Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Polys in Court - week 4 - Prof Rose McDermott testimony

Summary of transcripts remainder of Dec 15 and morning of Dec 16,2010.
Professor Rose McDermott was called to the stand as a witness for the AG of Canada. She is currently a prof of political science at Brown University in Rhode Island. Among many other qualifications, Professor McDermott has held a research fellowship at Stanford studying an application of behaviour
 genetics to the origins of political ideology. Also she had a research fellowship at Harvard studying the biological basis of leadership comparing leaders and non-leaders looking at basically hormonal and genetic  underpinnings of leadership and political ideology.  Her area of expertise is political psychology with a focused interest in international elite decision making as opposed to mass politcal behaviour (ie - how voters react to economic downturn).
Professor McDermott has authored and co-authored several books in her area of interest as well as much involvement in academic organizations related. Through a series of unrelated coincidences began working on a research project to study polygamy about 10 yrs ago.
Her report was compiled specifically for this reference case and was to examine three points:
 1. the impact of polygynous relationships on women's equality
2. the influence of polygynous relationships on children including the health and welfare of children born of polygynous marriages
3. the influence of polygamy on various aspects of the nation state
The report has three parts:
 1. examination of existing literature on the topics
2.  the statistical analysis of the data from her 10 years of research which looks at 18 variables that are influenced by polygyny
3. discussion of some of the theoretical argument about some of the mechanisms that may help support the influence of polygyny
Prof McDermott makes a distinction between polygamy (defined here as where one spouse has multiple partners whether male or female), polygyny (male spouse has multiple partners only), and polyandry (female spouse has multiple partners only) and she focused her report on polygyny which she states is the more prevalent as polyandry is extremely rare.

My Comment:  I find it really interesting that the experts feel that polyandry is rare when it is a common configuration of relationship in polyamory communities in Canada. Perhaps we are just more willing to be identified as M-F-M families.)
In her report Prof McDermott has used several terms intermittently polygynous unions, polygynous relationships, and polygynous marriages but clarified that she restricted her report to polygynous marriages to determine the impact of legal marriages ("the institution of polygamous marriage")that are polygynous on things like parental investment strategy and does not include situations like a married man with mistresses or an unmarried man with several girlfriends.
Her findings from literature are as follows:
Impact on Women
- there was a statistically significant relationship between the degree of polygyny in a society and a whole
  host of specific outcomes which include with regard to women things like increased number of children, greater maternal mortality, shorter longevity.  Women in these societies are more subject to sex trafficking and female genital mutilation.
- fewer resources than monogamous counter parts (smaller plot of land, smaller house)
- in 22 countries where polygamy was banned there was a subsequent decrease in fertility by 40 percent, increased financial savings by 70 percent and a per capita outcome of an increase of 170 percent.
- higher rate of mental illness than monogamous counter parts
Impact on Children
- both boys and girls are less likely to receive both primary and secondary levels of
   education - more likely to fall into the criminal justice system
- 25 percent risk of increased mortality
- girls are more likely to get married early and suffer the consequences of prepubertal sex - girls more likely to be fertile at younger ages in polygynous communities than in monogamous communities
- children of young mothers have worse outcomes in life
- more likely to have shorter span between births - less than 24 months increases risk of birth defects - less than 12 months increases risks of child & mother mortality
Impact on Nation State
- higher levels of polygyny are correlated with greater discrepancy between what the law says on
   the books and hows it actually practised. There is a greater inequity in the treatment of men and women before the law. Larger amounts of money are spent on weapons procurement and arms expenditures and there are lower levels of political freedoms and civil liberties in societies with greater degrees of polygyny.
- ejection of boys from the community to preserve the gender balance for men to have multiple spouses causes problems for the state - boys are from poorer level of society without education or skills to survive and impact the criminal justice system - China is redirects them to monastery or mercenary activities.

