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Can liberals save themselves from extinction? Perhaps technophilia is the best way to make babies

Is this the last gasp of the Silicon Valley elite? Credit: Simone Collins/Instagram

Is this the last gasp of the Silicon Valley elite? Credit: Simone Collins/Instagram


November 3, 2023   6 mins

The heroine of William Gibson’s 2003 near-future novel Pattern Recognition is a professional discerner of emerging trends, so hyper-attuned to semiotic nuance that she experiences physical discomfort if made to wear any item of clothing with recognisable branding. Cayce Pollard pings around the world, providing advisory services to mysterious plutocrats, while living in an interzone of airports and anonymous hotels.

My first impression of Simone and Malcolm is that they have walked straight out of Pattern Recognition. Two slender, voluble, dark-haired, medium-height thirty-somethings, they have slicked-back hair, thick-rimmed spectacles and quirky dark clothing. Their children, Torsten, Octavian, and Titan Invictus, are all IVF-conceived, some gene-selected for traits such as IQ or happiness. Simone is pregnant again, she tells me merrily, with Industry Americus Collins, due in April.

The original “‘elite’ couple breeding to save mankind” of countless memes, I sought them out on a recent London visit in the hope of inducing them to say controversial things about biotech. They’re famous (or notorious if you prefer) for their enthusiastic endorsement of a high-tech Bay Area “pro-natalism” that embraces every available reproductive technology. From IVF, through surrogacy, polygenic embryo screening, to potentially gene-editing future offspring, they are what they call “the most talkative iteration” of a “technophilic” movement dedicated to saving the human species from population crash.

There are plenty of conservatives to whom all such technologies are prima facie off-limits. And I have grave concerns about anything that promises to free us from organismic limits — only to demand, in exchange, new kinds of servitude. I’m far from certain whether technophiles are friends or enemies. But what I heard was a message most relevant to the people currently keenest to dismiss them as “terminally online Redditors” or “hipster eugenicists”, or to link them with the far-Right: that the fertility crash is coming, soonest and hardest and most brutally, for liberals. And the Collinses are, in fact, liberals too: just unusually unfiltered and clear-sighted ones.

The Collinses earn a living in financial services, but their passion is education (they run an Institute for the Gifted) and promoting natalist culture. They use email and WhatsApp accounts seemingly interchangeably, and offer opinions as if they’re two interfaces of the same voluble, intelligent and eccentric hive mind. Malcolm proposed marriage to Simone on Reddit. They plan to have seven children.

In the end, we didn’t discuss gene-editing and fertility tech much at all: we converged, instead, on a deeper and arguably more insoluble fear. That is, that the contours of the fertility crisis mean people like the Collinses — subcultures that value intelligence, openness, and technological sophistication — are a critically endangered species.

In the Collins worldview, what they call the “global monoculture” is the chief antagonist. They mean the largely homogeneous high-tech norms that have emerged in every major developed city in the modern world: Starbucks, tiny families or solo apartments, long working hours. And everywhere this “monoculture” appears, fertility is falling. Human birth rates are now below replacement almost everywhere in the world.

This global monoculture “believes it has a right to other people’s children, because its fertility rates are so low that the only way it can replenish itself is by just taking the children of nearby healthy cultural groups”. In Simone and Malcolm’s view, this dynamic represents “an existential threat to our species”. And as they see it, the motley coalition of interest groups making up the current “conservative movement” is united by hostility to this urban monoculture, and sometimes little else.

And while the Collinses are meticulously Californian in their aversion to offer explicit moral judgement, it would seem that however existential a threat this monoculture is overall, it’s a clear and present danger to people like them. For it poses a long-term threat to intellectual and cultural openness. Malcolm has, Simone tells me, analysed data on the demographic profiles of people having lots of kids — and it turns out that the deciding factor isn’t religiosity at all. It’s the mirror inverse of the high openness exhibited by “terminally online Redditors” and Silicon Valley rationalists.

According to their own studies, Simone tells me, the high-fertility profile comes with “xenophobia and fascism”. That is: people who have lots of kids are authoritarian, hostile to out-groups, and reluctant to consider other viewpoints as valid. And while they assure me, with the typically extravagant tolerance of difference typical of the Bay Area, that they’re “not even antagonistic” to bigotry “so long as they don’t interfere with their neighbours” tacitly the judgement is clear. After all, a defining characteristic of authoritarian outlooks is precisely interfering with your neighbours. Having evidently considered the prognosis for their own way of life, in a future dominated by such cultures, the Collinses show pragmatism and clear-sightedness in doing whatever they can to avert the prospect.

But it’s not just pluralism and openness on the chopping-block if demographic forces continue to select in favour of bigots. It’s also cognitive ability, cultures that value education, and cultures knowledgeable of and engaged with technologies. All these traits are, the Collinses remind me, correlated with low fertility; not that I need reminding, as a bookish, overeducated, and extremely online mother of only one.

Meanwhile, Malcolm continues, the people still having kids are the ones making less money, and wielding less cultural and economic power in the world. In turn, this makes such groups “less good at defending themselves from aggressive forces and less viable as power players on the world stage”. Rather than embracing marginalisation as a condition for survival, the Collinses want to “find and nourish groups that are able to be global economic and technological players while still being high fertility, because that is so rare”.

