September 2, 2013

My Yąnomamö Mama

Yarima, formerly Mrs. Kenneth Good,
and her son David Good.
The Yanomami of the South American rain forest are one of the most famous tribes in the history of anthropology. One of the numerous controversies involving anthropologists and the Yanomami is the story of Dr. Kenneth Good, who over the course of 12 years studying the forest dwellers, married one, Yarima, and took her back to New Jersey. They had three children, but Yarima found suburban living lonely:
"I live in a place where I do not gather wood and no-one hunts. The women do not call me to go kill fish. Sometimes I get tired of being in the house, so I get angry with my husband. I go to the stores and look at clothing."

Wearing clothes for decoration might seem like a concept that would be foreign to her, but shopping for clothes had been the outside world idea that she had grasped fastest of all.
"It isn't like in the jungle. People are separate and alone. It must be that they do not like their mothers."

So, she went back to the Amazon, leaving Professor Good to raise their three children in New Jersey.

The couple's oldest son, David, now 25, recently visited his mother for the first time in a couple of decades or so:
Return to the rainforest: A son's search for his Amazonian mother

There's nothing too exciting in the story, but it's interesting to follow up on these individuals who got dragged into the history of anthropology. And it's nice to know that the son found his mother healthy and happy.
Crouching David is 5'5." The village elder kept offering him the
two girls on the right as his brides. 
One interesting fact is that Yanomami men don't go bald -- everybody, male and female, has these haircuts like Moe of the Three Stooges, with black hair that looks permanently nailed in. So, when the son set up a Skype connection with his father back in America, the tribespeople were freaked out by their old buddy's bald head.

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

One interesting fact is that Yanomami men don't go bald, so when the son set up a Skype connection with his father back in America, the tribespeople were freaked out by their old buddy's bald head.

Interesting. Is it genetic? Have they raised any Yanomami males outside the jungle to see if they do go bald? If they discovered that it's environmental they could find a baldness cure.

Steve Sailer said...

In the picture in the BBC article, all the tribespeople's hair just looks nailed in.

Anonymous said...

I won't be calling the Amavon Lady.

Anonymous said...

http://louisproyect.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/yarima_good1.jpg?w=300&h=239

http://louisproyect.org/category/yanomami/

agnostic said...

Baldness evolved as a signal of monogamous commitment. Would-be mistresses or flings would be put off by no hair (see the cover of any romance novel). So no surprise that baldness didn't catch on in the Yanamamo.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what rules anthropologists have, but on Star Trek this would have violated the prime directive.

(Though it would have made a good arc, as they say...)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the elimination of 'male pattern baldness' is a price well worth paying and an influx of Yanomani genes into the caucasian gene pool should be a good eagerly sought after.
Perhaps the trade-off is lower IQ, but if the extent of the general male fear and hatred of baldness is genuinely known, it will be seen that this loss is massively outvalued by the gain.

Whiskey said...

Vin Diesel, Bruce Willis, Brian Cranston, Michael Chicklis, Samuel L Jackson, Patrick Stewart, and about three quarters of the MMA fighters?

Don't see much downside to the testosterone signaler of male pattern baldness.

Anonymous said...

Baldness evolved as a signal of monogamous commitment. Would-be mistresses or flings would be put off by no hair (see the cover of any romance novel). So no surprise that baldness didn't catch on in the Yanamamo.

This sound just like one of those evo-psych "just so" stories that isn't really backed by anything.

Don't polygynous primates like chimps also go bald?

Also humans have been mildly polygynous over time and the majority of men are balding by their 50s.

Bobby said...

"Hair looks nailed in"

Is Rachel Jenteal from this tribe?

Piper said...

Although killing fish does sound like more fun than shopping, I'm glad fashion around here does not oblige me to go around with so many facial piercings.

eah said...

Bizarre does not begin to describe it.

One interesting fact is that Yanomami men don't go bald...

Yes. Would be interesting to know the mechanism behind that. One could make a fortune.

J said...

Now I realize why the Yanomami looked so familiar. Of course, they look like Moe. Hollywood influence.

Anonymous said...

It's like they're wearing hair helmets.

They must cut it in that style, right? It doesn't just stop growing once it assumes the helmet shape, right?

They should really look into why they don't go bald. Whether it's something in their diet, some biochemical thing that could be synthesized into a drug, etc. There's a huge demand for baldness cures.

BB753 said...

If this had happened today, Kenneth Good would have been in trouble, because Yarima was underaged. Of course what constitutes a minor is very different in the jungle.

