The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Science Gone Wrong

Posted on | June 21, 2011 | 37 Comments

Instapundit’s enthusiasm for all things scientific leads him to write this headline:

MORE WOMEN ARE freezing their eggs
to make babies later.
Makes sense.

Well, excuse me for disagreeing. It is a preposterously stupid idea to encourage women deliberately to postpone first-time motherhood until they are middle-aged, without concern for the obvious arguments against such a decision.

For a woman to have her first (and most likely only) child at age 45 — to do this deliberately, as I say — is to ensure that her child grows up with an elderly mother, one who will be in her 60s when her child is a teenager. And it is quite likely that, should this child eventually become a parent, that child’s grandmother will already be in the grave. You are almost guaranteeing a sundering of direct cultural continuity between generations.

It is one thing, I say, when such things happen by luck or accident or fate (call it what you will), but it is another thing to pursue this preposterously unnatural course of action deliberately, with the aid and encouragement of science. And I wish Professor Reynolds, whose admiration of science extends also to science fiction, would keep in mind how often sci-fi offers dystopian warnings about well-intentioned Science Gone Wrong.

We are just now seeing how “scientific” intervention on the other side of the procreative ledger has brought unintended consequences, and perhaps we ought to consider whether it is time for a return to making babies The Good Old-Fashioned Way.



37 Responses to “Science Gone Wrong”

  1. Finrod Felagund
    June 24th, 2011 @ 2:51 am

     I don’t think the only comparison to be made here is between women having their first child late in their childbearing years and women having their first child earlier– there’s also the consideration that without this option, many of these women simply wouldn’t have any children at all.  With the national birthrate so close to falling to replacement levels, getting more women from having 0 children to having 1 has to be considered helpful; every little one counts.

    Also to be considered is that in past generations, it was more common for generations to not have much contact with grandparents simply because of shorter life expectancy.  Back when the mean lifespan was 64 years, children of mothers in their 30s often didn’t end up knowing their grandparents for very long, and it didn’t destroy the republic then, I can’t imagine that this would cause enough of an effect to make it overall worse than it was then.

    So, good argument but I can’t agree with its conclusion, there are other ameliorating factors at play here.