What’s left unspoken here is that they think failing to support “global economic and technological players” would have very bad effects overall — for it would mean shrugging while the culture selects against clever, bookish, and technologically adept people. They are, in other words, quietly worried that current civilisation is shrinking the future pool of what a Bay Area rationalist is bound to see as the keystone of our genetic heritage: IQ.

They tread carefully around the topic, no doubt mindful of its radioactive connotations. But Malcolm comes close to spelling out the implications when he tells me that, based on research he’s read, “we may see about a one standard deviation drop in IQ in the developed world in the next 75 years, due to genetic reasons”. That is: the smartest people are deleting themselves from the gene pool.

The Collinses clearly accept that whatever form of human culture makes it to the other side of the current demographic pinch-point will be a brutal survival of the fittest — where “fit” doesn’t necessarily accord with their preferred values. But though they studiously route round any explicit moral statement that might impose coercive obligations on someone else, it’s clear that the Collinses would prefer at least some of the winning demographic subcultures to be high-IQ people with technological capabilities, and a willingness to tolerate different viewpoints. They emphasise that they are firmly against eugenics, where this represents any top-down value-statement about or intervention in the gene pool. But it’s also clear that, albeit in an opt-in, you-do-you Bay Area way, they think there are better and worse ways that gene pool could develop in the future.

To this end, they’re more than happy to collaborate with any group — even those far more authoritarian or anti-tech than they are — if the common goal is reversing what they perceive as the current negative trend. In their view, it’s not for some time — Malcolm suggests, “in 300 or 400 years” — that this coalition might fall to infighting, as pluralistic and technophilic factions such as theirs battle “religious, fundamentalist, xenophobic groups that believe that there can only be one religious group and one ethnic group in the world”. In such a scenario, they accept, “a lot of the conservative pronatalist groups will come into conflict because some are more pluralistic than others”.

In the meantime, though, they see what they’re doing as salvage work, preserving as much of a dying culture as they can. “We have seen this before in the Roman Empire,” they say, “this collapse scenario. Anyone who doesn’t think that we are entering a dark age right now is delusional. We need to begin to round the wagons, to defend as much of our civilisation as we can, so that we can use it going forwards.”

It’s possible, I put to them, that the rationalistic, high-tech culture they are trying to preserve is too deeply implicated in the “global monoculture” they deplore to be disaggregated — indeed, that it may be driving the problem. Malcolm shrugs. It’s possible, he tells me. But the Collinses are content nonetheless to pursue their bet, and to see who turns out to be right.

Despite our differences on reproductive technologies, I suspect the Collinses and I are more aligned than not — on, if nothing else, devotion to reading the cultural tea-leaves, and extrapolating from the patterns we recognise. Some who do this, such as William Gibson, set out what they see via the written word to sometimes near-prophetic effect. Others, such as the Collinses, work as hard as they can in the real world, to turn the direction of events toward or away from patterns they see on the horizon.

But whatever the longer-term impact of the Collinses’ interventions will be, they’re right to see their beloved culture of logical, rationalistic, high-openness risk-takers as endangered. And there’s a lesson there for liberals of both Right and Left, even a long way from Silicon Valley. For if the traits most immediately at risk are openness, high cognitive ability, and an appreciation for education: those, in a word, commonest in liberals. If the Collinses’ read is right on the larger patterns, and I think it is, those who value intelligence and openness need to be a great deal more deliberate about “rounding the wagons” to protect the values and cultural practices they cherish – including via efforts to inculcate these traits and cultures in the next generation, or indeed to produce a next generation at all.

If this doesn’t happen, all those clever, tolerant, bookish types, many of whom currently leap to denounce voices like the Collinses as at least “far-right” adjacent, may wake up in a generation or so, to find they missed the chance to hand on their own genetic and cultural legacy. And that instead, in a fit of short-sighted self-righteousness, they gifted the world to the only people still having children: their enemies.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
7 months ago

Two slender, voluble, dark-haired, medium-height thirty-somethings, they have slicked-back hair, thick-rimmed spectacles and quirky dark clothing. Their children, Torsten, Octavian, and Titan Invictus, are all IVF-conceived, some gene-selected for traits such as IQ or happiness. Simone is pregnant again, she tells me merrily, with Industry Americus Collins, due in April.
Absolutely everything about this couple seems deliberately designed to make me hate them. I mean, come on.
Incidentally, I’m really hoping “Titan Invictus” is the family’s only girl. Titan Invictus. Jesus Christ.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
7 months ago

I cannot agree at all, I like them a lot.

George Stone
George Stone
7 months ago

they didn’t look that dark haired to me. I would describe them as ‘mousey’. Why do you have to ‘hate’ them! Maybe moderate your language to express reality.

Last edited 7 months ago by George Stone
Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
7 months ago
Reply to  George Stone

I didn’t say I hated them, I said they seemed designed to make me hate them. There’s a difference.

Alan B
Alan B
7 months ago

I think they’ve got the causal arrow backwards. Reminds me of the old FarSide cartoon where the kid at the school for the gifted is pushing on a door labeled “pull”.

Jim M
Jim M
7 months ago

These are really cool people. Weird to see liberals get reality.

Nardo Flopsey
Nardo Flopsey
7 months ago

“What’s your kid’s name?”
“Titan Invictus. What’s yours?”
“Judd. Why are you looking at me?”

