are we breeding ourselves into extinction

was watching a program about selective breeding in dogs, and how, by selecting the most squished-faced dog to breed with, they got the pug, and how the pug has more problems than joy, one of them not being able to give natural birth, so a vet has to perform a c-section.

and it got me thinking, arent we (the white/european bunch) doing pretty much the same. we prefer skinny women. with toit bums and slim hips. slim hips arent the best idea for easy births. a whole bunch of career driven women are opting to not have kids, or wait untill they are 40 (which means fertility treatment, which increases her likelyhood of falling pregnant, whereas she might not have conceived, due to bad genetics or whatever), or adopt (who the hell knows what manner of crap is in that kid’s DNA).

fertility treatment in itsself is evolution-defeating. if your sperm/egg is to weak to pro-create, then you are not supposed to have spawn. only the strong survive.

if, for the sake of argument, there was to be a technological armageddon. no hospitals to perform c-sections, thus slim hips will have plenty women dying in childbirth. (this is now a future hypothesis). the fat, bulky chick will pro-create no problem.


This was a topic of debate in my house a while back, modern medicine made it possible to carry unviable pregnancies to term, which is resulting in vast amounts of children with severe handicaps to survive, this in turn results in society having to look after them at the cost of children that can possibly contribute to the future, a rather nasty circle imo.

I dont believe that at this point of time that with our technology (medical and otherwise), that we’d breed ourselves out of existence anytime soon, but the possibility certainly is there. The odds are that we’d deplete our resources before we get to the point of depleting our DNA, and we’ll have to revert to the “survival of the fittest” scenario once again.

No. Species commonly breed to the point where they start to destroy their environment through sheer pressure of numbers, then they suffer a population collapse, their environment recovers, and the whole sorry cycle repeats itself. I had hoped that our species would be intelligent enough to reign rein itself in before we ruined the planet (even if only temporarily) but it seems I was wrong. I wouldn’t like to be a child born today.

Don’t worry about the skinny chicks–they are merely a fad–worry about the fact that almost the only people enthusiastically reproducing nowadays are the traditionally-built poor in 3rd world countries–the very people who cause the most environmental damage, and the very people who can least afford to bring up children with the degree of education required for our species to weather the storm that is about to overtake it.

we prefer skinny women. with toit bums and slim hips. slim hips arent the best idea for easy births.

It’s all fashion and short-lived. Have you seen popular music videos lately? Chicks with chunk in the trunk shaking that booty straight at the camera to show off their voluptuous behinds. That’s the current trend that seems to be replacing coked-out-runway-skeleton-chique, but in the past, for instance, the romans and greeks also favoured a bit of meat on the bone, and forgive me for speaking out of my generation but, wasn’t it that way in the 60’s too?

Moreover, skinny is not always equals to slim hip bone structure.

More Moreover, I was aligned incorrectly and would’ve died during childbirth if not for a C-section, and I think I’m pretty cool TYVM. :stuck_out_tongue:

And what about clothing then? Point being we humans do a lot of stuff that allow us to survive that animals don’t. A human wouldn’t last very long in the wild without tools, clothing, farming, hunting tactics, traps, etc. SO our defining characteristic is our brain, and our ability to manipulate our environment. Our fitness level is no longer dependant on physical traits. It may become again, but as above, I don’t think it’s a long-term problem.

Not true. If that were so, nobody would die prematurely, including from such causes as miscarriages, stillbirths, crib deaths, assorted diseases, etc. Also, our ability to think up solutions depends decisively on the presence of a capable brain. Unless you’re arguing for some kind of dualism of mind, such a brain is demonstrably a physical trait. Ditto resistance to a wide range of pathogens, as well as the ability of the human immune system to “learn” to recognise and attack new pathogens. These are all physical traits. Furthermore, in biological evolution, “fitness” is a statistical measure of how well aligned a species (or a subgroup thereof) is to the demands imposed on it by its environment (which includes other species and members of an individual’s own species). I don’t know how often this point needs to be made before it finally sinks in. It has near enough nothing to do with how any given individual shapes up. By sheer chance, a well-adapted individual can die young without offspring, while a poorly adapted individual can die old with many offspring. Fitness is determined by the aggregate outcome of the mutual interaction between species and environment. The fact that we humans are able to manipulate ourselves and our environments to a far greater degree than any other species we know of in order to increase differential survival rates for our own fellows doesn’t suddenly shelve evolution. Indeed, these abilities are themselves products of evolution.


