Why would anyone want multiple spouses?


Announcer: Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from HowStuffWorks.com.

Josh Clark: Hello, and welcome to the podcast - the swinginest podcast on iTunes.

Chuck Bryant: Is it?

Josh Clark: Yeah, it's Stuff You Should Know.

Chuck Bryant: All right.

Josh Clark: I'm Josh Clark. There's Charles W. "Chuck" Bryant.

Chuck Bryant: In the flesh.

Josh Clark: We're both wearing robes and moustaches.

Chuck Bryant: Right? Swinging!

Josh Clark: Yeah, swinging, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant: As in to swing.

Josh Clark: Yes, have you ever heard of swinging?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I think I told this story once about the Atlanta Swingers' Club was very close to my phone number.

Josh Clark: - The Trapeze Club.

Chuck Bryant: Well, no. It was just called the Atlanta Swingers' Club at the time.

Josh Clark: Oh, well, that's pretty straightforward.

Chuck Bryant: I may have said this, but it was a long time ago. It was very close to my phone number growing up and we used to get calls all the time for people seeking the Swingers' Club and being a Baptist family, it was, like, you know, my mom basically made them seem like it was the devil calling.

Josh Clark: Sure. I'm sure.

Chuck Bryant: It was pretty funny.

Josh Clark: Yeah, so, on this very special episode of Stuff You Should Know we find out what fueled young Chuck Bryant's budding sexuality.

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: Turns out, it was misplaced phone calls to swingers' clubs.

Chuck Bryant: Yes, and continued sexual dysfunction because now that I'm an adult, I'm like, "They were just trying to have a good time."

Josh Clark: Yeah, hey, man. Loosen up.

Chuck Bryant: It's not my deal, but, you know, it doesn't make then Satanists.

Josh Clark: Yeah, you don't wanna put your hang-ups on other people, right?

Chuck Bryant: No, that's a drag.

Josh Clark: Well, it depends, man. We're talking today about polygamy and there is a whole lot of people putting their hang-ups on polygamists.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: They have a hard time here in the States.

Chuck Bryant: They do.

Josh Clark: But before we get into that, Chuck, before we get into the swinginest podcast around, let's get some administrative details out of the way.

Chuck Bryant: Yes, very important announcement. This is, like - I know you're tired of hearing about it if you don't live in Atlanta, but this is the last -

Josh Clark: - Or the southeast.

Chuck Bryant: - one of the last chances we'll have to say we are having our trivia night in Atlanta, October 13th.

Josh Clark: It's a Wednesday. Block out from 6:00 p.m. to about 11:00 p.m.

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: You're going to show up to work on Thursday not on all four cylinders -

Chuck Bryant: - Right.

Josh Clark: - depending on how many cylinders you have.

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: But you're going to have had a great time the night before. Why, Chuck? What's going to have happened on Wednesday, October 13th?

Chuck Bryant: We're gonna play bar trivia and we're gonna have Daily Show's John Hodgman sitting beside us.

Josh Clark: Yes.

Chuck Bryant: Onion Editor-in-Chief, Joe Randazzo.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: And Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Squidbillies co-creator, Dave Willis.

Josh Clark: Dave Willis, nice, yes.

Chuck Bryant: Very proud.

Josh Clark: And plus us.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, yeah, and then there's us.

Josh Clark: And our families.

Chuck Bryant: And Jerry.

Josh Clark: Will your mom be there?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: How adorable.

Chuck Bryant: And I hope my brother - is your dad coming?

Josh Clark: I don't know.

Chuck Bryant: No?

Josh Clark: He finally went out and bought an iPod to listen to what his son was doing and I don't think he's turned the thing on yet, and this is months ago. So, we'll see.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I think my mom will be there.

Josh Clark: Didn't he show you the iPod when you met him at my birthday party?

Chuck Bryant: I don't - yeah, yeah, he did.

Josh Clark: He was like, "Look," and you're like, "What is that?"

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: And it was a Nano even.

Chuck Bryant: He said, "It's an iPod, Chuck. I'm surprised you don't know that."

Josh Clark: Right, you were in it.

Chuck Bryant: So, that's what's going on Wednesday, October 13th. The night before, Tuesday, October 12th, our buddies and de facto house band, the Henry Clay People are playing a show at the Drunken Unicorn on East Ponce.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: And we're gonna be there, and Jerry is gonna be there, and hopefully a couple of our buddies coming in from out of town - Randazzo, maybe Hodgman.

