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Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Book I Should Have Written

I'm old enough to remember those halcyon days when Earth was going to be burdened with so many people that some would get pushed off the edge.

Ummm. Not so much.

In the recently published Empty Planet, The Government and UN Experts are — shocking, I know — lagging the fight.

The great defining event of the twenty-first century,” they say, “will occur in three decades, give or take, when the global population starts to decline. Once that decline begins, it will never end.

For roughly thirty years, fertility has been declining, starting with developed world. Since the 1990s, global fertility has plummeted far faster than anyone has predicted, and may well go below replacement rate within a decade.

The UN Population Division has systematically over estimated fertility, with projections out of date almost as soon as they are published. For example:

The U.N.’s most recent population forecasts suggest that the average U.S. total fertility rate from 2015 to 2020 should be 1.9 children per woman. In reality, CDC data shows U.S. fertility has averaged about 1.8 children per woman from 2015 to 2018. In 2019, early indications are that fertility will probably be nearer 1.7 children per woman.

Contrary to expectations, instead of recovering along with the economy, the US total fertility rate has continued to drop, now standing at 1.76. That amounts to 125 fewer daughters out of 1000 women per generation.

And the disconnect isn't limited to just the US — it is nearly global. UN population forecasts are almost certainly wrong, and not by just a little, but by billions.

Population decline isn't unique in history. The bubonic plague decimated Europe in the 1300s. War and famine have caused temporary, smaller, declines.

However, the recent, relentless, decrease in fertility during times of unprecedented peace, health, and material comfort is wholly unprecedented. So far, there is no indication that women, given a meaningful choice, choose to have enough children to prevent steady, relentless, global, population decline.

(Territory we covered here at Great Guys in 2013 and 2016.)

Yet, somehow, the woke are completely eaten up by GlobalWarmingClimateChangeChaos. Amazing.


68 comments:

erp said...

Is the fertility rate falling or abortions increasing?

Hey Skipper said...

Both.

Hey Skipper said...

In 2015, there were 640,000 abortions, 25% less than 2006.

The trend has been continuously downwards since 2006.

Source.

Bret said...

Yes, we've covered it before and yes, we'll continue to disagree. If no woman had more than 2 children I would find your statements plausible, if unproven. Given that tens of millions of women in the United States alone still have 3 or more children and I see no reason why preference for offspring is not largely heritable and/or cultural (in other words passed on), I still find your (and others') worry about rapidly and unsustainably imploding populations not even plausible.

"Once that decline begins, it will never end."

"Never" is a long time, but this statement is inherently false. The population cannot go below zero so it will stop declining at that point if it were to get there (again I'm 100% confident it will not due to women's fertility choices).

Ultimately, I find this good news - homo sapiens and other affected specifies are much less likely to go through the misery of overpopulation.

Hey Skipper said...

"Never" is a long time, but this statement is inherently false. The population cannot go below zero so it will stop declining at that point if it were to get there.

I think the authors took that as understood.

Given that tens of millions of women in the United States alone still have 3 or more children and I see no reason why preference for offspring is not largely heritable and/or cultural (in other words passed on), I still find your (and others') worry about rapidly and unsustainably imploding populations not even plausible.

Then you aren't thinking about this mathematically, or even looking for evidence.

Which would be something like this: For an individual woman, total realized fertility is some integer between 0 and whatever the world record happens to be. Summed across the population, the distribution is such that no developed country has self-sustaining fertility.

Now, look at the tail of the distribution beyond 2 children — if the preference for the number of children was heritable, then the succeeding generation of women from that population should have a distinctly different, higher, distribution than from their low fertility cohort.

If it does then the preference may well be heritable. There is absolutely no evolutionary explanation for such a thing, but I don't suppose that doesn't mean it can't exist.

Alternatively, it could be cultural. But that is no comfort, because high fertility sub-cultures have seen birthrates plummet just as fast as the dominant culture, but from a higher starting point.

It seems awfully premature to arbitrarily conclude, despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary, that women's actualized preferences, even in milieu's far less developed than ours, lead to total lifetime fertility that is, on average, substantially less than two.

And this remains true even if some women in succeeding generations have 3 or more children. So long as women are able to actualize their preferences, all the evidence points directly at steeply declining population.

Of course, and this depends upon technology, population may reach a point where there aren't sufficient people to sustain a modern economy.

At which point women will no longer be able to actualize their preferences.

