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Sterilization for the Pseudo-Dead

Emulating Nature's Eugenics Program
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Anyone who thinks that the world can forever support endlessly increasing numbers of people should stop reading this, fishbone this Idea, and go away.

This Idea is partly about the controversial subject of "eugenics", but it is fairly applicable and completely neutral with respect any race, religion, creed, culture, etc. It is not quite a "Let's All", however, since it only involves the "Pseudo-Dead".

It is widely known that a major reason humanity is experiencing a population explosion is because modern medical technology is very good at saving people from things that would have killed them if that technology did not exist.

Note that I have not precisely defined "modern medical technology". I'm actually unwilling to include vaccination in that category (was invented about 1800). Or old techniques such as tourniquets, amputations, and cauterizations, which are known to have saved many lives. Modern stuff includes allergen-analysis, organ transplants, heart-lung machines, and much more.

In various fantastic stories there are people who die and get raised from the dead by one means or another. Depending on the type of story, those people might afterward be called "ordinary", or they might be called "undead".

So far as we know, "undead" people don't exist anywhere outside of fantastic stories. Therefore they do not concern us here. But those "ordinary" people who have died (say by drowning in cold water) and been brought back to life, or who almost died except for the OBVIOUS intervention of modern medical technology --all of them qualify herein as "Pseudo-Dead".

That is, if Nature's Course had not been interrupted, all those people would be actually dead. Note that per Nature's Eugenics Plan, the stupid and the unhealthy tend to get weeded out before they can reproduce. The human species tends to experience gradual physical/mental improvement as that happens.

By "stupid" I'm not trying to point at the mentally retarded; I'm talking about the generic type of idiot who, for example, might drive a car really fast without wearing a seat belt. Regardless of getting drunk.

Now, IF all the people saved by modern medical technology had died instead, what would be the consequences? Well, they would no longer have jobs or need food, clothing, shelter, etc. And they would not be able to have children.

OK, so we generally don't want people to die, since they mostly spend years learning how to become productive members of society, and an early death is equivalent to a wasted investment.

However, we NEED the world's birth rate to go down. This Idea therefore proposes that the Pseudo-Dead be sterilized while right there on the operating table, being saved by modern medical technology. And, if necessary, remind them that if they had died they wouldn't be able to breed, so what are they complaining about?

The net effect is that society doesn't lose its investment in individuals, but it gains the effect of Natural Eugenics, as stupid and unhealthy --and just plain unlucky-- people become unable to pass their stupidity and/or unhealthiness and/or unluckiness on to the next generation.

Vernon, Nov 29 2011

Birth rate statistics http://www.infoplea...m/ipa/A0934668.html
[DrBob, Nov 29 2011]

Population projections through 2300 http://www.un.org/e...rldPop2300final.pdf
The UN projects a peak population around ~9b in 2050. [DIYMatt, Nov 30 2011]

Wildbirth! Wildbirth!
Similarly motivated scheme. [bungston, Nov 30 2011]

Caveman sanctuary Caveman_20Sanctuary
Probably my favorite idea of 21Q for its tongue-completely-out-of-cheek earnestness. Again, with State of Nature motivations similar to this one. [bungston, Nov 30 2011]

About vaccination http://www.historyofvaccines.org/
Science started with an old wives' tale (not modern tech, see?) [Vernon, Dec 01 2011]

Z.P.G. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069530/
"In the not too distant future, a very smoggy and overpopulated Earth government makes it illegal to have children for a generation." [Klaatu, Dec 01 2011]

http://www.halfbake...al/help.html#voting [calum, Dec 01 2011]

Idiocracy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiocracy
"stupid people easily out-breed the intelligent" [afinehowdoyoudo, Dec 02 2011]

Godwin's law http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law
[ixnaum, Dec 03 2011]

The Unreachable Stars http://uploaded.to/..._the_Mi%E2%80%A6rar
Science fiction has covered lots of scenarios. Modern politics is CAUSING this one.... (Note: link is for a huge 72MB archive that contains lots more stuff than just this one story). [Vernon, Dec 06 2011]

The John B. Calhoun experiment http://nihrecord.od..._25_2008/story1.htm
“He clearly saw these rats and mice as models for man” [Klaatu, Dec 06 2011]

Life at the bottom: S.F.'s Sunnydale project http://articles.sfg...-authority-families
"This is like a concentration camp. There is no way out unless you die." [Klaatu, Dec 06 2011]

Calhoun's experiments in more detail http://eprints.lse..../1/2308Ramadams.pdf
.pdf [Klaatu, Dec 06 2011]

Asthma and Allergies http://www.webmd.co...de/asthma-allergies
Regarding something mentioned in an annotation. [Vernon, Dec 13 2011]

About "Peak Oil" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil
Every oil field, whether small or global, follows a known pattern of productivity. [Vernon, Dec 15 2011]

Recent Research http://www.smithson...mits-of-Growth.html
Basically, a Malthusian Catastrophe seems possible about the year 2030. In a Dec 6 2011 anno I casually mentioned 25 years from then (computes as 2036) as a possible date for a Malthusian Catastrophe. Looks like sooner is more likely than later! [Vernon, Apr 20 2012]

Hitler lebensraum speech http://www.fordham....r-obersalzberg.html
As mentioned in an annotation. Maybe the operative word should have been "speech" not "speeches". [Vernon, Apr 20 2012]

TwinFlywheel TwinFlywheel
Linked only because of a question asked in an annotation. [Vernon, Apr 24 2012]


       [21 Quest], per the main text, the "Pseudo-Dead" includes mortally-wounded people who are saved by modern medical technology before they actually die. But you can be sure they would have died, without it! Some women almost die in childbirth, for example, but for modern med-tech (which actually might include C-Sections --even though C-Sections might have saved lots of babies in History, I think most of their mothers died before modern antibiotics were developed). I suspect lots of today's surviving mothers go on to have more children, but don't actually have any statistics about it.   

       As for who pays, obviously we need the simplest/cheapest sterilization options available. I'm fairly confident that vasectomies are low-priced, but women definitely need something less like the major surgery of a tubal ligation. Perhaps a fiber-optic laser passed through the cervix to where it can cauterize/seal the exits of the fallopean tubes, inside the uterus.   

       If the cost of sterilization is minimal, then "who pays for it" should be whoever pays for saving their lives. What's a few hundred bucks compared to (frequently) tens of thousands?
Vernon, Nov 29 2011

       I think it's a dumb idea, because for example the generic fast-driving idiot may well sterilise multiple bystanders under your scheme, while remaining fertile themselves.
Loris, Nov 29 2011

       So, the 8 year-old boy with a bullet in his heart that was saved in my Emergency Department, by our team, is given a vasectomy? Modern medicine.   

       The cocaine overdose that I lavaged ("stomach pumping") and saved gets to reproduce? Old-time medicine.   

       If the determination for sterilization is done "while right there on the operating table", who makes the call whether the patient was saved by "modern methods"?   

       Sorry, 10 years working as a Trauma Tech says fishbone and a M&M enema for this idea. "Code Brown on bed 12!"
Klaatu, Nov 29 2011

       I thought this was going to be zombie eugenics.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Nov 29 2011

       [Loris] and [Klaatu], it is well known that Nature doesn't play favorites. So even organisms that are otherwise very fit-for-survival sometimes get randomly killed (volcanic eruption, for example). Once you start playing ANY type of favorite, you distort this Idea's goal from "Emulating Nature's Eugenics Program". And the politicians will never stop arguing over which favorites to play.
Vernon, Nov 29 2011

       I'm not keen either, but based on the fundamental ideas behind the motives.   

       While it's easy to conclude that Nature has a "Natural Eugenics" policy, that's a fundamental misunderstanding of the process of evolution - a blind and undirected process from which, local maxima emerge containing strategies that favour reproducibility.   

       If you artificially enact a policy that attempts to second-guess what nature should or would have wanted, you are guilty of imposing your own personal values on something that may well not have any values at all.   

       If we have naturally evolved to produce technology, then our technology is just as natural as a bird's nest, or a termite mound, or a beaver's dam. It's unnatural to try to artificially impose limits on what is and what isn't "natural" in this context. (Possible paradox in that statement, left to be considered by others better equipped)   

       Finally, if we really *do* want to employ some degree of eugenics, you might find it's equally valid to use attractiveness (rather than surgery) as the means of directing the hand of nature. Simply make drunk drivers less attractive people to sleep with - it's not difficult, and it's much cheaper than surgery.   

       I've banged on about this previously, but in our current environment, sexual selection is a far more important driver than premature death/sterilisation in terms of fuelling our continuing development as a species. People find smart people attractive, and over the last 1,000,000 years or so, people born to attractive parents have tended to be smarter AND also inherited the *preference* for smarter mates themselves. This sexually driven feedback loop of the last umpty-thousand years can be the only explanation for the unprecedentedly rapid development of larger and larger brain cavities over a geologically tiny amount of time.
zen_tom, Nov 29 2011

       So, your method...I want to make sure that I have this clear in my mind:   

       Mother undergoes C-section...mother is saved...sterilized   

       Baby is saved...sterilized.   

       Do I have the picture correct? So, a C-section which saves both mother and child becomes a "two-fer"? But wait, C- sections were done as early as the mid 1800's, so is that old, or new technology? Burr holes for cranial bleeds? Oops, they date back to prehistoric times.   

       The problem isn't that we're more technically advanced, we just have things like anesthesia and antibiotics that make the old ideas "work".   

       Maybe educate people on the benefits of smaller families. Get rid of child tax deductions. Teach *actual* birth control to teens and pre-teens. Stop giving baby-machine families like the Duggars respect and their own television show. ("Listen, lady. It's a VAGINA, not a clown car")
Klaatu, Nov 29 2011

       //It is widely known that a major reason humanity is experiencing a population explosion is because modern medical technology is very good at saving people//

When discussing the world's population, I don't hear too many people talking about sterilising the population of the USA or the UK because their healthcare system is too good, Vernon. Nope, it's the same old litany about the expanding populations of the less developed countries, i.e. those without a decent healthcare system, without decent education and without a decent economy. And if the population of the developed countries are mentioned at all it's only ever in the context of how to stop people migrating from the poor countries to the rich ones.
DrBob, Nov 29 2011

       [Vernon], first and fore-most let me say thankyou for such a brief idea. I too believe that modern medicine is allowing sub-standard variants of our specie to proliferate. As does our welfare, health-care and other such government subsidized programs. I would whole-heartedly advocate a pro-active method for turning this gene-hobbling tide, were it not for the un-erring belief that nature herself has just such a plan, and said plan is probably already well under way.   

       Just be prepared to hunker down and out-live the neighbors, and we will all be just fine.
MikeD, Nov 29 2011

       Mothers undergo C-section and survive to breed again. result: larger pool of people carrying genes for things that prevent natural birth, as the disadvantage has been nullified. result: more C-sections needed in the future.   

       This raises the possibility that simply through evolutionary random walk, the ability to give birth naturally may eventually go extinct, as the advantage of this trait over the many possible nonfunctional variants has been reduced. That would not be a good thing, especially if antibiotic resistance or societal collapse suddenly stops us performing more successful C-sections.   

       (declaration: I am a mother who survived an emergency C-section due to having a wrongly-shaped pelvis that did not spread during labour. I have no further children.)
prufrax, Nov 29 2011

       Which is especially worrying because we use C-sections in exactly the cases where they have a chance to make an evolutionary difference!
Wrongfellow, Nov 29 2011

       C' sections are exactly the sort of thing nature is *telling* us to do - what if there's some genetic combination that till now, nature's been unable to reach because of some linkage between the c-section requiring phenotype and a phenotype that grants increased mental capacity, x-ray vision, or some other hitherto latent/unavailable capability. Not only are we today able to bridge the gaps previously imposed upon us by nature, but because these things aren't necessarily one-way, once we've developed in these unexpected directions, we can go back to focusing on non-cesarian delivery. Just like the whales, who descended from fish that evolved feet, spent aeons wandering around on land grazing on foliage and grass, and then re-evolved (over further aeons) back into migratory plankton/seal-feeding sea-creatures; That's some pretty acrobatic evolution, - all this fuss about developments in life-saving technology in the last 50 years pales into insignificance.
zen_tom, Nov 29 2011

       Anyone who thinks that nature weeds out the stupid ones before they can reproduce should watch an episode of Jeremy Kyle – complete with DNA testing and self-righteous, blood-curdling vitriol from the eponymous host.   

       It seems clear to me that stupid folk are reproducing at a far faster rate than nature can dispose of them.   

       Perhaps they should just neuter everyone that goes on that show?
theleopard, Nov 29 2011

       //Perhaps they should just neuter everyone who goes on that show//   

       Or watches it.   

       So, my wife who would've died without having an emergency c-section to clear an ectopic pregnancy (which is a random occurrence not driven by genetics) which destroyed one of her tubes could no longer even try to have children?   

       Major fishbone here. Two if I could afford it.
RayfordSteele, Nov 29 2011

       Most people in the world today would have starved to death without technological innovation. Should everyone who buys food harvested with a tractor be sterilized? Even your speeder wouldn't have died without access to technology, so why shouldn't technology also preserve.
rcarty, Nov 29 2011

       Instead of (or perhaps as well as) sterilising these unfortunate techno-misfits, perhaps we should incarcerate them in work camps for the rest of their lives, so that they can repay Modern Society for the gift of life that it has given to them.
pocmloc, Nov 29 2011

       [Klaatu] and others, The "C" in C-section stands for "Cesarean", as in "Julius Caesar", although it is not certain that he actually came into the world that way. It's an old, old technique for saving the child --and old in a number of different cultures, too; the recent "Conan the Barbarian" movie would date it back into the fictional "Hyborean Age", maybe 6000BC. So I would not say that the child should be sterilized. Only the mother.   

       [rcarty], this Idea is only about modern medical technologies, not other technologies. I did not say that modern medicine was the ONLY factor behind the population explosion. For the food factor, I'd say that a different Idea is needed. Maybe, any person of breeding age, who receives free food to prevent starvation, should have that food laced with birth-control substances (but so far as I know, we can't do that yet for men, and I want such an Idea to be FAIR).   

