September 2, 2019

Nicholas Humphrey
London School of Economics
West Grange
Church Street
Great Shelford

Dear Dr. Humphrey:
I have read the article featuring you,(Elizabeth Culotta “Probing and Evolutionary Riddle” Science vol. 365 no. 6455 August 23, 2019 page 748) and (as a professional) congratulate you on causing a brilliant, disruptive imbroglio and as a human thank you for your noble work. 

Two YouTube presentations recently address the question of loneliness: Here,
is an interview with Johann Hari, who wrote Lost Connections.  Hari points out that we are the first society to abandon its tribal/extended family/village social structure.  I’m not entirely in agreement.  All those dead civilizations appear to have done just that, a critical portion substituting out their old communities for identity with the ruling elite.  But I take his point. 

The loneliness epidemic and the resulting anxiety and depression have also been discussed by and Stefan Molyneux He agrees on the core cause.  What neither of these suggest is, “Hey! Why don’t we go back to doing what worked?”

To this, you really must add the fact that a population that grows without restraint will (in about 300 years in humans, most of which is past) and mates at random will die out.  In other words, natural selection has provided us with an emotional drive to do the selectively preferable thing – marry in. 

You can find the proof of the infertility by going to and looking at the first 32 shows and following the scripts on  

What I have no data on is whether a person who marries outside their extended family to say tenth cousin or beyond, is more likely to commit suicide (or have anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and the whole suicide spectrum) than those who marry kin.  If you have means to explore this, there is a caveat.  This is not genes.  Genetic similarity is irrelevant.  It has to be actual genealogical kinship, since the mechanism is epigenetic, not genetic. 

Again, congratulations and thanks.  I hope you find yourself disposed to ignite another conflagration.  It would be nice to put aside the loneliness and suicide.

Linton Herbert MD  

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