Travelogue: Diversity

Iceland is a barren moonscape created by tectonic plates rubbing against one another on something called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The result is a beauty you see nowhere else, but it also means not much can be grown on the island. The natives have to deal with a limited food supply from the ocean, thus developed a form of cannibalism in which the dead are processed into a product called Skyr. I’m kidding about that, of course. There are no cannibals on Iceland, but food is expensive and lacking in the sort of diversity we are used to seeing in the West.

The consequence of this is the range of desirable flavors in their food is very narrow. I was given a ham and cheese sandwich and surprised to learn how they eat them. Warm without any adornments or condiments. In the States, you would have more “other stuff” on the thing than the main ingredients. Most people would also have mustard or maybe mayonnaise as a condiment. Chatting with a couple of local women, they told me Icelanders think Americans make weird food that tastes funny.

That’s nature at work. Iceland was populated by Nordic males, who brought Celtic women with them. Recent DNA analysis suggests that around 66 percent of the male settler-era population was of Norse ancestry. The female population was 60 percent Celtic. They arrived, we think, in the year 874 AD, so this population landed on the island very recent. Inevitably some strong selection pressure was at work. You had to be within a small group, who would want to give it a go on Iceland. You had to have a certain constitution to thrive there.

Icelandic women are notoriously beautiful and that’s true, assuming you are a male from west of the Hajnal line. I could be wrong about that, but that’s my guess. The women are tall and thin with angular faces. You don’t see many fat women in Iceland, but that may be due to the cost of food. The other thing is the women do not wear much makeup, but when they do it, it is to accentuate their eyes. There is a great diversity of eye color with most being a shade of blue, but brown and green are common too.

I found myself staring at their eyes, registering the different colors and patterns. This was true in Ireland, but not so obvious. Many Irish women have let themselves go so they are not, on average, as beautiful as the Icelandic women. The Irish say the Icelandic settlers carried away the most beautiful Irish women. That’s a fun legend and probably a little true, but the numbers involved make that a bit implausible. What has ruined Irish women is alcohol and excess calories, but that’s true all over the West.

Diversity of eye color is a European thing. Africans and Asians lack this diversity and it is a good question for science to ponder. Humans evolved to be social animals and a big part of that starts with the eyes. There are something like 200 species of monkeys and apes with humans the only one with a visible sclera. That’s the white of our eye. In humans, it makes our eyes a signal. From any angle, we can perceive the thoughts, to some degree, of another humans. We can see where another is staring and infer something of what they are thinking.

This feature did not evolve for no reason and it is assumed to be a part of how we evolved as a social animal. Further, the diversity of eye color, as well, as hair color and texture, in European populations, is not an accident. If it had no value, it would not have happened. Clearly, diversity of hair color, hair texture, eye color and the features around the eyes began to have a reproductive advantage at some point. A purely social feature like eye color that is so strikingly different in Europeans, than anywhere else, suggests that European sociality may have evolved down a different path as well.

It is an example of what you hear from the more sophisticated in the HBD community. Early man in Europe was faced with much more difficult challenges than in Africa. As a result, males would have been at higher risk of death when hunting and traveling. When the sex ratio ceases to be balanced, when too many of one sex are competing for too few of the other, sexual selection intensifies. So a surfeit of females, relative to the male population, could have resulted in the diversity of eye and hair color, as women competed for the attention of males.

Put another way, environmental pressure changed the people, but then the people changed their environment, that is, their culture. Diversity of eye color, for example, resulted from nature killing off more males than females. That preference for diversity by mates would ripple through the population. People got better at being around people that did not look like them and better at having kids that did not look like them. Nature changes people, people change their culture and then the culture magnifies or mitigates the forces of nature.

It is what makes the Diversity™ rackets so craven and shallow. People are more than their skin, but that’s not what the grifters and charlatans would have us believe. According to the prevailing orthodoxy, people are all the same with pointless physical differences. Such thinking is anti-science and anti-human. It has been a long and complicated road for humans. No all of us went down the same roads or faced the same complications. Appreciating that is truly appreciating diversity.

29 thoughts on “Travelogue: Diversity

  1. Cochran talked in much detail about the spread of blue eyes in his book 10,000 Year Explosion. There an albino allele that started showing up 6-10 K years ago in Eastern Europe. The spread is easy to explain, but not the positive advantage for those with the allele. Was it related to Vitamin D production? Maybe. But the albinism seen in the OCA2 gene is also seen in other parts of the world. Even Amerindians show the albinism.

  2. This brings to mind the Russian fox experiment,, where foxes were selected solely for tameness, but over many generations they also showed morphological changes, such as spotted or mottled coloring. There was no direct selection pressure for those traits, only for tameness, but the physiological changes related to tameness affected other characteristics as well. It’s possible the variation in hair and eye coloring among northern europeans followed a similar path. Wheels within wheels.

