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« Materialism and the moral argument: comments & responses, part 2 | Main | Aargh! »

October 31, 2007

Comments

Suzanne from Okla.

It's those tribbles, with their very short gestational timetable that trouble me most.

bill912

Did anyone else see this story line in the article: There's nothing wrong with teenagers having unmarried sex?

John E

Nice post SDG! Oh wait...

Esau

Nice post SDG!


Silly SDG, T Rex are for kids!

Mark Windsor

Are tribbles extinct!?!

Brian Day

Did anyone else see this story line in the article: There's nothing wrong with teenagers having unmarried sex?

Because dinosaurs were having teenage unmarried sex? Heh.
bill912, I get your point. I just couldn't resist. :)

Matthew L. Martin


Mark Windsor--Tribbles will be extinct, or nearly so, by the end of the 23rd century. Evidence suggests a few may have been preserved in the Federation, but wild populations and the Tribble homeworld were wiped out.

No news yet on what affect certain events in 2374 might have had on repopulating the species.

Smoky Mountain

Like humans . . . and tribbles . . .

And someone posted elsewhere that atheists were nerds. ;)

Monica

"Dinosaurs did pretty much what we do and what most other vertebrates do," explained co-presenter Andrew Lee. "If these species had waited until full size to reproduce, they would have had very few years in which to produce offspring."

I like the implication here that teens have sex because, after all, they don't have that many years as adults to reproduce. I'm pretty sure that's the motivation behind most teen sex isn't it?

Esau

Tribbles will be extinct, or nearly so, by the end of the 23rd century.


Silly --

Tribbles have virtually been eliminated by the replicators.

Esau

I like the implication here that teens have sex because, after all, they don't have that many years as adults to reproduce. I'm pretty sure that's the motivation behind most teen sex isn't it?

Not that I am promoting teen sex (which, I agree, is not appropriate especially at that impressionable age, amongst other things), but wasn't the Virgin Mary 12 or even 13 years old when she got married with Joseph and had child with Jesus?

JoAnna
Not that I am promoting teen sex (which, I agree, is not appropriate especially at that impressionable age, amongst other things), but wasn't the Virgin Mary 12 or even 13 years old when she got married with Joseph and had child with Jesus?

Probably, but life expectancy back then was something like 45-50 years as well. Nowadays, 50 is just the beginning of the rest of your life! :) (So says my mom...)

Ed Peters

The problem is the term "adolescent". It's taken on a cultural meaning, not a biological one. And cultural meanings change over time, frequently. The adolsecent of the ancient world is not the adolescent of the modern. Thus Esau's question is both good, and lends itself to making a great point.

Now about these reprobate dinos. We've got to do something about this, and quick.

Brian Walden

The problem is the term "adolescent". It's taken on a cultural meaning, not a biological one.

And apparently teenager has taken on a biological meaning rather than a cultural one. The article used "teenager" where it should have used "adolescent." While technically correct in this instance because the dinosaurs began reproducing in their teenage years, the real phenomenon is that they began reproducing while they were still adolescents. I'm sure that lots of species reproduce in their teenage years, but almost all of them are fully mature when they do so.

Moth

No, it is I who will eat you!

Moth

The find puts dinosaurs on the list of animals that had teenage pregnancies. Others on the list include crocodiles, lizards and humans.

I love how this portrays humans, as though teens have nothing to do with it. "It's just biology, no self-control."

Esau

JoAnna:

Probably, but life expectancy back then was something like 45-50 years as well. Nowadays, 50 is just the beginning of the rest of your life! :) (So says my mom...)

Thanks for the info! ;^)

Marion (Mael Muire)

The article in Wikipedia is in line with what I have read about life in earlier eras. The average human life expectancy in the Neolithic (Recent Stone Age) and in the Bronze Age was around 18-20 years. The Greeks and the Romans of the classical era might expect to live to the age of 45, but in the medieval period, that expectancy dropped to about 25 years of age. It was not until the Industrial era that the average person could expect to reach the age of 50.

There had to be lots of babies, because infants and children died, died, died. No antibiotics, no vaccines, no hospitals, no nothing. Some great-great-relatives of mine buried five children in the space of two weeks (from diphtheria). Queen Catherine of Aragon - Henry VIII's first wife - gave birth to eight or ten children . . . all died before they reached the age of eighteen months, except one, Mary, who survived to adulthood.

