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hobsen
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Seagull wrote:

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With a negative population growth rate in the US, Europe and Japan ... One might wonder if Africa and Iran "deserve to live" more that countries that are letting their gene pool become extinct.
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This statement on another thread seems to include enough commonly expressed inaccuracies in a few words to be worthy of comment.

First, while I am not sure about Europe, the United States certainly does not have negative population growth in any meaningful sense. In fact, the last time I checked, the U.S. population was continuing to double about every fifty years. If populations are in fact declining in Europe, that may be because population densities there are typically many times those in the United States, creating severe problems of overcrowding and pollution. Living in many European countries more resembles living in one of the largest cities in the United States than it resembles living under typical U.S. conditions.

But of course it may be true that deaths do exceed births in the United States and Europe, so that population would decrease if there were no immigration. But this assumes the native birth rate would remain low even if immigration ceased, and the total population stopped growing rapidly. This is possible, but it seems very unlikely. The record of the past shows that the only time societies stop producing enough children to cause populations to increase rapidly is when most individuals are poor and miserable, which is not a situation to encourage.

Finally "letting their gene pool become extinct" often expresses legitimate concern about the harmful effects of admitting immigrants faster than they can be assimilated. The United States did this for the first twenty years of the 20th century, and it created a backlash which led to controls on immigration which have continued ever since. But suggesting that letting the present gene pool become extinct should be prevented by government action or otherwise amounts to saying that dark-skinned Hispanics immigrating to the United States - for example - are genetically inferior to the present U.S. population. In other words, to use somewhat flowery language, these immigrants are genetic vermin who will pollute the purity of the present U.S. gene pool. So this way to express real concerns over the consequences of large scale immigration is flagrantly racist, and typically chosen for its racist appeal by those opposed to family planning for religious reasons. It also contradicts the scientific fact - not to mention the explicit teaching of almost all Christian denominations - that human populations are closely related genetically, and do not differ significantly from one another in their abilities or fitness to become good citizens or spiritual worth. The most noticeable effect of the typical skin color of U.S. citizens changing from white to brown might be a decrease in skin cancer, which if anything seems desirable.

So I am reluctant to welcome Seagull back to Ornery with a lengthy and hostile dissection of a passing remark, but the remark itself seems to be carelessly quoted from some Internet site with much lower intellectual standards than Ornery. However if Seagull can provide a reasoned defense of this statement, I shall be glad to hear what he has to say.

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seagull
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Hobsen,

quote:
I am reluctant to welcome Seagull back to Ornery with a lengthy and hostile dissection
Thank you for the insightful discussion of my remark. I agree with many of the things that you said and see no reason to repeat them. If my response focuses on the differences between us it is because differences are what makes things interesting and gives us opportunities to learn from each other. I sense no personal hostility toward me in your post and I feel no hostility toward you.

quote:
the remark itself seems to be carelessly quoted from some Internet site with much lower intellectual standards than Ornery
My remark was not quoted from any internet site - it reflects my personal thoughts, feelings and fears regarding population growth. When I try to reflect on any possible external source for my convictions, the closest quote I can come to is: "The most noble title any child can have is Third" (Demosthenes, Ender's game - end of chapter 9). The more recent short stories "Polish boy" and "Teacher's pest" reflect similar values but by the time those were published - my opinions on this matter were already well formed.

The expression "One might wonder" was intended quite literally to bring to mind the process of wondering, without quite reaching a conclusion one way or the other.

quote:
"letting their gene pool become extinct" often expresses legitimate concern about the harmful effects of admitting immigrants faster than they can be assimilated.
I acknowledge that people who are concerned more about the stability of their own culture than the welfare of the human race can have a legitimate concern about the so called "harmful effects" of admitting immigrants. My concern, however, is with two other effects of immigration that I consider to be much more harmful:

1. The brain drain that selective immigration imposes on the source countries depriving them of their best and brightest.

2. The cultural effects of assimilation on the immigrants which makes it less likely for their desirable genes to be propagated into future generations.

China and India (the most populous contries in the world) were intentionally omitted from my remark. I chose the US, Europe and Japan specifically because of their combination of low birth rates and reliance on selective immigration to maintain their technological and military edge. I chose Iran and Africa to represent the other side of that spectrum without going to extremes (like Gaza and Afghanistan).

Putting aside my distaste for China's "one child" policy, I can not ignore the effects of that policy on the demographics of their next generation. Punishing large families creates a strong evolutionary pressure that encourages only traits that are considered desirable (within their own culture) to reproduce.

