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« Is reconciling with the irreconcilable even a possibility? | Main | Did the Archbishop of Canterbury really say that? »

Comments

Andrew Davies

Can anyone tell me the annual financial cost of raising a child, not to mention the personal sacrifice. This woman is avoiding all of that (without ever realising the joy she is missing out on) but will still take the benefits created by the taxes paid by the children that others have sacrificially raised.
That is real selfishness.

Andrew Davies

Oh, and BTW, can we think of anyone closer to home who has made a similar decision.

Jim

Having children is selfish????

This twaddle would be laughable if it wasn't so sad...

Ryan Sproull

According to Richard Dawkins the "fittest" have the most offspring and hence the most descendants and in that manner the species advances.

And the "success" of an individual is measured by the number of descendants they leave to posterity - nothing else counts in the long run.

A bleak world view, which does nothing at all to advance an answer to the question as to why we are here in the first place.

That's not what Dawkins says. In fact, in The Selfish Gene, he writes about two pages near the beginning of the book emphasising and reemphasising that nothing about evolution tells us how we should act, and that he thinks it would absolutely horrible if people tried to base their value systems on the harsh violent selfishness of natural selection.

andrei

The paragraph you quote applies in equal measure to amoeba, ants, aardvarks and apes, the latter a group that Professor Dawkins strongly suggests people belong to.

And as you quite rightly point out he thinks it would absolutely horrible if people tried to base their value systems on the harsh violent selfishness of natural selection. thereby exposing a fundamental contradiction in the professors world view -

(1) that people are no more nor no less than any other creature found in nature

(2) People are differentiated from the natural world by factoring in ethical considerations in the way they should behave.

Of course Professor Dawkins expends much ink in his books trying to demonstrate how ethics themselves have arisen from natural selection.

And by cherry picking examples of "altruistic" behavior exhibited in the social insects and herd animals etc with a bit of hand waving over the difficulties makes his case.

A good read but then again so is Alice in Wonderland.

Ryan Sproull

(1) that people are no more nor no less than any other creature found in nature

(2) People are differentiated from the natural world by factoring in ethical considerations in the way they should behave.

You're assuming that humans' ethical considerations make them "more" and animals "less", in terms of some magic standard of values. The two statements aren't incompatible at all. In so far as we are animals, we are the same as animals. In so far as we are capable of abstract ethical values, we are different from other animals. There's no problem there.

He certainly doesn't say, "And the success of an individual is measured by the number of descendants they leave to posterity - nothing else counts in the long run."

Not in the way you mean, anyway. The evolutionary success - the success at surviving as a species - obviously depends on being able to survive long enough to have kids who survive long enough to have kids. But to suggest that Dawkins is saying that evolutionary success is some kind of ethical success is either to misunderstand him or to blatantly deceive your readers about Dawkins' views.


Of course Professor Dawkins expends much ink in his books trying to demonstrate how ethics themselves have arisen from natural selection.

Plenty of moral values can be seen in terms of evolutionary superiority - of the group, rather than of the individual. Any group that had purely antisocial values would have failed long ago, overtaken by groups that have social values. There doesn't need to be a genetic explanation of social moral values, when it's obvious that social evolution of values will select for those values that favour the group over the individual.

James

"Having children is selfish????

This twaddle would be laughable if it wasn't so sad..."

It most certainly IS selfish...if you define selfishness in the Ayn Randian context of "self interest"....which is good and right for humans as its inseperable from our nature as human beings if we wish to prosper and survive..

Why would you have children if it WASN"T in you own self interest too do so....altruism?

Ones children...at least for most people, are their highest selfish values....

AcidComments

Of interest.

---------------------------

'Greens' movement may have
darker agenda:

Some environmentalists, such as Britain's Prince Phillip, formerly the president of the World Wildlife Fund, are showing us the hidden hand behind the eco-environmental movement.

When asked what he would be were he to be reincarnated, he said he would wish to return as "a killer virus to lower human population levels." Unfortunately, as a longtime proponent of population control, he was not kidding.


At Gorbachev's State of the World Forum in 1995, philosopher and author Sam Keen told the gathering elites that the ecological crisis is the population crisis, while urging them to promote sexuality, contraception and abortion.

He further suggested, "Cut the population by 90 percent and there aren't enough people left to do a great deal of ecological damage. Scary, isn't it? And who decides on the 10 percent who get to stay?

Consider oceanographer Jacques Costeau's article in a United Nations 1991 UNESCO Courier, whereby he called for the elimination of 350,000 people per day in order to "stabilize world population." These people are serious. What lengths will they go to in order to accomplish their goal?

http://www.redicecreations.com/article.php?id=2236

Psycho Milt

"...thereby exposing a fundamental contradiction in the professors world view..."

Only if we willfully ignore what he's actually saying in favour of what we find easier to argue against.

This story seems to about a single mentally ill person, rather than any group or category or group of people. "Mentally ill" may be too strong a term, and it's unwise to try and psycho-analyse people you've never met - it is after all possible this woman is simply in the category of people who'll discover in their 30s or 40s that the permanent and life-changing foolishness they inflicted on themselves when they were young and stupid now can't be undone. But my personal prejudice favours "mentally ill."

