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Thread: Science and Islamic practices

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    Default Science and Islamic practices





    The map above shows the distribution of consanguineous marriages.

    With a more fluid and harshly meritocratic global elite the attraction of cousin marriage seems to have diminished in the Western world.

    The same dynamics do not necessarily apply outside of the developed world. A friend whose father is Arab once explained that cousin marriage was so pervasive in that culture in part because you marry who you meet, and it is difficult in Arab societies for men to meet women who were not their cousins.

    But thatís the cultural anthropology. What may be fit for a cultural kin-unit may not be biological fit for individual lineages. What are the risks of cousin marriage? Most obviously there are recessive diseases. Those illnesses which are expressed when you carry two malfunctional copies of a gene. Cystic fibrosis, tay sachs, various forms of deafness. Why is it that cousins have a higher risk of this occurring? Because two cousins are much more likely than two random individuals to share the same distinct gene from a common ancestor, because their common ancestors are so much more recent. More precisely the coefficient of kinship between two first cousins is 1/8. That means that at any given locus thereís a 1 out of 8 chance that the two individuals will have alleles which are identical by descent, which means that the genetic variant comes down from the same person in the family line.

    If the allele is ďgood,Ē that is, totally normal/wild type, not associated with any pathology, then weíre in the clear. Thatís why most first cousin marriages donít produce children who are monsters. What a first cousin marriage does is change the odds. How you present these odds matters a great deal in how scary they sound. If I told you than the chance of first cousins having children with a birth defect is 4-7%, vs. 3-4% for a non-consanguineous couple, it might not sound that bad. But if I told you that the odds of having a birth defect is ~50% greater, then it sounds worse. Additionally, the costs of congenital illness are born by the offspring, and society through health insurance premiums. If you compared a society which had a tradition of universal first cousin marriages vs. one which didnít, youíd see 50% more birth defects in the former society in the aggregate, all things equal.

    But thatís the not the only issue there. There are two problems of common cousin marriage that make it worse. The first is the purging of genetic load which occurs when you expose deleterious recessive alleles. Remember that low frequency recessively expressed alleles arenít exposed to natural selection because theyíre mostly found in heterozygotes. This means they get to float around in the gene pool for very long periods of time. In plant breeding you can just ďselfĒ the plants, which will expose the alleles rather quickly, since selfing is an extreme form of inbreeding, purging heterozygosity. The deleterious alleles then are removed from the gene pool through the death of individuals who carry them in homozygote state. The theory is that some human populations which practice cousin marriage at higher frequencies may have a lower frequency of deleterious recessive alleles.

    Pedigree collapse. Iíve been talking about marriages between first cousins throughout this post, but thatís really a small issue next to this. Even first cousin marriages produce individuals with a fair amount of inbreeding. I ran a test for runs of homozygosity in my 23andMe genetic profile and I got 3 hits, while a friend whose parents are first cousins got ~70 (the parameters for the test arenít important, just giving a relative sense). For inbred clans it gets much worse because people are related in many different ways, and genetically are far closer than first cousins.

    Cousin marriage in the Middle East among many Muslims has some cachet because of particular hadiths which point to this practice as preferred. Setting religion aside, there are also social reasons why this practice is common. As I noted above sex segregation means that you may not know women outside of your family well, and in some societies where veiling is practiced it may be that you do not see many women you are not related to (even if veiling occurs at puberty, you may have seen your cousin at a younger age). Marriages are bonds which may tie a family into one operational social unit, and so produce a powerful inbred clan.

    Consanguineous marriage is not declining in much of the Muslim, especially Arab, world.

    The American perception of inbred people is not particularly positive, and the accusations of being inbred are used to mock and humiliate. But when it comes to the issue concerning Muslims it is different, because consanguineous marriage is a feature of the Muslim community, and there are issues of religion which are operative. It isnít just custom and tradition which are driving many Muslims to marry their cousins (perhaps more accurately, parents are demanding their children marry their cousins). Marrying oneís cousin is a rather convenient way in which to allow more of your relatives to immigrate to the West. In a subculture where arranged marriage is the norm the marrying a cousin abroad seems eminently rational for the jihadiís prospects.



    http://tinyurl.com/Muslims-are-inbreds

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    Heh. I noticed they simply averaged the United States into a national figure. They didn't point out little pockets like Alabama or Kentucky. Yet neither of these two States are Muslim.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Into the Night View Post
    Heh. I noticed they simply averaged the United States into a national figure. They didn't point out little pockets like Alabama or Kentucky. Yet neither of these two States are Muslim.
    Aren't all the nations mapped by national figures?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Legion View Post
    Aren't all the nations mapped by national figures?
    Yeah, but that turns out to be a bit of a mistake when it comes to the U.S. at least.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Into the Night View Post
    Yeah, but that turns out to be a bit of a mistake when it comes to the U.S. at least.
    How so? Are you under the impression that a significant number of Muslims are marrying their cousins in Alabama or Kentucky?

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