Sonntag, 15. März 2015

The Vikings at the Azores

The Vikings visited the Azores Islands, they left their house mouses there which are a proof of that

The Azores Islands - they are located in the middle of the Atlantic. 1369 kilometers away from Europe, 2342 kilometers away from Newfoundland in Canada. They are small, stormy islands with subtropical climate.

Viking vessel unearthed in Scandinavia
According to a new study (1) they were visited and settled by Vikings from Norway. Genetic studies found house mouses with ancestry from Norway at two islands of the Azores (1). For the island Madeira (not part of the Azores) genetic studies on house mouses some years ago had confirmed that they were visited by Vikings from Denmark. 

But there a hints on human settlement of tze Azores before the time of the Vikings: 200 years ago there were detected coins from Carthage of the 4th century b.c. at the Azores.

2006 a genetic study in humans found hints at the Azores of viking ancestry. The islanders have the highest rate of homozygotes for a northern european gene that is a protection against HIV-1. These genetic footprints can be found downwards to the isle São Tomé and Príncipe at the western coast of Africa (Human Biology 2006). Some quotes from the new study (1):
“Among the islands of the Azorean archipelago, Santa Maria and Terceira produced the most unexpected results. (…) The mice on Santa Maria are predominantly clade F, which unlike the other highly represented clades in the Azores (clades B, C and D) has not been found in either Portugal or southern Spain, nor in the neighbouring archipelagos of Madeira and the Canaries. Clade F has a geographical range that matches well with the realm of influence of the Norwegian Vikings (coastal Norway, northern and western Scotland, Ireland, Iceland: Jones et al., 2012). Norwegian Vikings were certainly transporting mice of this clade (based on sequencing of Viking Age mouse specimens from Iceland and Greenland: Jones et al., 2012), and were excellent mariners, and crossed enormous water gaps, so it is not inconceivable that they visited the Azores, leaving mice as evidence of that event, as suggested for Danish Vikings and Madeira (Gündüz et al., 2001; Förster et al., 2009). (…)
The first written document with a reference to the peopling of the Azores dates back to 1439, according to which the Portuguese crown ordered “sheep to be released in the seven Azorean islands in preparation for human settlement” (Crosby, 2004).”
The norwegian housemouse were found at the eastern Azores islands Terceira und Santa Maria. And (1):
“Interestingly, based on medieval maps and Scandinavian texts, Kelley (1979) has already speculated that Norwegian Vikings may have found their way to the Azores.”
For that see: (2). So, is this a new argument for the discussions around the Vinland map?
________________________________________________
  1. Gabriel SI1, Mathias ML, Searle JB: Of mice and the “Age of Discovery” - The complex history of colonization of the Azorean archipelago by the house mouse (Mus musculus) as revealed by mitochondrial DNA variation. J Evol Biol. 2014 Nov 14. doi: 10.1111/jeb.12550
  2. Kelley Jr, J.E. 1979. Non-Mediterranean influences that shaped the Atlantic in the early Portolan charts. Imago Mundi, 31: 18–35
  3. Die Geschichte von Erich dem Roten und Leif dem Glücklichen. Die Saga von den Männern die auf Grönland siedeln und Amerika entdecken. Übertragen von Gustav Wenz. Verlag von Quelle & Meyer, Leipzig o.J. [1935] [Isländer-Geschichten. Hrsg. u. übertragen von Gustav Wenz, I. Reihe, 2. Bd.; zw. 1935 und 1937]

Sonntag, 9. Oktober 2011

Division of Labour as a Driving Force in Cultural Evolution

Research in Sweden in Evolutionary Anthropology

With a big surprise I find, that researchers in Sweden - a research group around Professor Magnus Enquist - is working about the same theme that is important to me since 15 years (1). Mostly the mathematician Micael Ehn (a, b) is working about "Division of labour and specialization as a driving force in cultural evolution".

I am working about this theme since 1996, when I was as a doctoral student with Professor Eckart Voland in Giessen.

My focus is to combine cultural and genetic evolution (to combine "Adam Smith and W. D. Hamilton") in saying that specialization enables societies to dimish the mean kinship coefficient r between the specialist and the reciever of his "altruistic" acts in Hamilton's unequation c/b < r. By specialization it is easier for me to help more people with less of effort. And so the kinship coefficient r between me and other members of the group can sink without acting as an altruist toward members of the group is becoming genetically unfavourable. So maybe in groups beyond hunter-gatherer-societies - in sendentary, complex, agrarian societies - the same "strong" kinship-altruism can be the underlying mechanism of the evolution of human altruism, even if the mean kinship coefficient r inside these societies is becoming lower.

Micael Ehn
My expectation is, that this rationality is important for the future study of complex societies and economies and for a discipline like Evolutionary Economics. (For a long time theory in Evolutionary Economics and in Historical Demography was not developed as it could have been, if taking William D. Hamilton and Evolutionary Psychology would have been taken into account as a whole.)

