimate the degree that Southerners and Westerners are to the Right.  However, overall, it seems that the effect of region is stronger than that of ethnicity, just as described by the fast-breeding pioneers hypothesis.

Previously: Lberalism, HBD, Population, and Solutions for the Future

Liberalism, HBD, Population, and Solutions for the Future

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Unlike the vast majority of HBD’ers, I lean to the political Left on a variety of issues. The primary reason for this is that most of the stuff that comes out of mainstream conservatives in America is utter insanity.  This is especially true of the “neocons”—a point where most HBD commentators would be in agreement.  But there are some rather “interesting” points of view that emerge from the HBD community as well which I disagree with.

To be sure, I’m far from the typical liberal.  As if this isn’t evidenced enough from the fact that I accept HBD and its implications, I also strongly advocate heavy investment in nuclear power (particularly this type of nuclear, among a few others) to meet our energy needs and to transition us away from fossil fuels—if for no other reason that those fuels are exhaustible (more on that in future post).  As well, in terms of the environment, I’m more of a Theodore Roosevelt-style conservationist than anything (as in that development is important, but we don’t need to ruin everything; there’s plenty of land for every purpose).

But I do believe in looking out for the general welfare of all people, including the poor, the low-IQ, and the troublesome.  There is no reason that all people, especially our own citizens, shouldn’t be able to live decent lives, to the extent that we as a society are able to do anything about it.  Often what we can do isn’t much, and we have to resign ourselves to accept that truth in many situations.  This is where traditional liberals have a hard time.  Here—if I may borrow the Christian verse—the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer comes in handy:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.

The intentions behind the aid flowing to the Third World are an example of where hope exceeds reality.  For decades, people in the developed world have poured all manner of charity into the impoverished corners of the globe.  The hope has been that with some basics such as food, schools, and rudimentary infrastructure,  these people would be able to one day lift themselves out of poverty.   Of course, many of these areas—such as sub-Saharan Africa—have shown little improvement.

But this is an instance of the road to hell being paved with good intentions.  The people of these places live in a Malthusian trap.  The vast amount of aid, in the form of food and infrastructure that the First World has provided to the Third, has allowed the latter’s population to explode over the course of the 20th century.  Third World peoples, unable to greatly advance economically thanks their low average IQs—and as “r-strategists,” less inclined/able to curb their fertility—have only raised more and more offspring on the increased food supply.  In Africa, every additional increase in food aid/production we provide is eaten up by the population growth it spurs, leaving a continent that is perpetually hungry and in need of more aid.  This is not to say we shouldn’t be giving assistance to Third World, but in addition to the food, medicine, and infrastructure, we should provide lots of reliable long-term contraception if we want to truly help them in the long run.  With fewer mouths to consume the resources, those who remain will be much better off.

Here is the States, liberals and conservatives have long been waging a pitched war over social welfare policies. Liberals want to greatly expand them, and conservatives want to greatly curtail them.  The racial element is a big factor in this. The differing average IQs of the various racial groups in America means that some groups are permanently putting out more than they receive, while other groups will always, on the whole, receieve more than they give.  Overall, people are more inclined to contribute to social welfare if the people who are the recipients of such aid are of the same racial/ethnic group. However, even on top of that, some peoples, especially those with a recent history of inbreeding—as many American Whites have—are much more clannish and are less willing to contribute to any sort of social welfare system that benefits non-kin.

We see this conflict play out in several areas, such as with healthcare in America.  I believe that all citizens—by virtue of being American—are entitled to free healthcare.  Half Sigma has pointed out why conservative opposition to universal healthcare is foolish (also here).  Yet the conflict remains, fueled by the attitude against redistributive social policy among American conservatives.

However, two recent events have conservatives, both mainstream and HBD-aware, up in arms. They are the release of the web animation “The Life of Julia” on President Obama’s campaign website and the Census Bureau’s calculation that, for the first time, minority births now exceed non-Hispanic White births.

“The Life of Julia” details Obama’s social welfare policies in a “cradle-to-grave” manner.  Make no mistake, these policies pale in comparison to what is the norm in Europe, to which these policies often compared.  Of course, some of these policies are legitimately foolish, such as Head Start (which, as even the government now finally admits, does NOT work), Race to the Top (same situation), and the Fair Pay Act (which addresses a problem that largely doesn’t exist).  And then the issue of college and its funding is a whole ‘nother topic (also here).

But policies such as Social Security or healthcare—including Medicare—are important. Dealing with Medicare in particular is part of the larger issue of elder care that will, for a time, become a problem as the Baby Boomers start to retire.

However, many commentators have taken “The Life of Julia” to be an assault on marriage and the “traditional” family (that is, the nuclear family that has been traditional to the Anglo-Saxons since the Middle Ages).   Steve Sailer has pointed out that it doesn’t appear that “Julia” is married at any point. Of course, many of the benefits described would be quite useful to married women as well. However, Sailer has also noted that married women tend to vote Republican.  And in fact, he has discovered that in any given state, the average number of years women spend married during their childbearing years (taking into account age of first marriage and likelihood of divorce) is perhaps the single biggest predictor of which party that state is likely to vote for, with married women likely to go Republican.

Sailer has proposed that there is a causal relationship between marriage and political leaning, but I don’t think it’s that simple, as I’ll soon show.  In America, the marriage gap between Democratic-leaning and Republican-leaning areas is also correlated with a baby gap between these two areas. That is, the White fertility rate is significantly higher in Red States than it is in Blue States.  This goes hand-in-hand with the fact that White births have now been exceeded by non-White births in America, and both of these facts go to the root of conservative angst against liberal policies.   Conservatives view liberal policies—such as high taxes and generous welfare benefits—as detrimental to White fertility.  This is only implicit in mainstream conservative policy, and probably not consciously articulated, since mainstream conservative are probably not aware of HBD, but it is quite explicit among many HBD’ers.

The belief is that high taxes (among other things) drive up the cost of living, which make children much less affordable.  As well, generous welfare, the belief goes, discourages marriage, as having children out-of-wedlock becomes a much more viable option. Worse still, generous welfare impacts White fertility because it is disproportionally used by lower average IQ groups, such as Blacks and Latinos, and neighborhoods with large numbers of people of color are unattractive to Whites due to problems such as violence and crime, raising the cost of living for Whites by forcing Whites to move into expensive suburbs in order to flee these groups.

Indeed, low fertility is a problem throughout all of the developed world, as can be seen here (derived from the map on Wikipedia):

With very few exceptions (such as Ireland), all of the countries in the developed world have sub-replacement fertility, that is, less than an average of about 2.1 children per childbearing women per lifetime (2.1 because one child to replace each parent plus a few extra children to offset premature deaths and non-fertile individuals)—this is known as the total fertility rate, or TFR.  Whenever fertility rates reach sub-replacement and remain there for a long time, population stagnates and eventually declines.

The United States is no exception.  While the country’s population is growing, almost all of that growth is driven by minority fertility, and of that, mostly Hispanics (and of those, mostly Mexicans—see also here).  Left unchanged, this would mean that eventually Hispanics will come to outnumber White Americans, which is already is the case in many parts of the country:

Worse still, even with Whites, there is a fear that fertility is dysgenic; that is, those in the lower classes (who presumably have lower average IQs) are reproducing more than those in the upper classes (who presumably have higher IQs).  However, Ron Guhname has discovered evidence that the effect of IQ itself on fertility is in fact neutral; the reduction in fertility in the upper classes stems from the negative impact that education has on women’s fertility.  Since women pursuing higher education often put off childbirth while in school (usually out of necessity), they have fewer children per lifetime than their less educated counterparts who receive less schooling (and presumably are more apt to become stay-at-home-moms).  Of course, this does mean that certain traits are being lost from the gene pool, a fact that is important to the point I’ll soon make.

A similar problem is occurring in Europe, where fertility rates are much lower (especially in Southern and Eastern Europe).  Further, as much lamented by HBD’ers, most of the countries of Western Europe have significant levels of Third World immigration, particularly from the Muslim world.  The Muslim population has a much higher fertility rate, which means that if trends continue unchanged, they will eventually replace the native European populations (as they’ve done before, also here).

The low fertility of high average IQ populations has been a much discussed problem, particularly in the HBD world, where it is the underlying theme of almost all HBD discussion.  Much discussion about the possible causes of this phenomenon has taken place, and so far the two largest culprits that seem to have emerged are:

  • The breakdown of marriage/instability of modern relationships between men and women.
  • The rising cost of living in the developed world.

Much of both have been blamed on “liberal” policies, and somewhat unfairly so, as I’ll argue. The former problem—the breakdown of tradition marriage—was one of the central points of Charles Murray’s recent book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.  In this book, Murray noted that the White underclass is distinctly different in its behavior the White upper class, including many important social indicators, such as marriage rates and participation in the labor force, and that distinction has grown considerably between 1960 and 2010, as seen in this chart from Whiskey’s blog.

Illegitimacy rates are also much higher among the lower classes, of all races. Many commentors, including Murray himself, have placed the blame for the problems squarely on socially permissive attitudes towards out-of-wedlock childbirth and male idleness.  Murray has claimed that in order to correct some of these problems for the working class, shifts in cultural norms are necessary.  For example, Murray claims that in order to solve the problem of male idleness, men who refuse to work should be shamed—and men who do work—even in the most menial jobs—should be granted respect.  Others have gone so far as to advocate returning to a 1950s mindset with regards to marriage and illegitimacy, so that women who have children out of wedlock would once again will be held in low regards.

While perhaps noble, even commendable in the case of granting respect to men working in even menial tasks, all of these are highly unlikely to ever happen.  The reason that the culture has changed between 1960 and the present is because permanent technological and societal changes have taken place.  The two most significant are the fact that woman are in now in the labor force and the availability of birth control. Women have entered the labor force in much greater numbers since the 1950s. This was made possible in part by the availability of appliances and equipment that took a great deal of the work out of domestic life.  Women being the labor force means that they are no longer obligatorily reliant on a male breadwinner to survive.  As well, a man’s status is ultimately determined by his desirability to women, and because women who seek mates tend to prefer men who are in better positions than they are, the prestige of many occupations has necessarily and permanently lowered (especially with the loss of many well-paying working class jobs in favor of low-paying service jobs—jobs which were the bread and butter of those with only average IQs).

