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An outdoor play where a Paekchong is about to kill a bull. In pre-modern Korea, the Paekchong were outcastes whose occupations tended to involve the taking of life, like butchery, leather making, and capital punishment. (source: Jon Dunbar, link)

Like Japan with its Burakumin, Korea used to have its own outcastes: the Paekchong (or Baekjeong). Today, they no longer exist as an identifiable group, and even their name is largely unknown to younger Koreans (Rhim, 1974). As late as the mid-20th century, however, they still numbered over 50,000, with most living in segregated ghettoes (Passin, 1956).

The Paekchong were considered behaviorally different. This was in fact the original reason for segregating them:

The Paekchong had to live in segregated communities not only by popular custom, but also by law, since the 15th century. According to the provisions of the Compilations of National Laws known as the Kyongguk-taejon, the Paekchong were limited to residence in only certain areas of the capital as well as in certain areas throughout the provinces. The rationale for these laws was that the Paekchong were originally vicious and uncivilized, and they enjoyed killing animals. They were, therefore, kept apart from the ordinary people in order to maintain public peace and public morals. (Rhim, 1974)

This view appears in the recollections of a Korean from a small farming town:

I remember very well,” he told me, “that when our parents scolded us for improper behavior, they used to call us ‘paekchong’. […] We thought of them as vulgar, unrefined. Not many of them went to school however, because even though there was no law against it, somehow they didn’t seem to have ambitions of that kind, or else they were afraid [of being insulted or beaten up]. […] “One of the things I remember especially is that they used to kill stray dogs. These were the people who would catch your favorite pet dog if you weren’t careful and cut him up. I remember one of them used to carry a long curved knife, rather than a straight one, and I was always afraid of it. He used to steal around the streets carrying a heavy stick and searching for dogs. When he caught one, he would beat it to death on the spot, its blood dripping right in front of our eyes. You can imagine how we felt about that. I still cannot get over the feeling that a man who kills dogs is the worst kind of human being there is. Killing cattle may be unpleasant, but it is a necessary profession. (Passin, 1956)

Today, such deviancy is put down to the effects of discrimination. Because the Paekchong were segregated, they ended up developing atypical and often dysfunctional behaviors. Because they were confined to ‘unclean’ professions that involved the taking of life, like butchery, they became insensitive to the shedding of blood and no longer felt revulsion at the idea of killing.

If we look at the historical record, however, the arrow of causality seems to point in the other direction. Ancestral Paekchong were already behaving differently at a time when they had not yet been segregated and when, in fact, much was being done to integrate them into Korean society.

Historical outline

When the Paekchong first enter history, they seem to have been a nomadic hunting people called by such names as Kolisuchae or Yangsuchuk:

In an entry in the annals of the Koryo dynasty for the year 1217, there appears an important new term—the kolisuchae—referring to the outcastes of the Silla period “The kolisuchae,” it says, “are the remnants of the Paekche tribes that T’aejoe (the founder of the Koryo dynasty in 918) found it hard to subdue. They have always been unregistered and exempt from tribute, and they like the nomadic life, changing their residence frequently. They engage only in hunting or in the making and selling of willow baskets. Also dancing girls come from these families.”(Passin, 1956)

[…] before the 13th century, the kolisuchae had specialized in basketmaking, hunting, and what might be called “entertaining”, that is acting, prostitution, etc. But by the beginning of the 13th century, hunting becomes less important, and slaughtering comes to the fore as a distinctive occupation of theirs. (Passin, 1956)

Being an alien people from Tartar, the Yangsuchuk were hardly assimilated into the general population. Consequently, they wandered through the marshlands along the northwest coast. They were engaged in the making and selling of willow baskets. They were also proficient in slaughtering animals and had a liking for hunting. Selling their wives and daughters was part of their way of life. (Rhim, 1974)

This population may have later absorbed other nomadic groups that drifted into the Korean Peninsula, particularly during the Mongol invasions:

[…] even these scholars who see the connection between the Paekchong and the Hangsuchuk of Koryo period do not argue that all of today’s Paekchong are descendants of the Yangsuchuk. They maintain that the alien tribe known as the Yangsuchuk is part of today’s Paekchong. Since the Koryo period, other alien peoples, such as the Manchurian Kitans and foreign captives taken during the wars, might have entered the Yangsuchuk. (Rhim, 1974)