Josh Clark: We'll see.

Chuck Bryant: And see some rock and roll, and hang out with the band; they're cool guys.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: It's like two nights of fun in a row.

Josh Clark: Yes, it's going to be a fun week.

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: Yeah. So, that's what's going on this October 12th and 13th in preparation of Halloween.

Chuck Bryant: Now back to polygamy.

Josh Clark: Yes, all right. So, let's get back to polygamy, Chuck. Do you remember Warren Jeffs?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Thanks for this article because I didn't really have an intro except for a mention of Big Love, which I've never seen. Have you?

Chuck Bryant: You know, I watched Big Love initially and bailed on it - not because it was bad, I just didn't have the time, but I've heard it's really good.

Josh Clark: Sure, yeah, well, it's a acclaimed series.

Chuck Bryant: HBO's, Bill Paxton.

Josh Clark: You can't go wrong with Mr. Bill Paxton. That guy is a class-act, but back to Warren Jeffs -

Chuck Bryant: - Yeah.

Josh Clark: - not to be confused with Bill Paxton. Bill Paxton plays a polygamist on TV. Warren Jeffs is a polygamist in real life, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - At the very least, he's been indicted for allegedly fostering the marriage between a 14-year-old and a 17-year-old, right - 14-year-old and her 19-year-old cousin?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, some would call him a pederast, Josh, and not just a polygamist.

Josh Clark: He couldn't be a pederast unless he is a homosexual because pederasty refers specifically to the -

Chuck Bryant: - Oh, really?

Josh Clark: - child molestation of boys.

Chuck Bryant: I didn't know that.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Well, then, he would be a child molester then, in many people's eyes.

Josh Clark: Allegedly, Chuck - allegedly, allegedly, allegedly.

Chuck Bryant: Well, he's in jail for it. He was convicted of it.

Josh Clark: He has not been convicted. He goes to trial on November 15th.

Chuck Bryant: Well, he was found - what was he found guilty of then?

Josh Clark: Apparently, they're having a hearing to find out if he's one in the same as the person they were looking for.

Chuck Bryant: No, no, no. That's in Texas. He's been in jail for the - he was sentenced to consecutive prison terms of five years following his 2007 conviction in Utah. Now, there's new charges in Texas.

Josh Clark: Lay it on me.

Chuck Bryant: Well, they're trying to get him extradited to Texas and he - much more serious charges were thrown out. I'm sorry. Texas has the much more serious charges. So, they threw out even more charges in Arizona. This guy had charges all over the place.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: And so, he is in jail in Utah and the governor signed an extradition warrant to send him to Texas in mid-August, but they denied it. So, they're waiting on a court-ordered extradition, basically.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: And that may bring him 5 to 99 years that he -

Josh Clark: - And up to a $10,000.00 fine.

Chuck Bryant: - Assaulted a child under 17.

Josh Clark: Yeah, so -

Chuck Bryant: That makes him a child molester.

Josh Clark: He's got a lot of stuff against him. I'm gonna just say allegedly all over the place because I have to admit I'm not 100 percent on what he's been charged with or convicted of.

Chuck Bryant: Okay.

Josh Clark: But having charges all over the place is nothing new for polygamists, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, no.

Josh Clark: Jeffs is the leader of a sect of Mormonism called Fundamentalist Mormons.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: We should say that the Church of Latter-day Saints - the Mormons - although frequently associated with polygamy, haven't really done so since the 19th century, and we'll get into the Mormons and their polygamist lifestyle later, but I think it's fair to say that Jeffs is not representative of the Mormon church as a whole.

Chuck Bryant: No, not at all.

Josh Clark: You know?

Chuck Bryant: Let's start with the basics.

Josh Clark: Okay, let's talk about polygamy. What is it? There's, like, I think people have a - give the definition of polygamy, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant: Well, before the definition let me just say that most Westerners don't identify with anything but monogamy, but culturally, worldwide and in history, monogamy is a minority, actually. Actually, polygamist societies outnumber by the hundreds monogamous societies and cultures.

Josh Clark: Monogamy appears to be a Christian hang-up because if you go to areas before the Christians got there, pretty much everybody, historically, was polygamists.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: Right? And then the Christians arrived and all of a sudden there's monogamy everywhere.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: Did you know that?

