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Old 12-17-2006, 11:45 AM   #1
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Sensitive Question

I'd like to ask what to me is kind of a sensitive question. First of all, this is NOT what I believe or say. OK, recently I've noticed a lot of people have the attitude that so many people are dying of AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in places like sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia because "there are just too many people in the world and this is God's/natural selections (take your pick) way of evening out our global population." It's hard for me to convince them otherwise when I'm coming at this issue from a social justice standpoint and they're coming at this issue so objectively, just treated people as a number or statistic. My question is, is there any credible research or data out there that suggests that this claim is true? Anthropology, sociology, epidemiology, whatever are not in my area of study so I don't know where to even look. I'm interested in knowing if this argument has any credibility to it. Are there just too many people in the world? Are these pandemics any worse/different than ones the world has previously experienced? Believe me, even the answers support the theory of natural selection, I still believe we have a moral responsibility for what goes on in this world, I'd just like to know if their argument is rooted in fact or in ignorance and apathy.
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Old 12-18-2006, 11:04 AM   #2
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My money's on ignorance, or apathy and a dose of denial to go along with it to avoid feeling bad, or maybe lack of compassion.

I'm not a biologist but: there is evidence in populations of say, rabbits, that when overpopulation strikes, and food gets scarce, they die off, allowing food supplies to regrow, and eventually another overpopulation to begin. This is a cyclical trend. However disease I think is an outside factor, as is some of the famine in the world that has been exacerbated by the way humans have effected the environment. The human population has always increased, so I can't see any historical evidence (unless you believe in the flood and two of each animal being saved) for this happening.
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Old 12-18-2006, 11:06 AM   #3
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So, populations dying off and coming back are mainly do to lack of proper food supply? Then yeah you're right, they can't use this argument since we all know there is enough food in the world to feed everyone, it's just not evenly distributed.
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Old 12-18-2006, 11:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Liesje
So, populations dying off and coming back are mainly do to lack of proper food supply? Then yeah you're right, they can't use this argument since we all know there is enough food in the world to feed everyone, it's just not evenly distributed.
Righto, plus now people are using excess food resources to fuel cars.

Anyhoo, just to drop my 2 cents, I would say really it boils down to a lack of compassion. A few colleagues of mine also feel like "some people need to die", and although they are friendly colleagues, they don't really stand for anything social justice. They see lives as numbers instead of souls. Without giving away too much of their personal lives, I want to add that they also have very troubled love lives. Like I said, overall nice people, just not very compassionate.

It is interesting how many of them there are though. I wonder what triggers this.
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Old 12-18-2006, 11:31 AM   #5
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My guess is that the reaction Redhotswami is referring to and wonders about is triggered by a lifetime spent being immune to death on a large scale. We see and hear about so much of it all of our lives, through the television and now via the internet...and we have it presented to us as entertainment via movies and tv and video games.... that I think it loses all meaning to us, except when it happens in our backyard or effects us directly. Look at 9/11 vs. the current situation in Iraq. Most people I know were and still are mortified about the death toll from 9/11. But, ask them if the death toll from Iraq alarms them or impacts them in the same way and it simply does not. Now, admittedly, there are other reasons for this, but, I think it's not a terrible example of how the further away these things are from us, the less they mean to us. If the US was suffering from a Pandemic, Mia's coworkers would not have such a blase attitude at all, and, if they had not grown up being taught (subconsciously) to almost treat death as a news delivered statistic that happens to other people and societies, same thing, they'd be singing a different tune. That's how I see it at least, I'm sure anyone with 1/2 a brain could explain to me why I'm off-base.
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Old 12-18-2006, 11:33 AM   #6
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i think the ppl who are dying in africa of aids were put on our planet to see if we would exercise compassion.


i don't think it's god's way of clearing out people, the world could hold billions of more ppl now.

less fornuates are here to see if we will impart of our substances.



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Old 12-18-2006, 11:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by diamond
i think the ppl who are dying in africa of aids were put on our planet to see if we would exercise compassion.


i don't think it's god's way of clearing out people, the world could hold billions of more ppl now.

less fornuates are here to see if we will impart of our substances.



dbs
That is an interesting view, and from where I stand as an athiest it looks like an effective counter to the people who say God is allowing them to die due to overpopulation. But one thing - I'm sure you didn't mean this, diamond, but the way you phrased it implies that testing us in the west is their only purpose. Careful.
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Old 12-18-2006, 12:02 PM   #8
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I have trouble seeing a continent's worth of suffering as a test for me in my comfortable Western life, too many things wrong with that, regardless of my spiritual beliefs.
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Old 12-18-2006, 02:17 PM   #9
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I think it's a lack of compassion. Some people are appallingly lacking in compassion.
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Old 12-18-2006, 03:01 PM   #10
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No scientific data?

Most of the people who've given me this response aren't lacking in compassion. In fact, in some cases I think they're so stumped that the ONLY explanation they can find for why this has continued is that it is part of a natural process.

I'm just wondering what we come up with when we look at this like Black Plague, not Holocaust. Am I making any sense?
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Old 12-18-2006, 03:48 PM   #11
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So you're asking whether there is some advantage to thinning out the herd, so to speak?