I have begun to work about this theory by looking for data in pre-industrial, agrarian societies worldwide, for example in Early Modern Age Europe where we have good data of all sorts about the development of societies: demography, personal income, reproductivity of different agrarian regions, their different degrees of division of labour. Examples are: Southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland. So that a comparative view and research is possible.

Now I have to read the paper "On the causes and effects of specialization - A mathematical approach" (2). But the paper "Modeling Specialization and Division of Labor in Cultural Evolution" (3) seems not to be available at the moment. It has five chapters:
1: Theoretic and Empirical studies of Division of Labor and Specialization: An interdisciplinary survey
2: Specialization leads to feedback cycles in cultural evolution
3: Under what circumstances can copying lead to increased cultural diversity?
4: Adaptive Strategies for Cumulative Cultural Learning
5: Temporal Discounting Leads to Social Stratification
- I have not published very much of my thoughts yet. Here you can find a short outline of them. But I am reading these papers with a lot of mixed emotions! Because they are the papers that I SHOULD (!!!!) have published 15 years ago! :-) Never mind! It is very welcome for me, not to be so alone any more with this themes, than I have been and I have felt with in the last two decades.

The economy of a village in pre-industrial times as a "modell organism"

For people, who are able to read german, maybe it is interesting, to read this review I have written in 2008 in which a lot of thoughts of my dissertation are outlined also: the economy of a village in pre-industrial times as a "modell organism". And there is given some german scientific literature of agrarian history, that is very useful for this work (e.g. Bernd Herrmann, Ernst Pitz, Michael Mitterauer, Eckart Schremmer and so on). Bernd Herrman for example has published - together with other researchers - a lot of good thoughts about a theory of the "flow of energy" in the village economy (that is always in one way or the other structured by division of labour). And demography is - according to Herrmann and coauthors - much more often in dependence of social factors but natural factors. Even in strange natural surroundings like Greenland, the Andes or the Oasis of Fachi.

So a good theory of division of labour has a lot to say for historical demography. Here there are to be explored the so called "demographic regimes", the "Bevölkerungsweise" according to famous historical demographer Gerhard Mackenroth, the good friend of the famous Swedish social scientist Gunnar Myrdal. So we have reasons to look forward to a great contribution of Swedish science to the exploration of the function of complex human societies in evolutionary terms.

(It was some years ago, when the innovative research group of Magnus Enquist has already had come into my attention. Then I have made a research blogging post [in german] [4] about a paper concerning the human ability to differentiate between adaptive and maladaptive traits, which seemed to me also a very exciting and important point.)

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  1. Micael Ehn, Anna-Carin Stymne and Magnus Enquist: Specialization: A Driving Force in Cultural Evolution – Theory and Data. EHBEA’11. 6th International Conference, March 24 - 26, 2011, Gießen, Germany, PROGRAMME & ABSTRACTS
  2. Micael Ehn: On the causes and effects of specialization - A mathematical approach. University dissertation from Västerås. Mälardalens högskola, 2009
  3. Micael Ehn: Modeling Specialization and Division of Labor in Cultural Evolution. University dissertation from Västerås. Mälardalen University, 2011
  4. Bading, Ingo: Die menschliche Fähigkeit zum Unterscheiden von günstigen und ungünstigen kulturellen Merkmalen, Studium generale, Research Blogging, 31.8.2008

Dienstag, 13. September 2011

Hamilton's Unequation and the Principle of Division of Labour in Complex Societies

A naturalistic theory for Adam Smith's principle of division of labour

The evolution of "strong" altruism is possible according to Hamilton's unequation c/b < r

Yet, in research seldom it has been asked for the consequences of the division of labour (according to Adam Smith) for the evolution of altruism in complex systems and societies. Division of labour diminishes the costs of an altruistic act (c) and enhances the benefit (b) of it by professional specialization. So the mean kinship coefficient r between the altruistic specialist and the receiver of his altruistic acts should be able to be lower than without division of labour for evolutionary stability of this form of altruism.

The "jack of all trades" is not able to act for so many people so easily in altruistic acts than the professional specialist in a well-organized complex society. A pediatrician needs to save the life of 20 children with a mean r of 0,05 to him to do the same - in evolutionary terms - as to rear one own child.

In the theoretical thinking about the evolution of altruism in complex societies at the moment group selection is favored by a lot of scientists (the theory of "superorganism") (W.O.H. Hughes, Samuel Bowles in "Science", E.O. Wilson, D.S. Wilson and B. Hölldobler in "PNAS" and elsewhere). We have hints, that this form of cooperation has to be maintained by "increased rates of dominance, policing, or punishment" (1). But is it possible, that the effects of division of labour are playing a decisive role in the evolution of altruism, cooperation and commitment mainly in complex societies and complex systems (multicellular life) by avoiding such mechanisms of dominance, policing or punishment?

