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Why isn't everyone doing it? - Elizabeth Unexplained
Lots of data but no answers
greyautumnrain
greyautumnrain
Why isn't everyone doing it?
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greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: July 14th, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I would say the answer to why people want to have kids is in the book Warren borrowed from me several years ago, or more generally can be derived from Darwin's writings: reproduction is an instinctual biological imperative. Those who lack the instinct to reproduce are less likely to reproduce. I don't think there is any evolutionary advantage to being a rock climber, unless you happen to be a mountain goat.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 14th, 2008 10:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
But in theory the same original biological imperatives tell Warren to go and reproduce with lots and lots of women, yes? But our rational decisions and emotional responses can presumably override and even replace our instincts.
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: July 14th, 2008 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
1) Actually, monogamy is advantageous for males in certain k selected species.

2) My Warren???! Not unless he's secretly been replaced by a space alien.
psychohist From: psychohist Date: July 15th, 2008 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)
One thing that's really been brought home to me by having Margaret is just how helpless human newborns are. She's just the kind of snack a hyena could easily carry off if she weren't being watched 24/7. That doesn't give Elizabeth much of a chance to forage for herself, so I figure my genes are better served by bringing back hunks of ungulate flesh for Elizabeth while she guards Margaret.

Oh, and the reason Elizabeth is doing the guarding is because she has a more impressive weapon collection than I do!
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: July 15th, 2008 03:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Dr. Tatiana tells me that males are no more likely to disproportionately benefit from promiscuity than are females. Plenty of species have promiscuous females and monogamous males. It's kind of hard to be sure what our genetic programming is, since there's no such thing as a "neutral culture" such that we could accurately control for culture.

Also, I should distinguish between the monogamy-with-cheating type of promiscuity (where pair bonded individuals both invest in child rearing) and the type where it's all one-night stands all the time.
dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: July 15th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
or more generally can be derived from Darwin's writings: reproduction is an instinctual biological imperative.

Huh, I'd totally disagree. I have an instinctual biological imperative to have sex, not to have kids. In fact, step one is "before Bad Luck happens to me, at least get lots of dice rolls to pass on my genes". If I live to reach step two (say, age 20), then maybe I have figured out how to actually live successfully, so I should try differently to ensure my genes continue to propagate (namely, be a good parent).

I don't think there is any evolutionary advantage to being a rock climber, unless you happen to be a mountain goat.

To half-seriously, half-facetiously riff on this theme, I think there's a major evolutionary advantage for humans for most of us not to be parents. It's context-dependent (as is, really, everything), but given *handwaves* vaguely normal conditions, we want to sacrifice a few people in society to have no lives and be the best (doctors, physicists, mathematicians, scientist/engineers) and push back the boundaries of knowledge, just as we want to sacrifice a few people to keep our population stable. (Bwah, what a great implication: "raising a bunch of kids is like a group of people working on a new theorem". Heehee. I did say half-facetiously, right? :) )

It's a win-win when people like you blink and say, "umm... WHAT sacrifice? I love kids, you knucklehead!" just as we know other people who would similarly say "shh, I'm thinking about x-and-such's Theorem... hmm...". And from the evolutionary standpoint, Society(TM) should be saying, "well, dcltdw, lesse, you are good at... at... you are really good at being a doorstop. Okay then; stand here and don't move for the next 15 years." :) Or more seriously, I am the cannon fodder that's plunked into starships to explore.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 15th, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Eek eek eek. This worries me.

I'm happy with people having kids or not having kids as they so choose, but it worries me when people say things like "just as we want to sacrifice a few people to keep our population stable".

It's not stable if the options are "work" or "have kids." Because if a person (or a child-raising unit) can't do both, then where is the money supposed to come from to support these children? Even for someone who loves having kids, struggling to support them because the good jobs are reserved for those who don't have outside interests, *is* a huge sacrifice. And I think most people are happier if they don't get to make only one contribution to the world (you may only do surgery, sorry, no personal life; you may only have babies, there's no other use to you; you may only be a doorstop, and when the door is closed, you have no purpose)



dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: July 15th, 2008 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, there's a context shift in there. My previous context: in a spherical frictionless world... your context is "yes, but in the reality -we- live in". :)

So in my spherical frictionless cow universe, a lot of things are set up differently: minor details like "everyone agrees with dcltdw (the Fount of All Wisdom) that Society spending significant money on schools is a good thing" and major details like "those who are good at X go off and do X" where X is anything. Mmm dictatorial central control of people's lives: clearly, a good way to run society. *nods sagely* :) It'd help if dcltdw (the Fount of All Wisdom) were accepted as God-Emperor of Earth, and I'm working on that. ;) To be *slightly* serious, I feel like there's a lot of merit to individuals saying, "okay, the trend is that a person in my spot goes off and does X. Do I really want to do that?", and now I could rapidly slide back towards the spherical cow about "and how do we teach people to have enough self-confidence to resist social pressure without resorting to senseless reactionary behavior" annnnd yeaaaah. :)

So, if I join you in this reality, then... hmm. I feel tempted to go off on a "each day, you only have $X money and 24 hours and $Z energy, so where do you spend it?" discussion, and really, I wouldn't be surprised if we were largely in agreement on the underlying principles.

And I think most people are happier if they don't get to make only one contribution to the world

Oh, totally agreed. :)
psychohist From: psychohist Date: July 17th, 2008 02:01 am (UTC) (Link)
To half-seriously, half-facetiously riff on this theme, I think there's a major evolutionary advantage for humans for most of us not to be parents.

One could argue that traditional Chinese society did this. You wanted one son to inherit the farm and carry on the family name, and additional sons to help work the farm, but presumably not to get married and have kids.

It sounds like what you're thinking about is something on a bigger scale, though.
dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: July 17th, 2008 01:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I can't speak to the traditional Chinese family anecdote, which I had never heard before. It's an interesting thought.

I guess I am thinking on a bigger scale: namely, population control is a big problem. So how do you go about redoing the social programming so that we have a stable population that continues to make progress? One step, I think, involves "have kids raised by people who like raising kids", which I think is a better solution than the current "willy-nilly go forth and reproduce". (I exaggerate, but only slightly. :) )
psychohist From: psychohist Date: July 17th, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's not just China, really; all preindustrial farming societies that are limited by land seem to get to the point where sons are preferred to daughters.

As far as population control is concerned, I don't think we really need to go any further than we already do in industrialized nations like the U.S. The U.S. reproduction rate is already slightly below replacement. I also think that some of us people who like raising kids like raising a small number of high quality kids, but wouldn't like raising a large number of mass produced kids, as might be required if we got more specialized than we already are.

I agree that "willy-nilly go forth and reproduce" is a bad idea, but it only really happens these days in certain underdeveloped areas like Africa and India. Even China has dropped well below replacement rates.
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: July 17th, 2008 10:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I recall that number of children born to a couple was inversely proportional to maternal education level.
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