[ExI] Impressive book: Farewell to Alms

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun Feb 3 14:07:10 UTC 2008

Keith wrote

> I don't think you can discount the effects of 
> strong selection on a population average in 24 
> generations.  Lactose tolerance genes spread very 
> rapidly in cultures that raised dairy 
> animals.  And consider how few generations it 
> took and how simple it was to breed tame foxes.
> "Cause" in Dr. Clark's view is selection in favor 
> of "accumulators" (the rich) in Malthusian, 
> settled, stable agrarian societies.

A few decades ago I read of a study of demographics
in India where for a number of centuries the well-to-do
farmers had more offspring. It was obvious to me that
this could have eugenic effects.

> He makes his  case from records starting in
> the 1200s but makes it clear that the selection
> started earlier and was not confined to north
> western Europe, but didn't happen everywhere
> either.  Literacy, numeracy, and willingness to
> work ridiculously long hours by hunter-gatherer
> standards were pulled along by this selection.
> Culture and genes fed back on each other with
> the cultural environment leading to selection for
> genes that made further cultural advances possible
> or even inevitable.

The attendant cultural changes may be even more
interesting, I submit.

To recap, Clark argues that a whole suite of traits
that we might call "industriousness" were passed
down from the rich to the poorer classes 1250-
1800. Certainly these would include intelligence,
but that may not be the main effect. And yes,
there is no reason that eugenic effects would 
require more than a few generations. 

An extremely interesting development that Clark
relates is that in the early 19th century certain
successful entrepreneurs in England, having made
fortunes from their factories, hit upon the idea of
repeating their success in India, very close to the
biggest market for the goods. But somehow the
Indian people proved to be such poor workers
that the schemes had to be abandoned. The 
employees were tardy, talkative, lazy, and generally
non-productive, an obvious paradox.

I think that I might know what was going on.
Consider how incredibly hard many Mexicans
work in the U.S. who come from very poor
towns and villages across the border. I've heard
it said that these very same people, when returning
to Mexico, completely drop the work habits they
evinced in the north, and go back to two siestas
a day and other generally unproductive habits.

I'll bet if the same unsatisfactory Indian workers
had been sent to England instead, and paid what
they thought to be very high wages, one would
have seen the same thing. The arriving Indians
---who'd come to get rich---would have immediately
adopted the work habits of the people they found
themselves surrounded by. 

If I'm right (and it's probably not a new idea) then
this somewhat compromises the genetic effect.

> But a warning.  This discussion is going to be 
> politically incorrect.

Nothing new there!  Now almost all of us cannot
help but notice the political or ideological implications
of new theories (or even new information!) and will
silently cheer or curse. But either you have the 
fortitude to press on and try to learn, or you have
to admit that you're nothing but a partisan unwilling
to entertain ideas that might challenge the ones you
already have.

OF COURSE other traits besides intelligence are
going to be passed on when there are significant
differential birth rates. Only people born in the
twentieth centuryfind this strange (because of the
unceasing leftist propaganda we've all grown
up with).

Animal breeders have known forever that for so
very many traits, the F1 will exhibit a regression
towards the mean. So the progeny of a pair of
IQ 150 people will have an IQ mean of 125
we would expect (assuming h = .5). But surely
it's also the case that the F2 and F3 do not
converge on IQ 100.  Just what it does converge
to, I wish I knew. 

Well, the other traits will behave similarly, that's


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