Re: Parody of Science

Tim Rhodes (
Wed, 4 Aug 1999 12:12:47 -0700

From: "Tim Rhodes" <>
To: <>
Subject: Re: Parody of Science
Date: Wed, 4 Aug 1999 12:12:47 -0700

Derek wrote:

>And the answer to that question is simple: On a farm, children = free
>= reduced farming costs = smaller net outlay of resources per child
>(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.

Ahh, I see. Has the question been examined from the viewpoint of
hierarchical social niches?

Although I don't have any data at hand, I would suspect that the
professional classes have a higher percentage of their offspring which
continue on to also become members of a professional class. At the dem.
trans. the barriers restricting movement between social classes (both up and
down) were to a large extent removed. So it would seem reasonable to
postulate that we would see an increased parental investment required by the
upper classes in order to insure that their children--and children's
children--achieved a similar status as the parent.

(Which is obviously a memetic rather than genetic pressure.)

I wonder what the "bird clutch" models would show if you could somehow
factor social standing into it? My guess is that the increased mating
opportunities afforded those of higher standing still would not be worth the
increase parental investment--that is, from a quantitative standpoint at
least. It could perhaps be argued that by having a larger pool of potential
mates to choose from such high status individuals could gain a qualitative
genetic advantage for their children.

-Tim Rhodes

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