Most societies in human history are confronted with social, not with physical constraints for the growth of their population. If this constraints were diminished by division of labour, by acts of altruism done by professional specialists, than these societies and their inner cooperation could be stabilized by the motivation of kinship altruism even in the greater societies that show diminished mean kinship coefficient between its members.

Hamilton's famous unequation and Adam Smith's principle of division of labour

Hamilton's unequation in words: The (fitness-)costs of an altruistic act divided by the (fitness-)benefit of an altruistic act have to be smaller than the degree of relationship between the altruist and the receiver of the altruist's act. This is the condition of the evolutionary stability of altruistic behaviour. The certain values of costs and benefits are modulated by a lot of circumstances, which have to been taken into account. Since Adam Smith for example it is common sense, that division of labour and specialisation can increase the benefits and diminsh the costs of an altruistic act. By that the degree of relationship between actor and recipient can be reduced, to be evolutionary stable. This way of thinking hasn't been very much explored yet. But this formular can be applied not only to complex human societies, but even to complex, mulitcellular organisms up to organisms, which live in groups and states of every kind.

At first instance this way of thinking could be applied to the first, simple, sedentary tribes, farming communities which have more than 500 members or so. In societies with less than 500 members one has to suppose that simple kinship altruism dominates (for more details, see: 2). But if societies grow, the importance of division of labour for the structuring of societies and social exchange inside of them grow, while the degree of relationship between the members of a given society declines. No one knows at the moment which of both grows or declines faster in relationship to the other. So, could it be, that the principle of inclusive fitness comes into play through specialisation and division of labour even in industrialised, complex societies?

Correlated and uncorrelated growth of population and economic complexity

Someone has to pay attention to a lot of laws, if he explores the connection between kinship altruism and divsion of labour. At first instance there is the law of growing complex societies: At the one end there exists for example modern India for a lot of decades in the last hundred years: Population growth without very much growth of economic and social complexity. The consequence is diminished well-being and diminished whealth of the whole society (see for example slums and so on). At the other end there are for example the western industrialized societies (Western Europe, North America, Australia): Population growth parallel to the growth of economic and social complexity (at least before the invention of the "pill" and the demographic change during the 20th century).

A naturalistic theory of division of labour has to be developed by acknowledging this two possibilities of population growth. The (fitness-)“value” of one specialist for his group, his society depends on the conditions and laws of the former growing of his group or society up to this situation, up to this state of affairs. In Western Europe there existed - for example - the “european marriage pattern”: Someone was able to have children, to  marry and to build a family, if he had a secure position, profession in the complex society of his group. By this rule or pattern population growth was connected to the growth of social and economic complexity. On the whole, growth of the population wasn't possible by diminishing the well-being of this society.

Someone has to explore, for example, how population growth in societies in pre-industrialized times was regulated. Every region, every society, every ethnie followed different laws and different time scales of its growth (or even decrease) of population due to its special historical, economic, geographic, social and cultural circumstances. In european history mostly enhanced population growth in a country correlated with the political, cultural and economic predominance, leadership of that country in that special phase of history. Often this countries and phases are regions and phases of a lot of cultural, scientific, technical, social inventions and innovations. Examples are North Italy, Southern Germany and the Netherlands in the times of the Renaissance, France in the times of Louis XIV’s, England in the times of queen Elizabeth I., Germany in the times of Bismarck. At the end of the 19th century France had a very slow population growth, while Germany had a very strong one. 

Bavaria, Austria and Switzerland

On a smaler scale: Population in Bavaria and Austria was mostly stable after the re-invention of the catholic faith and the expatriation of the protestant middle class specialists in the 17th century. At the same time the protestant regions – the Netherlands, England –, which had been able to maintain their religious freedom and protestant faith, flourished (in well-being, population and economic complexity).

On even smaler scale: Switzerland, Austria and Bavaria can be divided into different ecological zones which correlate with different economical zones. The inner alps followed different laws of population stability and growth than the pasture regions.  And the pasture regions followed different laws than regions, where cultivation of whine, vegetable and corn dominated. In the detailed circumstances of the given regional society and the given circumstances of every day life and economic conditions we have to find the hidden laws, which have to be explored to reach a formular, by which someone is able to estimate the importance and role of kinship altruism for the evolution of complex societies. In the detailed circumstances of the division of labour in the primary, the secondary and the tertiary economic sector of a given society.

I began a dissertation about this theme in 1996 at the University of Gießen, Germany. Because of a lot of circumstances the work hasn't brought to an satisfying end yet. But even 15 years later, I think that this work about the relationship between kinship altruism and division of labour in the development of complex societies in human history worldwide is still worth to be done.

