When it comes to survival, our paleolithic ancestors on the plains of Africa generally did not have to anticipate disasters, rather, they had to respond to them. A lion shows up, so you have to climb into a tree. A zebra died, so you have to hurry over there and eat the organs before the vultures find the animal.
What we didn’t really have to engage in, was anticipatory thinking: What is possibly going to happen that I can’t really see the signs of yet, that is going to affect the sort of challenges I will be faced with? This anticipatory thinking becomes more important when you move away from the equator. After all, once we move away from the equator, we become faced with an annually recurring disaster: Winter.
Initially you survive winter by hunting. Consuming other terrestrial vertebrates will however always only be a limited source of nutrition, that can sustain just a small population of hunter-gatherers. And so as the population expands, you become increasingly confronted with the reality that people have to anticipate that good times don’t last for more than a few months: There will be winters and there won’t be sufficient animals to eat during those winters.
Our ability to engage in anticipatory thinking is what allowed us to come into existence, failure to practice it will be our doom. What our mind is much better at, is reactive thinking: An event happens and we respond to it. And yet, this dooms you when the event can only be properly dealt with by anticipating it. As humans began to engage in inter-tribal warfare, anticipatory thinking became even more important. We are the descendants of those who correctly anticipated the moves by our enemies.
Right now, all thinking about monkeypox by epidemiologists, virologists, Twitter blue-checks, journalists and other expertologists amounts to one thing: What sort of narrative will cause the least homophobia? That’s what you have to comprehend. The system isn’t genuinely trying to stop an orthopoxvirus from finding its niche in the human species. We know what that would look like, we saw it with COVID. Rather, the system is focused on trying to stop a homophobic backlash from happening. They’re not very worried about your kids ending up in the ICU, they’re worried you’re going to be mean towards People of Buttsex.
And they can’t quite settle on a consensus: If they say only homosexuals get monkeypox, that seems homophobic, it implies there’s something wrong with homosexuality. If they say everyone can get monkeypox that initially sounds less homophobic. However, considering that it’s mainly found among homosexuals, it implies homosexuals are endangering straight people, which is even more homophobic! They can’t resolve this paradox, so in the meantime as the blue checks bicker among each other over who is the most homophobic, we all lose the time we have left to come up with some sort of solution.
The answer of course, is the synthesis I’ve told you all about: It’s a gay disease, until it isn’t. The community of promiscuous homosexuals incubate this virus, passing it on to one another. With every new infection it gets to try out various derivative forms of the genetic material it inherited. The derivative forms that will spread, will be those that are relatively better at spreading from person to person.
There’s a sexual act that is extremely high risk, unprotected anal sex, but it is by no means the only way for it to spread. As it depletes gay men who engage in unprotected anal sex at orgies and with strangers, it is in a race to become less dependent on this transmission method. The balance of evidence suggests that adaptations that allow it to increase its overall r0 will also help it increase its r0 in those transmission routes that don’t involve unprotected anal sex. This virus is far too young to expect it to be so well adjusted to unprotected anal sex that it would face an evolutionary trade-off.
And so here’s the problem: It needs to increase its r0 to continue spreading in the gay population, which is becoming increasingly aware of the problem and where a growing share of potential hosts have already been consumed by previous iterations of this virus. And so as it increases its r0, the side effect is that it becomes better at showing up in people who don’t participate in unprotected anal sex between men. Social distancing and safe sex between gay men that helps reduce new cases in gay men, will do nothing to halt the gradual increase in the intrinsic r0 as the transmission chains get longer.
What matters more than anything else, is the length of the transmission chains. The longer the transmission chains, the more opportunity this virus receives to evolve away from the animal form that first shows up in our species. Any sort of transmission between gay men that does not end in extinction through an r0 below 1, nor ends up in exhaustion of the gay niche through exponential growth, is the most dangerous Goldilocks zone. And of course that’s what humans will generally create: If cases go down, gay men stop feeling worried. If cases grow exponentially, people panic and take measures that reduce the number of cases.
The number that we would want to keep track of to see how far along we are, is the number of cases observed in females. In previous eras this would have told us more than it does today, as we now have a new type of female, the type with cocks and beards. We live in an era where people want language to become meaningless, the side-effect it has is that even epidemiologists are now becoming handicapped in trying to determine whether this virus is learning to spread outside its incubating demographic or not.
Age however still means something, so let’s look at the number of cases in children. A while ago, Benjamin Ryan wrote:
He is well-meaning, he is a gay man who recognizes that the taboo prevents people from recognizing almost all transmission occurs through anal sex between men. However, he’s also hopelessly optimistic and failing to practice anticipatory thinking. Here he suggests that WHO has found just 0.1% of cases in under 18’s, 5 out of 5,584.
By July 27, we were looking at 84 cases below 17 out of a total of 13,933 cases. In other words, we went from 0.1%, to 0.6% of cases. Today we’re looking at 102 cases out of 19,301. Non-sexual transmission has also jumped up in recent weeks. On July 26 2022 we had 8 such cases out of 103 outside MSM. By august 9 we had 29 out of 238 outside MSM. In other words, the potential for sustained transmission outside MSM is clearly there. It’s a roll of the dice, but with every new case in MSM you roll that dice again.