And the women died. Something like one in four women died in childbirth. No C-sections; if they tried it, the mother would certainly hemorrhage to death. C-sections with maternal survival weren't possible until the advent of modern medicine at the turn of the 20th century. Or the mothers died soon after childbirth, of infections.

Look at the dates on the gravestones in old cemeteries in churchyards - "Died aged 18 months"; "Died aged 3 years"; "Died aged 15 years"; "Died aged 21 years".

People had to grow up fast and reproduce as quickly as they could, for the species to survive. Even if the young mother died giving birth, her baby might still live and have a chance to grow up.

It used to be tough, very tough out there.

Cody

Wow...what a non-news even. Animals breeding soon after reaching breeding age! Who'd-a-thunk-it?

bill912

BTW: Tribbles do not become pregnant during adolescence, they're born pregnant, reproducing almost at will ("And boy have they got a lot of will!")

LJ

"We now know that T. rex lived fast and died young," he said.


Bang a Gong, Get It On . . .

Mike Melendez

I wonder if the teenage pregnancies stopped some dinos from finishing high school and getting a good job chomping apatosaurs?

Rabbits (the real tribbles) are unusual here. Their average life span in the wild is 1, that's right, 1 year. So no teenage pregnancies there. Then again they breed like, well, rabbits.

Kasia

I was just told at a talk that the reason average life expectancy was so low in the pre-modern world was because of people dying young who dragged down the average (like the ages Marion mentioned). He said if you lived to age 40, you had a very good shot of living to age 80.

Anyone know if that's true?

Moth

Kasia,

It seems sound, on the face of it. With so many wars taking the lives of hundreds of thousands of young men, it seems likely that it would bring down the life expectancy average.

Barbara

Their lifespan was from 25-30 years.

That would be 175 in dog years.

If they only lived 25 years, then reproducing at 10 would be about 30 in human years. Not so Earth shattering as the story would imply.

Marie

Mathematically it makes sense that when the average life-span was 25 or 40, many people lived much older. Babies who died in the first year (and many did) died at age 0. So if you had 2 children and one died in infancy and one died at age 80, the average lifespan of your children would be 40. The median age at death would probably be better, and a graph of the distribution best of all for understanding how old people lived.

Someone above said the average lifespan during the classical age was in the 40s, but if you look at the composition of the Roman Senate during the last century of the Republic, it's clear that at least some people (granted the ones with the best access to food) lived much longer.

On the other hand, even in the last hundred years, we can see that people are dying of "old age" at older ages than they used to.

So I think average life spans were shorter because 1) many people died in infancy or childhood of diseases we can now cure or prevent, 2) many people died as young adults of causes that aren't as frequent (childbirth, disease, malnutrition, burns, accident), and 3) people got "old" at younger ages (but not necessarily as young as the average lifespan)

I'm not entirely certain what this has to do with dinosaurs laying eggs before they reached full growth or what that has to do with human teen pregnancy. I'm not certain if 13-year-old girls capable of getting pregnant are still growing themselves (I thought women stopped growing at puberty), but I doubt 17-year-old girls are.

However, I have no doubt that some people are very grateful for contraception/birth control when they look at 30 years of fertility in a culture that values having sex but not having large numbers of children.

I find myself more and more annoyed by historical fiction or fantasy writers who do not seem to understand the demographics of the period they are writing about or imitating or what effects those demographics and the lack of modern healthcare would have on people's attitudes and beliefs. Too many heros/heroines are only children or have only one sibling, with no mention of dead siblings; too many unmarried women give no thought to the potential hazards of sex, etc; too high a percentage of non-farmers are running around given the level of tech described (David Eddings and the 100,000 church knights in Elenium series is the most egregious example I can think of), etc.

Maureen

Re: percentages of non-farmers

I've seen a medievalist make the very useful observation that a medieval knight needed about the same number of support people (farmers, men at arms, smith, etc.) as a fighter pilot needs in an air wing. Now, granted, both the air wing support people and the medieval support people all did varied jobs and not all of it went directly to supporting said fighter. But pretty much the same thing, in terms of numbers -- and of course medieval society wasn't as rich or numerous as ours.

