January 28, 2009

The Wages of Evolution

Tim Worstall has an amusing post upon on a former NBA player’s fertility.  I recall joking with friends years ago that the birth rate in Seattle dropped after Shawn Kemp left the Supersonics; you might be interested to note that people actually believe me!  In any case, I would note that Jason Caffey’s exploits as a polygynous male are quite modest, in Albion’s Seed David Hackett Fischer notes that the average fertility in much of monogamous Puritan New England in the 17th century was on the order of 10-12 children per woman.  The key for long term Darwinian fitness is how many copies of one’s genes exist in the future, if short term considerations were overwhelmingly dominant humans would engage in clonal reproduction (which increases the number of one’s gene copies by a factor of two, all things equal).  I have argued in The Guardian for why simple analogies to nature should make us cautious as to the consequences of polygyny.

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