Heck of a thing, if your theory requires the collapse of civilization. That's kind of like saying since the population won't actually reach zero, it is wrong because it isn't completely right.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper,

I'm not gonna re-argue this, just look at the comments from the previous related posts and everything is already contained there - there's nothing new.

To me it comes down to an assertion in one of your comments from those posts:

Hey Skipper wrote (in that other post): "... on balance I don't think it likely there is a gene that inclines it's bearer to a specific number of children."

To me it's blindingly and unavoidably obvious that there is indeed a heritable genetic component that compels many women (and men) and therefore also their offspring to desire (desperately) a more than replacement number of children. A lifetime of observation and reading tells me this (on balance) and therefore a few paragraphs on your part and even a few bits of evidence to the contrary of what I see (which I find not very well argued or convincing) aren't gonna change my mind. This is one of those "who am I gonna believe - you or my lyin' eyes?"

To me, arguing there's essentially no genetic component to fertility is much the same as those of my friends who are absolutely certain there's no genetic component to intelligence. Think what you like, but that's definitely not what I see. There's a genetic component, in my opinion, to all human traits and this ones no different.

Hey Skipper said...

Bret — there’s evidence to be had.

China essentially eliminated its one child policy. Fertility has not changed.

Also, for women throughout evolutionary history, realized fertility was purely a function of physical capacity. Since any heritable desire for children was irrelevant, you are insisting upon the conservation of a heritable characteristic with no fitness value.

If it, in fact, exists, then it would be a hell of an argument against evolution.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "...realized fertility was purely a function of physical capacity"

Of course not. Do you think the "headache" was only invented in the modern age? Or do you think all sex was rape historically? Or that every woman tried to have as many children as she could only to completely give up that attitude when the pill was invented? I'm having trouble imagining what you were think when you wrote that.

Hey Skipper wrote: "China essentially eliminated its one child policy. Fertility has not changed."

They changed that policy less than 5 years ago. That's waaaaay too short for an entire population to adapt. Second, for all practical purposes they only allow 2 children, not enough flexibility to really see how the population would react if they had complete freedom.

erp said...

To be fair, disease and the ravages of warfare among tribes going back to earliest times took care of any over-population concerns until the recent past.

Way back when men figured out sex was how babies were conceived, they became interested in insuring their paternity and started herding women into harems,invented marriage ... .

The Chinese one child law IIRC had to do with managing every aspect of life under communism. Everyone, except gracious leaders, of course, were equal cogs in their glorious society.

In my lifetime, we went from the government outlawing the dissemination of information and paraphernalia about contraception even by the medical field to making it irrelevant with tax payer funded abortion clinics on every corner and killing babies not only, not a crime, but of less import than cultural appropriation.

It makes me sick.

The less government gets involved in our lives, the better for all concerned.

Words to live by.

In case, the short version of what I want to say is both your arguments above no longer apply.

Hey Skipper said...

[Bret:] Or that every woman tried to have as many children as she could only to completely give up that attitude when the pill was invented? I'm having trouble imagining what you were think when you wrote that.

The intellectual barrier you are facing is that every aspect of any lifeform has characteristics more or less deeply rooted in evolutionary time.

Every mammal is capable of reproduction (and respiration, sight, defecation, hearing, ...).

Is there a behavorial component to eyesight? Or anything else on that list that could easily be expanded?

Therefore, it is at least arguable that since reproduction vastly precedes any animal capable of reason, and, until just moments ago in evolutionary time, reason was irrelevant to reproduction, there is no a priori reason to insist that reason has any component relative to reproduction.

My sense of hearing and preferences for music are completely independent. A woman's fertility and maternal desire are completely independent. I think I'm on fairly firm ground in suggesting my music preferences aren't heritable, otherwise my children would worship at the altar of Pink Floyd.

Sadly, they do not.

If your thesis that a preference for realized lifetime fertility is heritable, then you ought also to be able to explain why music preferences should also be heritable.

Hey Skipper said...

[erp:] In my lifetime, we went from the government outlawing the dissemination of information and paraphernalia about contraception even by the medical field to making it irrelevant with tax payer funded abortion clinics on every corner and killing babies not only, not a crime, but of less import than cultural appropriation.

It makes me sick.


As well it should, however, that might not sit well with...

The less government gets involved in our lives, the better for all concerned.

That, after all, is the pro-choice position.

erp said...

No.

We have laws against killing each other and the unborn are no less part of our society. There are exceptions, self defense is one and in the old days, saving the life of the pregnant woman by aborting the fetus was such an exception and even that was controversial with the Catholic church taking the position, let God decide.

