March 23, 2019
Toby Mundy Associates Ltd
38 Berkeley Square
London W1J 5AE
Dear Paul Morland:
I have read The Human Tide, Publicaffairs, Hatchette Book Group, 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10104 with great interest. Well done. I am particularly struck with your air of compassion and make bold to offer you a chance to do something of an extremely compassionate nature … no, not for me.
First let me resolve a mystery your book starts with, then ask you to try to explain a mystery that I have run into and finally I shall get to the point.
Your own mystery is why England began to have a baby boom and to industrialize at the same time, not the usual pattern since then. At the cost of being cutsie let me put it this way: 1) The Come On – almost invariably mating precedes childbirth. 2) The Bait – The number of children cannot influence the kinship of the parents. 3) The Hook – But the kinship of the parents and among their parents determines the number of children with NO OTHER INFLUENCE. Of course, even as a world-renowned expert on population effects, you didn’t know that; almost nobody does. Yet the proof is right in your hand on the DVD (open in Word on Windows 10), and it is based on articles in refereed prestige science journals and a few crude experiments done with my own hands, which you could easily and cheaply duplicate.
Anticipating obvious challenges: Yes, selection and speciation and genetics had to produce this effect. Yes, it has been documented in over a thousand animal studies (as compiled by Richard Sibly – there is a curve along which any population in the control range has higher fertility at smaller size). Yes, this has been shown in humans, and it has been found among humans that once issues of kinship are accounted for, there is no effect on number of offspring that can be accounted for by income or education. Yes, this is a global phenomenon right now. Yes, our survival as a species is threatened. Yes, this is visible in history. Yes, the mechanism and even the chemistry behind the epigenetic process can be shown … and on and on; you can play that DVD over to your heart’s content.
Now we have the bent wire, let’s pick apart your first puzzle. England had been stable for a long time with an agricultural base. The society was so stable that – I understand – essentially every village recorded in the Domesday Book is still present. This can only have been true with zero population growth, which means that each partly isolated community managed by tradition, farm size and whatever other means to position and maintain itself on the rest point of the Sibly curve. Into this culture one introduces a bit of industry. A few move into town, sapping the size and thus enhancing the fertility of the villages. The process goes on with positive feedback. Now it would be more fun to talk about why the technology advancement and the Enlightenment happened at the same time, but it would be off topic. Closer to topic, Africa, however victimized by everybody else, managed to have modern humans longer than everybody else and yet remain underpopulated even without mass emigration, crowding to produce infectious disease or modern states to arrange big wars. Alas I suspect they were bopping each other over the head in great numbers all those years.
I have spent a happy few days reconciling the facts you copiously give us with the hard truth of the Sibly curve. Those things we like so much – peace, a decent income, health, education, women’s rights, and so forth – things we say reduce fertility all work but obviously they all increase social pool size; it all comes down to Sibly. And it all clearly, thanks to the work of Calhoun, threatens us with extinction. The first group to go extinct will be the productive middle class, taking with them our high-tech abilities and leaving 8 billion with not enough food for 2 billion. You can see the problem.
So here is my own puzzle; mind you I’d like to have something I don’t think right now because nothing I can think of works. Given the fundamental effect of the Sibly curve, why doesn’t anybody notice? When I bring it up, as I have with hundreds of experts, I get indifference, fear or anger in spite of the fact that no scientific insight ever accounted for this much without at least having a lunatic fringe squawking about it. Where am I going wrong? I’ve been onto this for some twenty to thirty years.
I’ve considered conspiracies, cussedness, extra – (in desperation) terrestrial influences, dark spiritual powers (also in desperation), stupidity, preoccupation, and a bunch of other dead ends. I’ve thought that maybe as outbreeding pushes people toward extinction it makes us blind to the truth. But this is supported by no evidence any more than the other ideas. The cause ought to make me scared or angry.
So if you’d like to do something compassionate, take the DVD as the work of a volunteer research assistant and publish that book. But whatever the opposing force is, I cannot give you any help with. I am utterly immune to it. This has become my whole life.