[ExI] note from a foaf in japan

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Sat Apr 2 23:23:38 UTC 2011

On Fri, Apr 1, 2011 at 12:57 PM, Mirco Romanato <painlord2k at libero.it> wrote:
> Il 01/04/2011 6.17, Kelly Anderson ha scritto:
>> On Sat, Mar 26, 2011 at 7:53 AM, Mirco Romanato
>> They bred a few hundred foxes with each generation, then only bred
>> the 1% that were most tame or most aggressive.
> As I stated, this could not happen without having an huge number of
> foxes. Even with females able to carry ten kittens they would not be
> able to keep their population stable without an huge inflow of new
> foxes, that would have washed away any genetic trait selected.
> It is a math problem, not other.
> If we had 99 vixen and one fox, any vixen could give birth to 10 kittens
> at time. Make it 20 in her life.
> This is a total of 1980 kitten in two years. Half female and half male
> (I don't know of any sex imbalance in foxes).
> Kill all the males apart one and 99% of the female and you will have
> only 20 (rounded up) females and 1 male.
> The next generation would leave 4 vixen and a fox.
> And they would be very inbreed.

This makes sense. Stated simply, to be able to pick 1% of the
population at each generation, you would have to have 200 offspring
per mating pair. So obviously, the report on NOVA was at the very
least incomplete, if not completely wrong or I just misunderstood it

> Now, If you replenish the gene pool with other foxes and vixens, you
> simply outnumber the selected breed with the unselected one, diluting
> any gene selected for in the previous generation.

Under heavy selection, genes would not be diluted, as long as you
always bred a new fox with one in the studied population. Suppose that
we have 50 foxes from the previous generation, 25 male and 25 female.
We bring in 50 foxes from a non-selected group. If the gene is
recessive, then we would expect 50% of the babies to be carriers, 25%
to express the gene, and 25% would (on average) not have the gene. If
you choose to keep the 25% that express the gene only, then the
recessive gene becomes the only expression of the gene in the
population in one generation. If it is a set of genes, it gets harder
to get just the genes you care about, but not so much that you can't
get terrific drift in 20 generations.

The key is how good the selection criteria are. Diluting the genes
from a general population would not be a huge issue. Genes don't
dilute like sugar in water... it's a digital issue. You have the gene,
or you don't. If you are doing good selection, you will get fast
results. If nature does the selection imprecisely, then it takes
longer, but it can still have a huge effect.

>> I don't know the details of exactly how this culling was done, but
>> I'd guess that the selection was done more on the male side than the
>> female to avoid needing too much breeding stock.
> I'm contesting the number of 1% as not real and not realistic.
> Not anything else.

Having thought it through with you, I am inclined to agree with you. I
was merely repeating what I had heard without critical thought. Not
good... thanks for straightening things out. I'd still like to see the
original research papers to see how they did it.

>> The main point though is that these foxes were under a very severe
>> selection compared to anything humans have ever faced. The black
>> death took 20% of a generation at its height!
> This number is a bit optimistic.
> The Black Death had taken out around 30% of the population of Europe
> when ended. Given that more than one generation lived in the same time
> (usually three), in many cases it wiped out entire generations and
> populations and social strata.

The key issue is what was the selection criteria? In this case, the
only criteria was 'can this individual survive the plague?' That
doesn't select for much of anything else, even though poor and weak
individuals would more likely die for non-genetic factors.

> We can suppose that it wiped out the most weak, physically, of the
> population. And we can suppose that the poor were the most weak of all
> (statistically).

Recall that most of the people at the time were very poor. The rich
ruling class was very small at this time, and there was virtually no
middle class in feudal Europe.

> In the wild I think highly randomized selection is very rare if not
> impossible.

It happens all the time on genes that are secondary to the primary
gene set that assures survival. For example, the first dinosaurs that
evolved feathers weren't selected for whether or not they had
feathers, but for how fast they could run, or some other feature that
was more important. As feathers evolved, the selection became more
focused on feathers, and particularly on the ability to glide and
eventually fly. Once birds were fully evolved, feather formation
became a primary selection mechanism because feathers are much more
important to birds than to the first dinosaurs that evolved feathers.

So for secondary traits, highly randomized selection is the norm, so
long as the mutation isn't negative towards the survival of the

> The selective pressure of people living in cities is continuous over
> centuries. They are selected for traits allowing to thrive there.
> Also, being city population sinks, they attracted large numbers of
> people during many generations that allowed the selection process to
> continue unabated. Often, then, the most successful families in the
> cities would move out of the city with their wealth and buy farms and
> large homes, to be able to afford more children.