       [RayfordSteele], I already discussed random events in another anno. Have you by any chance read "Ringworld" by Larry Niven? It mentions the notion that one aspect of the human species that might be breed-able is luck. Obviously lots of data needs to be gathered, to find out if any such notion is true, or merely science-fictional. Well, anyway, unlucky organisms of all species have been dying and therefore failing to breed for hundreds of megayears, so why should unlucky humans be allowed to breed? "Just because they are human!" is stupid prejudice talking!
Vernon, Nov 29 2011

       I'm disappointed that this isn't about birth control for zombies.
normzone, Nov 29 2011

       [bigsleep], you are not paying attention to what I actually wrote in my last anno. I specified "food laced with birth control substances", NOT sterilization, for the starving. So, if starving people REMAIN in the situations where they are starving, at least they won't be adding more starving mouths-to-feed to the world.
Vernon, Nov 29 2011

       Why not just unleash a viscious robot designed and programmed to castrate people, and declare anyone who has fallen victim to this machine unfit to procreate.
rcarty, Nov 29 2011

       Wow. As ideas go, this has a low fish/word ratio, but only because it has so many words.   

       Yes, we are overpopulated; yes, it's getting worse; no, this is obviously not the way to solve it.   

       If you're interested: if we could provide contraception to everyone who actually wanted it, that alone would bring the population back down (net decline of about a quarter to half a percent per year, depending on whose figures you believe).   

       That's not dependent on any other social changes, nor on any coercion, nor on any changes in medicine. Population control doesn't get much cheaper, simpler, or humane than simply making contraception available to everyone (particularly women) who would like it.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 29 2011

       I don't read much sci-fi, so no, I've never read Ringworld.   

       Not prejudice speaking, just my raging desire to be a parent, despite undergoing years of setbacks.   

       If you believe we're overpopulated, then start with your own offspring.   

       Yes, I took this [idea] a little too personally.
RayfordSteele, Nov 29 2011

       The idea does have something going for it, inasmuch as it's de facto breeding for a non-reliance on technology, but it's too much of a stretch, for instance needing a c-section isn't really genetics as far as I know. [-]
FlyingToaster, Nov 29 2011

       There's also the fact that if you take away technology we pretty much all end up eaten by wolves (Stone knife is still technology). Selecting for intelligence is not the same as selecting for reliance on tech. And since a drunk driver (the idiot) is far more likely to kill others than themselves (seriously, drunks survive crashes a ridiculously high percentage of the time), you're likely not even getting the people you're aiming for.   

       Like most eugenics proposal, this completely fails to accomplish it's goal because the proposer has no idea what they are going for. Also notice how the groups to be gotten rid of somehow never include the proposer?
MechE, Nov 30 2011

       [MechE], you also are confusing technology in general with "modern medical technology". Also, see what I wrote about the unlucky.   

       ALL -- can anyone here prove that there is such a thing as a Natural Right to Breed? I tend to think that every organism starts out with a right to try, but that none has any right to actually succeed at it (mostly because so many get eaten by predators first --if they had a "right" to breed, then that shouldn't happen!).   

       I'm quite sure that human prejudice (favoring humans, of course), and not logic, is behind most of the remarks opposing this idea. I'd like to see just one post showing how any human who reaches breeding age automatically has a "right" to succeed at it.   

       Do not confuse "right" with "cultural duty" or "religious doctrine" --heh, regarding "be fruitful and multiply", note that we have DONE it, and even overdone it, and are risking a Malthusean Catastrophe because of it.   

       So, if you can't prove that there is such a thing as a right to breed, then why oppose the notion of occasionally denying someone something that isn't a right? In Nature, breeding is a privilege that must be earned, first by surviving to (and throughout) breeding age, and then by accumulating the resources needed to support offspring (because if the offspring all die, then the attempt to breed is ultimately unsuccessful).   

       This Idea only concerns itself with the first part, noting that any human that dies can't breed, and whenever we can save them from death, using modern medical technology, we can do it for reasons OTHER than encouraging them to breed.
Vernon, Nov 30 2011

       Come on Vernon this idea is silly. The places in the world with soaring birth rates are those where most people do not have access to modern medicine. If you want birth rates to go down the most important thing to change is the rights of women. Where the rights of women are equal to men the birth rates are low.
rcarty, Nov 30 2011

       [rcarty] I completely agree that women's rights are an extremely important point. I disagree that the Idea is silly. Because it is not only about overpopulation --every little thing that can help, without harming societies, is worth trying. This Idea talks about Eugenics, too. In the long long run, if we don't have a Malthusean Catastrophe, that will be the most important thing about this Idea.
Vernon, Nov 30 2011

       Want folks to quit breeding like rabbits? Educate them, so that their overriding biological concern doesn't boil down to the; 'create as much dna as possible so that a strand or two might just pull itself out of this shit' mode and it will happen on its own.
As for lucky; if there's a lucky gene I snagged it, but at the cost of several generations of un-lucky ancestors, so my gut tells me that trying to breed lucky with lucky will backfire something fierce. (just a hunch)

       I would also like to officially declare; "Listen, lady. It's a VAGINA, not a clown car" as a tagline in an alternate reality...   

       because I can   

       Yeah! Not just is nature undeniably the source of intelligence, but it's also where we get that handy luck statistic. I get to reroll all my saving throws cause my father was a cleric of Olidammara and he took that good ol' domain!   

       (By the way, I assume by health you mean things like cancer and hyperhydrosis as opposed to things like obesity which have nothing whatsoever to do with genes, eh?)
Alizayi, Nov 30 2011

       But we arent't overpopulated, just mismanaged! Certain areas of the world have too great a population for their food production. That is a problem that is much better solved by education than forcing people in wealth countries to be sterilized. The people in countries that would benefit from a lower birthrate don't have access to this type of medical care anyway.   

       Need I point out again that the world's population is expected to level off at 9-12 billion soon (less than the carrying capacity of the Earth) without any human interference?
DIYMatt, Nov 30 2011

       //In Nature, breeding is a privilege that must be earned, first by surviving to (and throughout) breeding age, and then by accumulating the resources needed to support offspring (because if the offspring all die, then the attempt to breed is ultimately unsuccessful).//   

       I would humbly point out that even in modern society, breeding is most definitely still a priveledge that must be earned. First by reaching breeding age, and theny by accumulating the necessary resources to support offspring until they reach breeding age.   

       I would suggest that modern medical technology makes that "resource accumulation" part the major factor. Also, with the cost of modern medicine, accumulating sufficient resources to successfully reproduce after being brought back from a near death experience is quite a feat.
ye_river_xiv, Nov 30 2011

       Evolution isn't a great way to talk about policy. In evolutionary terms, it's a *good idea* to breed rapidly (with a high mortality rate) in areas where resources are sparce. It's a *good idea* evolutionarily to have a younger age of conception - and the tendency to overpopulate is a *good thing* - it's one reason rabbits are so good at surviving in otherwise difficult circumstances - they rapidly increase their numbers when they can, and they die in their thousands when the food runs out. The lucky ones survive to breed again. Evolution doesn't care about the quality of life that any specific dna-host might have during their short lifespan. And as such it's probably not the best principle on which to shape policy.   

       The idea of a "right" or entitlement in evolutionary terms is an absurd one. But then so is the entitlement to a good life, one free from torture or murder. I'd prefer to maintain a general anti-murder stance in my societal policy, despite its (apparently) anti-evolutionary results. After all, by the same logic, it directly follows that since we adopted the (relatively) modern (and unnatural) cultural norm of not violently slaughtering one another for each other's stuff, the natural "weeding out" of the weak and less-able to defend themselves has promoted a rise in a pathetic tendency for inter-dependence, "nurturing", and other unwelcome behaviours that, in some unspecified planet-wide event might mean we are less able to survive as a species. (Except of course, for those populations in non-Westernised areas, for whom the routine murdering of one another continues unabated, a tendency shared in some of the more Urban parts of East and South London where more modern sensibilities are yet to permeate)   

       Also, if we're worried about a Malthusian Event occuring, why is that something to worry about evolutionarily, if that's the way that evolution normally solves these kinds of problems? In other words, on the assumtion that such an event really is something to worry about, what's the advantage of "releasing the pressure" artificially rather than letting it work itself out in the normal way?   

       And going back to the earlier paradox here: If we're worried that evolution is being skewed somehow artificially, then why is the proposed solution to skew it artificially?
zen_tom, Nov 30 2011

       What is the difference between technology and "modern medical tecnologyy"? They are points on a continuum, not discrete things. I routinely clean minor cuts and scrapes with soap and water. This probably has minimal effect, but maybe it prevents gangrene.   

       When I bike I wear a helmet. At least once in my life, that has saved me from a significant head injury. How significant, I don't know, but maybe it saved my life, maybe not. Is this "medical" technology? No. Is it life saving? maybe.
MechE, Nov 30 2011

       The problem with this idea is the arbitrary divide between new and old technology. Technology is technology and it coddles our weakness. The first step in the project is to quit worrying about who got a lung transplant and who didn't, and sterilize anyone who cannot survive naked outdoors overnight for lack of a thick coat of her own fur.   

       Although maybe the experiment itself would make the sterilization unnecessary.
bungston, Nov 30 2011

       I have to support bung on this, as I feel I would be a certain winner in his overnight, outdoor lottery.
DrBob, Nov 30 2011

       [MechE], in general the definition of "modern technology" relates to the use of electricity. I half-suspect that in the not-too-distant-future, THEIR version of "modern" will be defined by stuff that incorporates a data processor. Its an evolutionary revolution; today's electric-powered world is mostly, behind the scenes, still steam-powered.   

       Anyway, just because a bike helmet might be made from modern substances that wouldn't exist but for the availability of electricity, equivalent helmets made from old-fashioned materials are still possible --not to mention that helmets in general are ancient tech. (I might note that while I understand the potential value of a bike helmet, I distrust the typical design. They look too much like an easy way increase a "lever" effect, and cause your neck to break, even as they save the skull from being broken.)   

       [ye_river_xiv], over here in the USA, a pregnant woman who can't afford to raise her child is bombarded with anti-abortion propaganda, sometimes including offers relating to adoption. So the situation is more complex than you describe.   

       [bigsleep], re-read the part about "emulating Nature". This Idea does nothing to pick those who would be sterilized; they select themselves by needing modern med-tech to survive.   

       Finally, regarding idiots who don't die before breeding age, well, nobody ever said Natural Selection was perfect. But the main thing about this Idea is that it is NOT trying to second-guess Nature. It merely changes the "would be totally dead" into merely the "reproductively dead" (they are only dead as far as the ability to reproduce is concerned).
Vernon, Nov 30 2011

       The reality of evolution is that it is not prescriptive. Attempting some sort of evolutionary positivism is an error and has always been an error. The individual that fails to procreate is not too stupid or some other evaluation they are just dead. They have no causative effect on what happens after them, no matter how negligible and grainlike that effect would have been. What really matters about evolution is not the individual anyway but the group. Your idea is to sterilize those in the modernized group who need life saving treatment, but allow those in the more primitive group who can survive a good club bashing unrestricted child birthing. Eventually the primitive group out competes the modern group because the modern group wasn't even producing that many offspring to begin with. Who cares if a modern person had cancer and lives to make children, they create more modern people who yes might have cancer but still don't want to push us back to the stoneage.
rcarty, Nov 30 2011

       [DIYMatt], actually, population prediction curves are all over the map, from leveling off at 9 billion to zooming upwards of 16.
RayfordSteele, Nov 30 2011

       I haven't been polite enough to read all the annos. However, i have one question about this in particular: why unlucky? I also have a bit of a problem regarding anyone at all as unlucky because of the millions of microscopic squirmy tadpoles one of which wins the fantastically improbable lottery of fertilisation.
nineteenthly, Nov 30 2011

       // I'm actually unwilling to include vaccination in that category (was invented about 1800). //   

       Why not? It's just as arbitrary as anything else you could mention. What is so special about 1800 that people who survive because of technology developed since then do not deserve to procreate?   

       // if Nature's Course had not been interrupted, //
// it is well known that Nature doesn't play favorites //

       These sorts of references are absurd. "Nature's Course" is whatever natural things do. Humans are natural things, so anything we do is natural.   

       // can anyone here prove that there is such a thing as a Natural Right to Breed? //   

       Why wouldn't there be? And stop capitalizing "nature".   

       I want to punch this idea in the throat.   

       // I have no further children. //   

       That statement is unexpectedly sad.
tatterdemalion, Nov 30 2011

       I must say that I find the overall lack of zombies quite disappointing.
Alterother, Nov 30 2011

       Here's a shot at defining natural: "what typically happens without external intervention". Now it would appear that typically planets are barren wastelands. On earth there is this rampant photochemical chain reaction that's been going on for some time that has caused severe distubance of the natural state. Most notably, there is a green hue over much of the planet and a disturbing amount of movement. This chain reaction is called life. If we want natural, our best shot using current technology is a massive buildup and simultaneous detonation of nuclear weapons. Even that might not completely stop this chain reaction, but it might slow it down significantly.
scad mientist, Nov 30 2011

       damn, fooled again into donating my fishbone for this idea.   

       I'm sure someone gets rich on all these fishbones, although I haven't seen the latest fishbone to the Euro exchange rate...
not_morrison_rm, Nov 30 2011

       [nineteenthly], since Nature plays no favorites, in terms of luck, this Idea shouldn't, either. Most animals might try to run from a rumbling volcano, but not all will escape. One might say they were unlucky in being in the wrong place at the wrong time. (Note supervolcanoes are even worse; a herd of rhino-like animals in Nebraska was suffocated by the ash when a "super" went off in Idaho, several megayears ago.)   

       [tatterdemalion], the main problem with vaccination AND this Idea is, you don't know which lives were actually saved by it. Remember that before vaccination, lots of babies suffered but managed to live, while lots of others suffered and died. Now the suffering is minimized and most live. But which ones would have died without it? Vaccination is a pre-emptive strike, while most life-saving medical technology is employed after-the-fact. Simpler and more obvious, that is.   

       Regarding "what we do is Natural", I partly agree and partly disagree. However, the disagreement is based solely on the conventional thinking of "us versus everything else" --humans spent a long time huddling in caves fearing the dark. As a result of that fear, we've attacked Nature like an enemy to be destroyed --which is foolish, of course, since we can't live without it.   

