Burning Seed Corn

According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, writing in the Harvard Business Review, 33% of successful career women (business executives, doctors, lawyers, academics,  etc) in the 41-55 age bracket are childless. In corporate America, 42%.  I figure that the TFR of this class is under 1.0  .

The numbers are worse for the best-paid, most exalted positions, so TFR for women emerging from Harvard Business School or Harvard Law must be lower yet.

On the whole these Harvard women are a good deal smarter than average, albeit crazy as a bedbug.  Since intelligence is highly heritable, this trend (along with others, of course) is fueling that hell-bound train.

Now if these women were part of a short-term maximum effort aimed at stopping an asteroid impact, this would make sense, but I’m pretty sure they’re not.

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95 Responses to Burning Seed Corn

  1. Candide III says:

    Craziness must be heritable too, so it’s at least not an unmitigated disaster 🙂

  2. j3morecharacters says:

    Why to point the finger at females? Are Harvard men much more fertile?

    They may not stop the incoming asteroid, but they may discover the cure for malaria, cholera, ebola, schistosomiasis, dengue, etc. and so their selfless sacrifice would contribute to the growth of the human species.

    • Dan says:

      There is a Harvard man on my street with 10 kids. Catholic, pro-life.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      All the good schools now have ads in their school newspapers advertising for sperm donators. My son thought why not, get paid 75 bucks to beat off into a cup, I’ll do it. Each visit yields about 20 doses of 20,000 sperm which are frozen until needed. Each dose has a 10 to 15% chance of impregnating the woman who is paying big bucks for the chance to be a mom. They take your picture, give you a short IQ test and write down a few details like your height, hair and eye color. Prospective moms go shopping for a dad with this information. Since my son is tall, blond, good looking, and aces IQ tests it isn’t much of a stretch to assume he sold out his 40 doses. Since he did this twice odds are he has 4 to 6 additional kids out there somewhere. He is real touchy about it, I call him a cowbird but not to his face. So do your part to improve mankind. Work hard your whole life? nope. Help others your whole life? nope. Go into a room full of dirty magazines and beat off into a cup.

      • engleberg says:

        Calling your son a cowbird is just cuckoo.

      • little spoon says:

        I don’t have any kids. I don’t really know why, but I don’t really regret not having any- at least not yet. Wonder if I can still donate my eggs to someone.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        My son is a cowbird. A cowbird lays their egg in another bird’s nest and let them do all the work. But I am nuts if that is your point. The problem with the gene pool is there is no lifeguard. But on the other hand I have fingers.

      • gwern says:

        > They take your picture, give you a short IQ test and write down a few details like your height, hair and eye color.

        Is it really that easy? Wikipedia gave me the impression that donating in the USA was a far more involved process than that (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screening_of_potential_sperm_bank_donors#Components).

      • dave chamberlin says:

        I don’t know how easy it is now but 11 years ago when my son donated his sperm that is how he described it. I would expect that it is a more detailed process now.

      • szopeno says:

        @little spoon:
        I want to give you my most sincer thanks.THis planet is much overpopulated. Thanks to you and people like you, there will be more place for my children and grandchildren. Otherwise, if not people lie you who do not want to have children, I would have to think about advising my children to have smaller nbumber of offspring or whatever.

      • Ilya says:

        @szopeno: there is currently a need for less status-obsessed women and more for women who ooze motherhood and procreation instincts. Alas, it’s quite rare among the better educated females. Perhaps, as females are more susceptible to cultural messages, changing the culture itself by making having children into a high-status attribute could alleviate things partially, but I don’t count on it. At least, not in my lifetime, in the post-industrial society that is America.

        On the subject of “less people”: my local Wholefoods keeps bugging me to donate to their “Invest in a Future without Poverty” fund, and I just can’t help but notice how showing to everyone how much one cares about the plight of the overseas poor via campaigning and saving water through low-flow toilets is the the staple of American high-class status-seeking behavior. Isn’t it more empathetic to populate Africa, India, Latin America etc. with better-looking, smarter-on-average people instead?

