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Voluntary Human Extinction

By motty in MLP
Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 03:03:40 AM EST
Tags: You Know... (all tags)
You Know...

It's a thought, isn't it. And a movement.

Which has a website - http://www.vhemt.org/ - explaining why it isn't a joke, and they are serious, if not quite deadly serious. (Remember the 'Voluntary' bit.)

Sponsor: rusty
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comments (24)
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"May we live long and die out," say the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, and whether you agree with any of it or not, this site is certainly well written, funny and thought provoking. It's been around since 1996, so you might have seen it before, but I am posting it as MLP anyway because it would be interesting to know what people on k5 think of the basic question:

Kids. Ok to have them or not ok to have them?


Voxel dot net
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o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


I want to have (more) children because:
o I want to carry on the family name 8%
o I have been put on Earth to do this 1%
o I am biologically programmed to 13%
o God wants me to 5%
o My partner wants us to 4%
o I want someone to look after me when I am old 1%
o I... uh... I'm not sure. 18%
o I don't want children. And this isn't a sentence. 46%

Votes: 123
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o http://www .vhemt.org/
o Also by motty

Display: Sort:
Voluntary Human Extinction | 41 comments (34 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Go for it. (3.70 / 10) (#1)
by Seumas on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 11:14:25 PM EST

I say, go for it. No species needs to keep the "let's kill ourselves" crowd hanging around to taint the gene pool. These are the same kind of people who talk about how much "life sucks" and how humans are just a "virus" and all the other fatalistic crap, because it's trendy and cool.

I'd like to know how many people who claim that movement (it's mostly a joke -- I don't care what the page says, and yes I've seen it a million times before) have kids and are still alive. They should practice what they preach and off themselves instead of wasting our time whining about it and throwing themselves dramatically before the world, like some sort of blessed martyrs of earth's salvation.
I just read K5 for the articles.

not the "lets kill ourselves" crowd (5.00 / 1) (#4)
by motty on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 11:34:23 PM EST

As you can see here, this isn't the "let's kill ourselves" crowd. Elsewhere on the site there is discussion about the fact that their movement is divided into 'Volunteers', who do advocate complete human extinction by *voluntary* non-reproduction, and 'Supporters', who argue for a massive reduction in population by the same means, but *not* actual extinction.

You might not have noticed, but there's 6 billion of us floating around this planet, and that's never happened before. Suggesting that a bunch of people who have clearly considered this matter more deeply than either of us should 'practice what they preach and off themselves' seems a little precipitate.

Finally, if this site was intended to be 'trendy' or 'cool' it would consist of one large Flash animation. It doesn't. Where on the site *did* you find the 'fatalistic crap' you mentioned?
[ Parent ]

Read the title. (3.60 / 5) (#8)
by Seumas on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 01:02:41 AM EST

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement

Note, it's the "voluntary human EXTINCTION movement" not the "voluntary human population reduction movement".

And "live long and die out"...? Come on. They speak out of both sides of their mouths. And the following tripe just shows what kind of militant loonies they are. Don't get me wrong, I agree that while the planet could easily sustain many more people, there's no reason for us to mindlessly continue to expand.

"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 Mother Nature's experiments" have done throughout the eons. Good health will be restored to the Earth's ecology... to the "life form" known by many as Gaia."

Strangely enough, just a few paragraphs before, they talk about how this isn't a misanthropic "humans are parasites, destroying the earth" cause, but then they rant on in a paragraph like that above.

The life form 'Gaia'? Good grief.

"and all remining creatures will be free to live, die, evove (if they believe in evolution)..." -- Do these people actually understand how evolution works? A salamander doesn't wake up one day and say "Hey, I belive in evolution.. I'm going to evolve!". So if a creature decides not to believe in evolution, it won't evolve? These peopel do realize ducks aren't exactly waddling around in the water, contemplating evolution, right?

Instead of suggesting "we are incapable of supporting the existing population, so we should reduce the numbers", they say "the existing population is bad and killing mother earth, boo hoo, let's do away with the species".

Further, if this "Gaia" actually wanted the "evil humans" to be extinct, it would off us itself -- since these people seem to think that there's some grand natural plan that fuzzy wuzzy forest creatures have for the planet.

That site is just one giant plaintive troll.
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

Re: Read the title. (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by kezgin on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 02:42:29 PM EST

The life form 'Gaia'? Good grief.

Are you incapable of bringing yourself to accept that people might believe something different than yourself?