Research portion of report: 
 Professor McDermott reviewed the data analysis of 18 variables from statistics of 170 countries with populations of over 200,000 in a PowerPoint presentation.  She developed a 5 point scale (0 no polygyny to 4 25% or more of female population is in polygynous marriages) looking at polygyny in every country and whether or not it was legal in that country and secondly how prevalent it was in that country.  In cases where the two conflicted (instances where polygyny is legal but quite uncommon or where it's illegal but quite common) she gave priority to prevalence over legitimacy to see the institutional impact.
Her findings:
As the prevalence of polygyny increases:
- the birth rate per thousand increases from 15 (zero women in polygynous marriages) to 25 (25% of women in polygynous marriages)
- increase in birth rate of mothers who are 15 - 19 yrs of age
- girls enrolled in primary education has a slow decline while minimal decline for boys
- girls enrolled in high school education has a sharp decline with a sharper decline for boys
- increase in infection rate of HIV in females
- age of marriage of females declines - zero polygyny has an average age of 25 yrs and declines to average of 20 yrs at higher levels of polygyny prevalence
- maternal mortality rate rises steadily
- female life expectancy decreases - zero polygyny has an average of 78 or 79 yrs and higher rate of polygyny is average of 60 years
- increase in domestic violence - from 20% (zero polygyny) to 60% (highest polygyny prevalence)
- female genital mutilation - at highest level of polygyny prevalence 90% probability that 50% of the women are suffering this procedure with 25% of women in polygynous marriages
- substantial increase in inequality under the law where the highest prevalence of polygyny exist
- substantial decrease in civil rights and political freedom
- sex trafficking as practiced and willingness of the country to enforce laws forbidding it - prevalence of polygyny correlates to increase of sex trafficking and decrease in enforcement.
- increase in the discrepancy between what is the laws state and what is practiced
- increase in size of defense budget and military expenditure
Prof McDermott's summary:
- patriarchy is supportive and permissive of polygynous structures which involve typically the financial dependence of women on men and male control over female reproductive choices and options.
- men in patriarchal polygynous marriages obtain both social status and economic welfare from their control over female productive and reproductive benefits.
- sex ratio imbalances which exacerbate polygyny but reflect actually a slightly different underlying statistical reality as many more older women which are typically not of reproductive interest.
- while some individuals certainly claim to benefit from being in a polygynous union there has been no statistical demonstration that polygyny benefits most men or women, boys or girls or society considered as a whole.

Cross-examination by the Amicus:
- stats analysis specific to Canada from McDermott report quoted by Amicus - "we have found no evidence that polygynous marriages are a national issue and at the top of the page they do not even appear to be a cultural or regional occurrence. Other evidence may be found in the future but as of this comment the practice appears to be extremely minimal or non-existent." Prof McDermott confirmed that would be her knowledge of Canada.
- McDermott referenced website chart shows Canada as a zero polygamy prevalence which is defined for that chart as "monogamy is the rule and wide spread".  Prof McDermott confirmed this as her understanding.
Amicus asked McDermott for some stats on polygynous,polyamorous and polyandrous marriages in Canada, Prof McDermott sited  BBC reports indicating 10,000 polygynous marriages in Canada and was unaware of polyandrous marriages.
- in regards to the use of Ms. Jessop's book ("Escape" by Caroline Jessop and Laura Palmer) as a source for her report - Amicus questioned the weight placed on it as it isn't a peer reviewed piece of literature comparative to other sources  - Amicus asked Prof McDermott if Jessop wanted the polygamy decriminalized. Prof McDermott said no that Jessop wanted the law to stand.
- Amicus produced transcripts from "the source of all knowledge" (Oprah Winfrey) and the show on which the author of the book was interviewed.  
- "I think decriminalizing polygamy is the answer because it's more middle of the road...A blanket prosecution is disastrous and sets up the elements I came from. It set up the elements and stage for the very abuses to occur that are occurring now...and so if there was a way to decriminalize it so people could live honestly in the open and their children could be more mainstreamed." 
Prof McDermott was unaware of that statement although a similar quote is in the promotional materials for Jessops book  and was also made in a speech to the US House Judiciary committee.
- in regards to the use of Brent Jeff's book as a source for her report, Amicus confirmed with Prof McDermott that peer reviewed quality was not applied to books but only articles in this report. She hadn't read a chapter of the book that he wanted to question her on though.
- regarding her scale of prevalence of polygyny and negative outcomes, there was some lengthy discussion on whether she was saying that polygamy was a cause of these outcomes and how each country made it into the category assigned particulary placing Canada as a country where the polygamy law was enforced when that is not historically the case.
- Amicus noted that in several examples at the low end of the chart (Canada scoring "1" versus El Salvador scoring "0") might also in fact show that where there is more polygamy there is also better educations and better opportunities for education.
- after some discussion the professor agreed that many other factors beside Gross Nation Product (the variable Prof McDermott had used to level the economic playing field of the countries reviewed) could influence the effects on all of these outcomes but deemed none of them more effective to all then GNP and did not consider war (for instance) in various countries as relative.
- regarding the correlation of polygyny to male aggression as displayed through larger defense budgets by various nations - her study began after 911 following some discussions with Al Gore and a team of 12 senior Harvard academics seeking to understand male aggression and the theory that polygyny was a factor which was not supported by 10 of the 12 but persued as a study anyway.

