Most Dreaded Terror/YouTube
April 1, 2018
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I have a theory that depends on multiple extant disciplines but does not fit into any of them so there is generally no place to present it. But I see that the upcoming AAAS meeting next February will take in in interest in interdisciplinary studies, particularly with global implications, so I take heart and offer my work. At heart the theory is a computer program that models a hypothetical epigenetic mechanism following the established rules. I present it as it relates to known disciplines, numbering them as they appear.
1). Population genetics: If one limits oneself to simple genetic processes, inbreeding depression is enigmatic since it should purge a genome of rare mutations, as deleterious recessive genes must be, faster in a small population than in a larger one.
2). Evolution: Selection is a race, so speciation must be a race. Separated populations must undergo speciation at a moderate pace during which time their chromosomes lose the ability to combine to produce fertile offspring. If that time is 2,000 generations, then in a population of over 1,000 it takes more than 2,000 generations to find itself in a zygote with its nearest kin. Since this is true of all chromosomes and all parts of chromosomes in the population, the population must die out.
3). Natural history: There is thus strong selective pressure favoring a mechanism that promotes a stable moderate sized population with fertility rising rapidly when the population falls below a balance point and falls slowly below that point. A man names Sibly and team studied 1,700 serial field counts of animals and found this pattern, calling for the mechanism to be elucidated.
4). Genealogy: A study done using the extensive Iceland genealogies demonstrated the Sibly relationship in humans with very little room within 90% limits for any other factor affecting fertility.
5). Public health: Roughly contemporary work in Denmark again showed the Sibly relationship in humans, and this time they specifically addressed the question of choice; once issues of kinship were controlled (town size and distance between birthplaces of a couple) there was no effect of education or income on family size.
6). Global statistics: Looking at UN numbers over a 50 year span that show total fertility in 5 year intervals dividing the world countries into developed, less developed and least developed, it emerges that we are all looking at declining birth rates down to below replacement; the three segments are just at different points along the came curve.
7). Captive entomology and 8). Epigenetics: A captive population of fruit flies showed that counts followed a pattern of damped oscillation that then repeated, indicating that the flies did indeed provide a laboratory model for the Sibly relationship. Furthermore, the rate of change of the fertility was far too fast for it to be DNA mutations; the mechanism had to be epigenetic.
9). The computer model: It was found that a previously developed computer model using only a post-zygotic mechanism also followed a pattern of damped oscillation. This program was later extended, but since nothing of the sort exists elsewhere I count it as a discipline of its own.
Natural history: A pattern of damped oscillation has been found in a number of studies of European vole populations.
10.) History and 11). Ancient history: A review of the survival experience of civilizations in lower Mesopotamia, regimes in Rome and among classical Mayans and Ancestral Puebloans, Egypt and dynasties in China and Japan all show chance of survival falling with age with a brick wall at about 300 years. Since outside threats should be unrelated to age of the power and inside factors should show increasing survival value by virtue of selection, the conclusion can only be that dynasties and civilization fall because of slowly accumulating infertility over about 10 generations, falling along the Sibly curve with a crisis at the end.
12). Archeology: Native American farmers in Long House Valley in the American southwest died out like the more conspicuous powers or history. They showed a dramatic notch in their population curve with two peaks the second higher than the first before collapse. The same notch is seen less dramatically in Chinese and Japanese dynasties.
13). Rodent plagues: Counts of mice in Australia, monitoring outbreaks of extreme mouse population rises show the same double peak as humans and more commonly much higher single spikes.
14). Study of gametes: Deer mouse sperm bind to kindred sperm but not to only remotely related sperm. If the same mechanism can bind a sperm to a related ovum better than to a remote ovum, the stage is set for a pre-zygotic component to the Sibly curve.
15). Behavioral science: A man named Calhoun decided to study the behavioral effects of overcrowding so he built a cage, put in four male mice and four female mice and watched for years. He was not disappointed. The population grew until there was crowding, but never sufficient to exceed food, water or nesting sites availability. The mice fought a lot. Some of the males drew off by themselves and did nothing but groom. Males lost interest in females, and this persisted even when the males were removed to less crowded circumstances. The mice selected on corner of the cage and crowded in, apparently assigning high status to nesting in that area. Tellingly, the population grew exponentially, then more slowly, then all live births stopped.
