Necronomicon Convention
Linton Herbert
Bay Hilton, St Petersburg, Florida
Sunday 1 PM, October 25, 2009

Why extraterrestrials have not yet arrived.

First principle:  Everything breaks.

First conclusion:  Every life form must be able to reproduce. 

This takes genes of some sort, and genes break.

Second principle:  Life has been optimized, whether it arose by evolution, engineering or magic.  There are as many genes as mutation pressure will allow.  Unit genes must somehow be removed, which with humans is why not every fertilized egg becomes a pregnancy. 

Second conclusion: Genes reside on chromosomes.  That is because chromosomes are better able to resist mutation pressure.  They can eliminate more than one bad gene at a time, saving offspring.  More formal proof is at, the July 14, 2008 posting.

Cut to the chase: Lets build a population.

A population of 5 usually dies out.  (1, 10, 1000, 6, 100, 5, 100, 10, 100, 400, 40, 0.)
A population of 200 usually survives. (1, 3, 1000, 6, 100, 200, 100, 10, 100, 400, 40, 0.)
A population of 20000 takes longer.  We let it run. (1, 1, 1000, 6, 100, 20000, 100, 10, 100, 400, 40. 0.)

Here is what you get when you do populations of different sizes.

Computer generated graph of virtual population growth on the left and extinction rate on the right graphed against population size.

Let’s look at our big population.  It’s dead.

Here is what it looked like on one run:
Computer generated example of the

history of a virtual population that is allowed to become large.

So how does this compare with life on earth, our nearest planet?  In animals, here is growth rate graphed against population density.

Graph of a typical wild population over time comparing growth rate with population density. 

Real world data comparing average number of offspring and relatedness in Iceland, including a measure of the variability. 
                                                                                  (The man's name is Helgason,


When you look at grandchildren, the curve looks like this: 

An Association Between Kinship And Fertility of Human Couples.  Agnar Helgason,Snaebjoern Palsson, Daniel F. Guobjartsson, Pordur Kristjansson and Karl Stefanson, SCIENCE vol 329 8 February 2008 page 813 figure 3 C. 

Here is a study from Denmark that shows fertility against distance apart the parents were born.


Comment on “An Association Between the Kinship and Fertility of Human Couples,” Rodrigo Labouriau and António Amorim, SCIENCE vol 322 12December  2008 page 1634b


Here is 50 years of experience with births per woman for the world divided into developed,

less developed and least developed regions.   

UN numbers.  How to find them is described on August 25, 2008.  The vertical axis is the average number of children born per woman.  The horizontal axis gives the dates of the surveys.







Here is what you get when you put them together.

Composite graph of least developed counties from 1950 through 2000, less developed regions excluding least developed countries from 1975 through 2005, and more developed regions from 1970 through 2005.  The vertical axis is number of offspring per woman; the horizontal axis is discontinuous, but each bar represents a five year increment. 

This is what happens when an extraterrestrial civilization fails to control mating pool size.  The vertical axis is the chance of surviving the next 50 years.  The horizontal axis is the age of the empire. 

I lied.  That’s Chinese dynasties.  Every ruling class starts out as peasants.  The cycle starts out fresh every time. 

Here’s Mesopotamia.


Every civilization already has a history and is part way through its cycle when it takes over.

That’s why extraterrestrials can’t get here.  Their civilizations collapse before they can make the technological progress that could get them here.

Let’s look at some more places.  Here is Japan: 


Japan is a feudal society with powerful old families.  There is a shakedown period during which some family gets to be emperors but the others may not be happy with that at first.  Once the family is established it soon begins to have a reduced survival expectancy because it is already part way along its 300 year survival span.  The same plunge is visible at the end. 

Here is Egypt.  Egypt lies along the Nile and setting up an administration is difficult.  If you have a problem 20 miles upstream you don’t know what is happening on the other side of the rebellion.  It takes a couple of centuries of shakedown and about that time there is the three hundred year plunge.  A few survived. They seem to have come up with the answer to the demographic problem because they are almost immortal.

The Romans, the Mayans and the Chaco Canyon Anasazi Indians all established vigorous civilizations that underwent cycles, but none went through enough cycles to be statistically interesting.  Here is what happens when you pool them.

Experience of survival Roman, Mayan and Chaco Canyon regimes lumped together. 

England and ancient Greece are exceptions that can be explained. 

What is lacking is census data for the end of a community.  The closest thing I have been able to find is from the Anasazi Indians living in Long House Valley.  The population size was determined by finding every house that had ever been lived in in the valley and doing charcoal dates to find what years the house was occupied.  Then some number was taken for an average household size.  The chart also shows tree ring growth, which parallels the population to a certain extent, and the original article suggests that this is the only factor.