On the other hand the welfare policy in Europe and the US encourages people with less desirable traits to reproduce. Meanwhile the avialabilty of birth control to the middle and upper classes combined with social norms about children make it much less likely for people with "desirable" traits to reproduce.

quote:
If populations are in fact declining in Europe, that may be because population densities there are typically many times those in the United States, creating severe problems of overcrowding and pollution.
I like this argument very much. I wish I could believe that it was true. But if it was, how do you explain the high birth rate in Gaza which has one of the highest population densities in the world with severe problems of overcrowding and pollution.

While I firmly belong to the western culture, I worry about the ability of our culture to survive in the long term with such policies in place and about the harm they are causing to the human race as a whole.

I would love to hear other people's thoughts and reasoning on these matters.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"But if it was, how do you explain the high birth rate in Gaza which has one of the highest population densities in the world with severe problems of overcrowding and pollution."

Throughout the tree of life, from microbial roots to higher mammal top shoots, propagation increases when survival pressure increases. Doing so produces more offspring; the bio-logic is 'the more players, the more likely some will survive".

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Pete at Home
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I think that you're both wrong. Population density does not cause the plummeting birth rate, and genetic propagation isn't the issue we should be worried about. The problem is cultural, not genetic. Look to Kosovo in the 1990s or Macedonia in the early 2020s to see what happens when immigrants with a high birth rate immigrate into a dominant culture with low birth rate, particularly when the cultures lack intercompatibility.

Spain and Italy would do well to try to get latin americans to immigrate. The alternative is ugly and violent.

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hobsen
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The brain drain is something I had not considered, Seagull. Otherwise I agree with much of your post.

Yes, Pete, I can see that European countries may experience violence as a result of Muslim immigration. Presumably their leaders see that risk and maybe will do something about it. Otherwise I do not see a similar risk from Hispanics coming to the United States. Even with a large total number of legal and illegal immigrants, so far as I know the foreign born population in the United States at the present time is not half of what it was in 1920 - but if I am wrong about that maybe I should be concerned.

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seagull
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Hobsen, "Otherwise ..."?
Can you elaborate about your thoughts about the brain drain?

Pete, your post only underscores my concerns.

There is an argument to be made that a "Dominant" culture with a negative population growth rate does not deserve to survive (in the evolutionary sense). I am not sure I buy into that argument but I do take it seriously.

I can think of two counter arguments that would mitigate such an extreme statement.

1. A moderate amount of bi-directional selective immigration (and/or class mobility) can be beneficial to both cultures and gene pools and help to maintain cultures with a negative population growth rate.

2. A cultural meme that depends on ideas rather genes to propagate can survive even if the individuals in it do not pro-create (think of the Catholic priesthood for example). Personally, I would not want to subscribe to memes of this category and would not want my children to join them. However, this personal preference does not mean that the meme itself does not deserve to survive.

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Pete at Home
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"There is an argument to be made that a "Dominant" culture with a negative population growth rate does not deserve to survive (in the evolutionary sense)."

Evolutionary forces applies to culture as well as genetics. I'm more interested in the survival of my family than of the survival of my particular genes. Family is not coterminous with genes. People adopt, use sperm donors, etc. And you've addressed that well with your discussion of survival of cultural memes.

Agreed, hobesen. Americans gripe about latinos, but if they took a look at Europe or at our own history, and they'd realize that we never had it so good.

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hobsen
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The brain drain causes damage by depriving third world countries of educated citizens more than by damaging their genetic potential. So far as I know, no one has ever shown that any breeding program for desirable human qualities of character and intelligence - however defined and whether accidental or planned - has had effects that can be measured. For example, the requirements of celibacy in Roman Catholic countries should have made their inhabitants relatively stupid by culling selectively those above average in intelligence, but no one has shown such an effect exists. Moreover it may be the harshest conditions which weed out the inferior before they reproduce, so the genetic potential in places like Gaza may be improving while that in the United States declines, even if immigration to the United States partly makes up for that.

Of course selective breeding might be able to produce similar variability in humans to that which is seen in different breeds of dogs - although there may be less variablity in the human gene pool so it is not clear that is possible - but experience with creating new breeds of animals suggests major changes would require very harsh culling over a long time. So far as I know, nothing ever done intentionally or by accident throughout history even approaches what would be necessary to make major changes. Within the limits of what can be measured, human populations now seem very much alike, and their members rather than remaining separate continue to swap genes enthusiastically with one another.

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Pete at Home
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He. I've often thought that smacked of evidence of an anthropomorphic God, that one non-swimming, non-flying species, scattered across six continents, would have never subspeciated over thousands of years, while evolving languages which clearly have no common origin. Not compelling evidence, but evidence nonetheless.
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IrishTD
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quote:
For example, the requirements of celibacy in Roman Catholic countries should have made their inhabitants relatively stupid by culling selectively those above average in intelligence, but no one has shown such an effect exists.
Huh? Can you clear this up?
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kenmeer livermaile
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I view language as a metaphysical life form. This is the view Dawkins proposed when he first coined the term 'meme'.