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: And among mammals as well, humans are - as monogamists - are in the vast minority.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: Only about 3 to 5 percent of all mammals engage in monogamy. The rest are polygamists.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: Right?

Chuck Bryant: So definition-wise, I believe it's polygamy is more than one spouse. Polygyny is more than one wife, correct?

Josh Clark: Yes. So polygamy doesn't attach gender or legality to it.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: It's just - right? And then polyandry is a woman having more than one husband.

Chuck Bryant: Which Jerry beforehand -

Josh Clark: Jerry was like, "But it's all -"

Chuck Bryant: - She was like, "Well, it's not like women can have more than one husband." Wrong.

Josh Clark: Yeah, especially if you are a member of the Nyinba people in Nepal.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, women there have - and I just think is, like, a sitcom waiting to happen. Women there have to marry all the brothers of a family.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: So, if you marry one brother, you get Daryl and Daryl. If you marry Larry, you get Daryl and Daryl as well.

Josh Clark: Right, nice.

Chuck Bryant: And it makes sense in a way for them because it allows them to pool their resources as a family, hold onto family land, take care of their children.

Josh Clark: Well, it's very culturally-specific, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Because this group of people - there's about 1,300 members of the Nyinbian culture.

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: And they simply don't have enough land for each man to go out on his own, form a homestead, and a family.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: So, it's very culturally-bound, the reasons for this. Apparently, it's fairly beneficial. There's a lot of consolidation of families blood line and resources. All of the brothers have access - sexual access - to the woman - to the wife, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, we should - that's something you're gonna hear a lot of is sexual access.

Josh Clark: Which means you can get it on.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: They all have access to getting it on.

Chuck Bryant: They all have sexual access - each brother does, but they said they do allow them to specify like, "You are the father of this child."

Josh Clark: Right, they differentiate who's the father of which children, but they all -

Chuck Bryant: - But they all help raise them.

Josh Clark: Yeah, they all contribute to caregiving - to child-rearing.

Chuck Bryant: - It's a challenge.

Josh Clark: And also, it's hierarchical. I was wondering how - like, who chose the wife, right? And it's the oldest brother.

Chuck Bryant: - I would think the oldest. Is it?

Josh Clark: Yeah, and he's definitely the dominant husband.

Chuck Bryant: You know, if I were to rewrite the rules though if I was a tribesman, I would say we should go with, like, the best looking brother or the brother who has the most game -

Josh Clark: - Yeah, it's not -

Chuck Bryant: - so we can all get the most attractive wife.

Josh Clark: It has -

Chuck Bryant: - So what if the oldest brother is, like, a real noodge?

Josh Clark: But that's what I'm saying. Like, just in case the oldest brother is a noodge, he's still the dominant husband.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: Although I'll bet just sibling rivalry trends is pancultural.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, true.

Josh Clark: So, I'm sure that there is, like, one that has game and he's like, "I got more sexual access to her than you do."

Chuck Bryant: Right. I'm telling you. It's a sitcom, man.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Except it would be, like - they would Americanize it. It would be, like, four American guys from Brooklyn - brothers - that would find this woman tribesman and bring her to America and all marry her.

Josh Clark: I could see Ed Burns doing t hat.

Chuck Bryant: I could, too.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: He's make them Catholic though.

Josh Clark: So, Chuck, that's the Nyinbian people. They are definitely a rarity -

Chuck Bryant: - Oh, yeah.

Josh Clark: - even rarer are the Amazon Zoe tribe, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that's multiple everything, right?

Josh Clark: Multiple husbands and wives at the same time.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: It's just basically, like - it's a free-for-all in the jungle.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, but it's not fair of us to make fun of that. We're just laughing because that's -

Josh Clark: - I'm not making fun of them.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that's their culture.

Josh Clark: Again -

Chuck Bryant: - They think we're weird.

Josh Clark: Again, I think that - man, this is such a potential - this is just potential dynamite here.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, but it's just different cultures. They see your dad and his Nano Pod, and they're like -

Josh Clark: - But it's not -

Chuck Bryant: - "What?"

Josh Clark: - just that. Like, there is some real - there's very real social - like as in society - and biological benefits to polygamy.

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: But there's also some very negative social and personal drawbacks to it, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, yeah. We'll get to those, too.

Josh Clark: Yeah. So, well, what are we gonna talk about - oh, yeah. Who else does it?