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  1. Kellner, Katrin; Heinze, Jürgen: Absence of Nepotism in Genetically Heterogeneous Colonies of a Clonal Ant. Ethology, 117/2011
  2. Samuel Bowles; Herbert Gintis: A Cooperative Species: Human Reciprocity and Its Evolution. Princeton University Press 2011 

Freitag, 27. August 2010

Consumer Genetics

There is a good letter in "Nature", 26.8.2010 by Christopher Kanan, discussing consumer genetics:
Consumers have a right to affordable genetic testing

There is no good reason for people to have access to their personal genetic information only through medical experts, as Arthur Beaudet suggests (Nature 466, 816–817; 2010). Such tests provide an incentive for consumers to learn about genetics and to support genetics research, while encouraging them to make reasonably informed decisions about their health.

Consumers have a right to acquire affordable information about their genetic profile. Independent studies could verify the quality of the data gathered, and this could easily be done by product-review organizations such as the US-based Consumers Union.

Regulating the quality of data interpretation would be harder, especially because data-inference models improve over time. Companies should explain that their models for interpreting genetic material are probabilistic and imperfect. They should also reference the studies used to generate these models and allow users to download the uninterpreted data.

Some companies warn consumers that they should not change their lifestyle if they learn they have a higher risk of a disease. But if a test indicates that a person's risk of developing heart disease is above average, they may exercise more and eat better. Is this any worse than changing your behaviour because your father died of heart disease?

Beaudet suggests that ancestry tests may be acceptable with limited regulation, but that using the same genetic material to infer health-related information should have medical approval. Why should one type of genetic test be acceptable and the other not? Consumers may make life-altering decisions based on that information in both cases, but the fear that this information will harm them is speculative.

Because some genetic tests may have to compete with less expensive, direct-to-consumer products, people calling for a ban on such tests should declare any competing financial interests.
Caution is recommended - but basically the information about his own genetic heritage should be free for everyone and should be given without much paternalism.

Freitag, 16. Oktober 2009

About "Studium generale"

In the "profile" there is not enough space to give an acount of my interests in science and research. So I like to give this here.

I have studied history, biology and philosophy.

At the moment I'm interested in ...

... the evolution of (professional) commitment in complex societies: Especially in the relationship between kinship-altruism and the divsion of labour in complex societies. (The evolution of the "Prinzip Verantwortung".) Theory (W.D. Hamilton's r>C/B) proposes, that a) commitment (= altruism), b) the grade of economic complexity of a society and c) its demography are interwoven and connected with each other - not exclusively but also - via kinship-altruism. And that means: kin-recognition and the finetuning of the grade of genetic relatedness between people in historical and current societies via endogamy/exogamy could be pivotal in the long run. And because of that there is also an interest in a lot of empirical questions like

- the demography of complex societies, their "Bevölkerungsweise" (in the word of Gerhard Mackenroth), their "demographic regimes".

- the archaeological research about the first complex societies of humankind: the pre-pottery and pottery neolithic cultures in the Near East and Europe, their demography and their division of labour.

- the research about the economic and social history of pre-industrial European farming societies, their demography and their division of labour.

- the reproductive benefits of religiosity ("Evolutionary Religious Studies").

- Lewontin's Fallacy (= ideology instead of science).

But I'm interested also in general questions

... about biological evolution (e.g. Joachim Bauer, Simon Conway Morris) and in all new trends in human genetics and sociobiology, in "group selection theory" and "social brain theory" (Robin Dunbar),

... about the evolution of altruism and spite, deception and self-deception, cheating and cheater detection, especially ...

... about the history and current political influence of Intelligence Services, Lobby groups, freemasonry, political murder, corruption, disinformation and manipulated democracy (e.g. Regina Igel's "Terrorjahre"; Wolfram Baentsch's "Doppelmord an Uwe Barschel", Kevin MacDonald's "A Culture of Critique"),

... about the philosophy of a naturalistic worldview and

... about new forms of non-monotheistic religiosity and philosophy in the 20th and 21st century in Germany, Europe and worldwide.

Montag, 18. Februar 2008

The reproductive benefits of an anthroposophic lifestyle

Abstract

Scientific data about people following an "anthroposophic lifestyle" show that new forms of religiosity and spirituality developed mainly in the 20
th century are able to enhance birth rates of people, also of those who have left the traditional Christian churches.

The german version of this article can be found --->
here.


Introduction

The young discipline of "Evolutionary Religious Studies" (
ERS) has made a lot of progress in the last few years. (1 - 3) At the moment, this discipline is concerned in the first place with modern world religions or with tribal predecessors - like Judaism – which have survived in modern times. But what about their modern "successors"? Sometimes it is assumed that forms of atheism or "political ideologies" can be viewed as evolutionary and historical "successors" of the former, demographically successful world religions. But no one has ever been able to show, that atheism has a positive influence on birth rate, and on the stability of human groups over a longer time-span, which are some of the most important indicators of the evolutionary adaptability of elements in human culture.