       We also appear to be unique (here on Earth) with respect to Free Will. Most of Nature strictly operates in accordance with the Law of Cause and Effect, but we are able to choose to do things for no reason whatsoever. That's a very strong distinguishing characteristic, with respect to the notion of why humans can see themselves apart from the rest of Nature.   

       So, to the extent that it is wise to accept the Law of Cause and Effect (quite wise!), then that is the extent to which Natural phenomenon should be allowed to overrule Free Will. In this Idea, I'm simply saying that, OK, we are defying Nature's death sentences upon certain people, but we don't have to defy it to our own long-term detriment (per overpopulation and the spread of bad genes)!   

       Also see above, about the difference between a "right to try" and a "right to succeed". Too many people confuse one with the other. I think Benjamin Franklin once told someone (after the Revolutionary War), concerning a phrase in the Declaration of Independence: "You have the right to pursue happiness, but you have to catch it yourself."
Vernon, Dec 01 2011

       now now, if you want to do it right [Vernon] you have to include vaccinations as well... a point system based on the percentage of people vaccinated who would have died if they weren't. So now we've got an equation where 2 vaccinations + a set broken arm + a treated common cold 3 years in a row means sterilization.
FlyingToaster, Dec 01 2011

       Okay. So, I think almost everyone agrees that everyone is living a lot longer thanks to our Anti-nature energy. To be totally fair, how about we just sterilize everyone? Wait, oh, I don't know, 130 years and see how it all turns out. I'm betting that we'll be rid of this "over"-population problem.
Alizayi, Dec 01 2011

       I thoroughly enjoy the debates which most of your ideas invoke, and I can't help but wonder if the real reason behind this idea was seeing the reaction to the idea itself.
If you were forced to vote for or against this [Vernon], which would you choose?

       [FlyingToaster], vaccination is based on an old-wives' tale, that turned out to be true. Just like the discovery of aspirin was based on another old tale (about willow-bark tea). Modern medicine merely understands more about what's been going on, when things like those work. So, neither is actually a product of modern medical technology. And, note that the new way of using aspirin, small daily does as a pre-emptive strike against heart attacks, is just that: a new way to use an old thing. It was also discovered mostly by using an old technique, statistical analysis, not so much by using fancy gizmos (although I'm sure they helped get the analysis done quicker).   

       So, I shall continue to prefer that this Idea be limited to usages of obvious after-the-fact modern medical technology, to save lives.   

       [2Fries], I never vote on any Idea, because I would feel obligated by fairness to vote on all of them, and I don't have time for that (reading them all). So I must decline to answer your question. However, I can say that in creating this Idea, I was simply following an oddball train of logic. So far as I know, the logic is sound. I also know that logic doesn't care one whit what humans think about the conclusion....   

       [jutta], if you are watching, I have a Question: Why does it seem to take about half as many minus votes as plus votes, to show two-and-a-half symbols in the Vote area?
Vernon, Dec 01 2011

       I am not jutta, but I can say that this is because the votes are normalised, so the more positive votes there are, the less each is worth on the journey to full croissanthood. Because this is, in many ways, the happy cuddle club, there is a relative paucity of fishboning, which means that each such bone makes greater progress towards the 2.5.
calum, Dec 01 2011

       //if you want to do it right [Vernon] you have to include vaccinations as well//

Why stop there? How about clothes? Houses? Anybody here wearing glasses?
DrBob, Dec 01 2011

       I keep reading this as 'sterilization for the pseudo-dad.'
RayfordSteele, Dec 01 2011

       Smartness may have been an evolutionary advantage at one time, but that time is not now. Stupidity has it hands-down.   

       Maybe this imminent decrepitude of humanity will give the next generation of life the break it needs. I for one,
afinehowdoyoudo, Dec 02 2011

       Back in the 1,400s, Shakespeare speaks of C-sections in MacBeth. In fact, it's one of the main plot elements; that "MacDuff was from his mother's womb untimely ripped", and therefor "of no woman born", as the witches prophesy.
theleopard, Dec 02 2011

       Vernon's conception of evolution is far too positvist, Spencer inspired to be taken seriously. He claims to want to advance society by removing bad genes, but does not realize that society doesn't advance because of good genes. Perfect genes would mean no struggle to survice and thus no need to adapt. No sick means no need for medical advancement. My previous comments still stand that this type of policy will be a threat to modern, industrialized and thus european societies that already have low or no population growth due to birth rates. This idea would inevitably result in even lower birthrates and outcompetiton by those in other societies without moderrnization and thus no such policy to restrict their own population growth. Couple that with immigration and this is the single stupidest evolution idea yet concieved.
rcarty, Dec 02 2011

       This idea has done better than I expected.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 02 2011

       Only 15 ideas in the entire halfbakery did worse.
mouseposture, Dec 03 2011

       so far.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 03 2011

       //So far as I know, the logic is sound. I also know that logic doesn't care one whit what humans think about the conclusion
You are right, theoretically, this idea is absolutely brilliant. However, in the initial post of the idea you used an unfortunate key words "fair" and "neutral" ....and that drags you into the purely practical realm .. a very fishy-bony realm

//*fairly* applicable and completely neutral with respect any race

... you've just been given many examples of how this is not fair (and how the fairness can be easily subverted to turn this into the same old eugenics). Logical yes, fair absolutely not. Hitler was also very logical ... fair .. not so much ... (damn ... here I go .. confirming Godwin's law ... do I get a badge or something?)
ixnaum, Dec 03 2011

       Er... Hitler wasn't the living model of logic, actually. In fact, the whole thing would have gone off much better for the Germans without his involvement.
Alterother, Dec 03 2011

       I know ... was going to delete that thought .. but left it only because it shows how true Godwin's law is :-) [link]
ixnaum, Dec 03 2011

       Ah, right... Good on yer, then!   

       It's shirley true here; including [The Alterother], I can think of at least a half-dozen Halfbakers who would happily argue the nitty-gritty details of WWII esoterica until banned from this forum (and rightly so).
Alterother, Dec 03 2011

       I think one of the more basic issues was sticking their own citizens into ovens... another was the deprecation of the peerage during the course of the war. Both were the extent of Hitler's real "contribution" to the war effort. Well, that and the VW Beetle, which is where he should have stopped.   

       If he'd stuck with just reclaiming Bavaria, maybe a small buffer zone, and settled for "advising" some of the Slavic states within influence, he'd have gone down in history as a great statesman instead of the most influential freakin' lunatic of the 20th Century.
FlyingToaster, Dec 03 2011

       [rcarty], quite right. With a huge population, there would be more emphasis for human infection of other planets. However, I think that a few pandemics would naturally sort out over populated spots. To Vernon: not clear how your idea will help the population problem in countries which already have very high population densities which are not caused by improved technology or medical care.
Ling, Dec 03 2011

       As far as the actual war is concerned, Hitler's first mistake was invading Poland in '39. If he'd listened to the 2nd row and waited until '41, then picked somewhere more lucrative than Poland... well, here we go...
Alterother, Dec 03 2011

       Arguably, medicinal life-saving promotes, rather than degrades, our species' genetic fitness.   

       At the individual level, medicine benefits smart people more than dumb people, because smart people are likely to have higher earnings, better access to health care, and a better appreciation of when they need to go and see a doctor.   

       At a group level (if you believe in group selection, which is partly a semantic problem and is in any case moot), medicine favours smarter, better- organised societies.   

       At a species level, of course, medicine greatly favours us over, say, pangolins (who have never developed really significant medical technology).   

       Thus, this idea is wrong in a whole new way - it would actually have the opposite effect to that intended.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 03 2011

       Executive summary, in order of presentation:
1) Inaccurate description: neither natural nor neutral
2 and later on) Moral cowardice (all right, that's too strong. Say, rather, that it merely papers over something morally repugnant, without confronting it directly.)
3) Not very new. Barely distinguishable from a new (less convincing) justification for something widely known to exist.
4) Does not do what it's supposed to do, i.e. draw a bright line
5) Unsubstantiated factual claim
6) Argumentum ad homines
7) Unjustified claim of cost savings
8) Faulty biology
9) Faulty, or at least naive economics
Several places) Simplistic

       In addition to ranting, in what follows I have a real, specific point to make. Eugenics is derided not merely because it was endorsed by people we despise (and not only out of visceral revulsion). Don Marquis may have written "An idea is not responsible for the people who believe in it," but, remember, he put that sentiment in the mouth of a cockroach. The idea of eugenics historically, has been intellectually shoddy.   

       The form of eugenics proposed here is neither "natural" or "neutral," because not only is some technology permitted, but, importantly, it explicitly gives a role to human judgement, by unspecified individuals, about what technology is permitted. The new* idea here is that particular bits of technology, rather than particular people, will be the subject of the judgments. This might make the idea more palatable to the squeamish.   

       *Not actually a new idea; it's widely known to exist, but has hitherto been justified as a cost- cutting measure, rather than a form of eugenics.   

       The notion that the required distinction will be //OBVIOUS// to everybody is naive in the extreme.   

       //widely known that a major reason humanity is experiencing a population explosion is because modern medical technology is very good at saving people//
It is not //widely known// that //allergen-analysis, organ transplants, heart-lung machines// has significantly affected the population curve. Agricultural technology, probably. Civil engineering stuff like sewers and water supply, maybe. Vaccination, plausibly, but you're not allowed to count that, not because you set some arbitrary date* but because, under this system, you not only can't determine which individuals had their lives saved, but also, unvaccinated individuals benefit from herd immunity.

       *Most individual vacines postdate Pasteur, and, anyway, he invented live-virus vaccine: the decision to lump live-virus, attenuated-virus, killed-virus, and synthetic antigen vaccines all under one rubric is another of the arbitrary decisions this idea requires for implementation.   

       Antibiotics? This is a good test case for the idea, because it subtracts out the sneering about stupid drunks who don't wear seatbelts, and leaves only the logic behind. It's not generally possible to say to people who will die without antibiotics what, exactly, was the flaw that they ought not to be allowed to pass on to the next generation. Being assigned to the wrong airline seat, next to the wrong person, maybe? If you can, with a straight face, sterilize anyone who requires antibiotic therapy, then you might breed a race of humans with ... better resistance to infection. So, less need of antibiotics. No other benefit. Except of course, that you'll not accomplish even that much: you'll also breed bacteria that are more effective at infecting those more resistant humans. Nothing accomplished.   

       Humans are born incomplete, and for many years our brains remain so immature that we do stupid, dangerous things, deserving of sterilization (apparently). So this idea will select for ... who knows what? smaller heads? Wider female pelvises? Elephantine gestation periods? Or perhaps it will exert selection pressure on the parents behavior, breeding adults who prefer engaging in child care to making discoveries in physics, or creating art, or otherwise contributing to society. One of the well known problems with eugenics is its susceptibility to the "law" of unintended consequences.   

       //while right there on the operating table// When two surgical procedures are done consecutively, unless the procedures are very similar, the second starts nearly from scratch. The savings would be modest, not enough to save this program from being very expensive. Also, is this idea supposed only to apply to life-saving surgical procedures, or does it include nonsurgical ones, like antibiotics?   

       What about elderly people whose lives are saved with high-tech medical procedures? Their future contribution to society is less and their cost of medical care higher than younger patients. But sterilization is mostly redundant in this group. Really, other than the squeamishness alluded to earlier, there's no reason, under the logic of this idea, why the elderly shouldn't be set adrift on ice floes.   

       Am I through criticising this idea? Is the Pope Jewish?* Let's consider the economics, next. Will making significant numbers of people childless increase their contribution to society? Think of high-achieving couples who work very hard, for long hours, at demanding jobs, and earn lots of money that way -- which they spend heavily on costs of child rearing, and who salt away much of the rest for anticipated educational expenses. Think of childless couples, earning similar salaries, without those expenses, and feeling financially more relaxed. Will shifting people from the former to the latter category increase productivity? Perhaps it will at least have a neutral effect, if the cost of labor falls. In which case, the remaining breeders will have a financial incentive to choose voluntary sterilization. Or perhaps there will be State-funded child care. Or immigration from places with unregulated breeding and limited access to post-1800 health care. Who knows? The point, again, is that it's not possible to predict benefits, or, indeed any consequences with any confidence, from this idea.   

       *Well, yes, actually, but he's a member of an heretical sect. So the answer to the question is "almost."   

       The reason eugenics has not, since Spencer, been intellectually respectable is not that the Nazis endorsed it -- they had other ideas, about tobacco, say, and ballistic missiles, which are now mainstream -- but that it's simplistic. It's an attempt to treat a complex system as if it were simple, with a simple response to perturbation.
mouseposture, Dec 03 2011

       Erm.... well put.
Alterother, Dec 03 2011

       [MaxwellBuchanan], you are making the unwarranted assumption that medical technology such as we have today (or might have in the future) will always be available. As a very unlikely scenario to consider, pretend that all electricity stops working for a week, but nobody becomes violent about it. How many would die anyway, from lack of things that they were medically dependent on? (Ignore those who would die for other reasons, such as overexertion while always needing to climb stairs to an 80th-floor apartment.)   

       [mouseposture], I said that I thought the logic of this Idea was sound. I didn't say that the proposed implementation was as valid. However, I did previously indicate that the modern-technology era began with the widespread harnessing of electricity. So, medical-related things that can't be done without electricity would all qualify as "modern med tech".   

       I don't have time right now to address all the points you raised, but I can say, with respect to the summary, that you should pay more attention to that word "emulate". It is generally agreed that Nature doesn't really have an actual "plan" with respect to eugenics, but, haphazard as Nature is, the net effect is similar to having a plan. That's why Darwin was able to describe it simply as "survival of the fittest".   

       Most human eugenics plans fail to include the simple fact that what qualifies as "fittest" is defined by the environment, not by humans. Here, if something causes someone to almost die, then that thing, whatever it was, is part of the Environment. Here, if that person can only be saved by modern med-tech, the Idea is to agree with Nature that that person should be reproductively dead, if not actually dead. Evolutionarily, the effect is the same.   