        On “universal compassion:” Of course, no fundamental difference between being materialistic and being “into experiences” (like exercising compassion to people not related to you). One is still a greedy ape when backpacking/volunteering in Uganda.

        There is definitely something to be said for the religious inheriting the earth (and I don’t mean the Universalist kind).

    • little spoon says:

      Yes, I believe Harvard men are much more fertile. Don’t know the details for that school but i thought higher intelligence mainly correlates with lower fertility in women. I don’t know if IQ 130 white men have fewer children than IQ 100 white men. They might have fewer than IQ 85 white men though.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Yes, Harvard men are much more fertile. And I wouldn’t count on a bunch of MBAs or lawyers curing much of anything.

    • Difference Maker says:

      Seems like an autistic assessment

    • j3morecharacters says:

      All the diseases I mentioned above exist only/mostly in Africa. Need I spell it out more?

    • Peter Connor says:

      But based on recent information on majors, not many of them are involved in science.

    • laofmoonster says:

      Wordsum scores and number of children for men: http://i.imgur.com/bFM1r4C.png
      For women: http://i.imgur.com/QFEbid8.png

      IQ is dysgenic for both sexes, but more so for women. (And liberals. There’s tons of data to play with at http://sda.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/hsda?harcsda+gss08 )

  3. What is the TFR for bedbugs?

  4. Erik says:

    I have it on good authority (this is sarcasm for “internet sperglords continue to assert”) that some of these people are in fact working on the reverse-asteroid-impact of the technological singularity where people will be uploaded into computers and biological reproduction will become obsolete because we’ll be able to construct our children with perfectly tailored genes. So it doesn’t matter that we’re burning the seed corn – where we’re going, we don’t need crops.

    It’s obviously true – just look at precedents from similar developments around sexuality, like how condoms and antibiotics consigned STDs to the annals of history next to smallpox, or how IVF and sperm banks led to people retaining high birth rates and having the babies of geniuses in late age.

    Extrapolation aside, I’m somewhat ignorant on the real state and expected future of designer babies, so I request the hosts to briefly enlighten me if they have the time and interest: what’s the chance that genetech will result in people constructing intelligent, lusty, and fertile babies? Is it likely to be feasible this century? If feasible, is it likely to get strangled by red tape? If feasible and legal, will it be cheap enough to be practically available at nontrivial frequency? Is there a previous post on this I should be reading instead of asking stupid questions?

    • amac78 says:

      The technology for genetically modifying human zygotes exists today. The first portion is (of course) IVF. For gene modification, the most advanced (in the clinical-trials sense) technique is driven by a Zinc-Finger-Nuclease (ZFN) approach. Newer methods are TALENs and CRISPR. Link.

      For most complex traits, there will be many gene targets. The heritable component of intelligence is known to be due to dozens of alleles, each of small effect (under typical circumstances). Most of these targets are yet to be identified and characterized. That’s a lot of selection and/or manipulation; the risk of an adverse effect may be small at each step, but it’s not negligible. The Unknowns are still unknown.

      Western institutions and regulatory agencies are thus notably gun-shy of gene manipulation. Current Phase 2 clinical trials are notably conservative in design and modest in desired outcomes. HIV therapy trial link.

      So: slow, and strangled by red tape? Expensive? In the West, Yes to all three.

      Designer babies in China: I don’t know enough to make a prediction, but the rate-limiting steps may well be different in that setting.

    • Zoyd Wheeler says:

      Designer babies will be designed by crazy career women who want one designer daughter exactly like themselves.

    • jamesd127 says:

      First, we have to know what editing to do, which we do not know, but quite plausibly will know soon.

      Then we have to do a couple of hundred edits, each one with significant risk of misediting the genome disastrously. I suppose this can be fixed by doing a few edits, multiplying the cell line, doing a read, throwing away edit failures, rinse and repeat, until you get a cell line that is edited the way you want it edited.