Further, if this "Gaia" actually wanted the "evil humans" to be extinct, it would off us itself

Regardless of whether or not you believe in the Gaia theory, humans are working to off themselves. Things that we do contribute to changing ecosystems, weather patterns, etc. If these changes affect the environment in a negative way, from humanity's perspective, the planet could easily kill us off.

[ Parent ]
Human virus (none / 0) (#35)
by marimba on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 11:18:46 AM EST

"Further, if this "Gaia" actually wanted the "evil humans" to be extinct, it would off us itself . . . "

Unless humans happen to be attacking the immune system of Gaia, and as a result Gaia can no longer defend herself.

Hey, it's just a metaphor

And there is a case to made for Gaia as a lifeform, in that it (and ecosystems in general) exhibits a form of homeostasis that can be disturbed to such a point that it cannot be recovered. Rain forests cleared to graze cattle are a good example of this. A similar process could take place on a planet-wide basis. I'm not saying that Gaia is a life form and self-concious, but that there is value in the metaphor.

[ Parent ]
doh! missing link here... (none / 0) (#9)
by motty on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 01:03:41 AM EST

uh, that's here.

[ Parent ]

As for having children. (4.00 / 7) (#2)
by Seumas on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 11:20:06 PM EST

I don't plan to have children. I don't plan to spend my life with a woman who wants them either. If we ever change our minds, there's adoption. It does seem a bit silly in this day and age that people would have four or even six children. And some of them, due to fertility treatment for their desire to have miniature versions of themselves around to please their ego, have six or eight at a time.

In other words, it would take eight couples (sixteen people) avoiding having children to offset people who have an entire litter at once. It just seems incredibly gross.

I'm not in favor of "population control", but when we can't even provide for the population we have now, K-Mart cashiers living check to check with a junior high education having a dozen kids are not likely to benefit humanity in any way whatsoever -- not that benefitting humanity should be a pre-requisite for childbirth.

It's a difficult issue to discuss, because we all understand there isn't a lot that can be done without turning into some crazy world where you have to have a license to give birth and can only have one child and other sci-fi-like resolutions. But we still have to address what to do about the gross proliferation of children in families. And we certainly have to stop subsidizing them.
I just read K5 for the articles.

It's not just an ego thing (5.00 / 1) (#11)
by Nyasara on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 02:26:09 AM EST

Think about it. Reproducing is a biological imperative. Our genes demand that we spread them as often as possible. Thats how we got here in the first place. Thanks to our sentience and cognitive ability we can overcome that to a degree, but it still remains deep in our makeups. Now I agree, we should stop subsidizing the K-Mart cashier who pops out a kid every year, but a regular family that can afford it should be allowed to do what they want. I say let the system work both ways. If people want to have children, let them. But the only ones that survive are the ones that can be cared for. It may seem heartless, but at some point we as a society have to stop being emotional and start being real. If it takes people becoming unpopular to make these unpopular decisions, so be it, but it has to start being done, with population explosion and many other things.

And think about this as well. If your parents hadn't had the desire to "please their ego", you wouldn't be here. I'm sure that you're quite glad that your parents made an exception for you.


----------------------------------------------------------Those who can, do. Those who can't, get promoted to management.
[ Parent ]
Except... (5.00 / 1) (#24)
by Seumas on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 10:40:50 AM EST

Right, except the ones who survived used to be the ones who were quick, smart, fast, strong and clever. Now, the ones that probably would have been weeded out are being encouraged to reproduce and continue by the rest who subsidize them. Two lazy, slow people who can't even hold a job or tie their shoes can sit at home and watch the Price Is Right all day and have a kid here and there and the rest of us see to it that they all survive. Sure, it's because we're a 'civilized' society, but how long until we're so saturated with 'dumb' genes that we can't do anything but stare into mirrors and drool on ourselves?
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]
Too late. (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by physicsgod on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 10:27:38 PM EST

Have you seen TV recently? Paid any attention to the Middle East mess? Remember the US 2000 election? We're screwed.

I can see only one solution to the problems facing us, elect me to be Dictator of Earth and all your problems will go away. My first act: Public Executions. No, I don't mean televising capital punishment, I mean executing the public.

Note: the preceeding post was meant to be facetious, mostly.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Huh? (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by marimba on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 11:08:36 AM EST

"And think about this as well. If your parents hadn't had the desire to "please their ego", you wouldn't be here.

Uh, so I'm supposed to have kids so that they will have the privilege of being thankful that I had them solely to gratify my ego?

"I'm sure that you're quite glad that your parents made an exception for you."

