The Mis-Measure of Men
following "tale of two men" illustrates something. It could be the
fortunes and failures of men, the role of makers and takers in
society, or the evolution of a gene pool. It was inspired by a
passage in my book Midnight Thoughts (item 1996.05.14).
Let's begin with a quote of that item:
Nature has always pitted quantity in competition with quality. Sociobiology uses the terms K-strategy and r-strategy to represent the merely prolific versus those who invest greatly in a small number of offspring. My daughter visited former neighbors after a 15-year absence and reports that their household has so far produced approximately 50 children and grandchildren. Costello, the patriarch, is about my age, and just lost his waiter job, and his only son is in jail; but his many daughters have borne babies dutifully and unthinkingly. Whereas his genes can count 50 new carriers, mine can count two - with a prospect of none in the next generation! I may be more worldly, with secure employment and notable achievements, but to my genes I am a failure!
Costello was enslaved by his genes, and has done well by them, I
have lived a life enslaved to ideas. I have enjoyed figuring
things out in various fields: atmospheric science, aviation
safety, sociobiology and astronomy. By traditional measures I have
been a success (170 journal publications, 6 books, NASA awards,
etc). When it comes to my civic duty of voting, I am informed by
reading newspapers, magazine articles, books and TV news programs.
I consider myself to be an asset to society.
society, however, might have a different view of me. My vote is
just one among many. I haven't contributed any sons for the
Fatherland's use in war, and my daughters are childless. From the
standpoint of the human gene pool, I'm a failure!
the human gene pool, and how it may have changed during my
lifetime. When I was born, 77 years ago, the world's population
was 2.2 billion; today it is 3.2 times greater. No doubt, the
quantity of the human gene pool has increased, but what about
quality? Sadly, I think humanity is getting dumber! Even worse,
since the modern world is an easier place for sociopaths to thrive
I think it is inevitable that the incidence of sociopathy,
presently 10%, is rising. Measuring mankind by its numbers is
misleading, because while the numbers are increasing the quality
often wondered "Where are the musical composer giants that were so
numerous during the 19th Century (when the world's population was
1/6th of its present value)?" and "Where are today's scientific
geniuses, the likes of Newton, Darwin and Einstein?" The
apologists for today will point to computers, the internet and
space exploration. Yes, these are great accomplishments, but they
are the products of a tiny cadre of engineers. The life sciences
have also advanced in great strides; chief among them is
sociobiology. But the bulk of humanity is being pulled forward by
a diminishing elite. Surveys consistently reveal that half of
Americans believe in the stupidest things.
is a noble idea. However, democracy is fragile, for it requires a
sustained vigilance by an informed and well-meaning citizenship.
When democracy is described as the least worst system of
governance, this is equivalent to saying that humans are incapable
of governing themselves. The human condition will remain unstable
for as long as sociopaths are able to corrupt every form of
governance devised, and for as long as the bulk of humans remain
stupid. Since both conditions prevail today, and since both
sociopathy and stupidity appear to be on the rise, I am
pessimistic about humans finding that elusive winning place.
hope for humanity is in space! Colonies that are precarious in
their conquest of harsh conditions will be less tolerant of
sociopaths, and more rewarding of good men. It is ironic that the
only possible winning place for humanity is an escape from a
humanity that mis-measures men.
ReferencesGary, Bruce L., 2014, Genetic Enslavement: A Call to Arms for Individual Liberation, Create Space: link