[LMB] OT: freedom of choice (was: birth control)

John Cowan cowan at mercury.ccil.org
Thu Jan 17 21:42:08 GMT 2013

Lois McMaster Bujold scripsit:

> LMB:  Hm.  If this were so, presumably people would only neuter
> female pets.  In fact, both are recommended, as universally as
> possible, to slow the accumulation of unwanted and abandoned
> animals.

As far as I know, male animals are castrated basically to change their
behavior, including of course their mating behavior.  In any case, with
222 million women who wish to limit their fertility and who don't use
birth control, trying to reduce men's fertility is not going to make
much of a dent in that overall risk.

> It seems to me that there are two different agendas in play here,
> getting mixed up with each other: one, general-social-control, "stop
> population growth/stop those _other_ people from having babies", and
> the second, more personal control, "make sure each and every individual
> has absolute control over his or her fertility and body".

I'm basically concerned with the first, at least in this discussion
(which is about involuntary birth control).

> I do think the first would follow from the second, if it were only
> possible to effect, but they are not the same thing, quite.

Not at all.  Deduct those 222 million, and you still have the billions
of women who are trying (or at least not not-trying) to have children.
"Every ten seconds, somewhere around the world, a woman has a baby.
Our job is to find this woman and stop her."

> ...for the first few generations, at least.  After that everyone alive
> would be disproportionally descended from the more maniacal breeders,
> and we'd be back to square one.  Evolution really has come an amazingly
> long way for something with just one ratcheting mechanism.

It's unlikely that it's relevant here.  The demographic transition has hit
society after society much faster than gene-swapping could account for.

> (Who probably shouldn't go into her speculation of how to eliminate
> rape as a human behavior using the same methods farmers did to
> eradicate sheep-killing, another instinctive behavior previously
> heavily rewarded by evolution, from dog breeds.  Possibly better to
> wait for the shortcuts supplied by genetic engineering for that one...)

I didn't know there was any way to eradicate sheep-killing, except
dog-proof fences.  Dogs that have killed sheep are more likely than other
dogs to kill again, but the effect's a small one: most sheep killings
are by newbies, precisely because they don't know how to kill just a
few sheep efficiently, but mutilate whole herds to the point where they
can't survive.

At the end of the Metatarsal Age, the dinosaurs     John Cowan
abruptly vanished. The theory that a single         cowan at ccil.org
catastrophic event may have been responsible        http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
has been strengthened by the recent discovery of
a worldwide layer of whipped cream marking the
Creosote-Tutelary boundary.             --Science Made Stupid

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