Beginning in the 14th century, the authorities tried to integrate these nomads by forbidding them to wander, by making them take up farming, and by forcing them to intermarry. It was at this time that they were renamed Paekchong (‘common people’) with a view to making their integration easier:

Some time in the reign of King Sejong (1419-1450), it is ordered that the outcastes be called paekchong, that is “common people”, and that they be registered, settled down into fixed communities, transformed into agriculturalists, and even made to intermarry with the common people. But in spite of the efforts of the authorities, the outcastes themselves fail to cooperate—we read constant complaints of their backsliding, refusal to engage in farming, thievery, nomadism, etc.—and the common people and officials both refuse to accept them into their ranks. An extremely revealing entry of 1442 notes: “… it has been ordered that the name of the hwachae-chaein be changed to the paekchong, but officials and the people call them the ‘new paekchong‘ and look down upon them, saying that they engage in hunting. (Passin, 1956)

[…] But all along there are disquieting signs that the new policy is not working. The people will not accept them, they do not intermarry, they do not give up their bad habits of wandering, thieving, and illegal slaughtering. In 1435, we read that “most of the thefts in Kyonggyib are committed by the new paekchong. They rely on their horses and do no agriculture.” The Governor (Kamsa) of Ch’ungch’ong requests in 1437 that the “new paekchong“, who are causing a great deal of disturbance in his locality, be restrained. They enter the capital illegally and commit robberies, and they also slaughter cattle illegally. […] By 1451, we learn from the statement of a prison official that of the 380-some thieves and murderers held in all the provinces, half are chaein-paekchong (Passin, 1956)

By the end of the 15th century, this attempt at integration was recognized as a failure. Through official ordinances and popular custom, the Paekchong became confined to certain areas, usually on the outskirts of towns. They were now systematically shunned and spoken to as one would speak to children (Rhim, 1974). On the other hand, “they were left pretty much to their own devices, just so long as they did not disturb outsiders” (Passin, 1956). They were allowed to run their own communities and resolve internal disputes, except for serious crimes. They were also exempt from taxation, compulsory labor, and military service. Finally, they were given a monopoly over occupations that involved the taking of life (and which were considered ‘unclean’ by Buddhists), like butchery, leather making, dog catching, and capital punishment (Passin, 1956). These occupations often paid well, as one observer noted in the 1960s: “The Paekchong were not necessarily poor, and the butchers especially, maintaining good price controls and profit margins, are today comparatively well-off” (Henderson, 1968, pp. 53-54).

Conclusion

In contemporary social science, the Paekchong are seen through the lens of the discrimination paradigm. Discrimination excluded them from normal Korean life and thus kept them from becoming ‘normal.’

But normality wasn’t so wonderful in pre-modern Korea. It typically meant living in the same place year-round, doing the same kind of laborious farm work, and using violence only in self-defense or on behalf of the king. Although such an arrangement does bring some tangible benefits, it wouldn’t necessarily interest all humans, particularly those from a nomadic hunting background. Hunters have to move around continually because the land can support only so much wildlife. Hunters must also kill and get their hands bloody on a regular basis, be it the blood of animals or the blood of fellow humans. Indeed, each adult male is expected to defend himself and his kinfolk, since no police and no army exist for that task.

Such a social arrangement is very different from the one that had developed in Korea by the early Middle Ages. The shift to agriculture, serfdom, and a State-pacified society had created a new cultural environment that selected for a new type of human, one who was willing to stay put in one location, perform repetitive work, and forego violence.

This behavioral change can be understood in purely culturalist terms, i.e., the acquisition of a new personality type through learning and social conditioning. On the other hand, all of the relevant behavioral traits are highly heritable, e.g., monotony avoidance, time orientation, and ideation of violence (Horn et al., 1976; Jang et al., 2006; Saudino et al., 1999; see also JayMan, 2012). This is what gene-culture co-evolution is all about. We make new cultural environments, and these environments remake us. Culture has made us participants in the evolutionary process. Our manmade environment has thus been no less important than our natural environment in determining how we’ve evolved.

Indeed, it may have been even more important. We know that human genetic evolution began to accelerate 40,000 years ago, with the fastest evolutionary change taking place during the last 10,000 years (Hawks et al., 2007). This was not a time when our ancestors were adapting to new climates, landscapes, and ecosystems. Humans had already spread over the entire surface of the earth, from the tropics to the polar regions. Now they were moving into niches of their own making and having to adapt to new technologies, social structures, and behavioral norms.

