Re: culture as gene-flow regulator: the arunta

Len Piotrowski (
Tue, 24 Sep 1996 21:21:12 GMT

In article <529gma$> (Gerold Firl) writes:


>I should also note that the picture of arunta society presented by
>service described the situation as it existed in the late 1800's,
>before extensive disruption of the aboriginal lifeways.

However, it was also before systematic study of Australian aborigines and
modern anthropological methods.


>There were a couple of points about the difficulty of falsifying my
>predictions about arunta sexual behavior; given my lack of familiarity
>with the availible contact-era sources and with the current state of
>arunta culture, I can't really comment on that. however, I would like
>to address the question of how and why low population densities lead
>to social strategies for increasing rates of gene flow, since I get
>the feeling that not everyone understands the importance of genetic

Hypothesis: low population -> social strategies to increase gene flow.


>Population density determines how far a person must travel to find a
>suitible mate, and the arunta custom of widespread sexual activity at
>ritual gatherings is consistant with such a constraint.

This doesn't happen and has never been documented. There is no evidence of
this event as an Arunta (or any other aboriginal group) "social strategy."
However, what evidence there is of Arunta social strategy proscribes against
"widespread sexual activity," which directly contradicts your claim.

> I don't recall
>if service mentioned anything concerning the walkabout among the
>arunta, but again, such a custom would be consistant with a cultural
>adaptation for increased gene flow rates: hence my prediction that
>they get laid a lot.

Service provides for no such "walkabout" class, act, or custom, and
therefore it is not evidence of any Arunta "social strategy." Thus your
prediction based on this imaginary process is simply groundless and
contradicted by documented aboriginal social strategies of exogamous local
kin groups with cross-cousin marriage and particular lineal residence

Therefore, low population doesn't correspond with social strategies to
increase gene flow in the Arunta case. Your hypothesis lacks any supporting
evidence and is falsified by known social characteristics of the central
desert aboriginals.



"If you can't remember what mnemonic means, you've got a problem."
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