Sunday, July 06, 2014

Wikipedia 'Overpopulation' Insanity

Overpopulation denialists are currently pretty influential. As I often note, expressing concerns about overpopulation is unpopular on both the right and the left in the U.S. Many on the right argue for continued population growth in order to drive continued economic growth. Some hold that the West/the U.S. is being "outbred" by potential military and cultural competitors. Many on the left argue that the real problem is overconsumption, and that if we address that, we don't need to address population growth. Many also hold that concerns about population growth are racist, since (i) most population growth occurs outside of Europe and the U.S. and (ii) concerns about overpopulation might constitute reasons to lower immigration and illegal immigration rates in the U.S. (weak arguments, but I'm just reporting them...)  The situation has been made worse by the fact that actual racists in the U.S. have, relatively recently, begun using claims about overpopulation as a stalking horse in anti-immigration efforts. (As usual, the left has a tendency to argue ad hominem from some racists believe x to x is inherently racist...)

Of course certain religions that use high reproduction rates as an expansion strategy (e.g. Catholicism, Mormonism) also work hard to dismiss concerns about overpopulation.

But, man, the Wikipedia article on overpopulation has reached dizzying new heights of crazy:
Attempts to mitigate adverse effects associated with overpopulation have historically included eugenic efforts in the early 19th century. This focused on forcefully sterilizing people thought to have undesirable traits. Almost all developed countries developed laws and regulations around this theme of reducing the reproduction of undesirables. Besides sterilization, the methods included forced abortions, birth control, marriage restrictions according to race, limited genetic testing, racial segregation and segregation of the mentally disabled. The eugenics concept was expanded in Nazi Germany during World War II to forcibly exterminating anyone thought to be undesirable, most notably the Jews. Genocide is the process of reducing the population of a race or ethnic group by murder.[14] Most countries have no direct policy of limiting their birth rates, but the rates have still fallen due to educating people about family planning, increasing access to birth control and contraception. Only China has imposed legal restrictions on having more than one child. Extraterrestrial settlement and other technical solutions have been proposed as ways to mitigate overpopulation in the future.
Note the initial sentence:

"Attempts to mitigate adverse effects associated with overpopulation have historically included eugenic efforts in the early 19th century."

One could write at length about the convoluted sophistry contained in that first sentence alone, but let's just cut to the chase:

Eugenic efforts of the type listed were never actually aimed at controlling the overall population. There wasn't even a population problem to control in the early 19th century. This is an utterly daft attempt at generating guilt by association. The very fact that this irrelevant paragraph constitutes about 1/3 of the first section of the Wikipedia entry on overpopulation shows that craziness is afoot. There is absolutely no way to argue that e.g. anti-miscegenation laws were driven by population concerns.

Furthermore, note the dishonest efforts to construe eugenics efforts as attempts to control population. This is like saying: efforts to control population have historically included murdering my neighbor--by doing so, I have reduced the population of Smiths next door...

This paragraph is just a laundry list of pro-population growth craziness, with nuts on top...specifically:
Extraterrestrial settlement and other technical solutions have been proposed as ways to mitigate overpopulation in the future.
So, in short, 1/3 of the introductory section on human overpopulation says: attempts to control overpopulation typically include racism and genocide, and there's no problem anyway because we can always colonize space.

This should obviously just be deleted, but I'm going to hit the talk page first and try to address the general problem. 

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