Re: only children

Well, that's okay, as long as said only child is clearly marked out as a poor pitiful singleton in a world full of family and company, and is hence pitied by the Tellers of Fairy Tales.

Helena

It's interesting that there has always been a lot of only children (and orphans) and small families in literature, even in eras when the regular family was larger. Think Dickens, for instance. I've come to the conclusion that it has nothing to do with an author's attitude towards family size. It's just really hard to write a large family. You are multiplying the relationships hugely every time you bring another sibling in. Large families therefore tend to be supporting characters when you get them. Four children is about the limit that most authors can handle when they're the main characters.

There are indeed exceptions. Arthur Ransome's "Swallows and Amazons" stories started out with a family of four (and a baby), but as he wrote, he had the family increase naturally, and the younger children mature into new characters. But then Ransome really loved writing crowds of children, since the Walker family was also surrounded by increasing number of bosom friends.

But mostly, just like parents and a larger social support system, siblings get in the way of fictional characters.

Smoky Mountain

Four children is about the limit that most authors can handle when they're the main characters

I have to take exception here -- the author of the critically-acclaimed screenplay "Cheaper by the Dozen" (starring Steve Martin and Hilary Duff) was able to write for 12 siblings, all in leading roles. Nothing was lost in terms of emotional develop, dramatic intensity, familial relationships, or artistic merit. It's obvious that the skill needed to master the art of writing about families of 12 children is not only possible, it's alive and well in our modern cinema.

RD

Critically acclaimed... you're joking. The movie was panned by the reviewers. Doesn't take away from your enjoyment, but really...

the dinosaur files

page 2 last paragraphs is leading to the unspoken conclusion that people should not wait to have sex...i disagree...they should wait until they are intellectually mature...and not base it upon so called sexual maturity. teens have not reached their sexual maturity yet still. they still have some sexual changes to grow through in their 20's...a teen boy does not look the same as a college boy. there is a different...teens are still in their awkward stage...they have not finished growing. a boy at 18 looks different from one at 21 vs one at 27...there really is a lot of stages to reaching sexual maturity as a man and as a woman.
besides, people really aren't sexually mature in their teen years anyway...that is just the beginning of their sexual they even change from high school to college in physical appearance and sexual maturity...sexual maturity is a long drawn out process of development and goes through stages...completion is NOT in the awkward teenage years...that is one stage to full maturity but is not fully grown and mature. awkward look means not done yet.

"As for future humans losing their ability to produce as teens, Lee believes that's unlikely.

He said, "There is little benefit to delay sexual maturity in humans, so I can't imagine that selection might operate to delay sexual maturity before reaching adult size."

i agree somewhat with the idea that marriage has been delayed way too long waiting for intellectual maturity is a good idea

Smoky Mountain

Critically acclaimed... you're joking. The movie was panned by the reviewers.

Oh come on! Rottentomatos.com? Could you find a less professional website?

I would think that three Grammies, two Tonies, and four Espy Awards would be enough evidence of critical acclaim.

You really shouldn't make unsubstantiated claims. I have half a mind to disregard any academic research you perform!

Doesn't take away from your enjoyment, but really...

I actually didn't really like Cheaper by the Dozen .. it was a little too artsy / avante-garde for my tastes .. but I know quality when I see it!

Foggy Hilltop

If it's not clear to anyone, Smoky is joking.

Brian Day

I have to take exception here -- the author of the critically-acclaimed screenplay "Cheaper by the Dozen" (starring Steve Martin and Hilary Duff) was able to write for 12 siblings, all in leading roles.

Humbug. If you want writing for a large group, then you have to go with the original Yours, Mine and Ours (1968). What a pleasure to watch Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball working together.

Smoky Mountain

Brian,

I'm not sure if you're joking, but I was.

Cheers,
Smoky

Jason

Smokey, I believe I've argued at great length that you should trust Rotten Tomatoes more than your own judgment. If you continue to think otherwise, I will have to simply stop responding to your posts.

J.R. Stoodley

I think cat's do this too. The get pregnant the first time before reaching full size and maturity.

