Re: how many bastards are there, anyway?

Stephanie G. Folse (
Wed, 4 Sep 1996 19:48:26 -0600

On Wed, 4 Sep 1996, David Vanecek wrote:

> Don't get to exercised with this E-mail...I am not trying to
> make any ad-hominem remarks, and regret any that may have
> slipped through.
> I consider this 'fun'.
> sgf ( wrote:
> : In article <505u99$>,
> : David Vanecek <> wrote:
> [all contributions heavily snipped. My replies are truncated]

[I didn't snip *too* much -- I thought it educational to let some of the
people over on sci.anthropology see the assertions...]

> : >Men *very commonly* in *many* societies at *all* levels of economic development
> : >live without significant relationships with women. There is no
> : Um, cites, please? In all the reading I've done for my degree, in most
> Monks, priests, soldiers, sailors, bachelors, scholars, divorced men,
> youths. Men with wives living separate lives. Wives kept in purdah.
> Monosex schools. Prisons. Pioneer groups. Lots of marriages after the
> fifth year. Upper class Russian life before Peter the Great.
> Vikings from Spring to Autumn. Many nomadic peoples.

Over ninety percent of humans marry. Most soldiers, sailors, bachelors,
scholars, divorced men, youths, students, prisonors, pioneers and so
forth marry. They expect to marry. They look forward to marrying. Lots
of them have sexual access to women and other men, and yet still marry.
The Catholic Church through the centuries has been rife with priests and
monks marrying secretly or at least keeping a long-term partner on the side.
It is part of human nature to form pair-bonds.

> There are many 'societies'. But they're small. What percent of
> humanity live in societies like that? 0.002? Paternity is
> important in: (1) European civilization, (2) Chinese civilization,
> (3) Indian (both Asian and American) *civilization*, (4) Semitic
> civilization. (5) African *civilization*, (6) Euro-Indian blend
> civilization (Mexico, et al.) That about covers it doesn't it?
> Then there are the surviving savages and barbarians that also dislike
> bastardry. What's left? Some island where Margaret Mead was misinformed
> whilst visiting. Some legendary people from the Amazon.

Well, I can see that you still subscribe to the stage-sequence evolution
theories that claim man's evolution progresses through stages
until it reaches the crowning achievement that was Civilization. We try
not to make value judgements anymore. We find it gets in the way of
scientific research. And that is why scientists prefer not to use loaded
words -- it cuts down on unconcscious assumptions on the part of the
researcher and the reader.

And you seem to think that a person living in a country that is
technically a "civilization" is automatically part of that system. Rural
India, Asia, Africa, lots of South America still live in traditional

> You reveal the central fallacy of anthropolgy, which I will now flay:

You are blind to anthropology. Anthropology believes that all *humans*
are "equal", and that *all* expressions of culture have legitimacy. You
cannot dismiss entire societies and cultural groups because they do not
fit your preconceptions of "civilization".

> It is to weigh some tribe of 150 savages, eking out their last three or
> four generations in some blasted wasteland, as
> 'equal' to, say, Chinese civilization, with a billion members.

"[A]ll infants born out of wedlock in China were considered legitimate."
--H. Fisher, _Anatomy of Love_, 1992. Even in a society where paternity
was considered important, the concept of "bastardy" didn't exist.
Cultural construct. Value judegment.

> Nearly all human beings now live in a civilized condition.
> Savages are no longer *important*. They were once: savagery
> marks the emergence of humanity from the bestial state. I believe it
> to be accepted fact that our evolution has essentially stopped since
> the beginning of savagery. (I.e. Cro-magnon). It is in this pre- or
> early-savage state that human evolution appears to have (temporarily?)
> frozen.

*Physical* evolution has slowed down -- because we evolved culture which
allowed us to fix problems manually (i.e., making clothes, planting seed,
medicines and so forth) that stopped physical limitations from killing
people in such lare amounts anymore. *Cultural* evolution is quite
active, and if you look at the way in which "civilized" societies are
fouling the nest -- overplanting, overirrigating, polluting, making
extinct, and so forth -- then it's quite possible that it's not suce a
good adaptation after all.

> My arguments are about our genetic inheritance as it affects human life,
> now. The savages will vanish. The future of the species is civilized.
> Savages and barbarians are unimportant except as examples of failed
> societies, failed solutions to the problem of being human.

