Steven Pinker on irrational beliefs; Tove K on the population crisis; Russ Roberts and Tyler Cowen on econGoat; Friedman vs. Friedman; Rebecca Burgess, Michael Lucchesi, and me (video)
"A lot of people in secular Western European and Commonwealth democracies seem to do just fine without any form of religion or substitute raptures."
Right Uncle*. Oh, well, unless you count their crazy political worldview and messianic, utopian project as religion-substitute, which is exactly what every anti-religious leftist thinker used to honestly and explicitly say they were hoping to accomplish for centuries until fairly recently. A worldview based not just in 'nonverifiable' beliefs about the supernatural or hidden conspiracies, but either ones about nature which are easily observable and just as easily empirically falsified, or when they reluctantly concede one of those facts, nonverifiable and unfalsifiable meta-explanations impervious to logic and evidence. It's impossible to better characterize Kendi and D'Angelo as anything else but religious figures: preachers and prophets, their events as anything other than enthusiastic camp tent revivals.
*Sadly, he's not actually my uncle. But me, Pinker, and Napoleon all share a male ancestor -and- a female ancestor. Hail Natufians! eupedia.com/genetics/famous_y-dna_by_haplogroup.shtml#E-M34
"I say fine. The gene pool could use an adult swim."
I get that this is kind of a joke. But to the extent it's not, it's pretty cavalier, and there are several big problems.
First, sure, it's a mathematical truism that if even a barely higher propensity to breed is even slightly genetically heritable then eventually - maybe in thousands of years - you end up with a population where the frequency of genes leading to maximum expression of this trait go to fixation for the whole population. However, you have to wonder, why didn't this already happen in mostly-Malthusian evolutionary history, and why despite the enormous amount of genotypic and phenotypic diversity in the human population we see for every other trait, is is apparently so easy to turn practically the entire population into below-replacers? It's not 'modernity' because, again, this happened throughout history and as far back as antiquity. The obvious answer is that the heritable genetic factors are too weak to matter, and that, even if could theoretically fix things in the long run, we don't have that kind of time.
What *is* strongly heritable is talent, and that talent pool is collapsing in all the IQ-shredder Big Winner Cities, almost everywhere on the planet. We are eating the seed corn with more famine on the way.
Second, population numbers and age distributions have enormous impact on societal features and capacity for progress. It's not just Ponzi-scheme welfare state fiscal doom, though that's not nothing!
Gerontocracy in general is bad enough already, and it's going to get incredibly worse. The domination of the elderly and the favoring of their interests and preferences as they start to vastly outnumber the young is a recipe for stagnation and decline and socially pathological "shrinking pie slice" fighting.
As TFR-worriers have been saying for a while - and finally, recently succeeded in convincing Robin Hanson to believe and thus become a TFR-doomer too - there is a strong argument that innovation depends on economic incentives that in turn depend on population growth, which because there are not infinite reserves of importable fungible humans out there, inevitably depends on natural population growth, i.e., people - especially innovators - having above-replacement numbers of babies again.
Here is the dark implication. Eventually an inverted pyramid for population structure becomes untenable with all the political power at the big top but all the production needed to pay for it all needing to happen at the shrinking slices in the "prime years". Something is going to give. There are lots of possibilities for what that thing might be. All of them are ugly, some really, really ugly.
It is not going to matter much what we said or did or supported in life if by when we get really old the justifiably very angry youngsters decide to push us all out on the ice floes rather than try to shoulder the impossible burden placed upon them to which they never consented. And if those youngsters perceive themselves as somehow demographically or culturally distinct from all those old people -which, duh, they will - then the ice floes are going to seem like paradise in comparison.
Finally, while this is currently a global problem, not every country on the globe has the same, ahem, "state capacity" to take it seriously and deal with it effectively. In the nature of things, order than is not reestablished within will be imposed from without. Those states with capacity - and the dividend of a baby boom swelling their military ranks - will just take over from those that don't. Whatever you might like about some X in the developed world that is not likely to be enjoyed by subjects of the kind of states who have that kind of capacity, "Make the World Safe for X" means either fighting for X by matching that capacity, or giving up on X, accepting one's fate, and trying one's best to die with dignity.