      At current costs, this would cost several million dollars. It will doubtless come down, but still be ridiculously expensive. I can imagine an government doing this and then cloning the result a million times to produce an army of clone warrior supermen, but it is always going to be extremely expensive for the individual child.

      • Boris Bartlog says:

        This is why pre-implantation screening/selection, as well as sperm donors, are much more likely to be useful in the near term. You don’t need to edit the genome … just assemble twenty of them via IVF, genotype them at the points of interest, and pick the one that looks best. This would be much more economical, and would probably also raise fewer objections from the kind of people who don’t like GMOs.

  5. O'Nonymous says:

    At my recent business school reunion, the women all had 0-2 children (with 0 being pretty common), the American men had exactly 2 children (unless they were Mormon, in which case they had 3-4), and a number of the Latin American men had 3-4.

    Given the heritability of political views (.3 or something like that, right?), is feminism a self-negating ideology in the long-run?

  6. Luke Lea says:

    A mere blip in evolutionary time. Their kind will soon disappear.

  7. reiner Tor says:

    That’s just sexism, heterosexism, singleism, and probably also racism. And eugenics as well. Hitler also started like that.

  8. east hunter says:

    maybe this is just human destiny – our various character deficiencies are a natural rate limiter on progress. for example, we could rapidly evolve in 200 years, but it’s beyond our collective capabilities to do so – mainly, we don’t want to.

    perhaps its our fondness for relative status versus absolute status. people like having a lot of servants around, so we want a large class of docile and relatively dim-witted people so the winners feel better about winning.

    Winning where average IQ of everyone was 110 might not seem as sweet. for example, philanthropy. buying second homes for people who could only afford one home doesn’t seem like it would satisfy bill gates, even if that were his only option to give back.

    maybe these women were just the unlucky, too-early vanguard of the second sexual revolution, the revolution which where you don’t need to have sex with real consenting people to have kids, you just order them to spec from the lab after submitting a cheek swab, a list of characteristics, and a check for $100,000.

    maybe its a conspiracy. although anyone smart enough to dream up the master plan to rate limit humanity might likely be affected by the plan as well. that is, assuming the conspiracy is human of course.

  9. Matt says:

    The connection between education and intelligence and reproduction seems to exist the early twentieth century


    Women born 1915-1929 in Sweden with fewer children tend to have descendents with more education and income, but fewer descendents overall.

    Likewise, on the GSS, a (stronger) predictor other than Wordsum or education of whether a man or woman has many kids (variable childs) is their number of siblings (variable sibs) .

    People with lots of siblings also tend to have low intelligence – the fewer the siblings, the greater the Wordsum and education.

    And this is true even if you limit the analysis to the 1900-1920 cohort. The difference is a lot more dramatic in this early cohort compared to 1980-2000, likely because the unintelligent have lost more fertility through the Twentieth Century than the smart (more demographic transition for them), so they are now more convergent (the overall trend is still dysgenic).

    You can compute a variable which is the the the number of children a person has – the number of siblings they have.

    At age 50-80, across the sample, the higher this variable is (the more children a person has relative to how many children their parents have), the smarter they tend to be, as shown by wordsum and education.

    This seems mainly because people who have fewer kids than their parents tend to be dumber on average, not really because people who have more kids than their parents are smarter (they’re about the same as those who the same number of kids).

    This seems to remain true if you control for either of the intelligence variables (education or wordsum) and let the other vary.

    This seems slightly less pronounced for women than men, with the same shape of relationship.

    Seems like an odd result, that smarter people both tend to come from small families and that average and smarter peple tend to have larger families than dumb people from the same sized families.

  10. Patrick Boyle says:

    Actually this may be turning around.

    The most commonly cited example of dysgenic meltdown is modern Japan. According to the Lynn Vanhatten figures, Japan is the smartest nation on Earth save only South Korea. And the Japanese refuse to breed. The US replaces their unborn babies with immigrants but Japan seems to prefer robots. They don’t have minorities playing the ‘knockout game’ or engaging in gang turf wars. The robots are remarkably well behaved. But they are not quite the same as a new generation of Japanese. Are they? They plan on having robots tend to their feeble old people. And of course the Japanese are just about the oldest population around.