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
6 months ago

I sincerely doubt that they did anything out of a desire to elicit any particular response from you.

J Bryant
J Bryant
7 months ago

The moral of this story might be that the modern liberal is the end of the evolutionary line. Overly intellectual beings who have thought themselves out of such fundamental–arguably innate–beliefs as loyalty to peer group, tribe, and nation. From a purely evolutionary viewpoint, it may be highly desirable for this type of person to self-select out of the gene pool, along with their more malignant, progressive variants.
It’s easy to laugh at the rubes out there in the hinterland, but they know the value of family and how to make do with little. I suspect the latter quality will be particularly useful for the next few generations.
As an afterthought, it took me a couple of minutes to figure out what bothered me about the photo at the top of this article: those two people are creepily similar in appearance. I viewed several more photos of them on-line and they are, indeed, virtual clones. It likely isn’t their intention, but they’re a walking advert for eugenics.

Dark Horse
Dark Horse
7 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

How to make do with little will be particularly useful for the next few generations?
What a depressing view of the future!
Makes me glad to be old and child free.

Cho Jinn
Cho Jinn
7 months ago
Reply to  Dark Horse

“Makes me glad to be old and child free.”
Reproduction certainly is not for everyone.

Amy Malek
Amy Malek
7 months ago
Reply to  Cho Jinn

This.
A friend of mine from secondary school who is now a D.C. attorney told the story of sitting on the table, getting ready for a C-section.
As she stared off into space, the medical professionals assured her that the procedure was going to go well.
She said she wasn’t concerned about the cut, but was thinking actually about the next twenty years.
Everyone had a laugh, but it is the next twenty years that they who reproduce *should* be concerned about.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
7 months ago
Reply to  Cho Jinn

…and not everyone should reproduce…

Pamela Booker
Pamela Booker
7 months ago
Reply to  Dark Horse

Making do with little is what our immediate forebears did and look what peace and stability they bestowed upon us.
Then boomers took all that for granted and rebelled & experimented against the social norms, not realising we were sweeping the ground from beneath our feet.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Dark Horse

And alone.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
7 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

It seems to me (speaking of evolution or as Mary hints:“current demographic pinch-point will be a brutal survival of the fittest — where “fit” doesn’t necessarily accord with their preferred values”) that it is clear that people with “traditional values” – (large families are good, parents devoted to raising them, religion or some way of identifying eternal truths, no sex until marriage etc, marry young, no adultery etc) are more likely to pass on their gene pool(s).

Hence, devout Muslims, Orthodox Jews, devout Christians (Esp. Catholics?) have more than 4 children,say, as opposed to many upper middle class people who have 1 or zero (ok, Elon Musk, but Gates, Bezos, Zuckerberg).

And More and more people are surviving into 70’s and beyond, regardless of how hip they were when younger.

Disputatio Ineptias
Disputatio Ineptias
7 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Manufacturing children with tight quality control and then raising them with high expectations for a return in their investment. Doesn’t seem like loving parenting to me. I hope they aren’t too let down when free will sees their children walking out the door with no small amount of resentment.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
7 months ago

Very interesting, and a lot of thoughts fighting to articulate themselves in response, but twenty past midnight is not necessarily the best time for cogency, so I will restrict myself to two or three pithy points.

1. If the Collinses are correct and we face a civilizational collapse a la the fall of the Roman Empire and the ensuing Dark Ages, then quite possibly the problem is self-correcting in a rather brutal Darwinian way: smarter people are more likely to survive such conditions, and propogate thereafter. However I don’t for a moment think this ‘MadMax world’ type of reversion is coming – conditions are just far too different for that to happen.

2. The population crash is as real as you can get, but the 300 – 400 year playout timeframe idea is a clear nonsense. I know many many will simply not believe me, but we don’t even have 30 – 40 years for a changed world. I reckon 3 – 4 years and the world is unrecognisable – because this is pretty obvious to anyone aware of what is about to emerge from the AI labs. Beyond the Twenties, all bets are off, and who knows what, or who, comes thereafter.

3. The point about “…clever, bookish, and technologically adept people…” is that such people tend to have brains that are continually pondering, amongst other things: who and what am I – questions that can eventually suck you down into the quicksands of nihilism or solipsism. Most people live most of the time driven by primordial and instinctive biological drivers. If you reason your way out of this state by virtue of your nerdy temperament, this implicitly means a condition which is the enemy of self-propogation, and is ipso facto self-terminating – literally rationalising yourself out of existence. The Collinses are unusual in having reasoned themselves one step beyond this, back into self-propogation, but this is not even remotely the only possible step beyond the nihilism stage, and most other paths don’t result in self-propogation.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
7 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

You got an upvote from me just for your introductory sentence.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
7 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Big upvote from me, for point 2.

Jason Coale
Jason Coale
7 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Agreed on Point 1 + 3, Point 2 is laughably pessimistic and detached from reality, in 4 years the world will not be “unrecognisable”. There is an existential danger inherent in using AI, but that risk is existential in the ‘philosophical’ rather than ‘apocalyptic’ sense. 