Cross-examination by the BC Teacher's Federation:
- primary education for this report is defined as grades 1 to 8 as many countries don't have kindergarten
- secondary education or high school for this report is defined as grades 9 to 12
- enrollment is the the criteria - completion of that education level is not noted

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Polys in Court - week 4 - Professor Todd Shackleford testimony

Summary of transcript of testimony on Dec 15,2010.

Professor Todd Shackleford was called to the stand by a lawyer on the legal team of the Amicus. Professor Shackleford is a professor of psychology and the chair
of the department of psychology at Oakland University in Rochester,Michigan. Formerly a professor at the Atlantic University in Florida where you founded and were chair of the PhD program in evolutionary psychology. He has published 226 articles and chapters of 173 were articles in scientific journals and all
of which were peer reviewed publications. He acted as editor on a number of publications for Oxford University Press in the fields of evolutionary psychology,and family psychology as well as a number of other books on evolutionary cognitive neuro-science published by MIT press. Professor Shackleford has been conducting research on conflict in monogamous relationships for the past 20 years focusing on men's violence, aggression, and their psychological and sexual abuse against their partners. The research features surveys of men and their partners and
determining the reliability of comparative statistical results.

Professor Shackeford's points:

1. while Prof Henrich has summarized various correlations and apparent consequences, negative correlations and apparent consequences can be seen in any kind of mating or marriage structure

2. causation and correlation are separate issues and cannot be assumed because of the implications of any third variable that may be present without your knowledge - for instance if you measured the consumption of ice cream and the number of drownings in a particular area you might find that as people eat more ice
cream there is an increase in the frequency of drownings but people aren't drowning because they ate too much ice cream. An increase in temperature encourages people to buy more ice cream and also to do more swimming.

3. in any mating structure where people of different interests are involved you will find conflict

4. his research of male sexual jealousy in the context of monogamous relationships has found that male sexual jealousy is a very good predictor of all sorts of undesirable consequences including violence against mens' partners, psychological abuse, sexual coercion, rape and men actually killing their partners.

5. something that has been documented now cross culturally is that the rates of child abuse neglect and killing for children who live with one stepparent relative to children who live with two genetic parents can be as high as 40 to 100 times

"I was providing in this affidavit a summary of my own work that indicates that in short that polygyny doesn't have the market cornered so to speak on some of these negative correlates and consequences." (Prof Todd Shackleford)

6. the challenge in undertaking cross-cultural research is that in order to compare relationship processes dynamics in one culture to another culture one has have to be very sensitive whether or not there might be differences in that other culture
that might impact the very processes you're attempting to investigate.

7. RE: violence among unrelated family members - is found in monogamous relationships where the husband and wife are typically unrelated

(MY COMMENT: - in a monogamist context - a man would be more likely to beat his wife than he would his sister or his mother as they are genetically related to him.)

In previous testimony heard by the court, Prof Heinrich contends that you'd expect to find this more so
with more unrelated adults in a polygynous home - Prof Shackleford said that he wasn't sure that it made sense to consider three unrelated women who happen to be co-wives as a random set of unrelated people given that we know there may be pressure on these co-wives in that cultural context to attempt to
get along better and treat each other's children reasonably. He wasn't sure that it was reasonable to simply apply full force data collected in one context to data collected in what may well be a qualitatively different context.

8. RE: conflict among co-wives - Prof Heinrich indicates that there is evidence of conflict among co-wives which will lead to violence among siblings who do not share the same mother. Prof  Shackleford said that while there may be conflict amongst co-wives there is also cooperation,friendship and love. Conflict is

not the defining or single feature of these relationships. Again comparing data to data that is qualitatively different.