i think the point i’m trying to make, is that, if the shit hit the fan tomorrow, and, like in Brian’s book, we were thrown back into ‘stone ages’ kind of living, ie: no clean running water, no electricity, no medicines… the western world would be screwed. we have no idea how to manufacture even the most basic things, like cloth. the percentage of humans in the western world that have an actual skill applicable in a non-industrialised world, is very little.
who can build a home? who knows how to make cement or bricks from scratch? who can make a poultice for a wound from stuff in the veldt?
and yes, we have adapted to clothe ourselves and be successfull. but it’s a very niche existance. we have painted ourselves into a corner. we are desperately dependant upon machinery. to milk our cows, irrigate our crops, manufacture medicines… if the paw-paw hit the fan, and all motherboards got frizzled, we are screwed. most if not all data and knowledge is contained on some form electronic format. you know how to make an engine, because the factory machines run off a computer. who would be able to make a car from scratch? who has that knowledge anymore.

Short of a global devastation, no more (or less) so than any other species whose environment undergoes a significant upheaval. Certainly, it would hardly spell the end of H. sapiens sapiens or the mass extinction of same. If anything, humans are more likely to overcome a major disruption or calamity because we are more easily adaptable to new circumstances than other species. While we wouldn’t like it much because we are, after all, creatures of habit, we would understand what the needs are, and so it wouldn’t put a full stop to humanity. While fatality rates might increase, perhaps even appreciably, it would merely force us, as a species, to realign our priorities and endeavours with our new circumstances. Two or three generations later, everything will feel normal again, irrespective of how radical the change may have been.

Actually, it’s not. Most information is still contained in printed format, i.e. books, magazines, journals and newspapers.


Only those totally ‘modernised’ and dependent on technology would be screwed and find it difficult to survive.Ironically the more primitive people would have a distinct advantage in a primitive and utterly merciless world. In my book 95% of all humans are killed with small pockets surviving the disaster; the survivors of the Airbus 380 crash become the seeds of a new world like the mythical Noah’s descendants. If this were to happen (say due to a massive meteor strike), and mankind’s accumulated knowledge and information is largely destroyed (books etc) H. sapiens sapiens will be forced to revert to the law of the jungle, learn skills long forgotten (e.g. curing and cutting leather from animal skins with flint stones, hunting etc). Mefiante is however correct IMO: humans are more adaptable and will survive; they are also cunning, cruel and merciless.

My new book (not published yet) describes them this way :

“Flung back in time, and required to survive by their ability to gather food and protect the very scarce resources such as water and shelter, many perished while the strong preyed on the weak. Without access to modern technology and weapons of mass- or other-wise destruction, many pockets of those who had survived, became as savage and territorial as their distant cousins; gorillas, orang-utans and other primates. Over time, they would regress even further to resemble the hominids of the Pleistocene era, clothed in animal skins, hunting with spears and bows and arrows. With his brain, relatively intact yet developed during the modern era, the cunning of the planet’s most violent species had increased tenfold.”

This sounds like one of those fabulous sci-fi books from the '70s Brian! Perhaps written by someone like Harry Harrison or Arthur Kapp. :wink:

It’s a good read lurkie. And I don’t finish I book I don’t find captivating.
AND mine is signed!

Thanks Lurkie and you GCG …It’s also available now on Kindle (the 2nd corrected edition) at for those who would prefer to read the digital version. I actually had a fight with my publishers regarding this (take note Steve) but they conceded the point that they did not have the digital rights, so Amazon now have those.

By “physical traits” I misspoke, again. I was referring to “hard physical labour/activity” stuff you’d need for survival as an “animal” like “can you chase down a prey and kill it with your bare hands/teeth” kind of thing. I’ll try to sharpen up my lingo, because I definitely realise a brain is a physical trait.

I doubt it’d be as dire as that. I think we’d be thrown back a bit, MAYBE the bronze age at a stretch, but no-way beyond that. We might not be able to produce computer chips and precision engineering. But we’d know enough to re-build a non-primitive society rapidly, and we have the gift of language and writing, so even taking away all the books, we would still be able to spread the required information.

