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How many ideas and institutions will not survive?

Rebel Yell and I were speaking yesterday (he from his castle, I from mine) about what the current plague will mean, does mean, for ideas and institutions that have wandered the landscape these many years that will disappear as snow in spring.

I predict the following will be gravely diminished or are about to be finished:

I think that all social institutions will be gravely hurt – which is bad – and that a lot of activity will have to move on-line if the isolation lasts more than four months:

  • churches
  • masons, fraternities, knights of columbus etc
  • sports leagues
  • schools

How are courts to function? How will witnesses be heard? How will lawyers argue?

Are universities necessary if they do not perform the function of educating students?

There is a part of me that figures this is all a plot of Satan (fill in your favourite force of evil in the spot occupied by Satan, but why not go to the top?) to further isolate people in their cells, to confine them to quarters, to have them willingly surrender their freedoms for a bit of security. We are becoming like the former Soviet Union, where zero trust is the operative condition; where you must have known people from high school before you are able to trust them with political discussion. We are nearly at that stage now in Ottawa. Or maybe we have been in that stage for thirty years and I am finally noticing the political repression.

Here is a piece of music written in equally fraught times by the Catholic composer William Byrd at the time of the English Reformation. Two pieces actually: Ne Irasceris Domine (be not wrathful, O Lord) and Sancta Civitas (Holy City) with its great line “Ieruslaem desolata est”. Jerusalem is indeed desolate this morning. But I am feeling quite well.

Banning cousin marriage

Sometimes an article of fundamental importance gets through the ideological filters. One such was the publication this week in Science and reported on in Scientific American of the psychological and cultural effects of banning cousin marriages.

From the Scientific American report of it: “The engine of that evolution, the authors propose, was the church’s obsession with incest and its determination to wipe out the marriages between cousins that those societies were built on. The result, the paper says, was the rise of “small, nuclear households, weak family ties, and residential mobility,” along with less conformity, more individuality, and, ultimately, a set of values and a psychological outlook that characterize the Western world. The impact of this change was clear: the longer a society’s exposure to the church, the greater the effect.”

And from the article in Science in the words of the authors: “A growing body of research suggests that populations around the globe vary substantially along several important psychological dimensions and that populations characterized as Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) are particularly unusual. People from these societies tend to be more individualistic, independent, and impersonally prosocial (e.g., trusting of strangers) while revealing less conformity and in-group loyalty. Although these patterns are now well documented, few efforts have sought to explain them. Here, we propose that the Western Church (i.e., the branch of Christianity that evolved into the Roman Catholic Church) transformed European kinship structures during the Middle Ages and that this transformation was a key factor behind a shift towards a WEIRDer psychology.”

The scientists continue: “Globally, we show that countries with longer historical exposure to the medieval Western Church or less intensive kinship (e.g., lower rates of cousin marriage) are more individualistic and independent, less conforming and obedient, and more inclined toward trust and cooperation with strangers (see figure). Focusing on Europe, where we compare regions within countries, we show that longer exposure to the Western Church is associated with less intensive kinship, greater individualism, less conformity, and more fairness and trust toward strangers. Finally, comparing only the adult children of immigrants in European countries, we show that those whose parents come from countries or ethnic groups that historically experienced more centuries under the Western Church or had less intensive kinship tend to be more individualistic, less conforming, and more inclined toward fairness and trust with strangers.”

I am as much astonished as pleased with this report. Astonished, because it violates every contemporary commandment of political correctness, or the madness that is sweeping our intellectual life. Pleased, because it does so.

In general, you are not permitted to how that modern western mores might be preferable, let alone superior, to others, and more, that religion might have been the source of these values.

Cousin marriages have genetic effects. Visit childhood disease and mortality statistics from cousin marriages. Observe that societies or religions that extensively practice cousin marriages have much higher levels of genetic diseases than those which eschew the practice. For example, see the Guardian article here:

“Marriage between first cousins doubles the risk of children being born with birth defects, according to a study seeking answers to the higher than expected rates of deaths and congenital abnormalities in the babies of the Pakistani community.

“Researchers have concluded that the cultural practice of marriage between first cousins is a bigger factor than any other – outweighing the effects of deprivation in parts of Bradford, where the study was carried out. Marriage to a blood relative accounted for nearly a third (31%) of all birth defects in babies of Pakistani origin.

The main point of the Science article was not genetic defects, however, but the cultural effects on trust, conformity, openness, innovation, obedience to general law, and looseness of kinship connections by the proscription of first cousin marriages.

My question remains unanswered. I do not know how this article slipped through the pervasive censorship by the egalitarian forces that determine so much of what we are allowed to see. A glitch in the matrix is always possible, but people like Steve Sailer, Razib Khan, Gregory Cochrane and Henry Harpending, and other explorers in the minefields of culture and breeding have reasonable cause to be envious.