    Various seers and pundits have calculated when Japan as a nation and the Japanese as a people will just evaporate. But as of yesterday they seem to be resisting. The news yesterday tells us that the Japanese government is now paying incentives to what young Japanese yet remain to ‘be fruitful and multiply’.

    This is not a new problem of course. Augustus Caesar railed against the tendency of the Romans of the better classes to not bother with child bearing. Hitler is the most famous recent figure to offer incentives for fecundity, I think it works, but I’d have to examine the stats more carefully be before I’d feel certain.

    Japan has a relatively easy political path to national childbirth incentives because they are all of one race more or less. It would be much tougher here to have the feds pay for white babies.

  11. Maciano says:

    Every day, you see this stuff going on and you just wonder if people have all been robbed of parts of their brains. Today, I heard someone talk about the peculiar trend of pedophiles to target boys over girls. I said: “well, maybe than they might be gay. They just call them pedos if they get caught.” Next, big silence, followed by a look of me being some sort of gay-bashing loon.

    Many people just don’t seem to see these trends. The axiom is: equality always holds over anything, they deduce from there. So, smart women dying childless? Who cares, we have too many people already and more immigrants can always be invited.

    • thinkingabout it says:

      the question is still valid. I think a large part of the reason heterosexual pedophilia is less well known is that adult men are usually not allowed in private with young girls, while adult men are often allowed alone with young boys.
      Which makes you consider the entire Boy-scouts no-gay-scoutmaster rule from a new perspective.

      • gcochran9 says:

        Of course the other reason is because it simply is less common.

        Looked at logically, real pedophilia (sexual interest in someone clearly below puberty) is exactly as anomalous as homosexuality.

        • gwern says:

          Sure, although intuitively I’d guess that pedophilia is ‘less’ of an error than homosexuality – even if the age is off, at least they’re aimed in the right direction. How common is true pedophilia…? Hard to say, since so many ‘pedophilia’ cases could be more correctly described as ephebophilia: the victim is in puberty (and hasn’t the age of puberty been steadily dropping over the past centuries?).

      • thinkingabout it says:

        I agree true heterosexual pedophilia (which would mean girls < 11 years or so of age) is technically an anomaly similar to homosexuality. But human females are more neotenized than males, and youth and neoteny are highly prized signs of fertility in females. So a misdirection of the male sex drive towards immature females may be an easy mistake to make.
        Additionally, if sexual mate pairbonding is taken as a given through human evolutionary history, then it may have made more sense to lock in a pre pubescent virgin girl than take your chances with a fully mature woman, who may be carrying another man's child or sentimentally attached to another man. This of course is the standard today in much of the Muslim world- as exemplified by Muhammad himself.
        I wonder if gay pedophilia makes a distinction between pubertal and pre pubertal. I cannot think of any reason for it to do so.

      • rob says:


        What the ‘ell, man? I thought you were Teh Evul. Are you even trying? Evolution isn’t good or bad. It’s just true and utterly amoral. Pedophilia and homosexuality are both compatible with evolution. They exist. QED. At least they seem to: children of both sexes get molested.

        I have wonderfully awful evolutionary hypothesis of pedophilia. At least I think so. OTOH, I am batshit crazy. If you’re willing to give a lunatic a fair hearing, I’ll email you.

      • Conan says:

        The Boy Scouts engage in massive in-depth screening to keep pedophiles out. A tremendous amount of time is spend creating procedures and rules to prevent pedophiles who sneak in from getting access to the boys. Who can sleep in whose tent? How much physical isolation is permissible? What do you do if some kid gets sick while camping and must be taken to the hospital? Does one adult go? Two? And what if that leaves only one male with the remaining boys? All of this is pushed very strongly by the insurance companies, who wind up paying the (secret) legal judgments, and all of it is (hopefully) invisible to parents and kids, who would drop out if they realized what a constant struggle it is to keep secret buggers from getting at the boys.