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
7 months ago
Reply to  Jason Coale

Ok, like I said, many people are simply not going to believe me on this for various reasons. Until that is, they are forced to by what happens next, imminently. There are many people who plain flat reject the possibility that the type of entities that are getting created with neural net technologies could ever be capable of human-like cognition, understanding, etc, or capable of human-like creativity, intuitions, humour, originality etc, or human-like empathy, wonder, curiosity etc, or of having human-like goals and it’s concomitants – intentionality, wants, actions towards desires, etc. There are also many people who think sentient machines will eventually happen, but we are decades, perhaps centuries away from this.

For myself, I believe we are on the verge of creating sentient and independent machines right now without really understanding how or what kind of sentience emerges, and that the risk AI poses to humanity is multidimensional, ‘philosophical risk’ and ‘apocalyptic risk’ both present within that. I also think the risks are already present and ongoing for the foreseeable short (five years) and medium (twenty-five years) terms. I have no idea what lies beyond that, but I seriously doubt the long term (beyond say half a century) contains humans as we currently understand them – although if we are very lucky perhaps a sizable chunk of what we are will be preserved in some form in what comes hereafter.
But you don’t need to believe me at all – instead I suggest, listen to the very top AI scientists from the most successful AI labs:

Interview with Shane Legg (DeepMind) https://youtu.be/Kc1atfJkiJU?si=MByKzSzxLeOOip_f

Interview with Paul Christiano (The Alignment Research Center) https://youtu.be/9AAhTLa0dT0?si=-q5k745bj4CAFPwm

Interview with Ilya Sutskever (OpenAI) https://youtu.be/Yf1o0TQzry8?si=0uqaPZfoIQ5c-dTh

Interview with Dario Amodei (Anthropic) https://youtu.be/Nlkk3glap_U?si=BWBajy_8tsyNxQQZ

They are all saying AGI sometime this decade, with the astonishing prediction by Paul Christiano of a significant chance (15%) of an Artificial Intelligence capable of making a Dyson Sphere by 2030. You can make up your own mind, but for myself the option to not take what these scientists are saying seriously does not really exist.

Last edited 7 months ago by Prashant Kotak
Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
6 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I appreciate your perspective, because I share it in many ways.

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
7 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Perhaps Darwinian natural selection is rationaly weeding out these over-educated, soft, Bay-area techno fanatics. Who does the world need more, someone who can change a tire, or a Bay-area coder designing stupid apps?

Nardo Flopsey
Nardo Flopsey
7 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

Judging by pay packets, maybe the latter.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

“smarter people are more likely to survive such conditions”
Not really and it depends what mean by smarter.
People like the Collinses depend for their survival on an efficient system of law enforcement. If time get hard those that survive will be those that have tribal and family loyalties and no how to use force.

Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
7 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Prashant, an upvote for your points as always. Could you explain what you mean point 2? Do you think the threat from AI is to people’s jobs and livelihoods or do you mean something more apocalyptic?

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul Devlin

Hi Paul, I posted a response to Jason Coale which details my outlook, but like your post, mine disappeared over the weekend. I think the threat to jobs and livelihoods is imminent, but dwarfed by the eventual apocalyptic threat. This stems from the fact that we don’t understand what goes on inside neural nets – unlike standard programmatic algorithms, the causality of neural net decision-making is not traceable, so we don’t really know why for example LLMs do what they do.

Last edited 6 months ago by Prashant Kotak
UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

“smarter people are more likely to survive such conditions, and propogate thereafter.”

Problem is the people you’re characterizing as such literally cant make their own coffee.

William Shaw
William Shaw
7 months ago

“In 1974, the year the birth control pill became available to unmarried women, the British birth rate fell below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman, where it has remained ever since.”
So for the past 59 years all population increase has been due to immigration.
All those new houses blanketing the countryside and all those apartment towers in London and other cities are needed to house who? Immigrants?
We’re destroying the environment and character of our country to accommodate 11 million outsiders.

Last edited 7 months ago by William Shaw
Matt M
Matt M
7 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Exactly right William.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
7 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Isn’t 10 million the total number of abortions performed since they became legally available in 1967. Funny how much the numbers line up.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
7 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

All the population increase has been due to immigration and the higher birth rates of the immigrants.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Thus ‘we’ either face extinction or “ rivers of blood”, as someone once said.

Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
7 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

A lot more than 11 million

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
7 months ago

Crikey, this was just one vegan kurkuma latte away from Aldous Huxley.

Geoff W
Geoff W
7 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

It didn’t have to be, but Ms Harrington seems just to repeat whatever tosh these two say, without having the basic journalistic nous to challenge any of it.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
7 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

VERY funny and clever – thanks for the smiles!

James S.
James S.
7 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

You read my mind. Thread winner!

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
7 months ago

So a pair of new-age, techno-cult eugenicists, with just enough awareness to avoid mentioning things in front of journalists that would get them cancelled.

They sound absolutely delightful.

Between them and the AI ‘rise of the machines’, I give humanity less than a decade.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago

There’s every chance their offspring will have sub-optimal IQs and decide they want to drive trucks or work in hairdressing (and nothing wrong with either – both essential to the economy).

Meanwhile, the next maths genius or tech pioneer is born in a trailer park (or council estate in the UK).

Either way, their kids will rename themselves as Tom, D*ck or Harriet as soon as they can escape the cloying embrace of their fetid parents.