KevOB

I have said for years that the Holocaust of the Nerds will make the Nazi one look like a Sunday School picnic. Beware the Greens and gaia. Why do you think the EB think of them as evil?

Ryan Sproull

I have said for years that the Holocaust of the Nerds will make the Nazi one look like a Sunday School picnic. Beware the Greens and gaia. Why do you think the EB think of them as evil?

Don't worry. We're easy to spot. We're the ones wearing glasses.

peter

Not everybody has to have children. The population of even NZ has doubled within 50 years I think. Toni Vernelli is an unusual case but we are all different.

Psycho Milt

"These people are serious. What lengths will they go to in order to accomplish their goal?"

Yes, deadly serious. That's why we're represented by skilled operatives like Prince Charles, Jacques Cousteau (who's actually already done his bit by snuffing it) and this deluded bimbo who neutered herself. The world hasn't a hope against merciless ninjas like these, bwa-ha-ha-ha!

Seriously, there's plenty more where we came from - a billion here or there and who'd notice the difference? I've asked it before, but I'll ask it again - do children stop being a blessing from God when it's standing room only, or will we start draining the oceans at that point? Do tell.

andrei

Seriously, there's plenty more where we came from - a billion here or there and who'd notice the difference?

Well not exactly where we came from PM. See people in Western Liberal democracies are not breeding, this woman is an extreme but we are not producing enough children.

However, the women from places like Burkina Faso, where nearly half the population is under 15, are making up the shortfall.

And it is they, not western liberals, who shall inherit the earth.

And of course if you think westerners are hard on the environment, could you concede that just maybe third world hellholes are far more environmentally damaging.

I wonder if the greens would be happy if the whole planet was transformed into Burkina Faso with all its miseries and environmental degradation.

Living in "harmony with nature" sure has its drawbacks.

And no abortions either.

Ryan Sproull

However, the women from places like Burkina Faso, where nearly half the population is under 15, are making up the shortfall.

And it is they, not western liberals, who shall inherit the earth.

Wealthy people have less kids. Impoverished communities have many kids. Fix the poverty, and you'll fix the overpopulation problem.


And of course if you think westerners are hard on the environment, could you concede that just maybe third world hellholes are far more environmentally damaging.

That would not be conceding, that would be lying. Most environmental damage in Third World countries is the result of First World ownership and investment in damaging uses of land. To modernise those countries would take energy, which at the moment would probably mean carbon emissions, which would be damaging. But at the moment, not so much.


I wonder if the greens would be happy if the whole planet was transformed into Burkina Faso with all its miseries and environmental degradation.

That's one of their policies on their website, isn't it? "Transform the planet into Burkina Faso?" No, wait, I think it's their policy on cannabis that you've been getting onboard with. What on earth could you possibly mean by this bizarre comment?


Living in "harmony with nature" sure has its drawbacks.

Uh... Like Burkina Faso? Is that what you're trying to say? Pass the dutchie, buddy.

peter

Andrei

Have you read Eve's Bite yet?

In there you can read quite a lot about eugenics, that may be relevant to consider.

Quite a lot on Hitler too.

andrei

Have you read Eve's Bite yet?

yes

In there you can read quite a lot about eugenics, that may be relevant to consider.

In what regard, eugenics doesn't work. - selective breeding of racehorses is more miss than hit despite over three hundred years of experience, and for people it has just proved how little we really know. I must post on the Nobel Laureate sperm donors sometime - a sad story.

It just another example of mankind's hubris.

Quite a lot on Hitler too.

Congratulations - you just have demonstrated Godwin's law.

I'm unsure what any of this has to do with the subject of this post though

David W

Andrei,

I've read some strange takes on Dawkins' books but your reading of The Selfish Gene might take the cake.

The book really isn't about explaining human behaviour. The book is about a paradox. Altruism is quite common in biology which, on the face of it, is surprising because Evolution by natural selection (the most spectacularly successful theory in biology) has such a focus on competition. Dawkins argues that once you consider the gene as the unit of selection there is no surprise at all - something is always being selfish it's just not always as big as an organism.

I see no contradiction accepting the obvious truth that in one way we are just another part of the animal kingdom (for what it's worth any meaningful biological group that includes orangs and chimps HAS to include humans so we are in fact apes just as we are eukaryotes, animals, chordates, mammals and primates) but that for whatever reasons of short term, capricious gain our genes have built us brains such that
"We alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators”.

peter

And David W, the other thing is that anything a person does can be interpreted as self interest.

Belief in a fundamentalist God can be an expression of fear of change.

Helping one another is an investment in one's own security. (Not so essential if you are rich)

Going to church is a form of social contact. Would anyone like a muffin?

Being a preacher, or marketer, or career believer of Christianity - hey that is a way of making a living.

Ryan Sproull

Dawkins argues that once you consider the gene as the unit of selection there is no surprise at all - something is always being selfish it's just not always as big as an organism.

I don't think the term "selfish" as it is usually understood can be applied to genes. Genes don't make decisions.

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