RE: Parody of Science

Gatherer, D. (
Wed, 04 Aug 1999 09:12:30 +0200

Date: Wed, 04 Aug 1999 09:12:30 +0200
From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <>
Subject: RE: Parody of Science
To: "''" <>

The question seems be framed as, "Why did the upper classes have fewer

Yes, this is because that is the question we have to ask when we are
thinking about (genetic) evolution, since the bottom line of the
evolutionary accounts sheet is the relative success of one's genes.

when you could just as easily (and more productivley, I think)
ask, "What advantage allowed the agricultural farmers of 1911 to have an
average of 1.6 more children than their counterparts in the upper classes?"

That's a legitimate question, but it isn't the right one (see below).

And the answer to that question is simple: On a farm, children = free labor
= reduced farming costs = smaller net outlay of resources per child overall.
(In other words, "Farm kids earn their keep.")

Absolutely. There can be no doubt that agrarian peasant reproductive
strategy was in large part an adaptation to the conditions that had
prevailed on farms since the neolithic revolution. However, prior to dem.
trans., the aristocracy and upper-middle classes had much the same
reproductive strategy, and they had greater _overall_ reproductive success.
The thing about dem. trans. is that this reproductive advantage was

Borgerhoff Mulder points to some research done in Albuquerque in the early
1990s where the number of children and grandchildren was examined. The
theory is:

if reduction in fertility in dem. trans. is really an adaptation of some
kind, then the overall reproductive success of low reproducers should be
maximised in the long term. This is by strict analogy with the bird clutch
theory. So, one reins back one's reproduction now, in order to invest more
resources in children and thereby have a better long-term evolutionary

However, it is clear from the Albuquereque research that this hypothesised
'long-term' isn't the third generation at least. New Mexican men with the
most children also have the most grandchildren. The regression analysis
gives a best fitting line with equation g=2c, where g is the number of
grandchildren and c is the number of children.

Alan Rogers from the University of Utah has written a population simulation
where he can vary the selective pressures. If he changes the parameters so
that children require lots of parental investment, he _doesn't_ get
dem.trans. effects.

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