       Something to think about: Did you ever hear about "Sue", a rather famous Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton? I once read that she had a broken rear leg that healed while she was alive. How did she get food during that healing time? The implication is that non-electricity ways of surviving have been around so long that they should be considered a normal part of the evolutionary process. Electricity is part of Nature and even part of evolution (the nervous system is partly electrical), but the way we use it today is not something that ever has been part of natural events.
Vernon, Dec 03 2011

       //the logic of this Idea was sound. I didn't say that the proposed implementation was as valid// The "Communism" defense. Threadbare but servicable.   

       //I don't have time right now to address all the points you raised// Yessss! <Does victory fist-pump gesture>.
mouseposture, Dec 03 2011

       //you are making the unwarranted assumption that medical technology such as we have today (or might have in the future) will always be available.//   

       Au contraire, ma petit ondoiseuse, au very contraire indeed.   

       I'm simply pointing out that your scheme will wipe out the current selection which favours species smart enough to develop advanced technology; populations smart enough to create a stable and prosperous economy; and individuals smart enough to know that peeing blood is something worth going to hospital over.   

       Your scheme (if we set aside the breathtaking human rights issues for the moment) simply levels the playing field for species, nations and individuals who are too dumb, warlike or disorganised to benefit from medical advances.   

       Of course, this may be a good thing: if there is an apocalypse, perhaps chimps will have a better chance of surviving it. Cockroaches will have an even better chance. That does, however, seem like a rather conservative and nihilistic evolutionary goal.   

       Out of curiosity (ignore if you like):
do you have kids?
if not, might you want them someday?
have you ever been received medical care?
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 03 2011

       [mouseposture], I had to leave for work. And there was no computer I could use there, for Internet stuff like the HalfBakery.   

       I may take several days/messages to respond to your points, due to work and other commitments (local time here is 4am as I write this; need to hit sack soon).   

       Let's see...how about this one; Just because you claim that eugenics is morally repugnant, that doesn't mean you are correct. Yes, I'm aware that a lot of people are against it simply because whatever Authority might push it, those people don't want to become victimized by it. Eugenics can only work if there is NO slightest trace of "my group is more deserving than your group" attitude.   

       At first glance the preceding would seem to imply that it is inherently impossible for a eugenics plan to work, because by definition it is about preventing a group of people from breeding. However! There are groups and then there are other groups. And people who have something in common tend to form groups about it.   

       There is, however, one group of people that doesn't exist yet --literally!-- and as a result it has no rights. Because the people in that group haven't been conceived yet, to say nothing of being born yet. Suppose you went to every existing group and asked them, IF they could support some sort of eugenics plan, what aspects of humanity should be bred-for?   

       Then you ask them, "If some of your own future children fail to be above-average in any of those characteristics, should they be allowed to breed? And remember that you might have OTHER children that ARE above-average in one or more of those characteristics."   

       In one sense the preceding is little different from the Founding Fathers of the USA writing the Constitution, getting it approved by 3/4 of the representatives of the population, and expecting their descendants to be mostly happy with it. Children born into a culture that accepts eugenics will mostly not rebel against it; it is what they are used to, after all. And, usually, SOME of the rebellious can be reasoned with, provided the eugenics-goal makes good logical sense. It would have HAD to make sense for that culture to originally embrace it, after all!   

       So, [mouseposture], where does "morally repugnant" enter into the above scenario? Remember, there is no inherent RIGHT to breed....   

       I might mention that one aspect of eugenics is potentially Religion-related. Suppose "reincarnation" was true? In that case the human body is just a vehicle for the soul, so if you want your soul to future-incarnate into the best body available, then you want eugenics now to breed those best bodies, see? If reincarnation isn't true, well, Religion STILL says that the body is just a vehicle for the soul. Why do we want new souls to suffer in defective bodies? If there is no soul at all, then ... ?   

       [MaxwellBuchanan], I submit that the human species needs to stay generalized enough to survive regardless of the acquiring or losing of high technologies. Where would, say, the Borg be if an EMP managed to wipe out the electronics with which they are so intimately associated?   

       I have no offspring at this time, and suspect I may never have offspring. I have most definitely not wanted to contribute to the overall population explosion. Perhaps AFTER the ever-more-probable Malthusean Catastrophe is over --if I happen to live through it, of course! Also note that if I live through it, it might be evidence that at least some of my genes are worth passing on.   

       Besides typical childhood diseases like the measles, I've experienced no significant medical emergencies worse than (A) one sliced finger (put hand through a window as a child), (B) one badly smashed finger tip (same finger!) in a work-accident, and (C) one major toothache. You might be shocked at how little medical attention (B) and (C) received (NO pain killers, for starters). So maybe I have a naturally high pain tolerance (good genes?). Or maybe I spent a past life in some Eastern monastery, learning to master pain....(grin!)
Vernon, Dec 04 2011

       //I submit that the human species needs to stay generalized enough to survive regardless of the acquiring or losing of high technologies.//   

       Well, that's clothing, fire and agriculture gone for a burton, then... We need to allow only aboriginal hunter-gatherers to breed.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 04 2011

       [Vernon] I only argue with people from whom I have something to learn, or whom I have some chance of convincing. Also, I try not to argue about things I actually care about.   

       That lengthy anno was posted as a joke. It wasn't written as one -- it's a serious critique, which I needed to get out of my system -- but I knew that posting it wouldn't accomplish anything more than to get a rise out of you.   

       Feel free to reply to the numbered points, if you feel you must. The trophy cup (lead, with pewter trim) for most obsessive halfbaker, which now graces my mantelpiece will be returned to you via [GutPunchLullabies]' "Distributed shipping."
mouseposture, Dec 04 2011

       I'm afraid I don't believe that overpopulation is a problem. There is x amount of matter on the Earth. When that amount is all in human form than we will be completely populated, and that wouldn't be using all of the Earth's space, anyhow. Until that time, there are millions of different things that are in the place of where humans should exist. Personally, I think that carnivorous animals should be erased. They threaten human lives and the only reason we do not get rid of them is..... I can't answer that. They don't provide meat, or at least not commonly, they are violent, they are taking up matter that can be in human form, they are limiting the population of actual edible animals, on which note, they are our competition in such fields and we have no want of such a thing. Kill all the bears, sharks, lions, snakes, and wolves. Then, if you still think there is a problem, get over it.
Alizayi, Dec 04 2011

       [MaxwellBuchanan], I specified "high" technologies, not "all" technologies. I'm not actually sure of the best way to define the difference, but here is a possibility: Note that we use tools to make other tools (and of course "technology" means "knowledge of tools"). I should say this description was inspired by something I once read somewhere, that went sort-of like this:   

       "If you want a machine gun, well, you need machines to make a machine gun. And machines to make those machines. And so on." So, IF a machine-gun qualifies as "high-tech", then that (unspecified) number of levels of machines-making-machines, or tools-used-to-make-more-tools, is the key factor of the definition.   

       [Alizayi], you didn't say what all those humans would eat, after all the world's biomass was converted into human bodies. Normally, for a given biomass of vegetarian animals, it takes about 10 times as much biomass existing in food-plant form, to support those vegetarians. For a given biomass of carnivorous animals, it takes 10 times as much biomass existing in food-animal form, plus 10 times THAT existing in food-plant form, to support the carnivores.   

       Humans are omnivores, so we need somewhere between 10 and 110 times as much biomass to exist in non-human food form, as exists in human form, to support a given population of humans. Your end-result fully-populated world could consist only of humans and food-forms.   

       So, no cheetahs. no Sequoia trees. No dolphins. No grassy yards. No pet dogs or cats. The Answer to your wondering why humans allow other competitive carnivores to exist is this: "Variety is the spice of life." And you (and anyone who thinks similarly) would destroy that, in a stupid quest to increase quantity-of-human-life instead of quality-of-human-life.   

       [mouseposture], I was too tired to clearly think about the statement in my last anno that ended with a question mark. If souls don't exist, the neither does God, and the phrase "playing God" would be irrelevant with respect to the fact that the only ways the human species could be improved are physically and mentally --both of which are significantly affected by genetics. Implementing a eugenics plan could still be quite logical, therefore.   

       I ask you again to specify where "moral repugnance" comes in, as an actually-valid factor, for opponents of eugenics. (And now, off to work again...)
Vernon, Dec 04 2011

       Point one: Humans do not need to eat to retain their forms. All you need is energy once you have already constructed your body. I suggest photosynthesizing. How do we go about making this a reality? you may ask. The answer is, nature. We will evolve over the lack of food. If we don't we don't deserve to live! Point two: "Variety is the spice of life." Um. You mean "of death", right? We need more ways to die? Hm? We can always invent different things that kill us in a variety of ways if that's what you truly wish. The existence of wolves is not in any way contributing to the greatness of my life. If it were, I would be a morbidly strange person. Point two-b: "Variety is the spice of life." Well, then, wouldn't it be nice if we had some different types of humans? Say, stupid, unhealthy, or unlucky ones? Man, sure would be good if we didn't have some sort of inane Eugenical plan that did away with all our human variety! Point three: I never said we should do away with dogs or cats. We should just keep on moving forward eating up the world. Eventually, before evolution kicks in, we may want to eat our pets, but that will be our choice to make at the time. I don't really care. Pets get in the way of humans and are disgusting. Not to mention stupid and ignorant. And they die all the time. Proof that they should go, eh?
Alizayi, Dec 05 2011

       Alternatively, we could, you know, settle space.   

       Earth cannot, of course, support an infinite number of people. This is almost breathtakingly obvious, and Malthus had every great thinker of the time smacking their heads and wishing they'd thought of it. It's also an utterly stupid concept. Obviously, Earth cannot support an unlimited number of people- there's only so much matter on the Earth. However, the number of people that the Earth can practically support is pretty damn huge, and if you look at the actual numbers for resource avaliablility and maximum supportable population density over history we're not /anywhere/ near that maximum point yet. We can't even see the vague area of the ballpark from here with binoculars.   

       Furthermore, there is an effectively infinite amount of usable resources, energy, and lebenschraum on places that aren't Earth, and unless the Earth's gravity well suddenly becomes a hundred times deeper or we're all sealed inside a force field by aliens or something, by the time we come anywhere near in population where we hit the Earth's limit, most of those won't be living on Earth anymore! Hell, I fully expect there to be people living off-earth by the time I grow up.   

       Plus, I object on principle to "if we can save these people, why don't we impose artificial barriers on it because technology is eeeeeeeeevil!" However, I do congratulate you on reaching new heights of drivel. Maybe we can start a fishbone contest with "VMI Only girls will be born!" Hell, this might even be the new "Cure child molesters with ballpoint ink and pencil shavings."
Hive_Mind, Dec 05 2011

       [Alizayi], it is well-known that when humans --and just about all other Earthly life-forms more complex than single-celled organisms-- can't get the kind of energy they are adapted to use (fuel in the form of organic matter, a.k.a. "biomass", that is), they die. All you are doing is preparing the way for most of your overpopulated world to die. And you completely ignored the notion that there is such a thing as "quality of human life". Which is a primary thing that variety actually enhances. But which can NOT be achieved in the overall population if so many are stupid, unhealthy, or unlucky.   

       By the way, within the volume of space occupied by any particular human body, 90% of the cells in that space are bacterial and non-human. AND, most of them are essential; they live in symbiosis with the human cells. It is therefore fundamentally impossible to have the kind of human-populated world you are envisioning.   

       ([bigsleep], thanks for reminding me of that.)
Vernon, Dec 05 2011

       Hah! The Nazis were never going to be far from this thread were they!

//the most influential freakin' lunatic //

Hitler wasn't a lunatic in the medical sense. He was entirely consistent & logical, had a clear plan that he put in writing and published and then he took all the necessary steps to gain political support and implement it. To write him off as just some bonkers bloke or an aberration is to ignore the lesson of history.

//I've experienced no significant medical emergencies //

So yours was a home birth then Vernon (not to exclude that possibility)? Or was it in a well-lit & heated hospital?
DrBob, Dec 05 2011

       [Vernon] I think you need to back up that statement. Variety enhances human life. What does that have to do with bears? Also, I'm not the existential idealist here (I don't think that nothing else should exist). I suggest that we get rid of things that eat us, eat our food, and aren't even helpful. I(capital I) am not suggesting that we make every bit of matter into humans. I'm just saying that we should not worry about limiting our humans before we limit our nonhumans. Okay, also, having stupid, unhealthy, and unlucky people somehow decreases other people's quality of life, but having giant balls of fur maul you to death doesn't even phase you? By the way, did you ever explain how luck has anything to do with genes? Last I checked, that's ridiculous.
Alizayi, Dec 05 2011

       // He was entirely consistent & logical //   

       I beg to differ. Prior to annexing Czechoslovakia, the German Military appuratus (sp?) had no clear, much less written, plans to invade Poland. At the time of the Polish invasion, there were no immediate plans being made to about-face and trample the French. I could go on with such examples until the length of this anno reduced [Vernon] to hot tears of envy, but I would never be so cruel to another Halfbaker, so I'll make a gross summarization: Hitler's sudden whims and disregard for the advice of others hindered Germany's ability to wage war from the very beginning. He was a lunatic, but a very intelligent and charismatic lunatic. I should know; I'm one too, but without the ugly racist vendettas and dreams of world domination.
Alterother, Dec 05 2011

       Well, ugly racist vendettas, anyway.
theleopard, Dec 05 2011

       Okay, you've got me there.
Alterother, Dec 05 2011

       Is a vendetta just a diagram showing the overlap between two or more very small sets?
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 05 2011

       //Prior to annexing Czechoslovakia, the German Military appuratus (sp?) had no clear, much less written, plans to invade Poland//

The German military and Hitler are two different things. It was all spelled out in Mein Kampf.
DrBob, Dec 05 2011

       [Alizayi], bacterial cells are lots smaller than human cells, so that is why it is possible for 90% of the total number of cells in the volume of space occupied by a human to be bacterial. Many of them are not directly symbiotic, but they do take up such space on the skin that other bacteria have to fight them to invade the human cell-system. So, most of those bacteria are your first line of defense against disease. Other bacterial species live in the gut and are extremely symbiotic; you literally cannot survive without them, as they are part of the food-digesting process.   

