Human biodiversity:
One of my flagship links is to a blog by a writer with the sobriquet “hbd chick,” for “Human Biodiversity Chick.”  Her recent interest has been in the concept of “altruism genes.”  The fundamental notion is that people are hard wired by their genetics to help each other.  That’s not a stretch.  Bees work together under genetic direction. 

What she observes is that in a state of relative inbreeding, or as Patrick Bateson would say, “Optimal outbreeding,” this altruism has a greater selective advantage.  By helping your kin you help the survival of your genes, which is so far as nature is concerned tantamount to helping your own children survive and thrive.  This is obviously high priority stuff.

I do not doubt the concept.  At times I do think, “But what about asparagus.  Don’t we share most of our genes with asparagus?  How much of a sacrifice should I make for them?”  But granted that asparagus are not so appealing as individuals as they are as a species, maybe keeping the species alive is enough.  There are certainly people ready to take enormous risks to save whales.  Extinction of any species robs us all of family, so to speak.  In the heat of action I would expect they think of the whales as individuals.  But making sacrifices to keep species alive does seem to be an authentic motivation for people.  I am sorry to say that my impression is that the extinction of groups of people, say indigenous tribes the world over, seem less poignant to the activists. 

Things are a bit better in that regard, but not nearly satisfactory.  Your language is as much a part of your essence as your body and whole languages are being lost forever. 

hbd chick points out that there is a down side to this family based altruism.  It may come at the cost of less altruism toward more distant kin, like other tribes. 

hbd chick is quite fond of interned links, so here is a link to her latest essay, which itself has plenty of links.

If you follow the link you’ll find yourself starting in the middle, so good luck.  Among the links she offers is: People “are sexually attracted to individuals with whom they share genes if they don’t experience westermarck imprinting (or is it reverse imprinting?), and are more sexually attracted to those individuals with whom they share more genes.”

The link is:
The article is Wikipedia.  That does not make it a reference in contemporary refereed scientific journal, but it doesn’t make it obscure, either.  The title is “Genetic Sexual Attraction.”  Don’t we live in a culture that is obsessed with sexual attraction?  Or is it only I? 

The Wikipedia article focusus on occasions where sibling reared apart meet as adults and fall in love.  Incest, oh dear me, or horror of horrors, tougue nor heart cannot describe nor name thee.  But of course the scientific evidence is that marrying kin is the way in the long run to have enough children to survive. 

That’s right.  Don’t marry your sibling.  You can have too much of a good thing, which is probably why nature does not make us fall in love with those we grew up with.  Surprise.  You can have too little of a good thing, too.

You don’t suppose nature knows what she is doing, do you? 

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