References

Hawks J., E.T. Wang, G.M. Cochran, H. Harpending, & R.K. Moyzis. (2007). Recent acceleration of human adaptive evolution, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 104, 20753-20758.http://www.ts-si.org/files/RecentAccelerationHumanAdaptiveEvolutionPnas.pdf

Henderson, G. (1968). Korea, the Politics of the Vortex, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Horn, J.M., R. Plomin, and R. Rosenman. (1976). Heritability of personality traits in adult male twins, Behavior Genetics, 6, 17-30.http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01065675

Jang, K.L., W.J. Livesley, and P.A. Vemon. (2006). Heritability of the big five personality dimensions and their facets: a twin study, Journal of Personality, 64, 577-592.http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-6494.1996.tb00522.x/abstract?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false

JayMan (2012). All human behavioral traits are heritable, December 31, JayMan’s Bloghttp://jaymans.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/all-human-behavioral-traits-are-heritable/

Passin, H. (1956). The Paekchong of Korea. A brief social history, Monumenta Nipponica, 12 (3/4), 195-240.http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2382752?uid=3737720&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21102740088661

Rhim, S.M. (1974). The Paekchong: “Untouchables” of Korea, Asian Studies, 12, 137-158.http://www.asj.upd.edu.ph/mediabox/archive/ASJ-12-1-1974/rhim-paekchong%20untouchables%20of%20korea.pdf

Saudino, K.J., J.R. Gagne, J. Grant, A. Ibatoulina, T. Marytuina, I. Ravich-Scherbo, and K. Whitfield. (1999). Genetic and environmental influences on personality in adult Russian twins, International Journal of Behavioral Development, 23, 375-389.http://jbd.sagepub.com/content/23/2/375.short

(Republished from Evo and Proud by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. Sean says:

    Koreans are is some ways uber Chinese here. On the other hand Koreans are more prone to alcoholism than Chinese here and Korea has more than its fair share of outstandingly relentless killers here (broad face), and here. I wonder if the Paekchong were far more numerous than is officially admitted. If they were selling their women they would have an incentive to have as large a family as possible. Genetic amalgamation of the Paekchong could have been responsible for the modern Koreans being less pacified than the Chinese

    The "third rail of evolutionary theory": Evolution ‘on purpose’: how behaviour has shaped the evolutionary process
    ——————————
    Genetic Polymorphisms Related to Testosterone Metabolism in Intellectually Gifted Boys "A significantly lower number of CAG repeats in the AR gene were found in gifted boys"

    Hunter-gatherers got on fine with Europe's first farmers

  2. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Hmmm, the Jayman's citation should be for 2012, I imagine.

  3. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    What is the history meat-eating in Korea? I'd always assumed that the Buddhist prohibitions against consuming animal flesh were never in place in Korea, traditional Korean cuisine having alot of meat in it, but this makes it sound like there were at least some taboos against meat.

  4. Korea also had a large slave population, much larger than was the case in China or Japan. They were not outcastes, however, as Passin notes:

    "It is very important to draw a clear distinction between the paekchong and the slaves of pre-modern Korea. They were both members of the servile stratum of Korean society, the cho6nmin,b or the "despised people", but they were far from the same. Slaves were chattels in varying degrees of their masters, whether the masters were private individuals or the state. Although the slave status was hereditary, there were ways to buy freedom and to recover the status of yangmin, or respectable folk. Nor did being a slave necessarily exempt the individual from taxation, compulsory community service, or even from military service.9 But the paekchong were an organized out-caste group, living in their own communities, having a high degree of internal autonomy. Since they were not "registered", they were exempt from the exactions and compulsions of normal society, and they were not subject to military service. But there was no way for them or their descendants to break out of the outcaste status and become yangmin."

    Anon,

    Corrected. Thanks!

  5. PSY,

    Most Buddhist Koreans eat meat, but they believe (hypocritically) that it is wrong to slaughter an animal for meat. Passin discusses this at length:

    "It is true that the Koreans have never accepted the logic of the Buddhist commandments and become vegetarians, but somehow the feeling has always been strong that the slaughter and handling of meat is polluting and sinful, even if eating it is not. There is, for example, an extremely revealing ordinance of 968 prohibiting the slaughter of cattle, but explicitly stipulating that "meat may be purchased and eaten". Thus although it was all right to eat meat, the killing of cattle, even when authorized, was frowned upon. As Paek has observed in connection with a notice of 1296, this is a little like ordering a peasant to make a field and then accusing him of arson when he burns over the brush to do so. It is also true that the Yi dynasty set out to overthrow the influence of Buddhism and to replace it with Confucianism, but the general attitudes created by Buddhism persisted in spite of the strong measures taken against it. The paekchong themselves are reported to stop slaughtering for a period of three years after the death of a parent, showing that they too accepted the conception that it was polluting."