Failed? "Civilization" has been around for less than ten thousand
years. Hunting and gathering (if we start from the Cro-Magnons) as a
human adaptation has lasted at *least* five times that. Individual
civilizations fall quite often -- Mohenjo-Daro. Sumeria. Maya. Inca.
Civilizations in a ncient Thailand and Africa (forgot their names,
sorry). Hell, even *Rome* fell. Our "modern" civilizations are built
around easy transportation -- access to oil. At the rate we are using up
oil, the world's resources will run out within forty years. What do you
suppose will happen to our Civilization then?

> : Explain societies in which illegitimacy has no consequences and yet
> : people still marry (i.e., most hunting and gathering societies). *One*
> You're the scholar and have the resources. Even though I disagree
> about the relevance of savages (what you call H&G's), could you
> research that one? There used to be some sort of card index of savage
> practices. Maybe just go through N.A. Indians. I find that substituting
> "some" for "most" in that sentence greatly improves its palatibility.

You are the one making the original assertion about
paternity/illegitimacy/and so forth. Therefore it is incumbent upon you
to be able to back up your argument. If you cannot provide the hard
data, then your argument lacks support. Don't try to push it off on your
detractors -- that just gives them more credence, because it seems that
you *cannot* supply the data.

> : of the primary purposes of the institution is to raise children. Another
> : primary purpose includes establishing ties with neighboring groups, in
> : other words, politics.
> Of course. Notice that it the children of such unions remain with
> the group that their parent joined. Are there really that many
> savages that don't understand that copulation leads to childbirth
> and that children have 'fathers'? I thought anthropologists spent

They understand perfectly that children have 'fathers." They just don't
give it the importance that you do. You are also ignoring all the
societies that implicitly recognize that you always know who a child's
mother is, but it is not that easy to recognize the father, and therefore
trace inheritance, descent, and power matrilineally. Or the others that
trace it through *both* lines. Not just hunting and gathering societies,
but agricultural and "civilized" ones also. One study looked at 139
groups worldwide and found that 64 were patrilinieal, 21 were matrilineal
and 54 were bilateral. (P. R. Sanday _Female power and male dominance_,

> all their time cataloging the thousand and one different refinements
> of kinship among savages. Aren't savage kinship terms evidence
> of their concern with paternity and maternity? Why are they concerned
> with that? Those savage societies are not like some teen-age
> orgy weekend. They're usually intelligent humans, with concerns almost
> identical with ours.
> Known paternity seems to be a requirement for rising above savagery. (It harnesses
> male work, binds men more strongly to females. If one has the
> concept (even at the *cellular* level) of progeny, one has a reason
> to accumulate surplus (stored) wealth.

So you think that "savages" *don't* know who the parents of their
children are? They spent forty thousand years that way -- seems a quite
successful adaptation. Agriculture didn't show up until 10,000 years
ago, in areas that had become too overpopulated to maintain those sizes
of populations. Some cultures went extinct. Others developed the
adaptation known as agriculture in order that they survive. How does the
concept of knowing paternity catapult a people from one stage of
subsistence to another? There are agricultural societies today that are
matrilineal or bilateral (Sanday, 1981).

> : Again, "bastardy" is a *cultural* *construct*, to be found in more
> ABSOLUTELY NOT. Just saying that does not make it true. It *might*
> be a cultural construct; the words are, some of the value judgements
> *might* be.

So you agree that it is a loaded word? Then why choose to use it, except
to add emotional credence to an argumant that doesn't stand up purely on
its own merit?

> Culture is, I believe you will concede, a nearly uniquely human attribute.
> But *many* sexually reproducing species are *very* concerned about
> fatherhood and motherhood. Some fish, insects and beasts are.
> Just why is that bull elk driving away those other bulls from his
> females? Why does that ewe refuse to suckle another ewe's lamb?
> Why does that lion kill all the stepchildren when he takes over
> a pride? It doesn't even require consciousness, just the rudiments
> of a central nervous system. The males of some sexually reproducing
> species, from spiders to humans, will fight or submit to death to
> insure paternity. This appears to be a hard-wired instinct. Humans
> can suppress instincts through reason (or fear), hence cuckolds.

So why did this desire to ensure paternity, which you say is the
rudiments of Civilization, and which you say *all* humans have, why did
it *not* be an organizing factor for at least fifty thousand years of H.
sapiens existence? What about H. habilis and H.s.neandertalensis? They
lasted for a hell of a lot longer than H.sapiens has so far, never
achieving anything more than a basic hunting/gathering society. How did
this instinct to ensure paternity work to change H.sapiens culture and
not that of other hominids? And whay did it wait for so long?

