From this post, citing a New York Times article, a chart showing the relative level of material wealth and education among American religious groups.
In some Muslim countries, over 50% of marriages are arranged, and involve cousins:
We found significant decline in child cognitive abilities due to inbreeding and high frequency of mental retardation among offspring from inbred families. The mean differences (95% C.I.) were reported for the VIQ, being −22.00 (−24.82, −19.17), PIQ −26.92 (−29.96, −23.87) and FSIQ −24.47 (−27.35, −21.59) for inbred as compared to non-inbred children (p>0.001). The higher risk of being mentally retarded was found to be more obvious among inbred categories corresponding to the degree of inbreeding and the same accounts least for non-inbred children (p<0.0001).
The risks of inbreeding have long been known:
Inbreeding (consanguineous marriages among humans) produces homozygous offspring, since the mating of pairs occurs between genetically closely related individuals.... Consanguinity has been associated with significant decline in mean values for height, weight and body mass index (BMI) and the subsequent depression on children growth, much influenced in proportion to their inbreeding coefficients with least variation for non-genetic factors . Inbreeding is also thought to predispose offspring to neuropsychological disorders such as hereditary Parkinsonism . Several studies have identified parental consanguinity as an important risk factor for mental retardation or ID , , , and it has been shown that inbreeding is correlated with reduced cognitive performance .
The study results, in graphical terms:
The X axis is Full-Scale IQ. IQ scores of 75 and below are considered mentally disabled in Western countries, anything under 60 is profoundly disabled, generally requiring special education and lifelong assistance. (Which, of course, most developing countries can't afford.) There may be some confounding factors here, such as that higher-IQ, better-educated Muslims may be less traditional and more likely to avoid arranged cousin marriages, and higher-IQ wealthier Muslims may face less risk from malnutrition or pollution. But still, the well-known genetic danger of consanguinity is certainly explaining a lot of this unbelievably huge variance.
This is why IQ is so revealing. The debate on how to develop countries goes 'round and 'round, starting again every time the latest intervention (education, clean water, infrastructure) delivers less-than-overwhelming results. And the blame game goes back and forth, ad nauseam. But this study, and many more like it, point to an obvious factor which few squeamish PC Westerners are willing to discuss openly. Cousin marriage creates generation after generation of people with severe intellectual deficits. Eliminate it, and (after a few generations) you will unleash massive amounts of human capital that has been destroyed for centuries by the dead hand of tradition.
Visiting Belgium last weekend I came across a 'concentration' (as it's known in French) of classic Citroen DS cars. They're beloved all over the world, including the USA. Why, even the Wall Street Journal loves them, which means this may be the only French thing ever praised in that reliably Francophobe rag:
The DS is not just any old car, as is obvious should you park one next to a ’55 Chevy Bel Air, which then appears to have been built by cave-dwellers. The DS was a front-mid-engine, front-wheel-drive car with rear wheels closer together than at the front, allowing its sleek, tapering bobtail. The rears are enclosed in prim fender spats and, above, the remarkable panoramic greenhouse and fiberglass roof, canted like a beret. Did we mention it was French?
So without further ado, some Belgian Cirtoens:
Once you begin looking at recent research on intelligence (as opposed to parti-pris polemics which are a dime a dozen), you begin to realize how much it explains about human flourishing -- and its opposite.
And lo and behold, none other than Die Zeit (Germany's most respectable upper-middle-class weekly newspaper) has perked up its ears. Perhaps someone there is reading my blog?
(Cover page of the current Die Zeit, with the title: "What Makes People Intelligent? Is it the Family or Schools? How much talent lies in your genes? And why do Vietnamese Children learn better than Turkish Ones?").
And Lo, The Lord Spake: 'You Shall Turn Your Swords into Plowshares and your Bicycles into Sex Toys'
Ever wondered what to do with your old bicycles? The students of the Berlin Technical University have a suggestion:
So, I have cats. Like dogs, cats sometimes like to lick you. This can be pleasant and invigorating. But when Fido jumps up on you when you return from work and plants a big wet kiss on your cheek or hand, somewhere in the back of your mind you're thinking: 'I wonder how long it's been since Fido gave a tongue-bath to his anus.' In fact, your dog may have just eagerly gulped down a family-sized portion of some other dog's -- or even his own -- fecal matter.