  12. Timtoc says:

    One possible explanation for the preponderance of homosexual pedeophiles was advanced in a 1987 book, Sexual Landscapes, by James Weinrich. He posited that the default position for sexual differentiation is female and that two phenomena were necessary to allow normal male development, namely, processes he called masculinization and defeminization. Masculinization without defeminization produced homosexuals while defeminization without masculinization produced pedophiles. He states that pedophiles tend to be hyposexual and homosexual as a byproduct of that arrested normal development. Weinrich talked of a sexual periodic table that placed gay men and pedophiles in quite different X and Y topography. There, of course, is no empirical proof for his table. We know that one transducer of male embryonic development is DHT which might be the candidate for the masculinization effect of Weinrich’s thesis. DHT function would presumedly be intact in normal gay men. The other factor(s) leading to defeminization when well known would be fertile ground to research for causes of homosexuality.

    • gcochran9 says:

      There’s no evidence. And I’ve read his work. Didn’t think much of it. E. O. Wilson did, but it’s fair to say that our cognitive styles do not mesh.

    • Anonymous says:

      Any explanation for why pedophiles tend to be short and low-IQ?

    • Anthony says:

      I haven’t been able to find the study, but I did read one which interviewed something like 5000+ adult pedophiles, mostly in jail. As I recall, these were true pedophiles, or at least close – they all had victims under 13. About 10% were women. Of the remaining 90% of the men, about 75% were heterosexual in their “adult sexual orientation”, about 8% were bisexual, 8% homosexual, and 8% were exclusively pedophilic – towards adults they were asexual.

      So Weinrich’s “tendencies” are only tendencies. 8% bi, gay, or asexual are much higher than in the normal adult male population, but 3/4 of pedophiles *also* wanted to have sex with adult (or at least pubescent) women. Does that disprove his theory?

  13. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:
  14. reiner Tor says:

    The official line seems to be that pedophiles just don’t seem to care too much about the child’s gender. After all, except for genitalia, small boys and small girls look similar.

    There was a rock singer sentenced in Wales recently, he seems to have had sexual contact with females from age one to thirty-eight (but mostly from sixteen to thirty-something), and with a one-year-old male baby. Just an anecdotal evidence, but at least this particular pedophile didn’t seem to be homosexual, and with children had no real preference either way, whereas didn’t appear to have had sex with post-puberty males at all.

    • And yet fucking a 1 year old is pretty exceptional even for paedophiles, and I’m unsure how useful exceptions are in testing rules.

      I think its the gay line that paedophiles are not straight or homosexual, so as to distance themselves.

    • That is not the official line among those of us who have to treat them and evaluate their individual danger to society. We identify a number of differences among various types of pedophiles.

      Some secretly identify differences among types of homosexuals, though they aren’t allowed to say so.

      • It would be interesting to know the subtypes and the degrees to which nature and nurture are thought to be involved. Same with the bum boys.

        I can understand that thoughtcrime laws and witch hunters might be interfering with research on homosexuality, because the same thing happened before to Bailey regarding transsexuals. Although I have no bias for or against his theory as such, it is quite obvious from here that his real thoughtcrime was to deny the unity of a diagnosis that has become very politicised since it has become surrounded by strange identity politics. And yet compared to the psychological differences between the effectively self-diagnosed, the shared similarity that exists between them is extremely superficial. After a brief look I think it is fair to say the lack of acceptable science in transgender research is very striking – the most cited paper from the literature has a sample size of n=8 or something silly like that. Its clear that just like the (likely but still unproven) gay gene idea, it is cited as a scientific front for all kinds of wierdo lifestyle choices of “gender nonconformism” and the whole surrounding political cult that Bailey fell foul of just for asking the wrong questions.

  15. jef says:

    Humbert Humbert’s therapists tried to get him to see this. But he was too resistant.