I'm not a bible thumper, but who ever wrote it did have some good riffs. The one about how we treat the "least of us" resonates with me.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper asked: "Is there a behavorial component to eyesight?"

Of course. For example, color blind people prefer somewhat different sorts of art than non-color blind people. Near-sighted people tend to be bookish, far sighted people on average probably gravitate to sports more. In fact everything on your list has a heritable and behavioral component.

Note that I'm not saying that anything is 100% heritable, behavior or otherwise. Obviously, environment ("nurture") also plays a role. But then, nurture will also play a role in reproductive preferences and as long as there are subcultures that prefer a lot of children per family, those will grow and dominate over time. In this case both nature and nurture will create subgroups where the population will be stable and growing.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

The good news is that, since your president declared the US is full, you already have the solution.


Hey, that was easy.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

----
Way back when men figured out sex was how babies were conceived, they became interested in insuring their paternity and started herding women into harems,invented marriage ...
----

LOL! Good one, Erp, though I guess that contradicts every culture I've seen so far, where women are the ones mostly interested on ensuring bonds and marriage.

erp said...

Before laughing find out who the joke is on. Any culture with which you may be acquainted already figured out where babies came from. The earlier times, it wasn't obvious, was before your time.

erp said...

Link please to trump saying the US is full.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Google will give you over one million results, but you can easily follow it here:

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-declares-the-country-full-in-fox-news-interview-says-american-can-no-longer-accept-illegal-immigrants


Or here:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/05/trump-border-us-immigration-calexico

Clovis e Adri said...

Hey, you can also just check his twitter:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1115057524770844672

erp said...

Not allowing invaders to enter your country doesn't translate into we're full. The difference should be obvious.

Clovis e Adri said...

I guess you can take that complaint to your president, Erp, he is the one saying it is full. I hope Skipper and you can bring to him the good news: that problem will solve itself: America will be great and empty again... someday!

erp said...

You supply the link.

Clovis e Adri said...

Should I understand from your comment, Erp, that perhaps you finally disagree with a statement from Dear Leader?

erp said...


I haven't seen nor have I seen mention of a statement that matches your accusation. Provide one in context and I will let you know.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Pretty amazing.

erp said...

You're right. Out of millions of Google hits, not one link have you found.

Bret said...

Clovis,

Looking at the links about Trump saying US is full, it looks to me like he was referring to immigrants, not babies of existing citizens, so I can certainly see why erp is skeptical. Can you find a link where Trump says the US is so full that a lower fertility rate is a good thing? I couldn't (not that I looked for a terribly long time).

With Trump, you never know I guess...

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

I expect it from Erp, but Et Tu Bret?

The job of chosing the right words ought to come from the speaker. Trump's statement, "We're full", comes not with qualifiers, like the "We're full of brown poor people already, go away" which you and Erp are eager to provide.

Though I will readily agree that was his probable meaning, the point of my comment was to mock his statement on its face. That you and Erp want to carry water for him is a bit demeaning to yourselves, if you ask me, but in this blog I am the only one to think so, who cares right?

erp said...

Clovis, Trump doesn't need me or anyone else to carry water for him and I am getting pretty pissed at your accusations or my being racist because I want our borders secured. Provide proof that interpretation while you are finding proof of what Trump didn't say.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Trump did say "Our Country is FULL!", and I did provide proof.

OTOH, at no point I did say you are racist - not in this thread.

It is a legitimate case of cognitive dissonance: incapable of registering written words by Trump, while outraged by imaginary words from me.

Bret said...

Clovis,

I've many times written the following:

"The curse of authorship is that the information conveyed is not necessarily what the writer intended, but rather what the reader chooses to infer."

I've learned over the years that I, at least, am nowhere good enough of a writer or speaker to have really any prayer that all readers and listeners get what I'm saying and appropriately bring in the correct context to really get my meaning. And I find that other writers and speakers may be better at it, but I think it's impossible to really get the meaning across all of the time or even consistently in my case.

I bring this up because when you wrote "[t]he job of chosing the right words ought to come from the speaker," I don't disagree in theory but find in practice it's often true that the speaker could've done better but no matter how good a job the speaker did it could and would be misconstrued by some or many. And because I've been misunderstood so many thousands of times in my life I at least try to give writers and speakers some slack and try to at least make an attempt at understanding the context which I generally find more important than "qualifiers."