Why can't technology provide a solution to this problem? If you can wear something on your wrist that knows whether you're sleeping or how many steps you climbed, you should be able to invent some sort of accelerometer-GPS-quantum-gizmo that can tell when your pet last french-kissed the old bunghole. So as Fido closes in for the greeting, you sneak a peek at the digital collar display. If it reads '210 minutes', you're probably OK. If it reads '6 seconds', EVASIVE ACTION.
Who wants to help me kickstarter this and become a millionaire?
Legendary abbot Fu Schnickens ran into the gathering hall, ascended the Throne of Wisdom, rang the Bell of Insight, and spake thusly to the disciples: "Hats."
He then went on, speaking louder and louder:
Tiny moist hats.
Tiny moist sizzling hats.
Tiny moist sizzling marzipan hats."
He then fell silent.
Five disciples immediately attained enlightenment. Two lost control over their bowels. One threw himself over the balcony, shrieking, and fell lifeless on the rocks below.
Verily, the wisdom of the Enlightened One is unsearchable!
Probably the finest Canadian song praising the Communist Party of Albania you will hear today (h/t RM):
I wonder if there are any English-language songs praising East Germany?
If you're interested in the internecine squabbles of Canadian Marxist splinter parties in the 1960s -- and who isn't? -- you can find plenty of documentation here. One of the absolute must-read highlights, On the Question of Liu Shao-Chi:
While we might be disposed to be somewhat critical of [Sidney Rittenberg]'s speech for being poorly constructed, not too carefully prepared and containing some careless formulatons, we are in agreement with its basic content in criticizing and repudiating the bourgeois-reactionary line of Liu Shao-chi and upholding the proletarian-revolutionary line of Mao Tse-tung. However, the Belgian trio of Jacques Grippa, Rene Raindorf and Stephen Strulens who are of the opposite opinion, in reply to Rittenburg’s 40 to 50 minute speech inscribed a, reply that would fill a good-sized book.
The extreme length of this literary attack is largely caused by the authors’ ranging far beyond the limits of the Rittenburg speech which did not provide them with sufficient scope for the objective they had in mind. In order to correct this situaton Rittenburg is charged with not saying certain things, and the things which were not said provide the main basis for the attack.
A while ago I speculated on why Americans and Europeans perceive temperature so differently. I pointed out that the United States is a much hotter country than many Europeans realize. A recent study has suggested that there is a strong link between heat and violence:
More specifically, for a degree Celsius of temperature increase (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), Burke says there could be a 20 percent increase in civil conflict in Africa. The impact of warming varies by region, however; some places are more sensitive to small heat increases than others. In the United States, the estimate would be lower: For 1 degree Celsius of warming, he'd expect about a 1 percent increase in interpersonal conflicts, a category that includes crimes like assault and robbery but also road rage and fights at baseball games.
...Richard Larrick, a professor at Duke's Fuqua School of Business, explained in an e-mail the psychological research linking heat with shows of aggression.
"Researchers in social psychology have studied the relationship between temperature and aggression for many decades," Larrick said. That includes studies looking at links between a day's temperature and people engaging in real world behaviors ranging from honking horns to committing violent crimes. "Research in the laboratory," Larrick continues, "allowed for tightly controlled tests to show that changes in temperature directly lead to more aggression." Such research has shown, he notes, that "heat changes the way people feel and think, increasing anger and making thoughts of aggression increase."
It is important to underscore that the temperature-violence relationship is not deterministic. In their meta-analysis, Burke and his colleagues liken the situation to "the rise in car accident rates during rainy days" -- the rain ups the risk of accidents overall, but each accident is still contingent on the individual situation and choices (and mistakes) of the drivers involved.
Similarly, warmer temperatures seem to shift the overall background risk for violent conflict -- but whether someone commits a violent act remains dependent upon the specific circumstances and the individual.