  6. Sean says:

    Slaves would explain it.

    "The shift to agriculture, serfdom, and a State-pacified society had created a new cultural environment that selected for a new type of human, one who was willing to stay put in one location, perform repetitive work, and forego violence"

    A wild animal has has to be feed but be mindful of predators and pecking order, mates opportunities, so its attention is never on just one thing for very long. I suppose human hunter gatherers are somewhat like that too. Christopher Badcock says modern associative mating has been rapidly (since our great-grandparents) making western populations thought processes less like hunter-gatherers' ('mentalistic') and more 'mechanistic', "The classical syndrome of high-functioning autism, Asperger's, is sometimes called "the engineer's disorder," and looked at this way the astonishing speed and success of Japanese industrialization might immediately make sense—not to mention the striking contrast seen in Africa!"

    Look at the achievement in the the Scottish south-west (sparsely populated home of the Covenanter 'redneck' rebellions) along with the Scottish Borders area, which supposedly was a breeding ground for feuding outlaws. Given that sensitivity to testosterone seems to be correlated with very high IQ, the pacification process may have deleterious effects on creativity beyond a certain point.

    For all its well adapted population, China has not been the most dynamic civilization. I don't know if Dostoevsky novels would be appealing to the east Asian mechanistic mind. BTW, according to author and ex con Edward Bunker, experienced criminals avoided trying to rob a Chinese; they wouldn't give up the money.

  7. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    On the other hand Koreans are more prone to alcoholism than Chinese here

    World Alcohol Abuse Disorder Prevelance – http://gamapserver.who.int/gho/interactive_charts/substance_abuse/bod_alcohol_prevalence/atlas.html

    You've got to be impressed that any kind of Asians can compare to Eastern Europeans in their societal levels of alcohol abuse.

    Asians have odd traditions relating to animals because of the poor integration of the pastoralist way of life into their mainstream, unlike Europeans for whom raising milk and wool animals was efficient and herding and slaughtering them was a more normal part of the culture. Traditional Korean cuisine may have a lot of meat in it, but I think traditionally Koreans did not eat a lot of cuisine.

    The quasi-pastoralism of Europe may have selected for people who were better adapted to mobility and exploratory behavior, even whilst they may have been still been subject to genetic pacification.

  8. Anonymous I says: • Website

    Another great article, Peter. It's always interesting to read about these little groups that no one talks about anymore.

  9. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Genetic Polymorphisms Related to Testosterone Metabolism in Intellectually Gifted Boys "A significantly lower number of CAG repeats in the AR gene were found in gifted boys"

    Study content – Significant differences between control and gifted boys in genotype distributions were found for ESR2 (rs928554) and SHBG (rs1799941). A significantly lower number of CAG repeats in the AR gene were found in gifted boys. Our results support the role of genetic factors related to testosterone metabolism in intellectual giftedness. Increased androgen signaling might explain previous results of lower testosterone levels in intellectually gifted boys and add to the understanding of variability in cognitive abilities.

    Although the difference in average number of CAG repeats is rather small, it is statistically significant and points towards a potential biological explanation of the relationship between testosterone and intelligence. Shorter alleles are known to have a higher DNA binding activity resulting in a stronger androgen signaling. Hormonal levels were not assessed in this study, we, nevertheless, hypothesize that this stronger signaling during prenatal and early postnatal period results in lower testosterone levels later in the prepubertal period observed in our previous study.

    Interesting idea.

    Caveat might be that intellectually gifted people are those not just with high IQ (indeed they might underperform their academic rank on IQ tests such as the mathematician Terrence Tao), but who also show unusual, possibly fitness reducing levels of interest in and focus on intellectual topics,"obsessed with maths" (autism?).