Name a specific trait that allows people to thrive in cities. Then
tell me what the selection mechanism is to keep people without that
trait from reproducing.

The bottom line with people is that memes have been more important
than genes for hundreds of years, so I would not expect see a lot of
genetic changes over the past few hundred years because a wide cross
section of society reproduces. Another way to ask the question is what
sort of people don't reproduce in our modern societies?

>>> We can add to this that humans are able to move in other places, if
>>> local conditions are unfriendly. And they are able of assortative
>>> mating. These possibilities can, alone, make up for the difference
>>> in selective pressure.
>> Agreed. Thus the selective pressure on humans has been fairly low
>> over time, which was my point.
> I don't think so.
> The poor were able to become a class only in the last two centuries
> because before they near always died with few or no offspring. And they
> were supplanted by the less accomplished (but better than them)
> offspring of the middle class.

The children of rich people can become poor very easily. Today the
poor reproduce at higher rates than the rich. I'm not sure what the
historical case is, but farmers have historically had lots of kids.

> In this way, in 20 generations (say the double of the time the foxes
> needed to be culled) the people in England was selecting for middle
> class traits and culling the poor (and partially the noble) out of the
> breeding stock.

The evolution of the middle class is memetic more than genetic, imho.

> Recessive traits can not become dominating after a few generations or
> many generations.

This is true. However, the alternative gene set can become so rare
that the trait becomes ubiquitous in the population. I'm sure there
are thousands of recessive genes that are expressed in each of us for
just this reason.

> They could outnumber the dominating traits due to selection or
> inbreeding, but in presence of a dominating gene they would not appear.
> An inbreeding of 2-7% could cause a drift during many generations if the
> population is keep closed. But if the population is replenished of
> individuals with no inbreeding, the inbreed traits of one generation
> have only 2-7% of a chance to be passed to the next. So in the best case
> we have 4/10K to pass the same trait to the second generation and in the
> worst 49/10K AKA 0.5%.
>> Please restate your premise, or what you think is mine. I'm not
>> following your point here perhaps. Sorry, I'm just a bit lost...
> Your premises (as I understood them) are that the foxes and the vixens
> were subjected to an extensive culling (1% surviving to generate), where
> the actual number given in the article I linked were 5% for foxes and
> 20% for vixen.

You are probably right. Still, with a 5% or even 20% survival rate,
that is an EXTREME selection pressure that human beings have almost
never seen. And certainly we haven't seen those extreme selection
pressures based on the kinds of cultural issues that we started
talking about.

> Another premises of yours was that the population was not replenished by
> new individuals. In fact, the scientists replenished the population
> selected with other foxes and vixens coming from the original breeding
> stock of foxes they started from (the ones used to produces furs).
> They did it to avoid the spreading of recessive traits and inbreeding;
> but you assumed inbreeding and the diffusion of recessive traits in the
> tame foxes population.

That does not surprise me. Nevertheless, the genes apparently became
quite common in the population overall.

>> If culture leads to genetic selection over the generations, i.e. if a
>> person has a specific trait, they are more likely to breed in a given
>> population, then yes, this could have an effect. This seems possible,
>> at least. But I can't think of a documented case.
> The predisposition to learn how to read, write, do simple math is and
> was a strong cultural trait that cause genetic selection.

I don't think this is a justified statement.

> Try to breed today without being able to read/write/do simple math.

Lots of people do.

> Take away the welfare state, the food stamps and the rest. Leave them on
> their devices. Like 200 years ago or more.
> Even more strong and durable, the selection for taking out people unable
> to control their impulses and empathize others.
> They would be, at least, be banned from the civil society. And without
> welfare they would die because of starvation or be prey of organized
> groups. For example, a not married woman having sex and becoming
> pregnant would lose her family support and be shunned by any other
> reputable man. Why? Because they would not risk to be rising someone
> else children instead of theirs.
> Exceptions abound, but invariably they concern very low standing women
> (prostitute or maiden) or very high standing women (too valuable to
> consider their previous sins).

But can you point to one case where genetic change has happened. The
only one that comes to mind is that our genes for lactose intolerance
have been bred out after the creation of dairy as a main human food
source. That is a very different kind of genetic drift than you are
talking about. What you are saying is theoretically possible, but as
far as I know undocumented as having actually happened.