Humans become capable of reproducing early in puberty, but girl's bodies remain unideal for this until their late teens, so there may be complications. Becoming biologically mature does not automatically mean they are ready for marriage yet though. They still need the emotional maturity. Some may have this maturity by then, but especially in our modern culture they often don't until their early to mid 20s, if even then. I imagine that in the past, with very different social expectations and experiences, people grew up more more quickly, mentally and emotionally speaking.

And yes, I'm pretty sure it is true that it is largely infant and child death and I suppose death of young men in war, that pulled down the average life expectancy so much, though of course people living to their 80s or 90s was rarer then than now. Remember how it says in the Bible somewhere something like "the span of our lives is 70 years, or 80 if we are strong." I suppose that shows how long people at that time expected someone to live if not taken "early" by violence or disease.

passing through

"I like the implication here that teens have sex because, after all, they don't have that many years as adults to reproduce. I'm pretty sure that's the motivation behind most teen sex isn't it?"

I think that there is something to be said for previous western traditions of much earlier marriage between younger people. The social order has perverted it and extended adolescence... We can't get married till we have gone to college, to get good jobns, to buy big houses before having fewer kids because we cannot afford too many and still live in the big house and have the car payment and....

To be fair, no the average teen is not chomping at the bit to "get some" so they can reproduce... At least not consciously. But it stands to reason that there is something to that natural inclination in those years for self-preservation through reproduction.

Come to think of it by my age (30) my grandmother had already 3 children... my great-grandmothers significantly more. And had they NOT started early and finished late, I would not be here. Not one of my grandparents was "Child 1-4" They were respectively (if memory serves me correctly) Child #5, Child #7, Child #8 & Child #11.

Somehow, I have a hard time believing Child #7, Child #8 & Child #11 would have ever existed if all great grandparents had been good 21st century-like Americans and waited till late 20s/early 30s to get married and have children.

Matthew Siekierski

Heck, passing through, Child #5 probably wouldn't have existed. #5 for us will be here in 12 days, and as far as most people are concerned, our family is already huge.

Smoky Mountain

Smokey, I believe I've argued at great length that you should trust Rotten Tomatoes more than your own judgment. If you continue to think otherwise, I will have to simply stop responding to your posts.

:)

J.R. Stoodley

An individual's own ancestry is irrelevant to what is best for young people today. Few high schoolers even know what they will be when they grow up, much less what their vocation is or who it is to if they are called to marriage. Earlier cultures did things differently, but those were earlier cultures living in a different world. And honestly not all cultural change is always bad. I think waiting to achieve a greater level of maturity before commiting yourself to someone for life is a good idea, just like the greater emphasis on actually discering priestly or religious vocations instead of just jumping into it in our age than any other is probably also a good thing. Personally I think if they have the money people (both sexes) should go to college before marrying or entering a seminary or marrying, to help them discover more about themselves and life and make them more well-rounded people, whatever they will do with life after that.

If it were up to me, I'd switch the drinking and marrying ages in this country. It's an inhuman system when you can bind yourself perminantly to someone before you can have a glass of champaign at a wedding.

Brian Day

Smokey,

With references to tribbles and replicators, can anything here be serious?
Just kidding.

Cheaper by the Dozen = 12 kids.
Yours, Mine and Ours = 18 kids.
50% more kids - 50% better movie! :-)

Smoky Mountain

Cheaper by the Dozen = 12 kids.
Yours, Mine and Ours = 18 kids.
50% more kids - 50% better movie!

I spent a few hours checking your numbers and assessing the validity of your logical reasoning here. While you're correct in a rough sense, my calculations suggest that "Yours, Mine, and Ours" is really on 48.53% better.

Smoky Mountain

Your basic mistake, Brian, was that you forgot to adjust for inflation.

Mary

Check out the fairy tales: only children galore. Pairs. Three children. Ok, the twelve dancing princesses, and Hop O' My Thumb had several sisters and brothers, but usually not even four.

There are sound literary reasons for small family sizes.

Fantasy novels would be better if they worked through to their conclusions. Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology. Most have the magical healing; add magical agriculture, and you can have a lot of things.

Jarnor23

You know, back not too long ago, a teenaged boy was considered a man, and as such was expected to work his butt off, fight for king and country, and do what was expected of a man.

Nowadays, you can find "men" at 40 that shirk these responsibilities, as well as those to his wife and children.

