Guest post: How improbable our individual lives

Originally a comment by Omar on Here for you.

It is at times like this that I am reminded how improbable our individual lives are against the backdrop of human history and evolutionary biology.

My maternal great-grandmother Mary-Ann Connor was a refugee from the Irish potato ‘famine’ of the 1840s, when social arrangements in Ireland somehow resulted in the export of a large part of its agricultural produce. She went as a refugee to New Zealand, where by chance she met my great grandfather, who was a sailor.

Mary-Ann had eleven children in all, ten of whom died in infancy: probably of TB, which was raging at the time. My grandmother was the only survivor of those eleven children. The grief must have been paralysing.

Added to that, to produce any one of us blogging here today, at every generation the right sperm cell has to meet the right ovum, with infinitesimal chance of that happening, to produce this, the only reality we will ever have, and arguably, despite Trump etc., the best of all possible worlds.

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