I must admit, Dr. Strangelove, you have an astonishingly good idea.

Roger Ebert reviews the new movie “2012” here.  The following jumped out at me:

Many gigantic arks have been secretly constructed inside the Himalayas by the Chinese, funded by a global consortium, and they’re the only chance of the human race surviving. Along with the animals on board, there’s the maybe well-named Noah (Liam James). In theory, ark ticketholders represent a cross-section of the globe, chosen democratically. In practice, Carl Anheuser pulls strings to benefit the rich and connected, and wants to strand desperate poor people on the dock.

So, they’re picking rich people to go in the arks instead of poor people.  How awful.  But wait.  If the whole human race is going to be wiped out except for, say, a few thousand people, why is it worse to choose those people based on wealth than to choose them based by lot?  (Choosing by lots is the only thing I can imagine Ebert means when he says they are chosen “democratically”.)  After all, one of the big arguments for socialism is that how much money you’re born with is just a sort of lottery, right?  Also, since the arks have a limited carrying capacity, isn’t it necessarily true that the vast majority of people who want in are going to be “desperate” and “stranded” “on the dock”, whether or not anyone wants to strand them?  In fact, to preserve the human race, wouldn’t it be someone’s grim duty to use force to keep the arks from being swarmed and destroyed by desperate people?  Of course, if the writers were to address these sorts of dilemmas, they might have actually made an interesting movie, instead of this piece of egalitarian idiocy.

All right, suppose I was dictator of the world and got to decide which, say, 2000 people to save.  How to do it?  First, I would realize that I’d be primarily picking not individuals, but genes.  Therefore, no one with an inheritable medical condition is let on.  Also, we’ll want to maximize genetic diversity to make the human remnant as robust as possible, so we’ll want to sample races and people from all over the world about equally.  Next, I’ll want to choose people so that I can repopulate the Earth as quickly as possible.  Humanity will be safer when there’s millions of us again.  Therefore, no women over 30 and no old men.  Also, there should be a few women for each man.

But Bonald, isn’t it wrong to advocate polygamy, even for the purpose of repopulating the Earth?  Believe it or not, the medieval philosopher Duns Scotus has actually addressed this issue.  His conclusion was that polygamy might be acceptable in such extreme cases, but only if God were to somehow provide explicit permission.  It would be a hard thing for each man to have four twenty-year-old, genetically perfect wives who he’d have to have sex with all the time.  To save the human race, though, it’s a sacrifice I’d be willing to make.

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