While all languages are different, and some arose spontaneously, isolated from others, so that there is, to my knowledge, no one ur-language base for humanity, *all* languages do follow certain basic rules, just as *all* life forms follow certain basic rules.

The concept of family is flexible. The American family, as most of us here surely know, is a very different animal than the American family of just 100 years ago, and is currently metamorphosing into something very different than the families into which Boomers like I were born.

Families are beautiful in that they take the concept/necessity of gene continuation and couple it with devotion to the actual carriers of those genes as being even more valuable than those genes themselves.

Finally, I feel there is no single explanation for the various population growth factors. I mentioned essential biological propagation tendencies because I believe they are still essential, that is, they still drive certain behaviors in an instinctual, or if you prefer, reflexive fashion, and that more sophisticated, superficial, or complexly circumstantial factors should be based, have at their bottom, these old old biological patterns.

A cultural example: the classic welfare queen bee who has more kids in order to get more welfare. She doesn't necessarily do that consciously. Kids are a pain in the ass to raise. But she is in a precarious if provisioned circumstance. Her motivation and sense of prosperity are low. Her vision of her future survival prospects and that of her kids, are low. (She sees how few of her neighborhoods' kids make it into healthy adulthood, for example.) She's bored and lonely, and ends up having unprotected sex either willingly or unwillingly. Willingly, perhaps to mkake some guy into a stay at home father; unwillingly, perhaps through depression and apathy that leads to wrecklessness.

I propose that underneath this are ancient behavioral trends tied to our biological imperative.

Meanwhile, on the cultural, nongenetic top of things, is a welfare system whose primary function, whose most essential raison d'etre, is to keep young kids from starving to death or dying for lack of shelter or medical attention. This system is primarily dedicated to sustaining young kids. This system naturally fosters the bringing of more kids to sustain into the world, because systems are made of memes and memes, like genes, exist to continue themselves.

So on the bottom of ancient biolineage, we see poverty producing more offspring, and at the top of recent memistry, we see poverty producing more offspring.

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The Drake
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Just ask the Iroquois and Navajo what happens if you leave immigration unchecked. [Smile]
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Colin JM0397
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On a side note, I just read a snippet in "The Week" that in developing countries birth rates are down from 6+ per family to 2-3 per family. If that and 1st world trends continue, we can expect to world population to level out in 2050 around 9 billion... And then start to decline, I assume.
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kenmeer livermaile
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As for the non-subspeciation of homo sap: I feel we never sufficiently isolated for that to happen. while we culturally drew into myriad private huddles, there were always rogue homos spreading one area's homo genes into that of another.

The ancient concept of exile is one means by which homo enclaves might have been prevented from becoming sufficiently isolated genetically that they could no longer breed with each other and thus follow different biological evolutionary paths.

Also, our survival basis supports this: we are not wedded to any one ecology. We live on the North Pole and in the tropics, the desert and the rain forest. So, again, rather than be isolated when our necessary form of habitat is separated somehow, we keep on roving all over the globe and running into fellow homo saps, and even if we love to fight and kill, we love to **** most of all.

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hobsen
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That would be a possible explanation for the observed lack of variety in the human gene pool, Pete, but you probably known the leading evolutionary explanation right now is that humans nearly became extinct about a hundred thousand years ago - and the group which survived were all closely related and so had little genetic diversity. Many animal species which decline to small numbers show a similar lack of genetic diversity today, and it makes helpig them survive difficult - partly because helpful variants do not occur, and partly because of expression of lethal recessive genes which kill their offspring. But of course divine intervention cannot be disproved in the case of humans, or for that matter other species.

As for Roman Catholic priests, those were supposed to be able to read and right. So removing them as breeders, while letting those too dumb to learn reproduce, in theory would have damaged the gene pool. In practice, priests in many countries were expected to have a woman on the side who served as a wife - and they probably fathered lots of other children too. So the suggested cause was probably not there, and certainly no effects have been observed. About monks and nuns I do not know, and these may in fact have been somewhat inhibited from reproducing, but I am not sure those were particularly selected for intelligence anyway. Otherwise in Ireland at least, IrishTD, I understand priests fathered children very freely until about two centuries ago. You can probably find plenty of online historical sources attesting to that, or I could look them up, but Ireland is not my country.

Similarly some have theorized that the Chinese system of civil service exams, which led to high official positions in which men could father lots of children with many wives and others, could have made the Chinese extra smart. And the Chinese do seem to be smarter than average, but so do closely related Orientals who never had civil service exams in their history, while others have theorized learning Chinese characters stimulates gneral intelligence. Anyway human cultures and races do systematically vary a little - very few African pygmies do well as basketball players - but the variations among human groups seem to be quite small. Not like the horse and ass and zebra and all the other four legged creatures which can interbreed, but otherwise are quite different. The fact is that whether desirable human characteristics are hereditary is usually not known. Eugenics consists of a lot more speculations than facts.

