Monday, January 23, 2012

Voluntary Human Extinction Movement…you can’t make this shit up (by anon)

When I first found out about this “movement,” the first thing that popped into my mind was a reworded version of John Lennon’s Imagine song – “Imagine there’s no people.  It’s easy if you try.  Only dirt below us.  Above us, only more dirt.”  Ok, I need to work on that, but it sure does capture what VHEMT is about.  Read their blurp.

Q: What is the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement?

VHEMT (pronounced vehement) is a movement not an organization. It’s a movement advanced by people who care about life on planet Earth. We’re not just a bunch of misanthropes and anti-social, Malthusian misfits, taking morbid delight whenever disaster strikes humans. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Voluntary human extinction is the humanitarian alternative to human disasters.

We don’t carry on about how the human race has shown itself to be a greedy, amoral parasite on the once-healthy face of this planet. That type of negativity offers no solution to the inexorable horrors which human activity is causing.

Rather, The Movement presents an encouraging alternative to the callous exploitation and wholesale destruction of Earth’s ecology.

As VHEMT Volunteers know, the hopeful alternative to the extinction of millions of species of plants and animals is the voluntary extinction of one species: Homo sapiens... us.  Each time another one of us decides to not add another one of us to the burgeoning billions already squatting on this ravaged planet, another ray of hope shines through the gloom.

When every human chooses to stop breeding, Earth’s biosphere will be allowed to return to its former glory, and all remaining creatures will be free to live, die, evolve (if they believe in evolution), and will perhaps pass away, as so many of Nature’s “experiments” have done throughout the eons.

It’s going to take all of us going. (

I can’t help laughing.  These people really are serious, though they recognize that people could find this humorous (and they’re okay with that).  If I understand them right (and I haven’t read extensively on them), they advocate for the voluntary extinction of the human species so that Earth can rejuvenate and Nature can go about its business without our pesky interference.  It is more moral for us to “off” ourselves for the sake of all the other life forms than for us to remain here at the possible expense of those life forms.

If I may be so bold, this is just plain stupid.  First, their argument is supposed to be a moral argument.  Fine.  But what kind?  It could be a utilitarian argument (act utilitarianism to be exact), which would run like: the act of exterminating the human race would bring about the greatest good for the greatest number of living things.  But this is highly contentious.  How does one calculate greatest good in a manner like this?  Humans are a part of many ecosystems such that with our absence many species would suffer.  Hamsters would go extinct pretty quickly and other domesticated breeds and livestock would be in for a brutal hurting.  The food chain system would go haywire.  Yes, many species would benefit from our disappearance (like predators), but whether this counts as the greatest good is hard to know.  And that’s the point.  We just do not know whether offing ourselves would really bring about the greatest good.  So I don’t buy that approach if that’s what they’re thinking.

They could be giving a moral argument for natural states.  That would go: it is morally better to have a natural state of existence on earth than unnatural.  Humans create unnatural conditions and interferences of life.  Therefore, it is morally better to get rid of humans to preserve nature.  I actually think this is more what they are thinking (or maybe they are giving versions of both arguments).  Nevertheless, this argument is bad for the simple reason that humans are as much a part of nature as anything else.  It is quite the big leap to assume that humans are somehow outside of nature injecting unnatural conditions into the natural state of being.  The last I checked, my body is made out of the same kind of organic slop as any other biological creature or plant on the planet.  It would be an arbitrary accusation to call us or our actions unnatural.  We might not make the smartest decisions with our reproductive capabilities, our technology, and our resources, but we are thoroughly natural.

But my second reason why VHEMT is stupid is that moral and value distinctions only make sense in the presence of humans.  There is no right or wrong, good or bad, without humans because we are the ones coming up with those concepts.  If we were to extinguish ourselves, there would no longer be “better” or “worse.”  There would just be what is.  But these VHEMT people are saying that the world would be a better place without humans.  Yet, quite literally, this is impossible.  Without humans, the world could not be “better” for there would be no value giver.  For there to be a value judgment, there must be humans. 

“But couldn’t one project value into the future and give a counterfactual, saying that if people were to go extinct, Earth would be a better place?  We would still be here projecting our value judgments into the future such that we can legitimately speculate about value even without our future existence.”  I accept that that makes sense as stated.  But that response does not handle the practical consequence that when the last human dies off, so does moral and value distinctions.  We can speculate about future morals and future values without humanity all we want, but when it comes to the moment when there is no more humanity, that is when all morality and value end.  Thus, it is pointless to speak meaningfully in any practical sense of the world being a better place without humanity.