  3. “Early man in Europe was faced with much more difficult challenges than in Africa. As a result, males would have been at higher risk of death when hunting and traveling.”

    Can you point me to support for this idea? I realize that life in a cold environment requires more preparation for both travelling and living, in general; but life is cheap in Africa, and death is just around the corner from a tremendous variety of killers; animal, vegetable and mineral, as well as environmental killers such as exposure to the harsh African sun, floods, quicksand and so on. If the lions don’t get you while travelling, the hippos might kill you at the river when you go to get a drink; or the venomous reptile might slither into your dwelling at night, etc.

    I’ve never thought of Europe as being particularly dangerous, except for the cold in winter, and the risk of being murdered by other Europeans.

    Some old African hands say, “Africa wins again,” when they hear of a friend’s death; it’s common. Not so much in Europe now, but was it ever?

    • The lack of food you can gather from around your camp is the most obvious. Europeans and Asians had to go greater distances to hunt. Winter is an obvious issue. Travel at any time is full of risk, but travel in the cold is especially risky.

    • A useful book to read on this is Nicholas Wade A Troublesome Inheritance. He covers the unique challenges of man as he conquered the world.

    • The impression I get is that life in Africa was (and is) much more random. You can’t plan for an elephant showing up and eating the entire village’s crop, or sleeping sickness, or a lion showing up and dragging off your toddler the way you can plan for winter coming every year. Every time I read a memoir about Africa, I’m struck by the sheer variety of ways people unexpectedly die.

  4. If you venture into the Netherlands, Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries, you’ll have a chance to see the last of the blue eyed blondes, in both males and females. They’re also tallest of the Europeans and last to integrate with our southern neighbors – thus they have retained their genetic traits without influence of more dominant genes. Germany has been mixing with southern genetics for several generations (mostly Italian and Turkish guest workers) so the traditional blue-eyed blonde German is becoming more and more rare here. Especially as ethnic Germans have fewer and fewer children.

    The Brits have the Nordic invaders to thank for hair color, eye color and language. Even to this day English last names that end in “-son” are more prominent on the eastern side of the country.

    • Are German woman dating/marrying Turkish men in large numbers? Do Turkish women date/marry German men? Who is marrying whom?

      • The data I’ve looked at suggests it is not common. This is not surprising. There has been a lot of studies on how we judge attractiveness and there’s good reason to believe we are programmed to like people who look like our family, not just our ethny. Women are far less inclined to date outside their race than men. Germans have the added element of Turkish tribalism. Turkish men are pressured to marry Turkish girls, often Turkish girls from back home.

  5. Have you read “Independent People” by Haldor Laxness? It’s an excellent example of the Icelandic temperament.

    • I have not. I put it on my list as it looks like a good addition to my study of Iceland. I’m now reading The Viking Age of Iceland.

      • It’s a funny thing. I like to re-read books. That one is so vivid that I still remember the characters.

        I like reading the sagas. It helps if you keep in mind that they were describing family traits, when they start out with the genealogy of the folks involved.

  6. I’d be careful with talk about how something would not have happened if there were no purpose in it . This gives the sense of teleological presupposition seen in Aristotle. Granted, whatever we are talking about may have some survival benefit, but this cannot simply be presupposed, too. The supposed survival benefit needs to be subjected to the formation of a testable thesis and either falsified or not. Note that it can never be confirmed in a positive sense, but can be used only as a working assumption in extension of the idea to other subjects.
    In this sense the arguments of the diversity worshippers are a little less ridiculous, but if we acknowledge our assumptions to ourselves it makes it easier to point out the same things on the other side without the appearance of stridency.

    • A random mutation that has zero reproductive benefit will show up everywhere in the species at a fairly predictable rate. Variations in eye color, for example, do occur outside of Europe, but they are very rare. The exception is in Europe so the question is why? Why would this benefit people? That’s the foundation of scientific inquiry.

      Clearly, conditions were different for humans in Asia and Europe than in Africa from whence they came. The Asian eye fold is one such result. Europeans eye color is another. This rather obvious bit of reality should lead one to ask, “In what other ways were humans forced to adapt?” Under current orthodoxy, the proper response is to deny observable reality.

        • There’s not obvious survival advantage to bright colored eyes and hair. Reproductive advantage is another matter. The use of color to compete for and attract mates is not a new thing in nature. There’s no reason to think this would not happen with humans, but it is odd that it happened only in a small area, Europe. There are other factors, therefore, that could be at work. The relaxation of selection for darker skin can explain the light skin of Europeans and Asians, but not eye color or hair color.