To illustrate:

ie: no clean running water

Natural springs, streams, rivers… Go hiking in “untouched country” and you realise clean water is not THAT big a problem.

no electricity

You can get it from almost anything, I would envision a coal-fired steam engine putting out enough power for basic needs. (keep reading)

no medicines....

Uhm, why? We know what we need, we know where to get it, pharmacists are frikkin everywhere. YES maybe not at the level we have today, but we wouldn’t be stuck with “none”.

we have no idea how to manufacture even the most basic things, like cloth.

Grow cotton, pick, spin, weave/knit. Grannies knit every day, some people take this shit to extremes (read on…). You can do it with the most basic of tools (like, say, every society ever known, excluding cave-man) But at a stretch you can do what people did before that and wear animal skin, however I highly doubt it’d come to that.

who can build a home? who knows how to make cement or bricks from scratch?

Venda people, Xhosa people, people who’ve ever been in a mud hut, or who can watch someone else doing it. Anyone who has worked at a brick factory, or thought about baking earth to make it hard.

to milk our cows


irrigate our crops

Really?! People figured this shit out millennia ago, and even I, who am not a farmer, have seen how it works, because a lot of small-time farmers still use it. You dig trenches, you have a corkscrew in a pipe (I forget what it’s called), to raise water from a river into your irrigation trenches.

all motherboards got frizzled, we are screwed.

Yeah I don’t think we are. SOME of us may be, but I think civilisation would return in short order. Our gift is not our tools, our gift is our knowledge, and you’d be surprised how much of it is still in the heads of many modern people.

you know how to make an engine, because the factory machines run off a computer.

Actually I know how to make one because I saw a dude make one out of raw material, made the cast out of sand, melted and cast the metal himself (from a home-made furnace, which I saw made out of mud and a container), the whole deal. We use modern tools to do it quicker, but he didn’t need no computer or modern manufacturing facility. It’s not THE BEST engine in the world, but it runs. Stuff like this act like a bootstrap, now you have electricity (after winding some copper) they help us advance much quicker once we know how to do it. I think you underestimate how passionately people are about doing stuff like this in their free time. We have ancient skills in our midst every day. And ALL this assumes these people are useless at salvaging tools from what’s left of the modern era.

who has that knowledge anymore.

More people than you think.

Archimedes’ screw, I think.

ok. in your circle of friends. who can weave? who knows how to dig proper irrigation? who knows how to build a furnace? who knows where to dig up the right soil that contains the right amount of iron to smelt?
the people who are knowledgeable in these things, are few and far between.
do you know how to milk a cow boogie? would you know what to do when your cow has mastitis?
it’s all nice and good to say that, sure, some dude who works at a brick factory knows how to make bricks. cool. does he know where the raw materials come from? no. he just does what the baas tells him to do. and the baas has suppliers who sells him the right sand/mud. mister baas of the brick making factory just knows how to stick everything together.
who knows how to make cement from scratch? it took people ages to get the recipe right. raw materials needed for plenty of stuff we take for granted, are not local, or even in our country.
sure, build a mud hut. how long will take you to build it? do you know how to stack the stones just right so it doesnt collapse on you when the first rain comes.
sure, some blokes in the rural areas can build cool pozzies. they cant help you when joburg gets flattened by whatever. they are lank far away.
sure, go to a pharmacy. and when they run out of myprodol? do you know where to find a painkiller in nature? do you know which willow’s bark will help you, and which will give you the runs? do you personally know anybody that does?

the few and far between people that will be usefull in an apocalypse situation, wont be handing out their knowledge like candy, they will hang on to it, and you wil kak to get even medicines, tools, cloth…
while i can think, sure, i will grow my own crops, without a nursery around the corner (where i can get in my car and drive quickly), where i can get seeds, fertilizer, pesticides,… i would be growing what the hell ever seeds i can pinch, beg or steal off other people.

if shit happens, and say, continental slip happens, and cities are leveled and covered by water, there will be precious few reserves to go and loot a pickn’pay for.
you say, grow cotton, weave. awesome. where does one find cotton seeds? when do you sow cotton? how do you keep fungus/bugs off it? find a sheep, shear it. cool. where do you buy your shears again? who makes shears? the blacksmith. do you know a blacksmith? how many smithies are there in johannesburg?

