Some more thoughts on choice:
A couple of weeks ago at the meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, we heard an address by former president Bill Clinton.  At the end of the talk he was asked what silver lining there might be in the current economic doldrums.  He answered, “Now people might have fewer babies.”  There was laughter and general applause.

It took me this long for it to sink in.  When did poverty ever result in fewer babies?  I’ll tell you when.  It happens if you are depending on expensive medical treatments in order to have a baby.  In other words, it is just the babies with the best opportunities and who are most eagerly desired who vanish.  Those are not citizens the world want to lose.  Otherwise poverty and fertility travel, and will travel until people learn, hand in hand.

So his remark is irrational.  He’s a bright man.  He knows that. 

The second shocker is that I can remember when politicians kissed babies.  It was sort of a joke, but it won them votes.  Now we have a politician, and a supremely successful one, expressing an aversion to babies, and an irrational aversion at that. 

So things have changed.  As I mentioned while describing the wonders of Gapminder, it looks like woman, when they become sufficiently infertile began to lose interest in have babies at all.  And they lose that interest before they get married and discover that they are infertile.  Now Clinton has put the clincher on it. 

It appears that Mother Nature is messing with our minds.  It is not choice in the sense that most people know what they are doing.  It is not choice in the usual sense if it is mandated by genetic or epigenetic factors.  But yes, it is sort of a choice after all.  The usual mechanism seems to be effective down to an infertility of about one per couple, then it appears to saturate out.  That last one is slated to be eliminated by a false choice.

My next summary will be posted here on December 24.

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