>> This should breed out the poor. So why do we keep getting new poor?
>> ;-)
> Because poor is relative and not absolute.

That is mostly because of technology, such as indoor plumbing, dentistry, etc.

> It is the Red Queen Effect.

Understood. This is what led Darwin to some of his initial thoughts in
the first place.

> Also, the people coming from the country have traits that could be
> useful in the country but are not useful or are damaging when living in
> a city. This is something discovered studying an African tribe; the same
> traits that made them successful in herding sheep (so they were able to
> feed themselves well) made them not very successful in keeping a job in
> a city (so they were unable to keep themselves well fed).

African tribes have definitely had enough time for some genetic drift.
Is this research or a guess? In western cultures where people move to
the city, then to the country and back, there isn't enough pressure or
time to create meaningful genetic drift.

>>> The problem is, if culture is the culprit, it would work
>>> everywhere in the same way.
>> No, it would work differently in each culture... Again, not following
>> your logic.
> If the culture is the dominant factor, if you take Africans (black) and
> put them on adoption on European (white) families they would be
> behaviorally and intellectually indistinguishable from other (white)
> Europeans. They would be intellectually indistinguishable from
> Europeans. Unfortunately it is not so. The same would be true for Asians
> in Europeans families and the reverse or Europeans in African families.

I am engaged in just such an experiment. I am Caucasian, I have six
African American children, four Hispanic and one half Asian child.
Culturally, they are all mostly culturally white. They are
intellectually indistinguishable from me (other than some physical
issues stemming from in utero abuse). Your position on this point
seems racist, and completely unsupported by research. Of course, there
is a cultural limit on how much real research has been done in this
area because nobody wants to be called a racist.

>>> This, in the US is not true, as North-East Asians are law abiding
>>> more than Europeans that are more abiding than Latino Americans
>>> that are more law abiding than blacks.
>> This is a whole other can of worms.
> A can of worms that people in the US is often afraid to touch for
> cultural and social reasons. It is like talking about freedom of
> religion in Saudi Arabia. If you talk abut the freedom of some Christian
> to convert to Islam, all is good. The reverse is not well accepted in
> the mainstream.

We talk a lot about the higher rates of incarceration of minorities.

>> Blacks are more carefully watched by the police,
> Why?
> Why they don't check more for Hispanics or Vietnamese or Italians?
> Are the policemen racists? Even the blacks one?

Yes, even some black policemen are racist against blacks. In certain
areas other minorities are targeted. For example in south Salt Lake
city, there is a lot of pressure by police on the Polynesian
population because so many of them have joined gangs. Again this is
cultural, not genetic.

> What allowed Jews, Italians, Irish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese,
> French, Russian and others to come in the US and, starting from the
> bottom, climb up the social ladder until they were at par (and sometimes
> over) the WASPs? Surely they were subjected to their fair (or unfair)
> share of stereotyping, racist slurs, hate and lynching from the dominant
> groups. Why they succeed anyway and the blacks didn't?

My short answer is that politicians, particularly Democrats, have
conspired to keep the blacks poor so that they would remain dependent
upon the welfare state. It is a very complex situation. We have had
racial issues in America since the beginning of our nation. Those
issues are less prominent today than they ever have been, but they
still exist. The problems of poverty, hopelessness and drugs in the
inner cities affect minorities more than white people.

It took the Irish at least three generations to escape from being the
lowest in American society. At one point, the coal mines in West
Virginia would hire Irish over black slaves because they were less
valuable than the slaves to the mine owners. Similarly, the Chinese
who build the transcontinental railroad were valued less than slaves.

I blame politicians more than anyone else for the problems facing the
blacks in America today. The black leadership (Jessie Jackson and the
like) are particularly guilty IMHO.

> There are cultural (maybe also genetic) differenced in behavior between
> blacks coming from American ancestries and blacks coming from the
> Caribbeans and blacks coming from Africa. Often they don't go well
> together because of this.

Blacks who recently came from Africa or the Caribbean are usually more
immediately successful than African Americans with the cultural
history. Yesterday, I interacted with an African pharmacist. I was not
surprised, but I would have been more surprised by an African American
pharmacist. In other words, the problem is not such much the color of
their skin, but the color of their mind. After hearing that the "man
is going to keep you down" for generations, many African Americans
give up. My own African American children don't hear this negative
talk, and I fully expect them to succeed in America. It's not genetic,
it's cultural.