9. children of polygynous relationships have negative outcomes -  Henrich reviewed article by Salman Elbedour - Prof Shakleford says that isn't what he took from the article - it cites some research that indicates children in polygynous relationships may have a variety of outcomes that are more negative than children

of monogamous relationships but it also cites studies that indicate children in polygynous relationships actually have a variety of outcomes that are more positive than children in monogamous relationships. Prof Shackleford felt the research was mixed on the issue.

10. RE: the role of sexual jealousy and age disparity - Prof Heinrich noted that where there is an age disparity between husbands and wives there tends to be greater sexual jealousy on the part of husbands toward their wives and that greater sexual jealousy in turn is related to a higher frequency or higher risk

of older husbands inflicting violence on their partners and this should be more so in polygynous relationships. Prof Shackleford questioned the assumption that what is found in monogamous relationships can be applied full force without regard to potential cultural or contextual differences.

Cross-examination by the BC AG began with a discussion of a book by Stephen Pinker (who is known to Prof Shakleford) and his evolutionary psychology based theory of monogamy versus polygamy.

- RE: if legal men especially wealthy, powerful men who could afford to it would choose polygamy as a general rule and give in to biological bent toward multiple partners - Prof Shakleford said that it isn't a given that men who have the opportunity will pursue it. He noted that some men are especially sensitive to

the costs involved in doing so in terms of maintaining social status which means maintaining a relationship with their regularlong term partner.

- RE: excess of young males would increase crime - Prof Shakleford agreed that males and most especially young males are disproportionately responsible for crime and anti-socialbehaviour in society. It would follow that the more unmarried young men there are the more crime and anti-social behaviour.

- RE: unrelated adults in the home - BC AG cited a study in Australia that showed that women were more likely to seat belt their genetic children in than children who were not their own and asked if it would not be reasonable to assume that if the presence of women who were not the genetic mothers would not

increase the risk of child abuse in the home. Also that the unrelated issue was not just in the parent/child and

parent/parent relationships but also in unrelated sibling relationships. Prof Shackleford said it was the risk of an unrelated male that was substantial in his studies and that just because there are more unrelated people it may or may not follow that the risks were greater.

RE: serial monogamy as experienced in our society is repressed polygynous urges or defacto polygyny and thus polygamy might spread quickly if the option were available - Prof Shackleford had issues with the possible variables in that scenario but amongst high status individuals "as opposed to impossible it's

plausible....terribly unlikely but plausible".

(My Comment: There is an interesting feel to this cross-examination. Initially, in consideration of Prof Shackleford's qualifications, the BC AG lawyer said that he was well aware of Prof Shackleford's work and it was an honour to have him involved in this reference case. During cross-examination, this lawyer
consistently referred to the witness as Dr. Shackleford which is also accurate, if not more so, as the professor is a PhD holder. The feel of the cross-examination - even in the text transcripts
- is of attempted camaraderie - as though the professor were a witness for the BC AG not the "opposing side". Reminds me very much of chit chatting with a sciences teacher in high school who was a brilliant man and qualified to teach university but preferred to work with the minds of teenagers and inspire them to higher educational options. He had various obsessions in his personal studies and one of my classmates (likely a lawyer now) was very adept at side tracking the teacher off on one of these tangents. The discussion was quite facinating but nothing to do with what we were doing and most definitely left no time for homework assignment. The attempt in this cross-examination seemed to be to get the esteemed professor to pontificate (outside his area of expertise) on the possibilities that his findings regarding monogamy would be more prevalent in polygamy thus making it something we should guard our society from experiencing in the onslaught of rampant polygamy that would follow decriminalization of this relationship form.)