Last edited 7 months ago by Steve Murray
Geoff W
Geoff W
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Or perhaps their offspring will be so cosseted and smug that they’ll struggle to wipe their own behinds. But you’re entirely correct about where the next genius will be born.

Matt M
Matt M
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I’d rather my daughter was a married hairdresser with three kids than a single, childless bluestocking, any day of the week.

Amy Malek
Amy Malek
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Yes, this is so true! Genetics is still a crap shoot despite trying to coax it to our bidding
I observed this firsthand: kids from the “desirable” back grounds struggling with school while the working class kids carrying a 4.0+ throughout.
My understanding is that the UK has some type of tracking system so perhaps it is potentially less noticeable than the US
At any rate, I still contend that intelligence cannot be bought – even in a high priced Petri Dish.
Mother Nature gets the last laugh as to how attributes are ladled out
The Ugly Duckling to Beautiful Swan syndrome is always a potential wild card

Jim M
Jim M
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

No. Genes determine at least 50% of adult IQ. Just like tall people will have taller than average children, so to will above average intelligence in parents will give rise to above average intelligence children. https://www.nature.com/articles/nrg.2017.104

AC Harper
AC Harper
7 months ago

Imagine my surprise to find out that Simone and Malcolm Collins are real people and not a literary device. They missed a trick by not getting their children to wear glasses too.
Clearly parody is dead – and risen again!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

At first glance I thought ‘Simone’ was an android/robot.
Perhaps it is time for ‘Specsavers’.

William Amos
William Amos
7 months ago

It strikes me that the same mistake is being made by this couple that has been made by all Eugenicists, including the Bloomsburys and the National Socialist Government of Germany.
When it comes to selective breeding we select for the traits which we find culturally and ideologically appealing but these are by no means the traits which seem to enhance our evolutionary survival.
Or from, an older perspective:
“…the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
Ecclesiastes 9:11

Last edited 7 months ago by William Amos
Matt M
Matt M
7 months ago
Reply to  William Amos

You can learn a lot about the modern world from Ecclesiastes.

George Stone
George Stone
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

if this is the modern world then why say happeneth?

Matt M
Matt M
7 months ago
Reply to  George Stone

Do you struggle to understand the meaning or do you just object on stylistic grounds?

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Interestingly, it’s actually grammatically incorrect. “Happeneth” is just the singular third person “happens”, but in this case it has a compound subject, so it should be “time and chance happen to them all.” Qohelet, see me after class.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago
Reply to  George Stone

It’s a quote from the bible.

N Satori
N Satori
7 months ago

Human birth rates are now below replacement almost everywhere in the world.

Not in Africa – particularly sub-Saharan Africa where, to be frank, IQ levels and creative thinking in general are not exactly impressive.

…religious, fundamentalist, xenophobic groups that believe that there can only be one religious group and one ethnic group in the world

Sounds like a reference to the muslim mindset – a religion and way of life of growing popularity in Africa. Is the future African?
Perhaps, before the end of this century, white Europeans will become second class citizens in their own countries. Anyway, who needs white liberals (or Asians) with their pesky high IQ? It only makes other people feel inferior. The next generation will have AI with its superhuman IQ. We’ll have a level playing field where nobody need be cleverer than anyone else. How egalitarian is that? Brave new world here we come.

Peter John Massyn
Peter John Massyn
7 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

I live and work in sub-Saharan Africa. So have my ancestors for many generations. My continent is a place of seething creativity, practical intelligence and survival skills honed in adversity. Beware bigots such as N Satori: like the trailer park or the council estate, genius and renewal may yet emerge from here.

Jim M
Jim M
7 months ago

Why should whites not dread their own extinction? Civilization leads to extinction.

Last edited 7 months ago by Jim M
N Satori
N Satori
7 months ago

Perhaps you could give me one or two examples of this seething creativity. Useful, practical creativity – the kind providing clear material benefits, not the artistic and political kind. While you are about it you might explain why post-colonial Zimbabwe is such an economic failure and why post-apartheid Black South Africa is such a crime-ridden catastrophe. Where are the post-colonial success stories? Is all that creativity simply latent? Why isn’t sub-Sharan Africa showing the world what young nations, now free of the colonial yoke, are capable of?
Is the only hope for Africans the high road (ie. the people smuggling route) to Europe? Or perhaps the possibility of selling the abundant mineral resources to China.
By the way, the online Merriam-Webster dictionary provides a handy definition of bigot:

a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices – especially one who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

I don’t accept that this applies to me simply because I am prepared apply perfectly reasonable powers of critical observation. You may not like or agree with me but what I have to say does not amount to hatred, intolerance or even obstinacy and prejudice.

Greg Moreison
Greg Moreison
7 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

I think we can see the point you’re making. But I would suggest that sub Saharan Africa has never been truly ‘free of the colonial yoke’. Indeed I would suggest that the international banking system and its use in ‘soft power’ politics by the old colonial powers, represent a real and rather obvious yoke.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Bravo.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
7 months ago

I’m not so sure that we can distinguish such a strong relationship between genetics and cultural as this couple believe there to be. There are undoubtedly genes which influence intelligence, openness and all the other traits which this couple seek to preserve but what their exact relationship with the environment and culture is, is far more difficult to determine.