I've clearly failed above on understanding both qualifiers and context because I'll still don't see how in a context of a post on falling birthrates and Trump talking about immigration this portion of the comment thread makes much sense and I certainly don't see how I came across as "eager to provide" that "[w]e're full of brown poor people already, go away." I'm very sorry that I wrote so poorly that that's what you inferred from my writing. I will stop writing on this comment thread now because I assume you found my inferred meaning offensive (which is definitely not my intention) but I have no idea what words I can put forth on this topic that you won't infer a different (and perhaps offensive) meaning than I intend. Hopefully, the next topic won't be so contentious.

erp said...

Clovis, Your take on Trump is so off base, it’s not even on the planet Earth. And you said that the reason I object to foreign invaders coming into the country is because they are brown. If they were Swedes, I’d be very welcoming. 😊

Bret, your confusion is because you are unable to understand the Latin mindset which is highly emotional, so you blame the reader, in this case Clovis. Were the reader a Talmudic scholar, you, being of the same Tribe, would take his words as gospel, okay, perhaps not the best analogy, and make excuses for what others might think is his babbling. s/off

I got it from the horse's mouth that the 4th this year will produce fire works not only of the pyrotechnical sort. In store will be perp-walking galore to celebrate the restoration of our republic, the U.S.of A.

I sure hope I can hold out till then.


Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
I will stop writing on this comment thread now because I assume you found my inferred meaning offensive (which is definitely not my intention) but I have no idea what words I can put forth on this topic that you won't infer a different (and perhaps offensive) meaning than I intend.
---

LOL!

I am sure not offended, but the curse of authorship is such that no words I can write will convince you otherwise. :-)

As for relationship to this thread, my comment surely applies: the countries able to run from Skipper's Big Crunch are the ones importing immigrants to make up for the lack of native babies. When you declare the country is full, you are not only implying you don't want more immigrants, you are also setting off the only natural means by which depopulation has been countered so far.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Yes, we brown people are out-of-control emotional, you better keep us far away from the US, least we wreak havoc among you guys. Build that Wall, fast!

erp said...

Clovis, again putting words in my mouth. I know Latins are emotional because I married one, but I didn't know they are brown.

You have no rational argument to support your emotional reaction to our rational objection to invaders pouring across our borders. As for population, it wasn't long ago that overpopulation was a terrible problem and an ice ago was upon us. Now in one lifetime, I'm learning that the problem is under population and global warming is going to toast us as we speak.

I'm hoping that you do not use this method of deduction in your work.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

You are protesting against brown Invaders riding your village and I am the emotional? Hilarious.

erp said...

Protesting? No. I am demanding that our country's be kept secure from invaders and note with amusement that the Jesuit Pope sent a half a million dollars given to the church from people who profess Catholicism. You can bet that's going to cost them in the future.

Hey Skipper said...

Hey Skipper asked: "Is there a behavorial component to eyesight?"

[Bret:] Of course. For example, color blind people prefer somewhat different sorts of art than non-color blind people. Near-sighted people tend to be bookish, far sighted people on average probably gravitate to sports more. In fact everything on your list has a heritable and behavioral component.


Fair enough, as far as you go, though I fail to see the behavorial component in respiration, elimination, hearing, etc.

And where there is, perhaps, a behavorial component, a la eyesight, where is the evidence that it has had any heritable consequences? Furthermore, your most powerful example — astigmatism — was something that until very late in the evolutionary day was a fait accompli: there was simply nothing to be done about it. As opposed to now, when except for all but the most extreme cases, it is easily corrected.

So for the great part of human history, where there was no bookishness to be had, did the behavorial component have any identifiable knock-on effects whatsoever? Now that astigmatism is functionally eliminated, does that mean there is no longer any behavioral component to eyesight?

The question is fundamental: fertility has no need of a behavioral component which, in any event, was completely irrelevant until just a few decades ago. It is a deus ex machina argument to insist something for which there was never any need somehow must exist.

SFAIK, the only significant fertility variations within populations are cultural, and those cultural norms do not transfer. Moreover, those cultural norms are quickly disappearing in the face of modernity.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] Skipper, the good news is that, since your president declared the US is full, you already have the solution.

Fine, let's take that as read.

Full with respect to what?

If illegal immigrants were coming over the southern border wearing Brooks Brothers suits, with briefcases full of law and accounting degrees, we'd have had an impermeable border from Brownsville to San Diego forty years ago.

I'll bet if you were once worked in manual trades anywhere in the southwest US, you would think the US is plenty full of illegal immigrants.