You have to understand you're going to have a problem finding data like this on the AIDS question because it is not exactly socially acceptable to conduct research like that insofar as you'd be very hardpressed to get funding to answer that question. So I am not sure what the answer will be, but keep in mind that just because statistics don't exist, it doesn't mean the theory is invalid. There are other reasons why the research might not be conducted.
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Old 12-18-2006, 06:11 PM   #12
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I think if that "natural selection" belief is held, it's sort of rendered invalid by the large numbers of people who die in developed nations of cancer, heart disease, accidents, etc. The theory crumbles rather easily.
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Old 12-18-2006, 07:03 PM   #13
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I hate to throw this one out there but has anyone even thought that AIDS could of been man made??? I'm not saying this is THE TRUTH but there are certain Doctors and Scientests that believe this to be the case - and before you jump all over the "conspiracy" aspect of this think of what we here in Canada did to the aboriginals hundreds of years ago (purposely gave them small pox) - not to mention what the Nazi's did to the jews and others. Just don't think it's an impossible theory.
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Old 12-18-2006, 07:44 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Harry Vest
I hate to throw this one out there but has anyone even thought that AIDS could of been man made??? I'm not saying this is THE TRUTH but there are certain Doctors and Scientests that believe this to be the case - and before you jump all over the "conspiracy" aspect of this think of what we here in Canada did to the aboriginals hundreds of years ago (purposely gave them small pox) - not to mention what the Nazi's did to the jews and others. Just don't think it's an impossible theory.
Not impossible, but there's absolutely no motive to support it. HIV cropped up in different parts of the world almost simultaneously. Some scientists even believe different strains of HIV developed completely independently of each other.
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Old 12-18-2006, 11:30 PM   #15
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If they are arguing this as "God's will", I beg the point that perhaps there are situations that God is waiting for us to respond to. I mean isn't that the cornerstone of most religions? Call it acting out in faith or social justice, they are the same. I feel it's the easy way out to just argue that's how it has to be.
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Old 12-19-2006, 07:20 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by anitram
So you're asking whether there is some advantage to thinning out the herd, so to speak?

Not necessarily an advantage, I'm just wondering if it's happened before (not necessarily in experiments but real life), either to humans or other species, and can tell us anything about the HIV pandemic. The only animal I really know a lot about is the cheetah, which used to roam North America until it froze over, killing off most of the cheetahs and forcing them to migrate so they are now in Africa. In this case, thinning of the herd was not advantageous since this is the main reason their gene pool is so diminished (compounded with being killed for supposedly threatening livestock and losing their wild land). A healthy male cheetah often produces 1/10 the amount of viable sperm produced by a male house cat. But that's really the only creature I'm familiar with and that was a climatological change, not a disease epidemic. I don't know much about the Black Plague or whether it could be comparable to HIV.
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Old 12-19-2006, 08:58 AM   #17
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If you think about it, the world could help Africa with AIDS, but they would probably want to help their own populations first and foremost. That, coupled with a general feeling that nothing can be done with so vast a problem as there is in Africa, will lead to no substantial hope of help for many years to come. Unless a cure is found quickly, millions will die well into the future.

Is it God's will that Africa suffer? I don't believe so. I can't accept that God would just write off an entire continent like that.
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Old 12-19-2006, 09:57 AM   #18
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I do NOT believe it was "God's will" or any kind of 'punishment.' Unfortunately, I do see how an argument can be made for the 'natural selection' and 'survival of the fittest' points, though. This kind of thing happens (diseases, 'thinning out') in all aspects of nature, plants, animals, oceans. Humans are another part of nature. Because of the primitive conditions most people in the region reside in, they are more a part of nature than those in more civilized areas. I do not mean to sound insenstive at all, and I hope for the best for all those sick people.

I hate to say this too, but in a way, I also see there may be more to the 'nature winnowing out' type thing all over the world. Ever notice how whenever one deadly disease is conquered, like smallpox or diptheria, another emerges, like AIDS or new strains of germs resistant to any medicine? It's almost like a certain number of us- ALL of us EVERYWHERE- are 'supposed' to die from disease, as sad and chilling as that is
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Old 12-19-2006, 09:59 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by Butterscotch
I do NOT believe it was "God's will" or any kind of 'punishment.' Unfortunately, I do see how an argument can be made for the 'natural selection' and 'survival of the fittest' points, though. This kind of thing happens (diseases, 'thinning out') in all aspects of nature, plants, animals, oceans. Humans are another part of nature. I do not mean to sound insenstive at all, and I hope for the best for all those sick people.
Yeah, this is what I'm hearing from people. They never mentioned God or God's will, and they're not lacking compassion or sensitivity. They're not really using it as an excuse not to act or saying we shouldn't act, but they're arguing that our actions may be pointless anyway, if this is part of a natural process. So I guess that's what I'm wondering - is this really a natural process, this many beings succumbing to a pandemic like this?
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Old 12-19-2006, 10:03 AM   #20
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is this really a natural process, this many beings succumbing to a pandemic like this?
To me personally, no. I believe it's a tragedy that a disease with such fatal results found its way into a population that was culturally and finanically unable to contain it until it was too late. On nature's terms, I would call it an enviormental disaster of overwhelming proportions.

A pandamenic like that is on the level of say, the chestnut blight which wiped out about 99% of the four billion chestnut trees in the US and Canada in the first half of the twentieth century. A fungus imported on Chinese chestnut saplings spread into the American trees, which had no resistence. This type of thing is NOT natural, but some kind of major unintended natural disaster, and very harmful to the eco-system. That's how I would label the pandamenic in Africa (not comparing humans to trees, but that same type of thing, an incurable germ wiping out way too much of a population)

Here's another thing about nature: parasites (and fungus, viruses, bacteria) are not meant to kill off their hosts, that defeats their goal of having something to live off of. So when a germ is so strong that it kills everyone (or tree or animal) who gets it, I think that germ is a quirk of nature that was never meant to be. It must have mutated or something, but no it was not a part of the natural process to kill the majority of its victims.
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