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May 25, 2018

Kenneth M. Johnson

345B McConnell Hall, 15 Academic Way 
Sociology Department
McConnell Hall
University of New Hampshire
15 Academic Way
Durham, NH 03824
Phone:  (603) 862-1958 (McConnell), (603) 
Dear Professor:
A friend of my far off youth sent me a link to an article in The New York Times,U.S. Fertility Rate Fell to a Record Low, for a Second Straight Year” that quoted you as saying that the stubbornly falling birth rate is “one of the biggest demographic mysteries of recent time.”  It must feel like you have found a pile of dead babies big enough to make up the shortfall, but nobody else can see it.  I sympathize. 
There has to be a reason, and if it is a mystery then the reason must be something you do not already know and believe, and might come from somewhere other than academia.  (I’m too old for an academic appointment but I graduated from Harvard med and was briefly on the Johns Hopkins faculty, and have published one paper in a refereed journal, so I’m almost respectable.) 
To save you time, let me explode one delusion; if you can stomach that, you can handle the important stuff: We know inbreeding depression is real.  Just about everybody will say it’s because of having two bad copies of a gene getting together and that although first cousins can marry with a trifling increase in genetic problems over background, if first cousins continue to marry then bad genes pile up and serious problems ensue.  Bosh.  Ridiculous!  Rare and/or deleterious genes are cleared faster from a small population than from a large.  If that is not obvious you can find the proof here: or copied out:
Inbreeding depression is real, but that is not the mechanism.
Stay with me or those dead babies will haunt you forever.  The second delusion is: a bigger and more diverse population is always better because it gives evolution more raw material to work with.  In fact, selection is a race so speciation is a race.  Let us say it takes 2,000 generations.  Choose any number you like, but don’t go crazy and say 2,000,000 generations or we shall have words.  A population is separated, say by a glacier, for 2,000 generations.  When they get back together they cannot have fertile offspring.  This is ordinary allopatric speciation.  Now if the population grows to greater than 1,000 it will take the two most closely related chromosomes, two of any one kind per individual, 2,000 generations to get back together.  The population dies.  Extinction of the fittest isn’t something we talk about much, but attend.  If the population rises to 1,000 or falls to 1 (not a pregnant female) it dies.  Now 2,000 generations is a long time, so nature is under selective pressure to introduce a mechanism to maintain the population at some middling size and to do so in a time that is quite short compared with 2,000 generations.  If you want the longer story, watch or read
In fact, selection has obliged with a mechanism that has been shown to be in action by a man named Richard Sibly.
This pattern has been shown in Iceland or
and Denmark
I has been shown in the lab that a mouse population exposed to unrestricted natural increase will die out.
By now I think you get it.  If you follow the other links on
You will get the mechanism (it’s epigenetic with a form for which the computer source code is given, and a long more evidence. 
So what’s it to be?  Do we make common cause or do we skulk like common criminals?  I have some ideas.  The most obvious is for you to write a book.  I’ve quarried out material which is now at your disposal.  But I have not the strength to stitch it together nor the judgement of how it would best go together nor the passion to drive it home nor the patience to keep repeating key points.  The only reason you might want me as a co-author is for book signings.  It is ironic that as the end of life approaches I have more spare time.  I’m sure you have far less time and far greater productivity. 
Are we in this together?

Linton Herbert

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