Elon Musk’s Reported $10 Million Donation to Fertility Research Is Deeply Unsettling

Just another day of fearmongering about birth rates for the billionaire father of 10.

Elon Musk’s Reported $10 Million Donation to Fertility Research Is Deeply Unsettling
Photo:Chesnot (Getty Images)

While many of us were sleeping, Elon Musk—presumably in a cold sweat—was up tweeting about birth rates. Around 1 a.m. ET on Monday, he shared a very normal tweet that states, “Population collapse is the biggest threat to civilization,” accompanied by a list of countries where fertility rates are supposedly in decline and a very shiny photo of himself holding a sign that reads, “The population crisis is real.”

“Yes,” Musk wrote in a standalone quote tweet on top of it.

The predictably bizarre post from the “X” owner comes amid new reports that he’s donating $10 million to fund research into fertility and demography conducted by the Population Wellbeing Initiative, under the University of Texas at Austin. To give you a sense of Musk’s interest in the research initiative, PWI’s director previously co-wrote an academic paper that states “humanity is now four-fifths over” and that it’s possible “humanity depopulates with cruelty,” implying there will be mass suffering in the hypothetical lead-up to our hypothetical extinction.

The specificities of what Musk’s $10 million will accomplish remain unclear, beyond Bloomberg’s report that PWI will use it to research fertility, economic growth, and the future of the human population.

Musk, a father of 10 children with three women (which, as Tech Crunch points out, is only as far as we know), has spent the better part of the last several years aggressively fearmongering about societal collapse should we not each join him in breeding away. Of course, for his own part, he’s done nothing to address the reasons people may not want children and instead actively makes matters worse—namely by hoarding massive amounts of wealth for himself and reportedly firing employees who use parental leave.

Musk’s obsession with fertility and the population is pretty jarringly at the root of some of his other (numerous!) god-awful takes. That includes his televised rant against birth control and abortion on Tucker Carlson’s now defunct Fox News show in April, and his argument that adults who don’t have kids shouldn’t be permitted to vote. According to his ex Grimes, in conversation with Wired earlier this month, much of Musk’s well-documented transphobia is due to obsessive panic about trans people’s reproductive capacities. It seems that in his mind, pregnancy and birthing are the existential purpose of women and people with uteruses.

If Musk’s decision to fund fertility research leaves a bad taste in your mouth, that’s probably because it’s all very creepy, certainly from a man with sexual harassment allegations against him. But it’s also because panic about the population isn’t new: As we see through veiled language and dog whistles—like, say, highlighting declining fertility rates in European nations—population-related panic has always existed and tends to be rooted in white nationalist concerns about a decline in white babies, and the decline of western civilization.

It’s just another example of Musk’s utter void of originality: He can’t even invent his own moral panic and has to piggyback off of fascist Italy’s.

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