What is human nature?

Question: What is human nature?

Aubrey de Grey: The survival instinct is one thing. The urge to reproduce certainly exists well, and I think it’s part of this … the innate human nature. But again, it’s something that can be overstated. A lot of people would say, “Well, it’s crazy that we would ever use birth control.” You know, the idea if you asked people 200 years ago whether they would actually submit to the concept of limiting their procreation in order to control population or whatever, people would have said it was a crazy idea. But sure enough, when infants start dying very often, you know, we all did it. And it’s only because children are expensive. We … laws or anything like that. So if we look at the … same sort of thing. We see a fall in … rate in pretty much all of the … world, and even in the wider world. Like China’s below replacement level already. India is plummeting, and they haven’t had a “one child” policy or anything. They’re nearly down to replacement level. More than that, even women who are having children, they’re having them later . . . as if they’re delaying until they have to have children because of menopause and, you know, problems with Down’s Syndrome and so on and …. So I think that’s really good news. It means there actually are, you know … Our presumption that there is this innate drive to have kids, quite often, may not be so strong as we may have been brought up to believe. And that actually, if we were to eliminate menopause and the … you know, the decline of quality of egg cells, and therefore the decline of the safety of having kids, then women would actually – professional women anyway – would continue to delay their procreation even further. So we might actually not be correct in thinking there would be a serious overpopulation problem if we eliminated aging.


Recorded on: 6/22/07




Aubrey de Grey says that our survival instinct may play into human nature but doesn't necessarily define it.

Why federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Water may be an inevitable result of the process that forms rocky planets

New research identifies an unexpected source for some of earth's water.

Surprising Science
  • A lot of Earth's water is asteroidal in origin, but some of it may come from dissolved solar nebula gas.
  • Our planet hides majority of its water inside: two oceans in the mantle and 4–5 in the core.
  • New reason to suspect that water is abundant throughout the universe.
Keep reading Show less