Jared M. Diamond, “Life with the Artificial Anasazi,” NATURE, vol 419 no 6907, October 10, 2002 p 567.

However their chart shows people living in much greater numbers than they calculate possible from the rainfall the tree ring suggest, and at the end, even though the trees were still growing better than they had for most of the time the valley was occupied, the population disappeared. 

Furthermore, if we look at the way the population increases, there are two kinds of years.  There are years in which there is a very small increase and there are years in which there is a very large increase.  The difference is so great that we must assume there are two ways for the population to increase:  either there is the natural increase of childbirth or there are people moving in.  So we know that when people move, they move in groups of several households at once. 

But except for a single possible exception, the fall is always in small steps.  That must be natural mortality.  People are dying of natural causes.  Famine, war or disease could cause a big drop in a single year, or there could just be people moving out.  But we never see that.  In the last plunge, there is no war, pestilence or famine.  People are just dying out right where they are. 

What it looks like is that at the very peak of population, the last house built and occupied was done when the people moving in were about 20.  At that time the birth rate had fallen to zero, and thirty years later, at the age of 50, they could no longer support themselves with the strenuous work of subsistence farming without young adults helping.

And the timing is just right.  Three hundred years from takeoff to crash, just like all the other societies we saw.

There is one additional clue.  About half way through, the population takes a dive and then recovers.  This dive cannot be because of low rainfall.  We already decided that rainfall is not causing the population to change.  The population is causing the trees to grow faster.  These are expert farmers.  No European has ever been able to have a farm in Long House Valley.  So these people know what they are doing.  Maybe it is the way they prune the trees or cultivate them or water or fertilize them.  One way or another, they are getting the trees to make the wood they need.  The fall in population must be genetic. 

If the population is undergoing cycles caused by genetics, we ought to see the same thing in other places.  Sure enough, when we look back at China and Japan, there is a dip in survival chance along about half way to the end. 

That may make it possible to time out our own civilization.  The Great Depression lasted through the 1930’s.  The population began to rebound in about 1940 to 42.  Those pregnancies were begun before the US was actually at war, although the Baby Boom is often attributed to World War II.  So if we take 150 years after 1940, our civilization should collapse as the youngest people are reaching age 50 in 2090.  The last person born in the United States whose ancestors were there for World War II, and presumably the last native European, should be born in 2040.  The mother of that person was born about 2000 and is now about nine or ten years old. 

By expanding and tweaking the computer program we looked at in the beginning, you can put together a set of parameters so that starting with a village that has had a chance to equilibrate and then letting it expand to the tens of thousands, the population size will oscillate.  And if you have tweaked it just right, it is more likely to collapse after the second cycle than at any other time. 

Of course we rounded our data to the nearest fifty years when we looked at the historical data, so we ought to say the last woman in the developed world who will ever have a child was or will be born within 50 years of 2000.  But do we have any evidence from anywhere else? 

Here is a 2005 graph of the age distribution of German males. The graph  has been flipped and turned to make it easier to follow

Age distribution of German males in the year 2005. 

Since few Germans die before the age of 20, we will use the last 20 years as a measure of German births.  They are declining.  Look at the last 8 years.  The fall is almost a straight line.  There are some notches earlier, where presumably they did voluntarily reduce their fertility.  But if you extend the line out into the future, saying the last German child would be born in 2040 or 35 years after the graph was made is not too much of a stretch.  I so, the last mother is now about 10. 

Look at it another way.  If we accept the, premise that essentially all the Anasazi were dying around the age of 50, then the peak number of households occurred when the population leveled off and the birth rate was the same as the number of 50 year olds.  Germans generally live to be older than 50, but we can still look at their age distribution and guess when the birth rate was equal to the number of people turning 51.  That would have been about 10 years before the information on the graph was collected or about 15 years ago.  By that reckoning, Germany and a lot of countries would be 15 years into their final dive. The final dive did not last much longer than 15 years, so that number is not plausible, but we do not expect a high degree of accuracy with such a crude approach.   

It is hard to believe that this has been going on everywhere in the world throughout history and everywhere people have been raising animals.  Actually, people who breed animals are very careful to limit population sizes.  It’s easy to make fun of them.  But they do keep animals from dying out under their care.

There is one clue that people might have caught on.    I am going to take a position here that I do not believe in.  I will tell you why not in a bit, but for now let us look at the evidence with the question in mind, “Could this possibly mean somebody knew?”

Here are the Ten Commandments.