Chuck Bryant: Well, we'll continue with the nomenclature just so we know. There's also bigamy, which -

Josh Clark: - Right. That attaches legality to polygamy.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, bigamy is the law. It's when a man illegally marries more than one woman and that is definitely illegal in the United States.

Josh Clark: Well, it's the practice of polygamy in a place where it's illegal.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: Like No One - in the United States, you can't practice polygamy, except, I think, there's very small pockets in, like, Utah and Arizona where it's actually legal.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, really?

Josh Clark: Yeah. Colorado City, Arizona, I think is one of, like, two places in the country where it's actually legal.

Chuck Bryant: But federally, it's still illegal, right?

Josh Clark: I don't know; I have to say. But say, like, in Georgia, there's no such thing as polygamy. There's only bigamy because polygamy is illegal. See?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Okay.

Chuck Bryant: No, I get it.

Josh Clark: Oh, I just wanted to make sure.

Chuck Bryant: Bigamists oftentimes are accidental bigamists. Like, they will marry before their divorce is complete.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: But there's also - and they called it rare - not as rare as you'd think, when the dude leads a double life and literally has two families.

Josh Clark: Um-hum. Yeah, but it's [inaudible] -

Chuck Bryant: - And it's rare according to the population, but if you look in Google News search you'll find plenty of it.

Josh Clark: Or listen to the Grateful Dead song, Friend of the Devil. That'll give you the right idea. That'll get you on the trolley.

Chuck Bryant: That's one of the few Dead songs I like.

Josh Clark: Is it?

Chuck Bryant: Um-hum. It's a good one.

Josh Clark: I like Easy Wind.

Chuck Bryant: Really?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: And what is - polyamory is being in love with more than one person.

Josh Clark: That is just -

Chuck Bryant: - I don't get that.

Josh Clark: - a communal, familial living where everyone has sexual access to everybody else. There's not necessarily and usually isn't any marriage involved, but it resembles, like, a polygamist household in that there's, like, a group of people all contributing to the raising of children. And probably in most cases, there would be a differentiation of whose kid is whose.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: But it's like a mini-taking-a-village-to-raise-a-child. Again, I don't know how good this is necessarily for child-rearing.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, we're not gonna make that call.

Josh Clark: But we can say there is a study in Malaysia that's emerging - it's brand new. This thing was just published in July and it's a ground-breaking study, actually. Malaysia allows polygamy among its Muslim population because it's Muslim law that you can have up to four wives as long as you can care for all of them equally.

Chuck Bryant: And treat them all equally well.

Josh Clark: And apparently, that's, like, what you're supposed to do, but that's not always the case. But I think, like, a significant portion of the children in polygamist households in this Malaysian study - there's something like 1,235 people involved in the study and 523 of the children in the households. So, like, a significant majority of the children said that they wouldn't engage in a polygamist lifestyle -

Chuck Bryant: - Really?

Josh Clark: - even though their Muslims - once they marry.

Chuck Bryant: Interesting.

Josh Clark: Yeah, so, I don't know how much that will change as they get older though, especially as status is attached to it and age, too.

Chuck Bryant: Well, the article here said that Westernization, like, younger Muslims think polygamy is kinda old-fashioned.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: So, maybe that's something to do with it, too.

Josh Clark: Yeah, it could. And I'm sorry. I got that wrong. 523 children were involved in the study; 90 percent of them said that they wouldn't engage in polygamy.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that's overwhelming.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: So, polygyny is the idea that a man is a very successful and should spread his seed while he is on the earth because he is rich and successful, to breed more young, and rich, and successful people. That, a lot of times, has been endorsed when you have a minority of a population! Like early Jewish doctrine were in favor of it.

Josh Clark: Right, right. It's a really quick way to jump-start your population - to get your society going.

Chuck Bryant: Well, yeah, and it's - I was surprised. It said some Orthodox Jewish sects still advocate polygyny, which - I didn't know that.

Josh Clark: - I was hard-pressed to find a confirmation to that.

Chuck Bryant: That's interesting.

Josh Clark: - I saw that some gave it up recently, but I had trouble finding that.

Chuck Bryant: I did, too, except for here. And I think China did that, too, because -

Josh Clark: - In Vietnam.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, well Vietnam and China did it, too, under Confucianism -

Josh Clark: - Oh, okay.