So, we have to be aware that modern world religions and their most important tribal predecessor today - Judaism - are only a few thousand years old. This is a very short time measured in evolutionary periods. It is very plausible to assume, that they have been established in world history mostly by a process of cultural and genetic individual and group selection. Christianity for example has begun as a small religious sect and minority among other cultural, ethnic and religious groups which were formed by the majority of people in those days and which all had their own reproductive success and "group evolutionary stability" in their time. This means that they were able to maintain their own "evolutionary stable strategy" or "group evolutionary strategy", i.e., they were able to maintain their "reproductive regime". The last term is the English word for the German term "Bevölkerungsweise" introduced by the well known German demographer Gerhard Mackenroth (1903 - 1955).


But a lot of those cultural, religious and ethnic groups that have existed parallel to early Christianity have lost their former ability for reproductive success and group coherence in the centuries that followed, while Christianity successfully maintained its ability in world history for the next two thousand years. The roman Emperor Julian the Apostate, for example, was not able to maintain and reerect the former successful "group evolutionary strategies" of paganism of the ancient world in the face of upcoming Christianity in his times. There are a lot of other adherents of ancient religions and ethnicities worldwide who experienced failure in the face of the triumph of the world religions around the world.


There are a lot of good hypotheses why Christianity was so successful in evolution and history and why the old pagan religions were not able to maintain their "reproductive regimes". The most convincing is that it was the new scientific thinking of the Greeks which destroyed the former "reproductive regime" of the ancient world that was stabilized by tribal religiosity. And Christianity "imitated" the rationality in scientific thinking of the Greeks in the area of religion to an extreme that has never been seen in the world before. (25) But the rise of a naturalistic worldview and philosophy in the face of Christianity in the last thousand years has convinced a majority of people in the northern hemisphere that the old forms of world religions can not be any more the moral and religious stabilisators of a successful "reproductive regime" of progressive, enlighted, modern societies.


One may presume that from a historical point we are now at the beginning of another "phase transition" in world history (that is in the history of the northern hemisphere) which creates a new "reproductive regime", stabilized by a new, modern form of religiosity. *)


Today, more and more people are wondering about what kind of religiosity could stop the demographic decline of the western world and will thereby maintain the former reproductive success of the people in the northern hemisphere. It is obvious that atheism in the course of history has never had this quality. On the contrary, it has caused the described demographic decline. It does not even seem very plausible that atheism will achieve the quality to stop demographic decline in the future. (- Or will possibly such a fictitious world as the one shown in the famous novel "Brave new world" by Aldous Huxley come true by establishing such inhumane and apparently psychologically nearly impossible "reproductive regimes"?)


As far as I know at the moment, there is no scientific evidence in literature that shows a possibility by principle to enhance fertility rate of people in modern western societies by a modern religiosity of the 20
th century and not only by the ancient forms of religiosity of traditional world religions. These ancient forms have an above-average reproductive success today; because their successful "group evolutionary strategies" have been selected many centuries ago. And maybe the inborn psychology of the ethnicities in the western world have also been adapted to these ancient forms of religiosity in some way or other by living thousand years under their "reproductive regime". This is also assumed for the "Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence". (5) We can hypothesize about the decline of the frequence of "warrior genes" (MAOA-genes) or ADHS-genes in ethnicities of the northern hemisphere because of the more peaceful "reproductive regime" of Christianity, for example.


But most people in science at least do not assume, think, know or hope (6), that these old "reproductive regimes", these old "group evolutionary strategies" of the traditional world religions or of Judaism are of that kind of religiosity that will be of reproductive success for modern secular societies in the western world in the future. Atheism does also not seem to be a reproductive advantage to its adherents. There fore, could it be possible to establish a new religious "group evolutionary strategy" in modern societies, that is more successful in reproduction than atheism?


Methods

Is there any group that could be an example for this? A glimpse into literature about people following an "anthroposophic lifestyle" could be a hint. Anthroposophy was founded by
Rudolf Steiner (1861 - 1925). He was an admirer of Friedrich Nietzsche and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (7) but also in a way of Jesus and Buddha. Today, people following an "anthroposophic lifestyle" can be found in Western Europe (Western Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Great Britain) as well as in the United States and Australia. In Germany they run the most private schools in which they practise the so called "Waldorf-education". In Western Germany there are about 200 schools with 80.000 children.


They have their own Kindergarten, too, as well as their own "anthroposophic medicine", physicians, hospitals and old people’s homes. These are all indicators for a high social engagement and shows social responsibility. These are also indicators for areas of prevailing female activity. Example: More females than males are among the patients of anthroposophic physicians. And it is a fact that only very few women are members of atheistic organisations - for example of the german "
Giordano Bruno-Stiftung". (22, 23) (The same is true for the "Brights movement").