That kind of full. That word doesn't have a single, unitary, meaning.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] As for relationship to this thread, my comment surely applies: the countries able to run from Skipper's Big Crunch are the ones importing immigrants to make up for the lack of native babies.

First question: are any countries able to run from my Big Crunch?

Second: If there are any, why?

Third: If there aren't, or the why isn't comforting, doesn't importing immigrants only delay when water starts pouring over the gunwale?

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "SFAIK, the only significant fertility variations within populations are cultural..."

This is where we have a fundamental disagreement. My eyes tell me fertility variation are genetic and heritable. Who am I gonna believe, you or my lyin' eyes?

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
If illegal immigrants were coming over the southern border wearing Brooks Brothers suits, with briefcases full of law and accounting degrees, we'd have had an impermeable border from Brownsville to San Diego forty years ago.
---

As it happens, they do.

Among the first and second hand cases I know of Brazilians moving illegally to the US, nearly half where about people with degrees, technical or academic.

Of course, they don't get to compete with the natives at that, because their ilegality means they can not validate their diplomas in the US system, so they end up competing with the manual trade laborers anyway.

So what saves the natives with diplomas from competition is the bureaucracy, not the lack of illegals with degrees.

That similar bureaucratic barriers are not fully implemented at lower level jobs is entirely due to lack of interest from your politicians (and the corporations which finance them).

But then, to demonize brown people is much more an energizer to your political base than to actually solve the problem with technical virtual barriers (which are also far cheaper than any physical Wall). Fools gonna be fooled.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
That kind of full. That word doesn't have a single, unitary, meaning.
---

Well, that you too would carry water for Donald is no surprise, at least.

Of course, you can play with words to defend any idiotic statement you want, it is a fools errand. That you feel the need to be that kind of fool, and for Donald no less, should give you pause - unfortunately , it won't.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
Third: If there aren't, or the why isn't comforting, doesn't importing immigrants only delay when water starts pouring over the gunwale?
---

Yes, it is only a delay, for those immigrants tend to have lower feritility in their next generations -- and the poor countries they come from, as they get wealthier, follow the same pattern.

OTOH, we can describe human life entirely as just a delay from death, an nonetheless we keep delaying ever more whatever we can of our problems, at personal and collective levels, so I don't see any better solution coming for now to tackle the Big Crunch. Either it self-corrects (as Bret defends), or it doesn't, and it is going to be something to worry at the same scale as global warming (i.e. if truly a problem, it will be obvious only after we are all dead).

erp said...

Clovis, am I misunderstanding your comment or are you saying that even in your brown part of the world, brown people don't have the highfalutin degrees that non-browns do?

Hey Skipper said...

[Bret:] This is where we have a fundamental disagreement. My eyes tell me fertility variation are genetic and heritable. Who am I gonna believe, you or my lyin' eyes?

I'd like to know what evidence you are looking at, and what biology books you are reading.

Potential fertility lies far beyond what essentially all women realize in their lifetimes. In a time of unprecedented plenty, realized fertility is plummeting everywhere that plenty happens, even in expressly pro-natal religious cultures.

Clearly women are choosing to have far fewer babies than they could potentially have. And that's the rub — female choice over realized fertility is evolutionarily novel. Fertility is independent of volition. It would be astonishing if evolution had in hand an answer for a question that had never before been asked.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] Among the first and second hand cases I know of Brazilians moving illegally to the US, nearly half where about people with degrees, technical or academic.

Of course, they don't get to compete with the natives at that, because their illegality means they can not validate their diplomas in the US system, so they end up competing with the manual trade laborers anyway.


That only further makes my point. If elites faced the same job pressures as do manual laborers we wouldn't be talking about this now. That we are demonstrates clearly that they have absolutely no empathy for their fellow citizens.

That similar bureaucratic barriers are not fully implemented at lower level jobs is entirely due to lack of interest from your politicians (and the corporations which finance them).

It isn't that simple. Some politicians are actively sympathetic to illegal immigrants. Some are pushing the interests of corporations who don't wish to pay higher wages. Libertarians are furious at the thought of a national ID card. E-verify works badly.

But the reasons really don't matter. At the end of the day, some American citizens are getting pounded by illegal immigration. Trump is the first politician to actively fight their corner.

But then, to demonize brown people is much more an energizer to your political base than to actually solve the problem with technical virtual barriers (which are also far cheaper than any physical Wall). Fools gonna be fooled.

Demonize brown people, really? How about some direct quotes, please.