Cross-examination from the AG Canada centered around the sexual jealousy of men causing them to create various controlling behaviours such as treating women as sexual and reproductive commodities and how this might become a community norm leading to increased levels of violence within that community. Age disparity between spouses being greater than 13 years is an indicator of possible violence between spouses.  The younger the wife the more likely she'll kill her husband.  Prof Shackleford agreed to these as possibilities and probable outcomes. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Polys in Court - week 4 - Professor Lori Beaman

from transcripts of Dec 13, 2010 - BC Supreme court

Professor Lori Beaman was called to the stand by the Amicus' team of lawyers. She is currently a professor of classics and religious studies at the University of Ottawa and holds a research chair there. Professor Beaman has a PhD in Sociology and a law degree from the University of New Brunswick. She practiced family law in Sussex, New Brunswick for five years. Professor Beaman also edits a series called the "Sociology of Religion" for Brill press and has done several research projects for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Most recently a 2.5 million dollar grant for a 7 year project which investigated religious identity and the limits on religious freedom, more or less in the realms of law and policy. She currently teaches in the area of religious freedom, identity construction (how the members of a religious group view themselves and how others view them)and qualitative research practice. Prof Beaman has also studied, taught, and written a book on the subject of violence against women in the religious context. Her dissertation looked at women's own experiences in a church setting while the book focused more on evangelical family life and looked at how conservative Christians understand things like the doctrine of head ship and submission. She also interviewed Transition House workers and was active in the Transition House movement in New Brunswick while researching how religious groups respond to violence against women. She has done no field research on polygamy for this report but a great deal of literature research.

Professor Beaman’s discussed the following points:
Re: Harms of polygamy
- in defining the harms of a religious practice to the individual or society the practice that is flagged as harmful is usually that of a minority religion. She noted the Niqab (Muslim dress for women) or the Sikh kerban (ceremonial dagger) as examples. The practices of majority religions are not under the same scrutiny.
- a broader historical and social context would be best in reviewing potentially harmful practices.
- sited three different researchers that have done qualitative research from several perspectives on polygamy and noted that all three had concluded that "while there are some unique or unusual problems that can arise within the context of polygamous relationships some people live quite contentedly within the context of polygyny".
- a researcher must be careful of the weight given to anecdotal information (ie if she used the stories from interviews in transition houses in her research she might have concluded that these horror stories were reflective of monogamous relationships. We can't extrapolate generalities about relationships from such data.
- sited studies where question was raised about the impact on anecdotal data by the concept of disaffiliation. This is found in people who have left religious groups or in people going through divorce. The feelings of fear and anger can come to overlay their understanding of the entire experience of their relationship. While there are abusive relationships and horrible experiences, we need to be careful not to generalize the group as a whole.
Re: polygamous societies in other areas of the world
- these pieces of research can raise important questions but that we should not import them directly into what in many cases is a completely different socio cultural historical context.
- studies of polygamy outside of North America have produced mixed results and where some attribute harms to polygamy , others are positive about the benefits or show that the harms can be overcome.
- historical context of the evolution of polygyny laws in the US and Canada coming out of a Christian moral panic in reaction to the growth of the Mormon community in North America.
Re: women brainwashed to consent
- noted several studies of women in conservative religious groups specifically evangelical Christian groups, Latter Day Saints, Orthodox Jewish women, and Amish women regarding their gender roles and the idea that they may be duped into submission and that this is not an accurate stereo type
- In her own research of evangelical women – they were aware of the criticism and insisted that they do participate in decision making processes and she found that there was a great deal of mutuality
- Studies found these women engaged in the daily process of making financial, child rearing and daily life decisions often instead of the male head of the household.
- Women in majority religions tend to be more insulated from this criticism
- Roman Catholic Nuns choose celibacy accept that they have less authority than priests and don’t participate in the authority structure as men do – they are socialized to accept the Roman Catholic way and yet we don’t hear people talking about wanting to rescue Nuns.
- Orthodox Jewish women have a similar situation
- Important not to assume that because it is a minority religion the women are therefore duped or brainwashed simply because the choice they make isn’t one we’d make.

Cross-examination by the BC AG, AG of Canada and the Canadian Coalition of Rights of
Children and the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights shot some holes in the depth of her research but she held up well. The BC AG questioned her on the raid of Warren Jeff’s group in 2008. He took exception to her comment in her affidavit that the charges were “largely unfounded”. BC AG said that there were 91 charges laid where she had noted only 23 in her media search with 12 convictions. I suspect she was seeing data on primary charges where he was noting correlated charges (other adults who knew about abuse but didn’t prevent or report)but still Prof Beaman said that she’d have to review better documentation to revise her opinion especially since 91 charges with only 12 convictions is still largely unfounded and she found that peculiar.