My own grandfather was an illiterate labourer but my dad went on to study at university at a time when only 15% of the population did and can speak 4 languages. It’s likely that there is more dormant potential amongst the population than those who subscribe to a more deterministic interpretation of genetics are willing to recognise.

Matt M
Matt M
7 months ago

We urgently need to deliver the following message to every 15 year old girl in Britain: you have 70 years of life ahead of you but only 15 years to have a baby. Don’t delay! Your career can wait (if you have 3 kids in your 20s, you will still have to spend the next 30-40 years working so it is crazy to prioritise work over family).
Spend the next few years finding a man you love and trust and when you do get married and get down to business.
Young men will fall in line with the desires of the women they fancy. If you convince girls that they need to get on with marriage and starting a family or they are at serious risk of missing the boat, men will start proposing to women again. The girls probably need to follow Louise Perry’s advice to avoid “hook-ups” and not have sex with anyone you wouldn’t want to be the father of your children.
Remember 1/4 of all women reaching 40 in the UK are childless and 90% of them wanted to have kids. Last year 1/2 of all UK women reached age 30 with no children. The reason? Wasting time on ephemera in their 20s.
Mary Harrington and Louise Perry should go on a tour to every school in Britain delivering this message.

Peter B
Peter B
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Big assumption there that the men in their twenties want and are ready to be parents if only the women gave them the opportunity. Not totally convinced this is true for many reasons – cultural, social, appalling cost of housing, … . To some extent the “ephemera in their 20s” may well be escapism from the sheer and depressing economic reality of raising a family on an ordinary – even quite good – income for many in the UK today.
But agree in general.
Also too many broken families.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

I am afraid that that majority of men do nor get a look in and would jump at the chance

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Men will do what they’re told.

David McKee
David McKee
7 months ago

I think Mary is playing a little joke on us. Simone and Malcolm Collins resemble real people in the 2020s, the way Bertie Wooster resembled a real person in the 1920s.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

Agreed. Having a hard time believing this is real

Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
7 months ago

Sounds like a cult to me. Beware the Kool-Aid, Ms. Harrington.

Nancy Kmaxim
Nancy Kmaxim
7 months ago

Treating children as little life experiments with the parent the center of the universe is the very definition of bad parenting. Children are people, not tinker toys.

Jim M
Jim M
7 months ago
Reply to  Nancy Kmaxim

I’m guessing you don’t have any kids or a husband.

Nancy Kmaxim
Nancy Kmaxim
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim M

Interesting. Why?

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
7 months ago

Their children, Torsten, Octavian, and Titan Invictus, are all IVF-conceived,

Understandable. If that picture is real, I wouldn’t want to diddle with either of them.

George Stone
George Stone
7 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

You are so eminently ‘diddleable’, of course.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
7 months ago
Reply to  George Stone

Fading a bit, but I brush up quite nice, yes.

Felicity Jones
Felicity Jones
7 months ago

This is a kind of barmy IQ xenophobia …

Matt Woodsmith
Matt Woodsmith
7 months ago

As the saying goes, the future belongs to those who turn up. These people are clearly mad, and yet…

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
7 months ago

This is the first piece I’ve read, anywhere, in a long time that displays a genuine, un-forced sense of tolerance. And what a fascinating and odd young family. Thanks, Mary.

IATDE
IATDE
7 months ago

Good luck with the multi-generational planning. Its funny how children turn out to not like things their parents like, and how often they make different life choices than their parents. Those darn kids!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

Haven’t the Jews been doing this for centuries?
Hence their dominance of the Nobel Prizes and Churchill’s description of them as being “the aristocracy of the human race”.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
7 months ago

I wouldn’t say they have been doing this to themselves for centuries, I would say they have had it done to them for centuries. Pogrom after pogrom eventually has an effect. For example 1492 to the Jews in Spain – either you convert, or you are expelled, or you die.

Last edited 7 months ago by Prashant Kotak
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Do you mean Darwinian culling?

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
7 months ago

Interesting- I remember a Jewish friend of mine said she’d heard Milton Friedman or someone mention that Jewish culture rewarded super brainy young men (who could read and decipher the Talmud etc, maybe future Rabbis) the beautiful daughters of the richest men, because they exhibited the traits most valued by the communities.

Whereas the brightest men in Christendom (think Aquinas) were asked to remain celibate.

I suspect that there is some truth to this (at least historically).

Last edited 7 months ago by Richard Pearse
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

Celibacy within the Church has a long and complicated history, but the Gregorian Reforms of the 11th century* seem to have been more about preventing clerical marriage and thus the possibility that church might become hereditary, than prohibiting a ‘bonkfest’ to lapse into a technical term.
Aquinas & Co were obviously ‘nutters’ and perhaps Judaism more pragmatic approach was the source of their brilliance? Who knows? Perhaps an All Souls question?

(*Pope Gregory IV.)

Last edited 7 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
7 months ago

The Collinses clearly favour eugenics.

Colorado UnHerd
Colorado UnHerd
7 months ago

With global population still growing at a net rate of 225,000 people a day, what the planet needs is not people like the Collinses over-reproducing themselves through technology. but a rein on those doing it the old-fashioned way, in Africa and other too-fecund places. The Earth is not hurting for a lack of human beings, but from an oversupply. That’s the existential crisis, not only to our species but all others.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago

Don’t worry. A volcano, earthquake, solar flare or asteroid will solve the problem some day.