    If I am understanding the study correctly, the hypothesis seems similar to the idea that there is an upper limit for cellular or biological testosterone tolerance across the lifespan, then some individuals with high concentrations early, who develop very strong "little boy" type traits (that set them apart from little girls), might get less during the adolescent phase and develop fewer of the more "teenage boy" / "adult man" traits (greater risk taking, confidence, aggression, etc).

  10. Sean says:

    FWIW Manning on AR and brainpower.

    I dunno, the biological basis of IQ is a lot more complicated than you would think from reading JayMan's pronouncements. Tao could read by 2 years old, HP Lovecraft was reading at three, but those two epitomise different types of intelligence by my way of thinking. Badcock says modern high tech workplaces facilitating associative matting is leading to a rapid increase in Terence Tao-type mechanistic cognition (and autistic spectrum disorders). That kind of thing may partly explain the increases in IQ Ron Unz talks about. East Asians seem to be mechanistic in their thinking to begin with.

  11. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    East Asians seem to be mechanistic in their thinking to begin with.

    Are you sure? The traditional view is that they're more "holistic" in their thinking, rather than reductionist or analytical.

  12. Bleach says:

    Pastoralism and hunt-gathering are two hugely different lifestyles, Sean. Pastoralists can't live permanently in the moment, they have to breed and care for livestock generationally–planning ahead years. I don't know if Paekchong were more hunter or herder, but I would guess the latter, based on the fact that they were actually able to be productive in mainstream society. Certainly the borderers, and most Africans, have not been hunter-gatherers in many thousands of years.

  13. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Much the same things are said of ethnic Korean immigrants from China in the ROK today: http://www.koreabang.com/2012/stories/anti-chinese-korean-sentiment-on-rise-in-wake-of-fresh-attack.html

    Koreans in China today are largely the descendants of refugees from massive agricultural failures and famine in the northern parts of 19th-century Joseon Korea.

  14. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    FWIW Manning on AR and brainpower.

    Interesting, rather opposite your first cite… Might be some non-linearity associated with these variants.

    It seems like doing a quick correlational study would be better than discussing "In support of the model I discuss the link between the X-chromosome and g, the comparative structure of the AR gene in the primates, and the variation in CAGn and g in human ethnic groups" though.

    Tao could read by 2 years old, OK, this said -

    http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10116.aspx

    Yet at age 8 years 10 months, when he took both the SAT-M and the SAT-Verbal, Terry scored only 290 on the latter. Just 9% of college-bound male 12th-graders score 290 or less on SAT-V; a chance score is about 230. The discrepancy between being 10 points above the minimum 99th percentile on M and at the 9th percentile on V represents a gap of about 3.7 standard deviations.

    Clearly, Terry did far better with the mathematical reasoning items (please see the Appendix for examples) than he did reading paragraphs and answering comprehension questions about them or figuring out antonyms, verbal analogies, or sentences with missing words.

    Was the "lowness" of the verbal score (excellent for one his age, of course) due to his lack of motivation on that part of the test and/or surprise at its content? A year later, while this altogether charming boy was spending four days at my home during early May of 1985, I administered another form of the SAT-V to him under the best possible conditions. His score rose to 380, which is the 31st percentile. That's a fine gain, but the M vs. V discrepancy was probably as great as before. Quite likely, on the SAT score scale his ability had risen appreciably above the 800 ceiling of SAT-M.

    If his SAT-V score continues to increase 90 points per year (it may not go up quite that fast), he will reach the average of beginning undergraduates at Harvard and Yale by age 12, and the top of the scale (800) by 14. He was not nearly there at age 9, however! That is one of the main reasons why I counseled the Taos to hold off the more verbally abstract school subjects, including "pure" mathematics, for a while, pending the natural growth of Terry's reading and verbal reasoning abilities.

    These SAT-V scores may help to explain why Terry did not qualify for the Australian team for the International Mathematical Olympiad at age 9 after the intensive training session. Part of the reason may have been his extreme youth, but part may have been the verbal reasoning edge the older competitors probably had (higher mental age, though not as high IQ).

    How could Terry possibly learn mathematics and physical and computer sciences so well with only 290-380V development? We of the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) at Johns Hopkins have discovered, chiefly by testing able 12-year-olds, that when the examinee's SAT-M score vastly exceeds his or her SAT-V score the youth is almost certain to score high on a difficult test of nonverbal reasoning ability such as the Advanced Form of the Raven Progressive Matrices, often higher than a high-M high-V examinee does. To test this out, on 6 May 1985 I administered to Terry the RPM-Advanced, an untimed test. He completed its 36 8-option items in about 45 minutes. Whereas the average British university student scores 21, Terry scored 32. He did not miss any of the last, most difficult, 4 items. Also, when told which 4 items he had not answered correctly, he was quickly able to find the correct response to each. Few of SMPY's ablest protégés, members of its "700-800 on SAT-M Before Age 13" group, could do as well.