A lot of people following the "anthroposophic lifestyle" work at universities and in medical research, they have their own established research programmes and scientific journals. People who are living a so called "anthroposophic lifestyle" have been object of various studies and meta-studies in medicine (8 - 13). They have also been focused on in education research (14, 15) and religious studies (7, 16 - 20).


Results

Thousands of people with an "anthroposophic lifestyle" have been subject of scientific research in various areas. (8 - 20)


In general: The underlying trend and some of the more important results are: There are a lot more people among them with academic education than in control groups, and less people living alone compared to control groups. Children who experience Waldorf-education have more brothers and sisters than control groups. Family size or the "number of people per household" are slightly above the average. There are much less smokers and people being overweight among them.


Attitude towards the Steiner philosophy and Waldorf-education: What about religion? Regarding this group this is a very complex question, because the majority of people following the anthroposophic lifestyle seem not to identify themselves with the anthroposophic philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. The majority of them have a sceptical attitude towards the Steiner philosophy. But in what do they believe instead? 1.124 of persons who experienced Waldorf-education were asked in the winter of 2004/05 in questionnaires about their life, their religion and religious attitudes. This study group was born between the 1930s and 1970s. (14 - 16) The results: 60 % are sceptical towards the Steiner philosophy or reject it. But 80 % of them would repeat their Waldorf-education.


This means that there is obviously a high identification with the practical consequences of this philosophy but not with the philosophy itself. And this may be typical for people with an anthroposophic lifestyle. But we have to be aware of the fact that there might be a minority - an "inner core" of adherents of the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner - who seem to be essential for the coherence, the survival and the growth of the group and its social activities for over eighty years now.


Political orientation: Half of the mentioned 1.124 people sympathize with political parties. And half of those sympathizing with political parties are sympathizing with the German party "Bündnis 90/Die Grünen" (the green party). And half of the other halve of people sympathizing with political parties are sympathizing with social democracy.

Birth rate:

692 of the 1.124 had children (61 %) and 352 (30 %) did not have children. 50 % of them were between 30 and 37 years old. 253 were between 64 and 68 years old and had an average of 2,2 children per person. 236 were between 50 and 60 years old and had 2,0 children per person. 542 were between 30 and 37 years old and had 0,9 children per person till now. (15, p. 6) If these 542 with some plausibility will have at the end of their lives twice as many children as now, they will have 1,8 children per person. And this would mean a birth rate of the whole study group of 1,9 children per person. (24)


Membership in churches:

In Western Germany in the year 2004

19 % of the people were no members of a church and 74 % were members of a Christian church.


(In
Germany as a whole in the year 2005 there were

32 % with no membership of a church and 65 % members of a church,

that is because in the former [predominantly atheistic] Eastern Germany in the year 2005 there were

70 % with no membership in a church and 27 % members of a church.)


In the whole study group of 1.124 people who experienced Waldorf-education (all from
Western Germany) there were

43 % with no membership of a church and 57 % members of a church.

Briefly, among people following an anthroposophic lifestyle there are more than twice as many people who have left the traditional Christian churches than in the control group. This is also true for the older people, born in the 1930s, but there is an upward tendency among the younger persons.


This is a case that seems not to have been studied very often in "Evolutionary Religious Studies" yet: Non-membership in Christian churches twice as much than the average and birth rate above the average. And at the same time a group with members with academic education above the average too.


Here are some more details: Among the members of a church of the 1.124 (this means among the 57 % of the whole of the study group):

55 % are members of a protestant church,

17 % are members of the Catholic Church,

17 % are members of the anthroposophic "Christengemeinschaft" (founded in 1922 in cooperation with Rudolf Steiner but without him being a member and still without acknowledgement of the official and established protestant church in Germany)

10 % are members of Judaism, Buddhism or other religious communities.

We can recognize a development towards more Catholics (27 %) and less members of the "Christengemeinschaft" (12 %) among the younger persons of the study group.


Church-membership and attitude towards Steiner philosophy as demographic factors:

There is not so much difference in the identification with anthroposopical philosophy of Rudolf Steiner among members of a church and non-members of a traditional church. Only the members of the "Christengemeinschaft" identify significantly more with the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. Maybe they belong to the ideological “inner core” of the Steiner movement.


Among the 692 with children, 60 % are members of a church and 40 % are non-members. Among the 352 without children, 50 % are members of a church and 50 % are non-members. (
15, p. 193) Among the 692 with children, 43 % have a positive attitude towards the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner and 56 % do not. Among the 352 without children, only 34 % have a positive attitude towards the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner and 65 % do not.


Thus, we can conclude that church-membership as well as a positive attitude towards the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner have positive effects on the birth rate. But church-membership has even stronger positive effects.