Yanomamö do not keep track of their age. Good and Yarima were married shortly after Yarima’s first menstrual period. In a nonindustrial society, especially one like the Yanomamö, where obesity is virtually unknown, a girl would normally have her first menstrual period between the ages of thirteen and sixteen, much later than girls in industrial societies. A good guess is that the marriage was consummated when Yarima was about fourteen years old. Good was by then close to forty.

Good for him, I say.

http://www.singingtotheplants.com/2009/08/love-story/



eah said...

OT

Latest article about white trash Britain. Makes it easier to justify population replacement I guess.

Anononymous said...

"has these haircuts like Moe of the Three Stooges"

So all those cave man movies and museum dioramas with grimy, unkempt hair aren't historically accurate?

Anonymous said...

"Sometimes I get tired of being in the house, so I get angry with my husband. I go to the stores and look at clothing."

This just seems to be hard-wired.

elvisd said...

This is a touching story. After all, we have a president whose anthropologist mother married two of her subjects.

Sword said...

Missing part of the story: what happened to david's two wives after he left the jungle? Yarima can not have much pre-warning that David was going to come. Did she just approach two teenage girls and ask them point-blank "I want the two of you to marry my son that I have not seen for 20 years and is coming here in a few weeks time."? And they went along with that? From the BBC article, they seemed quite enarmored with David! Quite a situation for him to extricate himself from!

Jonathan Silber said...

A love so right turned out to be so wrong.

Ex Submarine Officer said...

So are these like the Amish of the Amazon? Seems like many of them are quite happy with their life despite being well aware of the modern world beyond the jungle.

DanJ said...

"baldness evolved as a sign of monogamous commitment". What a grand pseudo-scientific theory! Allow me to expand on that:

Evolution will select for traits that give a reproductive advantage. If baldness sets in at an age when the human male is mostly done with reproducing, it will not be passed on. So it must instead be a signal that the bald man's offspring make good mates.

Perhaps the bald head in the pre-historic society signals that its bearer is of an age ready to die, and the cave/hut will soon be left to his sons?

Woe the in-laws who thus mated will have to live in the same cave with Old Baldy for twenty years more. He wasn't that old after all!

Jonathan Silber said...

Work with me here: I'm thinking a Very Special Real Housewives of New Jersey where the stars are made to confront their discrimination against Yanomani-Americans. The happy ending has the stars and Yarima together in Atlantic City, gathering wood, killing fish, and playing the slots.

Anonymous said...

" Would-be mistresses or flings would be put off by no hair..."

lol, not sure which world this comes from...

Anonymous said...

They should try to figure out what causes them to not go bald, whether it's something in the diet, some biochemical thing, etc. There's a huge demand for baldness cures.

Anonymous said...

http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130808/lakeview/as-lakeview-area-leads-city-robberies-residents-demand-more-cops

Liberal Chicagoans complaining about crime. They voted for Obama, so why is this happening?

Anononymous said...

"The village elder kept offering him the
two girls on the right as his brides."

I was told that primitive tribes worshiped earth goddesses and the womyn were equal with men and had polyamory and pacifism until they were conquered by warlike iron-age monotheists.

Anonymous said...

If this had happened today, Kenneth Good would have been in trouble, because Yarima was underaged. Of course what constitutes a minor is very different in the jungle.

Yanomamö do not keep track of their age. Good and Yarima were married shortly after Yarima’s first menstrual period. In a nonindustrial society, especially one like the Yanomamö, where obesity is virtually unknown, a girl would normally have her first menstrual period between the ages of thirteen and sixteen, much later than girls in industrial societies. A good guess is that the marriage was consummated when Yarima was about fourteen years old. Good was by then close to forty.

Good for him, I say.

http://www.singingtotheplants.com/2009/08/love-story/


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yanomami#Female_puberty_and_menstruation

Take it for what its worth, but wikipedia states that the onset of puberty is age 10 to 12. Which seems earlier than western societies.

Anonymous said...

http://obits.syracuse.com/obituaries/syracuse/obituary.aspx?n=tommy-morrison&pid=166769260#fbLoggedOut

Anonymous said...

http://spotcrime.com/tn/nashville

Trashville

Cail Corishev said...

If the cure for baldness is Moe Howard hair, I think I'll pass.

Anonymous said...