Colorado UnHerd
Colorado UnHerd
7 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Thanks for the reminder. I feel better already. 🙂

tug ordie
tug ordie
7 months ago

unless you are pushing 70 you will live to see peak human. The current increase is not an issue, the plummeting decrease in the future will be the defining issue of this century

Nathan Ngumi
Nathan Ngumi
7 months ago

Very insightful!
On an episode of the podcast of Coleman Hughes, Erif Kaufmann delved into why it is the religious who will inherit the earth and not the secular. It is precisely this reason. Liberals are not reproducing at as fast a rate as Conservatives. It is a numbers game ultimately, and on this the Right has an edge over the Left.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXK1ej8HW50

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Nathan Ngumi

Unfortunately the most religious are Muslims.

Daoud Fakhri
Daoud Fakhri
7 months ago

This is essentially the first five minutes of Idiocracy turned into a life philosophy.
I do not mean this as a compliment.

John Callender
John Callender
7 months ago

See this paper for evidence that the Victorians were smarter than we are and that fertility patterns have been dysgenic for IQ since the end of the 19th century: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0160289613000470
Unless this pattern changes, we are heading for a future of progressive stupidity.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
7 months ago

The sooner the liberal population crash happens the better.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
7 months ago

In the recent past they tried allsorts to control the birthrate and reduce women’s ‘enslavement’ to the stove and cradle, never mind reduce rates of domestic violence, but after all else failed (including covert sterilisation programmes etc) what proved to be the silver bullet? The humble telly (it stops them getting on each other’s nerves and each other generally). So this is merely a more radical reiteration of the same loop.

Last edited 7 months ago by Mike Downing
Alan Gore
Alan Gore
7 months ago

As a conservative, I’m glad to see that couples like this exist, and I would be only too happy to see it become a trend. In the US at least, the left has been anti-science and anti-civilization for years. We have two kinds of leftists now: a moderate wing which would be content with busting humanity back to the dark ages by eliminating technology, like your Paul Kingsnorth, and a radical wing, which considers the human species a colonialist blot on the sacred face of Divine Nature and would love to see it eliminated completely.
I like humanity, and I value civilization. I want to see our species prosper. That, in today’s world, is what makes me a Republican. And yes, I proudly vaccinate.

Cho Jinn
Cho Jinn
7 months ago
Reply to  Alan Gore

But which vaccines?

Alex Colchester
Alex Colchester
7 months ago

And that instead, in a fit of short-sighted self-righteousness, they gifted the world to the only people still having children: their enemies.

Based on recent world events this sounds like a smart plan.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago

The cultural touch point here isn’t William Gibson, it’s the movie Idiocracy

Kevan Hudson
Kevan Hudson
7 months ago

Idiocracy.
Mike Judge nailed it along with his movie “Office Space”.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
7 months ago

Really not sure what all this is about. Mary, like most intellectuals, can’t help talking in general categories. Liberals, like the others who she contrasts them with – the ones having lots of kids apparently – are both caricatures. The moral majority actually embrace an inconvenient mix of values, some liberal some less so. Trying to understand the world in these absurd categories might be a fun parlour game but bears little relation to actual populations.

Amy Malek
Amy Malek
7 months ago

I find it interesting that emotional stability is not mentioned as part of the selective agenda in this brave new world of breeding.
Having known individuals in the 140 – 160 IQ range (and, yes, they bring the receipts of said numbers), there is oftentimes an Aquiles’ heel with this demographic.
The autism spectrum, in many cases, makes an appearance with many such individuals. Nature or nurture? I’m betting on Nature, though autism is still a mysterious construct.
Nonetheless, the uber geeks I have known, do seem to have an otherworldly way of handling social situations.
Is this part of the desired end? Because if it is, then yes indeed, the term “enemies” as listed at the end is apropos.
It will be survival of the fittest and not as the Collins ‘ tribe is envisioning.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago
Reply to  Amy Malek

I’d suggest there’s little correlation between high IQ and being a “geek”.
And it’s “Achilles”…

Amy Malek
Amy Malek
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Thank you for correcting the spelling.
And why would you suggest the lack of correlation?
Perhaps we should start with the term “geek”.
How do you define it?
Certainly not all highly intelligent people are geeks.
But after many years associated with a top tier STEM university, I *do* see a definitive correlation.
I would like to hear your perspective.
What is your definition of “geek” , for starters?
I’m willing to listen and learn a different experience and perspective which is a reason I comment in the first place.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago
Reply to  Amy Malek

I appreciate your response. Let’s go back to my previous comment – which you’ve broadly agreed with – concerning the randomness of IQ heritability. I’m simply suggesting that someone who’s been born into an environment where high IQ isn’t necessarily useful or valued might have to “tough” their way out of it. That could be either physically, or emotionally. The process of emerging into the light, whereby their IQ can be utilised to advantage would make it very unlikely they’d have the characteristics of geekiness that, say, the child of a middle-class couple might tend towards.
It might also be the case that many of those born into underprivileged circumstances don’t manage to fight their way out, but content themselves with establishing a foothold in society by other means than attending a STEM institution. They might do good things, but it may not be visible to others. There may be some who don’t manage to acquire that foothold, but struggle within the milieu into which they were born and fail to escape it.