Ugh.  I’ve gone on long enough.  I hope this makes sense.


  1. I guess it's time to tie the tubes and start the extinction process ;) Gotta save the chipmunks, you know.

  2. Don't you think you're being a little harsh?
    I mean... this movement isn't all that ridiculous, when you think about it.
    We are pretty over populated it seems, and our population is growing quite quickly...
    If anything, what this movement does is get people thinking about at least slowing down our reproduction by individually choosing not to have children.
    Maybe for you it doesn't make sense, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the movement is stupid. I read about it and it seems rather well thought out and well explained. I myself haven't chosen whether or not to have kids (whether for the sake of the planet or myself or whatever), but I can understand why people would choose not to for environmental purposes and why this movement exists.
    I hope it doesn't bother you too much - it's a really pretty harmless movement. It doesn't try to brainwash or manipulate people, it's not a cult, it doesn't ask for donations (I don't think anyway), it is somewhat rational, and it's honest and backed by good intentions. It doesn't affect you, so what's the point of bashing it? To show how smart and critical you can be? Meh.

    1. VHEMT IS PLAIN RETARDED. Deal with it.

    2. Yea why would the govement approve of this bull anyway!?

  3. 8:55, slowing down our reproduction is different than choosing extinction, don't you think?

    You seem to think that I'm being overly harsh for something that doesn't really affect me. Might I say the same to you then? You insinuate that I wrote my post to show how smart and critical I may be, but my post doesn't affect you in the slightest. That's a little harsh itself, wouldn't you say? You're kind of pulling a double-standard.

  4. "slowing down our reproduction is different than choosing extinction, don't you think?"

    Yes and no, the problem with human ha has lost his animality and his survival instinct on which is based the reproduction of a specie.

    The human specie does need to expand his population to maintain it or even to survive, it's the opposite way.
    More we grow more we cut the branch on which one we are sitting on.

    You need to say reduce of 100% to expect a reduction of 15%.

    Vhemt is a great thing when we understand clearly the basement of lives.


  5. There is absolutely nothing wrong with VHEMT. I cannot honestly see where someone would be upset with saying "let us stop procreating entirely". I'm for it. Why not? I can't think of one good thing we've brought to the world. Certainly we've done good things for ourselves, but we've done far more worse things.

    And the relative argument is pointless. We HAVE done things that the environment would be better off without. Clearly the planet will be turning with or without us. But, mind you, millions/billions of animals wouldn't be suffering if it weren't for us. Okay, you extreme relativist you, who says suffering is bad? You got me there! But i'm pretty damn sure you wouldn't be spewing that bullshit should you be suffering at the hands of another.

    I don't see any real answers in your post to the question: what is WRONG with promoting the end of procreation? It hurts absolutely no one. It's not as if we're torturing potential beings by never letting them have the chance to come into existence.

    There is no downside to this. What do you or anyone else care if the species goes extinct? A species itself isn't a conscious thing, and therefore, the species doesn't care. YOU care because you're a human and you clearly can't stand the idea that the earth might not have humans some day. It's going to happen sooner or later. Better we just stop making babies now and do it ourselves.

  6. Voluntary human extinction reminds me of communism: you should do x because in the future their will be a utopian state which you will have played a vital role in creating. It's kind of silly because people are just not going to voluntarily go extinct. Personally I think that in the future there will be "voluntary" human extinction in that humans are going to wipe themselves off the face of the earth through technology (either nuclear war or via androids turning against us, a la terminator). That I think is the future, like it or not.

  7. We're going to die anyway, so who cares? Some day a giant meteor will smack the Earth, or we'll blow ourselves up anyway. VHEMT is relatively pointless because our extinction will most likely be involuntary.

  8. @7:03 -
    Now you just missed the point entirely by making a pointless and fallacious argument, instead of actually saying something meaningful.
    The reason I think you are being overly harsh and critical is only partly because this movement doesn't affect you. It's mostly because I can't think of any reason to bash the movement, and you went out of your way to bash it on this blog. Which made me curious, so I figured I'd comment. But you didn't even address my question really.

  9. 3:35, you're a trip. Why are you so bent? I wrote the post because I thought there was a problem with the logic of the movement. I thought that was pretty clear from what I wrote, but I could be wrong. You attribute ulterior motives to me. Whatever. You don't even know me. Do I need to run some uber reason by you before I write a post?