  15. The ancestors of the baekjeong were supposedly hunters rather than pastoralists to begin with, though presumably they practiced at least some farming or herding.

    The situation was maybe similar to the persistence of specialised fishermen of Mesolithic Central European stock alongside Neolithic farmers for around 2,000 years.

    Peter, can you post about the Cagots? They were supposedly numerous among the founding stock of French Canadians.

  16. Sean,

    Hunter-gatherers have to multi-task a lot, so they tend to get bored more easily by repetitive work. I can't help but wonder whether autism and asperger's are side effects of selection for a certain personality type.

    Anon,

    But does correlation mean causation? Does less testosterone make a higher IQ more possible? Or is this simply more evidence for the Clark-Unz model, i.e., the same selection pressure that has favored higher intelligence has also favored more peaceful social relations?

    Bones and Behaviours,

    I hope to do a post on the cagots. I doubt, though, that they contributed much to the French Canadian gene pool. The cagots lived in southwest France and northern Spain, whereas French Canadians are descended mostly from settlers of northwest French origin, i.e., Normandy, Brittany, Poitou, Ile-de-France, etc.

  17. Peter, do you know whether anyone has sampled Cagot DNA from their burials to infer their actual origins? It should be interesting to see.

  18. FYI Peter, a British website claims Brian Sykes has identified a new species of bear from the 'yeti' DNA.

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/mystery-yeti-solved-bigfoot-could-2460962

  19. Ben10 says:

    @ Bones,
    I saw it too.
    It makes sense that no modern yetis have ever existed.
    Why couldn't we find any skeletons of yeti/migou if they were real? or any of leftover food or dungs from such a big primate?
    However the origin of the legend can still be debated. It's possible after all that neanderthals have survived in the oral tradition, not from real encounters with real humans that could have happen 30 or 40 000 years ago, but from the discovery of some of their skeletons in more recent times, which in turn could have fuel the legend.
    Fossil skeletons of big extinct mammals discovered in the early historic or pre-antic period could be at the origins of other legendary animals, such as dragons.

    People's imagination can run wild. Recently I 've read the interpretation of the early Chinese astronomers of the comets. From the comet's tail shapes, classified in numerous sub types, they created an elaborate system of prediction of future events and lay it on parchments with intricate details.
    Whatever could have been their interpretation of the finding of the skeleton of a big hominid, they surely would have use the same analytical sense. Remember chinese astronomers and scientists were 'officially' watching the sky and natural phenomena 5000 years ago and their shamanic ancestors must have done the same for much longer before.

  20. Sean says:

    Anon, Taoism is indeed holistic but "[John] Gray's approving summary of Taoist doctrine could also stand as the formula of modern totalitarianism: 'THE freest human being is not one who acts on reasons he has chosen for himself, but one who never has to choose'"
    Holists are reductionists (like Darwinists). Whether they reduce everything to genes or say that everything we perceive really is just a bundle of properties, it amounts to the same thing

    Peter, do you think the north Koreans have had the time to diverge from the south Koreans in genetically mediated behavioural traits? Epigenetic modification of Audrey Hepburn, see here.

    Excellent Horse-Like Lady.

  21. Bones and Behaviour,

    Oh Phooey! And here I was hoping he had found Bigfoot DNA.

    To my knowledge, no genetic study has been done on the cagots (and there are still some living descendants). They seem to be very heterogeneous in origin; some are described as being short and olive-skinned, while others are described as being tall and fair-skinned.

    Sean,

    My rule of thumb is 8 generations. If a population has existed for less than that length of time, the selection pressures would have to be very strong to produce a different genetic profile.

  22. Sean says:

    North Korean landlords, businessmen, and administrators must have been killed when the communists took over, unless they fled … South.

  23. Ben10 says:

    "My rule of thumb is 8 generations. If a population has existed for less than that length of time, the selection pressures would have to be very strong to produce a different genetic profile"

    very strong but not implausible in some socio-cultural context.
    Siberian breeders of foxes have obtain human-compatible pet foxes, with neotenic features, in only 3 generations.