Couple this with the arrival of birth control, which made it unnecessary for marriage to be a prerequisite for sex (hence, the sexual revolution).   As such, men now have access to sex without marriage, and as such, many no longer get married. Further still, considering the poorer employment prospects of lower class men, they are much less reliable providers, providing lower class women with a strong disincentive to marry the men they have available to them.

Conservative commentators have blamed the welfare state for this problem as well, as both men and women who do not participate in the labor force have another option for survival (i.e., sit at home and collect welfare).  But, in reality (at least for Whites), welfare is only tangential to what is going on.  The aforementioned factors—marriage not being a prerequisite for sex and women being able to support themselves—are true for upper-class Whites as well as for lower-class ones, and the upper class’s behavior hasn’t changed much between 1960 and 2010.  As well, the lower class of yesteryear was much more well behaved. Another, much more important factor is at play.

That culprit is the very opportunity that made America great.  In the past, many were poor not because they weren’t smart or because they weren’t the most industrious, but because they lacked opportunity to advance.  As well, many were in the upper classes not so much because they were smart and studious, but because they were the beneficiaries of nepotism.   But we have made great strides to give everyone an opportunity to achieve. The modernization of the rural areas, the War on Poverty, scholarships for gifted students, and the like all have allowed smart and studious individuals, wherever they may be, to achieve (Murray himself, from a poor small town in Iowa, is one of these).   And when these newly accomplished individuals settled, they tended to do so in upper-class neighborhoods with other upper-class individuals from all over, with whom they now tended to marry more often (a process known as assortative mating).   This more perfect meritocracy means that today’s poor are not poor because they lack opportunities to advance, as is the current mainstream narrative, but because they—by in large—lack the ability to succeed, because they are lacking in IQ, work ethic, self-discipline, or any or all of the above. Assortative mating means that individuals in either class pass on their superior or inferior genes to their children, fating them to similar paths.   In short, the classes have become castes.

Today’s lower caste is comprised overwhelmingly of individuals who are of lower average IQ and lower impulse control, with much shorter time horizons (that is, consideration for the future vs immediate wants).  In the past, these were individuals who pursued a comparitively “r-strategy”—more offspring with less investment in each; in essence, quantity over quality.   Back then these individuals married not because of enormously better moral character, but because it was a necessity to get sex (for men), or to get support (for women).  I’ve seen many commentators suggest ways to encourage those in the lower class to get married, but in this day and age there really isn’t any way of doing that.  Neither birth control nor working women are going to go away—nor should they.  Further, even if there was more marriage among those in the lower class, the next generation, having inherited all the same traits, would be no different.  The poor outcomes of children who were raised in fatherless homes stem not from the much maligned single motherhood—in and of itself—but rather from the traits these children inherited from their parents, who were the type of individuals likely to have their children end up being raised by single mothers.

Which finally brings us back to marriage itself, and its role in politics and population.  Among Whites, being unmarried is indeed associated with lower fertility.

As mentioned, some of the difference is related to location and politics; women in Blue States spend fewer of their childbearing years married than those in Red States.  But why this dichotomy?   And which causes which?  Indeed, overall, Red States are far less crowded than Blue States, but is this the reason that people in these different areas behave differently? This is, in fact, at most only one reason among many. For one, remember that there are ethnic differences between Red and Blue States, that is, Whites in Blue States are different from the Whites in Red States.  This goes back to the different parts of the British Isles from which the original settlers hail.

But there must be more going on than this.  For one, the early British settlers have been augmented by other Europeans, especially Germans, Scandinavians, Catholic Irish, various Slavs, and (in the Northeast anyway) Italians.  The political lean of the different parts of the country can’t easily be correlated to that region’s precise ethnic makeup.  As well, as Razib Khan has found, Whites in different parts of America seem to have similar IQ profiles, despite their ancestry. Judging from the map of political divisions, it can be assumed that they have similar political orientations as well.

To disentangle some of the factors involved, I did my own inquiry into the General Social Survey (GSS) data.

First interesting discovery: in America, most of the loss of White fertility stems from liberals:

Here are the mean number of children of non-Hispanic White Americans, aged 44-55, from the 2000-2010 GSS data (N = 2,387).  This is roughly the Baby Boomer generation, and this indicates that of that group, only those who were conservative to some degree bred at replacement-level or greater.

To see if this pattern also holds for the current crop, I looked at the younger cohort as well:

This is non-Hispanic White Americans, aged 30-43, from the 2000-2010 GSS data (N = 2,450).  Of course, this comes with the caveat that people in this age group probably aren’t quite done having children, but the overall pattern is pretty clear and striking, especially in comparison with the earlier generation. Political attitudes (as with most everything) are highly heritable, so this means that liberals are slowly breeding themselves out of the population. (Out of this sample, those who are “moderate” to “conservative” make up 71% of the total.) I’m sure my conservative readers are rejoicing with this; the Gen-X’ers show that the America of the future belongs to conservatives.

Second interesting discovery: IQ has a negative impact on fertility for liberals and has a positive impact on fertility for conservatives.

I wanted to see how fertility is affected by IQ, so using the WORDSUM measure to gauge intelligence, this is how the last chart breaks down:

This is the previous group, non-Hispanic White Americans, age 30-43, whose mean number of offspring are broken down by WORDSUM score and political orientation (N = 883).  Sample sizes get fairly small here, but an overall pattern is evident.  For all groups, those with WORDSUM scores of 7-8 are the most numerous, but the ratio of 6:7-8 steadily shrinks as you go Liberal -> Conservative.  As we see here, for the liberals who are reproducing, it is the dumbest ones who are breeding most.   The opposite is true for conservatives.  Not only will conservatives come to numerically dominate liberals in the future, conservatives will soon intellectually dominate liberals as well.

So why is this?  The first obvious factor is education.  People tend to delay childbirth while pursuing higher education, especially women (as recently discussed by The Audacious Epigone).  Here are a few of my own charts examining this phenomenon:

These are the average number of children for Americans age 30-43, broken down by sex, political orientation, and WORDSUM score.  In order to obtain adequate sample sizes, I had to use the 1990-2010 GSS data (I also excluded males with WORDSUM scores >6 with only “junior college” because of small sample sizes).  The data indicates several interesting trends:

  • Liberals have fewer children than conservatives and moderates at all levels of education and IQ (IQ at least as differentiated as I have here)
  • Education negatively impacts women’s fertility all around
  • Education has an approximately neutral effect on male fertility

The last point is probably due to the increased earnings afforded to men from obtaining higher education.

The low liberal fertility rate is still very evident (the apparently fecund unintelligent liberals make up a distinct minority of all liberals).

This is the highest degree obtained by non-Hispanic White women, ages 30-43, from 1990-2010 data, of WORDSUM score ≥ 7, by political orientation.  Here we see that liberal women, even when (somewhat) controlling for IQ, are far more likely to seek higher education.

This may be related to these data:

This is the percentage of non-Hispanic White women, age 18-30, WORDSUM ≥ 7,  who were married, from the 1995-2010 data.  I’m limiting my inquiry here to the right half of the bell curve to control for IQ, to a degree.  Liberal women are far less likely to marry before age 30. The pattern is similar for those with a WORDSUM of 6 or less.  (Interestingly, if I include the 1990-1994 data, marriage rates increase by about 6 percent for each group.  Young women are marrying considerably less than they once were).

So far it seems we can blame a good portion of the lower fertility of liberals on the facts their women tend to pursue more education and marry later.  (They are also, by the way, less likely to remain married and more likely to have never married at all, according to what I’ve seen of the earlier generation).

But as noted, there are regional differences to these behaviors.  So to examine that, I looked at these rates as broken down by region in the country.  The states included in each region are the same as Razib’s, with the exception that I’ve separated the Mountain states from those of the West Coast, as there are distinct cultural differences between those two areas.  Here’s what I found:

This is the previous chart, only broken down by region.  As before, I’ve used those with a WORDSUM of 6-10 to equalize the IQ differences.  Sample sizes get pretty small, but a pattern is quite clear.  While marriage rates do differ in the different regions—being low in the Northeast and being higher in the Midwest and the South, marriage rates for liberal women age 30 or under are low across the board.  Note that the pattern is similar if women of all IQs are included (which includes the high marriage rates of conservative women in the Midwest and the South; the marriage rate for liberals on the West Coast falls to levels similar for liberals in other parts of the country, indicating that the high number here is probably due to small sample size).

But one question can’t helped but be asked, and that is does marriage make a woman more conservative, as Steve Sailer indicated, or are conservative women just more likely to get married earlier?  Indeed, this question prevails all throughout this analysis of the differences in behavior by political orientation.  To attempt to get a hint on the answer to this chicken-and-the-egg question, I’ve looked at even younger women:

While sample sizes now get very small, it still seems that the more conservative women are more likely to be already married in this age group, particularly in the middle of the country. Once again, the pattern is similar if women of all IQs are included, except that somewhat more women in the South are already married in all the middle categories.

But what about the urban-suburban-rural divide, which is an important feature of Sailer’s “Affordable Family Formation” theory?  Could it be that liberals marry later because they tend to live in expensive areas?  Almost certainly that is a factor in the coastal metropolises of the Northeast and the West Coast, but I also looked into this:

This is the breakdown of the respondents, women, ages 18-30, WORDSUM 6-10, by the type of area they live in, as defined in the GSS (they are: the 12 largest statistical metropolitan areas, 13th-100th largest statistical metropolitan areas, 12 largest suburban areas, 13th-100th largest suburbs, other urban, and other rural) with the Northeast and the West Coast excluded.  While the prevalence of liberals appears higher in suburban areas, they are not enourmously more numerous there as one might expect (however, if I include the Northeast and West Coast, the fraction of liberals in the largest metropolises and all urban areas soars, as to be expected).  Unfortunately, this is not quite fine-grained enough to declare that liberals and conservatives are more thoroughly mixed in the middle of the country, as it could well be true that liberals are concentrated in the denser cores of these regions.  Perhaps liberals do indeed prefer to live in denser regions.  However, there is another, deeper reason for the urban-rural divide between liberals and conservatives.  This will bring us towards why these differences exist in the first place.  To see this, we turn our attention back across the Atlantic.