> : complex societies (i.e., more complex than bands and tribes). Many
> Anthopological semantic traps. Complex socieites means "civilization".

You got that wrong. Even from the sentence in which I used it, it was
clear I used "complex" to mean "more complex than a simple
organization." Which, by your handy little chart, includes something
other than "civilization."

> : value judgement on women being able to support themselves and their
> : children? Illegitimacy is not a *cause*, it is a *symptom*.
> This is a non-sequitor. I didn't place a value judgement on women's
> economic behavior, I made nearly no value judgements, I was very
> careful about that. One reason for the post was to observe what

"Bastardy" "Savagery" "Barbarianism" "Civilization" "Cuckoldry"
collectivist-pseudo-utopian' model of the family"

All quite free of emotional baggage, hmm?

> value judgements others would impute. Re-read this response. I have
> not made a value statement about savagery or barbarism, for example,
> although a reader might be certain by now that I have made judgements
> because of my preference for the words "savage" and "barbaric",
> into which the reader may have unloaded his or her emotional content.
> I prefer the classical terms to the modern taxonomy because they
> are more accurate.

Oh really? Define them, please, and explain exactly how "bastard" is
more accurate than "illegitimate," how "savage" is more accurate than
"hunter-gatherer", how "barbarian" is more accurate than
"nomadic/pastoral/herding/early agricultural" (*all* of which it tends to
be applied to, although they are not necessarily equal). And then
explain exactly how you exepct that everyone who reads this post will
*know* what you mean by "bastard" "savage" and "barbarian"? Words
change. You can't get over that fact. They are part of culture. What
those words mean today and what they meant in the nineteenth century,
when the stage-sequence evolutionary paradigm was first proposed are
*not* the same. You can't fight it.

> Women's dependence is a consequence of childbirth, bastard or not.
> This dependence can be eliminated by self-support, made obvious through
> marriage, or hidden through cuckoldry. Why do you imply that
> parasitism is a desirable condition for a woman? What is the net
> *biologic* benefit that accrues when resources are diverted from *your*
> progeny to that of a *stranger*? I ask for *net* benefit, i.e. enhanced
> survivability. Not items in the ledger, "Society is nicer if no
> baby starves to death" or "We all love each other". *Your* baby
> can eat *my* food after *my* baby is *fat*. We speak of genes, cells,
> survival, not esthetics or the good of some abstract society.

If *your* genes are bad and the stranger's genes are good, then that
person's genes survive and the human race continues. That's what has
happened. Good adaptations survive, bad adaptations die out. Evolution
does not operate on an individual level, but at a species-wide level. It
is a *fact* that adultery occurs on a widespread basis. Were there no
evolutionary advantage in it over the last fifty thousand years, then the
behavior would have died out in favor of humans that pair-bonded on a
permamnent basis, like gibbons.

Individual competition for genetic benefits exists. The individuals who
compete the best have progeny who survive. Seems to be quite obvious
from the evidence of cultural and biological mechanisms, that adulterers
have survived. Quite succesfully. Why should it lead to the downfall of
Civilization as we know it?

> : Children being raised by only their parents is a recent (i.e., last couple
> : of thousand years) invention.
> Now and the future are all that we can hope to control. They are all
> that matter. Xerox remarks about failure of savage and barbaric social
> organization here.

"Control" human evolution? I doubt it. That speaks of breeding
programs and eugenics, and the fact is that consciously, humans rarely
look past the short-term benefits of anything. Whatever we attempt to
control will probably end up backfiring because we flat don't know enough
to know what we should be controlling *for*. "Controlling" so that the
Best and Brightest Survive seems to me to be an easy trip into extinction.

> : In the social systems humans lived in for
> : a million years or more, a woman produces a child, takes the child with
> : her when she gathers until it is partially weaned and she can no longer
> : carry it. At that point, the child stays behind in the tribal village
> Eh, tribal villages are a "million years old"? Homo sapiens is a million
> years old? More like 50,000, right? Cro Magnon? Right? During the
> last glaciation, right?

Hunting and gathering as an adaptation has been around for over four
million years in human ancestors.

As for social organization, we have fossils that show that
individuals with injuries and deformities that would have so restricted
their movements so as to keep them from hunting and gathering effectively
were taken care of until they reached very old ages. This in
*non* *Homo* *sapiens* creatures. Do you think these guys just followed
the others around while they hunted and gathered? Each group seems to
have estabished some sort of "home base", for a few days at a time, or
for longer, perhaps, and the individuals went out to get stuff and
brought it back, leaving those who could not take care of themselves --
including children -- and their caretakers. Home base/village/whatever
you want to call it -- the nuclear family taking on all the work of
raising children has only been around recently.

