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Children of more distantly related cousins have less risk of genetic disorders.In fact, a study of Icelandic records indicated that marriages between third or fourth cousins (people with common great-great- or great-great-great-grandparents) may produce the most children and grandchildren. people with common grandparents or people who share other fairly recent ancestors).
They cite the example of Cicero attacking Mark Antony not on the grounds of cousin marriage, but instead on grounds of Antony's divorce.
By the 1870s, Lewis Henry Morgan (1818–1881) was writing about "the advantages of marriages between unrelated persons" and the necessity of avoiding "the evils of consanguine marriage", avoidance of which would "increase the vigor of the stock".
To many, Morgan included, cousin marriage, and more specifically parallel-cousin marriage, was a remnant of a more primitive stage of human social organization. Briggs appointed a commission to study "idiots" in the state, and this study implicated cousin marriage as responsible for idiocy.
The writings of Scottish deputy commissioner for lunacy Arthur Mitchell claiming that cousin marriage had injurious effects on offspring were largely contradicted by researchers such as Alan Huth and George Darwin.
In fact, Mitchell's own data did not support his hypotheses and he later speculated that the dangers of consanguinity might be partly overcome by proper living.
Despite being contradicted by other studies like those of George Darwin and Alan Huth in England and Robert Newman in New York, the report's conclusions were widely accepted.