February 20, 2012
to be posted on nobabies.net

Stephen Kosslyn
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences
75 Alta Road
Stanford, CA 94305
650 736 0100

Dear Stephen Kosslyn:
I read (Greg Miller Modernizing an Academic Monastery SCIENCE vol. 335 no. 6067 January 27, 2012 page 398) that the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences is refining its mission and that you have taken point.  I have something to offer.

My logic goes like this: the highest fertility falls to those who marry fairly close cousins.  Here is a link.  It’s the Orlando posting at nobabies.net.  http://nobabies.net/Orlando%20meeting.html
As you can see, nature was pretty much obliged to come up with something like this, and evidently nature has done the job.  Of course there is a very strong prejudice against marrying kin, but it is utterly irrational (once you get out to second cousin) and I must say not very attractive. 

Next, consider that people could be described along an axis of tolerance; those who dislike outsiders in one regard probably dislike outsiders in other regards, the same going for tolerance.  So tolerant people you would expect to be less likely to marry kin.  So disproportionately, each generation is weighted toward in children of the intolerant of the generation before.  They will elect leaders that will get them into wars (even though the wars tend to be against outside people who are no worse as prospective mates than all but a handful of the in group).  Now those nice tolerant folk are out there marrying non-kin and think they are building world peace.  But they are doing just the opposite. 

Somebody needs to tell them.  Then the fertility premium of intolerance goes away.  At least so one would hope.  Although the idea is simply stated, it wallows all over academic borders.  It involves genetics, computer simulation, natural history, psychology, archeology, history and politics.  It’s nobody’s problem until somebody makes it such.

So I thought you might be interested.  Sadly, I pretty much gave up a successful career in diagnostic radiology to pursue this.  Otherwise I would probably be rich enough to get your attention.  But then I would not have known what to do with the money.  Still, you might be able to get top talent because the attempt would be so noble.  I’ll bet Niall Ferguson would be tempted if approached. 

Meanwhile I shall be fumbling along doing such things as putting pleading letters on my web site.

Thank you for getting this far.


M. Linton Herbert MD

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Dr. Kosslyn was kind enough to reply, but we did not get into specifics.