Modern Society Is Destroying Us

At the heart of maintaining civilization lie two principles: genetic health, and inner motivation toward the good. Everything else flows from this. A civilization is made of people and if they degenerate, it will fail, and one path to degeneration is to stop striving for the good and instead to focus on the self.

Over time, the West has accumulated a deleterious mutation load by shifting its focus from unity of purpose toward tolerance of the individual, who can do whatever he wants without facing consequences for bad or unproductive decisions.

In addition to this ongoing genetic disaster, it seems that many common products and practices are also dooming us. Since genetic mutation load seems to “sneak up” on civilizations, they never see it coming, which makes common sources more likely than uncommon ones. Everyday habits can doom a civilization.

This becomes especially important when we consider that high mutation load produces solipsistic individualists who are the constituency of those who proclaim the need to achieve Utopia through egalitarianism, which ultimately benefits individualists by suspending them from social censure for selfish action.

First on the chopping block: caffeine. The good news is that a cup of coffee a day will not doom you, but the bad news is that if you drink coffee like a writer, you are probably mutating your little wrigglers and could bork out a spawn which will be less adapted to reality and therefore more likely to pursue non-reality like Leftism.

Put down your coffee mug and inspect the genetic effects of too much caffeine:

Men who drank two or more cups of strong coffee a day had just a one in five chance of becoming fathers through IVF.

However, for those who drank less than a cup, the chance of having a child rose to nearly 52 per cent.

The researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, believe that caffeine may harm sperm at a molecular level.

You can the full study here. Luckily, there is also good news about moderate intake of alcohol:

Current NHS advices suggests that men should not drink more than four units a day, the equivalent of around two pints of beer.

The research found that men who drank at least 22g of alcohol per day, or three units, were more than twice as likely to have children through IVF than those who abstained.

Some have theorized that alcohol with its rapid diuretic effect may have a positive effect by flushing the body of slowly accumulating toxins that the body normally removes slowly, like heavy metals. This remains anecdotal until research is done.

One factor regarding reporting of this genetic damage is that most research focuses on sperm count and sperm volume, but these can be unaffected by mutation, leading most to ignore the damage because the sperm count and volume are still within normal parameters. One researcher notes:

Genomic defects were generally not associated with semen quality (semen volume, sperm concentration, total sperm count, percent motility, percent progressive motility, and total progressive motility; see ref. 5), with the following exceptions.

Other researchers suggest that the problem may not be caffeine per se but the form it takes, with soft drinks being the most destructive:

We retrieved 28 papers reporting observational information on coffee/caffeine intake and reproductive outcomes. Overall, they included 19,967 men. 1. Semen parameters did not seem affected by caffeine intake, at least caffeine from coffee, tea and cocoa drinks, in most studies. Conversely, other contributions suggested a negative effect of cola-containing beverages and caffeine-containing soft drinks on semen volume, count and concentration. 2. As regards sperm DNA defects, caffeine intake seemed associated with aneuploidy and DNA breaks, but not with other markers of DNA damage. 3. Finally, male coffee drinking was associated to prolonged time to pregnancy in some, but not all, studies.

Separating the effects of caffeine alone from soft drinks is complicated by dietary overlap with other bad habits, as another study showed us when it confirmed the negative effects of soft drinks on fertility:

High cola (>14 0.5-L bottles/week) and/or caffeine (>800 mg/day) intake was associated with reduced sperm concentration and total sperm count, although only significant for cola.

…Although men who reported no caffeine intake (n = 72) had better semen quality (median sperm concentration, total sperm count, and morphological normal sperm: 62 mill/mL, 210 mill, and 7%, respectively), moderate consumption of caffeine was not associated with a reduction in semen quality.

…Men whose caffeine intake was >800 mg (about 7 cups of coffee) per day generally had a less healthy diet, eating more burgers and cheese; drank more alcohol; smoked more often; and had a high or low body mass index (Table 3). In addition, they were from a lower social class, more often had self-reported genital conditions in the reproductive organs or conditions found at the physical examination, and more often had been exposed to smoking in utero compared with men whose caffeine consumption was lower (Table 3).

Naturally this reveals a problem with all “studies” which is that despite statistical regression analysis, it is still impossible to fully separate a single effect from others until we observe it in situ. If we have a camera in the testicles watching sperm mutate as cola is consumed, we have a clear proof; otherwise, we merely have a correlation and the methods we suppose cause this to occur.

A more sensible analysis would be that sperm quality drop is the result of a combination of factors, all of which are related more to modernity itself than to any specific habit. World sperm counts are dropping and with them, possibly mutations are increasing:

Modern lifestyles, and exposure to chemical pollution, are blamed for a precipitous drop in sperm counts in men worldwide. A host of studies show that, on average, they have dropped by two and a half times over the past 50 years from about 150 million per millilitre of sperm fluid to about 60 million. Hamsters produce 160 million per millilitre.