16. Mate choice: A man named Bateson contrived to have Japanese quail show their preference for members of the opposite sex. The birds preferred to take an interest in potential mates that were closely but not too closely related, just as one would expect if selection had prepared them to live under the influence of the Sibly curve.
17. National statistics: A man named Robling assembled and presented a massive amount of data for many countries over time. Among the statistics gathered were total fertility and age of first marriage for women. Following the time course of the numbers, each country, beginning with rich ones, had – each in it’s own time – had a precipitous fall in birth rate which then leveled off below replacement followed by in inexorable rise in age of marriage approaching menopause. The pattern is consistent with pre-zygotic infertility, which saturates at some level and then gives way to post-zygotic infertility, closely mirroring the experience with the Calhoun mice.
18. Wild entomology: Studies of weevil infestations of newly planted Canadian forests showed populations spike, drop, tend to level off and then go extinct much as Calhoun’s mice and the national statistics.
19. Reestablishing populations extinct in the wild: A program to reintroduce black footed ferrets into the wild, where they had gone extinct, appeared to be failing after multiple attempts. The attempt was suspended, but on returning the workers found that a few ferrets survived and over the next few years showed exponential growth. Evidently the workers had consistently created less than ideal kinship in the Sibly relationship, but given time to ferrets got their population down, their kinship up, and with kinship now greater than the Sibly rest point expanded explosively.
The computer model: returning to the expanded computer model I walk the listener through it for a while and then show that it can produce the damped oscillation of fruit flies and voles, the double spike and collapse of dynasties and of Australian mice and the peak with leveling off before collapse of Canadian weevils, Calhoun’s mice and evidently modern rich societies.
20. Human behavioral science: it could be argued that damped oscillation is the product of Bateson cousin affinity while the double spike and extinction is the product of status seeking.
21. Pharmacology: Following the lead that epigenetics might be at the heart of the Sibly relationship and there might be pre-zygotic infertility, post-zygotic or both, I gave the captive fruit flies a diet with a toxic, non-lethal dose of folic acid to boost methylation of DNA and then slowly reduced the dose counting them the while. The response was complex, which occurs when the program runs pre-zygotic and post together but not in my experience when there is only a post-zygotic mechanism in play.
22. Toxicology: Reviewing the effect of folic acid I suspected that the concentration recommended for pregnant or potentially pregnant women might be significant. I took a few vials into which I placed their feeding formula, some controls and some fortified according to modern medical practice and found a reduced fertility over a few generations.
23. Study or religion: If a religion permits its members to cooperate with outsiders but only marry within a congregation, it might be able to seize the blessings of civilization without sacrificing needed fertility. This could maintain a large community at the Sibly rest point. If one peruses scripture, one might arguably suspect an awareness of the Sibly curve from the stories of Adam, Moses and Lot, but useable statistics would not be forthcoming. Daniel was present at the fall of one of those Mesopotamian civilizations with only a hint at the demographic cause. If a study of the clay tablets of the time, or at any time in the history of Mesopotamia when clay tablets were kept, if such a study revealed sufficiently extensive birth records, that would be of interest.
24. Study of politics: If it is argued that the world is experiencing a rise in nationalism and populism, the suggestion might be made that those who prefer such attitudes are less likely to marry outsiders and thus have a demographic advantage with a higher birth rate. In theory this could be tested statistically, but gathering statistics would be most problematic.
Conclusion: Although an argument could be made that since people, like mice, seem to be driven by status over love, we are doomed, there is likely a way out. For instance biologically prudent mating could be considered a status symbol, and might result in more loving than our present strategy. As for that pesky inbreeding, it is accounted for by the same computer program.
These assertions of course need further explanation, illustrations, graphs and references. I am putting such things into a series of YouTube talks, about 15 minutes long each and about 32 projected. So far I have posted through “13)” above with drafts through “20).” I hope to have it all done and posted within a few weeks.
If you find another theory that addresses a couple dozen disciplines and addresses an existential threat to humanity, do let me know. You may have to upgrade your format.