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kenmeer livermaile
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's for Roman Catholic priests, those were supposed to be able to read and right."

Assumedly just a typo, but a brilliant typo nonetheless.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"And the Chinese do seem to be smarter than average, but so do closely related Orientals who never had civil service exams in their history"

However, it is possible that interbeeding between chinese and other Orientals introduced the 'superior intelligence' gene into those other Orientals whereupon it spread itself into dominance via various vectors of ehnahanced survivability induced by superior intelligence.

Assuming that increased intelligence enhances survivability within a social context, something I'm not sure is true.

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KidB
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Pete said:

quote:
I think that you're both wrong. Population density does not cause the plummeting birth rate, and genetic propagation isn't the issue we should be worried about. The problem is cultural, not genetic. Look to Kosovo in the 1990s or Macedonia in the early 2020s to see what happens when immigrants with a high birth rate immigrate into a dominant culture with low birth rate, particularly when the cultures lack intercompatibility.

Japan has the lowest birth rate in the first world, America (I believe) the highest. They also have the lowest and highest levels of immigration, respectively, with Europe in the middle somewhere in both counts.

When it comes to population density, the inverse tracks perfecly. Japan has 130 million people in a mountainous, difficult-to-develop land mass smaller than California - it is easily the most densely populated first-world country. America, of course, the least.

I think it's pretty obvious that having children and welcoming in workers from abroad requires physical space. Smaller houses in smaller, crowded neighborhoods requires having smaller families, and enforcing greater immigration restrictions.

"Culture" is a product of the conditions with which it must contend.

[ November 12, 2009, 04:48 PM: Message edited by: KidB ]

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hobsen
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Thanks for noticing the typo, KL. Sometimes my fingers are funnier than I am. KL also said,
quote:
Assuming that increased intelligence enhances survivability within a social context, something I'm not sure is true.
I am not sure either, but I may as well include a description of a new book which much impressed my mother when she was 22,
quote:
The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy is a book by Lothrop Stoddard published in 1920. The book focuses on the coming collapse of a white world empire and colonialism based on population growth among "colored peoples". Stoddard clearly advocates positions of scientific racism. His conclusions advocate an eugenic separation of the world's "primary races". In spite of the book's title, Stoddard does not advocate a bid for white world domination based on white supremacy but instead questions the right of whites to invade other races and outright criticizes the European powers for attempting to force their will on Asia.

Modern interest in The Rising Tide of Color is often based on the accuracy of the predictions the book makes, not on the racist tones in which the predictions are made. Stoddard's predictions, coming immediately after World War I, include: an impending war between Japan and the United States; the unjust nature of the Treaty of Versailles leading to a second European war; the rise and power of Islamism in the Middle East; Asian immigration to Australia; and the decline of colonialism.

People have worried about these issues for a long time, with a more or less racist or Eurocentric perspective. And Stoddard deserves to be remembered for how clearly he foresaw the future, and we can only hope Ornery predictions fare as well.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by hobsen:
People have worried about these issues for a long time, with a more or less racist or Eurocentric perspective. And Stoddard deserves to be remembered for how clearly he foresaw the future, and we can only hope Ornery predictions fare as well. [/QB]

Hobsen, I think your culture bias is showing. Racism and eugenics is hardly a Eurocentric behavior. Racism is alive and doing quite well through out the world.

Indeed, I've found most of the Indians and Japanese I've known closely to be far more racist than the average contemporary American. I've got a good friend who is Indian, but I make sure I never talk about Pakistani's, Brits or blacks.

[ November 12, 2009, 06:24 PM: Message edited by: JWatts ]

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hobsen
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Point taken, JWatts. You are quite correct.
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seagull
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quote:
During World War two Germany and Japan both had racist policies based on the assumption that their own race was superior to others. The difference between the two was that the Japanese were right
I do not necessarily agree with this statement, but I think it is both funny and relevant.

BTW, I am Jewish and so is the person I heard this from.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy is a book by Lothrop Stoddard published in 1920."

The early 20th century seems to me to have been a time when smart and informed persons had an historical platform from which to make uncommonly accurate predictions.

The forces of change at that time were so intense one could perhaps get a better sense of their direction than at others?

Not a shred of hard data behind this; just my impression.

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hobsen
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Yes, it could be that making predictions is now more difficult. I should tend to agree. In any case Stoddard gave my mother an uncommonly accurate expectation for what would happen in her future, roughly for the next thirty years, or from when she was 22 to when she was 52. That is the period in which most adults make the decisions most important for their own lives - so she lived her life in part in accord with Stoddard's vision, and that served her well.
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