SUMMARY: In the first study, we find that low birthrate is a rational consequence of prosperity, because parenting sucks. We wonder whether hard times will reverse the demographic decline. In the second, we find that adversity increases love and faith,giving some hope for the future.
Is demographic decline caused by progressivism or is it simply rational self-actualization?
Social conservatives and those concerned with demographic decline don’t want to admit this, but it stands to reason: parenting is a large sacrifice that according to this studyreduces happiness, particularly for parents with more than one child.
So perhaps demographic collapse is rational and not only a product of progressivism. It may be an inevitable phase of prosperity and self actualization, absent any strong cultural counterforce. This argues against Vox Day’s contention that the pendulum will swing back to high birthrates during economic contraction, as children are once again seen as an economic resource. Perhaps technology has ended the profitability of children. E.g, a parent who can train his child in online entrepreneurship can certainly find more productive uses for his time.
In which case, the question becomes, will technology make adults obsolete too before the demographic crisis becomes unmanageable? That is a plausible alternative to the usual predictions of religious resurgence or barbarian conquest. Not that these are mutually exclusive. And there is a fourth possibility: Mussolini-style state sponsorship of childbearing.
Faith and Love – wildlife of the harsh wilderness
Psychologists discover the link between faith in adversity and love in pain:
In a series of studies, more than 600 participants were placed in anxiety-provoking or neutral situations and then asked to describe their personal goals and rate their degree of conviction for their religious ideals. This included asking participants whether they would give their lives for their faith or support a war in its defence.
Across all studies, anxious conditions caused participants to become more eagerly engaged in their ideals and extreme in their religious convictions. In one study, mulling over a personal dilemma caused a general surge toward more idealistic personal goals. In another, struggling with a confusing mathematical passage caused a spike in radical religious extremes. In yet another, reflecting onrelationship uncertainties caused the same religious zeal reaction.
This supports Vox Day’s prediction, based on historical observation and also apparent in the Bible, that hard times produce a return to faith.
The study focuses on idealistic religious conviction as the impacted variable, and so does not test whether a difficult math problem also increases romantic idealism. However, one can see similarities between the two psychological traits – in extreme cases the only differences seem to be the sex and mode of worship of the deity. Thus lovers’ woes often produce blindly idealistic feelings that are anathema to good Game. And also, the enforced separation of Romeo and Juliet permitted them to scale the very pinnacle of romantic idealism.
Lest anyone (and I’m looking at you, PUAs) doubt or deny the power and truth of true love as portrayed by Shakespeare in his most famous work, I hereby submit a non-fiction example of equal ardor and tragic grandeur: the Diary of an Anonymous U-boat Commander.
Implications of the link between Stress and Love
After writing this, I realized that the two women I (long ago, in my pre-Game phase) fell into unrequited love with, were beatified by stress beyond their deserts. At that moment, my remaining patina of idealistic love for them seemed to fall away.
Now I wonder, knowing this psychological kink, am I forever incapable of idealistic love? Is Romeo and Juliet a trick of behavioral conditioning, and involuntary watering of the dog’s mouth? Or, if I set my sights so high that I may only with great stress and investment capture my romantic target, can I feel love again, and should I?
I suspect that, rather than choosing any one interpretation dogmatically, I will embrace them all. Damn the dissonance, full speed ahead. I seem to find lately that the key to maturity and growth lies in the ability to hold multiple partially-contradictory viewpoints in dynamic tension, without dissolving into incoherency, at least until some new synthesis suggests itself, and possibly indefinitely.
As to whether idealistic love can be healthy, my answer, to ignore the dissonance and embrace both paths, is an attempt to achieve a healthy idealistic love. It means embracing both cynicism and idealism. Of course, this still requires an exceptional woman – even more innately virtuous because to overcome the effect of cynicism’s steady stare.
In the story of the U-boat commander, he saw her character truly enough, although he lacked the logical information to complete the picture rationally. This was part of the tragedy, that revelation and loss were simultaneous.