Friday, November 15, 2013

R versus K

         R versus K

         Some political commentators express surprise that the states which strongly oppose the right to abortion are also the ones that do the least to support their children. This is indeed paradoxical in terms of abstract human morality; but if you analyze this phenomenon in terms of evolutionary biology, then it all makes perfect sense.

         You see, biologists have observed two opposite reproductive strategies: “low-r, high-K” and “high-r, low-K”. R refers to reproductive rate, K refers to quality of parental care. In low-r, high-K species (such as elephants, whales and primates) litter sizes are small and parental care is intense; the few offspring are almost certain to reach maturity. In high-r, low-K species (such as bacteria, invertebrates and insects) litters are huge, to offset the lack of parental care. Most of the offspring soon die, but a few survive long enough to reproduce.

         Evidently the political class in pro-choice states want their citizens to emulate the reproductive strategies of elephants, whales and primates; whereas the political class in anti-choice states want their citizens to breed like (and, perhaps, be treated like?) germs, worms, and vermin.

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