[ExI] 'capitalism' genes was breeding cats

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Tue Jun 8 15:05:34 UTC 2010

On Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 5:00 AM,  BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:
> In case you didn't notice, the 1800s century is the same time that
> Keith believes that the UK population evolved 'capitalism' genes.
> Obviously wrong. It was the cats organising the economic system for
> their own benefit.

Heh.  For a fact humans who have had cats seem to be happier with
them, in spite of them being a nuisance .

But it's not exactly true that I think the UK population evolved
'capitalism' genes in the 1800.  Rather, I have been impressed by both
the work and the conclusions Dr. Gregory Clark on with his analysis of
the run up to the industrial revolution.  If you have not read his
book or the 50 page paper on this, you should.

> (What do you mean 'correlation doesn't equal causation'? Sometimes it
> does. Keith hasn't found any 'capitalism' genes either).

I am not in the business of looking for them, but it wouldn't be hard
to find them.  Tame foxes differ in gene expression in only about 40


It took about 20 generations of foxes to breed these hyper tame foxes.
 I don't think anyone, at least not anyone on this list, doubts that
the tameness of these foxes is the result of selective breeding for
tame behavior genes.

>From the mid 1200s to 1800 is about 20 human generations.  The UK has
probate records for this period and that is what Dr. Clark used to see
if there was a correlation between the number of surviving children
and the size of the estate.  He found it.  The same "more surviving
kids for the well off" is probably true for most stable agrarian
societies.  It is not true for all societies.

Clark made the reasonable assumption that some behavior genes would be
conducive to accumulating wealth.  These are a different set of genes
than are likely to be successful in hunter gatherer or waring tribal

Because the society was both Malthusian and Darwinian, the genes for
behaviors (personality characteristics) that were conducive to
accumulating wealth became more common over this long time period.
There are independent measures of some of these such as the historical
fall in interest rates.

There are vast piles of human bones in the UK from thousands of years
ago.  So if someone wanted to look at the changing mix of genes like
they looked at the foxes, the information is there.


PS.  If anyone is serious about a cat breeding program, look at what
it took with foxes.

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