Amy Malek
Amy Malek
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Thank you for responding.
I think (and I may be wrong), that we have several areas being discussed here. I will try, hopefully to some usable degree, to parse out what I think I am trying to say. I like to say that the situation is starting to look like a Venn diagram with more than one issue at work.
I do broadly agree with you that how the genetic code plays out can be quite random.
IMO you are hitting on social status/economics as you define geekiness. I have a phrase that back in the day “geeks were freaks”.
As computers exploded on the general landscape, the geeks suddenly became heroes. (Well, who else is going to maintain your computer which now means so much to society!?)
But, I’m hearing a position from you which seems to focus on the environment into which the highly intelligent child is born.
Is a life of the mind affirmed, denied, or tolerated?
I will speak from experience: I grew up in a working class home in the US. I like to say that I am (literally) one generation removed from the rice field. I am also Caucasian, BTW.
How did I become a geek? I will offer a definition of geek: intellectual prowess, social deficiency. Feel free to disagree if you don’t see this as a tandem trend. Many of my close college friends are on the autism (particularly Asperger’s) spectrum.
So here is where I see the chicken and egg argument which I hear you presenting. Did my environment create the geekiness or did my internal mechanations create that mosaic?
I don’t know. I’m not sure anyone knows.
Was there pushback from my family to not be out of *their* norm? Oh, heck no! My dad saw the handwriting on the wall and wanted me to be a dentist. Why should I live the hard scrabble life he did?
But I hear you asking an even broader societal question: depending on the response, how does the precocious child respond?
I don’t think a one size fits all, but that is just my opinion.
Perhaps it is different in the US where I reside: I don’t see a middle class home more accepting of geekiness than another social/economic strata. In fact, some of my upper class friends were encouraged not to be geeky, because it detracted from their social skills set .
You are right, though, about high IQ people falling by the wayside or not escaping. That can and does happen. But, the US is very success driven regardless of any lower echelon into which you were born. If you can deliver the goods a talented mind can produce, there is still a payoff.
Geek is both internally driven and externally fostered, but IMO it is an attribute oftentimes of someone who is an outlier by virtue of higher IQ regardless of how it is created.
Again, I welcome your comments and clarifications should you choose to respond.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago
Reply to  Amy Malek

Thanks Amy. This is such an interesting discussion, not least because i don’t think we actually differ in our overall viewpoints very much.
In a similar manner to yourself, i’m one generation removed from an Irish potato field – my grandfather being brought to England by Irish immigrants because his parents had one too many mouths to feed. I was born on a council estate, so – again like you – i’m speaking from experience.
You asked earlier how i might define a “geek”. IQ aside, i’d say the main characteristic might be someone who finds it difficult to navigate through the world except through the medium of (previously) books and now computers. I fully agree with your point about “who will maintain the computers”.
It’s interesting that from your US perspective, you have the *relatively* easy social mobility whereas in the UK there still exists the disadvantages of class. These are not easily overcome, but it’s not impossible, given time and patience. One thing that happens if one succeeds though is the acquisition of a certain “street-wiseness” which doesn’t correlate with being a geek, hence my demurring at the correlation you propose.
As far as i can ascertain from our exchanges, the only difference in viewpoint between us lies in the different societal circumstances in which we’ve been raised.

Amy Malek
Amy Malek
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Thank you for expanding on this topic!
A great end to a week and start of a weekend.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago

Can liberals save themselves from extinction?
I do hope not

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
7 months ago

Certainly clever women are having less children, not wanting to be consigned to a perpetual world of childcare, elder care and drudgery. Who can blame them? Until men share those duties at least equally, don’t expect that trend to reverse any time soon. We need smart women in good jobs, otherwise half the talents of the population are lost.

No, open-ness, above average intelligence and value of education aren’t most common in liberals. Older people are less likely to be woke, but high IQ and value education is equally distributed among old and young. Often it’s more effective for decision making compared with younger people when combined with experience and wisdom.

Kat L
Kat L
6 months ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

Well they should have their fun and live on the memory because it will be particularly miserable once they become aged. If you have ever seen a loved one through a serious illness or infirmary you understand that exactly zero number of people treating them will not be prioritizing them. Family advocates for family. Getting dumped into a cut rate nursing home being taken care of immigrants making minimum wage is going to make the most vulnerable stage of their lives most unpleasant.

Jane Davis
Jane Davis
6 months ago

What, of course, Harrington and these two home knitted frontal cortices have ignored is that all children are mutations – even children of Nazis do not always see eye to eye with Ma and Pa. Murdoch, so I am told, has impeccably liberal parents.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
6 months ago

Sounds like one or both of them may have encountered C.M. Kornbluth’s short story, “The Marching Morons,” in their formative years.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
7 months ago

Well the Goths basically walked into Rome and lots of the amenities and basics introduced to life by the latter disappeared for over a millennium. So why wouldn’t it happen again ?

Or will globalisation mean it carries on somewhere in the world and the knowledge isn’t effectively lost for hundreds of years ?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

How will it be “lost” unless the internet closes down? (Not impossible, i know…)

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

A few “buckets of instant sunshine” would soon polish off the Internet.

Geoff W
Geoff W
7 months ago

You mean the internet that you and Steve and I use to read and comment here?