Chuck Bryant: - till that went out of fashion.

Josh Clark: So China did it under Confucianism. Vietnam did it for practical reasons. It's not legal in Vietnam, but it's widely practiced because the place is so ridiculously war-torn that they actually need to restart their population as well.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: So, again, it does have a lot of advantages, specifically, polygyny, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Let's talk about why, Chuck, and again, from this moment until we're not talking about it anymore, we're speaking biologically, impersonally, without any social aspects.

Chuck Bryant: Okay.

Josh Clark: Biologically, polygamy makes utter and complete sense, especially if you subscribe to the Dawkins' selfish gene idea, right?

Chuck Bryant: What's that?

Josh Clark: Well, it's the concept that we are merely vehicles for our genes that our driven to basically exist in immortality by passing it's line down as frequently as possible.

Chuck Bryant: Got you.

Josh Clark: Okay? Through polygamy - through polygyny I should say.

Chuck Bryant: Is it "poly-gin-y"?

Josh Clark: "Poly-gin-y"

Chuck Bryant: I've been saying "poly-gen-y" - sorry.

Josh Clark: You could probably say it both ways.

Chuck Bryant: I just think we're confusing people.

Josh Clark: Through polygyny, with a G-N, well, a man can reproduce far more frequently.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, yeah.

Josh Clark: A healthy stallion could basically reproduce several times a day, every day, if he had sexual access to a lot of -

Chuck Bryant: - Ovulating women.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: Okay? Thank you for that, man. A woman can only reproduce once every nine months after becoming pregnant.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: But she may have twins, triplets - naturally speaking, octuplets are the product of modern science - of fertility drugs.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: But say you have twins, maybe triplets top, usually.

Chuck Bryant: Irish twins at the max.

Josh Clark: Okay, what is that - like 13?

Chuck Bryant: No, Irish twins is when you have, like, two kids that are nine months apart.

Josh Clark: Oh, okay. I'm thinking of a baker's dozen. So, Chuck, polygyny makes sense in that if you wanna build up your population a bunch, have a bunch of ovulating women, and guys to reproduce with them, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, sure.

Josh Clark: So, it makes sense biologically, but socially, it's a catastrophe.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Right?

Chuck Bryant: Well, one thing that's hard to talk about is actual statistics because Mormon plural marriages - not the kinda thing that's documented. They keep it very private and secret.

Josh Clark: Um-hum.

Chuck Bryant: So, you can't go out and get a bunch of statistics on abuse, but the stories that you hear and anecdotal evidence suggests that a lot of abuse happens.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Like, girls that are 14 years old getting married to men that are 25, 26, 30, 40 years old.

Josh Clark: That's definitely one - part of the dark side of polygamy - polygyny specifically.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Polygyny also places men in a position of absolute authority just by bestowing that possibility of the man having more than one wife, but all those wives are devoted to the one man. He's automatically at the top of the hierarchy.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, just by virtue of the arrangement.

Josh Clark: Um-hum, and just sociologically speaking, being put in that kinda situation would probably make you drunk with power, just being an average person.

Chuck Bryant: Well, yeah, and -

Josh Clark: - A lot of men abuse that position.

Chuck Bryant: Sure, and even if they don't wanna abuse it, the women in a polygamist scenario - they don't have - they're subservient and they're so dependent they don't have, like, the skills. Even if they do escape their scenario, they don't have the skills to make it on their own because they've just been the subservient wife -

Josh Clark: - Right.

Chuck Bryant: - the whole time.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: That's no good.

Josh Clark: A lot of people who have moved on from polygamist marriages usually use the word "escape" or often use the word "escape". They escaped from a polygamist marriage - not, "I got divorced," or anything like that.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And then also, just economically speaking there is a division of one guy's paycheck over however many wives and children he has. He may have more than one house if he's doing pretty well for himself. Maybe he's an engineer or something, but it's still one person's paycheck supporting all of these people.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: And you see that problem apparently, according to the article. Who wrote this one? Grabster.

Chuck Bryant: Grabster.

Josh Clark: The Grabster wrote this one. He points out that Colorado City, Arizona, which is one of, I think, two places where you can be a polygamist -

Chuck Bryant: - Right.

Josh Clark: - is basically - singlehandedly puts a strain on the welfare services of the state of Arizona.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, they're going broke.

