Sunday, December 26, 2010

Polys in Court - week 3 - Dr Joseph Heinrich summary

from transcript of Dec 9,2010 - BC Supreme Court and with thanks to C.C. who was present for this court session for her notes. A PowerPoint presentation was used by the witness and you'll find a link to it at the end of the blog piece.

The BC AG called his principal expert on the causes of polygamy and its consequences, Dr. Joseph Heinrich to the witness stand. Dr. Heinrich holds the Canada Research Chair in culture cognition and evolution at the University of British Columbia and is co-director of the Centre of Human Evolution Culture and Cognition. He is also a member of the economics and psychology faculties and holds a PhD in anthropology from UCLA. Dr. Heinrich does interdisciplinary research to study cultural evolution and has published his findings in several academic journals. Dr. Heinrich was contracted by the BC AG to research literature specific to this reference case and produce a report for the court which was presented via a PowerPoint presentation. His research assistant was his wife Natalie Heinrich who also holds a PhD in anthropology and teaches Masters program classes at UBC.

Dr. Heinrich's testimony was a PowerPoint presentation and his commentary.
The presentation can be found here:
Dr. Heinrich discussed his application of theories from evolutionary biology to understand human mating psychology. His points of interest were:

* Humans tilt towards a polygynous mating system under a wide range of economic conditions.
* One potential outcome of a polygynous marriage system is that it increases the size of the pool of low status unmarried men that results in an increase in crime and substance abuse.
* Primates invest less in children who are not their own.
* Marriage systems 24% regulate male sexuality, 90% regulate female sexuality.
* Purpose of human mating and marriage systems is procreation.
* In a brief history of western monogamy indicates that monogamy creates more equality between men and sites the surety of paternity being the goal.
* Give examples where women who are not married and sex slaves are available with no comment on the very low status of these women as a result and the impact on themselves.
* In discussing in implementation of monogamy in historic Rome & Greece fails to note that the greater reason for it was breaking down tribal/kinship clans.
* Monogamy is not relgious.
* Men will increase risky behavioursw in order to get married.
* Only quality evidence for an increase in crime where there's an increase in the pool of unmarried men was an increase in rape in societies where women's sexuality is tightly regulated by marriage system.
* Effect of effect of marriage on crime is similar to the effect of having higher education is on crime.
* Japan, China and India have imposed monogamy recently.
* Doesn't seem to have controlled for female education and economic power in looking at the effects of polygyny.
* Noted that the score on polygyny in countries is very crude.
* Richer countries...there was a greater effect of sex ratio on women's role than in poorer countries.
* Implies that it could happen in North America because it happens in the FLDS.
* Uses a model that equates increasing the power of women with women being able to make reproductive choices and shows that polygyny is lessened somewhat
* Predicts impacts of polygamy on health and mortality of children within polygamous families using example of 19th century Mormon communities in Utah. Those communities were under siege from the neighoburing communities and having to uproot to escape which present some causality issues to his data.
* Harms to participants:
> infant mortality - difference between mono and poly using only African studies.
> health of kids - psychological/sociological papers vary quite a bit, cultural factors affect it
> crimes committed - inferential data eg. from step families.
> social harms - excess males/lost boys: strongest evidence.
> cross national child brides: strong causal link. Flows from mathematics of supply and demand of females to males. This happens in both mono/poly but some men are looking for much younger women to start with.
> increased male control of women - cultural evolutionary pressure for institutions to control women.
* Bountiful: only hard evidence in Americas of harms of polygamy
* Census: almost 90% of people will get married. Large pool of currently unmarried men. At birth men out number women so polygamy exacerbates the problem.

When asked what would happen in his opinion if polygamy were legal in Canada, Dr. Heinrich said that he didn't know if our gender norms have gone far enough to protect against polygamy. Social changes can happen quickly. Even if women gender normative, women may still want to marry up. If polygamy becomes legal, people may move north from US (although most many US states do not criminalize multiple conjugal households). Fertility is higher in polygamy.

Dr. Heinrich said that in India, Hindus have been converting to Islam in order to marry more than one wife (perhaps Indian law allows for things accepted under Muslim law which would not apply if one was Hindu.) He said that in western society serial monogamy shows that the psychology of polygamy is already present. High status men divorce to marry younger women quite commonly. In his classroom, he asked young women to say whether if they were in love with two men, one being a billionaire already married, and the second being a regular guy, who would they marry? 70% of his evolved University of BC female students said the billionaire.

Comments by C.C. & myself:
(Now, had he asked if they only loved the regular guy which would they choose, allowed for them to choose both, or told them both relationships offered an egalitarian relationship with laws in which they had equal rights to marry/divorce/ share property...the answers might have been different.)


The Amicus began is cross-examination by asking what the BC AG had hired Dr. Heinrich to report on and noted that Dr. Heinrich had been given a copy of the AG BC's position prior to doing his research and that his list of the harms of polygamy were the same as the AG BC had noted. Dr. Heinrich confirmed that he had not studied polygamy before this court case. He said that there were two main harms which were too many unmarried men and women marrying too young. These are the harms of peculiar to polygamy. When asked to consider these harms with respect to 3 men or 3 women in a triad he admitted that he had not considered these options and had restricted his work to polygyny. He could only associate the harms with polygyny. His thesis is that "rich alpha males will plausibly marry many women".

The Amicus clarified that legalization is not the issue before the court in these proceedings. Legalization being to recognize polygamy as a form of civil marriage versus decriminalization which would make it no longer an offense to be in a polygamous household. Dr. Heinrich admitted that he was unclear on the distinction and left us unclear as to whether he could determine the effects of recognized unions versus unrecognized unions. Dr. Heinrich has not studied how often section 293 had been used.

In reference to Dr. Heinrich's theory that men take greater risks to get sex/wife specifically theft, murder, and robbery. Amicus suggested that his study in China on which he heavily relied was in a period during Tiennamen square 1988-2004, and that he did not properly consider the effects of this in the study.

The Amicus questioned Dr. Henrich with regards to his two main harms. Dr. Heinrich agreed that there is a 1.05 sex ratio for most societies (men to women), with 10,000 newly divorced men every year and that proportionately, the numbers in Bountiful are very small by comparison. As to harms for young girls: he agreed that Canada can make laws governing the age of marriage and consent. With regards to people coming north from the US if polygamy is no longer legal here he agreed that Canada controls immigration laws and that Canada did not become a destination place for homosexuals following the decriminalization of gay sex.

The BC Civil Liberties Association's cross-examination of Dr. Heinrich was brief. The discussion was that polygyny is marginal in Canada and his theories were mostly speculation. Canada has well entrenched legal institutions that support human rights and promote human rights, respect and flourishing of children. Dr. Heinrich said that he did include democracy as a variable in his study and assured that sex ratios influence women's empowerment.

Dr. Heinrich's PowerPoint presentation can be found here.

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