The Mutagenesis Conspiracy

I’ve written elsewhere concerning my thoughts about conspiracy theories… but let me share one with you that I am, in fact, making up out of whole cloth.  (Any authors out there are perfectly welcome to cop this theory and use it as a basis for a novel or short story or movie treatment – in fact, this seems so obvious that I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that someone else came up with it already.)

I call it… (cue dramatic music) THE MUTAGENESIS CONSPIRACY.

Great title, isn’t it?

The first thing you need to know, of course, is what “mutagenesis” is.  It’s the process by which mutations happen in the genetic code in the course of reproduction.  Sometimes these mutations are chance events, sometimes they are caused by environmental factors – but they are one of the key mechanisms by which evolution operates.   Mutations happen, and then the mutations that are more advantageous in the environment of the moment – that are, as they say, “adaptive” – get to survive and reproduce themselves.

So: suppose the Powers That Be (whoever They are) came to realize that because of all the mucking-about that they’ve done with our ecosystems, humanity in its present form is doomed – it just won’t be able to cope with the increasingly toxic environment. But there isn’t enough time, and we don’t have quite enough knowledge, to embark on the systematic research program would be necessary to design the next version of Homo sapiens… They decide, in their vast wisdom, that the only solution is to greatly accelerate the natural rate of human evolution, in the hope that somehow a variant that can survive would emerge.

This would require two things.

First would be to increase the rate of mutagenesis itself. That’s easy enough; they simply start flooding the environment, especially the food system, with mutagens – industrial chemicals, plastics, pharmaceuticals, radiation, and so on.

Do I need to cite examples of how this is presently happening? No, I didn’t think so.

But that’s not sufficient by itself.  Other things have to happen to increase the likelihood of coming up with a viable mutation in time to avoid human extinction. For one, intergenerational turnover  – that is, the time between birth and reproduction – has to shrink.  Also, the birth rate itself has to increase dramatically.  In sum: we need more babies, more quickly.

So if my theory were true, this would explain why we see the System trying to do two seemingly contradictory things: (a) restricting information about and access to contraception and abortion services, and (b) increasing the sexualization of children at earlier and earlier ages.  (It’s interesting to note, by the way, that the average age of menarche in girls has been dropping in recent decades, thanks in part to the hormones we use in meat products.)

So – let me emphasize again that except for the purely coincidental and anecdotal evidence I have already cited, I am not basing this theory on anything. It is pure speculation.

This theory, like most “conspiracy theories,” isn’t really actionable – that is, it doesn’t suggest what you should or could do about it… But here’s the interesting thing: within the next week, I’ll bet that you’ll see a news story that makes you say, “Hey! That fits that crazy theory that Skip was talking about! Maybe he’s right!”

That is how these things work, of course – conspiracy theories provide you with a framework on which you can hang the random happenings of everyday life, a template if you will. You spot events that fit this particular pattern, and you put them together into some kind of coherent narrative that helps you make sense of the world.

I just hope I haven’t given the wrong people an idea.



3 responses to “The Mutagenesis Conspiracy

  1. Daniel Solnit

    Just one glaring flaw in your theory – it assumes that the “powers that be” are motivated by a desire for human survival, instead of short-term greed. That’s the truly implausible part of this!

  2. Well, hey, they can’t get richer – and they can’t lord their wealth over the rest of us – if we’re all dead ;*)

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