>> leading to higher arrest rates.
> If I know to be more carefully watched by police, I usually try to be
> more law abiding than usual.
>> Their poverty leads to poor representation, which leads to higher
>> conviction rates. That does not imply that blacks are necessarily
>> less law abiding than other races.
> Law abiding, in fact, is a too vague.
> Could we talk about homicide rate?
> Could we compare the Blacks on Blacks, White on White, Blacks on Whites
> and Whites on Blacks or the East Asians on Blacks, etc.?
> I suppose this is independent of who the police is watching more.

Where I live, the most disproportionate homicide is done by
undocumented Mexicans. Again, even if the homicide rate nation wide is
higher for black on whoever, that doesn't mean it is genetic. It is
societal and cultural if that is the case.

>> You might be able to make a successful argument on a different
>> basis. Besides, you can hardly argue that blacks in South Central LA
>> live in the same culture as I do. That is beyond naive.
> So, if it is not genetics, then it is cultural. But this imply that the
> culture of South Central is the main cause of the lawlessness (or of the
> high arrest rate) of the Blacks.

Correct. It is also the main cause of lawlessness of the Hispanics
that live there. I would suspect that any white people living in South
Central would also commit crime at a rate higher than the rest of the
nation, but there are very few whites living there. I don't have
numbers, this is a feeling. Four of my kids come from Compton (in
south central) and I have spent some time there. I have also spent a
couple of months in East Palo Alto, another troubled neighborhood.

> But, if it is the culture, why is it not possible to force a culture on
> a group to change its behavior in a generation or two. If it was
> possible, someone would have already done it. What would had prevent
> them from succeeding?

They have succeeded. This doesn't make sense. Large changes in the
zeitgeist are accomplished all the time. Look at the change in
Southern attitudes towards blacks, or the nation's view of
homosexuality. They have changed a lot just in my life time.

> For example, the Conquistadors had not problem to raze Aztec temples,
> kill their priests, and force the survivors to convert to Christianity.
> One would suppose the Mexican population would be formed by perfect
> Catholics, adopting Spanish costumes. It didn't worked exactly in this way.

I have also spent a lot of time in Mexico. It DID work exactly this
way. Mexico is 90%+ Catholic to this day. Where are you getting these

>> Sweet! Now I wish I had some money. :-) That's really cool, and those
>> foxes are really quite cute fellows...
> I would like to have the money to clone my current dog.
> But also be able to buy a cute tame fox would be interesting.

Sadly, they not only charge close to $7K, but you also get a neutered
animal. Only five Americans have bothered to this point. You are
prohibited from reproducing the animal. Not that you could without
cloning. I think they are making a marketing mistake with this.

>> Haiti is f'ed up. I would not necessarily attribute that to genetics.
>> Their government has been horrible for a very long time. I attribute
>> most of their problems to that.
> But the governments don't fall from the sky at random. Not usually.
> Usually they are an expression of their population behaviors.
> This is true for Haitians, Italians, Chinese and others.

Yes, you do have something of a point here. Bad enough governments do
eventually get overthrown. There are secondary religious issues in
Haiti, as well as a huge amount of hopelessness. I took a water
filtration system to an orphanage in Haiti. Rather than using it to
filter water, it was immediately stolen and sold. It was very sad.

>> Here is my bottom line. If there were as much genetic difference
>> between groups as you suggest, then I think there would be a larger
>> and more popular belief in racism. I'm not saying that you are a
>> racist, but what I am saying is that if there were as much difference
>> between different humans as you suggest, there would be a greater
>> basis for racist thought.
> Are you talking about emotive/innate basis for racism or
> logical/scientific/moral basis for racism?
> Are we talking about the gut feelings of common people or the rational,
> often learned, arguments of polite people in polite circles?

I am talking about logical/scientific basis for racism. I don't think it exists.

> Apart from the mainstream white western world, the rest is racist. Maybe
> they don't wear the KKK hoods or don't shave
> their heads, but they behave and often speak out their belief without
> any problems.

If you believe some people, ONLY white people in America are capable
of racism. I don't agree with them. And in fact, I believe there are
more black racists than white. Unfortunately, it is self directed
racism in many cases. It's a kind of self inflicted wound. It really
sucks. Yes, there is racism in every corner of the globe. Japan is
racist against Koreans and Chinese. Don't even get started with tribal
racism (Rwanda, etc.) It's all over the place. That doesn't mean
people are right (in the scientific sense).