You shouldn't make such assumptions. I am happy to be alive, but I wasn't always. My parents were a perfect example of people who should never have had children (beatings, years of child molestation, etc., etc.) yet followed the cultural imperative (sex is a biological imperative; procreation is a cultural imperative) to have (far too many, i.e., 7) children. My mother hates children but was unable to overcome the cultural propaganda, and as a result made life miserable for many people over a period of four decades. You are perpetuating problems like that with your 'biological imperative' myth.

Sorry. I don't usually talk about family stuff anymore, but this 'be fruitful and multiply' crap, whether attributed to God or biology has got to stop. People have to feel free to not have children, and not feel guilty about it. They also have to learn to stop making excuses like 'my genes made me do it' and realize that the major reason for having children is simply an ego trip, i.e., to prove to themselves that they can be better parents than their parents were.

Oh, and yes I'm childless, and will remain so for the rest of my life. And yes I agree with the principles of the site, but I think I would not go so far as 'extinction.' I think it may be philosophical hyperbole to make the point stronger.

[ Parent ]
Replacement (none / 0) (#29)
by bigbird on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 10:32:04 PM EST

Due to things like early deaths, each individual in a society would have to have (as an average) slightly more than one child to maintain a steady state population (assuming no dramatic increase in lifespan, and probably a few other things statisticians might care about).

Thus a married couple meeds to have just over 2 kids just to provide population replacement. A family with 8 children could then be offset by a mere 3 couples not having children - 2 parents plus 6 other adults who will need someone to work in the nursing home in 40 years or so.

8 couples not having kids would allow a single couple to have 18 children without doing more than population replacement.


For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Rom 1:16
[ Parent ]

Right on the spot (1.33 / 3) (#5)
by maketo on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 11:34:39 PM EST

agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
Hrmmm... (2.00 / 4) (#7)
by skim123 on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 01:00:42 AM EST

It seems like someone really serious about this movement wouldn't stop at just not having children, but would expedite the movement by terminating themselves. I have to admit this is what I thought "the movement" was about (from your title) before some reading at their site...

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

Why have kids? (5.00 / 2) (#12)
by enterfornone on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 03:24:28 AM EST

By killing people we are hurting others (or ourselves). Not having children hurts no one and will eventually accomplish the same ends.

Seriously, what exactly does having children achieve?

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Why do a lot of things? (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by skim123 on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 04:00:45 AM EST

Seriously, what exactly does having children achieve?

Simple answer: continuation of the specie.

A related question might be: Why have sex? I think the answers to both questions are the same - because it is human (animal) nature. Millions of years of evolution have trained all animals to procreate. What does sex achieve? Enjoyment? Pleasure? The next generation of humans? Sounds a lot like what havings kids equates to. I doubt we would see any groups proclaiming an end to human sexuality (well, other than the Church).

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
Huh ?? (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by DeHans on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 04:25:13 AM EST

Simple answer: continuation of the species.
I dont' know about your parents, but I'm pretty sure my parents never thought of *that* :-)

[ Parent ]
Hehe (none / 0) (#18)
by skim123 on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 05:03:30 AM EST

I dont' know about your parents, but I'm pretty sure my parents never thought of *that* :-)

Well, maybe they didn't consciously think of it, but innately they must have. Why do you eat? Because you have a craving - you get hungry. You don't consciously think (at least I don't), "I'm eating so that my body can metabolize this food so that my involuntary body functions - such as breathing, respiration, heart beating, etc. - can continue and I can live." Although, if you thought that ocnsciously at every meal you might enjoy dinner on a new level. :-)

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
A related answer (none / 0) (#33)
by marimba on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 10:47:04 AM EST

"A related question might be: Why have sex?"

The relationship between sex and procreation is addressed on the site. Approximately .4% of sexual acts result in births, i.e., not very many. The imperative for sex in humans is more likely to promote strong pair bonds, oxytocin and all that.

[ Parent ]
Flawed Argument (4.07 / 13) (#14)
by ncohen on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 03:40:44 AM EST

From their website's FAQ, they state, in essence, that we as humans have disrupted Mother Nature's methods of experimentation in developing new biological and ecological tangents.

Mother Nature, as is rather obvious, rewards succesful experiments and exterminates those which are flawed. But, then, why are humans not natural? They address this question in their FAQ as well, and state that we are no longer part of nature as we are a parasitic form of life. (I suppose they ignore the fact that there are many "natural" parasites.)

But wait, as they demonstrate clearly, we have been very effective at changing the planet as we see fit. Entire ecosystems have been eliminated when we take a step. Geographies have been changed because of our fancies. I, for one, see nothing wrong with this.

