September 9, 2012
to be posted on nobabies.net

Jehangir Patel
Parsiana Publications Pvt Ltd.
K. K. (Navsari) Chambers
Ground Floor (opposite St. Cathedral School side entrance)
39B Amrit Keshav Nayak Road
Mumbai 400001
Phone 2297 8104
2207 7543
2207 2624
Fax 2207 5572

Copy to Bombay Parsi Punchayet
209, Dr. Dadabhai Naoroji Road
Bombay 400 001
+91 22 261 7421
+91 22 261 7422
+91 22 261 7423
Fax _91 22 263 0010

Dear Jehangir Patel:
I hope I do not intrude, but I read an article (Not fade away Economist vol. 404 no. 8800 September 1 2012 page 44) that made me think I might be of some help.  The birth rate among Parsis is reported as woefully low.  This is very common in the world today.  But people seem worried about it, which I have found to be very uncommon.  If you care enough, perhaps you will spend a few moments considering things almost nobody else is willing to think about.  If you find this offensive, please remember that I know nothing about your culture,  what is acceptable and what not, indeed I find my own culture’s response of lofty indifference to be absolutely baffling – some get angry and some are scared, but mostly it’s indifference – but I mean well so please forgive me.

Consider: In the old days we all married cousins and there were lots of babies; now nobody marries cousins and there are not enough babies.  Or: little villages make too many babies and not enough money but cities make too much money but not enough babies.  Or: Anything you can have too little of (like mating pool size), too much will kill you; a mating pool size that is too small causes inbreeding, so there must be a mating pool size that is too big.

By now you see where I am going with this.  I sum it up, “Marry kin or die.”  That of course leaves many questions like, “How close kin?” and, “Die when?”

Now it gets difficult.  A study was done in Iceland that compared various degrees of kinship with the number of children and the number of grandchildren.  Here’s a link: http://nobabies.net/Orlando%20meeting.html/
It will show you the graphs.  Of course not all of us know who every one of our ancestors was for ten generations back, so applying the results is not so easy, but at least it’s a start. 

The question of how long it takes for fate to work itself out has an answer, but the answer is not very helpful.  Follow the same link and you will see that Asian dynasties, Mesopotamian civilizations, Mayan eras, Chaco Canyon periods and Roman political forms all seem to face a brick wall at three centuries.  That’s about ten generations for the kinds of leaders and administrators that the Parsis represent and who are needed for the integrity of any social order.  Having essentially all the power (give or take the whims of a potentate or a mob) these key people marry whom they will, which of course is generally not close kin.  The whole point of getting powerful probably had something to do with getting away from the control of the senior women in the family. 

The problem with 300 years is not so much defining the end: a regime change is pretty obvious when all of the elite class of the old order gets murdered by the new order.  The question of when it begins is the challenge.  It’s pretty easy for dynasties; the origin is a matter of historical record.  But it isn’t that easy for the Anasazi of Long House Valley (same link).  There is a gradual rise in population (the article says that the number of houses correlates with the tree ring size, so it was weather driven.  I say they were cultivating the trees,) with obvious groups moving in (no groups ever move out) and then explosive growth followed in due course by extinction. 

For the others, there is no really obvious way to know.  All you have is the ten generation brick wall.  (I assume that the elite have an average generation time of about 30 years.)  And for Americans who were here before the Second World War and for Parsi’s I really don’t know when the beginning was.  So I can’t calculate the end.  But it can’t be far off now, can it? 

As to why nature should do this to us, and in fact why ten generations, it has to do with time to speciation.  I can explain that if you are interested.  Or maybe you can get it from the same link.

I wish you the best.  I hope I have not offended you.  Indeed I hope you will seize this as a man drowning with his family would grasp the cast of a friendly life ring.  But perhaps that is too much to ask.  Let me know if I can help in any way. 


M. Linton Herbert MD

By the way, if you should happen to pursue this you might consult a geneticist.  If so he should be aware that the articles I cite are real but that nobody has put this all together so far as I know.  If he does take an interest he might like to be a referee for a paper I have under consideration.  One referee has responded but I need another and several possible referees the editors have tried seem content to let it languish on the desk. 

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