Josh Clark: Yeah, so that's another aspect of it as well - the economics of it.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And then apparently, jealousy, too.

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: First wives, rather than being the dominant wife out of all of the other ones, are often just kinda left to the side.

Chuck Bryant: Well, that's what happens in Big Love.

Josh Clark: Especially as they get younger, and younger, and younger. Is that right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, there's a - that's, like, a big plot line of the show, I know, is that some of the wives become jealous of each other like a love triangle would.

Josh Clark: I don't see how you couldn't.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: You know?

Chuck Bryant: No way.

Josh Clark: Even among the most devoted polygamist families, I don't see how that couldn't happen. Like, jealousy is so ingrained.

Chuck Bryant: I'm the most non-jealous person on the face of the earth, but that would even make me jealous.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: I would think.

Josh Clark: Yes.

Chuck Bryant: Or maybe not.

Josh Clark: I think it would. So, Chuck, you ready? Let's talk about the Mormons. All of you guys have been very good and patient. Thank you for waiting. Let's do Mormons, man.

Chuck Bryant: Yes, this is a brief overview of Mormonism. We're not gonna - maybe we could do a whole podcast one day on them.

Josh Clark: We'll see.

Chuck Bryant: But it's a religion founded by Joseph Smith Jr, early 1800s, and he claimed to have received messages - divine messages - from an angel that directed him to golden plates that basically told the story that he translated to eventually become the Book of Mormon.

Josh Clark: Um-hum.

Chuck Bryant: So, the Book of Mormon was written and it does not contain specific info about polygamy, but supposedly, he practiced polygamy after receiving another personal divine message saying, "If you go out and have multiple wives, then you will be a king in heaven.

Josh Clark: Yeah, basically to be a successful Mormon, you kinda had to practice polygamy. It was a directive from God.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Although, again, it says nothing about it in the Book of Mormon, right?

Chuck Bryant: Nothing about it.

Josh Clark: There's a cool website called The Wives of Joseph Smith and it -

Chuck Bryant: - How many were there?

Josh Clark: - chronicles - they have 34 by my count.

Chuck Bryant: Thirty-four?

Josh Clark: But it has - each name has, like, their age, whether they had a husband at the time they were married to Joseph Smith, and then there's, like, a link. Each one is hyperlinked to a bio on them. It's very cool to make sure that these women aren't forgotten.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: Because they were part of the founding establishment of Mormon.

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: Right? So, he had 34. From what I could see, some of them were sisters, and the youngest was 14, right?

Chuck Bryant: Wow.

Josh Clark: One of this kids, Joseph Smith III, was like one of the Malaysian Muslim kids because when he came of age, he was like, "I am not practicing polygamy. I've seen it first-hand and I'm not doing it."

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and he made a separate sect, right? He branched off because he wanted to stay down with the Mormons. He just wasn't down with polygamy.

Josh Clark: Exactly. A guy who was down with polygamy was the successor to Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of the Church of Later-day Saints - a guy named Brigham Young, who you'll notice has a university.

Chuck Bryant: He does.

Josh Clark: Yeah, Brigham Young had even more children - or even more wives apparently. He had 55 from what I understand.

Chuck Bryant: Wow.

Josh Clark: And his were much more verifiable. Apparently, Joseph Smith didn't ever publicly cop to polygamy.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: Brigham Young was like, "Check out the 55."

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: Right?

Chuck Bryant: They're like, "Hello."

Josh Clark: Right, hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello.

Chuck Bryant: - By the mid-1800s it was so prominent - yeah, 55 times; you should have said it 55 times. In the mid-1800s there were so many Mormons though doing this, that the church, while they didn't officially, like, bring it in to their literature, they did acknowledge it in an official announcement and they referred to it as -

Josh Clark: - Right, in 1852.

Chuck Bryant: - plural marriage.

Josh Clark: Right. So, you've got plural marriage in 1852. Four years later, something big happened. The Republican Party - Abe Lincoln's party at the time. I think he may have been an attorney still, but he was a Log Cabin Republican, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Because he lived in a log cabin.

Chuck Bryant: And he was Republican.

Josh Clark: Right, but so, Lincoln's party came up with their 1856 platform and it was based largely upon ridding the United States of the twin relics of barbarism, Chuck. One was slavery; the other was polygamy.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Right?

Chuck Bryant: Right up there with slavery.

