A few topics I’ve been reading/listening about lately. They seem connected somehow: Polyamory, alarming low birthrates across the world, the evolution of mate preference in ducks (it’s not what you may think), the emasculation of modern boys, and parents who regret having children.

Polyamory is a fancy word that refers to a lifestyle where the participants embrace the belief that more is merrier. My take is that polyamory is like sword swallowing, a demonstration you might ogle in disbelief, but not one you’d want to try for yourself. And when polyamorists aren’t having sex they’re talking about it, ceaselessly, according to one participant. You should not assume all polyamorists are pro-natalists. Pro what? Pro more babies. There seems to be a species of Groupthink that has formed into an advocacy promoting the idea that having more babies who will grow up to be super smart, and start up their own tech companies in San Francisco – and as adults make even more babies – is going to save the world. Because apparently Paul Erlich’s 1968 tocsin, The Population Bomb, turned out to be less of an explosion and more like a dud. Unless you exist in the largest slums in India, or certain places in sub-Saharan Africa. Then maybe Paul was right. But if you’re a tech-bro (or tech-sis) in San Francisco, to pay forward your genetic gift of brilliance, it behooves you to get those world-saving genes inside you, into as many new copies of yourself as possible. Be careful though. There is disquieting evidence that in developed countries as many as one in ten parents regret having children. Maybe these parents did not possess the “genetic gift” to pass on to their children that many new pro-natalists believe they have? 🤷🏼‍♂️

There is another, older species of Groupthink morally opposed to the goals of pro-natalism called – unsurprisingly – anti-natalism. Adherents of this worldview believe all humans should resist the urge to procreate; they claim that the fewer humans there are to experience the misery of this world, the better. Supposedly, the philosopher Schoepenhauer was an anti-natalist. In our modern era, certain gene determinists, people who believe that the constitution of your genome mostly determines the quality of human being you’ll become, argue that being child-free by choice represents the victory of mind over the imperative of its creator. To me, this is an illogical counter-argument they make which exposes a glaring contradiction. Namely, that the genes that make a human brain, a brain that concludes it doesn’t want children, were selected by evolution for reproductive success! If that contradiction isn’t as obvious to you as it is to me, email me, I’ll do my best to unpack it for you.

Speaking of reproduction – guess what species has the largest penis? The horse? Not even close. Simple physics explains how corkscrews work to extract a wine cork. Yet nobody – I mean nobody – knows how the Lake Duck’s corkscrew cock came to be so…well, huge and out of proportion to its body size. It’s a mystery, a marvel of biology. In the book I’m reading, the author floats the hypothesis that the serpentine vagina of the female admits only compatibly spiraled penises, so the two likely co-evolved as a means for the female to choose specific males to mate with. Drakes without a suitably spiraled penis would not be able to penetrate the female far enough to deliver his seed where it needs to be to successfully fertilize her. Think lock and key. The author hypothesizes that this is the girls’ way of avoiding forced copulation with drakes she’s just not into. Forced copulation being a less inflammatory synonym that biologists use for gang rape. Because sorry to have to break it to you, but red-in-tooth-and-claw gang rape near the pond is, unfortunately for the female duck, usual

In the end, all creatures great and small, us included, are marionettes in a large circus we call life. There are real world inputs, and a creature’s experience of them. That’s it. Which circus tent you land in is not of your choosing, and has less to do with the constitution of your genome and more to do with the values of your lifelong sensory inputs, aka experiences.