Mouse Utopia, and the Density Scare

John B. Calhoun wrote in the 70s about studies he'd conducted that looked at how mice would react when "overcrowded". Since his utopias often turned ugly, he (and many others) extrapolated the results to humans, giving density a bad name.
August 29, 2011, 10am PDT | Tim Halbur
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Ecologists and science-fiction writers of the time hopped on the bandwagon, painting pictures of the public of overpopulation turning the cities of the world into horrible places of limited resources:

"Pioneering ecologists such as William Vogt and Fairfield Osborn were cautioning that the growing population was putting pressure on food and other natural resources as early as 1948, and both published bestsellers on the subject. The issue made the cover of Time magazine in January 1960. In 1968, Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb, an alarmist work suggesting that the overcrowded world was about to be swept by famine and resource wars."

Will Wiles looks at the results of the original mice studies, and the media frenzy that erupted around Calhoun's conclusion with steadily increasing population, "only violence and disruption of social organization can follow..."

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Published on Monday, August 29, 2011 in CABINET
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