RE: Group Selection

Gatherer, D. (
Thu, 18 Feb 1999 09:23:49 +0100

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 09:23:49 +0100
From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <>
Subject: RE: Group Selection
To: "''" <>

Aaron wrote:

'Chapter 1 of
> _Hutterite Society_ (Hostetler, 1974) clearly documents that the idea
> of
> communal living, sharing of goods, and detachment from family ties
> were
> founding principles of the first Hutterite colonies. Moreover, those
> early
> colonies were formed evangelically from populations that would not
> have had
> any special level of inbreeding. Clearly, the communalism preceded any
> genetic homogenization that emerged as a result of the isolation that
> set
> in later in reaction to persecution. Therefore, a special level of
> genetic
> homogeneity is not a reasonable hypothesis in explaining the
> communalism.
Yes, I think it is an important point that communalism preceded
genetic homogenization. I'd therefore agree with you (wow!) that this
has to be memetic. However, we also have to ask the question - how was
it maintained? The Hutterites made a success of communal living,
whereas more recent attempts (Hippie communes etc.) and older attempts
(English communal religious sects of the 18th and 19th centuries)
were/are usually abject failures. A memetic effect sets the ball
rolling, but it may be necessary to invoke a genetic explanation of how
it rolled uphill (so to speak). So yes, I share your skepticism towards
sociobiology (I know by now you are probably asking, who is this person
and what has he done with Derek...), but I think that where odd genetic
effects like inbreeding are involved we may need it for a full


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