Archive for the ‘Fertility’ Category

Extinction Genetics

Like everything great it appears superficially as a paradox, but there’s now a practical model for it:

The paradox Burt had to solve is how something very bad for mosquitoes could also be spread by them. One answer, he saw, was a selfish gene that is harmless if one copy is present but causes sterility if two copies are. (Like humans, mosquitoes have two sets of chromosomes, one from each parent.) Starting with a male mosquito with one copy, the selfish gene will ensure that it ends up in every one of his sperm, rather than just half. That way any offspring with a wild mosquito will also be carriers, as will all their offspring’s offspring. As a result, the gene will rocket through the population. […] Eventually, it becomes likely that any mating pair of mosquitoes will both be carriers — and their offspring, with two copies, will be infertile. Quickly, the population will crash, reeling from the genetic poison.

So the provocation of malaria has resulted in a remarkable piece of abstract anti-biological ordnance being put together. (Abstract, because the principles are applicable to any sexually reproducing species. The concrete details of the mosquito-killing version are fascinating, and outlined in the article.)

Hypothetically, the optimum strategic environment in which to unleash this thing is high-intensity global warfare between bio-conservatives and their enemies. Given the length of the human generational cycle, it would be a slow weapon — but one that compelled its target population to submit to techno-genetic plasticization as the only alternative to extinction. Naturally, all vestiges of decency would have had to be stripped from the conflict for such abominable genius to be imaginable (which is why it’s a Frightday night scenario here at XS, where we’re appalled, of course). In any case, the essential asymmetry of this thing in the direction of extreme neo-eugenics is unmistakable, once noticed.

Technology is neutral goes the orthogonalist refrain. Really, it isn’t.

ADDED: A gene drive introduction (video). (Via.)

May 6, 2016admin 8 Comments »
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Stereotypes IV

Folk Wisdom is a thing:

February 29, 2016admin 14 Comments »
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Who needs an argument?

The kind of things 19th century English geniuses believed will set your teeth chattering:

Galton feared that the English race was degenerating, declining in both mental and physical ability. (It remains a common fear; the French thought they were degenerating, too.) Like others of his day, Galton used the term ‘race’ loosely. He referred alternately to the English race, the white race, the human race. But overall, English eugenics was less about race than class. To Galton’s mind, the filthy working poor were breeding like rabbits while the gentry were chastely dwindling. He became convinced that unless something were done, the flower of English manhood – not excluding specimens such as his cousin and, ahem, himself – would soon vanish, swamped by a massive tide of Oliver Twists and Tiny Tims.

Thank goodness that preposterous conviction has been rigorously debunked.

November 18, 2015admin 21 Comments »
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Twitter cuts (#32)

November 2, 2015admin 16 Comments »
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Quote note (#193)


Carle C. Zimmerman, the Harvard historian and sociologist, was not a religious man, but in his book Family and Civilization, which examining the history of the decline and fall of ancient Greece and Rome, and looking at medieval and modern European history, Zimmerman found that the presence of 11 factors preceded the dissolution of those civilizations — factors relating to the atomization and fragmentation of what he calls the “domestic family” (one man + one woman, exclusively). Those factors include widespread divorce, the loss of a sense that the domestic family is normative, and the general acceptance of sexual diversity (called “perversity” by Zimmerman, but he wrote in 1947).

In Zimmerman’s view, the family is the basis for civilization, and “familism” — an ideology that in general puts the family’s needs above the needs of the individual — is necessary for a healthy, stable society. A society that has lost familism will follow customs and impose public policies that work against the domestic family, thereby eating its seed corn. Fertility declines, and with it, the civilization’s ability to thrive.

So says Zimmerman. If he’s right … this is us.


(Yes, the first sentence of this quote is a grammatical train wreck — beyond anything I could work out how to fix. Read Dreher’s intro. to the article for a — partial — excuse.)

October 26, 2015admin 25 Comments »
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Genetic Interests

‘n/a’ provided a link to Frank Salter’s On Genetic Interests. (Available in a variety of formats.)