The Whites in the U.S. have a much higher TFR than most any European country.  As well, Europeans overall are much further to the Left than Americans.  I became interested in this when I noted that most of the ethnic groups of Americans—particularly the ones away from urban areas—seem far more to the Right than their brethren in the Old Countries.  This is evident when one looks at these maps of the distribution of American ethnic groups and compares them with the 2008 presidential election results.  Particularly interesting is the conservative nature of huge swaths of the Midwest and the Upper Plains/Mountain West. These places, while receiving some settlers ultimately originating from the Anglo-Scottish border regions and other Scotch-Irish (the same people who settled Appalachia), are also suffused with large numbers of other Europeans, such Germans and Scandinavians, people who today aren’t exactly known to be raving right-wingers.

The answer lies in a very important distinction between Europe and the U.S.: the latter was recently colonized by a population of immigrants.  In Europe, you need to go back to Antiquity to get much in the way of large movements of people.  European peoples, for the most part, have pretty much been exactly where they were for a very long time.  Little by way of new land was opened by newcomers; the frontiers were pretty much gone from Europe.  America, on the other hand, was to its early settlers a bountiful land full of possibilities.  The early colonist came and spread across the land very quickly, easily displacing the earlier inhabitants.  This is because the early settlers bred like rabbits.  It seems this is a general rule for humans—if not all life—when expanding into new territory: amp up breeding rates—reproduce younger—push outward faster.  The fact that they were displacing the Native Americans may or may not been an incentive to push this process along.  The rapid increase of a population when it moves into an area that it did not previously inhabit sounds like a great opportunity for evolution by natural selection to work its magic.

When new land is abundant, and “family formation” is relatively easy, which types of individuals are selected for?  Yup, those who married young and had lots of children (the fairly harsh and physically demanding nature of the American frontier ensured that paternal investment needed to remain high, such that stable marriage was important).  In short, people who are “family oriented” are selected for.  Evidence for this process has been found among the French Canadians.   On the island of Île aux Coudres, in the 140 years from 1799 to 1940, the average age when women had their first child fell from 26 to 22 years old.

This sounds a lot like the dichotomy between liberals and conservatives in America.  Liberals are concentrated in old-colonial states, in places without much space to expand into.  The reddest states on the other hand are areas with wide open stretches of land.  Conservatives represent the “family oriented” progeny of pioneers.  It is this that is perhaps the largest contributing factor to the baby gap that Steve Sailer discovered.  Not only are people living in blue states discouraged from breeding by the high cost of living, they are less inclined to do so because their ancestors lived in areas that had no room for expansion for a long time.  We can see what by looking the fertility rates of liberal (and sparsely populated) northern New England.  The U.S. states of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire have plenty of land and low land values, but aren’t very fecund.  These places do not have much money, as this area lacks large cities.  But then, this is also true of the empty Western states, such as Idaho, South Dakota, and Wyoming.  The fertility in these Western states doesn’t seem to be so encumbered.  The population in upper New England is largely composed of the original colonial stock; they lost their fast-breeding inklings long ago (especially when you consider that many of the fast-breeders would have Gone West—also see photo).

So where did liberals come from?  Liberal-minded people (and by extension, slow-breeders in general, when Eastern Europe and East Asia are also considered) descend from people who have stayed put for generations—or at the very least, never moved into previously empty lands.   Under such conditions—which, prior to industrialization was Malthusian—rapid breeders were not favored. Rather efficient competitors—those who maximize their resources before starting a family—were selected for. This is especially true of Northwestern Europeans, who married late, after amassing a reasonable amount of resources (a trade, for example—or a decent plot of land to farm).  In short, they established themselves economically before starting a family.  In the past, many never even married (as much as 10%).  It is this reason that liberals are more apt to pursue education; they are continuing a strategy of securing economic viability before breeding.

East of the Hajnal line, while marriage tended to occur much earlier, economic viability was still important, as young adults had to await their allotted share of land before marrying and starting a family.  Likely, they evolved a similar version of this need to feel economically secure before procreating.

Worse still, because for these extreme “K-strategists”, procreation was often a given consequence of marriage, all sorts of seemingly fitness-reducing behaviors were allowed to evolve—such as a conscious desire to not reproduce (an option that really wasn’t available short of remaining celibate), in some cases a reduced to eliminated sex drive (to keep the number of children manageable), even a reduced desire for traditional marriage (many of the “anti-family” attitudes of liberals that conservatives hate).

In today’s world, liberals and other slow-breeding peoples are at a distinct evolutionary disadvantage.  The availability of birth control has furthered this process by making procreation a choice.  And for this, liberals often prefer to wait for a time when things are “right”; for many, this time never comes.

In a population without new land being opened up, this process remains in a stable negative feedback loop: if slow-breeders dwindle in the population, population declines, fast-breeders come in and take their place, population increases and the land fills, and slow breeders once again become favored.

Of course, the last part of that cycle no longer operates in today’s world.  In the past, fast-breeders were disadvantaged in crowded lands because the situation was Malthusian; food was such a scare resource that slow-breeders, who prepared for raising a family, were successful.  Of course, this process, over long periods of time, gave us modern intelligent populations.  It’s unclear if slow-breeders will be favored again in the foreseeable future.

But overall, this is why I’ve come to be less concerned about the problem of sub-replacement fertility—in and of itself, at least.  Fertility is low among high-IQ groups because the lands that they inhabit are, in a manner of speaking, “full”—at least, at maximum to be able to support everyone at the standard of living modern people expect (with current technology levels and economic vitality).  There’s no room to for everyone to be assured their own house with a white picket fence and their 2.3 kids.  The “affordable family formation” theory is quite correct about this part.  Without being assured the ability to achieve a reasonable slice of the American dream, many people put off marriage and children, especially those most prone to do so.

The colonial fertility boom and eventual bust cycle can even be seen in the 20th century in America:

This is a graph of the birth rate (not the TFR) in the U.S. throughout much of the 20th century, from Wikipedia.  Here we see the generation trough of the Great Depression, the Baby Boom of the Post War era, and the modern crash of the birth rate.  The Depression was a time when marriage was delayed due to the difficulty in achieving economic viability, leading to a drop in the numbers of births.  However, many of the children who survived this period benefited greatly when the economic vitality of the WWII-era and following began. Americans once again began colonizing new lands—this time, it was the newly opened up suburbs.   America’s manufacturing base (a sector it monopolized thanks to the rest of the developed world lying in ruins after the war) provided the economic fuel during this expansion period.  Americans took advantage of this prosperity to breed prodigiously during this time.  Indeed, it is this period that defined the “American Dream” in the modern national consciousness.  And it is this time that American conservatives long for—perfectly understandably considering prosperity and massive gains in standard of living.  But they long for this time without realizing it was necessarily temporary.

One of the reasons for the necessarily fleeting nature of this era was that once again, the land became fully settled.  The suburbs expanded to the limit of where it was economically and logistically practical to inhabit (and they continue to push against these limits today).  Again, the land filled up, and access to “affordable living” necessarily declined.  This would have eventually happen even without the presence of minorities, as is occurring today in Australia.

I mentioned the expected standard of living.  K-strategists consider the effort and cost required to obtain resources.  They are above all competitive and want to give their children the best edge possible (so their children can have a leg up on their mission to obtain resources for their own children, continuing the cycle).  In today’s world, that includes lengthy educations, cars, clothes, expensive electronics, and more.   This increases the cost of raising children.  This is exacerbated by the need for status (which serves as a mental cue that one has accumulated sufficient resources, as well as giving offspring a push).  Economist Robert H. Frank has often discussed this problem (as Steve Sailer discusses here).  Today, we are over-saturated by conspicuous consumption, and even if we try to escape it, advertisers see to it that we don’t.  In the past, people were far less aware of what those above them on the totem pole had.  Today we have a much better picture—which we literally get by watching TV.  This factors into the expected “essentials” of life, and the rub comes in when our incomes don’t increase to pay for the goodies our modern society provides.

In this way, inequality may be a factor in driving fertility booms and busts (or at least an accidental side effect).  During expansion periods, everyone tends to be on more equal footing, and reality isn’t much exceeded by expectations.  During “saturation” periods—at least this one—the “expected” life seems permanently out of grasp for many, driving the fertility down turn.

As I mentioned, I wasn’t as concerned about this any more.  This is because eventually, as this process runs its course, the country begins to depopulate, and with it, the cost of living decreases (as well, wages should rise as fewer workers become available to fill payrolls).  This would eventually allow fertility to recover—and not lead to extinction of high-IQ groups as commonly feared in the HBD world.

This hypothesis predicts that in places that have been experiencing a population decline due to low fertility, population should start to rebound.  To test this, I looked at the areas where this is likely to be occurring:  Eastern Europe and (to a less extent) East Asia.

Eastern Europe suffers from abysmal fertility rates.  Presumably, prospects for the average person there, even in the higher IQ countries, have been so bad that many people forgo marriage and children entirely.  Russia’s population has been in decline for some time.  After a while however, its fertility should rebound, as once inhabited lands sit empty and hence cost of living falls.  And it appears that this may be the case:

These are graphs of the population over time in Poland and in Ukraine, as well as the TFR of Russia. In all three countries (in addition to Belarus), TFRs—after hitting a nadir in the early 2000s—have rebounded (in the case of Russia, considerably).  Eastern Europe is a great place to look because it lacks large numbers of immigrants to interfere with this process or to mask the trends of the native populations  (Russia, while having a large number of minorities, seems to be experiencing a fertility increase for ethnic Russians as well, as seen in the graph).  This seems to support the contention that the decline of fertility in the developed world is only temporary.  This process does not yet seem to be occurring in East Asia.  These countries are so crowded that it may take quite awhile still for fertility to recover.

The population would be different, however, as slow-breeders would give way to fast-breeding “family oriented” individuals.  The new population would be far more conservative than it once was.