> For example, recently the Thai police cracked down on blacks of Africans
> origin (mainly Nigerians) because they engaged in too much drug
> trafficking and behave in a too aggressive way to be tolerated.
> Was the Thai police "racist"?

Possibly not. Racial profiling of criminals is not necessarily racist,
it's reality. Racial profiling of people getting on airplanes seems
like a good idea to me. I think it is ridiculous to confuse racism
with racial profiling of criminal elements. It is part of the
confusion that is rampant in America today.

> Try to apply the "racism" argument to the foxes.
> After the breeding program, we have two population of foxes.
> One tame and one wild.

And one VERY wild, don't forget.

> We know that some of the tame foxes developed characteristics that were
> not present before in the wild population: curly tails, blue eyes, white
> spots on the fur, floppy ears and these characteristics are common in
> domesticated mammals.

Correct. The chemical processes that bring about tameness, also bring
about these other changes.

> Now, a blue eyed population of foxes, looking at their wild counterparts
> living on the wild, could note the others are more aggressive. They
> don't know why the others are more aggressive.
> They could develop one or more  cultural explanations why the wild foxes
> are more aggressive: the "racists" could say the "blue eyed" foxes are
> superiors because they live in a peaceful civilization and all blue eyed
> foxes must stick together to defend their civilization against the wild,
> not blue eyed foxes. Others could think the white spotted foxes are
> better behaving than the red foxes living in the wild.
> Some full white and blue eyed foxes would develop the belief they are
> better than all others (elitists exist everywhere).
> On the other side the "racist" wild foxes would look at the white-lily,
> watery eyed foxes as a bunch of weak, degenerated, infantile and whining
> individuals, only able to play with their human masters and live in
> their cages or inside human homes. Why don't take advantage of their
> individual weakness?

Ok. Here you are talking about real selected genetic difference.
Racism in humans is not based on significant genetic differences
because humans don't have very significant genetic differences. This
is primarily because of the population bottleneck around 600K years

> Than another group of tame foxes could develop the explanation that the
> wild ones are as they are because they are unfortunate and they never
> were born inside their breeding farm. So they never developed and
> learned how to behave and how good are humans to take care of them and
> how beautiful is to love them.
> Now, these "enlightened foxes" could be open to mate with wild ones or
> adopt wild foxes kitten without parents or to invite the wild type to
> live with them at the farm. Then they would be surprised that things
> would not work out as they think. I think they could also blame the
> "racist" foxes for the failure, because they never accepted and
> continued to discriminated against the wild red furred, black eyed ones.

As we progress towards real genetic differences engineered in
post-humanity, I can see this becoming a REAL issue. I don't think it
is a real genetic issue now.

> They all would be wrong. They could feel better or find some advantage
> to believe a thing or another, but they would anyway be wrong.
> If the tame foxes want to bring inside some wilder foxes they must know
> and accept the facts. The wilder foxes must be breed and selected for a
> behavior more tamer. And if the tame foxes want live with the wilder
> one, they must breed themselves to be more aggressive (in this the most
> aggressive can help).
> Maybe they can breed in or out in different, novel, ways.
> What they can not avoid, like it or not, is evolution and selection to
> happen anyway. Their believes and their behavior can change how
> evolution and selection happen, to themselves and to others, but can not
> stop it.


> Yes. But soldiers in moder professional armies are mainly from middle
> class and their IQ is a bit over the mean (this is surely true for in
> the US). And in modern society the middle class is the bigger part of
> the society.

Actually, in the US armed forces, minorities and poor are represented
in higher proportion than middle class and white. This is because of
the financial benefits of joining the  armed forces are more effective
in recruiting people who need those benefits.

> If they come from there, they are genetically and culturally inhibited
> from acting aggressively. In fact I remember a German soldier, in a
> documentary about the Battle of Cassino, complaining that the US
> soldiers didn't went in battle like "real soldiers" but like they were
> going to a "normal" job.

In World War II, it was a very different issue because they had a
draft. So the army had more middle class elements.

My bottom line is that I believe memetics are more important in recent
human evolution than genetics. Culture brings about changes much more
quickly than genetics, to the point that human genetics (at this
point) are nearly meaningless. As we engineer human genetics, it will
start to make a bigger difference, of course. Even then, I personally
believe that cybernetic implants will have a bigger effect than
genetic changes.

Racism is wrong morally. It is also wrong scientifically. Comparing
humans to the foxes just throws out too much baby with the bath water.


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