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Author Topic: More people alive than have ever died?
halibut
Deck the Malls


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I remember hearing about a year ago that there are more people alive in the world today (or a year ago) than have ever died.

Surely this is rubbish, but is so bizarre it may have an element of truth.

Is there any truth to this?

Posts: 216 | From: Lincoln, UK | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
pinqy
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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It seems not to be true...only about 5.8% of all people ever alive. But everyone repeats the myth.

My source: Population Reference Bureau

pinqy

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Don't Forget!
Winter Solstice Hanukkah Christmas Kwanzaa & Gurnenthar's Ascendance Are Coming!

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Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


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And another analysis,

http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/dead.htm

-- Bonnie

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Se non è vero, è ben trovato.

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pinqy
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Well, ok, there's that...I just happen to have worked with the demographer I cite.

pinqy

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Don't Forget!
Winter Solstice Hanukkah Christmas Kwanzaa & Gurnenthar's Ascendance Are Coming!

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uncle jam
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They taught this myth as fact at my primary school. I think I've had to unlearn more things from there than anything else. Public Schools [Roll Eyes]
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Silas Sparkhammer
I Saw V-Chips Come Sailing In


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quote:
Originally posted by uncle jam:
They taught this myth as fact at my primary school. I think I've had to unlearn more things from there than anything else. Public Schools [Roll Eyes]

Grin! I know how ya feel! The best "education" I got at my high school was from the library.

Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 starts out with a quote to the effect that behind everyone alive there are thirty ghosts. I always wondered how that could be, until I learned that "humanity" is considered to be only 100,000 years old. If you use a 20 year "generation," that's only 5,000 generations, which doesn't sound like a whole lot...

If you can graph the population curve, then you can perform a rough "integral" on the area beneath the curve. Instead of the standard dx, you just divide by the average lifespan of an individual.

(This relationship is also useful in population rate estimates. For instance, if there are six billion of us, and our average lifespan is, say, 65 years, that means that 6bn/65 = 92.3 million people born per year, and also 92.3 million dying per year -- which would be true if population were not growing or shrinking. The relationship works for stable populations. BTW, that's roughly three persons per second...)

Silas

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ChelleGame
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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quote:
Originally posted by uncle jam:
They taught this myth as fact at my primary school. I think I've had to unlearn more things from there than anything else. Public Schools [Roll Eyes]

Hey, I went to Warren Cousino -- perhaps we mislearned things from the same teachers. [Smile]

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Michelle

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uncle jam
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Miss Walker [Razz]
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Andrew of Ware, England
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I read in a reputable magazine (Current Archaeology, Fortean Times or BBC History perhaps) that out of every thirty people who have ever lived then twenty-nine are dead. This makes it about 3% of all people are still alive, similar to the second post in this thread and very close to the Arthur C. Clarke idea that Silas mentions.

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Andrew, Ware, England

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Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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Some of this, of course, depends on how you define the word "people". Is there some reason that we should accept the age of 100,000 years for this question?
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Silas Sparkhammer
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quote:
Originally posted by Ganzfeld:
Some of this, of course, depends on how you define the word "people". Is there some reason that we should accept the age of 100,000 years for this question?

Well, human evolution has been gradual, but by the standard notions, "H. sap" is about that old. The fossil record is pretty good for this.

We could quibble over some of the pre-human species, H. erectus, H. habilis, H. austrolpithecus. However, in fact, the population numbers for these guys was so low that you can extend the calculations backwards to 1,000,000 years and not actually change the totals much.

900,000 years times, say, a population around 5,000, divided by a lifespan of 25 years, gives a cumulative total of 180 million...or about 1/30 of the population today. i.e., irrelevant!

Silas

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Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Silas Sparkhammer:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Ganzfeld:
[qb] ...the population numbers for these guys was so low that you can extend the calculations backwards to 1,000,000 years and not actually change the totals much...

Yeah, that's why I said "some of this". But it could change the total dead by at least 20-30%.
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Silas Sparkhammer
I Saw V-Chips Come Sailing In


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quote:
Originally posted by Ganzfeld:
quote:
Originally posted by Silas Sparkhammer:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Ganzfeld:
[qb] ...the population numbers for these guys was so low that you can extend the calculations backwards to 1,000,000 years and not actually change the totals much...

Yeah, that's why I said "some of this". But it could change the total dead by at least 20-30%.
How'd'ya figure? If (*IF*) it is true that behind each person living there are thirty ghosts, then an additional 180 million above this 180 billion is only an increase of 1/10 of one per cent.

(If the total is smaller, then the percentage increase is, of course, larger, but for it to be 20%, then the original sum would have been only 9 billion, or only one and one half ghosts per living person today.)

Silas ("There's room for one more!")

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Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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I find it hard to accept the population of 5,000 as anything but a minimum for all individuals of homo species. But even if it is 100 times that, it doesn't add up to my "20%" does it. So you're probably right, Silas.
Posts: 4922 | From: Kyoto, Japan | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
   

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