It’s supposed to be a covenant.  Well it sounds like a covenant.  Verse 2 identifies the parties to the contract and when and where it was offered.  This is an interpretation as I said, that I do not accept.  Don’t give up whatever you do or don’t believe about this on my account.  But let’s just look at it asking, “Could this be a warning against having a gene pool that is too big?” 

Verse 3 gets right down to business.  No other gods.  Since marriages have, until recently, been held in religious sites, it implies don’t marry outside the group.  Verse 4 and half of 5 are making sure.  They repeat so there is no misunderstanding.  The second half of 5 is somewhat troubling.  We know it’s wrong to take revenge on grandchildren.  We’ve known that ever since we ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  But notice that the arithmetic is right.  Third and fourth generation – that’s what the UN numbers show.  That means this is not a threat, it is a warning. 

Verse 6 has a number also – thousands.  Not tens of thousands.
If there were 100,000 in the crowd and 12 tribes, that’s about 8,000 per tribe.  At say 14 per family, that’s something under 600 families.  Look back at the computer simulations.  Extinctions are on the right.  Extinction rates start high, fall into a kind of happy valley, where there are always children to laugh and play, and then rise again.  That is just at the edge of the valley.  8,000 works.  You might be able to sustain a population that big.  But it is pushing the limit.  That is what one would expect from the context. 

Verse 7 is another repeat.  It would seem we are supposed to take this seriously. 

Verses 8 through 11 seem out of place.  “Take the weekend off.”  That’s no commandment.  That is a blessing.  Christmas every week.  (Or for any pagans out there, Saturnalia every week.)

Verse 12 looks like a threat again.  “Honor your parents or I shall kill you.”  And the “that” or “so that” is in the Hebrew.  I checked an interlinear translation.  But it is a single word.  Elsewhere, often “so that” is represented by a change in the verb form.  In other words “so that” is a more modern way of saying the same thing.  The “so that” word occurs most frequently in Deuteronomy, rarely earlier and almost vanishes afterward.  In other words, it looks like an anachronism introduced by the Deuteronomist.  We even know his name.  He was Baruch ben Neriah.  (Ben Neriah is a patronymic, effectively a last name.  Generally people in scripture don’t get last names.  This was a man of no small ego.)  Drop the single word meaning “so that” that Baruch introduced, and you get.  “You make your parents proud.”  “You will live a long time.”  Two more blessings.  And there is another line of evidence.  In the book of Deuteronomy, they “found” an “old” copy of the law while renovating the Temple.  They brought the “discovery” to the king and found that it wasn’t exactly the same as the “newer” versions.  So they made a big deal of it and “restored the old version.”  Well it sounds like a setup to me.  Believe as you will.  We are just looking at this to see if it is possible that there was a warning. 

So it looks like we are in the second half of the contract.  The first half is simple.  “No other gods.”  In return we are being offered blessings.  And besides, the repeats have stopped.  Verses 13 through 17 also are blessings.  Anyone knows they are social dead ends if you violate them.  An American soldier in Vietnam who shot a Viet Cong was more likely to die of the emotional burden after returning home than he was to be killed by another Viet Cong at the time.  Having to kill somebody is a curse.

If you add up the blessings you can sum them up as, “And I shall make you decent human beings.”  That is the ultimate bribe.  Take away a man’s wealth and he will try to rebuild.  Take away his loved ones and he will grieve until he can reach out to people again.  Take away his health and he will try to recover.  Take away his self esteem and he will try to kill himself.  Nothing is more precious to us than believing we are worthy.

So it really looks like a covenant.  “Limit your gene pool size, and you’ll have babies and things will work out for you; you will be good people.”  It is called the Ten Commandments.  It is as if we were offered another chance at the Tree of Life and instead we said, “No, I’d rather take another munch out of the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”

But I am beginning to sound like I am preaching and Sunday isn’t for another week yet.

All I am saying is this.  If someone says, “That can’t be true.  Somebody would have noticed,” then I say, “You can’t prove nobody noticed.”   This may be a time when somebody may have.  The reason I do not believe it is that if that interpretation is right, if we were told that a large gene pool is a terribly bad thing and we changed the meaning of the message, then there would seem to be no hope that the idea will be accepted now. 

Years ago I was coming back from India on British Air.  The pilot directed us to look out the left side windows and said, “That’s Mount Sinai.”  This is what we were looking at.  It is the Arabian Mount Sinai.  The country is off limits for most of us.  There is also a Mount Sinai in Egypt, which is a tourist destination.  This one is pretty big.  It’s over two miles high.  I don’t know if there is limestone on it.  (You remember Moses burned the tablets.)  I don’t even know whether it has been explored. 




Here is Florida for comparison on the same scale.

There is also an Egyptian Mount Sinai.  It is a tourist destination.

We shall come back to this during the second hour as well.

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