Religious orientation in a broader sense: The 1.124 were also asked to answer "Yes" or "No" to the sentence: "The thought about a higher cosmic order gives meaning and orientation to my life."
("Der Gedanke an eine höhere kosmische Ordnung gibt mir Sinn und Orientierung in meinem Leben.") 58 % answered "Yes."


Discussion

What can be said about the results all in all? Birth rates of church-members with Waldorf-education seem to mirror the birth rates of church-members of
Germany as a whole. They are also slightly above the average.


But the most remarkable result is: Non-church-members with Waldorf-education seem to have birth rates not very much below birth rates of church-members. And because non-membership of churches in this group is above the average compared to the whole of
Germany, the birth rate of people following an anthroposophic lifestyle which is slightly above the average cannot only be caused by the church-members in their rows. The non-members among them also have birth rates slightly above the average compared to Germany as a whole - and at least compared to non-members of churches of the whole of Germany.


This is simply what can be said at the moment about the published data. For a deeper understanding of the religious demography of people following an anthroposophic lifestyle we have to await more precise data than those published until now. E. g., there is still no answer to the question, if church-members have bigger families (i.e. more than two children) than non-church-members.


Michael Ebertz interpreted the results saying (16) that there are two kinds of religiosity in modern people (21). On the one hand there is the institutionalized one: people are members of churches. But on the other hand there is another one which he calls the "universal religion" that means the belief "in a higher cosmic order of the world". He also calls it "vitalistic" worldview – let me call it “monism” in the sense of Ernst Haeckel. Ebertz also assumes that the former kind of religion is often overlapped by the second kind of religiosity that differs in many ways from the former. And the data show that this second kind of religiosity seems to be able to influence the birth rates as well. - At least when it is framed by a social setting like the one of an "anthroposophic lifestyle".


And, to my mind, it is of the utmost importance to underline again that this modern belief and religion Albert Einstein and many other people and scientists have adhered to – or that is not refused by people like Richard Dawkins has also the quality - by principle - to establish a "reproductive regime" that seems to be necessary for the demographic survival of the western world.


Ingo Bading, M.A., Berlin, Germany



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*) One may presume even more within a pure naturalistic worldview - and together with philosopher John Leslie or palaeontologist Simon Conway Morris (4): That religiosity itself is hidden in the inner heart of all natural existence, in the heart of the big bang ("anthropic principle"), in the heart of evolution and human evolution - in the past as well as in the present and future. And this may be the reason, why human religiosity in itself has often such a high level of evolutionary adaptability. Even if these thoughts are only hypotheses, not proved facts, they can give motivation to formulate hypotheses that more easily can be proved than the philosophical hypotheses as such.

_________________

1. Wilson, David Sloan: Darwin's Cathedral. Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society. University of Chicago Press 2002

2. Sosis, Richard (2000 - 2008)

3. Blume, Michael (2006 - 2007)

4. Conway Morris, Simon: Life's Solution. Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe. Cambridge University Press 2003
5. Cochran, Gregory; Hardy, Jason; Harpending, Henry: Natural history of Ashkenazi Intelligence.
Journal of Biosocial Science, 2006

6. Dawkins, Richard: The God Delusion. 2006

7. Blume, Michael: Anthroposophie - Religionsdemographische Betrachtungen von Ingo Bading. At: "Religionswissenschaft aus Freude", Scienceblog of Michael Blume, 20.02.2008, see here.

8. Roland Unkelbach u.a.: Unterschiede zwischen Patienten schulmedizinischer und anthroposophischer Hausärzte. In: Forsch Komplementärmed 2006; 13:349–355, Published online: November 3, 2006

9. Gunver S. Kienlea u.a.: Anthroposophische Medizin: Health Technology Assessment Bericht – Kurzfassung. In: Forsch Komplementärmed 2006; 13 (suppl 2):7–18

10. Helen Flöistrup u.a.: Allergic disease and sensitization in Steiner school children. In: J Allergy Clin Immunol, January 2006, Available online November 29, 2005

11. Harald J. Hamre u.a.: Anthroposophic vs. conventional therapy of acute respiratory and ear infections: a prospective outcomes study. In: Wien Klin Wochenschr (2005) 117/7–8: 256–268

12. H. J. Hamre u.a: Anthroposophic therapies in chronic disease: the anthroposophic medicine outcomes study (AMOS). In: Eur J Med Res (2004) 9: 351-360

13. Johan S Alm u.a.: Atopy in children of families with an anthroposophic lifestyle. In: Lancet 1999; 353: 1485 – 88

14. Barz, Heiner; Randoll, Dirk (Hg.): Absolventen von Waldorfschulen. Eine empirische Studie zu Bildung und Lebensgestaltung. 2. Aufl. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2007 (St. gen.-Bookshop) [important parts of the text, introduction and formulars - all in german - can bee found at: www.waldorf-absolventen.de]

15. Randoll, Dirk; Barz, Heiner: Absolventenstudie zur Waldorf-Pädagogik (Deutschland). Tabellenband 1. (free download - pdf. ---> here.)

