Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dr. Joseph Henrich

Today in court was taken up with the testimony and cross-examination of Dr. Joseph Henrich, a noted scholar who is a member of the departments of psychology, economics and anthropology at the University of British Columbia. He holds the Canada Research Chair in Culture, Cognition and Coevolution. His evidence was given with the aid of a Powerpoint presentation, and was extremely thorough – a clinical academic approach after the emotional testimony of yesterday.

His evidence lasted for almost three hours as he spoke to the harms of polygamy, and the societal problems caused by this practice. He pointed out that humans are heavily reliant on their culture for learning, and that marriage is a pair bond regulated by rules. All marriage systems reinforce the concept of pair bonding as an important element of human psychology. Marriage is about couples and couples are about marriage.

He spoke of the origins of the concept of monogamy, which took root in ancient Greek society at a time when equality and democracy were being developed. (Wealthy men in Greece, however, could still get around the rule by importing sex slaves.) From Greece it moved to Rome, and thence to Europe; it has more recently been adopted in much of the world. Eventually, monogamy was adopted by the Christian church, together with concepts of sexual purity, (although the kings and prophets of the Old Testament had been polygamous).

Monogamy was a cultural evolution, and offered fertile conditions for gender equality. In polygamous societies there is low male investment in wives and children, whereas the opposite is true of monogamy.

Dr. Henrich made use of many graphs and diagrams during his presentation, far too many for me to discuss here, but he gave us many points to ponder in the ongoing discussion about Canada and polygamy.

I encourage you to go here for further information.

There will be no court session tomorrow. We begin again on Monday December 13th.

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