Jim Bob Duggar was born in July 1965. Michelle came along 14 months later—September 1966. They were married in July 1984. At the nuptials, he was three days shy of 19 and she was two months from 18. Pretty young, by my standards. But this is Arkansas, after all.
During the following 31 years, Jim and Michelle have replicated themselves nine-and-one-half times. With modern fertility medicine finding new ways to enable heretofore unlikely pregnancies, who knows how far the Duggars could go? As of this moment, having just watched the world population clock turn over to 7,248,735,000, we can calculate that the Duggar family (not counting grandkids) is a piddling 0.0000000029 of the planet's tally of human beings, as that number stands at 9 a.m., June 9, 2015, estimated by the United States Census Bureau. However, if every one of the Duggar children were to emulate Ma and Pa and pump out progeny at the same rate, within five generations, the combined Duggar count would be approximately twice the number of people now living in Idaho, and in one more generation, they would be approaching 50 million, or the populations of today's Australia and Angola combined. After a seventh generation, or about 140 years, of such rabbit-y reproduction—assuming the non-Duggar portion of the world's population were to stabilize—almost one out of every seven people on Earth would be a Duggar.
Of course, if the non-Duggar portion of the world's population doesn't stabilize, it's likely that in 140 years we won't have to worry about it anyway. Seriously, among all the various hypotheses available on what might be the primary cause of a collapse of civilization—from Biblical Armageddon to zombie apocalypse—I personally rank exponential population growth among the top contenders. In the event such a species-threatening catastrophe should occur, it might even end up being called "The Duggar Inevitability."
I remind you that the preceding projections were calculated on the "base-19" model. It does not consider further advances in fertility science and the prospect of women being enabled to become safely pregnant well into their 70s. Nor does it consider a shift in what we presently think of as a reasonable age of consent. Given some of the bizarre theologies around, it takes little imagination to picture the ascendency of some radically patriarchal religious ideology that would encourage males to acquire younger and younger mates, to the point where a future Michelle Duggar getting hitched at 17 would make her one of the old ladies at the altar.
As a result, my calculations could be grossly off, as there is every possibility that families to come might be going for new records, particularly if there's a reality show in the offing. Twenty-five kids, 28 kids... 30 kids! Think about it: In a 60-year span between pubescent 14 and medical miracle 74, 30 pregnancies is only one every two years. Michelle Duggar, at 19 in 31 years, is already way ahead of that pace.
There is another hypothesis with which the Duggar phenomenon might be even more illuminating. To my knowledge, it has never been tested with humans, but over the years, there have been scads of studies examining the deleterious behavioral effects of cramming too many animals into close quarters with one another—zoos and feedlots and rodent populations, for instance, where the poor beasts start to exhibit behavior never seen when they are living in proper balance with nature. I am one who believes that simply because a creature has evolved opposable thumbs and self-awareness, and can make a living by doing something unusual on a television show—reproduce at an alarming rate, for instance—it is not immune to the same psychological aberrations that we see in less well-connected animals, like farmed fish, lemmings and sewer rats.
We have to wonder whether Duggar first-born Josh wasn't somewhat twisted, and at an early age, into doing things he would never have considered doing had not he come to view female flesh as little more than an infant-producing machine. Or that, following his parents' examples, this activity was somehow the path to success.
As to the parents themselves, we must ask if they have always held the creepy and cultish religious convictions that led them to consider an un-pregnant woman to be a waste of a perfectly good uterus, or if they came later to such a ridiculous concept of spirituality, simply because after 10 or 15 kids, they were far too addled to keep a logical, mature thought in their heads.
It's possible, I suppose, they simply grabbed at this abnormal theology, which holds that it is God's call when a woman's body is through producing offspring, simply as a justification for their insane and selfish family expansion marathon. Yet I can't help but feel anybody with an undeviated psyche in his head would ever swallow such a pious line of pure hooey.
So, as the general population continues to increase, is this what we are to expect?... increased levels of deviant and irrational behavior?
Incidentally, in the six days between starting this column and submitting it, there have been 1,270,350 new humans added to Earth's surface.