I always find rationalist articles about having children funny. At the end of the day, women aren't going to have children for abstract rational reasons.
"The human race has rebounded from many crises before. It will rebound from the population crisis too."
At the risk of putting words in Handle's mouth, I think he would say, "Only for people who are considerably poorer than Americans." As I understand it, his theory says, "TAKE OPPORTUNITY COST SERIOUSLY." If you are a 20-something and your choices are some combination of school, making money, watching Netflix, partying, and taking vacations, or on the other hand, getting pregnant and then losing sleep and being tied down, most people will take the first. Approaching 30, the second may feel more appealing but fertility is decreasing and it's easy to stop at one. The only way to bring TFR up to 2.1 is to make zero or single children less appealing, maybe a lot less. Which means sticks for them, not just carrots for parents. Which ain't gonna happen.
So the only people who will have two or more kids are poor people who don't have more pleasant alternatives. Tove K may be saying this in an oblique way when he says "The current low fertility levels in the developed world ... will lead to ... 3. Less technology."
Bloomsbury Group. Too bad Steampunk wasn't the way they chose to be unconventional.
Also too bad that Keynes overgeneralized the point that the return on investment was lower during a recession, so saving was LESS valuable to believing it has zero value or negative value if the central bank is not actively inflation targeting.
"The gene pool could use an adult swim". Indeed. Idiotic viewpoints and their consequences, are yet one more way many homo sapiens demonstrate loss of survival instinct. When basic evolutionary mandates such as reproduction are ignored or even discredited (see DINKs videos online for instance), the gene pool will be reshuffled.
The "TFR debate" is often really a kind of one-sided one from the sterile and secular side bemoaning their extinction. I think it is too bad (myself being the issue of secular baby boomers), but it's also something that that subculture has already decided on. It's like they want some kind of magical intervention to rescue them from the consequences of their choices. But God helps those who help themselves. They also do not like hearing the answer that they will just be subsumed by more religious cohorts, and that the technological cavalry (which many have been predicting is really, this time, just behind the crest of the next hill for decades) is not going to be coming.
The story of Israeli internal politics is a miniature of this larger issue across the developed world. It also points to what will probably be the "surprise" in the future of developed East and South Asia; that secular hyper-grindset culture will be subsumed by more traditional strains. The failure of the highly competent secular population also puts more pressure on religious groups to accommodate modernity, which is to say to shirk ways of life that involve praying all day etc., so there is something for everyone to be grumpy about.
The talk on feminism seems to head towards a norm against shaming people. At least, slut shaming was not something Rebecca nor Michael wanted any part of.
Since changing behavior is based on incentives, eliminating the negative shaming incentive reduces the push to change behavior. That’s a mistake for all behavior, tho shaming for unchosen identity is wrong, like race or sex. Today, conservatives want to shame more shameful behavior, while progressives want to shame identities or tribes, including prejudice against MAGA Republicans.
Glad to see another Tove K link, with this rationalist mother of 5 noting that religious pro-life folk will likely demographically dominate the future, since it's the kids from pro-life folk who show up. She didn’t mention how so many pro-choice/ pro-abortion folks have no kids at all. But one thing many Libertarians don’t talk about so much in positive ways are kids, and how being a good, responsible parent conflicts a bit with individual pleasure. Which Tove’s prior post covered.
I am delighted to contemplate that Keynesian economics finds its source in anti-Victorian morality. I've heard it said that everything flows from John Locke hating his schoolmasters.
When society decides it wants more children, it will subsidize them more. If it wants more children from particular groups (e.g., people with high earning potential) it will steer the incentives toward them (e.g., by reducing the top marginal tax rates - for people with children). At present, society punishes higher-income parents ("breadwinners") absolutely breathtakingly badly, with "alimony" and "child support" transfers that treat their targets - people who are offered no opportunity, indeed, who are legally denied the opportunity to actually raise their children - like serious white-collar criminals. Today, the victims of this abhorrent practice are mostly men, but looking at college graduation rates there's a good chance that's going to change fairly quickly. And if you thought it was hard to get women to have kids when all they face is possible career implications, just wait until they get hit with family law transfers in addition.
I don't see any sign at all of this changing. I have to conclude that our "leaders" are not at all concerned about birth rates.