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General Ignorance: Population

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eggshaped
154785.  Thu Mar 08, 2007 3:47 am Reply with quote

We looked at the debunkment of the fact that "people alive today outnumber all those who have ever lived" a while ago, and decided that it was probably wrong, but here's a demographer from the US coming to the same conclusion.

Quote:
In 2002 Carl Haub, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, a nongovernmental organization in Washington, D.C [...] studied the available population data to determine the human population growth rates during different historical periods, and used them to determine the number of people who have ever been born.

To calculate how many people have ever lived, Haub followed a minimalist approach, beginning with two people in 50000 B.C.óhis Adam and Eve (!). Then, using his historical growth rates and population benchmarks, he estimated that slightly over 106 billion people had ever been born.

Of those, people alive today comprise only 6 percent, nowhere near 75 percent.


link

I also liked the chinese walking past in single file factoid, but dunno if either are useful for our purposes.

Actually, speaking of population, did we ever use the "When in history did most people live in caves" question?

 
Flash
154796.  Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:34 am Reply with quote

I don't think so. Everybody hated my cavemen, and the whole question was cut in the edit.

 
MatC
154836.  Thu Mar 08, 2007 5:53 am Reply with quote

Yes, I'm sure you used that; if the answer was hardly anyone lived in caves because there weren't enough caves to go round, I remember it well; it was very good.

 
MatC
154840.  Thu Mar 08, 2007 5:56 am Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:
We looked at the debunkment of the fact that "people alive today outnumber all those who have ever lived" a while ago, and decided that it was probably wrong, but here's a demographer from the US coming to the same conclusion.


You donít mean the debunkment was wrong, do you? It canít possibly be, can it?

Hereís my haípíorth, anyway ...



<<<MYTHCONCEPTIONS: The quick outnumber the dead by Mat Coward

THE MYTH: There are more people alive on Earth today than have ever died. In some versions, 75% of all humans whoíve ever lived are alive right now.

THE "TRUTH": No-oneís entirely sure when this belief first became common currency (unless you can tell us, of course), but it appears to have become an uncritically accepted fact sometime in the 1970s. Itís especially popular with those who believe overpopulation to be the worldís greatest problem; with US creationists; and with right-wing opponents of welfarism. Obviously, it can never be answered definitively, because we donít know for sure how long humans have existed, or how many of them have existed. But there does seem to be a consensus amongst secular demographers that the global population in 40,000 BC was about 500,000, and reached 1 billion by 1800 AD. That would mean (according to widely accepted methods of working out average death rates) that the number of deaths during those centuries alone would be around 60 billion; the current population is around 6 billion. If these estimates are even vaguely right, then not only do we not yet outnumber the dead, but itís unlikely that we ever will.

SOURCES: www.peopleandplanet.net/doc.php?id=1820;
www.newscientist.com/backpage.ns?id=lw208

DISCLAIMER: This column never claims to Know The Truth - and especially not when thereís statistics involved. The two sides of this debate should feel free to battle it out on the letters page, until none are left standing.>>>

 
eggshaped
154843.  Thu Mar 08, 2007 6:00 am Reply with quote

Quote:

You donít mean the debunkment was wrong, do you? It canít possibly be, can it?


No, I didn't mean that, even though that's what I said.

 
Flash
154862.  Thu Mar 08, 2007 6:34 am Reply with quote

To clarify the cavemen: we did use the question about where cavemen lived (ie, not in caves) but only because I made a fuss about it and then JJ cut it from the broadcast version so I learned a valuable lesson about the futility of making a fuss about anything. As I recall, we included a note about how more people live in caves now than did in the stone age, but it must have all bitten the dust and so is available for resurrection if we want.

 

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