          • I’ve spent a lifetime trying to reconcile the Theory of Evolution with reality in vain. Perhaps a review of the title page of Darwin’s opus will shed light on the matter: ‘The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.’ Now, that’s confusing. Is it a scientific theory or merely a justification for mistreating the neighbors and feeling all high and mighty about it? The Master Race? The new Soviet Man? Mutant Ninja Turtles?

          • There may be some sort of survival advantage associated with light-colored eyes. As you note, there certainly is with light-colored skin, though the NEAsians aren’t nearly as completely light-complexioned as European. They have darker undertones, tan more easily, and for longer.

            One interesting feature of hair color is distribution, especially around the edges. The core part of Europe is mainly dark-haired, with some blonde mixed in. Red hair is only ever found in the British Isles, and then mostly in Ireland—the fringe of a fringe. Red hair especially tends to pair with freckles, extremely pale skin, and a broken tanning mechanism, reminiscent of pure cold-adapted man. Whether or not they are completely inseperable is up for debate, but it’s likely that genes for coloration tend strongly to affect the whole organism rather than just a specific portion, hence why all forms of white coloration tends to be submerged when mixed with nonwhite.

            I’ve seen Scandinavian-type skin described as “Nordic pale plus tanning”. Eastern Europeans, especially the Baltics, (and Scandinavians) have a platinum blonde hair that isn’t found elsewhere. Apparently they are also the most light-eyed, but I don’t know that for certain.

            I’ll end my ramble here.

          • Red hair is not exclusive to the British Isles if my personal observation is any indicator, though that’s an anecdotal and completely non-scientific observation to be sure. Sicilians have it, likely as a result of the Norse invasions, and I came upon it in a Berber tribe in southern Morocco as well, replete with green eyes, fair skin and freckles. An Irish citizen myself, I’ve never read of an Irish presence in the Souss. If I recall correctly, this feature is derived from the historical presence of the Visigoths, as is the case in Spain.

          • Red hair isn’t exclusive to the British Isles in the same way that light eyes aren’t exclusive to Europeans. There are some Middle Eastern groups in which light eyes make an appearance, evidence of an ancient phenotype now mostly submerged under an influx of Middle Eastern “dark” genes and natural selection for “dark” looks.

            Indo-Europeans once spread over most of the known world. Not all were light-eyed, but I imagine an astonishing percentage were.

      • Light eye color sees better in dim light where infrared spectrum dominates. Note white preference for blues, grays, and pastels.

        Dark brown eyes, more suited to direct or refracted (snowburn in glacial Asia) ultraviolet, prefer stronger primary colors- for example, the bright reds, greens, yellows seen in Mexican pageants.

        The African preference for scarlets, purples, golds, dark greens denotes a different spectrum sensitivity as well.

        • The change in hair and eye color happened relatively recently. Somewhere during the last ice age. Eye color and hair color are not dependent genetically. Separate loci that evolved independently. The sort of environmental selection you suggests would have required a much longer period to evolve. Sexual selection can accelerate the process. Think about what would happen if all of a sudden we began to believe right handed men are of lower status. In a short period of time, left handed people would rise to the top, breed with other left handed and select mates out of the lower ranks with left handedness. It does not take long for such a thing to have a impact on the prevalence of a trait in a population. The top can only have so many people so the less successful sons and daughters would drift into the lower ranks, taking their left handed bias with them.

          The other thing about bright colors in nature is they are either strongly identified with mating or danger. Danger would not have anything to do with reproductive advantage that I can think of, but it would be a good way to standout in the crowd when the brave warriors returned.

          • Sex selection: most men select for, especially after 35 years of marriage, when it becomes increasingly rare. From what I hear, anyway.

            Of course we are all the same. Doesn’t everyone eat crawfish with tabasco flavored ice cream?

            zman, what is the HBD community, please?

          • Human BioDiversity

            There are a number of people writing about this stuff for the average reader. There are some advanced guys too. Go to Steve Sailer’s blog and he has a long list of sites.

          • I have read (and can not link) that blue eyes are a more recent addition–post ice-age, 6k–and first appeared in the brown haired olives. If blue and grey eyes are more light sensitive they would not do well in ice-age Europe no matter the breeding advantages. One day skiing would convince anyone of that.

          • My mother has very light, watery looking blue eyes. She does not go outside without sunglasses, regardless of the time of year or it is very uncomfortable for her. The light sensitivity thing is no joke. I’ve got light brown eyes and I am noticeably more light sensitive and have much better night vision than my dark eyed husband.

          • My eyes are so light that in full sunlight they are sometimes so overloaded that they literally cross and I lose the ability to see much of anything.

            The struggle is real.

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