And the decline is continuing. Studies by the Medical Research Council, for example, found that the fertility of Scottish men is declining by about 2 per cent a year, and that younger men are less fertile than their fathers: Men in their mid thirties or younger produce a quarter less sperm than those born between 1950 and 1970.

…Research reported at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine last week produced two other possible causes: Taking anti-depressants and the prolonged use of mobile phones.

Most concern, however, focuses on “gender-bender” chemicals such as PCBs, dioxins and phthalates, which are widely found in food. Scientists believe the greatest danger is to babies in the womb, when their reproductive systems are being formed. Damage done then is unlikely to be reversed.

This is not a detail; this is a crisis. Modern life somehow is making us less fertile and likely inducing more mutations, which could partially explain the rash of childhood cancers, autism, speech defects, and other seeming minor problems which could indicate a genetic crash coming soon.

In particular, it would be interesting to see more on the relationship between sperm counts and mutation. If the body can detect and eliminate damaged sperm, more mutations would mean a lower sperm count. Another factor might be embryos which are conceived but do not survive in the woman’s body, having been rejected for mutation load.

Most of us tire of headlines about the latest thing poisoning us or damaging our reproductive health. These alarmist articles, often consisting of research that is ambiguous, has too small of a sample size, or cannot be replicated, seem to prey on our fears. However, our fears are legitimate, but on a broader scale.

Modernity itself seems to be trying to destroy us, both in terms of our health and genetics. We can look at other factors and see how there is no single toxin in the modern environment, but a broad spectrum of health and genetic threats that could add up to the spermocalypse described above.

For example, 93% of bottled water has plastic in it that may threaten our health:

Mason’s team tested 259 bottles of water purchased in nine countries (none were bought in Canada).

…Researchers found 93 per cent of all bottles tested contained some sort of microplastic, including polypropylene, polystyrene, nylon and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

Some of these chemicals are known to be endocrine disruptors that affect fertility, such as phthalate:

Suspected endocrine disruptors include phytoestrogens and fungal estrogens, the herbicide atrazine, phenols such as bisphenol A (BPA), and plasticizers such as phthalates.

This joins a long list of other toxins produced by industry which may be killing us more than our voluntary habits. Consider the effects of environmental lead, a byproduct of many industries, which may kill hundreds of thousands and have cognitive effects in many more:

Lanphear and colleagues’ calculation that lead accounts for more than 400 000 deaths annually in the USA represents a tenfold increase over the number of deaths currently ascribed to lead. The authors argue that previous estimates have produced lower numbers because those analyses assumed that lead has no effect on mortality at amounts of lead in blood below 5 μg/dL and, thus, did not consider the effects of lower exposures.

…Deaths from cardiovascular disease increased 12·5% worldwide from 2005 to 2015, with the sharpest increases seen in rapidly developing low-income and middle-income countries.10 Analyses of this trend have ascribed it to population growth and ageing coupled with the global spread of behavioural and metabolic risk factors—eg, tobacco, hypertension, diet, physical inactivity, obesity, and the harmful use of alcohol. Until now, little attention has been directed to lead’s possible contribution. Inattention to lead’s contribution to cardiovascular mortality is part of a broader disregard of the contribution of all forms of pollution, including lead, to mortality from non-communicable diseases. This neglect persists even though pollution accounts for an estimated 16% of deaths from non-communicable diseases globally, including 22% of all cardiovascular disease deaths, 26% of deaths from ischaemic heart disease, and 25% of stroke deaths.

Partner that with this observation from earlier in the article:

Needleman showed that lead could reduce children’s cognitive function and disrupt behaviour at levels too low to produce symptoms—so-called subclinical lead poisoning.

If we have 400,000 people dying of lead exposure, how many others — especially children — are cognitively impaired by lead exposure? In addition to genetic damage and physical problems, we may be suffering mental damage from our industry and its habits.

Returning to the idea that a conspiracy of small effects may add up to physical and genetic decline of humans in modern society, we should consider how stress plays into the equation. Modern society is known to be stressful mainly because we are constantly struggling to assert ourselves against the needs of others.

That stress may affect fertility (full study):

Over four years, 401 women who were stopping contraception and trying to have a baby underwent saliva testing for two stress-related substances: the enzyme alpha-amylase, and the hormone cortisol.

…There was no association of cortisol with fertility. But those whose alpha-amylase levels were in the highest third, a sign of longstanding stress, had more than double the risk of infertility.