The problem, of course, is that this process doesn’t work if you have high-fertility immigrants coming in during the fertility downswing.  That only leads to population replacement, as Mexicans are doing in States, and as Muslims are doing in Europe.  Mexican fertility in the U.S. has been very high because these Mexicans are colonists; they are opening up new territory and have been breeding greatly to fill it.

Fortunately, as Mexican are no longer net immigrating, their fertility appears to be slowing accordingly. However, it is still high enough that they will eventually displace White Americans throughout much of the West, if all holds steady.

This is the greatest bone of contention that the HBD community has against those in the mainstream.  They decry liberals and their policies that accept these outsiders into our ranks, at a rate where they can actually displace White Americans.

What most HBD’ers don’t seem to realize is that their very subject matter explains why liberals are this way.  NW Europeans and their descendants are, unlike most people in the world, highly outbred.  Looking out for the little guy and seeing to the welfare of all is a successful strategy when the entire nation is your extended family (and are inclined to one day repay the favor).  The genes for reciprocal altruism (as opposed to the kin-altruism that evolved elsewhere) that evolved in NW Europeans don’t discriminate (a word which I use ironically here) as strongly against non-kin, since in their ancestral societies, it wasn’t as necessary since everyone was essentially kin.  Liberals, essentially, can’t help being liberal.

Of course, that’s not a bad thing.  For one, the powers that be today are much kinder to the rest of the world than some less altruistic groups, say Eastern Europeans or East Asians, would be if had their way (but then again, the genes lost during WWII might have something to do with that).  As well, within “socialist” core Western European countries, life is pretty good, immigrant problem notwithstanding. Since, among the native population, fertility likely is not dysgenic (another fear about the effect of welfare states), liberal democratic socialist systems aren’t all that bad (if you could keep troublesome outsiders out, that is).

In addition to population replacement by low-IQ groups, dysgenic fertility in the native population is the other fear about social welfare policies: they undo the process that allowed high IQ to evolve.  The underclass enjoys a much higher survival and reproductive rate than it once did, thanks to comforts and provisions of modern society.   Today, it doesn’t seem we are losing much by way of IQ, even though we may have lost a bit since the advent of industrialization.  Conservatives, implicitly or explicitly, rail against welfare in part for this reason.  Any thoughts of returning to a “welfareless” society would simply return us to the state of affairs during pre-industrial times, when the poor and the downtrodden just simply died (or of course, resorted to crime).  We can’t go back to that in a civilized society.

However, any dysgenic process could easily be stopped and reversed, if need be.  Here I begin my discussion of possible solutions to the problems we do face.  A solution to dysgenic processes is called eugenics, of course.  Unfortunately, in the modern climate of denial of the realities of race and biological heredity, anything with the name “eugenics” on it is unlikely to go very far at all. This would even be true even if it was implemented the correct way: in a voluntary, non-coercive manner, fueled by incentives.

But a much more palatable, politically do-able version already exists: it’s called Planned Parenthood.  It’s a rather simple and low-cost solution, really.  Planned Parenthood programs could be expanded and heavily marketed in underclass areas (both White and non-White), and could offer (and promote) plenty of free contraception, especially injectable long-term versions. In addition, an information campaign detailing the consequences of having children while broke could be run.  These could be done in tandem with welfare reform, in which welfare didn’t pay for ongoing broods of children, but offered plenty of benefits to childless single recipients (to encourage them to use the contraception and stay childless).  And for those worried about the creation of perverse incentives against work, I favor a negative income tax of sorts that subsidized anyone who held down even the most menial jobs, which would go the greatest lengths to raise the prestige of the working man.

I will note that it is the Republicans who are interferring with these things.

But then that leaves the issue of immigrants.  Small numbers of immigrants from almost any part of the world are of little concern and could easily be accommodated, and indeed are beneficial (especially considering that legal immigrants tend to be selected for higher IQ/ability).  However, when numbers get large enough to rival the existing population, problems can result.  This is true—to an extent—for East and South Asians as well, who have been slowly colonizing the West Coast:

The same is true of Muslims in Western Europe.  Each of these groups presents certain challenges.  Mexicans and Muslims bring their low average IQ and all the problems that that brings, and all of these groups are more clannish, less altruistic, and less able to assimilate into Western society (Muslims especially so).

It would seem to be wise to limit immigration, particularly of these groups.  Reducing the allotted quota from certain countries seems prudent.  At the same time, welfare benefits should be limited to new immigrants (legal immigrants already here—particularly those who have been here for a long time—should be exempt from any changes).  It is also important to seriously curtail the ability of immigrants from certain parts of the world to import their whole families, which is often a problem thanks to regression to mean (in terms of personality traits as well with IQ).  Relatives of naturalized U.S. citizens, particularly from the aforementioned parts of the world, should have to go through a screening process similar to brand new immigrants, and should be subject to numerical limits assigned to each country.

In addition to screening for IQ/ability, immigrants should be screened for their ability to assimilate.  Many immigrants from all parts of the world—including Muslim countries—blend well into American society.  Many are intellectual and progressive and come here to escape the more backwards aspects of their homes countries. These immigrants are much more desirable.  This can be most accomplished by applying the aforementioned screening process to the relatives of naturalized citizens trying to move to the States.

I’m generally of the mind that any immigrant to any new land should expect to assimilate to the customs of their new home.  This applies to Americans going abroad as well.

These steps should reduce the impact from Asian and Muslim immigrants, as well as legal immigrants from Latin America and the rest of the Third World.

But as for illegal immigrants from Latin America, different measures are needed.  First is the issue of the illegal immigrants we already have.  They should be addressed in one way or another.  One measure is a sorting system, such as The DREAM Act.  If somewhat modified, it would be quite useful in this regard.  Requiring educational accomplishment screens for IQ and work ethic, and surely anyone willing to do a tour in the military, is good. Anyone willing to take a bullet or a grenade for America has earned the right to stay.  The measure should be applicable to only those illegal immigrants already here, but of course, picking out long-time illegals from newcomers isn’t easy.  Hence, if illegal immigration rates begin to creep up after the act’s passage, it can and should be repealed.

Second, for the rest, more aggressive measures targeting employers of illegal immigrants are called for.  Illegal Mexican laborers do perform important tasks in agriculture, but this is partly the situation because illegal Mexican laborers always been available.  Making it harder to hire illegal Mexicans will eventually force farmers to adapt, even if it does temporarily drive up the price of food.  In general, if being an illegal immigrant is made less appealing, even fewer will come.

As for second and third+ generation Mexicans who descend from illegal immigrants, the previously mentioned process of welfare/Planned Parenting system seems prudent.  The idea is to strongly discourage high fertility among this group, so that their numbers will naturally decrease and their quality can improve.

While there are problems in the Western World, I don’t see the future as necessarily being bleak, as others do.  Encouraging signs—such the aforementioned Mexican immigration/fertility trends—are taking place. Black Americans as well have limited their fertility to only replacement levels.  There are steps that could plausibly come to fruition to stem the problems we do have.

Of course, one ongoing problem is the loss of White liberals from the population, particularly the intellectuals.  As a liberal myself, I am dismayed about this fact.  I can only hope the few liberals who are reading this blog take this as an alarm bell that they need to boost their fertility, for the sake of their own future, and the for the sake of having any hope of retaining any sort of voice in the political process.  I can also only hope that these liberals accept the reality of HBD and learn to modify their policy accordingly, and perhaps have the Serenity to accept the things they cannot change, but keep courage to change the things they can.


HBD and Atheism

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As some of you know, and probably most of you don’t, I am an atheist.

It is the only logical conclusion based on the principle of demanding proof before regarding things as true, as many would tell you (also here).

That said, some intellectuals would argue that not believing in any sort of creative force leaves a gaping hole in understanding existence, because if so were the case, then how did the universe get into motion (the First Cause problem)?  But there are plenty of good reasons to believe that no creator of any sort is necessary for reality to exist.

Many proponents of atheism, like Richard Dawkins (seen here), the late Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Bill Maher have been actively promoting atheism.  They claim that religion has undue influence over society and public policy, which leads to disastrous results. Hence they strive to reduce the influence of religion on politics and public life.

Reformed Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been leading a campaign against Islam’s brutal subordination of women, which includes practices such as forced marriage and honor killings.  These pundits conclude that religion is a greatly destructive force upon humanity, and if people could leave it behind and embrace reason—as they have—the world would be a much better place.

Of course, (most?) HBD’ers know better.  The deleterious consequences of religion, especially Christianity and Islam, stem not from the religion in and of themselves, but from the traits of the people who embrace the religion.  Of course, as we saw, these religions were instrumental in crafting many of these traits, but it’s not like these traits would suddenly go away if believers were to hypothetically abandon their religion (honor killings exist among Arab Christians, for example).

But then, for the vast majority of believers, abandoning belief isn’t really possible.  Religiosity is highly heritable, being highly correlated between twins.  As well, religiosity is negatively correlated with IQ, both in individuals and in groups.  Believers essentially have “God on the brain”, and most simply can’t help but believe; it’s how their brains are wired.   Granted, what, specifically, that is believed likely can hypothetically be replaced, but for most of these individuals, some sort of spiritual belief system is necessary.  This includes many intellectuals, who—despite being quite intelligent and pretty damned rational—still are religious, in defiance of the rationality they use to such great effect otherwise.  Being an atheist is really a temperament then, something that comes only to people who are so minded.

As such, it is really pointless to try to “convert” people en mass to atheism, or try to convince someone who holds religious convictions to abandon them; in some cases this is true even for those who seem loosely attached to such beliefs.

Hence, I personally, no longer try.  I know that for believers, God is as real as if he was plainly in front us like the Sun in the sky.  Their brains simply cannot perceive the world any other way.

Sam Harris seems to realize this.  As a neuroscientist, he knows quite a bit about the “brain high on God”.  He’s recently written a book, titled Free Will (which I have yet to read), which discusses what I’ve discussed before, where I presume he expands on this notion.