That gift follows from the latest exchange on the topic, based on this Jayman post. Some (Salterian) contention from Pumpkin Person (here) and n/a (here). It’s a fascinating discussion, that has divided Cochran and Harpending, which is an indication of its seriousness. Sadly — if understandably — it tends to generate massive rancor very quickly, as is evident in the tone of some of these posts. That’s especially unfortunate because, heated race politics aside, there’s a massive amount of philosophical substance underlying it. (Maximum coldness would certainly be appreciated here.)

A suggestive remark from Salter (p.28), on the disrupted equilibrium between ‘ultimate’ and ‘proximate’ interests (a crucial and thought-provoking distinction):

The equilibrium applying to humans has been upset in recent generations, so that we can no longer rely on subjectively designated proximate interests to serve our ultimate interest. We must rely more on science to perceive the causal links between the things we value and formulate synthetic goals based on that rational appraisal.

So (subject to correction as the argument progresses) Salter proposes an explicit, rational proxy for the ‘ultimate interests’ of genetic propagation, now inadequately represented by change-shocked phenotypes (and, most importantly, brains). This is a Principal-Agent problem, applied to human biology.

Continue Reading

August 3, 2015admin 47 Comments »
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Quote note (#167)

Jack London on Gnon (from ‘The Law of Life’):

He had been born close to the earth, close to the earth had he lived, and the law thereof was not new to him. It was the law of flesh. Nature was not kindly to the flesh. She had no concern for that concrete thing called the individual. Her interest lay in the species, the race. This was the deepest abstraction old Koskoosh’s barbaric mind was capable of, but he grasped it firmly. He saw it exemplified in all life. The rise of the sap, the bursting greenness of the willow bud, the fall of the yellow leaf — in this alone was told the whole history. But one task did nature set the individual. Did he not perform it, he died. Did he perform it, it was all the same, he died. Nature did not care; there were plenty who were obedient, and it was only the obedience in this matter, not the obedient, which lived, and lived always. … He also was an episode and would pass away. Nature did not care. To life she set one task, gave one law. To perpetuate was the task of life, its law was death.

May 30, 2015admin 32 Comments »
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Sentences (#12)

ZH notices demographic self-abolition. The problem is construed more narrowly and economistically than is typical in the reactosphere (“There are consequences to conjuring money out of thin air. There are consequences to destructive policies. […] So destructive in fact that …”), but still:

central bankers and politicians even have the power to make a population disappear.

March 7, 2015admin 7 Comments »
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Cold Water

Two highly-recommended recent blog posts on a critical issue: The demographic calamity of modernity. One by Peter Frost, the other by One Irradiated Watson. (It’s a perennial topic, for obvious reasons.)

Now for the bucket of cold water. NRx has almost nothing to say about it. Of course, it can remark on the problem, insistently, and even diagnose it with some definite precision. What it has yet to do is to cross from urgent policy recommendations to anything remotely approaching a road map for implementation.

The way stations on the hazy track into the future that NRx generally follows — this blog very much included — tend to include a more-or-less comprehensive phase of social collapse, and subsequent restoration of comparatively non-demotist, authoritarian models of governance. (It leads, roughly speaking, through the Jackpot.) Is there any solid basis for the assumption that a regime coming out of this — perhaps Neocameralist / Monarchist in character — would vigorously pursue the pro-natalist policies advocated by contemporary reaction? It is at least questionable, given that the actually-existing states presently closest to this type have proven to be — despite public expressions of concern — entirely incapable of doing so.

The problem of time-horizons at the root of the modern fertility crisis is easily trivialized, as if it were merely a product of adjustable degenerate attitudes. The deep problem — partially tractable to game-theoretical apprehension — is that, under the conditions of the modern state in an environment of intense competition, suppressed natalism is a short-term winning strategy, and if you don’t win in the short-term you’re not around to play in the long term. If the world becomes increasingly Hobbesian in the decades ahead, this dilemma becomes more acute, rather than less so. It presses no less heavily upon a monarch than a democratic leader. Continuing industrial advance means that the (strategic) opportunity cost of subtracting smart females from the work-force becomes ever greater. Any ideal of ‘long-term thinking’ that ignores all of this is incomplete to the point of utter dysfunction.

The condescension really ought to stop. Modernity crushes fertility because it sees ahead better than you do — you just don’t like what it’s seeing.

ADDED: Responses from Hurlock and Athrelon.

ADDED: Alrenous on fertility and purpose.

February 3, 2015admin 127 Comments »
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