  24. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Anon, Taoism is indeed holistic but "[John] Gray's approving summary of Taoist doctrine could also stand as the formula of modern totalitarianism: 'THE freest human being is not one who acts on reasons he has chosen for himself, but one who never has to choose'"
    Holists are reductionists (like Darwinists). Whether they reduce everything to genes or say that everything we perceive really is just a bundle of properties, it amounts to the same thing

    I wasn't referring to Taoism, and I don't understand the John Gray reference.

    I was speaking in general. Have you read Richard Nisbett's The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently … and Why?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_geography_of_thought

    Nisbett argues that Asians don't reduce things into categories or taxonomies and don't have a notion of causality. "Holistic" thinking does not seem at all like reductionist thinking and is generally said to be its exact opposite, so I don't understand your claim that they amount to the same thing.

  25. Interestingly in ancient China Legalism was an offshoot of Taoism.

    On the wildman in China, according to Jeff Meldrum the Lishu hominin is under study over there. Though not well known on the west the preliminary dating of Lishu is remarkably late.

    And I agree that the Cagots sound heterogeneous. This only makes it even more interesting to sample the DNA of Cabot burials and living Cabot descendants, to see how an outcaste population is formed.

  26. Sean says:

    The trouble with North Korean commandos is they're too nice. The post explains why.

  27. Matt says:

    Sean, Peter and others -

    You might be interested in this, a recent summary by Heejung Kim's (female Korean researcher who seems to be one of the people seriously trying to research into gene-culture coevolution comparing East and West Eurasian populations).

    https://labs.psych.ucsb.edu/kim/heejung/kimsasaki_cultural_neurosci.pdf

    or

    http://www.yorku.ca/jsasaki/uploads/1/8/9/6/18964827/kimsasaki14_annual_review.pdf

    One of the elements described is how variations at serotonin locii may influence the focal vs dispersed (or analytic vs holistic) West Eurasian vs East Eurasian visual patterns.

    On holistic reasoning in general, one of the interesting takes from Kim's summary for me is an explanation that East Asians may be more prone to use holistic social reasoning, where context and situation is seen as really important to explain is because, well…. East Asians really are relatively really, really "impressionable" based on situation and have relatively little sense of a fixed self concept and little internal narrative.

    East Asians tend to build more interdependent self concepts that use information from other people as a basis of who they are. As opposed to internally formed self concepts.

    (Whatever reason there is for this, we can easily dismiss that this is because of sociability or collectivism or to aid sociability, because its easy to think of many situations where having a distinct "self built" individual identity is useful in socialization (division of labor, etc.). Personally I think large scale agriculture as practiced by East Asians, with little close working as a team combined with large populations to get on with, might be a reason).

    Contributing factors to this are that cognitive processes across East Asians seem less linguistic and more visual and more spatial (which are a separate facet abilities, but East Asians are probably better at both, the latter being why East Asians are overrep'd in math and science relative to IQ and the former being why they're overrep'd in visual design relative to their IQ and personality). There's less self talk and less opportunity for this to build self concept.

    Another contributing factor is emotional expressiveness is socially disapproved of and there is more anxiety about social support seeking, so less effort goes into building a social identity (which is mutually supportive with building an internal identity).

    Bringing it back to using holistic visual reasoning to work out emotions and psychology, we can see more easily why this is more of a trait in East Asians (relative to West Eurasians) –

    1. if you don't want to engage with others verbally,

    2. if other don't want to express themselves either verbally or even with body language, and

    3. if others don't have a strong internal self concept that interacts with their personality to cause behavior, being more a mix of personality and social influence

    then it suddenly becomes really much more worthwhile to adopt a strategy of looking around you to try and work out why others are doing what they're doing. because you can't talk to them, looking at them is unhelpful because they hide their emotions and looking at their environment is useful, because they're more "impressionable". thus "holistic and situational social awareness".

    rather than do what Westerners would do and simply go and ask them, then use their social experience to guess whether they're lying and to try to get a feel for how their self concept is influencing their behavior.

    And East Asians have probably evolved to be a bit better at this as a result and its not just a purely cultural strategy.

  28. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Personally I think large scale agriculture as practiced by East Asians, with little close working as a team combined with large populations to get on with, might be a reason

    Large scale agriculture is not the norm in East Asian history. Agriculture in East Asia has traditionally been based on small plots farmed by families.