Furthermore, losing belief in God isn’t a solution to any sort of problem that the world currently faces.  Charles Murray’s much talked about latest book,  Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 (which I promise to discuss in depth soon), notes that among the White underclass, church participation is minimal.  Now this is involvement in organized institutions, not necessarily belief, which I believe is still quite strong and probably irrevocable.

My earlier post included a map of dominant religious groups in the U.S., and the deeply fundamental strongholds appeared clearly. Fundamental Christianity does seem to be involved in a lot of the inane discussion in American politics as of late, as seen quite evidently during the Republican Presidential primary (which, as Steve Sailer points out, is not completely irrational—more on that in a future post).  But the attitudes and ideologies adherents hold don’t necessarily stem from their religion, but from their innate biases shaped by the selective forces their ancestors encountered.  The “God” part is secondary.

But what then is religious belief good for exactly, evolutionarily speaking?  Why do people continue to believe in invisible beings, which is tantamount to having an invisible friend?  The secret is that a lot of other people have the same invisible friend.

Religion is first a way of filling in blanks in understanding, answering unanswerable questions, which may be necessary for a species capable of comprehending its environment, for the purposes of mental “completeness” in relating to the world as perceived.  It likely served this purpose for most of our species’ evolutionary history.  However, it was likely quickly exploited by those who realized that they could use others’ beliefs to their advantage (which is probably as old the first spiritual “healer”).  Second, and more importantly, religion is a badge of groupness, a symbol of belonging even better than a facial tattoo.  What better way to announce that you’re a committed member of your group than to ascribe to, and truly have faith in, the same intangible beliefs as your compatriots?  However, I think this purpose got started much later, since as far as I know, no hunter-gatherer groups fight over differing tribal superstitions.

Rather, the groupness aspect of religion and modest degrees of organization probably appeared, or at least took off, with agriculture, which allowed the growth of permanent settlements and organized leadership.  Then, having the correct pantheon of deities could have been an important identifier, especially during regime changes and other shake-ups.  We see something like this after the Indo-Europeanization of Bronze Age Greece.  The Minoans of Crete seemed to have a fundamentally different sort of beliefs than the much more aggressive Mycenaeans who appeared later.

However, no religion seems to have taken this aspect to the extremes the two most widespread religions, Christianity and Islam, have.  Having the right beliefs has been and remains a matter of life and death, and indeed, differences—even fairly minor variations—of religious belief seems to have served as a way of establishing ethnic distinction and solidarity (also see here and here by Steve Sailer).  Both of these religions stress the importance of (regardless of what they profess to preach) believing—believing the right beliefs, which are symbolized by the right forbidden and approved foods, the right dress….

…and the implicit or explicit inferiority of non-believers.  Mind you, neither of these religions are unique in this aspect, as this is true with many group affiliations, including political ones. Groupness is an aspect of human nature; it’s just that religion has discovered an excellent way of solidifying this through the use of irrevocable beliefs (one can say that this is also true of political beliefs).   Atheists, who sometimes use fairly loud tactics such as this:

…are seen by the religious as The Enemy, a rival group challenging their faith with another set of beliefs, ironically the lack of belief (which I know is debatable, there is the anti-HBD aspect to most atheism).

This brings us back to the goal the “New Atheists” advocate, which I mentioned at the beginning of this entry.  Their goal—hoping for a better society by getting people to give up their irrational religious beliefs and embrace reason—while a highly noble one, is an utterly futile one.  Sure, we would be all better off if the world were full of rational, intelligent, irreligious folks that approached policy in a much more logical manner, like the atheist scholars featured here (and presumably were not like Nazis or Marxists), but simply getting people to give up God isn’t going to do the trick. Even assuming that that were possible, these turned believers would still be the same people and would have some other deity or superstition guiding their behavior.  Only the forces of evolution, which produced the scholars and accomplished people modern atheists extol, could do the job.  Ironically, this occurred in good part because of the influence of Christianity in Northern Europe (as well as in East Asia thanks to somewhat similar forces), as we’ve seen.

Obama is a Eugenicist!

Someone brought this to my attention (sensational title and all), and I couldn’t resist.

All I can say is it’s about damned time he said this!

‘Improve your gene pool by marrying somebody superior to you’: Obama offers advice to single men (and shows them how it’s done) 

By Amelia Proud

PUBLISHED: 19:36 EST, 27 April 2012 | UPDATED: 10:44 EST, 28 April 2012

Barack Obama had some advice for the single men of America today – seek out a woman with good genes, and then marry her.

The President set an example by sharing a kiss with his beautiful wife Michelle, minutes before praising her to the cheering and laughing crowd.

The First Lady, introducing her husband, told the Third Infantry Division Headquarters that the president had tirelessly fought for them.

 ’And, ladies, I think he’s kinda cute,’ she added to approving hurrahs from women in the crowd.

‘She is a tough act to follow,’ Obama said moments later.

‘For the gentlemen out there who are not yet married, let me just explain to you: Your goal is to improve your gene pool by marrying somebody who is superior to you.’ The crowd laughed.

The President had just signed an executive order to help protect military families and veterans from aggressive recruiting by higher education institutions, targeted especially at profit colleges seeking their military benefits without any intention of providing meaningful education.

It’s a start, yes?

An HBD Summary of the Foundations of Modern Civilization

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This started as an e-mail I wrote to a friend to sum up the important events of the Middle Ages for Europe and the Near East.   Then I decided that this was blog post worthy, so here it is:  a nice, fairly concise summary of the events of the Middle Ages that set the stage for the rise of modern civilization, according to HBD Chick’s hypothesis—massive thanks to her.  This post will be here to hopefully serve as a handy reference to the topic.

So it seems that many interesting things happened during the Middle Ages.  It is this period that shaped the people of today.  Two of the biggest instrumental forces were religions, particularly Christianity and Islam.  Both of these religions set their adherents on special evolutionary paths, paths that continue to influence events to this day.

In Europe, after the fall of Rome and with the Germanic barbarians overrunning the former Western Empire, the Church took on extra importance.  Unlike the Romans they conquered, the German barbarians were tribal, with strong clan loyalties.  Needless to say, this wasn’t helpful to Church’s attempts to maintain order or any semblance of civil authority that had existed under the Romans.  Of course, the Church made an effort to convert the barbarians to Christianity, and in so doing, the Church instituted several restrictions on marriage and family systems that discouraged the large kinship networks that typify tribal societies.  Most important among them was banning cousin marriage.  Western Europeans are fairly unique in the world in that they prefer to marry those who are unrelated.  Most of the world prefers marriage between cousins, particularly cross-cousins.  Without marriage between cousins, extended kinship networks broke down, for many reasons; including the fact that wealth was no longer so concentrated within the family (and often went to the Church).  As well, this creates a different sort of evolutionary selective pressures.  Members of an inbred family are much more related to each other than to outsiders, so kin altruism (doing things that benefit the family, even at great cost to the self) pays off much more evolutionarily.  As Western Europeans married their cousins less, kinship began to spread around the whole society.  Over time, this meant that everyone in a country became related everyone else to some degree, and the degree of relation of the individual to his immediate and extended family with respect to his society as a whole was a lot lower.  This then encouraged the selection of genes for “reciprocal altruism” as opposed to kin altruism—helping others with the expectation that they may one day help you, as well as a general concern for the well-being of society as a whole as opposed to just one’s kin (since to an outbred individual, the entire nation is essentially one’s extended family).  You can see that in the high rate of participation in civic organizations for Northwestern Europeans and their descendants, as opposed to everyone else in the world.  Natural selection leads to more genes for one type of altruism over other types of altruism depending on the conditions, in this case the mating patterns, and the NW Europeans created something pretty new.

The strong outbreeding of NW Europeans allowed the growth of “corporate” entities, something that is much more difficult to impossible in an inbred society (since it’s hard to get unrelated people to cooperate).  This allowed the development of large institutions, something that was largely absent in the rest of world.  The preference for highly exogamous marriage was aided by the spread of the manor system in Western Europe.  In fact, one can see this on a map:

The manor became popular with the northern Franks and spread in all directions.  Manors selected for a particular type of worker, one that would be docile (in face of authority, as opposed to raucous and uncontrollable as those in tribal societies tend to be), hardworking, industrious (often savvy enough to spot opportunities to exploit one’s skills; this encouraged the growth of trade guilds), and somewhat clever.  It is these individuals that left the most descendants, and over time, their genes became dominant in the population.

It is this reason that Europe was plunged into a Dark Age after the arrival of the German barbarians.  It’s not just that the barbarians were uneducated and uncivilized; they were in essence uncivilizable, at least not for several generations.  It was not until enough of the people had evolved new traits did society again begin to advance towards the end of the Middle Ages.

One characteristic of this new system was that marriage began to be postponed in the West.  This is demarcated by the Hajnal line:

Western Europeans, exempting the periphery in Celtic Britain, southern Iberia and southern Italy, married late, and both spouses tended to be closer in age.  This phenomenon clearly continues in the West today, and demonstrates the importance of Westerners needing to establish themselves economically before settling down with marriage and children.

The important historical oddities of Northwestern Europe gave them a unique history, one that gave rise to all the important institutions of modern civilization, including the modern concept of democracy, which first arose in England, and was finally firmly established by the nascent United States.

In fact, these very important ideological differences among the different European groups can be traced to the different familial/economic/marriage systems they had adopted in the Middle Ages and onward, as one can see here:

This is explained here.  The country that gave us modern democracy, modern capitalism, and the Industrial Revolution, England, had embraced the modern nuclear family early on.  In such a system, where all were related through extensive outbreeding, and each person needed to make it on their own abilities, and where the voice of every man was important, did the attitudes and beliefs that were the founding principles our modern society emerge (including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) (,

A general and important phenomenon that occurred in Europe, and also in East Asia, was what I call the “Upper Class Advantage.”  In these societies, the poor and lowest classes of society faced abysmal survival prospects (considering the harshness of medieval life, where it was challenging to obtain food and ward off illness), such that the ones who succeeded in raising the most offspring were those in the upper classes.  Repeated for several generations, everyone came to be descended primarily from the nobility.  The temperament and disposition of the middle class then came to be the dominant ones in the population, something with which most of the world outside Europe and East Asia haven’t been as successful.

