Conserving My Genetic Heritage

Continuing my consideration of optimal strategy for Conservatives, what do we know about maximizing our genetic contribution to future generations?

Conserving my genetic heritage is one-half of the task of conserving my heritage, the only important thing in my values.  As usual, I focus on ME and MINE and everybody else is subservient to the narrowest reasonable interpretation of my long-term good.  Thus, hard-ass hyper-intellectual mentat wannabe, my strategic thinking will not stop at the unthinkable, rather puts the unthinkable to the same tests as any other potential strategy.

I was surprised at the conclusions, they are much clearer and much more strongly supported than I expected.

So, the problem:  I have genes I think special, and I want them passed along into generations in the far future, my bit of immortality.*  What is my best strategy for making that happen?

From historical evidence, the very best thing is to be Genghis Khan.  He liked women, was an active man, he and his sons used family connections established by impregnating local women to manage the empire, and his soldiers arranged partners for him at every stop. Consequently, Genghis Khan great-great-…-grandfathered 1 in 200 men through Central Asia, an estimated 16,000,000 men.  One assumes an equal number of women are descended from him, but that is harder to tell, as women don’t have Genghis’s Y chromosome..

Genghis’s genes have gotten around the world, easily are in every country in the world. OTOH, the average Mongol’s Y-chromosomal genetic heritage could not have not done so well.  Very many of Genghis’s male contemporaries were dead.  Zero scores pull down the average, and every generation Genghis’s sons are relatively more numerous than other men’s sons.  Even before any benefits of being related to the Great Khan, the mathematics are relentless, the Great Khan and his General sons spread their seed very widely over Central Asia. A man could possibly father 360 children in an active life of very high power and military conquest.  Figure 1 pregnancy in 20 attempts, 365 attempts per year, 18 children per year, 9 sons per year for 20 years is 180 sons in a life-time.  Each of his sons grown at the time of the conquest could have done the same in parallel.  As many as 400 living sons from the first two generations was a very enormous win for Genghis Khan Y chromosome and 800 living people bearing progeny good for all his genes, a head start on posterity.

As a role model, Genghis Khan would be a loser in the modern genetics lottery.  As that article discusses, the modern world has much reduced the opportunities for mass conquering, or even harems.  It is not impossible, but you will need to be both rich and focused on the effort. Fame of some sort will help, but to father many children in the modern world, you will need to be rich.  If you are rich, the easiest and most socially-acceptable approach is to rent wombs and nannies.  You could even buy eggs to fertilize and place in those wombs, your personal selective breeding experiments.

If you aren’t that rich and insist on a harem, you are going to have to join the proper social group, one that strongly encourages families to be very fruitful and allow multiple wives.  Your success will be proportional to your income and dedication, or your willingness to live in primitive circumstances and dedication.  We cannot recommend any solution with primitive circumstances, those often have population declines, your genes can be lost.

We cannot recommend the path of raping your way to patriarchhood, even using any of several rape-friendly organizations in your efforts, as modern technology has reduced opportunities for progeny via that route at the same time as rapeable populations have become less tolerant, better armed, and forensics more powerful.  Thus, it rarely prospers.

A few medical specialists in fertility clinics have done OK fertilizing their patients themselves, but technology makes that too easy to check now, patients normally object, and the penalties are increasingly severe.  Paternity is not possible in most prisons.

Probably the surest way for non-wealthy men to fathering harem-sized sets of offspring would be to start a religion.  There are good precedents, it can be done.  However, most end up poor men exploiting each other’s daughters, more the story of perpetual abuse of young women than of increasing progeny.  In fact, they must eject their young men so as to eliminate competition.  Such cults cannot win long-run, those negative-sum exploitative systems don’t produce enough value to perpetuate themselves. Ejected sons must start in the lowest rungs of the social and economic ladders, not predictive of progeny in any society.

Lesser degrees of exploitation continue to work to some extent, e.g. wealthy men in poorer societies with girl-friends in some social form, those are a subset of renting wombs and hiring nannies, economic servitude.  Their children are at enormous social disadvantage and join the exploitable in the next generation.  These are not expanding populations, your genes will not prosper.

You can donate sperm to sperm clinics.  Just read about some guy who is a private sperm donor, said he has produced 20-some pregnancies.  In terms of risk and reward, I think that has possibilities.  I expect competition will be fierce as the opportunity becomes known, have no advice otherwise.

Women have their own mental lists to walk through, with optimal responses in real-life examples of each of those mostly-bad male strategies.  Not being a woman, I will not attempt to discuss those strategies.

But for most of us, men and women, for at least the next generation, we are going to have to depend on positive-sum interactions to get what we want, our genes in the next generation.

