Skip to comments.Polygamy hurt 19th century Mormon wives' evolutionary fitness
Posted on 02/22/2011 5:56:26 AM PST by Colofornian
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Polygamy practiced by some 19th century Mormon men had the curious effect of suppressing the overall offspring numbers of Mormon women in plural marriages, say scientists from Indiana University Bloomington and three other institutions in the March 2011 issue of Evolution and Human Behavior.
Simply put, the more sister-wives a Mormon woman had, the fewer children she was likely to produce.
"Although it's great in terms of number of children for successful males to have harems, the data show that for every new woman added to a male's household, the number each wife produced goes down by one child or so," said IU Bloomington evolutionary biologist Michael Wade...
The researchers' survey of birth, marriage and death records from the Utah Population Database covers nearly 186,000 Utah adults and their 630,000 children who lived or died between 1830 and 1894. This period marked an important transition for the nascent Mormon Church, as polygamy began to be phased out in deference to U.S. laws banning the practice but also via internal pressure from the Mormons themselves.
The scientists' study confirmed their expectation that a moratorium on Mormon polygamy would have the effect of decreasing the intensity of sexual selection among males...With fewer polygamous marriages, more males had access to wives...The scientists estimate that ending polygamy reduced the strength of sexual selection on males by 58 percent.
...Wade says, polygamy is a bad thing for most males of a species.
"When the ratio of sexes is about equal, for every male that has three mates, there must be two males that have none," Wade said. "If a male has even more mates, then the disparity among male 'reproductive' haves and have-nots can become quite great."
(Excerpt) Read more at newsinfo.iu.edu ...
What's so curious about that? Brigham Young had 55 wives & 57 children...figure the averages...Joseph Smith, Jr. had children in single-figures...27 wives...11 of them he stole from other men by marrying them when they were already married! (Not only was he a counterfeit "prophet," but a counterfeit husband as well!)
How interesting. Leaving out the evolutionary crap that a University like Indiana University injected, the stats bore out what I've said for a while:
That contrary to common myth, 19th and early 20th century Mormon polygamy actually resulted in less children per mom, not more!
The child-bearing is based upon momhood, not how many beehives a busy Utah male bee can buzz around!
(What's interesting in the timing is I was having to enlighten a FREEPER a week ago today on this topic). [See Bad Assumption: "Polygamy means more babies, and a few years after than, more workers paying into Social Security...A good public policy argument can be made in favor of Polygamy." (See my Posts #59, #82 & #94 in response to posts #32, etc.)]
From the article: ...Wade says, polygamy is a bad thing for most males of a species.
Indeed it is. Think of how many single Chinese and Indian men there due to rampant sex-selection abortion in Asia...(along with OTHER forms of female infanticide).
From the article: ...as polygamy began to be phased out...The scientists' study confirmed their expectation that a moratorium on Mormon polygamy...
One other note: Good way of putting it -- "phased out" -- vs. a so-called Mormon "moratorium" (suspension of activity) didn't happen in 1890...yet another Mormon myth. C. Carmon Hardy, in his book Solemn Covenant, documents over 200 additional "plural unions" in his appendix (by name, dates, etc.) These occurred between 1890 and 1910...and were approved by Lds general authorities as they had to be properly solemnized. Often the couple would head for Mexico, leaving a previous wife or wives behind while the husband had yet another honeymoon.
It was Joe Smith who coined the phrase:
“I’d hit it!”
“If a male has even more mates, then the disparity among male ‘reproductive’ haves and have-nots can become quite great.”
Good thing it took a study to confirm that hypothesis....
I find the evolutionary angle interesting. I wonder what the researchers would say about the evolutionary fitness of homosexuals.
Sorry about an off-topic reply.
Mark Twain explains the drawbacks of polygamy in Roughing It.
One rooster and 20 hens only works with chickens?
“...Wade says, polygamy is a bad thing for most males of a species. When the ratio of sexes is about equal, for every male that has three mates, there must be two males that have none,” Wade said. “If a male has even more mates, then the disparity among male ‘reproductive’ haves and have-nots can become quite great.”
The interpretation of these results is very questionable. Of course polygamy is bad for most males, but it is better for the species. He seems to think its unfair that the poor unfit males dont get to mate, while the fit ones do. It’s not about fairness, its about survival. In the animal kingdom the best reproduce, they dont worry about the loser males who cant compete.
“That contrary to common myth, 19th and early 20th century Mormon polygamy actually resulted in less children per mom, not more!”
Since it was fairly common for women to die in childbirth this is a definite ADVANTAGE for females to bear fewer children. The author twists this into a negative. It’s also advantageous to have other women around to raise your kids if you die (also fairly common back then).
It took a study to figure this out? Another waste of public money. And why is it a “curious” effect? It is an effect common sense would have determined 100 years ago. Less sex per individual woman = fewer children. Not rocket science. This is supposed to be serious scholarship?
We can always depend on your getting right to the “bottom” of things. ;0)
Not if it means that the good women aren’t having children. You are trying to have it both ways.
>> Of course polygamy is bad for most males, but it is better for the species <<
Not at all clear to me, at least when one factors in things other than visible physical characteristics like brute strength and spear-throwing prowess.
For example, as mankind has advanced from the most primitive hunter-gatherer culture to agriculture to our modern technical civilization, IQ has became more and more important. So who’s to say that in the modern world, the high IQ geek’s contribution to the gene pool is less important for human survival than is the contribution of the big and handsome football captain who impregnates multiple girl friends?
Moreover, who can say that the “geeks” will never have certain evolutionary advantages in terms of genetic immunities against various diseases? I should think high diversity in a community’s gene pool is a better long-run strategy for survival than the strategy inherent in a “polygamous” social structure — one that limits the male genetic contribution to maybe one-third or one-fourth of the available studs.
Also, even though I’ll grant that a certain amount of polygamy may initially increase a given community’s evolutionary fitness, there easily might be a “crossover point” at which this community’s level of endogamy begins to produce an unacceptable and unsustainable percentage of offspring with genetic defects — due to double inheritance of recessive genes.
In other words, it’s not too difficult to outline a scenario where monogamy and marital fidelity can contribute to the human species’ evolutionary fitness — whether or not one takes account of traditional religious/moral/ethical strictures.
Um, could be they have fewer children in polygamist situations because each woman gets “hit” less often. I doubt evolution has anything to do with it.
My great grandmother who was catholic had 18 children. One day I must post the family picture. It’s hilarious. My poor great grandmother looks like tired worn out while my grandfather sits in his chair proud as a peacock with all his children around him.
In the olden days, the girls all married Young.
But one factor is left out. IIRC, the number of female converts to Mormonism greatly outnumbered the male converts, so within the Mormon community the male to female ratio would have been quite unbalanced. Monogamy for them would have meant far fewer women bearing children.
So the end effect was NOT fewer children per woman, but more, since under strict monogamy, most of the women would not have found husbands and would not have had any children at all.
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