Laws stopped cousin-marriage, not mobility

Collecting huge datasets for analysis has since the beginning of time been a good way to find insights. Recently some theories about safety and longevity of cousin marriage are being challenged by the power of big data systems:

researchers suggest that people stopped marrying their fourth cousins not due to increased mobility between different regions, but because the practice became less socially acceptable

“Less socially acceptable” is another way of saying laws against it were being passed. According to the seminal book on this subject, by someone with the same name as me, mathematical modeling show how those laws against cousin marriage were based in prejudice, not science.

Forbidden Relatives challenges the belief – widely held in the United States – that legislation against marriage between first cousins is based on a biological risk to offspring. In fact, its author maintains, the U.S. prohibition against such unions originated largely because of the belief that it would promote more rapid assimilation of immigrants.

Immigrants were barred from continuing their historic practices, much in the same way prohibition of alcohol criminalized Germans for their breweries and Irish for having distilleries. Keep these reports and books in mind the next time someone says cousin marriage is a concern for human safety or longevity.

2 thoughts on “Laws stopped cousin-marriage, not mobility”

  1. This is a very interesting topic. It would be great if you could write a little bit more about this. People often argue that, if people can get married why not cousin-marriage, well I think we need to have clear laws when it comes to certain things such as the age limit to be able to drive a vehicle, we don’t see 5 year olds driving around.

  2. First, your reasoning sounds tautological. A law should not be considered good because it is a law. Consider why a law is written.

    Second, you seem to equate a skill at operating machinery to getting married. This is false equivalence.

    Toddlers have been prohibited from driving around due to design limitations of vehicle manufacturers, and parental controls, rather than toddler observance of laws. Age restrictions on drivers are based in theories about safety from time spent behind the wheel learning to operate complex controls at high speeds.

    That being said, 5 year olds are in fact “driving around”. A quick search for toddler vehicles brought up 30 models within a few seconds, and that’s not even trying. So society has not only accepted the idea of toddlers driving, it’s a growing market to get them “driving around” as early as possible.

    So I doubt you’ll find a toddler saying a police ticket is the thing most on their mind when they look at a steering wheel or pedals being offered them, which means the effect of the law on toddlers is arguably nothing. More to the point, if we play out your question, marriage for gays would be allowed after they had accumulated supervised practice getting married, and they really should be practicing marriage from toddler age.

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