The way the family was organized, and, more importantly, the way this caused other aspects of society to be organized had very important implications for ideology, as explained here.  The differences between the English on one hand and the French or the Spanish on the other, in terms of attitudes towards work and success for example, can be traced to their system of inheritance.  Pulling-oneself-up-by-one’s-bootstraps was somewhat less important in the latter countries, and today they embrace a much more socialist way of thinking with respect to the Anglophone world.

The edges of Western Europe, for different reasons, avoided this way of life.  The Scots and the Irish, being herders, living in rough terrain in the case of the former, never adopted the manor system, and continued right on inbreeding, remaining clannish, which is evident in the great clan feuds in both these peoples’ histories.  Southern Spain, under the domination of the Moors, continued a system of inbreeding common to Muslim societies.  And southern Italy is a lost cause and has been for some time, as any Mafia movie shows (also my own blog post here). In these places the extended family remains the most important social unit, and violent completion between families (think Mafia family wars) in the spirit in the Scottish and Irish clan feuds continue (the latter of which having their own history of clan-based mafias).

The Middle Ages also saw the evolution of the Ashkenazi Jews, whose restriction to cognitively demanding tasks selected for greatly increased IQ, as evident by the success of Ashkenazi Jews in every corner of the world today.

On the other side of the Hajnal line—which in later times became known as the Iron Curtain—a different way of life emerged entirely.  The manor system never caught on with the Slavs.  Christianity also didn’t make into Eastern Europe until much later than it did in the West, and Slavs were inbreeding for much longer than were Germanics on the other side of Europe.  Instead of the manor, the basic unit in Slavic Europe was the zadruga, or the obshchina in Russia.  These were communal dwellings where farm land was evenly divided among all residents, and land and crops were redistributed from the more successful families to the less successful ones.  Yep, sounds a lot like communism; indeed the Russians had essentially invented communism in the middle ages, not during the Bolshevik Revolution!  The adverse conditions in Russia may have favored this type of system, since crop failure was a frequent problem in the harsh Russian winter.  See HBD Chick’s ongoing discussion about mating patterns in Eastern Europe (also here).

To the south, while Europe was in disarray recovering from the fall of Rome, a new force emerged in the Arabian Desert.  This was Islam, formulated by Muhammad.  The Arabs have been—and often remain to this day—nomadic herders.   A herding lifestyle favors an aggressive personality, since it is so easy to strip a herder of what is important for survival (their herds).  The Arabs also practice a form of cousin marriage where parallel cousin marriage, particularly one’s father’s-brother’s-daughter (FBD), is preferred as a wife for a young man.  This is important for keeping the herd within the family, as splitting-up the herd through inheritance would be catastrophic for many. FBD marriage allows wealth to remain in the family. By the time of Muhammad, the Arabs were using this system, and it was spread around the Middle East and North Africa by the Islamic conquest.  Prior to Muhammad, the Arabs had existed in atomized tribes, each doing their own thing and highly distrustful of other tribes.  Various tribes occasionally united into temporary coalitions to defeat rival groups, and afterwards often went their own way.  The key to Muhammad’s success was that he was able to unite the Arab tribes under their new faith, and in so doing they became a force to be reckoned with, easily swallowing the nomads of the Maghreb and posing a significant threat to Christian Europe.  In so doing, they spread not just their faith but their family/mating system to the conquered groups (as far east as Pakistan):

This is, I suspect, the explanation for the rise and fall of the Islamic Golden Age.  In Mesopotamia and Persia, after things settled down from the Muslim conquest, the people there, already fairly sophisticated, were able to benefit from the new technologies and ideas that were able to flow through the Caliphate.  For a time, this led to the intellectual and scientific revolution that they experienced.  However as the generations passed, having adopted the Arab method of inbreeding, social order became less corporate and more tribal.  Women began to lose their status, and quite likely the average IQ of the population declined thanks to inbreeding depression, and perhaps to poorer reproductive success of the intelligentsia in favor of tribal tough guys.  Perhaps then the Seljuk Turk and later the Mongol invasions finished the job.

This highly incestuous form of marriage and breeding favored by Muslim societies explains many of the peculiarities of their culture.  Breeding must be strictly controlled, since unrelated men and women can’t be allowed to associate (and possibly mate), which why you get the burqa, honor killings, and the like.  As well, individuals in such a society are not just related to their family members, but are in a way “super”-related to kin (see this family tree diagram of FBD marriage),being twice as related to their cousins as they otherwise would be (if there was no inbreeding).  As such, extreme kin-altruistic behaviors, like self-sacrifice in war, or killing one’s own offspring to protect the family’s “honor” (and reproductive prospects), in the case of honor killing, pay off much more greatly evolutionary; hence, we have suicide terrorism coming almost exclusively from Muslim societies.

The results of the family and mating structures become evident when one looks at a worldwide distribution of values, seen here:

Involvement in charitable or civic organizations is highest in the outbred West, and lowest in the inbred Muslim world and in ex-communist Eastern Europe.  As well, individualism is greatly suppressed in those areas, emphasizing the importance of family ties over one’s direct connection to society at large, as in the West.  In clannish societies, one inclined to distrust one’s non-family neighbors—for good reason, since each is looking out for their own clan’s interests.  This explains the inability of democracy to truly take hold in either the Muslim world or much of Eastern Europe, especially the former Soviet republics.

(Greece, BTW, is not exempted from this problem, since they have been de facto inbreeding for some time.  Greeks tend to marry locally, and if you do this long enough, after awhile everyone in your town becomes your cousin).

World War II, the Cold War, and perhaps 9/11 and the “War on Terror” were the great clashes of these ideologies, in which the liberal democratic ideology of Western Europe—particularly Britain and her products (esp. the U.S.) has (so far) prevailed.

Notice how all the outliers from the “core” of Europe are the current problem areas of the present E.U. (as seen on the map of the average IQ of the European nations with the Hajnal line superimposed):

The P.I.I.G.S., Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain, are all areas outside the Hajnal line in whole or in part, all have lower-than-average IQ, all have had a recent history of inbreeding, and all today suffer from massive unemployment and economic malaise, which, as of this writing, is reaching critical levels in Spain.  The facts gleamed here would indicate that there is no easy solution to these problems, as the people of the periphery of Europe are fundamentally less economically productive than those in the interior.

Indeed, the contrast of people and their differing ideals have significance for our country as well, as the United States is comprised of people from different parts of the British Isles (supplemented by immigrants from the rest of Europe and the world, who came here both willingly and unwillingly), each having a different evolutionary history and intractably different political views.  

Historian David Hackett Fischer’s book Albion’s Seed examined the origin of the early American settlers and each group’s influence on the regional culture of the United States.  Broadly, Fischer explains that the northern part of the U.S. was settled by colonists from southeast England (the highly outbred part), with the Northeast U.S. settled by the Puritans and the upper Midwest ultimately settled by the Quakers (also see here).  Meanwhile, the Southern and Western U.S. were settled by colonists from Western and Northern Britain (the inbred, clannish part), with the U.S. Deep South settled by Cavaliers and indentured servants from southwest England (who established the Southern plantations), and Appalachia, the lower Midwest, and ultimately the far West settled by the fierce (and highly clannish) Border Reivers and other Scotch-Irish.

The settlers in the American north, originating from the part of Britain that embraced the classic nuclear family, were the classic independent outbred liberal/libertarian capitalists.   The settlers of the South on the other hand, are inbred and clannish, and in the case of the Scotch-Irish, traditionally herders.  It can be seen that the great family feuds of the American South essentially were a continuation of such conflicts from the north of Britain (as present-day Glasgow attests to).  These groups favor more conservative values, such as faith, distrust of central authority (that is, favoring “freedom” from central authority to remain loyal to extended kin), and less enthusiasm for the welfare state (which distributes goods from kin to non-kin).   This is blazingly evident on this map of the 2008 U.S. Presidential election results, by county:

Taking into consideration areas with large non-European ancestry, the places where these different British groups settled are evident from looking at the above map (outbred Pilgrims/Quakers blue, inbred Borderlanders red, likely then accentuated by other European groups, who may have sorted themselves into places where they meshed with the local culture). This is also evident by looking at the dominant religions in the various U.S. regions:

The Bible Belt is very evident, as is the Scandinavian/German Lutheran region of the upper Plains, and the Mormon stronghold of the West (the northern tier Protestant regions, and by extension the West Coast, being weaker in adherence to religion overall, do not have any large single dominant Christian sect, allowing the Catholic Church to be the largest religious body in these regions).

And indeed, the American Civil War was just the latest rematch of the ongoing conflict between the various factions of Britons, which included the War of the Roses.  This in good part explains the complete nonsense going on in American politics these days, and why it seems that Northerners and Southerners are from different planets at times (   I’m not sure how well this bodes for the future of the “greatest country on Earth”.

A cure for obesity?

ABC News recently aired a story about the drug Qnexa, which is a combination drug which seems to treat obesity (watch the story here).  The results have been impressive, as can bee seen in the featured before and after photos.  And yes, like almost all other diet drugs, it comes with side effects.  The question, in this case, is do those side effects outweigh the benefits (no pun intended)?

In other words, this asks that if the adverse effects of the drug are worse that the health problems associated with obesity, which include heart disease and type II diabetes.  We will see what the FDA decides, but make no mistake, a drug like this is badly needed.

The conventional wisdom about the current obesity epidemic is that stressing a “better lifestyle,” that is, improved diet and more exercise is the solution.  But this has clearly been an utter failure.  What society at large does not understand that a guideline for a better lifestyle isn’t a treatment for obesity, but rather—like education—is a sorting mechanism.  Only those who are inclined to follow whatever recommendations given will do so.  Many of the rest continue to have expanding waistlines.

The prescription for better diet and exercise is based on the flawed belief that people have free will and have an unlimited ability to choose whatever lifestyle they wish.