Technical virtual barriers are far less effective than you think. They have their place, but so do more extensive physical barriers. It's a problem without any single solution.

Hey Skipper said...

Well, that you too would carry water for Donald is no surprise, at least.

Of course, you can play with words to defend any idiotic statement you want, it is a fools errand. That you feel the need to be that kind of fool, and for Donald no less, should give you pause - unfortunately , it won't.


Oh for pete's sake, instead of pushing that kind of crap, just hit Ctrl-A Ctrl-X, because its worth no more than that.

And then do some reading on the art of rhetoric. For his target audience, who have seen their economic circumstances greatly diminished due to illegal immigration, the country is in fact full, because the last thing they want is more.

You are the one being the idiot, forcing a simple minded literalness where it absolutely does not belong.

(Or, you can demonstrate to me that continued illegal immigration won't harm the economic prospects of American citizens who used to work in the manual trades. But if you can't do that, then you cede my point.)

Yes, it is only a delay, for those immigrants tend to have lower feritility in their next generations -- and the poor countries they come from, as they get wealthier, follow the same pattern.

That ignores the damaging effects that mass emigration has on the source countries. When Venezuela eventually recovers from being the latest example demonstrating the rampaging disaster that socialism always becomes, do you think it is going be better off for having at least 10% of the population having high tailed it for anywhere else?

The most mobile, economically capable 10%?

OTOH, we can describe human life entirely as just a delay from death, an nonetheless we keep delaying ever more whatever we can of our problems, at personal and collective levels, so I don't see any better solution coming for now to tackle the Big Crunch. Either it self-corrects (as Bret defends), or it doesn't, and it is going to be something to worry at the same scale as global warming (i.e. if truly a problem, it will be obvious only after we are all dead).

Japan is leading the way in Asia. There has never been such a rate of depopulation in history absent conquest or plague, and maybe not even then. European countries are in the same predicament.

There is a marked difference with global warming. With respect to fertility predictions, reality has been far less than experts can keep up with. As for global warming, reality has also (almost hilariously) failed to get anywhere close to the mark.

The difference is in that the former is bad, and the latter is good.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "...female choice over realized fertility is evolutionarily novel..."

So all sex is rape? Or women haven't known how babies are made for the last many millennia? Or women have absolutely no impulse control? Or?

Many women I know would still have quite a choice over realized fertility even without birth control and I'm pretty sure their ancestors did too.

Hey Skipper said...

So all sex is rape? Or women haven't known how babies are made for the last many millennia? Or women have absolutely no impulse control? Or?

Proposition: fertility has no behavioral component

Proposition: women in pre-modern societies birthed as many children as their bodies and resources allowed for.

Proposition: in pre-modern societies, more than half of all infants died before their fifth birthday.

Proposition: the leading cause of death for adult women in pre-modern societies is either child birth, or the sequelae thereof. (Some extremely ingenious person, almost certainly a women, though to compare mortality statistics of the general population and convents in pre-modern France.)

Put differently, you are wrong. If you were right, then birth rates wouldn't have plummeted, because women had control all along.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "Proposition: fertility has no behavioral component"

The women you know are clearly completely different then the women I know. Based on the women I know, I reject the proposition.

Hey Skipper wrote: "Proposition: women in pre-modern societies birthed as many children as their bodies and resources allowed for."

That is absolutely wrong based on what I know. For example, you mentioned convents. That's an example that shows these two propositions to be incorrect. Joining a convent is behavioral and those women clearly did not birth as many children as their bodies allowed for.

Hey Skipper wrote: "Proposition: in pre-modern societies, more than half of all infants died before their fifth birthday."

So? If anything, that will help mitigate any proposed population decrease since those infants won't die now.

Hey Skipper wrote: "Proposition: the leading cause of death for adult women in pre-modern societies is either child birth, or the sequelae thereof."

So? If anything, that will help mitigate any proposed population decrease since those women won't die now.

erp said...

Skipper, did you really mean to say, "women had control all along" or is spellcheck "editing" responsible? Let me assure you that women never had and still don't have control because once a woman has a baby, that baby must take precedence over all else and that's the way it should and must be for a baby to survive and prosper.

The reason our birthrate is falling so fast is millions of our future citizens have been aborted and the abortion rate doesn't look to let up any time soon.

Hey Skipper said...

[Bret:] The women you know are clearly completely different then the women I know. Based on the women I know, I reject the proposition.

That's because you haven't thought through what I wrote.