       Also, you need to understand me clearly. I wrote: "in the overall population if so many are stupid, unhealthy, or unlucky" --then their experiences are directly lowering the overall/average quality of human life; it has nothing to do with what other humans experience, in encountering the stupid, unhealthy or unlucky.. And variety is another/different aspect of quality-of-life.   

       WE are the most dangerous critter on the planet. Giant cave bears became extinct because humans with spears wanted those caves for themselves. Far more sharks are killed each year by humans, just so that part of them can become shark-fin soup, than kill humans. There is no reason for us to flaunt our dangerousness by arbitrarily exterminating every possible competitor. And, as far as Natural Eugenics is concerned, they help weed out the unfit and unlucky.   

       In some ways the human species has been extremely lucky, to have not yet had a nuclear war --compare the widespread actual-use-in-combat of almost any other type of weapon, after being developed. It is fortunate that we had a chemical war (WW1) and just 2 nukes in WW2 to point out how much more horrible a full-fledged nuclear war would be. And as the stockpiles of such weapons get reduced in accordance with modern international treaties, the chances of the species surviving a nuclear war grow, every day.   

       Then there is the matter of luck and a biological war. We have had battles in the past (mostly started by the Mongols) in which disease was deliberately spread against an enemy. We also have the Natural specter of Influenza, mutating every year, and NOT wielded by any enemy action, to remind us how much worse an actual biological war would be.   

       I doubt we will have enough luck to avoid a Malthusian Catastrophe, though, and that's the best reason of all, to not strive to fill the Earth as full as possible with humans.
Vernon, Dec 05 2011

       // The German military and Hitler are two different things. It was all spelled out in Mein Kampf. //   

       It was, but not in executable form, and the actual execution of it was attempted too soon, without a long- term logistics base, and was doled out to the high command piecemeal--all on Hitler's terms. Without his micromanaging, Germany would have been a far more formidable enemy to the Allies.
Alterother, Dec 05 2011

       See, there's not striving, there's striving, and then there's forcing ridiculous agendas down other people's throats. I don't think there's a problem. You do. Sterilize yourself. I'll go on not being sterilized and we'll both be relatively happy regardless of how many times we may or may not have died with or without medical technology. Also, I'm not worried about bacteria. I am not suggesting that we take any actions to populate the world more. I will probably not have three or more children with my wife, so I'm not even doing anything in those regards. Though, on that note: having children is highly important for the quality of one's life. It is one of those things that is emotionally and psychologically important. I do not believe someone has had a good life if they have not raised children and, before you say adoption, it is very hard for most people to raise another person's child. This is because children are all about putting a bit of yourself into the future. Carrying your values and ideas to the next generation and so on and so forth.
Alizayi, Dec 05 2011

       [Alizayi] and [HiveMind], both of you need to read up on the actual mathematics associated with the population explosion. The math HAS needed some modification since Isaac Asimov first pointed it out in the 1960s (an essay titled, "The Power of Progression", sometimes find-able on the Web, but usually pulled because of copyright violation).   

       For ANY birth rate that includes a constant percentage of increase each year (about 2% in the '60s), then the standard bankers' compound-interest formula is directly applicable to describe what the population would be at any future date.   

       So, at a 2% increase per annum, AND granting magical technological capabilities such as instantaneous intergalactic transportation, or conversion of any type of matter (say a neutron star) to any other type (like biomass), then in rather less than 8000 years the entire mass of the Observable Universe would be converted into human bodies. After which everyone would die, since there would be no food or oxygen to support those bodies.   

       (Note one way to interpret the data, regarding the Observable Universe, is that there is a kind of "horizon effect", such that what we see in 3-dimensions of Space is equivalent to what we see, standing on the surface of the Earth, and seeing whatever-there-is-to-see, semi-2-dimensionally, out to the horizon. There could be a vast vast Unobservable HyperSpherical Extension of the Observable Universe, just as the Earth's surface is vastly larger than what can be seen out to the horizon. And it would take rather less than 1000 EXTRA years to gobble THAT up, too, converting it into human bodies. After which everyone dies.)   

       Any reduced rate-of-growth of the population (currently it is a little more than 1% annually) merely means the overall consumption of the Universe takes somewhat longer. After which, still, everyone dies. The ONLY thing that can preserve the Universe through the long long term is for the population to eventually become fixed at some level. By whatever means works.   

       One method that is known to work, which Nature wields with utterly careless Power, is a Malthusean Catastrophe. It will happen automatically whenever and wherever a population exceeds its ability to support itself. It happened to humans for real on Easter Island, roughly 1300AD. Earth is just a bigger Island, but just as limited in the end. And any notion of accessing Space resources, given our current technology, to bolster even our current population, is just ludicrous.   

       We are adding about 80 million mouths-to-feed every year (10 cities the size of New York), rather faster than we are extracting resources and constructing infrastructure to support them. Copper production (along with various other metals) is now failing to keep up with demand. Oil is basically AT its maximum possible global production peak. And the price of corn shows how the demand for energy is competing with the demand for food.   

       The quantity of Space-resources we would have to extract, to prevent a Malthusian Catastrophe from happening before, say, 25 years go by, is far beyond the capabilities we will have at that time, given the current investment in Space technologies (see "Unreachable Stars" link).   

       I'm not interested in having to watch offspring die in a Malthusean Catastrophe. Larry Niven, a fairly well-known science fiction author, pointed out that as those people who don't feel a "need" to breed decline to do so, others who do feel some sort of "need" to breed will therefore pass their genes on and increase the number of people who feel they need to breed. I suspect that the thing that Humanity MOST needs to stomp out of the gene pool is any hint of a "need" to breed. Otherwise, over the long long long term of future millenia, there will be, guaranteed, one Malthusean Catastrophe after another.
Vernon, Dec 06 2011

       I will bet actual moneys that this turns out not to be the case. Tell you what, let's head over to Long Bets. You say in 25 years we'll have a major population catastrophe unless we impose dramatic measures, I'll bet against.   

       ...On a less confrontational note, could you please Stop that? The capitals, I mean. Nature is not a deity and should not be capitalized as such, and nor is Power. Neither is "Observable" a proper noun, CamelCase such as in "UnObservable" and "HyperSphere" should never be used anywhere unless you're selling something.   

       "Universe" is acceptable. "Space" is pushing it.
Hive_Mind, Dec 06 2011

       Although many scientists would argue that John Cahoun's work with rats and mice has no correlation to humans, I would suggest that they go to the "Projects" in San Francisco, or any large city, to see the effects of overcrowding.   

       John Calhoun found:   

       "He described the onset of several pathologies: violence and aggression, with rats in the crowded pen “going berserk, attacking females, juveniles and less-active males.” There was also “sexual deviance.” Rats became hypersexual, pursuing females relentlessly even when not in heat.   

       The mortality rate among females was extremely high. A large proportion of the population became bisexual, then increasingly homosexual, and finally asexual. There was a breakdown in maternal behavior. Mothers stopped caring for their young, stopped building a nest for them and even began to attack them, resulting in a 96 percent mortality rate in the two crowded pens. Calhoun coined a term—“behavioral sink”—to describe the decay."   

       If this doesn't sound like life in the projects...   

Klaatu, Dec 06 2011

       I agree with the need for population control; but this is not how to do it.   

       What bothers me the most is when people have children that they know they do not have the means to support. Nothing is more selfish than bringing a life into the world you know you cannot provide for.   

       If it's here in the US, they collect welfare from the state, which is paid for by the rest of us. How about we sterilize these people?   

       Communism has never worked because there will never be enough resources for everyone (money, food, clothing, etc).   

       Yes it is tragic that many people die because they don't have these things, but there isn't enough for everyone. How are we going to solve world hunger when there are so many more children being born everyday to parents who are starving themselves?   

       It will never happen. But it certainly won't even improve without a means of population control.
acurafan07, Dec 06 2011

       [HiveMind], I'm not foolish enough to predict that some means other than Space resources would not be found, to help support the human population on Earth for more than 25 years, before a Malthusean Catastrophe happens. But the main reason for expecting it sooner involves "energy". A lot of today's energy production goes into making fertilizer that is used to produce food (and an additional significant chunk of energy goes into transporting food).   

       As global oil production inevitably diminishes, EITHER other sources of energy must be found, OR the price of food in cities will start to skyrocket. And nuclear-fission and coal are both becoming more and more unacceptable, what with things like the recent Fukushima disaster, and global warming. And nuclear fusion (not counting "cold fusion") is still 30 years from widespread deployment.   

       [mouseposture], regarding your claim that this Idea is "not very new" ... I agree that the idea of Eugenics is far from new. But I wasn't aware that anyone else had previously focused on the pseudo-dead, which is what the main Idea text here is mostly about. Have you any more details about your claim? Thanks!
Vernon, Dec 06 2011

       *ahem* [Vernon] it's not necessary to capitalize words simply because they're Important.   

       Actually, if you wanted to do something useful with eugenics, you'd raise the legal childbearing age by one year every decade. This would rapidly select for longevity.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 06 2011

       //8000// is a big number. Regardless, almost dying has nothing to do with anything. Considering we want only lucky (Have I pointed out that this is ridiculous?), intelligent, and healthy people to breed, we can't have a system that only hits on one part of that. If you are healthy, you may still be a hapless moron. If you are lucky enough you may be able to dodge familial illnesses with fortitude saves and survive despite the fact that you assigned your only low score to Intelligence. Also, reasonably, if I was intelligent enough, I'd either a) avoid the hospital because in this dystopian universe they're a bit trigger happy with steriliztion, b) bribe the doctors!, or c) just have whatever treatment done privately so I don't have to go through all that nonsense. How about instead of your proposed system we prevent everyone from utilizing their sexual organs through either a surgery or some drug until they can pass a genetic greatness test: You take a written test for intelligence, you get a medical check up for health, and your roll a d20 for luck. (if you roll a 1, too bad for you!)
Alizayi, Dec 06 2011

       //As global oil production inevitably diminishes,//   

       <contemporary of Malthus> "Yea verily, for yet are our diverse industryes so reliante upon ye charcoal, and there will come a time when there is no more charcoal to be hadde. And though men do speake of harnessing the power of the black oil that oozeth forth from beneathe the grounde, yet this is but a dream for a future age. With surety will there be a Greate Reckonning of man, unless we throw aside this charcoal technollogee and learn to burne peate like our forefathren have done.<\coM>
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 06 2011

       [MaxwellBuchanan], it was the expanding of the glass-making industry that opened eyes to the diminishing forests from which charcoal was made (they switched to coal, not oil). And, of course, one of the reasons the steam engine was invented was to pump water from coal mines, so the miners could keep mining.   

       [Alizayi], death from overpopulation is the same no matter when it happens (is happening now in various places in Africa, and a reasonably famous past event is known as the Irish Potato Famine). Why would you EVER want to help make it inevitable??? And you are trying to distort this Idea from what it is actually about, to something else.   

       This Idea is about those who would have died, except for modern medical technology. All I'm saying is, OK, save those lives! But DON'T ALSO save their ability to breed. Very simple!
Vernon, Dec 06 2011

       Ah, [Vernon], _now_ I get it. My apologies.   

       I had mis-read the idea in haste, and assumed that you wanted to sterilize people who had non-genetic congenital defects, or who had been hit by a drunk driver, or been wounded in action, or been the victims or terrorist assault, or had gotten frostbite trying to climb a mountain, or ... hang on - who are we sterilizing again?
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 06 2011

       But almost dying is not good enough considering the goals you profess. It's not like when saving a life we save the person, and then we save their reproductive parts. A person is a person. One of the many things a person can do in life is make more life. A person could also kill people. We don't want that. Should we cut off their hands, then? A person could convince other people to breed. Should we pull out their tongue to avoid this possibility? //Irish Potato.. FAMINE? Uh, doesn't that have more to do with the fact that the potatoes weren't being produced? In fact, it may have been caused by potatoes sterilizing each other in a hope to create a Eugenic paradise. If it didn't work for potatoes, how can you expect it to work for us?
Alizayi, Dec 07 2011

       // If it didn't work for potatoes, how can you expect it to work for us?//
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 07 2011

       The potato famine definitely resulted in a lot of deaths due to starvation. Of course the proximate cause was mono-crop agriculture that was vulnerable to a single disease organism. And the primary cause was external landlords that were more interested in making a profit than what was best for the individuals on their land.   

       So what I take from it is that allowing outside forces to reduce variation is a bad thing.
MechE, Dec 07 2011

       [Alizayi], not every person has the ability to breed, and in fact historically, about 1/6 to 1/8 of all couples were childless. So, being able to breed is not a required part of being a person; not having that ability does not make anyone less of a person. (Think about Artificial Intelligence research; when one of those projects eventually qualifies as a person, you can bet it won't have, deliberately-built-into-it, the ability to reproduce. Later models, perhaps, but not the first one.)   

       Also, note that very frequently people we save are afterward disabled one way or another, from some lost limbs to some lost organs to some lost brain function. Losing one's reproductive ability is actually not new. The new thing here is the notion that it should always be lost.   

       [MaxwellBuchannan] and [MechE], you should know very well that a gene pool won't lose all its variety just through the process of keeping the obvious defectives from breeding. Consider homosexuality, which appears to exist in about 10% of the population despite millenia of effort to eliminate it. The reason it won't be eliminated by focusing only on the homosexuals, is because the gene pool includes bisexuals as well as hetero-and homosexuals. A very simplistic but not totally inaccurate explanation is that the bisexuals are able to emulate heterosexuality --some may not even know they could be bisexual if they wanted-- (escaping persecution), while occasionally recessive genes combine to produce homosexual offspring.   

       However, focusing on the defectives can help prevent that part of the population from growing. It has been widely remarked how an increasing percentage of the population needs to wear glasses at a young age, for example. And so, homosexuality has remained steady at about the 10% mark --and would likely do so even without persecution, since their preferences natually don't tend to produce offspring. It is almost ironic how Religion is so stupidly focused on reproduction that that is the main reason why homosexuals are reviled --EVEN in an overpopulated world!   