However, that’s clearly not the case.  Instead, as Cochran and Harpending point out in The 10,000 Year Explosion, most humans spent much of their recent evolutionary history in scare food situations.  Modern people have only recently emerged from the Malthusian trap, that is having population growth checked by the availability of food.   Today’s environment—with high-calorie foods cheaply available any time of the year and not requiring massive amounts of toil to obtain them—is an environment highly different from the environment most humans have evolved to be adapted to.  Obesity and diabetes are diseases arising from this environmental mismatch.  Only a “magic pill” could hope to solve it.

However, make no mistake, if Qnexa is approved, it will be the new crack.  As you might suspect, the drug’s effect requires continual use, so taking it is a life long commitment.  Its approval would be an enormous boon to its makers.  And that is fine; I hardly imagine that it would be any different.  Some people look down on such solutions, hoping for some “natural” cure to the obesity epidemic.  But instead, perhaps they should look at it this way:  it is was an unnatural process that created the obesity crisis (modern society), it would take an unnatural solution to treat it.

Those Italians…

In an earlier post I mentioned the recent Italian cruise ship disaster.   I stated that this was an example of “Italian incompetence. ” Italians have a certain reputation attached to them, as many of you may have seen with Italian jokes after the tragedy (a word I use deliberately, as we’ll see).  Southern Italians have been especially notorious in this regard; there’s even an old notion of Southern Italy being “Africa’s last colony in Europe” (which isn’t too far from the truth).

But some of you may be thinking that “these are all stereotypes, right?”  They can’t be true; they have to be misinformed or irrational, right?   Wrong.  As evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa points out, all stereotypes are true, statistically anyway.  As he notes, stereotypes are what scientists call “empirical generalizations.”  The trouble happens when people assume that stereotypes apply in every last instance, when they clearly do not.  However, if there wasn’t some sort of statistical trend, the stereotype could not persist (not mention that the stereotype would probably never have become one in the first place).  (Of course, there might be some good reasons why people sweepingly apply stereotypes the way they often do.  I’ll discuss that in a future post).

The lowered average IQ is only in the south (Il Mezzogiorno).  Northern Italians are actually pretty clever, on average.   However, southern Italians don’t just bring their lower average IQ, they also bring their culture, a culture shaped by centuries of inbreeding.  Here are a few more of those maps from M.G.’s blog that look at the things that correlate with latitude in Italy:


Anyone who’s watched The Sopranos, The Godfather trilogy, Goodfellas, or any of a host of mobster flicks has had an introduction into the workings and the pathologies of Southern Italian culture.

As hbd chick puts it:

“In the North the crucial social, political, and even religious allegiances and alignments were horizontal, while those in the South were vertical. Collaboration, mutual assistance, civic obligation, and even trust — not universal, of course, but extending further beyond the limits of kinship than anywhere else in Europe in this era — were the distinguishing features in the North. The chief virtue in the South, by contrast, was the imposition of hierarchy and order on latent anarchy.”

in other words, northern italy was full of republican communes, while the south was run from the top down by the monarch.

medieval communes were a type of corporate society, but you can’t have a corporate society if you have clans or tribes or any sort of extended families produced by extensive inbreeding. you need a good deal of outbreeding to get the republican communes that putnam talks about. you need to have a society full of individuals looking out for their own best interests, and those of their immediate family (wife, children), as opposed to a society of extended families or clans or tribes looking out for the interests of their whole group. then, because of the effects of inbreeding on the evolution of social behaviors, you get clan vs. clan, not individuals coming together in guilds to promote their profession or mutal aid societies.

The province I’ve pointed to on the above map is the province of Naples, from where the captain of the ill-fated Costa Concordia, Francesco Schettino, hails.  As we see, this province is rife with the problematic issues that face Italian society.  One of these is nepotism, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that is how Mr. Schettino got his job.  Let’s take a look at the captain’s behavior that fateful night:

Cruise ship’s cook says captain ordered dinner after crash

(CNN) — The captain of the Costa Concordia ordered dinner for himself and a woman after the ship struck rocks off Italy’s coast, a cook from the ship told a Filipino television station.

In an interview with GMA Network, cook Rogelio Barista said Capt. Francesco Schettino ordered dinner less than an hour after the accident.

“We wondered what was going on. … At that time, we really felt something was wrong. … The stuff in the kitchen was falling off shelves and we realized how grave the situation was,” Barista told GMA.

Schettino ordered dinner around 10:30 p.m. Friday, Barista said. Authorities say the ship struck the rocks at 9:41 p.m.

“I have had 12 years of experience as a cook on a cruise ship. … I have even witnessed fires, so I wasn’t that scared,” Barista said. “But I did wonder, though, what the captain was doing … why was he still there.”

Italian media have published photos of the woman purportedly dining with the captain.

Costa Cruises, which owns the ship, said the woman boarded the ship Friday and registered.

“The company is ready to provide the authorities, when requested, with the identity of the person and the number of the ticket purchased,” the company said.

The ship hit rocks off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio on Friday night.

At least 11 people are known to have died in the disaster, and 21 are still missing, according to the Italian Crisis Unit.

There were roughly 4,200 people on the Costa Concordia when it ran aground — about 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members, the vast majority of whom made it off the ship safely.

Criticism from both Costa Cruises and the authorities has focused so far on Schettino, who is under house arrest and facing possible charges of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship.

Coast guard records published Thursday by an Italian newspaper pile further pressure on the captain of the Concordia and his officers, suggesting authorities first became aware of the crash from a friend of the mother of a passenger about 15 minutes after the ship hit rocks.

Schettino’s brother-in-law defended him in an Italian newspaper Thursday.

Schettino “managed to avoid a tragedy — it could have been worse,” Maurilio Russo said in Corriere della Sera.

And he denied that the captain had abandoned ship.

“He was not running away, he came down (from the ship) to survey the damage,” Russo said.

CNN’s Armie Jarin-Bennett and Hada Messia contributed to this report.

Interestingly, as an aside, Schettino’s appearance is also quintessential Italian.  Even if you didn’t know who this guy was or ever heard his name, you could look at him and know instantly that he is Italian, thanks to these facial averages from The Postnational Monitor :

Additionally, here’s an account of the dysfunctional behavior of the Costa Concordia’s crew during the evacuation:

Italian cruise ship survivors: Crew appeared helpless

Porto Santo Stefano, Italy (CNN) — At first, Vivian Shafer said, she thought it was part of the magic show aboard her Mediterranean cruise.

During the show, aboard the Costa Concordia, staffers had been “playing with the lights” and using smoke, “so we really weren’t that alarmed” as things began happening on the ship, she said Sunday.

Shafer said she and her traveling companion, Ronda Rosenthal, returned to their cabin after the ship gave a “shudder,” but were reassured by their cabin steward the ship was experiencing a “small technical difficulty.” And as the two got into bed, someone speaking on behalf of the ship’s captain made an announcement saying there was an electrical problem that would be fixed soon.

However, it became clear that something was amiss aboard the 1,500-cabin luxury vessel, after the two heard announcements regarding lifeboats and muster stations. They dressed, grabbed their life jackets and went to investigate, coming upon a chaotic scene.

“We peeked around the corner to kind of see what people were doing … and my gosh, people were actually getting in a lifeboat,” Shafer said.

At least five people died after the Concordia ran aground on the tiny island of Giglio Friday night. Several others remained unaccounted for.

Survivors recounted a frantic rush by passengers to get on lifeboats, while the crew appeared helpless and overwhelmed to cope.

“There wasn’t anybody to help you,” Shafer said. “I mean, the passengers were loading the lifeboats by themselves.”

Carnival Corporation, the parent company of Costa Cruises, said in a statement Saturday that it was “working to fully understand the cause of what occurred. The safety of our guests and crew members remains the number-one priority of Carnival Corporation … and all of our cruise lines.”

Costa Cruises on Sunday said crew members on board the Concordia “acted bravely and swiftly to help evacuate more than 4,000 individuals during a very challenging situation. We are very grateful for all they have done.”

It said preliminary indications are that there may have been “significant human error” on the part of the ship’s captain.

Compounding the evacuation problems was that only one side of lifeboats was available as the ship was listing. Passenger Laurie Willits, from Ontario, Canada, said some lifeboats on the higher side got stuck, leaving people suspended in mid-air amid the sounds of children crying and screaming.

“It was so crowded, and there was no room for us,” said Brandon Warrick, who was sailing with his siblings. They arrived late, he said Sunday, and “it was just bad, like mad scrambles to get into the lifeboats. Nobody followed any procedure. The crew was yelling for people to wait their turn and pretty much it was just a giant every man for himself, to get onto the lifeboat.”

He said his family hung back because “we didn’t want to make it worse.”

His sister, Amanda Warrick, said she thought several times that she might die, as they waited at least an hour and a half for more rescue boats after all the lifeboats departed.

As the ship took on water and listed to the side, “We were just holding onto the railing, trying not to fall,” Brandon Warrick said.

“I just remember standing on the decks,” Amanda Warrick said. “There were barely any people left.” She said she didn’t see any crew members “until the very last minute” and they were given no information about how long they would have to wait or whether any more help was coming.

Her primary concern, she said, was staying with her brothers. “There was no way that we were going to be separated.”

Costa Cruises said Sunday its crew members hold a certificate in basic safety training and are trained to assist in emergency situations. Every two weeks, the company said, all crew members perform a ship evacuation simulation.

Shafer said the only help they received from the crew was one young woman who approached her and told her to tighten her life vest.

“I was really disappointed and surprised,” she said. “The crew was so young. You would have thought they could have handled it better.” She said she thinks passengers should at least have been told to grab their coats, shoes and warm clothing.

Rosenthal said she believes the two waited at least 40 minutes to get on a lifeboat. The two had just embarked at the Italian port of Civitavecchia, she said, and had not undergone the mandatory safety drill, scheduled for the next evening. However, she had just taken a cruise and so she knew where the life jackets were stored, she said.

“Lack of communication was a big thing for me,” she said, “and it wasn’t the language barrier … it wasn’t handled at all like the previous cruise I had been on.” Even on shore, she said, people were wandering around aimlessly.

She said once she and Shafer got on board a lifeboat, people were angry with them, as the boat was crowded. She did not clarify whether the crew members or other passengers were angry.