Biologically speaking, we are very effective. Either species and ecosystems will adapt to us, or we will, directly or indirectly, eliminate them. So long as no truly catastrophic force beyond our control (Nova, Comet) interferes, this tends to be the course of action. Why is this bad? There are many, many species which have gone extinct before we were ever around, and the vast majority went extinct because better alternatives evolved. From VHEMT's own standpoint, one could aruge that we are that better alternative.

Maybe back then things were more green, more pretty, or whatever, but these are subjective analyses. They hold no water. One could just as well argue that we should all go back to any arbitrary epoch of our history because that was subjecitvely better.

To futher usurp this idea of how sacrosanct Earth's ecosphere is one could really turn back the wheels of time and look at Earth when single-celled life was struggling in absolutely horrid conditions to survive. Can we not owe atleast part of Earth's current condition to these early lifeforms? They have disrupted Earth's condition just as we have, they changed Earth to better serve themselves. We have changed Earth to better serve ourselves.

As further evidence to how this is as natural as any other natural processes we can state that we are one of the few species capable of adapting to the majority of changes we inflict on the planet. Say, for example, if Earth were to warm up. The paradigm would change, yes, but we would be far from finished. Any species incapable of adapting to that change would die. Tough. Say things got really nasty and Earth became a second Venus. In the time it would take for that to happen it is entirely reasonable we would have developed a method of survival, either via escaping the planet, transfomring it, or learning to survive under the new conditions. Again, species which cannot adapt to such a change will die. Let's say we really screw up, and we cannot adapt. We will die. A species capable of adapting to our changes will develop. Thus, life, and nature, go on.
"(A+Bn)/n = x, hence God exists, reply!"

response (2.00 / 2) (#30)
by kezgin on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 02:23:43 PM EST

We have changed Earth to better serve ourselves.

How can you find things like smog, pollution, radioactivity, etc to be better for us?

[ Parent ]
Symptoms, not end-effect (3.50 / 2) (#32)
by Jim Dabell on Sat Feb 10, 2001 at 03:21:12 PM EST

How can you find things like smog, pollution, radioactivity, etc to be better for us?

They aren't. But the things that cause them are. The nasty effects cars have on our environment, for example, are offset by the advantages of being able to work far away from where you live, and expend less personal energy in the overhead of travelling to work.

Likewise, polluting power plants provide energy to keep us warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and create various electronics, including computers that facilitate Lamarkian evolution.

[ Parent ]
A Biological Imperative (2.71 / 7) (#19)
by ignatiusst on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 08:05:16 AM EST

Having children is not just a choice, it is a biological imperative. We have millions of years of genetic conditioning that pushes us towards propagating our own genetic makeup and (indirectly) propagating our species.

Now, couples often do make concious decisions these days not to have children, and that is a whole different story whose motivation lies in freedom, economics, or a host of other factors. But these people (VHEMT) seem to think that we can somehow better the world by allowing the human species to die out. It seems possible that these people probably don't need to be in the gene pool anyway.

I haven't read their web page (because concepts like this really piss me off), but their name suggests that this extinction of the human species would be "Voluntary", and that it is needed to make the world a better place (I would add "to live", but that would seem rather silly). However, wouldn't everyone need to be indoctrinated to the VHEMT point of view in order for it to be a truly "voluntary" process? Wouldn't it be easier, rather than to indoctrinate the masses, to educate them on how to live in balance with nature?

Maybe not...

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift

Rebuttal (4.60 / 5) (#25)
by vaguely_aware on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 12:30:44 PM EST

I haven't read their web page (because concepts like this really piss me off)

Attitudes like this really piss me off. Are you so closed-minded as to not even give the information the courtesy of a glance? You have dismissed their entire point out of hand for no other reason than that your concept of their concept bothers you.

I read through a big chunk of the web page and I don't agree with much of what they say, but I at least know that it is well written and it addresses many dissenting views. You may even find that your "arguments" are shot down if you bothered to give it a chance.

As for your suggestion for an alternative:

However, wouldn't everyone need to be indoctrinated to the VHEMT point of view in order for it to be a truly "voluntary" process? Wouldn't it be easier, rather than to indoctrinate the masses, to educate them on how to live in balance with nature?

So indoctrinating everyone on harmonious existence with nature is easier than indoctrinating everyone on a different point of view? We've seen how good a job environmentalists have done with that. (/me watches someone toss non-biodegradable waste product onto ground several feet away from a trashbin...)

"...there are lots of shades of brown, but not too many shades of balls. - Kwil
[ Parent ]
At least with their point of view... (3.71 / 7) (#20)
by Mantrid on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 08:21:12 AM EST

At least if all the followers of this movement stick to their guns, their genes won't be passed on either...