Or do you think that humans sprang fully-formed from the earth at 50,000
B.C.E.? Judging by your grasp of anthropology, you just might.

> : and is watched over by older children and men and women who are older and
> A pretty, bucolic, idyllic picture. But, alas, one from prehistory.
> : nolonger go out hunting and gathering. The extended family was, for most
> All genetically related, typically. The tribe has now turned into an
> extended family. Which is it? When we say 'tribe' are we speaking of
> 150 people, like some jungle savages? Or hundreds of thousands,
> such as the barbarian Goths?

Band=25-40 people or so, Tribe= up to 400 or so, usually. The band is an
extended family -- uncles, aunts, cousins and so forth, related by blood
or marriage. The tribe is a collection of several extended families who
have kinship ties to each other at some level.

> : of human existence, a basic unit of child-rearing. I don't think it is
> : any coincidence that humans in modern welfare states no longer live in
> : extended families, and rely on the state as a surrogate family.
> Only a small percentage of civilized people use the state as a surrogate
> family. This is not the "done deal" that you suggest. Ghetto blacks
> in the US live this way, correct. Rural white people have this
> kind of life. All of them hate it, and wish it would go away. These ob-
> servations have led to my position:

So if only a small percentage of "civilized" people use the state, then
why are you so worried about it?

> I think it is a cuckoo's trick. The cuckoo has exploited the
> situation. The destruction of the extended (or nuclear, for that
> matter) family is not universal, but characterizes only the urban
> working class and small bourgeoisie. To study viable, vibrant,
> functioning extended families, simply examine (if you can-- *they don't
> like it*) any of the ruling families in the US or Europe. (Or Asia for
> that matter). Look for people named Rockefeller, du Pont, Kennedy,
> Rothschild, Krupp, Saxe-Coburg, (oops, make that 'Windsor'), Gupta...
> Care for more examples? Consider the Sicilian organized crime structure.

The elites are only a *very* *small* percentage of people in a society.
The vast majority are *not* elite, and have far more children in total
than do the elite, which should tell you something, and it is at the
level of the *non-elite* where the extended family has broken down, and at
which societies operate.

> The extended family business is something of a red herring. It is not
> relevant to the state of cuckoldry and bastardry. The current civilization
> destroyed the family (i.e. *some* families) to obtain economic
> and implicit genetic advantage. Encouraging bastardry is part of
> this ongoing operation. It has other parts, and bastardry has
> other backers, too. Don't look for a sinister conspiracy theory
> here.

Who said there was a sinister conspiracy theory? What I think, and
didn't say, is that human nature hasn't changed at all, and whatever
cultural adaptations exist, are *all* perfectly natural. I happen to
have a loyalty to the human race as a whole, I tend to be fond it as a
rule and downright attached to certain specific members. Arguing about
what will or will not pull a civilization down matters little to me --
I'm a little more worried about how modern civilizations are making it
very hard for the earth to support us *all*. Short-term gains.
Long-term losses. If civilization will destroy our habitiat, then it is
not a good adaptation after all.

> Consider that many ghettized African Americans function in a
> matrilineal extended family. Recall that rural white people live in

Many do. Many do not. And what percentage of Americans are rural?
Something like 3%? Really large evolutionary forces at work *there*, I'm

> close family proximity. Asians live this way. Do not project white
> US yuppy patterns too far. The 'yuppo-Hillaro-femino-academo-post-
> modernist-left-Bolshevik-collectivist-pseudo-utopian' model of the
> family as 'idle woman with her bastard children supported by men at
> large' is far from inevitable or universal.

Speaking of making value judgements.....

I have no idea where you got this, certainly not from *my* post. Or if
you did, then would you mind rewording it so it actually *reflects* what
I said?

> : The impending extinction of the chimpanzee has nothing to do with bearing
> : young out of committed pair-bond relationships, and has everything to do
> : with their shrinking habitats.
> I meant it rhetorically. That was unfortunate. The better example
> is the universal destruction of savage and barbaric cultures.

Which has nothing to do with bearing young out of committed pair-bond
relationships and everything to do with shrinking habitats.

(Why conquer a people? So you can take their resources. Why drive
chimps to exticntion? So you can the resources in their territory. Not
that much difference...)

> : Illegitimacy has been happening in the human race for millions of years.
> There you go again ;-). "millions?" We're much more recent.
> Don't tell me that a four-foot tall ape with a brain the size of
> an apple is 'human'. Ancestor, yes. Human, no.