Passenger Benji Smith on Saturday recounted making his own rope ladder to save himself and his wife.

“It was the Marx brothers, watching these guys trying to figure out how to work the boat,” he said. “I felt like the disaster itself was manageable, but I felt like the crew was going to kill us.”

After helping passengers, some said, crew members jumped overboard and swam ashore.

Smith said even the safety presentation was more of a “sales pitch” for shore excursions.

The problem of course wasn’t just limited to the captain or crew of the ship; the trouble is institutional to the cruise line itself.  Here’s a recount of the experiences a couple of passengers from Georgia who survive the crash, including how they were treated after they were evacuated from the ship:

U.S. passengers recount Concordia ordeal

(CNN) — Chaos and a lack of communication are common threads among American survivors’ stories of the Costa Concordia sinking, and making it to shore was only the beginning of a long ordeal for passengers trying to get home.

Melissa Goduti of Wallingford, Connecticut, boarded the ship about three hours before it ran aground Friday night, killing at least 11 passengers.

“All of a sudden, the boat leaned over like on a 70-degree angle, and everything just started falling — dishes were falling, trash cans were falling, everything was falling,” Goduti told CNN affiliate CTNow. “Then the lights went out and everything was blacked, out and then the lights came back on.”

Lynn Kaelin of Puyallup, Washington, told CNN affiliate KCPQ that it was “like having the Titanic without the water gushing through.”

“I called my husband, not knowing if I’d see him again,” she said. “I thought we were going to die.”

There were no announcements for a long time, and Goduti and her mother didn’t see signs directing them toward lifeboats.

“We were running around trying to ask what floor the lifeboats were on, and all the crew kept saying is, ‘you don’t need them, you’re fine, everything is fine, we just got hit by a big wave,’ ” Goduti told CTNow.

“All they kept saying was it’s a generator issue, just a generator issue and that the boat was floating along and just needed to get stabilized,” she said.

Nancy Lofaro of New Rochelle, New York, said the crew tried to do what they could, “but when we asked them, they said they had no information. They just didn’t have any information to give us.” Lofaro estimates the first announcement came 30 to 40 minutes after the ship ran aground.

Goduti and her mother feel lucky they found a lifeboat.

“When our lifeboat dropped, it dropped. It wasn’t an easy letdown by any means, but at least we got into the water and were safe, which is a lot better than, unfortunately, some people,” she said.

Costa staff in Lofaro’s lifeboat were debating who would drive the boat, and they didn’t seem to know what to do, she said.

Joan Fleser of Duanesburg, New York, seconds that opinion, calling the crew “inexperienced and untrained.”

In a letter to passengers, Costa Cruises CEO Pier Luigi Foschi disputes that assessment: “The crew of the Costa Concordia acted bravely and swiftly in an extremely difficult situation and succeeded — despite the terribly demanding conditions — in evacuating more than 4,000 people in the shortest possible time: we are proud of our commitment and dedication to your safety.”

He goes on to outline crew training, safety procedures and regulatory oversight.

Survivors of the disaster say the scene on land was equally chaotic. Fleser said the lifeboat ride to the Tuscan island of Giglio was the last she saw of Costa Cruises employees until she, her husband and daughter reached a hotel in Rome on Saturday.

The people of the island came out in force to help the stranded travelers, and a local priest opened up the church. Fleser and her family stayed at the home of a local family overnight.

“The people of the island were wonderful,” Fleser said.

Nancy Lofaro and her husband wandered around on shore, finding a church, a local cafe and a small hotel all packed.

“There was no organization. There was nobody, and the staff was in shock as much as we were. There were no announcements. We saw Costa people … walking around with a bullhorn, not using it,” Lofaro said.

Fleser and her family were herded onto a ferry to the mainland the morning after the wreck, “but we had no idea where we were going.”

Triage doctors, members of the coast guard, the Red Cross and other volunteer organizations met the cruise passengers and took them to a local school, where more local services were provided. Her daughter received a pair of sneakers there because she was still wearing high heels from the night before, Fleser said.

The family then boarded a bus to Rome, where they were dropped off at a hotel.

“The Marriott had no idea we were coming. All these refugee boat people land on their front door, and they say, ‘Who are you? But we’ll take care of you,’ ” Fleser said.

There were two Costa cruise representatives at the hotel, “but every time we asked them if they could do something for us, they said they had no authority,” she said.

The cruise line did pay for food, the hotel and their airfare home, Fleser said, although they booked them on a flight to Albany, Georgia, instead of Albany, New York — a mistake the family discovered in the Atlanta airport.

“Oh my god, we were just ready to lose it at that point.”

More than 1,100 Costa employees have been working to assist passengers and crew since Friday night, Foschi said in his letter to passengers.

The CEO of Costa’s parent company, Carnival Corp., pledged support to passengers: “I give my personal assurance that we will take care of each and every one of our guests, crew and their families affected by this tragic event,” Micky Arison said in a statement.

Before Fleser and her family could make the journey home, they needed new passports to replace those lost on the sinking ship.

The U.S. Embassy’s response was a big disappointment, Fleser said.

“Other than getting our temporary passports, they gave us no assistance whatsoever. No food, no clothes, no money, no transportation. They told us to borrow some money, get a cab, come on down.” A hotel shuttle took Fleser and other Americans to the embassy, she said.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the agency arranged with the cruise line to have American passengers transported to a Rome hotel and to the embassy for documents. More than 100 emergency passports have been issued to stranded travelers.

“We also provided all kinds of advice, telephone contacts to families, helped families create travel funds, provided them with passport photos, warm clothes, there were even a couple of families that needed diapers,” she said during a State Department briefing Wednesday.

Fleser and her family arrived home shortly after midnight Tuesday. They received a voicemail from Costa saying the family would be reimbursed for the cruise and articles lost on the ship, she said, but the message didn’t offer details of how those amounts would be determined.

In addition to arranging lodging, transportation and counseling for passengers, Costa will address possessions lost on board and is in the process of refunding cruise fares and costs incurred while on board, the company said in a statement.

Now contrast the Costa Concordia disaster with another cruise ship incident (albeit a much smaller one with fewer than 300 passengers) but nonetheless one where a near catastrophe was successfully averted.  This one occurred off the coast of Norway:

“Intense” Norway cruise fire kills 2 crew


OSLO, Norway – An “intense” fire in a cruise ship’s engine room killed two crewmen Thursday, injured nine others and forced over 200 passengers to evacuate a popular cruise off Norway’s craggy western coast. Police suspect an on-board explosion.

Thick black smoke billowed from the stern of the boat, the MS Nordlys, of Norway’s Hurtigruten line even before it pulled into the dock at Aalesund, 230 miles northwest of the capital of Oslo. Police sealed off parts of the town as the smoke engulfed nearby buildings.

The ship’s emergency evacuation began after the fire started at 9 a.m., with more than 100 passengers piling into lifeboats in the frigid waters. The rest of the ship’s 207 passengers and 55 crew were evacuated at the dock at Aalesund, with some crew staying on board to fight the fire.

Aalesund Hospital said nine people had been admitted, two with serious burns and smoke injuries. Police said all of the injured and dead were members of the ship’s crew.

“Our suspicion is that there was an explosion in the machine room,” Acting Police Chief Yngve Skovly of the Sunnmoere Police District told reporters later Thursday.

Passengers said the cruise ship, which was traveling north from the city of Bergen, had organized an orderly evacuation.

“We were sent up on deck and given our lifevests,” Danielle Passebois-Paya, a French tourist, told Norwegian daily Aftenposten. “It took only a few minutes after the alarm and we were in the lifeboats.”

“It was a well-organized evacuation,” she added. “The crew did a really good job. Everything was calm and went smoothly. There was no panic.”

The chief of Aalesund’s fire brigade, Geir Thorsen, described the fire as “big and intense.” He could not confirm reports that the ship’s fire-extinguishing system did not work, but said its electricity system was knocked out.

And this is how the company handled the passengers after the incident:

Cruise ship tilting dangerously in Norway after Thursday fire

Hurtigruten said it was organizing emergency passports and providing money for the passengers who had to leave their belongings on board during the evacuation.

The shipping line’s CEO Olav Fjell said that finding alternative transport for those who wanted to continue their journey would be difficult.

Hurtigruten Ship Nordlys Stabilized as Guests Return Home

By Theresa Norton Masek
September 19, 2011 11:23 AM

The Hurtigruten vessel Nordlys, which was damaged in an engine room explosion and fire Sept. 15, was stabilized on Sept. 18 after listing while docked in Ålesund, Norway. The ship was being cleared of passengers’ personal belongings and cargo. The 207 passengers, who were safely evacuated and put up in a hotel in Ålesund, were heading home as of Sept. 19. Two crew members were killed in the fire and two remain hospitalized. All departures of Nordlys have been cancelled until mid-October. The ship was not scheduled to operate from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31.

Hurtigruten said its support team will remain in Ålesund until all guests are on their flights back home. Hurtigruten said it would forward personal belongings to the home address of passengers who were heading home before getting their items. The fire was detected at 9:17 a.m. Norway time Sept. 15 as it neared Ålesund. The guests were from 16 nations, including 53 from the U.S. The cause of the fire is under investigation. “Hurtigruten wishes to thank deeply all involved for their impressive contribution during the last days—guests for their great patience and understanding and crew members and rescue workers for their professionalism and courage during the rescue operation,” the company said.

As we saw at the beginning of this post, institutional dysfuction is high in Southern Italy (and presumably in Northern Italian companies that contain many Southern Italians and have adopted aspects of Southern culture).  As well, as this example with the Norwegians demonstrate, part of the effectiveness of institutions (and in this case, businesses) stems from a general preference for rules and order and a concern for society as a whole (as opposed to only one’s clan, village, or region), things that are, overall, weaker among Italians.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Italians.  Their charismatic nature and culture of masculine bravado is nothing if not entertaining, and this is part of the reason so many movies keep being made about them.  But the flip side is when this culture leads to disaster, particularly disasters caused almost entirely by human foibles, hence the tragedy, in the the pure Sophoclean sense, and why this theme seems entirely fitting.

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