2 comments on “Notes on WEIRDest People

  1. I haven’t read the book, so I’m responding just to your comments.

    > This presumably made it easier to break out of the Malthusian trap. But it seems unusual for a population that reproduces slowly to out-compete its neighbors.

    Unusual, yes, but in a Malthusian situation, this could make sense, as long as the slower-reproducing group could defend its territory. Each individual would be wealthier and healthier. The more usual problem for a slower-reproducing society is defection from within.

    > In most other cultures, a clan as a whole is typically responsible for any actions of a clan member that would require compensating an aggrieved clan. Also, property seems to be mostly clan property, not individual property. I suspect that group-level responsibility reduces the importance of evaluating intent.

    That seems right. If groups are responsible for the consequences of their members’ actions, they can’t defend them with “he didn’t mean anything by it”. This would allow the group to get away with arbitrary infringements in the name of the members’ individual motivations. I think we see this effect in gangs and other group-responsibility situations. They often enforce conformity in dealings with outsiders.

    > it seems that the initial southern settlers hadn’t adopted key WEIRD features such as the rule against cousin marriage.

    I also haven’t read “Albion”, but can’t this be ascribed to a sparser population?

    Thanks for writing this up.

  2. Chris,
    There does seem to be a correlation between sparser population and cousin marriage, but I don’t have a clear model of what’s causing that correlation.

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