No BS about my brother’s genes, he can take care of his copies himself, my concern is exclusively my genes, I want every single one of them in many good-to-better configurations actively seeding their genetic heritage.  My children passing my genetics to grandchildren, conservative of genetic heritages since sex. Which turns out to be remarkably un-conservative, and in such unexpected ways.

Because genes** assort in meiosis, we each, man or woman, have to have 2 offspring to pass along 75% of our unique individual genes.  That is, for many genes, you are homozygous, the same allele in both chromosomes.  For heterozygous loci, 50% probability of each to the first child, 50% probability the 2nd gets the same as the first, 25% probability the allele is in neither child.  You don’t get to choose, in these our last natural generations, whether the lost genes are the ones that gave you your handsome profile and deep mind or the ones that gave you the pot belly and weak arches.  3 children, 12.5%, 4 children 6.25%, 5 children 3.125%.  Average, of course.

Actually, because you have a good number of heterozygous genes and different crossovers in every sperm and egg, your probability of getting all variants into at least one child is low unless even if you have many children. Ditto their prospects, so some of your alleles are very likely going to be lost, failing to make it into any grandchild.  So sorry, you personally aren’t likely going to pass along all of your genes.  If they are all important to you, you need to have cooperation of a family.  A big and growing family and a large and growing clan are your best protection of your total genetic heritage in each generation.

That probability of NOT passing along all of your alleles is a major part of evolution, genetic drift.  That is the change of the population frequencies of alleles due to random aspects of the genetic mechanisms of inheritance.  We know many mutations are ‘neutral’, in that they are only changes in the DNA bases but don’t affect the protein due to redundancy in the genetic code.  We know that there is a base mutation rate that supplies new variation.  If the mutations happen in a sex cell and result in an organism, those mutations are exposed to selection.  Neutral mutations can have an effect  if another base is changed in the same codon.  Whatever the change and however long it has persisted in a species, an allele can be lost if its frequency drops too low, if too few parents in a generation carry it.  Statistically, alleles will be lost.

Falling populations lose many alleles, a genetic bottleneck resulting in little diversity in the continuing population, even if it regains its numbers.  That has happened to humans at least twice, we are a very uniform species, genetically, we all share 99.5% of our genome, 80% of our enzymes are identical.  We appear as different as we do because our populations were small and very inbred, genetic drift did the rest.

Long-run, alleles are independent, each from the other because of cross-over in meiosis.  Genes each have their independent patterns of local genetic drift, as identical statistics and population mating patterns control their independent random walks through our human geneotypes aggregate pool.

The major markers of your slice of the genome that have visible effects, which we identify as ‘race’, are independent, long-run.  Guaranteed there is a very white, blond-haired kid in the world with a negroid nose and lips and East Asian eyes. Yes, statistically clusters of alleles may keep together for long periods, 10s of 1000s of years, but ‘race’ is too static a concept here, we mostly know what race is not.***

Obviously, nature has gone to a lot of trouble so it can never produce offspring identical to parents, except for cases of parthenogenesis. The world is not overrun by parthenogenic or hermaphroditic species, so sex must provide advantages beyond fun.  Study of those exceptions convinces that the driver of sex is diseases and parasites.  It is impossible to predict how those will evolve and thus no way for plants or animals to anticipate in defense, so the balance must be dynamic.

Species evolve new defenses at rates proportional to the evolution of new strains of disease that escape previous defenses.  Standard evolutionary arms race : The attacker evolves by random mutation.  Some mutations work and animals are infected, many may die or not breed as well.  But some are not infected and some do not die, the species continues with survivors able to resist the new mutations.  Wave after wave of mutations sweep through populations of parasites+diseases and hosts, it is all both populations can do to evolve fast enough to continue as an evolving species rather than an extinct species.

It is a Red Queen race, it takes all the running you can do to stay in one place.  As they run, genetic drift guarantees they change and evolve, changing their genetics over time.

All species’ genetics have to keep changing or the species will lose an evolutionary arms race.

The major species weapon for both offense and defense is genetic diversity, the more diverse the less likely a population dips low enough to threaten extinction.  A species on the edge of extinction will have been confined to a small territory, have low populations of limited genetic diversity.  Then a disease kills 10% of the survivors, and a hard winter 30% and a rainy summer another 10% and the population is too low to survive the next random insult.

Pandemic disease is one of the serious threats to civilization.  Disease has always been the major cause of death in populations, and infectious disease a constant hazard.  Wolves and bears and other beasts are minor threats compared to disease, established predator-prey dynamics rarely include the extinction of either. We have mastered our predators, but not our diseases.

Experts count the SARS epidemic in China a near-pandemic because, had it occurred in any other country or had a different pattern of symptoms, it would have escaped control.  Only Communist China could still monitor individual movement so completely, and enforce quarantine measures and temperature checks.  Those measures only worked because SARS only became infectious after the patient developed a temperature.

