Re: virus: <Semi>-Natural Selection of Methuselah

Lior Golgher (
Tue, 14 Jan 1997 21:05:48 -0800

I wrote (clipped):
> =IF=>We raised retirement age to let's say 80 years
> =then=> Only those with a life expectancy bigger than 80 would recieve
> their well-earned pension and spend the rest of their lives peacefully
> =then=> They would have more leisure to spend taking care of their
> grand-children
> =then=> The burden of taking care of their grand-children would be
> smaller to their children
> =then=> Their children would be capable of having more offsprings and\or
> spend more time on their career and\or paying more attention to their
> offsprings.
> =then=> Those offsprings (the 80+'s grandchildren) would obtain a
> dominant evolutionary position.
> =then=> Possible genetic causes for long life expectancy would obtain a
> dominant position
> =then=> Average life expectancy would pass the 80
> =then=> We'd raise retirement age to 90.
> and so on.

Then Kenneth Boyd responded:

Gender asymmetry strikes!

[ASSUMING vaguely conventional family and legal structures]
It would take some effort [multi-generation natural selection or genetic
engineering] to boost menopause to 70 years of age [I'm sticking with my
100 cutoff quote], thus enabling children to require support for women
of that age.

There is no such limitation for men in the first place.

Monthly period isn't necessary to carry out baby-sitting.

As for the gender asymmetry - Men indeed keep producing sperm until,
well practically until death.
And yet senescence, menopause and wrinkling make 70 year old men just
about as attractive and as fertile as women of the same age.
Ignoring exotic tabulator stories ("80 year old dope married Mis
Arizona"), and assuming most people wouldn't like to die of old-age with
their 3-year-old son around, I don't think that gender asymmetry would
ever be significant.

What about other genetic enhancements achieved by social security
manipulations... Any thoughts?