  29. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The trouble with North Korean commandos is they're too nice. The post explains why.

    Sean,

    North Korean agents have killed many civilians before though:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Air_Flight_858

  30. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Large scale agriculture is not the norm in East Asian history. Agriculture in East Asia has traditionally been based on small plots farmed by families.

    Sure, I mean the society being agricultural on the large scale, combined with individuals working in small groups with only their immediate families. Relative social isolation rubbing up within a large society that individuals have sporadic contact with.

  31. Sean says:

    North Korean special forces fight harder, march further on less food than any in the world. "The unit broke camp and increased their pace to more than ten kilometers per hour, despite carrying 30 kilograms of equipment each, crossing Nogo Mountain and arriving at Bibong Mountain on January" They also fear death less that any other soldiers (frequently comitting sucide rather than be captured). North Korean sniper battalion soldiers are the toughest in the world. Yet they didn't want to kill. When the Chinese first came into the Korean war thrashed the US forces (who had outrun their heavy ARTILLERY support)and captured American soldiers, they often just let them go.

    US soldiers slaughtered Korean refugees http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/coldwar/korea_usa_01.shtml.

  32. Sean says:

    "little internal narrative." That's why WW2 soldier Hiroo Onoda held out till the 70's in the jungle is it? Like Chinese not giving up the money to armed robbers.

    Read Badcock on mechanistic cognition's "pathological single-mindedness" and you'll understand. East Asians' mindset is a mono-narrative. The opposite (European)mentalistic tendency is seen in the novels of Dostoevsky, where what the character ends up doing is the very thing thing he didn't want to do and tried to avoid even thinking about.

  33. Matt says:

    I've stated above that I see no incompatibility between having a minimally strong fixed concept which is flexible towards situation, social opinion and social pressures, with maintaining social isolation.

    I would in fact go as far to say that having little internal self concept development might make it more likely that a person "programmed" by his society to escape and hold out at all costs to unquestioningly hold that belief for longer (perhaps indefinitely in some case), not just that he is easier to "program".

    Whether Chinese shop owners give up money or not seems rather irrelevant to me (that said, when I watched the documentary The Act of Killing recently, it frankly didn't seem difficult for the Indonesian gangsters to extort from their Chinese shopkeeper prey AT ALL).

    Having a monolithic internal narrative with low internal complexity and development does indeed sound to me like "little internal narrative".

    Asians, relative to Europeans, having a hard, permanent, fixed self concept which is resistant to social pressures, rather than the opposite, is believed by no one.

  34. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Yet they didn't want to kill. When the Chinese first came into the Korean war thrashed the US forces (who had outrun their heavy ARTILLERY support)and captured American soldiers, they often just let them go.

    US soldiers slaughtered Korean refugees http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/coldwar/korea_usa_01.shtml.

    I don't see how these are even similar situations. There were large numbers of refugees crossing battle lines in a chaotic situation war-time battle situation. That's quite different from a secret assassination mission.

  35. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Also note that the US soldiers were ordered to kill civilians by the leadership.

  36. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    North Korean special forces fight harder, march further on less food than any in the world. "The unit broke camp and increased their pace to more than ten kilometers per hour, despite carrying 30 kilograms of equipment each, crossing Nogo Mountain and arriving at Bibong Mountain on January" They also fear death less that any other soldiers (frequently comitting sucide rather than be captured). North Korean sniper battalion soldiers are the toughest in the world. Yet they didn't want to kill. When the Chinese first came into the Korean war thrashed the US forces (who had outrun their heavy ARTILLERY support)and captured American soldiers, they often just let them go.

    These are some wild claims. I don't see what the basis or evidence is for the claim that North Korean special forces are the best in the world.

    The Chinese in the Korean War did wage a propaganda war to assert that they were treating civilians and POWs well, but they did capture US and UN POWs.

  37. Sean says:

    "East Asians really are relatively really, really "impressionable" based on situation and have relatively little sense of a fixed self concept and little internal narrative."

    You make East Asians sound like a character from a French psychological novel.

  38. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Another contributing factor is emotional expressiveness is socially disapproved of and there is more anxiety about social support seeking, so less effort goes into building a social identity (which is mutually supportive with building an internal identity).

    They seem more nervous around people:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYLi7nEPZG4

  39. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Asia is a big place and history is quite long.

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