SARS was quite bad, as viruses go, about 10% death rate.  10% in modern hospitals, with a low number of cases using all of the available ventilators.  Worse, it kept infecting hospital personnel despite negative pressure, full-barrier ICUs, …  That death rate may well have been much higher with 10X the cases in any one area and hospital personnel the first to get sick, it having escaped containment.

There are more pig-duck-people incubators of new viruses and more new viruses entering human populations from wild animals every year.  There are more viruses circulating in more strains every year. Ditto bacteria and parasites, many many of each.

Our problem, as conservators of our personal, special, very nearly perfect, genome is to stay out of declining populations.  Declining populations is loss of genes from the population, some of mine will inevitably be lost.

Defending against diseases and parasites in an evolutionary arms race has clear best strategies : be part of a large population that is geographically dispersed and genetically diverse, especially in immune system functions.  The fewer the people and the smaller the genetic differences in my human population, the more probable I get the newest deadly disease, that I am infected before treatments have been developed.  Also the lower the probability that there will be someone in good health with the medical knowledge to take care of me.

As part of conserving my own genome, I want all of the social and economic systems I might depend upon to be staffed with a good mix of genotypes, so no pandemic can destroy their effectiveness .

Big populations with great genetic diversity totally integrated in all ways is my best protection from disease.

One of the things a person could do to enhance their own personal probability of survival of pandemic is to surround themselves with people of widely different geneotypes.  Living in a big city in a functioning civilization has been a good choice since civilization, and getting better until recently in almost every way.  Perhaps we should attend to that soon.

One of the things you can do to enhance the probability of survival of your genes is to mix them with widely different genotypes.****  That is, while you dilute your perfect mix of genes with those of the most genetically different human from you personally, you also maximally protect those genes from future diseases by your mate’s different immune system and other protections. Those are additive, you are better off with more different antibody genes from your own.  Your children will be better protected with parents of different susceptibility to disease.  If you have combined your clans and cultures well, they will be protected from many other threats by their combined understandings.

Mix your genes, it is good for all of us, economically, socially and biologically.

*Another variety of the less-optimal dead kind of immortality, but definitive evidence that you once lived and loved.

**This assumes some understanding of genetics.

***I need to deal with race in a separate post, as usual I think all sides wrong.

****The effectiveness of this is proportional to your societies tolerance of racial mixtures.  That is, if your offspring can find no one to mate with, their resistance to disease is only good in nurturing other relatives through an epidemic.  Not negligible, but not optimal for your genes.

Also, that would have been true up to modern medicine.  You don’t have to choose. Now the best answer is some combination of the above and ‘trust vaccines’.  If you avoid genetic mixture, you have decided to bet on the vaccine industry’s ability to quickly generate vaccines for 7 billion people.

Note that the loss of any significant number of people on our planet would produce great economic hardship for the rest.


Unexpected result to writing this : This is the only argument I know that is hard ME MINE support for diversity of race as a goal.  I have not yet thought of contrary science, and it will take a while to subject to all of the wisdom humans have created.  Feel free to join in, I try to learn from comments, will shamelessly steal good ideas.

Added later, this shows the effects of inbreeding with cousins on 4 measures, education, IQ, lung capacity and height.  Lesser levels of inbreeding would be harder to detect.  This is the other side of ‘hybrid vigor, heterosis’, the effects of more heterozygous genes and genetic controls.  Except for genes for immune system functions, it is a generalization from the many examples of heterosis in animals and plants, along with generally positive results of mixing peoples, that more heterozygosity is better.  A solid generalization, I judge, but nevertheless merely a strong theoretical reason (2 genes are better than one for redundancy) and generally positive experience, but huge risks when it comes to experimenting with your genome.  OTOH, I don’t know of examples of 2 particular alleles or SNPs in control regions being uniquely bad together.  The general topic is epistasis, co-adaptation of genes and controls, there is a huge amount of theory having to do with different combinations fitting different environmental selections.  There are a few examples, have to keep looking.  Many in yeast and bacteria where the biochemistry is strongest, a few in fruit flies, weak in mammals. They surely exist, but also can’t be very general or they would be known to all breeders, plant and animal.  So my ‘mixing is good’ judgment stands.

Selective breeding uses inbreeding and strong culling to eliminate lesser alleles, then crosses these inbred strains to select positive traits.  15% of humans don’t reproduce, on average, weak culling by breeder standards.  Nevertheless, human genomes show the effects of evolution’s selections.

Added much later, I found an example of a bad interaction of genes, an anti-vigor hybrid effect.  I think they are rarely this distinct and large in negative effect because those are selected out of the genome unless there are counter-balancing positive effects as in the case of sickle-cell anemia : 

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