       Regarding the Irish Potato Famine, you can blame anything you like, but **I** will continue to blame stupid humans assuming that just because they reproduced, food will always be available to support them and their offspring. BAD assumption! So, such stupidity deserves the Malthusean Catastrophe it will inevitably beget.
Vernon, Dec 07 2011

       [vernon], I'm trying to keep up with you, because I feel that this idea has been hastily dismissed as some sort of crazed eugenics program proposed by someone with little understanding of the relevant factors. Shame on my fellow bakers for failing to see the deep wisdom that has gone into this one.   

       So, perhaps you can rebuff the naysayers by explaining how the Irish potato famine would have been averted, if only so many of them had not been saved (and allowed to procreate) by the advanced medical technology available to them in 19th century rural Ireland.   

       Go for it, [vernon]! Explain to these fools exactly how those advanced surgical techniques, rapid- response medical teams, sophisticated surgery and top-notch pharmaceuticals were directly responsible for the Irish famine.   

       While you're at it, it might be worth clarifying - for the less intelligent of our fellow halfbakers - how and why combat injuries should disqualify men from fathering children.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 07 2011

       I don't think Vernon is trying to claim that this (alone) would prevent starvation or overpopulation, just that a reduction in births would be more good than bad. I can sensibly refrain from buying a $2000 Italian suit, even without evidence that it would make the difference between being my becoming destitute or not.
spidermother, Dec 07 2011

       //homosexuality, which appears to exist in about 10% of the population despite millenia of effort to eliminate it. The reason it won't be eliminated by focusing only on the homosexuals...//...//However, focusing on the defectives can help prevent that part of the population from growing.//   

       Whoa. Just noticed that one, and I now rather wish I was gay. [vernon], did it ever occur to you that bigotry might be genetic? What were your parents like?
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 08 2011

       Peace, brothers.
methinksnot, Dec 08 2011

       If [vernon] honestly thinks this is a good idea because of Nature and evolution etc. what does he think about the inverse of this idea: Preserving the sex cells of geriatrics (sperm and ovum) for artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization? Surely if those who should have died should be sterilized, then those who have proven their ability to survive should procreate.   

       No wait I just realized this idea was to control human population. Then why wouldn't the idea be to encourage the procreation of the pseudo-dead? Oh I don't know.
rcarty, Dec 08 2011

       [MaxwellBuchanan], the only reason you are "trying to keep up" is to see what else you might be able to misinterpret or otherwise distort. The IPF was fundamentally caused by humans NOT implementing any sort of birth control program, as a direct result of the stupidly faulty belief that sufficient food would always be available.   

       WE can either choose to learn from history, or repeat such stupid mistakes. I'm quite certain as to which choice is being made in today's world, by every so-called "pro-lifer" out there, who is too stupid to realize that their long-term agenda is to promote a Malthusean Catastrophe. Which, since that will cause the death of 80-99% of humanity (80% of "intelligent" animals died on Easter Island; up to 99% normally die in the mere-animal kingdom when an MC happens), means their long-term policy is actually "pro genocide" and not pro life.   

       Next, there was no bigotry intended in what I wrote. Most eugenics programs have historically focused on preventing defective humans from breeding, with the definition of "defective" being the biggest problem there.   

       As an example, if it is best for humans to not need to wear glasses in childhood, then those who do would at first glance obviously qualify as defective --except that it is known that how a human body is used during childhood can lead to certain natural physical adaptations. Nearsightedness can actually be caused by doing too much reading. So, it is important to be very careful when defining "defective".   

       Homosexuality can only be called a defect if the larger group has a focus on reproduction. Read the Bible --ALL forms of sexual activity that reduced the chance of reproduction were banned, not just homosexuality! Today all such bans are obviously stupid, just as those same Bible verses, written by preachers who CLAIMED to be Divinely Inspired, prove they were obviously greedy for money and power, wanting more and more tithers to be born. The IPF can be directly blamed on such religious idiocy --I think condoms began to be more socially acceptable after that event, than it was before that event. Ordinary people began to understand some actual facts, in spite of the greedy preachers continuing to push stupidity upon them.   

       The other side of standard eugenics, breeding for specific characteristics (and yes, which contributed to the IPF), is NOT addressed in any form by this Idea. This Idea is ONLY about those who, without modern medical technology to save their lives, would have been weeded out of the gene pool, one way or another.
Vernon, Dec 08 2011

       [vernon] There's a difference between recognising that there are too many people, and deciding who should and should not be allowed to have children. Quite a big difference.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 08 2011

       I just remembered that I would have crumped at two weeks old without modern-ish medicine. Does this mean that my daughter would have to be sterilized if this idea were adopted?
Since the children begotten by the pseudo-dead after their near death incident would not have been born, do they then too become pseudo-dead?

       [MaxwellBuchanan], would you prefer we simply stop employing modern medical techniques? Then all those people called "pseudo-dead" here would actually be dead AND unable to breed, instead of, per this Idea, being alive and unable to breed.   

       [2Fries], if this Idea ever got employed, it should not be applied to prior events. That gives everyone fair warning, going forward (and likely would make it more acceptable).   

       [bigsleep], yes, many things besides medical technology save lives. None of them, however, are what this Idea is about. Also, you are focusing too much on accidental deaths. I think you will find that the largest percentage of people being kept alive by modern medicine are seriously ill, not accidentally/badly damaged. That is, I'm fairly sure the weak and unhealthy considerably outnumber the unlucky. Which makes this Idea more in line with Darwinian selection than that to which folks here have been paying most of their attention.
Vernon, Dec 08 2011

       [vernon] my point was that your method of "vernonatural selection" is quite strikingly dumb, even by the fairly broad standards of dumth which the idea demands. It will just select mainly against people who are unlucky, brave, adventurous, murderable....
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 08 2011

       //the largest percentage of people being kept alive by modern medicine are seriously ill//   

       If you're talking about surgery I would disagree with this. Lifesaving (rather than life improving) surgery is far more likely to result from accidental damage than an inherent condition, especially for the younger population where sterilization would mean anything.   

       Likewise, serious bacterial/viral illness among the reproductive age (or pre-pubesenct) population is far more likely to result from accidental or random exposure rather than any inherent property of the individual.   

       The only people who fall into your target category and would be affected are those who are treated for significant genetic defects or vulnerabilities, and that is a vanishingly small portion of medical interventions.
MechE, Dec 08 2011

       [Vernon] I can only go by personal experience, and that experience has shown that the statement //That is, I'm fairly sure the weak and unhealthy considerably outnumber the unlucky.// would be correct...with one caveat. In our aging population, most of the extraordinary measures taken to keep people alive has been with those people who are well past childbearing age. Do we sterilize Grandma Ruth because she was saved by modern medicine and extreme efforts?   

       Maybe some of us old farts, who were saved by modern medicine still have something to offer.   

       If you want to subscribe to *true* Darwinian theory, we should keep our best and fittest safe at home, and send the 4F's off to war. As it is, the myopic, diabetic with flat feet and schizophrenia is busy "knockin' boots" with your old lady...making babies and spreading his DNA, while you are off getting your 'nads blown off by an IED. Logical?...no?   

       [disclaimer: I have no children. Never had any (that I know of...it WAS the 60's you know) and got my wings clipped at age 27, so I am coming at this idea with clear eyes and mind and no other agenda.]
Klaatu, Dec 08 2011

       [MaxwellBuchanan], consider the "slippery slope" aspect of this Idea. IF it got implemented, how soon afterward would the population insist that those who caused major accidents and got away without a scratch, or those who attempted murder, must also be sterilized? (slightly evil grin)   

       [MechE], I'm sure there are others you have left out. Asthmatics, for example, have been significantly increasing in number in recent years. How many would be dead without those little portable inhalers?   

       [klaatu], in the coming era of push-button warfare, perhaps the less physically fit will end up on battle lines. Anyway, men don't have quite the same reproductive cut-off as women. And it is socially acceptable for an older man to marry a younger woman....
Vernon, Dec 08 2011

       There's billions of possible culling paradigms, each with a possibly attainable goal... usually at the expense of something else.   

       I'm not gonna bother posting my own, but...   

       How'bout including mandatory temporary sterilization in the justice system ? Rob a bank, get 5 years in the clink, get sterilized for 10 years afterwards. Or trade off 1 year in prison for 10 years sterilization. Win win win.   

       Or a twofer to weed out weak genes and weak cultures:
sterilization of all but those whose genetic parents are still alive and married.
FlyingToaster, Dec 08 2011

       //Asthmatics, for example, have been significantly increasing in number in recent years. How many would be dead without those little portable inhalers?//   

       How many of them are asthmatic due to environmental rather than genetic factors? The answer is most of them.
MechE, Dec 09 2011

       That last anno made me realize that there's yet another reason why this is a dumb idea.   

       The idea is predicated on the assumption that dependence on modern medical technology reflects a genetic fault, and that by reclassifying such people as pseudohuman we can improve the human gene pool.   

       But "modern medical technology" is, more or less by definition, ah, modern. And the gene pool we've got now has barely changed from that which had two or three generations ago.   

       In other words, we have had millenia during which [vernon]'s selection scheme has been working away by not just sterilizing but killing the sick, and yet this has failed to purge the gene pool in the way [vernon] wants.   

       In other words, this idea puts a gun to its own head and shoots itself in the foot.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 09 2011

       Excellent find [Simpleton].   

       I should stop reading this discussion because Vernon's defence of it just pisses me off every time.   

       Vernon, what percentage of people of child-bearing age or younger are you expecting to sterilise here? Presumably it's a significant percentage, or you may as well just not bother.   

       Frankly, I think forcibly sterilising people is just about the dumbest way of attempting to control population growth I've ever heard of. You talk about retaining productive members of society - well fucking hell, you're more likely to turn recipients of your 'care' system into actively malproductive members of society. Freedom fighters against your cruel regime.   

       It would be both less cruel and more efficacious to humanely terminate people suffering putatively lethal events rather than curing them.   

       Even for people opposed to violence or other active dissent, this would likely end up being counterproductive. You have created a risky environment where it pays to have your children as early and copiously as possible. Have you ever heard of kin selection? The neutered segment of the population may well encourage their nearest relatives to have more children, and provide for or care.
Loris, Dec 12 2011

       I consider open warfare to be a far more fair and ethical form of population control than this idea.
Alterother, Dec 12 2011

       [MechE], the evidence is accumulating indicating that most people with asthma today started exhibiting the symptoms at a young age, and that asthma is closely related to an allergic-reaction situation, AND the cause is insufficient exposure to the outside dirty world when their immune systems were developing. They spent their earliest years in a too-clean environment, so their immune systems didn't get the chance to recognize many things as non-infectious, and therefore worthy of ignoring. I think [Bungston] may be able to provide more data about this.   

       [MaxwellBuchanan], you are wrong; this Idea is predicated on the assumption that lots of people would be dead and therefore unable to have any/more offspring, except for the intervention of modern med-tech. And NO-ONE here has specified a reason why we must save BOTH them AND their reproductive systems. (Do remember that it would be an outright lie to claim that there is some sort of Natural Right to breed.)   

       Next, the Eugenics aspect of this Idea is a side-effect of the main notion of attempting to put SOME braking on the population explosion, to which modern med-tech significantly contributes.   

       [Loris], one of the arguments presented by proponents of abortion is that it is less life-risking than childbirth. If you think that a consequence of this Idea is that women would choose to have babies sooner, well, then there will be an increased the risk of them having serious complications in childbirth, due to their bodies not being fully grown and ready for it. Which would increase the sterilization rate of younger women who were saved by modern med-tech!   

       Also, in one of my annos here (which perhaps you didn't see), I specifically stated that this sterilization policy should only be applied to those affected AFTER the policy is passed. There would be no implementing it backward to those already saved by modern med-tech. The main reason for that is closely related to the objection you raised about a "cruel regime".   

       See, most people won't think that if such a policy is implemented, it would directly affect them...just like most people don't think they will have a major car accident. Yet everyone owning a car is (in the USA anyway) required to have an insurance policy against such an event. Well, in this Idea, ONLY those having the equivalent of such an accident would have to "pay"!   

       I'm fairly sure that any perception of "cruelty" in this Idea is related to the TOTALLY FALSE notion that there is some sort of Natural Right to breed. (If there was, then it would NOT be a fact that throughout History about 1/7 of all couples were unable to reproduce, even in the total absence of any birth control methods.)   

       I say it is worse to just let people die, than to save them without also saving their ability to reproduce. Perhaps we could simply ask them? "Hey, do you want your current medical situation to kill you, or do you want to live without the ability to reproduce?" How many would rather be dead?   

       Next, if you want to associate "cruelty" with "depriving someone who has a NEED to breed" --well, I previously wrote in an anno: "I suspect that the thing that Humanity MOST needs to stomp out of the gene pool is any hint of a "need" to breed. Otherwise, over the long long long term of future millenia, there will be, guaranteed, one Malthusean Catastrophe after another."   

       Therefore it would indeed be a bad thing to save both lives AND any "need" to breed, which happened to be part of those lives.
Vernon, Dec 13 2011

       Vernon, were you replying to me above, or did Ling delete a comment? If the former - you didn't read my comment carefully enough to understand it. I did make many devastating points in quick succession, so perhaps that's understandable.   

       //Also, in one of my annos here (which perhaps you didn't see), I specifically stated that this sterilization policy should only be applied to those affected AFTER the policy is passed. There would be no implementing it backward to those already saved by modern med-tech.//   

       If that's in reply to me it's a wild misunderstanding, as I said nothing on retrospective application.   

       //I'm fairly sure that any perception of "cruelty" in this Idea is related to the TOTALLY FALSE notion that there is some sort of Natural Right to breed. (If there was, then it would NOT be a fact that throughout History about 1/7 of all couples were unable to reproduce, even in the total absence of any birth control methods.)//   

       Well, I would say that I'm fairly sure that the cruelty inherent in this idea is related to the mental anguish of those who subsequently wish to, but are unable to have, children. 'Rights' don't come in to it.   

       //I say it is worse to just let people die, than to save them without also saving their ability to reproduce.//   

       That's true. However, your proposal isn't to fail to save reproductive ability, or eliminate potential to reproduce while improving prognosis - which people choose already under certain circumstances. You propose to actively destroy reproductive ability while saving life.
Which incidentally is going to increase the chance of failure to save life in a high proportion of life-threatening situations.