my point is, you are trying to make it sound like it will be business as usual, like knowledgeable people are abound. they are not. when the paw-paw hits the fan, you will be stuck, and will have access to maybe a 20km radius of human interaction. by the time the initial panic have calmed down, and people have realised that they will have to start growing their own crops to survive, breed their own livestock, make their own tools… all the available pre-kak supplies will be depleted, or monopolised by government or militia or gangs or whatever. regular joe-soap is screwed. you wont be able to get in your car, and drive to the free-state to go find a farmer that can teach you how to irrigate your crops.
while in the platteland, they might hardly notice the shift in industry, we here in the city, are fooked really.
and trade will take a good few years to establish. we can barely keep a protest march civil, how quickly will humanity dissolve into chaos. law enforcement will have little effect. if you are hungry, a cop can shove his bullets up his ass. and bullets run out. and diesel for caspirs run out. and there is no money to pay soldiers. they will piss off at the first mention of no pay. paper money will be useless.
yes, humans are adapable and will figure it out. but stable, logical, practical humans are mightily outnumbered by people who are just plain stupid, or have no skills to bring to the party. i think the percentage of western humans that have a practical skill, like making bricks, making a healing poultice, is minute.

I think you severely underestimate human inventiveness and adaptability, especially in needful situations. Why do you think we have to do things the same way they are done at present? Why do you think that people won’t find other ways of achieving necessary things such as shelter, clothing, safety, nutrition, medicine, etc? They may not be as slick or precise or efficient as they currently are, but over time these methods and practices will be refined and improved upon. It took just a few hundred years to get us from a primitive pre-scientific, preindustrial situation to where we are today. Furthermore, the knowledge we have today — knowledge that humans didn’t even have in those bygone days — won’t simply disappear in its entirety, and will be useful. If you took the trouble to read some books on how to perform some unfamiliar-but-essential skill, you’d learn pretty quickly by hands-on trial-and-error what to do, where the pitfalls lie, and what to guard against and how.

Nobody is claiming that after a severe disruption it would soon be business as usual, but humanity wouldn’t go extinct just because few people know exactly how to plant and tend crops or build a modern house from scratch. Globally, the overwhelming majority of people in any case do not have access to the amenities we take for granted, and they’re not going away any time soon.


I can weave (from scratch). I can also scavenge a veld for edible roots and goodies, marogh grows freely all over in the wild, I also know how to create a ground oven and taught my kids how to do it too. I’m good (not an expert, but good) at recognising wild herbs. I’m not useless when it comes to hunting/trapping (dont like it but will kill for food if need be) and can skin a buck and know how to cure the skin. I’ve built a reed house and know the type of mud (clay) you need to pack it with nicely, and with a bit of maintenance, it can last for seasons. Most of us know that camomile soothe itchy bites and burns, and that Mary-Jane will chill you out, go think about what you know about basic medicines, I think you’d be surprised how much you know.

I’m just a chick from Jo’burg that has an interest in all the “old” ways of doing things. Now imagine what a born and bred farm child will be able to tell you.

We forget what we dont use. Once you’re in a spot, you’ll figure it out. As for engines and mechanics, most people have some knowledge, throw that together and you’ll have yourself sorted with all sorts of cool gadgets very quickly. Some very basic physics knowledge will sort out ovens and air flows and stuff too.

Faerie, that is super cool. I wish I knew as much.

It’s nice that everyone is so optimistic about the human race’s chances at survival. I am, obviously, a bit more skeptical.

Globally, the overwhelming majority of people in any case do not have access to the amenities we take for granted, and they’re not going away any time soon.

i did specifically say western(ized) world.

If the world gets flattened in the manner that you envisage, then most of the population will be gone too. There will be no masses, nor will law enforcement be needed in that scenario. If some dude gives you lip about god being his saviour because he survived the initial drama, you’ll bop him on the head with a rock and there will be nobody around to chuck you in the chookie - its all good! :wink:

Go read… and google will give you step by step info on just about anything you want to create, build, or cook from scratch.

Actually, this is a good idea for that winter’s thread, little projects to do.

Indeed you did, but several westernised societies have only limited or even no access to the benefits of modern living.

You also started this thread and gave it its title.