Role Playing – A Blast From The Past From Jan 2013

America is NOT overpopulated. The problem is that we treat the population like Calhoun treated his rats. Hopefully it will end better for us than the rats.

According To Hoyt

Role Playing – A Blast From The Past From Jan 2013

The other day I found myself reading this study about overpopulation.  Well, the study was supposedly about overpopulation, at least.  I’m talking about Calhoun’s study on rats in a cage, rats who were supplied with every possible resource and yet, supposedly, when the population went above a certain density, found themselves exhibiting various pathologies, some of which will sound eerily familiar: a period of oversexuality leads rapidly to a period where the rats can’t connect with each other for sex or anything else.  There’s cannibalism, violence, apathy and a general falling apart of rat society.  Population falls precipitously.  Those rats that are left behind are too… socially inept to rebuild.

I can’t remember how I got to the study.  I was sure it was through Instapundit, but a quick search doesn’t show me the link.  Perhaps I’m missing…

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  1. MadRocketSci · March 6, 2016

    Of course it could be a matter of our brain thinking we’re overpopulated (there is the perception we know more people than we know, due to TV and other media) or even of our being too densely packed together in some areas…

    Living in an insanely dense gigantic city (Atlanta), I can attest that this is a strong and deep influence on my worldview and mood. It’s hard to see past it when you are, everyday, immersed in a crush of people with very little privacy. I can only really get privacy and relax when I get home in the evening (which, incidentally, is the only time I can actually get my work done.)

    At school, my desk is in one of those open plan offices. I never spend any time at it because I can’t think. Nevermind about the noise – I have no control over my space. My back is to a crowded wide open room, not a wall. I often get much more work done in a bench in a lab that no one uses, where I can get some privacy, and my chair is against a wall. (PS- not to sound too ungrateful for that either: I at least *have* a desk.)

    At my old school, there were places to get away from other people. The school had twice as many students, but was 1/5 as population-dense (had 10x the land area). It had several libraries with niches like basements and the periodical stack where you could hole up with a reasonable amount of privacy and actually *think*.

    In my current school, everything is wide open spaces and public area. There are very few niches, very few places where you can have control over your personal space.

    So yes, Calhoun’s rat experiments resonate with me. Especially the parts where he was discussing the rats that could take over a room, versus those that were pushed out into the public areas. The ones that grabbed the rooms remained sane the longest.


  2. MadRocketSci · March 6, 2016

    Also, even for very highly skilled scientists/engineers/technicians – the job market these days exudes an attitude where: “You are applicant #5999/6000. Thank you for applying, but you’d have better luck with the lottery! Bye!”

    At the September career fair, there were students in suits and ties lining up, wrapping around the block and down North Avenue, waiting up to 5 hours to get into the gym and present their resume to companies. There were a few dozen companies represented, but there were maybe 100 students per booth at a time, in line trying to get the recruiters to notice them. We all presented our resumes to the recruiters, and the refrain was always the same: “Thank you for your interest. We will scan these for reference, but apply online.” When you apply online, unless your application is written so that it has all of hundreds of keywords for absurdly long qualification lists inserted, it won’t get past the automated resume filters to an actual human being. I’ve gotten auto-rejected from a few dozen positions I was actually pretty well qualified for.

    I don’t mean to sound whiny: I fully realize that being in my field, with the experience I have, I have a far far better shot than anyone with just a Bachelors in anything. But the job market hammers you over the head every single day with the following message:

    “There are too damn many people. There are no jobs for you. It doesn’t matter what your skills are (unless you are some superhuman perfect match), the world doesn’t need you, the world doesn’t want you, and the world sort of resents the fact that you exist.”
    * * *
    I recognize that the key issues here are not overpopulation, as such, but economic malaise and almost malevolent urban planning, architecture, and office design. But it feels the same: Whether the world is so crowded because there simply isn’t any room left, or the world is overcrowded because you are crammed into a megacity dystopia where there is no economic role for you.


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