Re: population resource imbalances

Danny Yee (danny@STAFF.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Sat, 5 Nov 1994 22:54:09 +1000

D. Read writes:
> At a MINIMUM, missing in this kind of argument is DEMONSTRATION of how the
> purported practise actually serves to regulate population size. As I
> commented in a previous post: female infanticide by Netsilik eskikmos was NOT
> a "population regulating mechanism"; the view expressed by !Kung women that
> they would like to have as many children as possible, so long as they have
> the resources to ensure that the well being of their family IS a population
> regualting mechanism.

I'm a bit confused about "mechanism". The way you use it seems to
imply that intentionality is necessary, but this is unlike the use
in other fields. So it is possible that (as you suggest) Netsilik
eskimos use infanticide to increase the fraction of the family
that can hunt. However this might be driven indirectly by population
pressure (high population => hunting not so good => higher ratio of
hunters to non-hunters needed) WITHOUT anyone consciously thinking
about population control and "group fitness" (which I agree is highly
unlikely). This would qualify as a "mechanism" in my opinion.

Danny Yee.