Would less people mean less Science?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by John J. Bannan, Aug 7, 2007.

  1. John J. Bannan Registered Senior Member

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    Doesn't large human populations support higher technologies, because more people are required to support those technologies. Isn't birth control a bad idea for science?
     
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  3. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Not really for there will still be even more people that are smarter who will want to go into the sciences. Don't forget we are just about on the verge of being able to have babies that are very highly developed in their IQ levels with the aid of genetic engineering.
     
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  5. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Not necessarily. Granted, there is a certain minimum level of civilization required to support the advance of science, but greater use of birth control and zero population growth is accompanied by higher standards of living, higher educational levels, and more science.
     
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  7. John J. Bannan Registered Senior Member

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    What support do you have for saying that greater use of birth control and zero population growth is accompanied by higher standards of living, higher educational levels and more science?
     
  8. Communist Hamster Cricetulus griseus leninus Valued Senior Member

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    Less people + the same growth of the economies and education system [which would continue for a short time at the same rate as with net population growth, then slow down] = more teachers and money per person = more effective education + higher quality of life = more scientists = more science.

    Or at least, that's how I see it.
     
  9. John J. Bannan Registered Senior Member

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    Maybe, for the very short term. Afterward, you have a problem. Obviously, any growth in the economies will be short lived due to the population decline.
     
  10. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    Unless they all want to be art students, or writers, or...

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  11. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    That's the pattern in western nations. When education and standards of living increase, the birth rate slows. This is probably due to greater female empowerment and access to medical care. As a result, families invest more in each individual child.
     
  12. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Do they really invest more in each child? Seems to me they pursue their own lives more and have less time to have children (or attention to spare)
     
  13. John J. Bannan Registered Senior Member

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    But that doesn't mean a slowing birth rate is the cause of increasing standards of living. More likely, it is the other way around. However, less population will reduce living standards and produce less scientists.
     
  14. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Fewer people= more resources available for each one.

    Sammy, they do pursue their own lives to a greater degree and have children later in life, but when they do, they invest more in each child.
     
  15. John J. Bannan Registered Senior Member

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    Fewer people = less ability to take advantage of more resources.
     
  16. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Ok, thanks

    I am considering adoption, so I'm wondering about these issues. You know, career choices vs children.
     
  17. John J. Bannan Registered Senior Member

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    So, by investing more in a child - you can make them smarter? But if you forego having three children, and only have one - doesn't that mean that child has to be three times smarter just to stay at par?
     
  18. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

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    We sort of discussed population and science in the Modern technology and its origins thread: http://www.sciforums.com/showthread.php?t=66826

    I do think that falling population growth rates suggest falling rates of development for science and technology. In general, the more people you have, the more research gets done and the more discoveries are made. I think that was a contributing factor to why modern science progressed as it did. We saw an explosion of science and technology in the 20th century because we saw an explosion in the number of scioentists and technologists.

    There are two countervailing factors, though, that you have to consider before succumbing to scientific reverse-Malthusianism, and thus embrace unchecked population growth. First, new technologies may greatly increase the "scientific productivity" per person. That technology need not be devices, it might well be advances in psychology that enable us to develop better teaching methods. (On the other hand it might well be some piece of more typical "information technology" like improvements in the web that make it easier to access and process information.) The technological change argument is the classic rebuttal to Mathus's proposition (that population grown is bad because it is roughly geometrically, whereas crop yields only grow roughly linearly, thus population growth leads to a food shortage over time and is thus "bad"), and I think it needs to be considered again here for similar reasons. Even if the population were to decline outright, technological innovation might enable that population to produce more science than the preceding generation.

    The second factor is that, at some point, population becomes can become a major problem. At some point I think it's very likely that the marginal gain to the world of adding a new person (in the form of the scientific, economic and other benefits that person adds to the world) will be less than the marginal cost that added person imposes. I have no idea at what point that would be, and I am not personally concerned that we are all that close to it, but others disagree. At some point, though, world overpopulation would be a problem.
     
  19. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    All by yourself?
     
  20. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah.

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  21. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    Now tell me honestly, Sam, would you want to be a kid that was raised by Sam???? And why would you want to put a poor, innocent little kid through that horrid torment throughtout his entire life???

    Baron Max
     
  22. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Well, it would recieve a well-balanced diet...
     
  23. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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    Suspect general "science" work occured the most and most aggressively after the fall of Catholic church, the rise of more liberated thinking, but before the dominance of corporation-capitalism(vs merchantilism/specialism).

    1800 - 1955.
     

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