Josh Clark: Yeah, these were the twin evils that were basically keeping the United States backward - from progressing forward.

Chuck Bryant: Supreme Court agreed.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and that launched what you could call an unconstitutional government assault on the religion of Mormonism because of polygamy.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, they wanted to quash it basically.

Josh Clark: Yeah, Utah applied for statehood during this and they were like, "Not as long as you got polygamists. You get rid of your polygamist Mormons and we'll deal with you after that." They criminalized cohabitation, right?

Chuck Bryant: Uh-huh, yeah.

Josh Clark: What else?

Chuck Bryant: They prevented you from voting or holding office if you were a polygamist.

Josh Clark: That is so illegal it's ridiculous.

Chuck Bryant: I know and they actually froze church assets and like -

Josh Clark: - That is even more illegal.

Chuck Bryant: - confiscated their property.

Josh Clark: Yeah, so they really persecuted the Mormons based on polygamy.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And whether you agree with polygamy or not, the United States government and eventually the government of the State of Utah really, really went after them for their practice of polygamy.

Chuck Bryant: Well, yeah, and that's why the Church of Jesus Christ of the Later-day Saints - they were having so many problems, and they wanted statehood, and all that that they, in 1890 said, "You know what? We've had another revelation and we're gonna change that doctrine. So, can we be a state now?"

Josh Clark: Right, and they said, "Yes, you can be."

Chuck Bryant: They set up specific laws there though that they didn't do in other states.

Josh Clark: If you were caught - as far as the Mormons were concerned after, I think, 1890 when they said that they had that other revelation, they said if you were caught - practicing plural marriage, you would be excommunicated from the church. And some people said, "Well, you know what? You can't excommunicate us if we form our own sect," and from that was born the Mormon Fundamentalists, who still practice to this day. Warren Jeffs is a Mormon Fundamentalist in his group.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and they believe that Joseph Smith Jr. had a divine revelation and they believe that they will be kings in heaven if they have multiple wives.

Josh Clark: Right. So, there's some defense to this among Mormon Fundamentalists. One -

Chuck Bryant: - I don't buy it.

Josh Clark: No. One is that if you have more than one wife, you are less likely to philander.

Chuck Bryant: I don't buy it.

Josh Clark: No.

Chuck Bryant: That just doesn't make any sense.

Josh Clark: I think you would be more likely to philander. Wouldn't you?

Chuck Bryant: I don't know. I mean, to me, and I've been around cheating, and seen it, and stuff like that. I think you're either - you're gonna do that or you're not. It doesn't matter if you're single, if you're married, if you have three wives, or one wife. You're either a cheater or you're not a cheater.

Josh Clark: But I think that there is - I think socially, structurally, that absolute power makes you more of an arrogant person.

Chuck Bryant: I agree.

Josh Clark: And I could see a person - because cheating is a choice. You either do it or you don't.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: You make the decision not to do it, or you make the decision to do it, right?

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: I think that -

Chuck Bryant: - Everybody wants to.

Josh Clark: I think that you could make the case that socially - again, sociologically, somebody in that position could, I would say, be more likely to cheat.

Chuck Bryant: Extra hands to care for children? Come on.

Josh Clark: Yeah, everybody has got two hands and you multiply that by eight wives, you got sixteen hands to care for the kids.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, but you multiply the six kids times eight wives and you have 48 kids.

Josh Clark: Yeah, no, I know.

Chuck Bryant: So, it's like, "What?"

Josh Clark: You're preaching to the choir.

Chuck Bryant: Maybe if you didn't have all those kids, you wouldn't need the extra wives to care for them.

Josh Clark: And also we should probably take a break here and say real quick we're - Chuck and I are both monogamists, right, Chuck?

Chuck Bryant: Oh, yeah.

Josh Clark: Okay, so, but at the same time, if there is a form of polygamy where it's not detrimental, I don't really see that in this article. I don't have - to each his own. That's the SYSK motto.

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: So long as it doesn't hurt somebody else -

Chuck Bryant: - Sure.

Josh Clark: - which should probably be the supplement to the SYSK motto, right?

Chuck Bryant: Right, but it is illegal in these United States, federally. There are several laws passed in the 1800s. State-wise, there are only a handful of states that actually have specific laws, but Utah is one of them, and that was a part of the deal, I think.

Josh Clark: Specifically outlawing?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Okay.

