Sloan’s Principle

September 30, 2013 • Daily Email Recap

**Sloan’s Principle: that persons who are intelligent and well informed on most issues, often prove to be unintelligent and ignorant when they talk about the costs and benefits of of population growth.


Judith Sloan [Step away from the scalpel, Mother Earth doesn’t need vasectomies, The Australian 24 September 2013] claimed that “rates of fertility fall quickly when countries become richer”. Every developing country that has relied on wealth creation to curb population growth has failed on both fronts. Every nation that embraced voluntary family planning to curb population growth succeeded in reducing the birth rate rapidly, regardless of poverty or illiteracy, and later (once births were approaching replacement rate) saw economic progress take off.

Professor Sloan is right that coercive sterilization programs have been counterproductive – not only in India, but China’s one-child policy actually slowed the decline in births that the earlier voluntary family planning program had achieved. But why does she attempt to tarnish current family planning efforts with aberrant thirty-five-year-old failures that no-one today supports? Why does she call family planning “liberty-sapping” when the Millennium Development Goals say it is a basic right of women?

For verification see:

Jane O’Sullivan
Agricultural scientist and honorary research fellow
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences in The University of Queensland.

Step away from the scalpel: Mother Earth doesn’t need vasectomies

HERE’S something to look forward to, boys: World Vasectomy Day. It’s happening on October 18 and the Royal Institution of Australia, based in Adelaide, is promoting the day. You can even volunteer to be part of it, in a practical way, if you know what I mean.

According to the press release, titled Balls on the Line for Planet Earth, “the vasectomy-athon was inspired by documentary film-maker Jonathan Stack and Dr (Doug) Stein, who wanted to set the stage for a global conversation about the social, cultural and ethical issues of an ever-increasing population and the effect it has on the planet’s finite resources”.

But wait for it, there’s more. One of the discussants will be “renowned biologist and educator Professor Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb”.

Yes, that would be the same Ehrlich whose predictions have been proven to be wrong. Here’s what Ehrlich had to say in 1968, in The Population Bomb: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

He was totally off beam. The worldwide death rate was about 13.2 deaths per thousand people in the second half of the 60s. By the second half of the 70s it was 10.7. At present it is about 8.5 deaths per thousand people.

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