[ExI] nobel prize and other premature notions

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Tue May 8 20:41:04 UTC 2012

On Mon, May 7, 2012 at 2:34 PM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
> I had an idea I have been playing withwardly.  Alfred Nobel invented
> dynamite and thought that he had ended warfare, since the new explosive made
> the whole notion of armed conflict just too dangerous to be any fun.  He was
> tragically wrong of course: warfare just became more dangerous, as
> demonstrated in two major European conflicts.  But in a way he was right:
> eventually we went thru another round of invention of still bigger
> explosives when we built nukes, and in that way, warfare really is too
> dangerous now for nuke-enable societies to play.  So Al Nobel was premature,
> but not exactly wrong.

Ok, this is interesting and insightful.

> Today we look at Mr. and Mrs. Ehrlich’s notion of the population bomb and
> their predictions, and oh, were they silly, so wrong, etc.  But in
> retrospect, it isn’t entirely clear to me they were wrong exactly, but
> rather just too pessimistic on the timeframe of their predictions.  Perhaps
> they really had the right idea to some extent, just didn’t really model it
> correctly.  Perhaps in the very long run, Malthusian population dynamics
> really do apply to this overcrowded planet, but the model is far more
> complex than a jar of fruit flies.

The biggest thing that the population bomb misses IMHO is that when
people get rich, they stop having so many kids. Also, when people live
longer and healthier lives, they don't need so many children to take
care of them. When people start living 100 years+ in healthy 30 year
old bodies, I think the idea of having children will positively go out
of style (throwing out a couple of religious memes I could think
of)... Europe and North America are now growing only through
immigration, and Japan doesn't like immigration, so they are
shrinking... Everywhere you add money, the birth rate goes down. There
are good reasons for this, and "Abundance" (Diamandus) goes through
many of them.

So, the thing that is necessary to get the birth rate down is to get
income up for the bottom billion (or 3) and get education into the
hands of women. At that point, I don't think population growth is
going to be nearly the problem that we think it is now.

So while I'm concerned that if we don't do anything, population will
bloom out of control in the third world, I'm also convinced that we
are actively working on the things that will bring population growth
under control. Just increasing the amount of clean water available in
the third world will reduce population growth, and that may be a
reality much faster than we think. Now, if we could just get the
Mormons and Catholics on board... LOL

> What other examples can we think of where the initially presented model is
> too simple but perhaps contains some truth?

Virtually everything science has ever done falls into this category...


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