This proves relevant because modernity is an unending source of stress, both existential — fears for the future, the meaningfulness of one’s life, and of missing out — and practical. For example, stressful commuting may take a health toll as well as negatively influence fertility:

Dr. Susanne Cooperman is a psychoanalyst who treats patients with extreme symptoms brought on by stressful commutes.

“The anxiety builds and builds, the adrenaline courses through your veins,” she said. “It affects every cell in your body. You can become sick physically, but also emotionally.”

Dr. Cooperman adds it also can impact sleep and concentration.

“It’s more toxic to your body than PTSD,” she said.

It is hard to imagine a more “normal” part of modern life than a commute. Most of us live in city boxes or suburban homes, and from these we drive, take trains or buses, or otherwise make our way to the workplace. The stress of this daily event must be affecting a wide range of people.

To make this worse, it turns out that light pollution — a common fact of modern life — also has negative effects, mainly at night when nocturnal ambient light increases depression:

Compared with the “dark” group (average of <5 lux; n = 710), the LAN group (average of ≥5 lux; n = 153) exhibited a significantly higher depression risk (hazard ratio = 1.89; 95% CI: 1.13, 3.14), according to a Cox proportional hazards model adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, and economic status. Further, the significance remained in a multivariable model adjusting for hypertension, diabetes, and sleep parameters (hazard ratio = 1.72; 95% CI: 1.03, 2.89). Sensitivity analyses using bedroom light data with a cutoff value of ≥10 lux suggested consistent results.

Depression leads to higher risk of early death, especially through heart disease, which explains why depression shortens lifespans:

Compared with nondepressed patients, depressed patients died younger (71.1 versus 75.9) and had more YPLL (13.4 versus 10.2) as a result of both natural and unnatural causes. Depending on the cause of death, depressed patients died between 2.5 and 8.7 years earlier and had 1.5 to 6.1 YPLL compared with nondepressed patients.

Being depressed can also have effects on fertility because depression reduces the chances of successful reproduction:

“We found that women undergoing their first IVF treatment who either had been diagnosed with depression or anxiety or had dispensed an antidepressant had lower rates of pregnancy and live birth rates compared to women who did not suffer from these conditions or take antidepressants before beginning their IVF treatment,” says first author Carolyn Cesta, doctoral student at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. “Importantly, we found that women with a depression or anxiety diagnosis without a prescription of antidepressants had an even lower chance of becoming pregnant or having a live birth.”

The bit about antidepressants proves important because it demonstrates that depression has biological effects by showing what happens when they are partially interrupted. IVF treatments are frequently used in fertility studies because of the ease of obtaining data and because they show us fertility at its most fragile.

Other factors also sabotage fertility and are also linked to depression. Let us consider how air pollution damages fertility first:

Women who live close to major highways where the air is polluted by traffic exhaust fumes may be slightly more likely to have fertility problems than women who live further away where the air is cleaner, a U.S. study suggests.

…Over the study period, there were about 2,500 reported cases of infertility. Women who lived close to a major roadway – within 199 meters, or about a tenth of a mile – were 11 percent more likely to experience this problem than women who lived farther from a highway, the study found.

…This association was found even at relatively low concentrations of particulate matter, or less polluted air, although the connection became stronger as the pollution levels increased.

Do we have enough here to say that air pollution causes infertility? Perhaps not directly, but we do know that air pollution causes lower performance of our bodies. We can tell this because workers exposed to air pollution move more slowly resulting in lesser efficiency:

The studies, which were collected in the journal Science in January, were conducted over 10 years by team of researchers at Columbia, the University of Southern California, and the University of California, San Diego. The biggest impact of air pollution was measured in farm workers in California’s Central Valley, who were paid by the volume of grapes and blueberries they collected. On days that had higher readings of ground-level ozone — a harmful gas formed when tailpipe emissions mix with sunlight — worker productivity slumped.

Over the two years they measured the ozone, readings ranged from 10 to 86 parts per billion, and averaged 48 ppb. For every 10 ppb increase in ozone, worker productivity fell 5.5%. For farm workers paid about $9 or $10 an hour, the lost productivity translates into about 45 cents an hour of lower pay, said Matthew Neidell, an economist at Columbia and an author of the studies.

Here we see a convergence: depression sabotages fertility, air pollution minimizes fertility, and air pollution also makes people less capable, leading to the type of frustration that underlies some cases of depression. Viewed in that light, this forms a cycle.

Now applying that logic to much of what we have seen of other factors reducing health and fertility, we can see the same thing: aspects of our modern world exhaust us, interfere with our biology, and possibly depress us. Those same things damage fertility.

Adding together the many factors of stress, depression, reduced fertility, and general toxicity in modern life shows us why people are pulling away from Utopian dreams: the more we try to perfect life, the more we make an environment that is hostile to our well-being.

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