[ExI] note from a foaf in japan

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Fri Mar 25 09:23:15 UTC 2011

On Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 9:07 AM, Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 5:00 AM,   Kelly Anderson
> <kellycoinguy at gmail.com> wrote:
>> It seems unlikely to me that humans are genetically diverse enough to
>> account for highly social behavior in the face of disaster as a
>> genetic issue. It seems much more likely to be a 100% cultural issue.
> I would not discount the genetic angle.  I know it is not politically
> correct, but consider the differences between wild and tame foxes that
> came about in only 20 generations (with much of it in 8).  It depends
> on a consistent selection criteria.  If you have not read Gregory
> Clark's work, you should.

I am familiar with the fox experiment in Russia (Siberia). In that
experiment, 1% of each generation was selected for each trait
(aggressive and tame) and 99% were put down. That is a VERY heavy
selection mechanism. Lots of genes go away very quickly under that
heavy of a culling. Humans have never faced that level of culling, so
getting rid of any specific set of genes is very difficult. We know
this because two humans from any part of the world are more closely
genetically related than two chimpanzees from 20 miles apart in
Africa. The bottleneck around 600,000 years ago (Tambura(sp)
supervolcano??) was estimated to reduce the human ancestor population
to around 4000 individuals. So the chances of that big of a genetic
drift coming in seems very slight to me. If the Japanese had put down
99% of their population on socialization principles, then I would be
more likely to believe there was a genetic component. Obviously, I
could be wrong here, but I think it would be hard to prove either way.
However, from a genetics standpoint, there just isn't a heavy enough
hand IMHO to have Occam come down on genetic vs. culture in this
particular case.

By the way, I'd love to get a hold of a mating pair of those tame foxes.

>> The difference between behavior in New Orleans and Sendai must be
>> almost entirely cultural. The attitude in New Orleans seemed to have
>> been the end result of decades of socialism at work in the inner city.
> North Korea has seen decades of socialism to an extent far more severe
> than New Orleans.  So did East Germany.

Have we had a serious disaster in those populations? I can't think of
one off the top of my head.

> I suspect several thousand years of farming in north temperate zones
> worked some fairly serious changes in the genetics of the populations,
> changes that a few decades of cultural variations don't erase.

Only where there is a selection pressure, such as melatonin in the
skin leading to skin cancer... You have to spell out the
selection/survival vector for this to be a credible genetic theory.

>>> What are the difference in behavior between Sendai (Japan) and Bam
>>> (Iran) or Indonesia, Italy, Chile and China or New Orleans (US)?
> You might include Haiti.  Re China:

I think Haiti went to hell after the earthquake. Roaming bands of
rapists and such. Having been to Haiti myself, it isn't hard to
believe. They have a really messed up culture from decades of living
off of the generosity of the first world.

> "But these advantages cumulated in China over millennia
> perhaps explain why it is no real surprise that China, despite nearly
> a generation of extreme forms of Communism between 1949 and
> 1978, emerged unchanged as a society individualist and capitalist
> to its core. The effects of the thousands of years of operation of a
> society under the selective pressures of the Malthusian regime
> could not be uprooted by utopian dreamers."  (Clark)

Yes, I believe you are absolutely right here. I don't think that is
much of an argument for genetics, just an argument for the persistence
of underlying culture in the face of totalitarianism. Just look at the
comeback of Christianity in Russia...

>>> If we were able to select/create genetic traits and teach cultural
>>> traits, what would we teach and select?
>> I think we would want to select for diversity.
> Clark makes a case that impulse control has been intensely selected in
> stable societies along with literacy and numeracy.

If you were going to pick something, that might do it. However, you
would pretty quickly weed out any effective warrior class, which could
have downsides if other societies did not pick the same.


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