Posts Tagged ‘Wikipedia’

Thomas Robert Malthus and Humanity’s Self-Destructive Nature

August 16, 2009

“The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man”

via Thomas Robert Malthus – Wikipedia

I’ve been reading The Spirit in the Gene recently (borrowed from Joss Winn), by Reg Morrison. The book is essentially about humanity’s genetic predisposition to increase in number at a geometric/exponential rate. The book brilliantly describes the evolutionary journey which has led us to the present point where our fertility rate, together with our larger brain size-to-body size ratio, means we are the most advanced animal on the planet. Yet at the same time – and virtually single-handedly – we are destroying the very environment which has fed and sustained us.

The prescient quote above (from 1798) neatly sums up the crux of the problem: the earth and its resources, vast as they are, are finite; however, the rate at which humans reproduce and consume is greater than the earth’s capacity to replenish these resources.

It’s a little crass to sum up the message – of both the book and the Rev. Malthus – as “we’re doomed”, but that’s essentially it. Without a significant and conscious shift in lifestyle, humanity looks set for failure.

This could be seen as depressing, but to me it’s actually a relief to read stuff that doesn’t beat around the bush and just makes sense of an issue that’s very difficult to face.


The CIA Infiltrates Wikipedia – SHOCK!

July 29, 2007

I came across the following slice of preposterous hyperbole via a Digg story:

Wikipedia and the Intelligence Services

Perhaps secret agents have “infiltrated Wikipedia“, speculates the article, and are spreading disinformation about the Lockerbie bombing — amongst other vital and current topics — even as you read this blog post! Let’s ignore the inherent absurdity of “infiltrating” a free open source website, because we have pressing matters to attend to. Quick: sound the Internet alarm! Somebody has been editing entries on Wikipedia, and others have even been *gasp* locked! Next it’ll be stories of black helicopters being edited out of Google Earth.

More shocking revelations follow:

“According to clues accumulated by ordinary citizens around the world, it could be that the CIA and other intelligence agencies are riding the information wave and planting disinformation on Wikipedia. If so, tens of thousands of innocent and unwitting citizens around the world are translating and propagating their lies, providing these agencies with a universal news network.”

Now, I don’t mean to state the bleeding obvious here, but Wikipedia has been a target of disinformation since day one; and the men in black are categorically not the main perpetrators. Before we get on to government conspiracies, why not consider the infinitely more mundane explanation that a couple of anal wikipedians have got into an edit war — or perhaps it was just an idiot. There are plenty of them to go round on the Internet; they even visit Wikipedia once in a while and post all kinds of nonsense. Some of them even write articles for web newspapers…