Natural Population Limitation

It is a simple logical truth that, short of mass emigration into space, with rockets taking off at the rate of several million per second, uncontrolled birth-rates are bound to lead to horribly increased death-rates. It is hard to believe that this simple truth is not understood by those leaders who forbid their followers to use effective contraceptive methods. They express a preference for ‘natural’ methods of population limitation, and a natural method is exactly what they are going to get. It is called starvation.

Richard Dawkins
–The Selfish Gene

I have some quibbles with some of the things he said there. Not all of these were directly said by him, but I think they are implied by things he said or related ideas.

Mass emigration into space requires millions of rockets per second. What about other technologies for space emigration? Mass emigration into space would bring economies of scale anyway, rockets would start carrying more people.

Uncontrolled birth rates lead to horribly increased death rates (meaning diminished life expectancy and quality of life). As long as everyone who is born dies, of course death rates will increase, but what I take this to mean is that life expectancy and quality of life will diminish. What about other technological solutions to the problems of increasing population, such as more efficient food production? Lets face it, there’s still an awful lot of unused land, and that’s ignoring the fact that 2/3rds of the earths surface is water. We have a long way to go before we run out of space and resources (Africa and South America currently produce less than 1 percent of their potential agricultural harvest) on Earth, and necessity is the mother of invention.

‘Natural’ contraceptive methods are not ‘effective contraceptive methods’ Three natural methods have a Pearl Index of less than 1, compare this with the condom – Pearl Index of 2 to 5. Not to mention complete abstinence with a Pearl Index of 0

Not using ‘effective contraceptive methods’ (ie not the natural ones) results in uncontrolled birth rates. There are a few ways of controlling birth rates without using contraception of which the most obvious is abstinence. Perhaps not practical, but he seems to be talking about people with beliefs strong enough to cause them to do impractical things anyway. Beyond that, fertility rates can decrease from factors such as stress, pollution, alcohol and other drugs, and poor nutrion, let alone mobile phone usage. These factors would be likely to increase as population does. There exist some external controls to birth rate beyond just contraception.

Catholics express a preference for people starving.
Catholics are the only group of people I know that ‘forbid’ contraception, and they certainly do not advocate uncontrolled birth rates, millions of rockets per second being fired into space or starvation of millions.

Not using contraception causes starvation. Completely undemonstrated. It’d be much easy to show a simpler contention like eating more than you need causes starvation. In fact, “that people go malnourished is largely a political problem and not an agricultural one.”

Enough people in the world follow forbidders of contraception to cause a worldwide problem for everyone. Considering that not all followers obey all ‘forbiddings’ and that there are very few forbidders anyway, this seems unlikely.

The individuals who don’t agree with using contraception should for the benefit of humanity. This sounds a lot like he’s arguing for them to display altruism. Perhaps he’s worried that by natural selection, the number of people following forbidders will increase. But does he really believe that they should they go against their genetic programming and suffer decreased chances of their genes being passed on for the benefit of others?


“It is a simple logical truth that…” ugggh

The Limits of Capitalism

Predatory capitalism created a complex industrial system and an advanced technology; it permitted a considerable extension of democratic practice and fostered certain liberal values, but within limits that are now being pressed and must be overcome. It is not a fit system for the mid–twentieth century. It is incapable of meeting human needs that can be expressed only in collective terms, and its concept of competitive man who seeks only to maximize wealth and power, who subjects himself to market relationships, to exploitation and external authority, is antihuman and intolerable in the deepest sense. An autocratic state is no acceptable substitute; nor can the militarized state capitalism evolving in the United States or the bureaucratized, centralized welfare state be accepted as the goal of human existence. The only justification for repressive institutions is material and cultural deficit. But such institutions, at certain stages of history, perpetuate and produce such a deficit, and even threaten human survival. Modern science and technology can relieve people of the necessity for specialized, imbecile labor. They may, in principle, provide the basis for a rational social order based on free association and democratic control, if we have the will to create it.

— Noam Chomsky, Language and Freedom 1970

Essential Variety

The true end of Man, or that which is prescribed by the eternal and immutable dictates of reason, and not suggested by vague and transient desires, is the highest and most harmonious development of his powers to a complete and consistent whole. Freedom is the first and indispensable condition which the possibility of such a development presupposes; but there is besides another essential – intimately connected with freedom, it is true – a variety of situations.

— Wilhelm von Humboldt, The limits of State Action