Tagged: extinction of blue eyes

XXXIX Big Brother Is Peeping You

Eyes of Blue

Fair eyes are depigmented eyes, the fairer the more depigmented, with blue the most depigmented, then grey, then all shades of green and hazel and brown to the most pigmented dark eyes. In the world population at large pigmented irides are the rule rather than the exception. In fact fair eyes are rare, they are virtually inexistent outside the white Caucasian race, which includes Arabs and Indians of India, among whom fair eyes are rare too.

According to Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa, people have a preference for fair eyes: Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters (2007), p. 61. A preference that would be “both universal and undeniable.”

These authors’ hypothesis is very interesting. To be precise it is not their hypothesis but that of an undergraduate student, Lee Ann Turney, “in her term paper for a class that she took from one of us (Kanazawa) in spring 2002.” According to Mrs Turney’s very interesting hypothesis, as the pupil dilates and contracts according to one’s emotions, blue-eyed people are more trustworthy because their pupil is more salient, being seen on a fair background.

That supposes that the eye be wide enough. Many Slavs, albeit blue-eyed, tend to have slanting eyes, so the preference cannot extend to them. This is a way to confirm or disprove the hypothesis.

Twenty years ago, when I started dabbling in physical anthropology, they said blue eyes were recessive (now they say “mostly recessive”). If blue eyes are recessive, and there is a universal preference for blue eyes, then I think the math foretells the extinction of the trait. On a global market, that is. Many a woman, and a man too, will sacrifice their preference for blue eyes when offered sufficient compensation, and if high-status people from all over the world are in search of blue eyes on the mating market, then, the proportion of blue-eyed individuals among these high-status people being small in absolute terms (see first paragraph), generation after generation the recessive trait will find fewer possibilities to be expressed in the offspring. Expect for slant-eyed Slavs, because no one cares about them. Yes, you have read it right: These latter will thrive because of the very contempt they inspire on the mating market.

This is to suggest one should consider recessiveness and dominance in studying behavior. A recessive (selfish) gene has nothing to gain from globalization. On the other hand, a dominant (no less selfish) gene must struggle with such a concept as miscegenation.

To be sure, there is globalization and globalization. In the times of the British Empire, a world empire, high-status men, to be frank, were all Britons. Local (colored) rulers, local elites were precisely that, “local,” and so were their mating markets. Blue-eyed English ladies were not to be touched by locals. The mating market of the British imperial elite was also local but, given a universal preference for the traits present in their market, their situation is more properly described as having being a monopoly.

Perhaps women in northern European cultures have always been freer than in other parts of the world because, being most of them fair-eyed, men feel they can trust them. The Nordic phenotype is also characterized by fair skin, and blushing, on a fair skin, may play the same role as the salient pupil of a fair eye. Ceteris paribus, deception is harder for individuals of the Nordic race.

This leads us to the fact that contract polities as opposed to despotism, that is, societies relying on interpersonal trust rather than on top-down power, originated in the same European regions where women have been the freest. For such societies to be able to thrive, trust must be more than a vain word. (On the geographic origins of political freedom, see Montesquieu.)

To all intents and purposes, the Wahhabis’ way to deal with their women seems sound from an evolutionary perspective.

A Call to Exceptional Men

In his Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871), Darwin writes: “for with man when the beard differs in colour from the hair of the head, as is commonly the case, it is, I believe, almost always of a lighter tint, being often reddish. I have repeatedly observed this fact in England; but two gentlemen have lately written to me, saying that they form an exception to the rule. One of these gentlemen accounts for the fact by the wide difference in colour of the hair on the paternal and maternal sides of his family. Both had been long aware of this peculiarity (one of them having often been accused of dyeing his beard), and had been thus led to observe other men, and were convinced that the exceptions were very rare. Dr. Hooker attended to this little point for me in Russia, and found no exception to the rule. In Calcutta, Mr. J. Scott, of the Botanic Gardens, was so kind as to observe the many races of men to be seen there, as well as in some other parts of India, namely, two races in Sikhim, the Bhoteas, Hindoos, Burmese, and Chinese, most of which races have very little hair on the face and he always found that when there was any difference in colour between the hair of the head and the beard, the latter was invariably lighter.” (Chap. XIX)

As can be seen from a picture of my younger days, I have got brown hair and black beard. (Look here, the 9th from the top; the picture is black and white and perhaps the evidence not as clear as one could wish, but you can enlarge the picture by clicking on it to get a clearer view of the contrast.)

I hereby make a call to all men in the same exceptional situation to reach out and share their experience for the purpose of forming a club. There’s not even a word to name us. One of our first tasks will be to invent one.

To think that it has been more than a decade since I read this in Darwin and I never had the idea to make a call to such exceptional men before! (Darwin’s calling it a “little point” is wrong.)

June 2016