16. Ebertz, Michael N.: Was glauben die Ehemaligen? (= What do believe people that have experienced Waldorf-education?) In: see 14., p. 133 – 160

17. Hörtreiter, F.: Anthroposophie und christlicher Glaube. Eine Erwiderung auf Bernhard Grom SJ. In: Materialdienst der EZW 68/2005, S. 251 - 255 (---> here)

18. Bading, Ingo: Anthroposophen: Akademiker-lastige Gruppierung mit leicht überdurchschnittlicher Geburtenrate. At: Scienceblog "Studium generale", 22.01.2008 (---> here)

19. Bading, Ingo: Anthroposophen: Auch Neue (nicht-monotheistische) Religiosität in westlichen Gesellschaften erhöht Geburtenrate. At: Scienceblog "Studium generale", 15.2.2008 (---> here)

20. Bading, Ingo: Auch die konfessionslosen anthroposophisch Orientierten haben eine überdurchschnittliche Geburtenrate. At: Scienceblog "Studium generale", 17.2.2008 (---> here)

21. Campiche, Roland J.: Die zwei Gesichter der Religion. Faszination und Entzauberung. Zürich 2004
22. Bading, Ingo: Die Atheisten in Deutschland sind stark "Männer-lastig". At: Scienceblog "Studium generale", 20.11.2007 (---> here)

23. Salcher, Ernst: Ergebnisse der Befragung der Förderkreismitglieder der Giordano Bruno-Stiftung (Juli-September 2007) (pdf.) (free download: ---> here)

24. Bading, Ingo: Die positiven demographischen Auswirkungen eines anthroposophischen Lebensstils - Diskussion weiterer Details. At: Scienceblog "Studium generale", 26.2.2008 (---> here)


25. Assmann, Jan: Die Mosaische Unterscheidung oder der Preis des Monotheismus. Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich 2003 (The Mosaic distinction)

Montag, 14. Januar 2008

Simon Conway Morris, Stephen Jay Gould and Daniel Dennett

In an Interview (of "Monsters and Critiques") with Daniel Dennett (July 2007) there is a mention of Simon Conway Morris, which I appreciate:
M & C: (...) Before I move on to Consciousness Explained, let me sidestep a moment to your views on the late Stephen Jay Gould? You spent a good portion of 'Darwins Dangerous Idea' (= DDI) 'tattooing his intellectual ass.' What did you think of him as a thinker, scientist, and man? I ask because there was a famed brouhaha between the two of you. My opinion of Gould is generally favorable. In an essay and review of his final book I wrote:
(...) Yes, he had faults. His almost comical misinterpretation of the fossils found in the Burgess Shale, in his 1989 book Wonderful Life (one of his few published books that was not a collection of previously published essays), was totally devastated by Simon Conway Morris's 1998 book The Crucible Of Creation. He also denied that there were any trends in evolution when arguing against linearity or determinism, an addendum which kyboshed an otherwise valid point. (...) To his credit, in this book's preface, Gould admits his occasional faux pas: 'Although I have frequently advanced wrong, or even stupid, arguments, at least I have never been lazy.'
Would you generally agree with that assessment? You too seem to feel Gould totally flubbed the Burgess Shale fossils. In effect, he claimed that the Cambrian Explosion could have led to wholly different bodily forms than the symmetrical sort we see now. He mistook body parts for whole bodies, looked at front ends of bodies as rears, ups as downs, etc., and generally tried to impose his presuppositions for reality. Yet, despite that, he was a tireless defender of rationalism, even if his conclusions differed from others. If you agree with that view of Gould, why the hell are not real debates and disagreements in science, such as you vs. Gould, put out for debate amongst the masses? (...)
Daniel Dennett: I see Gould quite differently. He was an academic bully, who exploited his scientific credentials to push his political views—or maybe they were closer to religious views. (Remember: I started out as a friend of his; I often attended his seminars at Harvard but eventually I got so annoyed with the way he would misrepresent his critics and bully the students that I had to leave.) When I wrote DDI, I knew I was going to have to expose Gould's history of misrepresentation—since he was going to hate my book, and would pillory it with his usual tricks if I didn't attempt to preempt that vilification effort with an analysis of his own work. Gould had been selling America a watered-down and distorted version of basic evolutionary theory for decades, and when I pointed this out, he reacted--not unreasonably!-- with a venomous attack on what he called my "Darwinian fundamentalism," but, you know, the evolutionary biology community knew I was right, and said so. (I am not alone in incurring Gould's wrath: I'm proud to stand with Richard Dawkins, the late, great John Maynard Smith and Steve Pinker, as sane and forthright a team of "fundamentalists" as one could ask for.) (...).

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