       //Perhaps we could simply ask them? "Hey, do you want your current medical situation to kill you, or do you want to live without the ability to reproduce?" How many would rather be dead?//   

       False dichotomy. Perhaps you could ask them "Hey, while we're here saving your life, do you mind if we also sterilise you at the same time?"   

Loris, Dec 13 2011

       As somebody who vaguely remembers their earlier years, might I say that you've confused "need to breed", which is a sociological phenomenon, with "need to get laid".
FlyingToaster, Dec 13 2011

       [Loris], I apologize for glancing at your name, instead of studying it like I studied the main text of your anno.   

       The notion of retrospective application is a major reason why a lot of people would oppose this Idea, and I knew it when I wrote that earlier (quoted) anno. Just because you are focusing on afterward-opposition doesn't make the point invalid, that a lot of people could accept it because they will think they personally won't experience the consequences --and, actually, most of them would be correct!   

       Lots of people already experience mental anguish because they are Naturally unable to reproduce through absolutely no fault of their own. Here, at least they would understand why they became unable, even if it was a result of randomly happening to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.   

       And you have certainly missed the point that breeding is a privilege that should be earned. Per Nature, anyone who normally dies has lost that privilege. Why should that privilege be allowed to continue to exist just because we intervene and save a life? (And, no, not all methods of sterilization require dangerous surgery.)   

       [FlyingToaster], for humans the need to breed is definitely distinct from the need for sexual activity. The proof of this is to be found in the fact that the human female ovulation cycle is mostly hidden, as compared to the cycle in other female animals. Those other females are only interested in sex (are practically forced to be interested) when reproduction is highly probable. Mature human females can (but don't have to) become interested at almost any time.
Vernon, Dec 13 2011

       [Vernon] First, lack of exposure to contamination is an environmental factor.   

       Second, per [Ling]'s earlier anno, the best way to reduce population growth is to reduce infant/child mortality. When people with a decent standard of living are reasonably certain that their children will live to adulthood, they have fewer, and wait later to have them. (The difference in population growth curves between reproduction at 20 and reproduction at 30 is enormous).   

       Third, what this ides does is favor stay at home individuals who never take a risk in their lives, since most of the diseases caused by a sedentary lifestyle are mid-late life onset, after reproduction, whereas people who actually get out and take risks are more likely to suffer severe injury early in life.   

       Fourth, it would discourage people from seeking medical care, resulting in more expensive emergency interventions required.   

       In summary, this idea wouldn't do what you want, would not target the people you want, would do so in a way that causes extreme mental anguish, and would significantly increase the cost of health care.
MechE, Dec 13 2011

       [MechE], I got the impression from your original anno, about environmental factors, that you were referencing air pollution, which does indeed cause some breathing problems. However, the asthmatics that got that way by being raised in too-clean environments are basically suffering from the "too much of a good thing is a bad thing" syndrome. It will be just as important to let rug-rats get dirty as it is to reduce air pollution, for good health in the long term.   

       MEANWHILE, though, modern med-tech is saving the lives of the more-seriously afflicted asthmatics. I don't see a lot of difference between being in the wrong place for the wrong short time (bad accident) and being in the wrong place for the wrong long time (too-clean house), if the result is that people would die without modern med-tech.   

       Next, [rcarty]'s third Nov 29 anno is more correct about lowering the birth rate, than what you wrote or copied regarding reducing child mortality. Because we have lots of data on how populations actually exploded in places where child mortality was reduced, while women still didn't have significant rights.   

       Next, do not confuse routine medical care with direct-life-saving medical care. Only the latter is a factor in this Idea.   

       Next, the sedentary are experiencing an "epidemic" of obesity at young ages, and as a result the average age of a first heart attack is going to drop, if it hasn't been dropping already. You are also forgetting that young adults are much more likely than older adults to think that bad things won't happen to them, when they take risks.   

       Your analysis remains flawed.
Vernon, Dec 14 2011

       //However, the asthmatics that got that way by being raised in too-clean environments are basically suffering from the "too much of a good thing is a bad thing" syndrome.//   

       Still environmental, not genetic.   

       //Because we have lots of data on how populations actually exploded in places where child mortality was reduced, while women still didn't have significant rights.//   

       Name such a place, I'm curious. I will accept certain social influences cause such, including the restriction of birth control, but reduced child mortality as part of a generally increasing standard of living does result in slower or negative population growth.   

       //Next, do not confuse routine medical care with direct-life-saving medical care. Only the latter is a factor in this Idea.//   

       If people think there is a chance they are going to get sterilized because the doctor thinks they need life saving care, they will resist going to the doctor.   

       // Next, the sedentary are experiencing an "epidemic" of obesity at young ages, and as a result the average age of a first heart attack is going to drop, if it hasn't been dropping already. //   

       If the average age for a first heart attack drops below thirty, I'll agree you might have a point.   

       //You are also forgetting that young adults are much more likely than older adults to think that bad things won't happen to them, when they take risks.//   

       And? You're still punishing the young who are willing to be active and take risks.
MechE, Dec 14 2011

       [MechE], I'm fairly sure that not every child raised in a given too-clean home becomes asthmatic. So, a genetic component appears to exist that this Idea would address. Also, you ignored the accident-equivalent factor, since the main goal here is to reduce the population explosion, and there were earlier objections raised about how few this Idea would affect. AND there may be yet another genetic factor, if you think about why the parents were so fanatical about having a too-clean home. What else are they fanatical about, and do we need such genes?   

       Places where the population exploded after infant mortality dropped include EVERY nation that became industrialized enough for water-treatment and sewage-handling systems to become widespread, mostly during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Including the USA and England. It was decades later that women's rights issues and easy birth control became prevalent enough that the birth rates began to drop.   

       Note that today, in places like Indonesia, while modern birth control is available, it is not as widely used as elsewhere, due to poor rights for women (and Indonesia is now the 3rd most populous nation in Asia). And you should read about some of the wilder situations, like Brazil (a recent article in National Geographic), where vast numbers of women voluntarily/deliberately got themselves sterilized, specifically to avoid having lots of kids, because they had the legal right to do it, despite all the Latin machismo in the culture.   

       Regarding "the doctor thinks they need life saving care", well, it logically follows that if they don't go, and if it was true, then they will probably become actually-dead, and therefore ALSO unable to breed. Also, do you suppose that if the doctors lose business due to a perception that they are overzelous, then perhaps they will change some of their ways (like request fewer unnecessary tests), and thereby cause the overall cost of medical care to drop (a major issue in the USA if not England)?   

       Finally, again, only SOME of the young active risktakers will be affected by this Idea. That wasn't enough to deter them in the past from, say, volunteering to join armies, in eras before modern med-tech existed (to save both lives and reproductive ability), so why should they all turn cowardly now?   

       Your analysis is STILL flawed, therefore.
Vernon, Dec 14 2011

RayfordSteele, Dec 14 2011

       //So, a genetic component appears to exist that this Idea would address.//   

       So you're going to kill off the portion of the population that has the most active immune systems. Nope, I don't see anything at all wrong with that idea.   

       // It was decades later that women's rights issues and easy birth control became prevalent enough that the birth rates began to drop.//   

       How long does it take for it to become apparent that a given generation of children are going to survive to adult hood? It's no surprise that the follow on effects lag by a few decades. (And yes, one can make a strong sociological argument for the relation between reduced infant/child mortality and the various women's equality movements).   

       //and if it was true//   

       You apparently trust doctors to get things perfectly right every time a lot more than I do. Since this is going to be done on the fly, without a consultation or further diagnosis.   

       //only SOME of the young active risktakers will be affected by this Idea//   

       But again, you're talking about trying to influence genetics through gradual change in the population, which is exactly what affecting some of a population does.   

       // volunteering to join armies// I suspect you'll find that successful military careers (high ranking non-coms and officers) are more likely to reproduce than the general populace, so there was a positive selection pressure that your approach misses.
MechE, Dec 14 2011

       [MechE], you should know that too much of a good thing is always, ALWAYS a bad thing. Recall how much arthritis is caused by the immune system attacking one's own body, for example.   

       As for how long it can take a culture to recognize that children are likely to live? Less than10 years. Because in the bad old days, about 50% of all kids died by the age of 2. A sudden drop in that particular death rate to, say 5%, WILL be noticed quickly!   

       You are still misinterpreting the influence on genetics that this Idea would have. Let's talk about those reproducing career military dudes: obviously in the old days they got lucky and lived, while others got unlucky/killed. Well, nowadays there are STILL the lucky and the unlucky. Only now, WITHOUT this Idea, the unlucky who get saved from death also get to pass their genes on.   

       This Idea merely restores the old status quo! And it does it with respect to every category, in which various people would have died in the old days, for one reason or another, but now can live to pass on whatever genes might have been even partly responsible for would-have-died, except for modern med-tech.
Vernon, Dec 14 2011

       //This Idea merely restores the old status quo! And it does it with respect//   

       Ah yes, the good old status quo. Much better than all this new status quo. I reckon that..(hang on, back in a moment - there's four men on horses coming up to the gatehouse).
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 14 2011

       Has anyone said that this idea is totally illogical. Its initial premise is that modern medicine allows people that should have died, to live.Then says it is bad because it increases population growth. It explains that is bad because it allows people who are prone to dying to procreate. However, if populatation control was the biggest concern shouldn't the preservation and procreation of people who are constantly almost dying be something to encourage?
rcarty, Dec 14 2011

       I believe every one of us has pointed out the flaws in this idea's so-called logic. I'm not sure why [Vernon] is still defending it, unless he's going for the all-time fishbone record. I would have boned it myself, were it not for my oath.
Alterother, Dec 14 2011

       This will be my last comment, because I 'm sick of arguing with a brick wall. But, the difference between statistical notice and practical notice is important here.   

       Also, apparently luck is genetic now.
MechE, Dec 14 2011

       //luck// at which point, as noted before several times, Larry Niven did it much better.
FlyingToaster, Dec 15 2011

       [rcarty], don't be ridiculous. If we are constantly saving people who are almost dying, then there is no reduction of the population growth rate. But if, after being saved, they are not able to breed, they cannot add to the world's population growth. The growth rate must go down a bit, therefore. Very simple and VERY logical.
Vernon, Dec 15 2011

       If you want to curb human population (which we need to do), there are two options which are both more effective and more humane than [vernon]'s ghoulish suggestion:   

       1) Make contraception available to everyone who wants it or   

       2) Wait a while. Population growth declines and then reverses as societies become more stable and affluent, as has already happened in Europe.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 15 2011

       Encourage the pseudo-dead to procreate to pass on their desireable genetic fitness of controlling or reducing population by increasing death rates.
rcarty, Dec 15 2011

       In the Developed World(you know those places characterised by "modern" health services and associatedly improved standards of living) birth-rates have been been steadily lower than death rates since the 1970s.   

       It's not these areas that are responsible for population growth.   

       Further reducing (by whatever means, mad or otherwise) the fertility rates in these areas is unlikely to have any great effect in relation to the whole. The whole being the global world, a very great deal of which doesn't benefit from the standards of living enjoyed in (for example) The UK and US. If you want to ease-off on population, you should be turning your eyes away from the developed countries with low birth-rates and long life expectancies, but towards those more difficult places where it's important - in genetic terms - to have as many offspring as possible - irrespective of the available means to support them - because there more there are, the more they are likely to successfully compete for limited resources.   

       Fiddling about with surgery for a relatively miniscule sub-set of the population just isn't going to make a dent. Compare the number of life-saving operations a year in the US against the number of children born across the world in deprivation. It's a *tiny* proportion, one that would be swept aside over geological time, which incidentally is the length of time you'd need to continue to assert this politically contentious policy - bearing in mind that the most successfull regime in history, the Roman Empire, lasted not much longer than 1000 years, or a mere blink of an eye in evolutionary terms. How are you intending to set a (rather complicated and by many, unwelcome) arbitrary surgical policy so that it continues to be adhered to for the millenia it would require to make any kind of difference?
zen_tom, Dec 15 2011

       This is more a rant than anything else, in the sense that i would prefer not to devote the time to reading this entire page before i type this, though i've read most of it.   

       As [MB] says, population growth tends to go into reverse as material standard of living increases. The parts of the planet with the greatest population growth are not the parts with the greatest growth in energy or food (same thing) use, and in those areas the population is growing even though the kind of things which reduce it most effectively are more so in those places. If we all lived off yeast and blue-green algae, we'd have plenty of space for food and plenty of biomasse. Most people don't want to do that.   

       What i'm saying, really, is that overpopulation is not the problem, but a peak in energy and food use among a minority of the population. I would include myself in that, because for example it's not viable for everyone to heat their home with firewood and live off wildcrafted stuff without causing a major impact on the environment which would mean this area could only support a small number of people. So the restraint should be among us rich, not elsewhere, and i've already blown it by having two children.
nineteenthly, Dec 15 2011

       [simpleton], the definition of "overpopulated" does not depend solely on the space in which a population might occupy. There are also the matters of sustaining that population in an equitable way --which we can't do for our world's current population, much less a larger one. That is, for the whole world to enjoy all the benefits of "First World" technologies, we need the physical resources of about 3 more Earths. Or haven't you been paying attention to the supply/demand situation for various substances in recent years, most notably copper?   

       Next, don't lie about what I've stated here. I said a Malthusian Catastrophe would only kill 80-99% of humanity, not all of humanity. And, yes, it is inevitable if we continue to consume resources faster than we produce them. PERIOD. Also, haven't you noticed that one of the resources being consumed is farmland, by expanding cities? How long do you think THAT can go on???!!!   

       Next, without some rather mind-boggling scientific/technological breakthroughs, access to Space is NOT going to be able to solve our problems before a Malthusian Catastrophe happens. Because either you need to transport about 80 million people to Space every year, just to keep the population of Earth stable, or you need to import resources to Earth at rate equivalent to supporting those people, every year. And that is simply not going to happen in time. UNLESS you know of some sci/tech breakthroughs that I don't???   

       Next, you have ignored the well known FACT that most young people don't thing bad things are going to happen to them. Sure, some do. But most don't.   

       My arguments are quite sound, even if the logical result is not socially acceptable! (But then, any society stupid enough to breed itself into a Malthusian Catastrophe is certainly also stupid enough to ignore any/all warnings about it.)   