Nah (2.66 / 9) (#22)
by Beorn on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 09:20:43 AM EST

Having thought over this very carefully, I've concluded that I want humanity to live on. In fact, I just wrote a 5000 word thesis on the subject, which follows below:

Should humanity live on, or should it die out for the good of the planet? To answer this, it is necessary to begin with a consideration of the words of Aristo^
"(/)/##/NO CARRIER

[ Threepwood '01 ]

Slight bit of MLP (3.75 / 4) (#23)
by illustir on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 09:21:54 AM EST

Taking a somewhat more active stance on the issue is the church of euthanasia.

Worth a look if only for a laugh.

One thing I'll teach the wereld, willens nillens:
There is tremendous poetry in killings.
     --Risjaar, Ten Oorlog III

wholeheartedly agree (3.50 / 8) (#26)
by _peter on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 05:13:50 PM EST

For the record, I am fully in favor of Voluntary Human Extinction.

Let everyone who doesn't believe humans are worth their effect on the universe die out.

The rest of us will do just fine without you.

the planet (3.50 / 2) (#36)
by chale on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 02:18:49 PM EST

the human species is changing the ecology of the planet so quickly that we are not evolving fast enough to stay ahead of our destruction. witness the increase in diseases throughout the population. i don't think that our eventual extinction is very far away or will be voluntary.

but that's just my opinion, i could be wrong.

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -John Muir

try using facts next time (none / 0) (#39)
by bgarcia on Mon Feb 12, 2001 at 12:02:19 PM EST

...we are not evolving fast enough to stay ahead of our destruction. witness the increase in diseases throughout the population...
My goodness, study some history. Disease is less of a problem today than at any other time.

It's quite likely that some new plague will eventually develop that could wipe out a significant portion of the population, but I doubt anything will lead to complete extinction.

[ Parent ]

My reason for not having kids (none / 0) (#37)
by ana on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 04:08:07 PM EST

I've put into my diary a piece about why I'm not having kids; not one of the reaons in your little poll. Basically, my life as an outsider is unpleasant often enough that I'm not wishing it on anyone else, either by genetic inheritance, or by nurture.


Years go by; will I still be waiting
for somebody else to understand?
--Tori Amos

Evolution (3.50 / 2) (#38)
by kubalaa on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 07:52:37 PM EST

What they're suggesting is that all the humans who are intelligent, far-sighted, and conscientious enough to see the advantages of this project kill themselves off. What does basic evolutionary theory tell us the result will be? Will the human population go down? No, it will become dominated by stupid, short-sighted, selfish people who are happy to make lots of babies. Kind of ironic, isn't it?

(Disclaimer: I'm not saying anyone who wants babies is stupid, etc., just using hyperbole to make a point.)

This... (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by Anonymous 6522 on Mon Feb 12, 2001 at 12:50:50 PM EST

I have enough of the preservation of the species instinct left to think that this is stupid.

I'm more in favor of, "Voluntary Radical Population Reduction." 6 billion people are just too damn much, so we should try to reduce the population down to a more manageable number, like 500 million worldwide. Basically I think that people should have as few children as possible (around one) until we reach this level, and then only have enough children to replace the population.

If it ever gets as bad as "Soylent Green," then I would favor total thermonuclear war to get rid of population. If we fuck the planet up that badly, then all but a handful should die, and the rest devoted to the task, however long it take, of getting the planet into a livable condition again.

Humans are a good thing (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by Wreck on Mon Feb 12, 2001 at 01:51:48 PM EST

The loony left (like these idiots) look at people, and see a squalling baby. A mouth, in other words, and an anus, and not that much else. Machines for taking good food and turning it into waste and grating sound.

No wonder they think there are too many of us.

Sadly, the lethal center has (de facto) bought this analysis, in large part because subject to the pressure of socialism the organs of state have become the nipple and ass-wipe of a large segment of the population, and they cannot get enough resources to do this without a bunch of ingrates like me telling them that taxation is immoral. So, via the magic of the state, human being -- individuals just as life-loving as you or me -- have been transformed from citizens to liabilities on balance sheets. And so people (especially of the socialist/statist perspective) think we are better off dead. But this viewpoint is only appropriate to the state; fortunately there is still stuff left outside the state, and out there things are different.

In fact, we all have a brain, a back, and two good hands, with which we add more to the world than we take out. The world is not getting worse. It is getting better, and it is getting better at a faster rate because there are more and more of us.

Voluntary Human Extinction | 41 comments (34 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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