  16. Julian says:

    Jim Flynn, of Flynn effect fame, drew attention to this problem a few years ago. He didn’t get any thanks for it, in fact it created howls of protest.

    “An internationally recognised expert on intelligence warns New Zealand children could get dumber in three or four generations unless women with higher education started producing more babies.

    Otago University emeritus professor Dr Jim Flynn was commenting on census figures that show mothers without a higher education were the anchor of New Zealand’s current fertility rate.

    “Everyone knows if we only allowed short people to reproduce there would be a tendency in terms of genes for height to diminish. Intelligence is no different from other human traits,” he told the Sunday Star-Times.

    “A persistent genetic trend which lowered the genetic quality for brain physiology would have some effect eventually.”

    Statistics show women without tertiary qualifications who had reached their early 40s had produced 2.57 babies each.

    In contrast, women with a higher education were producing just 1.85 babies each.


    • Sandgroper says:

      Julian – that newspaper article is hysterical. I loved the government response – “It’s OK to have lots of dumb kids, we just need to educate them better.”

      *Jim Flynn head-desks*

  17. JayMan says:

    For anyone interested in who is reproducing (at least among American Whites), by IQ, by politics, and by education, see my review post here:

    Who’s Having the Babies? | JayMan’s Blog

  18. Of course though the statistics are shocking the observation is not new by any means. Nor is the explanation of ‘clever sillies’ – firstly there is the wonky effect of r/k selection on affluent adults of reproductive age, and then IQ overrides gut survival instincts so in the absence of certain moral impulses (like the guy Dan mentioned will have different values to the childless old bags.)

    Of course any economic or po!itical system that generates too much wealth, stability and longevity for its elites will naturally have this kind of problem according to life history theory. They need a sense of risk and uncertainty to give them a knock into a more r-selected direction.

    Mind you it is very, very easy to undo the problem of effectively voluntary sterility but individualist western culture hinders proper demographic efficiency.

  19. athEIst says:

    A cowbird lays their egg in another bird’s nest and let them do all the work.
    The cowbird’s egg will hatch first, and while mom and dad are out getting worms, will push its smaller (non)siblings out of the nest.. Some birds recognize cowbirds’ eggs(and push them out of the nest) but most do not. Cuckoos do the same.

  20. cloudswrest says:

    What this will probably lead to is more sexual dimorphism in intelligence between men and women. Think “elephant seals” with intelligence replacing size, critics of Larry Summers not withstanding.

  21. Portlander says:

    Speaking of sperm donation, given the decreasing quality with paternal age that our blog host has written about on a few occasions, combined with shrinking middle class resulting from the economics of our new global pillage economy, I’ve wondered about the practicality of sperm banking in one’s late teens or early 20’s, to be used 20 yrs hence when the timing is more convenient for procreation, figuring the wife is likely 6-8 yrs the groom’s junior.

    In terms the Roissyphiles would appreciate, a vasectomy following the bank deposit would free up a man considerably for the next number of years.

    Then again, the very tangible financial cost weighed against the very intangible and maybe speculative genotype pay-off makes the whole thing a ridiculous non-starter only “internet sperglords” could appreciate?

    • gwern says:

      > I’ve wondered about the practicality of sperm banking in one’s late teens or early 20′s, to be used 20 yrs hence when the timing is more convenient for procreation, figuring the wife is likely 6-8 yrs the groom’s junior.

      I’ve looked into it a little bit (was trying to write an essay on the topic http://gwern.net/Ethical%20sperm%20donation but got bogged down in the difficulty of estimating marginal returns to IQ). Long-term sperm storage seems to be very cheap: perhaps $1-5k lifetime total. Unfortunately, storing eggs is much more expensive because extraction is much harder so you can only attack one side of the age problem.

      • Portlander says:

        It seems paternal is the relatively more important side of the problem. Men are older than their wives, and the gamete quality drops more with age — a twofer. Also, if couples don’t have to concern themselves with contraception, over 20 years that’s a pretty big benefit.

