November 21, 2011

Professor Ralph Richard Banks
Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law
Stanford Law School
650 723 6591

Dear Dr. Banks:
I have some articles I think you may find helpful.  They are included in notes for a meeting of a genetics society I attended in Orlando.  I send them as an attachment.  It is only the first two graphs that need attention.  The rest is supporting material and some discussion.

I have often thought that I could find feminists and I could find advocates of Black rights, but who could speak for Black women?  Now, blessedly, there you are.

I have read a review of your book Is Marriage for White People? (Down or Out ECONOMIST vol. 401. no. 8755 October 15, 2011 page 40), have ordered it and look forward to reading it.  In due course I shall no doubt be recommending it to those who visit my web site. But there is no need to wait for that.  People are unhappy.

As the review says, you point out that Black women are the most unmarried segment of American adults.  There are a number of issues, but the bottom line is that it is just not fair.  So kindly take a look at the first graph on the attachment.  Scientists in Iceland compared kinship (as reckoned by them; you’ll want to look at the original article) with fertility using the enormous Icelandic genealogy.  In the first generation they find that the closer a couple is related, the more children they have.  This is true out to about 8th cousin, where it levels off below replacement.  From there out it does not matter if one marries a 9th cousin or someone from the far side of the world.  The fertility is the same.

Looking at the second graph you can see that the same holds true in the second generation with the proviso that if you get closer than second cousin it begins to approach being as poor a choice for fertility as 8th cousin. 

Although this has been published and thus is known, it is not widely known.  And it is no fluke.  The attachment continues with evidence above and beyond the call of sanity, but the picture does not change.

What people believe is that the more you stir up the gene pool, the better.  But it is a prescription for population crash, and there are populations that are crashing right now.

I think people should have freedom of choice, but freedom only comes with knowing what the results of a choice are likely to be.  As you read this, people are not free in their mating choices.  If they want children and grandchildren they are usually making mistakes. 

We all want to feel good about ourselves.  Women want to prove they are biologically sound by having babies.  Men want to prove they are biologically sound by attracting healthy women.  But the only biologically sound strategy is to look for cousins, say third or fourth.  It gets complicated because ideally you need to know what all your ancestors were doing back for 10 generations.  That’s three hundred years.  Fine for Iceland, but the rest of us have to wing it a bit. 

Keep me honest on this, but as I look at the graphs it looks like the distance between marrying third cousin and 8th cousin is greater than the distance between 8th cousin or any other human less related and no sex at all.  I don’t know a tactful way to put it.  Real men marry cousins. 

 If I could get the word out, it would not solve all problems, but it would do much to level the playing field.  What do you think?


M. Linton Herbert 

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