    I also think you need to check your definition of "bash." I thought I was pretty respectful in my arguments.

    I think you are being overly harsh and critical.

  10. If humans go extinct, who will send everything into space before the sun dies? Humans are the only specimen on Earth that can save everything's otherwise doomed existence.

    Hardwood trees armed with badgers will not work.

  11. Hi everyone,

    Each year 60 000 species are exterminated by just 1 other specie: Human being.

    Is it not enough to think about vhemt or is it already to late.

    You just need to read Frank Fenner.

  12. Rational beings can understand that we are being duped by our psychology into breeding endlessly for no real reason. This wouldn't be an issue if mountainous amounts of suffering weren't imposed on sentient beings, but they are. None of your ego games will justify the suffering endured, which clearly outweighs pleasure, let's just be honest. Understanding life's ultimate futility and that needs don't need to exist naturally leads to an antinatalist position. People who have qualms with this rational position seem to have some egoistic hang-up or delusion optimism blinding them from this simple truth.

  13. Most of those crying about suffering comes from privileged 1rst world people who have no concept of actual suffering. The VHEM and it's proponents are antinatalist precisely because they have not experienced pain to triumph over. The 3rd world hungry children that make you feel icky inside need help, not some asshole whining about how better it would be if they were dead. But help and donations actually require a degree of sacrifice, which would be too inconveniencing than not having children. How about caring for those who exist RIGHT NOW rather than future populations?

    1. I live in the US, yes. I am adopted, was abused, suffered childhood hunger, and am dying of a chronic illness. I have no health insurance. I work with impoverished autistic children. I live in a major US city. And I am a member of VHEMT. Try again, please.

  14. As to the first part of this essay, I agree calculating the greater good is always iffy, but that is not to say it is impossible. It is rather merely an Aristotelian impossible probable, meaning that things like this can in fact be measured and scaled and often are. It just depends on the context. If you are human centric you will reach one result, if you are hamster-centric another, and if you want to go even further, even within human classifications needs will invariably differ. So there is NO GROUP AT ALL on the planet that can dictate the greatest good. But it is possible to predicate a greater versus a lesser good. Governments, schools, and law enforcement, do it daily. Actually such sources as PETA and the FDA as well as the EPA can tell you that humans are no longer a part of the naturally occurring food chain. We ceased to play our environmental roles when we became an agrarian society and even more so when we became an industrial one. Rather agribusiness and mass production agriculture causes the majority of famines diseases and droughts and food chemists on the “saner side” of the fence tell us that the way we have altered our food has greatly altered both our bodies and brains – sometimes in good ways and sometimes in bad – but to claim that humans still have a niche in the original ecosystem is just hooey. And hamsters would be fine.That human beings are all natural is not even arguable. This is an argument by association and thus a logical fallacy. Viruses such as ebola are natural, as are hurricanes, and yes, any material that one can classify under organic chemistry such as say arsenic. But that does not mean that Ebola, hurricanes, and arsenic do not do damage within certain contexts and thus are detrimental within those contexts. And as Dean Kamon, Elon Musk, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, Linus Pauling and various other scientists can tell you human kind has actually created things that had never before existed within the natural contextual framework – things like atom bombs, artificial intelligence, certain genetically altered foods, certain metals and materials like plastics and polycarbons, that are all in themselves completely value neutral, but are within certain contexts deadly and or even potentially species ending. The moral argument here presumes that the decisions being made have to do with morals or values as opposed to objective scientific research that has long ago proven that of all the natural things on Earth humans are closest to parasites and viruses. And while those things and humans are natural, and thus out of context, perfectly acceptable, it does leave out things like the contextual existence of the ecosphere and the technosphere and how those things interact with one another. The author is quite right that if VHEMT were a moral movement it would be pointless. It is not, however. It is a rational one. Decisions made by members (largely overlapping with the scientific and research communities, btw) are rather rational decisions based off objective things like 1) given x amount of food production per growing season per year, how many people can the planet feed without detrement to soil and water which would in turn lead to smaller crops. 2) given a birthrate of x how much longer can the US provide oil, coal and other combustibles to provide electricity 3) given that y number of people suffer from chronic illnesses that cost q a year how much longer can medicaid fund our aging population. I found this argument interesting as what VHEMT members are usually accused of is being immoral or uncaring.