       [MaxwellBuchanan], due to the issue of industrial resources shrinking, it is likely that very little progress is going to be made, toward technologically uplifting the currently-most-needy places in the world (making them "more stable and affluent"), before the looming Malthusian Catastrophe begins to become obvious.   

       Do recall that we are currently AT global "peak oil" production (see link); in just a few years the inevitable final downward spiral of petroleum production is going to be obvious to everyone. What are you planning on replacing it with? Or, will wars begin to start, as people try to reserve the remaining supplies for themselves?   

       It is because of the demands of the existing worldwide technological "base", for resources, compared to recent declines in production of various resources, that there will soon be insufficient resources for expanding that base to the world's remaining poor.   

       [zen tom], you seem to think that the various/many advantages of modern med-tech are not-at-all to be found in places teeming with impovershed people. But bits and pieces of it are everywhere, being used by enthusiastic health workers to try to reduce death rates in those same impovershed places. SAFE blood transfusions very likely counts as modern med-tech, for example.   

       Note that in the first part of the main Idea text I said that this is not quite a "let's all", because not everyone would be directly affected by it (meaning: "be sterilized"). However, if the Idea was implemented as a Policy everywhere, then significant numbers of those impovershed people would be affected --not everyone; just significant numbers. Enough, I think, to put a small dent into the population explosion. A start, anyway.   

       [nineteenthly], we seem to be in some agreement. It is obvious, after all, that if the birth rate declines even more in the "developed" nations, as a result of this Idea/Policy, then resource-consumption would go down, leaving more for everyone else. Staving off the oncoming Malthusian Catastrophe just a little longer....
Vernon, Dec 15 2011

       It seems to me that the Malthusian catastrophe is catastrophic only if you cark it as a result of the "catastrophe". If you don't, then it results, one would imagine, in an abundance of food for you and your fellow survivors.
calum, Dec 15 2011

       [calum], that may be exactly why only 80% or so died on Easter Island, instead of the usual 99% that happens when mere animal herbivores experience a Malthusian Catastrophe.
Vernon, Dec 15 2011

       //before the looming Malthusian Catastrophe begins to become obvious//   

       [vernon] dear, we've taken the liberty of booking you into one of our Post Apocalyptic Retirement Homes - Malthusian Meadows. Someone will be along to collect you shortly, and help you choose one or two small personal effects to bring with you. It's a little cramped there, as you can imagine. Your cooperation is appreciated, though not required. It's for the greater good.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 15 2011

       He could be an attraction there.
RayfordSteele, Dec 15 2011

       [MaxwellBuchanan], I'm not about to retire any time soon; can't afford it.
Vernon, Dec 16 2011

       Then he could go to the retirement home for leeches.
rcarty, Dec 20 2011

       I believe that this idea, (along with other similar ideas I've read about imposed population control), doesn't have a snowball's chance to stave off the coming malthusian catastrophe.   

       It's just that I can't think of anything to do about of it, other than pulling together an army of ninja pirate monkeys and taking over the world, then imposing my own insane population "final solution".   

       To think there isn't an issue, or even to think that "it'll all end well" is (I beleive) - foolishly naive.   

       I must say, however that this idea is just rediculous, as are all population control concepts I've read. Perhaps overpopulation-induced catastrophe is the only really effective population control mechanism.
Custardguts, Dec 20 2011

       //my own insane population "final solution"// Please elaborate!
spidermother, Dec 20 2011

       I think at some point we're bound to hit an unpleasant homeostasis where wars, crime, and fast-acting, untreatable diseases will level off the Earth's population. Thankfully, I won't be around to suffer through it, but I'll be sure to stockpile ammunition and antibiotics for my great-great-great-grandkids.
Alterother, Dec 20 2011

       //Perhaps overpopulation-induced catastrophe is the only really effective population control mechanism.//   

       As has been pointed out before, populations in many advanced nations are already level or falling, barring immigration.   

       Social attitudes do change over time. At the moment, even in the West, people who have no children are looked at as a little odd or sad. The term "only child" is used with sympathy. But compare that with 100 years ago, where having only two or three children was seen as strange.   

       It's not inconceivable that, in another hundred years, childlessness will not be seen as at all odd.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 20 2012

       By then most people will have their genetic code spliced with the immortal jellyfish and simply develop into an embryonic state every century or so.   

       The final years of old age, and the first years of youth will be spent soaking in a nutrient saline solution.
rcarty, Apr 20 2012

       About the article Vernon linked that bumped this.   

       First statement- Looks to me like the non-renewable resources decay has been slower than predicted, despite food production per capita being higher than predicted.   

       Second statement- As resources get scarcer, the economic incentive to recycle or find replacements gets greater.   

       Third statement- There's a report floating around that James Cameron, Larry Page, Ross Perot Jr., et al. have just launched a commercial asteroid mining venture, which would be an important step towards increasing the supply of non-renewable resources.   

       General meaning- Humans are remarkably good at surviving, even if things might get a little nasty for a while.
MechE, Apr 20 2012

       Question: Does anyone know of any examples in literature or popular culture in which the malthusian catastrophe has been explored?
theleopard, Apr 20 2012

       [theleopard], somewhere in the field of science fiction are certainly various stories about overpopulation. Most of them are warnings. And there are plenty of after-the-apocalypse stories. I'm not aware, off-hand, of particular stories that directly link the apocalypse to overpopulation   

       However, it can be extremely easy to see how overpopulation could have been a factor, at least. For example, before World War II, Hitler made speeches about how the population of Germany was increasing, and so the people needed the "lebensraum" (living space) of neighboring countries. (I note he didn't mention that Official Nazi Policy was to encourage Germans to breed like crazy.) Nowadays, of course, something like that could lead to World War III.   

       A possible mechanism for the start of a Malthusian Catastrophe has been identified. A huge fraction of food being grown these days depends on the availability of synthetic fertilizers, which directly derive from the availability of petroleum. And global petroleum production is approximately at its maximum possible peak. Therefore global food production can be expected to begin to decline in the next few years, as petroleum production declines.
Vernon, Apr 20 2012

       Define "next few years." Venezuela is pumping crude like gangbusters and claims to be set for at least a decade; fracking and oil sand refinement are on the boom domestically; North Dakotans may actually recieve Alaska- style oil-revenue kickbacks someday soon (maybe). Sure, OPEC is doomsaying about stockpiles, but they've been sustaining that note since the late '70s. Meanwhile, the Chinese have been suspiciously tight-lipped concerning their supply of the black stuff... Overall, I don't think we're going to run out of oil nearly as soon as some people seem to want.   

       // The term 'only child' is used with sympathy. //   

       Applied to yours truly, it's usually coupled with relief and/or gratitude.
Alterother, Apr 20 2012

       //global petroleum production is approximately at its maximum possible peak.//   

       Possibly. But on the way up a hill, you're always at the highest point.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 20 2012

       //Humans are remarkably good at surviving, even if things might get a little nasty for a while.//   

       Some* humans are... others; not so much. Allow me to supply a brief list of those whom, IMNSHO wont make it through the tough times:   

Goth/Emo kids
People that enact Dungeons and Dragons game-play
Men that are too embarrassed to change in front of others, in the men's locker room
People who think about annotating "You shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition" after reading that last one
and, of course: Justin Beiber.
MikeD, Apr 20 2012

       Are you suggesting that [21 Quest] and Justin Beiber are different people?
swimswim, Apr 20 2012

       I'm hardly any of those things anymore.
Whew! That was close eh?

       [MikeD] is right about the first three items on his list. India is full of those, just wait until they fall on tough times.   

       No wait, they have and there's over a billion of them.
rcarty, Apr 22 2012

       [rcarty], I think our definitions of "tough times" differs slightly.   

       It is to be expected, however. As a hard day at the office for you involves missed deadlines, broken copy machines and paper-cuts. Whereas mine involves 300lbs of home-made explosives detonating directly underneath the truck in front of me, followed my small-arms fire and secondary explosive devices designed to kill first-responders.
MikeD, Apr 23 2012

       You're in Northern India, in Kashmir province, [MikeD]?
UnaBubba, Apr 23 2012

       I'd assume most of the vegan, pacifist, democrats in India approve of the war you're fighting as some of their tough times involved a similar enemy. The hippies of America may not, but I'm not so sure if they did your job would be any easier. As for me, my wrists are getting pretty sore from all this typing, so I'm going to go perform some office chair yoga.
rcarty, Apr 23 2012

       Fuck, Shit, God Damnit! Alright. I have no friggin clue what's going on in India right now. I was hoping to get by with not having to do any research using an uninformed reply but since you guys friggin insist...   

       <checking internet, with repeated exaggerated sighing>   

       Well, after a brief internet research, I can confidentially say Siachen would be a done deal by now if the Indian Army were including meat in their diets.
MikeD, Apr 23 2012

       Oh, my goodness, Mister Dee. There is a great evil afoot in the land of Krishna and Kali and I fear it may in very deed have taken on the mundane form of a profane American security advisor.
UnaBubba, Apr 23 2012

       While I'm thinking of it... why would it matter whether zombies were disinfected, or not?
UnaBubba, Apr 23 2012

       [+] Because having come back to the HB to kill 5 minutes, I've just spent an entire morning reading the annos and feeling a sense of awe building as the lynch mob of heavyweight posters queuing up to kick [Vernon] grew and grew and he just didn't give up.   

       Exhilarating as [Vernon]'s defiance was to witness, it's pretty depressing that the annos seemed to break down to approximately:   

       - 70% [Vernon] is wrong/dumb/evil.
-20% - Overpopulation is a problem, but this isn't the way to deal with it.
-5% - Overpopulation isn't a problem, maths is faulty and/or space will save us.
-5% A better way to control overpopulation would be...

       It would have been nice to see a more rational discussion of the issue (overpopulation NOT [Vernon]) utilising the considerable intellectual reserves of the HB, rather than an amazingly entertaining slagging match.   

       I can't comment on anyone else's experience, but from where I am, it seems stunningly obvious that over population both local and global underpins almost every significant problem we face - overcrowding, transport, water supply, energy security, financial deficit, housing shortage, food supply, pollution, resource depletion and so on.   

       I barely hear a word on this issue from politicians, and I guess that's understandable. If the HB reacts like this, I can only imagine that the reaction from the wider population would be hysterical. I can't recall who it was that accused [Vernon] of moral cowardice but I think that was probably the least justified of the negative comments. If moral cowardice is confronting an issue when the majority is afraid to acknowledge it, I need to revise my understanding.   

       As a closing thought, has it occurred to anybody else that the annos section of this idea is a nice metaphor for the coming Malthusean catastrophe? [Vernon] is humanity and everybody else is the catastrophe. I think we better hope that our species is as resilient as him if and when the time comes.
DocBrown, Apr 24 2012

       <bows in awe of the author of "Riot Control Bears>   

       <sorts out the difference between Malthus and Methuselah>   

       <retreats to find coffee>   

       A Malthusian catastrophe is quite sadly inevitable. There's a whole world of hungry people out there, and the environment is only the concern of the well fed who (think that their) old age is taken care of.   

       ([Vernon] you posted something about flywheels and electric motors recently.... what was the post ?)
FlyingToaster, Apr 24 2012

       [DocBrown], thank you. I do try to exhibit SOME "courage of my convictions".   

       [FlyingToaster], I added a link to answer your question.
Vernon, Apr 24 2012

       I think most of [Vernon]'s material here is inspired and interesting (although some of it is a bit erudite for me, not by any fault of his). This one was a rare miss for me. I've always admired [Vernon]'s conviction and willingness to defend his dissertations with passion and intelligence. Too many times I've been disappointed when an idea is widely panned and the author never returns to defend it.
Alterother, Apr 24 2012

       To be honest, I find [Vernon] prolix. It must surely be so for a number of other users, who use that as an excuse to pile on and beat up on him?   

       In defence of [Vernon]'s idea, I believe we are doing too much to prolong lives we should not be prolonging. Humans are now the third most populous mammal species on Earth after rats and mice. We exterminate them in their millions yet do everything we can to prolong and encourage human lives. It will be the undoing of us, as a species, I suspect.   

       To forestall your strident protests, yes I do believe we should let more people die of illness and injury; yes I do believe we should stop fertility treatments for childless couples; yes I do believe we should sterilise more people who are likely to breed indiscriminately, in both First and Third World (The Second World or Communist Bloc, countries are already settling into 1st and 3rd World status) countries, including my own, and yes, I do believe that should include all levels of society, regardless of wealth, intelligence or perceived status.
UnaBubba, Apr 24 2012

       Prolix! That's the word I was looking for! Thanks, [UB]. Yes, I too have always found him prolix, but around here that can be mistaken for a virtue.
Alterother, Apr 24 2012

       The extraterrestrial farmers might accident out pests, in the face of the planet being not quite ripe enough for harvesting.
wjt, Mar 22 2020

       No, no, it's just that [wjt] isn't a native human speaker, and often his postings read very oddly. Don't take offence - more deserving of pity than condemnation.   

       However, that doesn't mean that he doesn't appear somewhat batrachian in certain lights .... or that you aren't a pest.
8th of 7, Mar 24 2020

       Had this logic been implemented long ago, I wonder how many underground doctor services would emerge. Secret surgeries, accidents that never happened. Even considered in the prison system, forced sterilization would be considered cruel and unusual. If this happened, one would have thought it would happen in prisons first. Logical, yes, but heartless. i.e. a bit sociopathic.
twitch, Mar 24 2020

       Only a bit ? Whatever... it's a wonderful idea.
8th of 7, Mar 24 2020

       //Logical, yes//   

       Logical, no. Countries with the highest tech tend to have the lowest birthrates already. Therefore, as a solution to overpopulation, this makes no sense.   

       What that leaves is a poorly thought out appeal to nature as a way of avoiding responsibility for your value-judgements.   

       I was going to say Sartre would like a word, but in fact he wouldn't unless you're young, hot and female. Camus is less up himself, but he's all booked out, so I'll have to refer you back to Kierkegaard. He has a private income and works pro bono - but, I have to warn you, there's a lot of homework.
pertinax, Mar 25 2020


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