And so what you’re genuinely dealing with, is something so awful that neither they/them Phd #BLM blue-checks, nor freedom-loving God-fearing Trump-voting patriots wish to consider the implications:
Anal sex between men is an existential threat to civilization.
This is the conclusion you arrive at, when you practice anticipatory thinking. We can debate how high the odds are: Is it more like an existential threat like a supervolcano that has a 0.1% chance or erupting in the next 1000 years, or is it more like a nuclear holocaust that has a 50% chance of taking place in our century? I don’t know, as I didn’t program the dice rolls.
“How big is the existential threat posed by anal sex between men” is not exactly the kind of scientific question that gets a lot of funding. And yet, with pandemic number two now coming into existence through unprotected anal sex between men after HIV killed tens of millions and created a demographic of people with damaged immune systems whose bodies can give birth to other pathogens, it’s probably worth asking yourself.
“What people do in the privacy of their bedr-“
Yeah, I get it. You don’t want to tell other people what to do. But we don’t control nature and nature happens to have decided that anal sex between men is a highly efficient way of transmitting viruses from one person to another. This includes viruses like monkeypox, that hospitalize about 40% of children they infect. With HIV you lucked out, it doesn’t have a viable pathway towards airborne spread, or a path towards spread through fomites. Monkeypox however, is already capable of that, it’s just not very good at it yet.
What I’m saying is that you have to take your presumed desire not to see your children cry out in pain in the hospital and your desire not to intervene in other people’s private affairs and figure out how you’re going to arrive at some sort of compromise between those two conflicting desires.
The biggest cognitive bias humans face is that we assume that extremely bad scenarios just can’t happen, that there’s something out there that prevents them from taking place. Consider the example of the Jews in Europe during the 1930’s. Many of them really did not anticipate they would have to flee. They did not figure it out until they were unable to flee.
You probably know that episode of the Twilight zone, Button, Button, where someone gets to push a button and receives 200,000 dollar as a total stranger dies. Climate change is something similar. You buy a ticket for a vacation in the Seychelles at a ridiculously affordable price and some child somewhere in Kenya is going to die in a drought because of it. I don’t know how many will die because of it. It could be you committed five murders, it could be you committed 0.005 murders. But the point should be clear: You’re participating in something that we already know should not exist.
Anal sex between men is also similar. There are the viruses that we know of, that we know will spread between men who engage in anal sex with each other. There are also the known unknowns: Some viruses can spread that we don’t test people for, or viruses can spread that only recently jumped into our population from other species without our knowledge.
Every act of anal sex between men is ultimately a murder. It’s again hard to quantify. Maybe it is a centimurder, maybe it is better seen as a millimurder. I don’t know. How many children draw their last breath in the ICU of a hospital somewhere for every time you bugger someone? We don’t know. What we do know is that the link exists. This is now pandemic number two that spread through sodomy.
I’m telling you this now, because you don’t recognize the risk you’re dealing with. Your brains are all stuck in reactive thinking. Once you consistently start to see 2-3% of cases in women, or the first child is hospitalized, or the first child transmits it to another child, you’re going to figure out this is something you need to take seriously, that you underestimated it. But by that time, you will already have tens of thousands of people out there, who are spreading this everywhere.
Once we reach that stage, of the first hospitalized kid in the US of A, you’ll want to do something about it, you may even prove to be quite capable of doing something about it domestically, but it won’t matter for the overall trajectory, as places like Brazil and Peru will start seeing spillovers from MSM too and they won’t have the tools they need to put the genie back in the bottle.
And that’s the thing: The genie only needs to escape once, in one place. You get a child to child transmission in the US, you think to yourselves “Well gee, we need to so something about this”, you miraculously get down to zero cases in the US, but what does it do for Brazil? What does it do for Mexico, or for Peru? It won’t matter anymore, you will have just bought yourself some time. You need to get down to zero human to human transmissions globally.
All the conservatives say: “Why is monkeypox an emergency, but 100,000 opioid deaths aren’t?” That’s the sort of question someone asks who doesn’t practice anticipatory thinking, in regards to a pathogen characterized by the superexponential risk it poses to children over time.
And so I’ll offer the Americans the following suggestion: Your governor in Louisiana is a Catholic conservative democrat, who banned abortion after six weeks. You can send him a letter, asking him to cancel the Southern Decadence festival before it begins. If you don’t cancel it, tens of thousands of people from all over the country will go there and bring it back to their own communities. It is almost guaranteed to be a super-spreader event for a pathogen that currently has a 40% chance of hospitalizing your kids upon infection.
You can get the word out. You can tell other people that this needs to be prevented, you can tell them to inform the governor that it needs to be prevented. You can demand action. The panic that leads to consensus change will happen. It can either happen WITH a superspreader event that completely paralyzes your entire healthcare infrastructure, or the panic happens while you can still address the situation.
Smallpox has killed 300 million people in the 20th century. How lucky are you feeling?