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Men are NOT going to go extinct

Tuesday, 15 July, 2008

Men are soon going to be useless, so there will be no more men. At least, that is the view of Dr Robert Sparrow. I’m sure he is just being tongue-in-cheek, because men are not going to go extinct. Well, not before women anyway.

Dr Sparrow, lecturer in bioethics at Monash University (Melbourne, Australia), argues that females have a more ‘open future’ than men. The open future argument is a fairly common one in bioethics since Joel Feinberg first argued that we should place as few limitations on the possible options available to our children (in the context of whether Amish families should be able to withdraw their children from schooling). Dr Sparrow explains that:

I do think that when philosophers start talking about using medical technology to achieve things that aren’t about health, so increasing people’s IQ or life expectancy for example, you have to ask why we shouldn’t all be girls.

Since an all-female world could reproduce using either frozen sperm, human sperm grown in mice, or even cloning, if the goal is long-lived, smart kids, then females are the way to go. But there are two main problems with this argument.

First, while men do have a lower life expectancy than girls, they are not significantly less intelligent. In fact, as the variation in intelligence is greater in males, most genius embryos will be males. In addition, the male brain excels at certain types of intellectual tasks, such as mathematics and spatial logic. It is not entirely due to sexism that most engineers, physicists and mathematicians are men.

Second, intelligence is not the only characteristic to be considered in the ‘open future’ argument. Men have greater lung capacity, more red blood cells, increased muscle growth and are better at detecting movement in their visual field. Therefore choosing to have a female child could limit the child’s future in the military, law enforcement, manual labour or other physical tasks; by choosing a male child, you could open up the possibility to run the 100m sprint in less than ten seconds. So really it depends what sort of futures you want to open and what ones you want to limit, rather than just trying to measure limitations numerically.

These are major problems with the “right to an open future” argument. Often opening up one part of a child’s future involves closing another. For example, giving a child tennis lessons in her youth uses up time that could be spent learning equestrian sports or reading novels. Creating the ‘best possible child’ may be a worthy goal, but the definition is hardly clear. For some, a little boy would be better than a little girl, and for others a little girl would be better than a little boy. As long as those differences in opinion exist, even with full control over reproduction there will still be both men and women, both boys and girls.

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6 comments

  1. Don’t forget men recover quicker from concussion, are less likely to suffer from chronic pain and autoimmune diseases, have higher pain threshold and a better ability to cope with short term pain, have on average higher IQs than women, are more stable emotionally, better at concentrating on single tasks (one of the many reasons men are found more frequently at the top of fields)…..

    Robert Sparrow isn’t in fact a futurist had has no idea what he’s talking about. Being a futurist and transhumanist myself, it seems that in about 50 years both men and women will both become sexually redundant by the creation of artificial wombs and artificial sperm:

    http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0117-05.htm

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article685515.ece

    However due to the innate psychological nature of men and women, the need for one another psychologically far outweighs the need for one another simply for procreation.


    • Women have a higher pain threshold and higher IQs. Which is why the ASVAB test implements for men to have lower scores to be able to enter. Just an fyi there. Women are better at multi-tasking, men aren’t. So Matt Sunday, get all of your facts straight.

      And yes, I’m a man. Names Victor Caceres.


  2. Men are actually in danger of extinction due to the deterioration of the Y-chromosome. ;]


    • Except that the SRY gene (sex determining gene) can move to another chromosome and “make it the y” like what happened with deer. ;]


  3. Just because a man is better at math doesn’t mean that he can go extinct, and it would take much longer than, say 25 years for him to go extinct. It has been predicted that they would go extinct in 125,000 years. By then we will already have the technology, so math and such wouldn’t really even matter. Women live longer because they have two x chromosomes, I’m sure they will figure out how to make babies without a man, and in modern society, the women use the man to produce the baby, then they are off to cook, clean, work and take care of the child by themselves.


    • We better get our act together now then… -_-



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