        This could be a service sold to NBA and NFL players when the ink on their signing bonuses are still wet. Heck, mark it up to $50k, give a kick-back to agents and set aside a little to wine-and-dine the player’s mothers, this could be a gold-mine. Geez, I shouldn’t be giving this idea away here. 😉

  22. Though I don’t have a moral objection to most kinds of ‘playing god’ I think the fascination some people have with NRTs on these blogs, is more about them being sci nerds moreso than real solutions. The real, glaring solution is to remove the social factors contributing to the problem rather than bothering with the NRT red herring.

    I mean people debate the ethics of in vitro fertilisation for women in their 80s and such nonsense. IVF for women in the 40s is irresponsible on grounds of the length of the child’s economic dependence and the increased likelihood of health problems with age, but is normal. Why not just ban IVF for women over 30 – that would rule out the perception that motherhood can be delayed.

    • melendwyr says:

      What motivation exists to create and enforce such a ban? No one is particularly interested about maintaining or improving the human race, no more than we cared about scientific exploration when we went to the Moon. If the Chinese didn’t think they could acquire a strategic advantage by breeding smart babies, they wouldn’t be bothering.

      Women under 30 don’t need IVF generally. Why permit it only to them? It wouldn’t be able to fulfill its primary purpose, which is preventing rich older couples to evade the biological consequences of their life choices.

      • reiner Tor says:

        Just a remark. Some people oppose IVF on religious grounds, because it involves the creation and subsequent destruction of a great many fetuses. This is considered worse than a single abortion, because in an abortion normally only one fetus is destroyed.

      • reiner Tor says:

        Actually not fetuses, only zygotes, but they consider them to be equivalent.

      • melendwyr says:

        I acknowledge your point. Such motivations are currently unfashionable, however, and are unlikely to gain any legal clout.

        IVF permits people with clout to avoid a negative consequence. I don’t see that banning the practice would satisfy any need of the people and factions that are in power or likely to come to power. Ergo, I’m reasonably certain it will remain.

        Whether it would have any long-term consequences to the species is irrelevant, as very few people give any thought to the long-term.

      • My point is not what is fashionable but what is pragmatic. And the affinity many on these blogs feel for new reproductive technologies seems emotional rather than rational, when real life social problems like the age of recipients are overlooked.

        As such it makes no difference as to whether IVF becomes age restricted with an emphasis upon restriction or banned outright, since many women think it allows them to postpone motherhood safely and securely (as long as they have the cash.) It is because women under 30 rarely seek IVF that the availability of IVF is an important part of the problem Greg has raised. It is a real, emerging problem.

  23. If Kornbluth was right, we’re only going to need a few people – perhaps 10% of the population – to be leaders and intelligent anyway. Of course, if HG Well was right instead….

    • melendwyr says:

      “The Marching Morons” seems to be entirely tongue-in-cheek. Kornbluth might well have been trying to parody the idea he’s become well-known for. I can’t imagine anyone actually reading the story and concluding that Kornbluth was trying to warn people about that hypothetical world.

      • gcochran9 says:

        “the last thing he learned is that death is the end of pain.”

      • melendwyr says:

        The paragraph before that last line is even more informative:

        “Lying twisted and broken under the acceleration, Barlow realized that
        some things had not changed, that Jack Ketch was never asked to dinner
        however many shillings you paid him to do your dirty work, that murder will
        out, that crime pays only temporarily.”

        It sounds very little like someone in favor of reversing dysgenic breeding trends

  24. Pingback: the Revision Division

  25. L says:

    Lee Kuan Yew understood this very well in running Singapore and proposed that the offspring of college educated parents with more than two children be given preferences in University admission. There was a backlash by the very parents who would most benefit from the policy as they didn’t want to be advantaged in such way. It is sad to see that fewer of our smart fraction being represented with each consecutive generation, yet it seems a problem that is little discussed even amongst the intelligent.


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