Mom delivers 16th child, thinking of more ~ NanoThoughts 1.0

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Mom delivers 16th child, thinking of more

OUt of Arkansas comes this news.
Please remind me to boycott the Discovery Health channel and the "Learning" channel.

Why do people think this is a good thing?


Jody said...

"Why do people think this is a good thing?"

Assuming I'm not paying for it (and based on the article, it appears that I am not), more power to them. Obviously, they place a high value on children and reproduction (as evidenced by "We both just love children and we consider each a blessing from the Lord. I have asked Michelle if she wants more and she said yes, if the Lord wants to give us some she will accept them,") and are acting in a way that maximizes their utility. (Plus I expect that like travel, half the fun of children is getting there.)

As to why they think it is a good thing, variety is the spice of life - everyone has a different set of preferences and actions towards fulfilling those preferences appear to be irrational to outside observers who do not share the same set of preference relations.

As to why Discovery/Learning Channel/CNN were covering this - because we learn by fitting new information into our schema, the unusual is always interesting.

Rog said...

Well, I disagree that others aren’t paying for it. We live in a world with finite resources (the least of which is food I might add) and having 16 kids is somewhat irresponsible in my opinion. Humans have to follow the laws of ecology just like every other species and when will we have enough people? 7 billion? 10 billion? 20 billion? Surely we can wipe out the majority of other species and cram maybe 30 billion onto the planet thereby maximizing our utility.

I can see a justification for people having these huge families in earlier times, but ever since the population explosion of the last 50 years, I would hope that educated people, which this couple seems to be a part of, would wake up and realize that you cannot keep having exponential growth and have every child grow up to live a long healthy life.

I agree that they obviously have a different set of preferences and that’s why they’ve done these actions, but I think they need to reevaluate those sets of preferences. However, I don’t think that their game theoretical model of if this is a good thing or not is very complex and they might want to include the utility of other actors on this planet.

Discovery and the Learning Channel are covering it not because they care about updating their viewers’ schemas, but instead they care about ratings and shit like this must get high ratings. (I’ve a similar thing on Extreme House Makover on ABC where Oprah gave a new house to a couple with a dozen kids.)

Jody said...

Feeling Malthusian are you? I think I'll respond to your Malthusian premise on polyscifi cause it's kinda long and an all too common thought.

As to the Discovery channel, I was skipping some logical steps and saying why it gets ratings (i.e. people find the unusual interesting because it doesn't fit into our schema. Because they find it interesting, they'll tune in. Because they'll tune in, DC has an incentive in showing it.)

heatkernel said...

Maybe they're starting a new monotheistic religion with 16 tribes? We need more of those.

Betcha didn't think of that, wise guy :-)

On a more serious note, I could also see an argument against this on the basis that 2 parents can't possibly give each of 16+ children the attention/love/discipline that they need and deserve. It would only get worse if something happened to one or both of the parents, which is always possible even in the modern world. In any case, they will inevitably end up getting raised by older siblings, something which happens to some extent even in families with "only" 5 or 6 children. In my experience of meeting people who have been in this situation, this rarely has a salutary psychological effect.

Ecologically, one or two families having 16 children still won't make much difference, in my opinion. But it is not good for the media to be promoting and normalizing it, if that's what they are doing.

Jody said...

Another quick side note, I actually didn't give a game theoretical model, I just described what they were doing in the language of economics.

Rog said...

Yeah, I was just riffing cuz economics is too individualistic (and simplistic) in its explanations of motivations most of the time. Whereas game theory allows for multiple actors who can enter into win-win situations.

I don't really like the term Malthusian as his ideas (or main idea) can be easily discredited. Instead the idea of carrying capacity from ecology is a better fit. And humans constantly raise their carrying capacity to the detriment of other species so as to allow for seemingly unending growth.

Jody said...

Just to clarify: you believe that any human advance comes at the expense of other species and that the reason that Malthus was wrong is because he didn't consider the idea that we could get more resources by taking it from other species.

Rog said...

No, I don't "believe that any human advance comes at the expense of other species." (Although, that is an interesting idea.)

And I believe Malthus's main point (that food increases arithmetically while population increases geometrically) is wrong. I'm not really a Malthus scholar, but I think he was trying to come up with something close to the current ecological law of "carrying capacity." The Earth's (and the solar system's) carrying capacity, the biosphere, and human beings and the relationship between these 3 things were what I was going for originally.

Rog said...

Although I might not like to be labeled as such, you might say that I'm a Clubber of Rome or Club of Romer, whichever it is. (I like the latter though.) But, I haven't really read The Limits To Growth, so I can't say for sure.

Your mention of "every human advance" does put a twinkle in my eye though and I wonder if one could come up with a definition of what that means exactly.