Fertility has no behavorial component. Respiration, digestion, hearing, taste, touch, have no behavioral component.

That is absolutely wrong based on what I know. For example, you mentioned convents. That's an example that shows these two propositions to be incorrect.

No, it shows them to be true. Fertility, in and of itself, is a biological function that has no behavioral component.

Realized fertility — a concept unique to human females — now has a behavioral component. In pre-modern conditions, a tiny percentage of women were cloistered. Because they provided a test case, they demonstrated how dangerous pregnancy was then. And they also show the huge difference that ensues when control over one's own fertility is easy rather than arduous.

Which is before looking at the different material considerations between pre- and modern societies.

Hey Skipper wrote: "Proposition: the leading cause of death for adult women in pre-modern societies is either child birth, or the sequelae thereof."

[Bret:] So? If anything, that will help mitigate any proposed population decrease since those women won't die now.


You are looking at this completely bassackwards.

Assume women aren't completely stupid. They were able to observe how dangerous pregnancy and childbirth were. Because they aren't stupid, they would take whatever measures were available to them to limit their risk.

In contrast, modern medicine has almost completely eliminated the physical risk of pregnancy and childbirth, while at the same time material conditions are abundantly plentiful nearly beyond imagining.

Presuming the inherited desire to have children remains constant over such a short period, and the most serious disincentives to having children are removed, then realized fertility should skyrocket, right?

Yet it has done exactly the opposite.

That requires 'splanations.

Hey Skipper said...

[erp:] The reason our birthrate is falling so fast is millions of our future citizens have been aborted and the abortion rate doesn't look to let up any time soon.

Back in the day, that was James Taranto's Roe v. Wade conjecture: that progressivism is demographically doomed, because progressivism causes progessives to choose to have fewer babies.

I think his analysis falls short of reality.

Assume that essentially all women in modern societies have no more children in their lifetimes than they desire.

Unless progressive women, statistically speaking, believe they should have fewer children than do conservative women, then abortion is wastage less avoided by progressive women than conservative women.

Which is to say, abortion has no impact on realized fertility. (Leaving aside the moral implications.)

Put another way, if abortion was to be effectively outlawed tomorrow, I don't think realized fertility would change at all. Women would instead take more permanent measures when they reached their desired fertility.

erp said...


Confirming my opinion that men are for heavy lifting and women for heavy thinking.

Hey Skipper said...

erp, how did I miss the mark?

erp said...

Skipper, you didn't miss the mark.

You guys just see things very differently than we do. If I understand it correctly and I think I do, sex is on your minds 24/7 from puberty to death. It has nothing to do with children, birthrates ... .

This situation evolved and I have no problem with it per se, but it's diametrically opposite from our view, at least the us that I was part of prior to my dotage.

We saw sex as pleasurable, but always with the caveat that a pregnancy, welcome or not, could occur and that would change our lives in ways, not obvious to you guys -- and I don't mean the child birth part, but the life-long commitment.

Mothers and not only human ones, will go to extremes to safeguard their children even if it means living with abusive men or even harems.

The arrangement has worked in that humanity spread and prospered.

Is it times for a change and should we now just kill off unborn human beings to suit women's careers or men's disenchantment with the burdens of fatherhood?

Having experienced the ecstacy of holding my own newborns in my arms three times and been there to hold several of my grandchildren immediately after their births, I can tell you sex isn't even close.

I thank my lucky stars, I won't be around to see the results of a world where killing our children is not only permissible, but routine.

Hey Skipper said...

[erp:] You guys just see things very differently than we do. If I understand it correctly and I think I do, sex is on your minds 24/7 from puberty to death.

In my experience, longing for the feminine considerably predated puberty, no matter that I had no real idea just what it was I longed for.

And its waning long predates death. I just turned 64. I think I reached give/don't give a damn parity at least five years ago, and scarcely give sex a second thought virtually all the time.

It has become clear that women very much depend upon our addiction, because when we get over it, we are far less biddable. So, Jessica Valenti, while you are indeed quite attractive, change your own damn flat tire. Provided you can, which you probably can't.

Your caveat — the evolutionarily ingrained programming to consider the possibility of pregnancy, no matter its modern avoidability — is what's pivotally important here.

Given a choice, and what the choice will be, are two entirely different things.

erp said...


Skipper, what's this???? A reasonable man!!!! Maybe the jubilation is upon us

Perhaps due to waning health, meds, etc. some men's sex drive diminishes before death, but this area is rife with geezers and lots of them seem still on the prowl.

