Questioning popular memes

Humans are not the enemy

There are only two ways that animals die.

With the exception of humans and their pets, there are only two ways that an animal will die and neither are very pleasant.  In the wild there are no retirement villages for animals, they face a future where generally speaking, they will either starve to death or be eaten. Generally speaking, because a small portion might not live long enough to starve or be eaten, but might die due to an accident or being killed in a fight with another animal. Hardly a better outcome.

The world without humans would not be an animal and plant utopia. It would be a cruel inhumane world where animals live most of their lives starving.  There would be little chance of a quick painless death. The reason is that in the wild, the population of animals is only limited by the available resources and predators.  The population will grow indefinitely until constrained by one of these.

Humans on the other hand not only look after animals much more humanely than their “natural” fate, but we also moderate our own population.  When humans are provided the opportunity to control their own fertility, then they invariably do, and accordingly we have seen the birth rate contract dramatically over the last century as advancements in technology has allowed.  As the availability of birth control, education, and urbanisation spreads throughout humanity, it is reasonable to expect that the global birth rate will fall below the replacement rate of 2.1 per woman, and we will see the world population level out, and then start to fall.  

The modern human is not like a virus – multiplying its numbers to the point where it exceeds the available resources.  We modern humans are not like gazelles, who when free from predators will multiply their numbers to the point where they are all starving to death. Modern humans simply don’t do this, but why not?

The short answer is that the behaviour of all life except humans is determined by genes, whereas the behaviour of modern humans is determined by genes, memes, and schemes.  It is the memes and schemes that freed us from the dystopian fate of outgrowing our planet and starving to death.

What to read next?

So now that you know that there are only two things that animals die of – would it surprise you to know that humans only die of one thing? As it turns out everyone dies of the same thing and it just might be preventable. “We are all going to die!” is normally “Members Only” but it is currently free to access – at least till the end of the coronavirus crisis or everyone dies – whichever comes first.


That which can be claimed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

Hitchens’s razor