Arithmetic for Adults

1. A very serious adult maths mistake - to think that because population growth rates are slowing down, then population increases will get smaller - Hurray? No.

Population growth rates are slowing down. Yes.

BUT the population is bigger, so a smaller growth rate still means a bigger increase in real numbers.
Population 9,000 people - Then 0.3% growth is only 27 people. Population 9 billion people- Then 0.3 % growth adds 27 million more people - more than Australia today.

What will they eat, drink and farm?
Already with 6 billion people, we are wiping out fish stocks, forests and farmlands, and water can be short.

Without humane means to stabilise world populations now, inhumane reductions will take over.

Always ask 'How many?' 'When?' 'Why?

Rotten statistics: When an opinion survey gives a percentae figure, but no number of how mahy people answered - it may heve been ten or ten million. The percentage is dodgy without the number given.

The media publish many letters of shock at the violence in peace protests and the like. These letters are written by people who see the shots on TV of about twenty people in clashes with the police, in a demonstration with from five thousand to 150,000 other protesters who are all peaceful. These twenty aggressors are of three types - provocateurs, yobboes out for a stoush, and a few who believe that unless they are violent the media will pay no attention to their protest. The media then justify their belief by concentrating on the violence and overlooking or minimising the peace-makers.

The media publish the violence in part because they think that viewers like to see violence, and in part to discredit the other thousands of marchers.

Everyone should know about 'Social Arithmetic'. Always ask 'how many?' 'When?' and 'Why?' before making generalisations about the majority from knowledge - or glimpses - of a few.

Most men are NOT rapists, most families are NOT unhappy, and most peace-marchers are NOT the exhibitionists or rowdies who monopolise the media attention.

'War is inevitable because humans are innately violent'

'Men are all rapists'

Women are liable to be silly, and many men are liable to be stupid'

Social arithmetic is a way of checking generalisations about nations, genders, social classes, age-groups etc. It does this by estimating the number or proportion of people they apply to. e.g. applied to the cliché that 'War is inevitable because humans are innately violent' cuts the generalisation in half by excluding women, and then cuts it further by considering how many men in a sample of 100 are actually the warmakers, in different cultures and at different periods of history.

'Men are all rapists' is tested by how many men in a sample of 100 would ever be violent sexually, and of those who are, how often and under what circumstances, in different times and places of history.

Similarly with the generalisation, that 'women are liable to be silly, and men are liable to be stupid'.

The practice of arguing with 'social arithmetic' is a democratic argument - because it says that what individuals do does matter. They are not helpless.

When anyone deliberately collects biros, or regards the firm's property as perks, or enjoys evading tax, or hits their girlfriends, they are helping to push 'average behaviour' into a criminal mode, which fosters increased numbers of deliberately antisocial individuals at the lower extreme, and makes it harder for others to be honest. Road speeds are a clear example of how this can happen. When enough drivers are doing 80 on a suburban road marked at 60, then the irresponsible drivers will go at 100 kph, and the more law-abiding drivers feel forced to go at 80 kph too, regardless of personal wishes or feeling that they are not very safe drivers at that speed.