The knuckle on my ring finger is misshapen from an accident and the devices for getting around it are annoying, so I don't wear my rings. I am also often out and about alone because of my roomie's health restrictions and you would literally die laughing at the hits I get. :-)

Last week a pretty decent looking male senior citizen insisted on helping with the groceries and when I told him the kids at checkout will put my stuff in the car, he said, "what about when you get home?" I said as gently as I could that I had my own old guy at home!

A woman behind him was laughing so hard, I could hardly keep a straight face.

No way am I settling for another 80 yo. This time I'll hold out for two 40's.

Bret said...

erp,

I too would hold out for two 40-year-olds if I could get 'em. Heck, I'd go for 1 40-year-old! :-)

erp said...

... but you're too young. You probably qualify for two 30 year old. I think Trump has something like that in mind for down the road, so try to stay in shape.

:-)

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "Fertility has no behavorial component."

What are you talking about? Is this another of your definitional arguments?

=======

fer·til·i·ty
/fərˈtilədē/
noun
noun: fertility

the ability to conceive children or young.
"anxiety and stress affect fertility in both men and women"
synonyms: ability to conceive, ability to have children, virility, fecundity, potency, reproductiveness
"happiness has an effect on one's fertility"

======================


Or do you not know how reproduction works? I assure you that "the ability to conceive children or young" is affected if the woman's behavior makes it very difficult to impossible to get pregnant, for example if she joins a convent or otherwise makes it unlikely for sex to happen.

Note the example sentences. Anxiety, stress and happiness all have a behavioral component as well.

You are making no sense to me on any of this.

Hey Skipper said...

Bret:

fer·til·i·ty
/fərˈtilədē/
noun
noun: fertility

the ability to conceive children or young.


There's your answer, right there.

Fertility is a biological function. Comatose women have become pregnant.

Before modern birth control, the difference between potential and realized fertility was very small.

Now it is huge.

Of course, I'm speaking statistically. Sure, there were women who joined convents, or were able to avoid sex their entire reproductive lives. But as as far as demographics go, they don't matter — behavior did not matter, because there were no effective ways to achieve desired, as opposed to realized, fertility.

Now there is.

Women's realized fertility — actual behavior — is well below replacement rates in advanced countries, and plummeting in that direction everywhere else.





Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "...behavior did not matter, because there were no effective ways to achieve desired, as opposed to realized, fertility."

For my ancestors, that's simply untrue. I have records going back generations, and for the most part they always had the number of children they wanted. They talked about; the general idea was to have enough children to make sure someone could take care of them in old age and they'd pretty much stop when they got to that point (which was fewer after sanitation was invented). Maybe your ancestors consistently raped their women or the women were unable to resist their impulses, but for many of the rest of us, you're simply wrong.

Hey erp, your time was before the pill. Did you simply have pregnancy after pregnancy or did you actual consciously decide how many children to have (more or less).

erp said...

More or less a combination of everything. Never would have considered abortion.

I didn't take the pill being very adverse to taking strong chemicals into my body. Even now I take no meds of any kind and never have because I tried to make sensible decisions right along. Good genes don't hurt either.

Also I follow Paul Jaminet's Perfect Health Diet. It's awesome.

I just had a check up with a complete lab workup and a follow-up CT scan of my abdomen on the anniversary of four hernias removed in 2018. I got the hernias trying to get support stockings on my husband when he had lymphanoma.

A+ in every category just like when I was in school. :-)

Hey Skipper said...

I have records going back generations, and for the most part they always had the number of children they wanted.

How many did they have to have to get the number of survivors they desired?

What were the women's average lifespans? How many pregnancies did they have during that time? Breast feeding strongly inhibits fertility. Given, say 18 months post-partum breast feeding per full term pregnancy, and the average lifespans, how many children did your female ancestors have compared to what they possibly could have had? How did total lifetime fertility then compare to now?

Why is it different?

erp said...

Skipper, you are forgetting women commonly died in childbirth until modern medicine. Many men had two or even three wives due the it. Maybe as AOG (I miss him) used to say, it was a feature, not a bug. :-)

Hey Skipper said...

erp:

I hadn't forgotten, I just neglected to mention it.

I can't remember where I read it, but pre-modern medicine, the cause of death for roughly 20% of women was either pregnancy or its sequelae.

Which means that the number of pregnancies per woman is skewed downwards; after all, the vast majority of women died before reaching menopause. Therefore, their premature deaths eclipsed pregnancies they would otherwise have had.