Darkness in El Dorado
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darkness_in_El_Dorado

Claims made in Darkness in El Dorado included:

That Napoleon Chagnon and James Neel directly and indirectly caused a genocide in the region through the introduction of a live virus measles vaccine. This claim has been refuted.
That the whole Yanomami project was an outgrowth and continuation of the Atomic Energy Commission's secret program of experiments on human subjects. This claim has also been refuted.
That Chagnon's account of the Yanomami are based on false, non-existent or misinterpreted data, and that Chagnon actually incited violence among them. Related claims and ethical issues have been the subject of much academic debate.
That French researcher Jacques Lizot, a protégé of Claude Lévi-Strauss, traded various uncustomary homosexual favors from Yanomamo boys after introducing shotguns and other foreign commodities into the community in what Tierney called "shotgun-driven prostitution".[2] Despite receiving critical support during a subsequent inquiry,[3] these allegations attracted relatively little academic attention.[4]
That the American researcher Kenneth Good married a Yanomami girl who was barely entering her teens. Good's own autobiographical accounts describe a complex personal relationship experienced in the context of Yanomamo (as well as American) cultural norms. He recounts that, in keeping with local customs and community wishes, he was betrothed to his future wife when she was still a child, and later consummated the marriage when she was aged about 15 or 16.[5]

Anonymous said...

Return to the rainforest: A son's search for his Amazonian mother

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23758087

"On one of his trips downriver, when he had been held up for several months, she had been gang-raped, abducted and badly assaulted - her ear was ripped."

Interesting tit bit. So sociologically Yanomano women recover from rape while Civilized women don't. She even returned to live among her rapists.

Modern Abraham said...

They should try to figure out what causes them to not go bald, whether it's something in the diet, some biochemical thing, etc.

It's called average life expectancy: 37 years.

agnostic said...

"If baldness sets in at an age when the human male is mostly done with reproducing, it will not be passed on."

Men who do go bald do not get surprised, nor do any women who've seen them for years up to that point. It doesn't all fall out overnight at age 50.

Observers can make a pretty reasonable forecast about a guy in his late 20s or early 30s, whether he's going to go in the balding direction or mostly keep his hair as he ages.

So it's even better than a signal of his current strategy, which might change (and women favor stability and predictability). She knows that into the future, he'll be kept monogamous whether he wants to or not, simply because of female choice pointing away from baldness.

Somehow lead singers beat baldness. So do leading men in Hollywood. The nose-to-the-grindstone, provider "good dad" types don't fare so well. See the physics department photo roster. Or to keep it equal in IQ with the singers and actors, your typical middle management schlub.

The Yanamamo aren't the only group where men don't go bald. Steve is right about folks these days not being curious about other cultures. You'd be hard pressed to find any primitive group where a good fraction of men go bald. Bushmen men keep their hair, and so do Australian Aborigines.

The Irish seem to do OK, and they're not even that primitive.

Baldness wouldn't evolve in a population where male mating strategies show little variation. Everyone would already know how the guy would behave because just about everybody behaves that way. Whether the men in the group were predictably monogamous or predictably polygynous -- distinct hair wouldn't tell you anything you couldn't already have guessed.

Only where there's a wide variety in male mating strategies will you see something like baldness evolve to help observers figure out where on the broad spectrum your future lies. It seems to be part of the more general pattern of Europeans having much more varied appearances -- variation in skin, eye, and hair color, skull shape, stature, etc., are all way more pronounced there than anywhere else.

And that's also where you tend to find men who follow all kinds of mating strategies, from the "dad" to "cad" ends of the spectrum. Hence where it would pay off to have a signal to distinguish where you stood, to better coordinate your behavior with others rather than waste everyone's time with mismatches.

anony-mouse said...

I liked this post better when it was called 'Civilization' with Danny Kaye and the Andrews Sisters.

Anonymous said...

Baldness evolved as a signal of monogamous commitment. Would-be mistresses or flings would be put off by no hair (see the cover of any romance novel). So no surprise that baldness didn't catch on in the Yanamamo.

Could be, or could be one of those idiotic just-so stories that make the rounds in the HBD-osphere. You've got to start being more discriminating in the beliefs you adopt.

Yeah, OK, I'm bald. Still, I doubt you'll find much of a correlation between balditaxia (to use its scientific name) and monogamy at the population level, and you, Agnostic, should know better than to cherry-pick an Amazon tribe.

Cennbeorc

Anonymous said...

So are these like the Amish of the Amazon? Seems like many of them are quite happy with their life despite being well aware of the modern world beyond the jungle.

A tad more violent than the Amish. But, yes, why wouldn't they prefer the life they are familiar with? Maybe they know, as we know, what happens to primitive people who become immersed in modern societies. Typically, they fall to pieces and end up at the very bottom of society, through no real fault of their own.

Cennbeorc

Anonymous said...

"Sometimes I get tired of being in the house, so I get angry with my husband. I go to the stores and look at clothing."