I can't help but think coddling folks until they're oh, maybe 18-25 or longer has a lot to do with our problems. Once upon a time, men started taking adult responsibilities by 14, and women were often married around then. Seemed to work more than our "modern" society, and biology seems to agree with it. When the maker gives us a hint, perhaps we shouldn't instantly "cluck-cluck" at an author who points it out. As if a liberal would want to encourage CHILD BEARING at a young age. A liberal would want to show how dinosaurs had sex and didn't get pregnant due to the age, so it was all "healthy experimentation" or how male dinosaurs liked to be intimate with other male dinosaurs.

Marie

I agree with Mary that fantasy writers could arrange their world to yield the kind of culture they want, what bigs me is that many don't see the neccessity or can't be bothered. And I agree with Helena that authors may want the protagonist to have a small family for the same reason that Disney always kills off the mother - but if your universe is only small families there should be some explanation (one sentence somewhere is sufficient) because that is not the normal state of human affairs.

Elijah

Whenever you are tempted to read one of these modern fantasy authors just do what I do - read Tolkien again.

A.Williams

I live in the Dominican Republic...yes, the same country that was hit hard by tropical storm Noel this week. And one area hit particularly hard is an area where I have relatives living, from my wife's side of the family...an area called Azua.

And in normal times this place is very interesting, mostly because almost all the people in this area grow 'platano's', or plantains. Basically, they're large green bananas that everyone here eats! Actually, they're very good too, healthy and are cooked in numerous and interesting ways.

But this is not what is interesting about Azua. What is interesting is the agricultural lifestyle!

The people there, including my familial relations, have pretty much nothing, except small cement block houses, one pig tied to a tree for Christmas dinner, and acres and acres of platano's to eat, with a side of some other product grown locally on the spot.

And they also have some small motor scooters to get around, usually honda 70's, kind of like small Vespas.

But what they do have are many, many children and young adults! And the way they live is exceedingly natural! It seems that as soon as they are old enough to find a boyfriend, at about 14-16 yrs. old....they are happily married! It's incredible.

I talk to these individuals, my relatives indeed, and am amazed at how simple and uncomplicated the life is there! And the young men, who are only 16, or so, are completely mature..like nothing you might find in the U.S.!

I think it is the absolute simplicity of the life there, with no ambition, and only the same reliable work, with nothing much to buy, and a life highly predictable...that leads them to have confidence to start families very early, even as some of our ancestors did in recent years back.

And really it's somewhat of an envious situation. So poor in the eyes of western civilization, but so ignorant of their poverty, and therefore, quite happy all the same. I guarantee, everytime I visit, there are no less smiles than I find when I visit my hometown in the U.S.!

These people are adapted to simplicity, and have numerous children with NO FEAR on how they will be provided for. The Platano's have always worked for them in the past, and somehow, they have confidence in the future for the same reasons.

I'm not kidding..the life was so pleasant there, that I really thought about buying a few acres of Platano's a while back! And then I thought I would write home and send photos, saying.."I did it, I now am the proud owner of a Banana plantation here in the D.R.!! Here are the photos folks! And all my neighbors are REALLY happy folk...even though they generally eat EVERY DAY...Platano's!

The Lord really takes care of His own in mysterious ways! And, sometimes, the poor might not be as poor as we all think. They might have riches and spiritual gifts that money can't buy! I am always amazed when I visit this place, and there are countless others just like it all over the world!

Brian Day

While you're correct in a rough sense, my calculations suggest that "Yours, Mine, and Ours" is really on 48.53% better.

79.86% of all statistics are made up.

labrialumn

Adolescence is a recent sociological construction, is it not? Not found in history. Mary comes to mind.


Life expectancy doesn't describe the age people reach, but the average age when infant mortality is taken into consideration. People that didn't die in disease, childbirth, or war, lived as long as they do today. The lifespan was not compressed.

"It is biology, no self-control" is the dogmatic line of the NEA.

Dear Mr. Stoodley, What about the increased temptation? I also observe that maturity is not a matter of direct correspondence to age. I know of some teenagers who are homeschooled who are as mature as their bodies are, for marrying and having children, and I know some in their 30s who were government-schooled, who are not. St. Paul said to the unmarried, that they should marry, as there is so much temptation.

