clarification: masturbation meme

Bill Benzon (
Thu, 19 Jun 1997 21:47:34 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 1997 21:47:34 -0500
From: (Bill Benzon)
Subject: clarification: masturbation meme

Aaron & others,

Independently of just what the current evidence tells us -- and mostly it
doesn't tell us as much as we'd like to know -- this is an interesting
matter to think about. So, in the spirit of intellectual play, I've been

The hypothesis as Aaron presents it seems to involve a mechanism which
yields a relative increase in birth rate. But that's not enough. That
increase in birth rate has to translate into an increase in the number of
offspring raised to reproductive maturity. One can easily imagine a
non-masturbating society where folks do a bad job of raising a larger baby
population. Thus, this society would post the low population growth
statistics like the masturbation society in the simplest version of the
hypothesis. One can also imagine a non-masturbating society which has a low
birth rate but is very successful in raising its babies to maturity. This
culture would produce the population growth statistics Aaron is looking
for, but not by the (proximal) mechanism he postulates -- more instances of
procreative intercourse. The masturbation meme, of course, could care less
about the specific means humans use to translate masturbatory guilt into
population growth. But it makes some difference in how we think about what
culture is up to. & how might the masturbation meme hook-up with the
intense child-care meme? Does it matter to us? Why or why not?

Of course, I'm now talking about K-selection and r-selection & suggesting
that, in order properly to interpret what the masturbation meme is up to,
we have to know whether it is operating in a world of plentiful resources
or one of scarce resources. What it has to do to replicate itself may be
different under these conditions.

William L. Benzon 201.217.1010
708 Jersey Ave. Apt. 2A
Jersey City, NJ 07302 USA

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