This just seems to be hard-wired.

In the same way that golf-course design (according to Steve) has converged on the ideal meadow landscape that our ancestors found attractive, I think the modern shopping landscape has evolved to press all the pleasure buttons for the gatherers (i.e., women) of a hunter-gatherer society.

Cennbeorc

Sean said...

She missed fishing; lo and behold fish protein is good for hair. Here.

Amerindians are more adapted to the northern latitudes. Europeans have more scalp hairs per cm than anyone. It's sexual selection.

Anonymous said...

It's funny.

Some civilizations define beauty in a twisted way: Hindu nose rings, Chinese footbinding, French mega-giant-powdered wigs, Japanese teeth-blackening-and-eye-brow-shaving, extreme corseting in the West, and etc.
We got rid of many such things as stuffy, painful, and even cruel.
Modern people prefer the more natural look.

But look at these natural folks in Amazon. Their idea of beauty is anything but natural. I mean what in the hell is driving a shishkabob stick through the nose all about? Or sticking three pegs around the chin?
Natural folks don't believe in natural beauty.

Anonymous said...

Moe haircut or moptops, like with the Beatles or Monkees?

Or Monk haircuts?

ironrailsironweights said...

Amerindians in general rarely go bald.

Peter

Anonymous said...

A Yanomamo bald joke, as told by napoleon chagnon to steve pinker.

PINKER: What about humor? Can you share any good Yanomamö jokes with us?

CHAGNON: Well, the Yanomamö almost never get bald. Until death they have abundant shocks of hair, like yours, for example.

PINKER: Not as curly.

CHAGNON: Not as curly. But one of the missionaries came to the village the first day. They gave him the name Pao, which was the name of a fish. And when he moved back to the village—after I'd been there for three or four months—he was in his house, and I had built my own little hut away from the house. Whenever I went visiting the Yanomamö from one village to another I had a shotgun, I'm a pretty good shot, and whenever I'd shoot a monkey—a certain kind of a monkey that has this really elegant tail—they use the tail. They take the bone out of the tail by cutting the tail open lengthwise, pull the bone out, and wear the tail on their head during the festivals. They're decorative. And one day I shot two of these monkeys—wisha is the name of the monkey—and I gave them all the meat. I don't eat primates despite the blood running down my mouth when I eat tapir.

PINKER: Professional courtesy.

CHAGNON: Right. I wanted to keep one of the tails for myself to make my own little decorative thing. And I said, "Well, I'll have both of the tails." And they said, "You only have one head, though." And I said, "Well, I'm going to give them as a gift to Pao,"— who was as bald as a cue ball. And they rolled out on the ground. They thought that was so funny that Pao would need two of these monkey tails to cover his bald spot. So that's one example.

Anonymous said...

Moe haircut or moptops, like with the Beatles or Monkees?

Or Monk haircuts?


How about Monoid haircuts?

Plus genetic surgery to change the position of mouth and eyes.

TGGP said...

David Good looks less Amerindian than a whole lot of Mexican immigrants.

Glossy said...

"On one of his trips downriver, when he had been held up for several months, she had been gang-raped, abducted and badly assaulted - her ear was ripped."

The Yanomamo raid each other's villages for women. It's a major pastime of theirs. Quoting Chagnon:

"A captured woman is raped by all the men in the raiding party and, later, by the men in the village who wish to do so but did not participate in the raid. She is then given to one of the men as a wife."

Villages number 100 to 300 people. Chagnon gathered a lot of statistics about Yanomamo life. Perhaps the most interesting one is this: men who had killed fellow men had 2.6 times more wives and 3.1 times more children than Yanomamö men who had not killed.

Dave Pinsen said...

Good's mom could have hunted and fished a bit in New Jersey. Though she might have found the permits and regulations a bit tedious. If Good's father didn't have her do anything like that it's amazing she lasted as long as she did up here.

If she were here today, Dr. Good could have started a Yanomami-themed summer camp with his wife and affluent New Yorkers would jump at the chance to have their kids run around in the woods for a few weeks.

Glossy said...

I was told that primitive tribes worshiped earth goddesses and the womyn were equal with men and had polyamory and pacifism until they were conquered by warlike iron-age monotheists.

Chagnon implied that wife-beating is universal among the Yanomamo. One of the biggest characters in his popular textbook about the Yanomamo is named Kaobawa. Chagnon said that Kaobawa's relationship with his elder wife came closest to the Western idea of love that he'd ever seen in the jungle. This was partly because Kaobawa only beat his elder wife infrequently and lightly.