Mary, the fairy tales are probably not so far off when it comes to -surviving- children.

Jarnor, quite so.

Elijah, very good advice.

A Williams, that is wonderful. I'd be concerned though, being farm-raised myself, about having a monoculture. If the disease that is killing all banana grass/trees everywhere spreads to plantain, there will be famine, as in Ireland in the 1840s. I'd advise them to diversify their crops. I'd also be concerned that with such a starchy diet, diabetes must be fairly prevalent.

We live in a fallen world. That is the lifestyle I prefer, too, though in the upper Midwest with the natural changes. But being a fallen world, the economy and realities of life make that impossible.

It is good to make sure that people know what is preferable, so that they can make better choices, but perfection is not going to be found.

Tim AJ
Life expectancy doesn't describe the age people reach, but the average age when infant mortality is taken into consideration. People that didn't die in disease, childbirth, or war, lived as long as they do today. The lifespan was not compressed.

If you believe Dr. J. C. Sanford in Genetic Entropy the human genome is degrading. There is a reason why people lived longer in the old Testament. It is only a human perspective that we are evolving, culturally, materially, and biologically. It is true that 1 in 22 individuals are currently being treated for some type of genetic disease.

Paul

The Cheaper by the Dozen tangent astonishes me. For starters, you can't use it as evidence of artistic originality, good or bad, because it isn't fiction -- the Gilbreth's were a real family, and their adventures were told by one of the daughters in the excellent books Cheaper by the Dozen and the sequel, Bells on their Toes, as well as in the 1950 movie, Cheaper by the Dozen, staring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy. Dean Martin is an insulting hack who is an insult to the carbon he's made of. I honestly haven't a clue what was done to the story in his absurd remake. If you want a good example of visual art, in more than one sense of the word, take a gander at Myrna Loy.

Teresa Tulip

It's interesting that there has always been a lot of only children (and orphans) and small families in literature, even in eras when the regular family was larger. Think Dickens, for instance.

I think this has more to do with potential for plotting which you have with stories about orphans or small families, especially families with a missing parent or long-long sibling. Most of Dickens' novels are about characters who are somehow marginal, and who need to/ want to be drawn into society. Orphans are ideal for those purposes, because, being without a family, they are clearly isolated, and they often WANT a home or a family, so they have a reason to seek reintegration in society. See Jane Eyre for an example of how an orphan is used in a classic Bildungsroman.

I've come to the conclusion that it has nothing to do with an author's attitude towards family size. It's just really hard to write a large family.

On the other hand, read Charlotte Yonge's The Daisy Chain and The Trial. (Great literature? Probably not, but worth reading for those interested in the Oxford Movement, if nothing else.) Yonge really could pull off family chronicles dealing with large families. What makes it strange is that she was one of only two children, and she herself never married.

Seagull

A few things spring to mind:
Every picture I have ever seen of Mary with the Baby Jesus shows her looking full-grown. No, girls don't stop growing at puberty. They grow just as long as boys do, to the early 20's. Therefore tradition seems to say Mary had Jesus when she was at least 17 (maybe an mature-looking 14 or 15) if not older.
Puberty is a process, and menarche is no guarantee of fertility. Sexual maturity and fertility are two different things, just as a baby learns to walk years before his legs mature (in his 20's).
Medieval European women usually were wed when they were in their early 20's, though exceptions existed. Most early marriages then had to do with old parents making sure they controlled their daughters' marriages, not with a need for immediate offspring. Later marriages had more to do with women who had to work for years to build a dowry so they could afford ahusband who would support them, rather than have to work after marriage.
The earlier a woman has her first child, the more likely the child is to die, the more likely the child is to have birth defects, the more likely the mother is to sustain injuries that could prevent her having more children, and the shorter her life expectancy. The optimum age for a first child if the woman is trying to have as many as possible is about 16 or 17, with two-to-four-year gaps. That's if she menstruates at 12 and is fertile at 13, as is common in the US today. In prehistoric times some people were well-fed and others weren't, but few likely had the estrogen levels seen today, because artificial estrogens weren't in everything until recently. Therefore it is very improbable that prehistoric girls started bearing children before they were 16 or older, often much older, generally speaking.

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