Yellacat Ranch Under a Western Sky

Do the dead outnumber the living?

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Do the dead outnumber the living? I think every genealogist wonders about that, because of a phenomenon called pedigree collapse. And, people who believe in reincarnation as it’s usually presented also wonder: there have to be enough dead people for everyone living to have had at least one past life. So, why is the answer so hard to pin down? Over the years I’ve read arguments for both yes and no. After reading this article, I’m still not taking sides.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16870579

2 Comments

  • When I last tried to do the integration over the world population stats myself, I think I ended up with somewhere between 3:1 and 7:1 in favour of the dead, using a very large estimate for average lifetime. The article concludes with ~107 billion dead, so it’s in the same direction.

    The dead definitely outnumber the living. It’s just a question of “by how much”.

  • As the dead outnumber the living by “X to 1” it seems we would need to increase the living population by a factor of X to achieve parity and to do so without having anyone die … otherwise, we would need even more than X! Obviously, that can’t happen instantaneously, but we can conceive of a point in the distant future when the population has increased by X. However, in the meantime, many people will die, which means another large increase of the X factor, which makes it less likely. It seems the point where the living outnumbered the dead may have already passed … perhaps after the two original humans had their third child and then died. 😉

    Eventually, with cemeteries filled to capacity, crematoria flaming ’round the clock and God knows what schemes we will devise to deal with the dead (Soylent Green, anyone?) the possibility of the living outnumbering the dead will become a numerical impossibility … not to mention a nightmare scenario.

Yellacat Ranch Under a Western Sky
Justin Swanstrom

Justin Swanstrom

Made in America. Retired attorney. Bookseller at Shining Lotus. No Nazis in Valhalla. He/him.

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