He said that in cases of adultery wife-beating sometimes turns fatal.

Truth said...

Hey, that reminds me, we haven't done a WMUI for a while.

Anonymous said...

So it's even better than a signal of his current strategy, which might change (and women favor stability and predictability). She knows that into the future, he'll be kept monogamous whether he wants to or not, simply because of female choice pointing away from baldness.

Somehow lead singers beat baldness. So do leading men in Hollywood. The nose-to-the-grindstone, provider "good dad" types don't fare so well. See the physics department photo roster. Or to keep it equal in IQ with the singers and actors, your typical middle management schlub.


The problem with these evo-psych "just so" stories is that there's never much support for them, and you can come up with many different, conflicting ones that all sound plausible.

There's evidence that baldness sends exactly the opposite signal of what you suggest:

"Bald men have more dominant image, study finds"

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2012/oct/04/bald-men-dominant-image

"Men with shaved heads are perceived as more masculine, dominant and even to have greater leadership potential, according to a study by the (bald) academic Albert Mannes, of the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton business school."

In polygynous societies, it's dominant male leaders that have power and thus have multiple women. Pretty boy singer and actor types don't become leaders and thus don't have power and multiple women in these societies. Do you know what happens to pretty boy types in these societies? Ancient Greece and contemporary Afghanistan should give you a clue. Or just look at what happens to pretty boys in Hollywood today. They get turned out by bald execs.

Anonymous said...

"Study: Bald Men Perceived More Dominant Than People With Hair"

http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2012/10/05/study-bald-men-perceived-more-dominant-than-people-with-hair/

"“Men whose hair was digitally removed were perceived as more dominant, taller, and stronger than their authentic selves,” the study stated."

elvisd said...

If Good's father didn't have her do anything like that it's amazing she lasted as long as she did up here.
She lasted longer up there than I would have.

Miss Carnivorous said...

I remember when he brought her to the US. He was persona non grata amongst his fellow anthropologists. She developed a love for Kentucky Fried Chicken and permed her hair into a curly do, much to his chagrin. Before he brought her to the US, and he would leave her when he traveled back home, she was regularly raped and abused by the men in her tribe who were pissed that she was in a relationship with an outsider.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a novel I read 35 years ago - "Native Intelligence" by Raymond Sokolov.

I remember the plot was - anthropologist goes into the Amazon and gets all wrapped up with the natives, including romantically.

NOTA said...

I suspect those kids are pretty close to genetically unique. But I can see why David didn't want to stay in the jungle and be a yanomamo, and why his mother wanted to go back.

Steve Sailer said...

In Waugh's "A Handful of Dust," Mr. Todd, the illiterate jungle patriarch with a taste for Dickens, is a pretty similar genetic mix. He was played by Alec Guinness in the 1988 film, but he'd look more like an old David Good:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5rMaRfS0kA

Anonymous said...

Never knew there was a movie version of A Handful of Dust. Turns out that there was a movie version of Sword of Honor made around the turn of the century starring Daniel Craig. It's not on Netflix though.

BTW, I wonder if Don Cheadle had read The Coup. He could pull off Ellelloû.

- Dave Pinsen

Anonymous said...

Bonobos, who are extremely non-monogamous primates, also go bald:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2411168/Extraordinary-images-just-similar-closest-living-relative--bonobo.html

Anonymous said...

agnostic - Somehow lead singers beat baldness. So do leading men in Hollywood. The nose-to-the-grindstone, provider "good dad" types don't fare so well. See the physics department photo roster. Or to keep it equal in IQ with the singers and actors, your typical middle management schlub.

Well, leading men in Hollywood do include guys like Bruce Willis, Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando, Ed Harris and many more. There's also the confound that once they start balding, they often become less marketable (cf Jude Law) and less visible as leading men (rather than as charismatic and powerful character actors).

Note, baldness is, medically, associated with a high testosterone level in youth and then a decline in adulthood. Its basically a signal that "I was high t, once upon a time, now I ain't".

I think what baldness is is more of a way for high t guys to signal that they are now (at least relatively more) monogamy safe, and have left their promiscuous past behind. Both the lifelong low-t high monogamy male (a la East Asian?) types and the lifelong high-t "no monogamy thanks" promiscuous guys (a la West African or Yanomami?) wouldn't get it so much. It's more for European men who may have a promiscuous, hell raising young stage during their teens but settle down and become monogamous later. High t leaves obvious signals in terms of physical robusticity, so when it declines (and the guy switches to a monogamous strategy), there is a need for a signal to show this as well, or women will just assume the guy is still a high t type.