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Fri Jun 27, 2014, 04:40 PM

Is it true that there are more people alive today than have died in all of human history?

I had heard this stated any number of times as a scientific fact - I recall some years ago it being scientifically refuted. I was just curious what the accepted scientific opinion about this matter was

Fact or Fiction?: Living People Outnumber the Dead

Booming population growth among the living, according to one rumor, outpaces the dead


The human population has swelled so much that people alive today outnumber all those who have ever lived, says a factoid whose roots stretch back to the 1970s. Some versions of this widely circulating rumor claim that 75 percent of all people ever born are currently alive. Yet, despite a quadrupling of the population in the past century, the number of people alive today is still dwarfed by the number of people who have ever lived.

In 2002 Carl Haub, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, a nongovernmental organization in Washington, D.C., updated his earlier estimate of the number of people that have ever existed. To calculate this, he 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.—his 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. " almost surely true people alive today are some small fraction of people," says Joel Cohen, a professor of populations at the Rockefeller and Columbia Universities in New York City.

For this myth ever to be valid there would have to be more than 100 billion people living on Earth. "How cozy," Cohen says. "It just doesn't seem plausible," he adds.

Today there are more than 6.5 billion people walking on Earth, according to United Nations estimates.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-living-outnumber-dead/

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Reply Is it true that there are more people alive today than have died in all of human history? (Original post)
Douglas Carpenter Jun 2014 OP
DarthDem Jun 2014 #1
Xipe Totec Jun 2014 #3
Wounded Bear Jun 2014 #5
Xipe Totec Jun 2014 #6
Wounded Bear Jun 2014 #7
Xipe Totec Jun 2014 #8
Laelth Jun 2014 #2
byronius Jun 2014 #4

Response to Douglas Carpenter (Original post)

Fri Jun 27, 2014, 04:48 PM

1. Well . . . .



"Some versions of this widely circulating rumor claim that 75 percent of all people ever born are currently alive."


Oops? I'm actually pretty sure that no such rumor is in wide circulation, unless this article came from ReincarnationAmerican.

But hey, who knows? Something to hope for, maybe?

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Response to DarthDem (Reply #1)

Fri Jun 27, 2014, 05:53 PM

3. Studies show that 40% of all statistics are made up on the spot

Including this one.

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Response to Xipe Totec (Reply #3)

Fri Jun 27, 2014, 09:19 PM

5. Wrong!

Everybody knows it's really 75%. Or maybe that's just 75% of statistics quoted on the Internets.

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Response to Wounded Bear (Reply #5)

Fri Jun 27, 2014, 09:22 PM

6. Studies show you may be right

Or, you may be wrong.

Some high percentage of the time.

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Response to Xipe Totec (Reply #6)

Fri Jun 27, 2014, 09:24 PM

7. Well, people have said that it was so...

so it must be true. Besides, I read it on the Internet.

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Response to Wounded Bear (Reply #7)

Fri Jun 27, 2014, 11:04 PM

8. Studies show that studies show. nt

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Response to Douglas Carpenter (Original post)

Fri Jun 27, 2014, 05:16 PM

2. k&r for exposure. n/t

-Laelth

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Response to Douglas Carpenter (Original post)

Fri Jun 27, 2014, 08:31 PM

4. I wrote a screenplay recently that dealt with this.

The idea was that the universe was collapsing, and that everything that had ever lived was being slowly pushed into our time.

Everything. People, creatures, bacteria -- everything.

It was fun to imagine. Not a lot of hard numbers out there to research, but the general scale of the concept was staggering.

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