Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Population Size and the Higher Education Bubble

In Interstellar Migration and the Human Experience, Kenneth Wachter wrote:

Small interstellar bands, below 500 persons, would certainly need to cultivate values that would recruit larger proportions of the young into learned studies than any past societies that come readily to mind.
This is needed in order to pass on an intellectual tradition. Without the tradition, any books that they have will not be understood. (ObSF: Earth Abides by George Stewart, in which in the aftermath of a population-annihilating disease, there is only one youngster in the San Francisco area with academic inclinations and abilities and when he dies, the plan to revive civilization has to be cancelled. I'd like to know what's going on in New York, where there might be a half dozen scholars.)

This might apply in the other direction. A large population might need a far smaller proportion of scholars. Present day scholar recruitment (including the idea that the most prestigious job is that of training more scholars) might have been more appropriate to smaller populations.


Blogger ErisGuy said...

"past societies that come readily to mind”

Other than Jewish Ghetto societies, he means.

7:19 AM  
Blogger Joseph said...

According to the story "A Country Passover" by Sholom Aleichem, small Jewish communities were unable to pass on intellectual traditions.

3:39 AM  

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