Very, very, very, close to human, though. Don't try to deny it. Closer
than anything else living or extinct on Earth at this time. Everything
that humans do/behave/whatever has been informed by those four million
years. You don't throw off the effects of your hairy little ancestors
because all of a sudden you know more words than they do, or can paint,
or can create fine stone tools.

> Bestiality: >50,000 BC Homo habilis, erectus, etc etc: Not HUMAN!
> Savagery: 50,000 BC 'Homo sapiens' Maybe 100,000BC?
> Barbarism: 10,000 BC Agriculture, specialized labor. Large tribes.
> Civilization: 4,000 BC Cities, hierarchies, literacy. Super-specialization.

We have more accurate terms for these:
Hominids, Paleolithic, Neolithic, and so forth. Each term contains far
more information about an adaptive system than do your terms, *and* as a
bonus, are free of value judgements. Better all around.

> : Somehow I don't think it's going to spell the downfall of the human
> : race.
> Species? no. We have no competition except from microbes. Certain
> subgroups? Oh, yes. Ah: I see we agree-----vvvvv.

Except: I am not as enamored of "civilization" as an adaptation as you.
I think that we are just beginning to see the consequences of the
"civilized" adaptation, and lots of them are *bad*.

> : Social consequences that correlate with the occurence of
> : illegitimacy on a large scale in societies with a particular structure
> Particular structure means civilization, the only *important* human society.
> : may happen to assist in the downfall of that particular society, but the
> : human race as a whole is not threatened.
> Hey, in the long run all species are extinct. An individual acts in
> ways that do not reflect the long view, however. We do not seem to
> have a species-wide consciousness that is capable of overriding much
> more fundamental, ancient, genetic behaviors; why should they be over-
> riden?

What is good for the species in general tends to survive -- otherwise the
species goes extinct. We have survived this long, I suspect that it is a
good adaptation so far.

> Civilization is probably our only hope, and improving its quality our
> only means. Bastardry seems to thwart that hope and weaken the means.
> (There...finally some value judgements to be attacked.) It does this
> by rewarding indolence and parasitism and sapping motive for activity
> and independence. Have you noticed that governments use deadly force
> to collect welfare taxes? But that people will (often) voluntarily
> empty their wallets (and their veins) to repel an invader? That
> volunteers are absent for aggressive, political wars, but abundant for
> ones of survival?
> It is possible for children to be raised by strangers in a large-scale
> civilized society, but it would require the abolition of natural
> conception and childbirth, or at th least forced fostering of *all*
> infants. How else to keep someone from futhering the progress of his
> or her own genetic line? [Open to suggestions here].
> E-mail might be a more suitable medium for this discussion than
> a.f.u; I have removed a.f.u from followups. I will look on

I agree that it is off-topic for a.f.u, but it entirly *on* topic for
sci.anthropology. I don't think e-mail is a very good idea, just because
I suspect we both know that no matter what each of us might say, there is
very little chance of convincing the other of the validity of the other
stance. Debate in public, however, has the chance of allowing other
people input and provides them with entertainment which, I suspect, this
thread is mostly about anyway.

As I am a flawed person, however, I have restored a.f.u for this one post
in order that I may get my say in in front of the people who read the
newsgroup that has garnered the most responses. Followups redirected to
sci.anthro only, and anyone who wishes to stay in the fracas can simply
move over there.

> sci.anthropology. (A group I do not usually read, since I consider it
> a flawed science-- for reasons already mentioned and others.)

I note that those who dismiss anthropology like that have often only a
very rudimenatry idea of the science in general. Your post seems to
correlate with that observation -- what little understanding you have
shown of anthropology seems to derive from the popular media and not from
any anthropology texts.

Very good discussion of Social Darwinsim. I suggest you look into some
literature on the history of anthropological theory to learn just exactly
*why* it does not work as a paradigm. That was why it was abolished.
Not because of its use of value-laden terms (although that was a happy
consequence), but because it could not explain what anthropologists observed.

High points in anthropology, by Paul Bohannan and Mark Glazer.
The rise of anthropological theory, by Marvin Harris.

I will not bother to point out any more problems with the stage-sequence
model of evolotion simply because references exist that do it far better
than I ever could.

--Stephanie <*>
"Assiduous and frequent questioning is indeed the first key to wisdom ...for
by doubting we come to inquiry; through inquiring we perceive the truth..."
--Peter Abelard (..........I claim this .sig for Queen Elizabeth)