Monday, March 30, 2009

more people dead or alive?

Peleg and I went to see the comic Louis C K on Friday. He started his routine with an extended bit about the special status of being a living human being and how for every one of us the far more normal status of existence is "dead." We'll be alive for maybe 100 years at the most and we'll be in the "dead" category basically forever.

One of his observations was that most of the people who have ever existed are now dead - and I wondered whether that was true. It seems like I've heard that with 6 and half billion people now alive that there are more people living now than have ever lived before. So I googled it.

I was wrong. Most estimates say that there have been something more than 100 billion human beings ever in existence - and only about 6 and a half billion of them are currently alive. One reference pointed out that about half of human beings have lived in the 2000 years since Anno Domini. (The 50 billion born before Christ are doomed, of course). Here is the reference.

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