Chuck Bryant: When they were granted statehood. And they get around it though a lot of times because they don't officially marry more than one woman. They will live a married lifestyle, and they'll have a ceremony. They just won't have, like, an official marriage certificate.

Josh Clark: Right. They'll be married by the church - in the church's eyes.

Chuck Bryant: Exactly.

Josh Clark: Right. There are other ways to do this, too. There's that whole cohabitation thing. It's pretty hard to prosecute and until 1953, polygamist families - groups - were raided by the police routinely in Utah and out west. Then, in 1953, this one raid had - there was a backlash against it because the media published pictures of children being sent off to foster homes, and wives being left without husbands, and all of a sudden, sentiment turned a little bit against raids on polygamist families.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: So, I think the rest of the United States is very confused on how to approach polygamy.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: So, okay, Chuck. Anything else?

Chuck Bryant: I just do have one little funny thing about our trivia night in Atlanta on October 13th -

Josh Clark: - Oh, wait - about polygamy.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, no. I got nothing else on that.

Josh Clark: I do have one more thing.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, you do?

Josh Clark: There's been established a couple of things about the benefits of monogamy.

Chuck Bryant: Uh-huh.

Josh Clark: STDs, however they've developed, deter polygamy.

Chuck Bryant: Okay.

Josh Clark: Right? And there's actually a genetic - evolutionary basis to monogamy. You have more sexual access to one person. So, you may only be able to reproduce nine months at a time, but you can do it many, many times during your reproductive years, and the caregiving for those children will probably be of higher quality because you're a cohesive family unit. Okay, so that's my little thing.

Chuck Bryant: That's your last bit?

Josh Clark: Yeah. What do you have about our trivia night?

Chuck Bryant: I forgot to mention this, but Matt Frederick of Stuff They Don't Want You to Know fame came by and apparently, there was a former NORAD employee named Stanley Fulham, who claims that on October 13th, the night of our trivia, in major cities over the United States, massive UFO fleets will be overhead sending us warnings about global warming.

Josh Clark: That's awesome.

Chuck Bryant: And I said, "Is this guy a crackpot?" And -

Josh Clark: - I heard. I overheard this conversation.

Chuck Bryant: Matt said, "Well, he worked for NORAD." Like, that means, like, there's no way he could be crackpot. Of course he said it with tongue firmly in cheek, but -

Josh Clark: - We hope.

Chuck Bryant: - I think that's just yet another reason. Come out October 13th because we're on the roof of this joint.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and you'll be able to see some UFOs that are broadcasting messages like, "Global warming sucks."

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, exactly.

Josh Clark: Or, "Save the Knut the polar bear -" that kinda stuff.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, so I just think that's a great reason.

Josh Clark: "Leo was right."

Chuck Bryant: So, people are out there. They're like, "I don't wanna come to that trivia, but I would love to come see a UFO overhead."

Josh Clark: Yeah, yeah. That's, like, we just doubled the number of people who are gonna be here.

Chuck Bryant: I think so.

Josh Clark: Yeah. Actually, it'll be that girl from Saved by the Bell: The College Years.

Chuck Bryant: I don't know who that is.

Josh Clark: She had her big film break in Independence Day. She ran up to the top of the roof in L.A. and had that sign, and was cheering, "Woo," at the beginning of Independence Day.

Chuck Bryant: - Oh, really?

Josh Clark: And then pow.

Chuck Bryant: Gone.

Josh Clark: Maybe she'll be at our trivia event.

Chuck Bryant: Let's hope so.

Josh Clark: All right, if you have anything you want to let us know about - you know what? If you are a member of a polygamist, polyamorous, bigamist, or swinger family - seriously - we're very curious. Is there any way that polygamy can be beneficial to a family unit? If you have personal experience with this kinda thing, send us an e-mail, seriously.

Chuck Bryant: Let us know.

Josh Clark: You can send it to StuffPodcast -wait a minute, Chuck. We never even said anything about the search bar. We shouldn't even be here right now. You ready?

Chuck Bryant: Um-hum.

Josh Clark: Okay. If you wanna know more about polygamy you can type that word in - P-O-L-Y-G-A-M-Y, right?

Chuck Bryant: Into the swinging search bar?

Josh Clark: Swinging search bar at HowStuffWorks.com. Now, if you wanna send us that e-mail, you can send it to StuffPodcast@HowStuffWorks.com.

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