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May 5, 2009

Muslim Demographics

I recently got sent a link to the Muslim Demographics video on YouTube. It’s pretty alarmist, so I composed an email response. Since it might be interesting to have available to Google, here’s my thoughts, as an antidote to the panic the video is peddling.

Note that snopes.com has their own page discussing this video. They don’t address the accuracy of the facts presented, but its an interesting read nevertheless.

It is probably true that there is an aspect of evolution to religion. If we think of religion as a gene, the dominant religion will be defined (over the long run) by the extent to which it benefits or promotes reproduction, just as any piece of DNA does. Of course, given evangelism, it may be more apt to think of religion as similar to a virus that gets passed from person to person, but I doubt that’d be a popular viewpoint. In any case, of course, religion isn’t a gene, because we’d have to assume that people stick with the religion they’re born with. Christianity started with just 12 Christians, after all, and every last one of them was male (and thus couldn’t pass on any genes without help from an originally non-Christian woman).

That said, I’m skeptical of this video’s claims. For one thing, practically no sources are cited (2.11 is the bare minimum to maintain a society? Says who? How do we know?). For another, it’s interesting to note what gets left out. For example, the video says the Muslim population skyrocketed from 82,000 in the UK to several million, but according to the CIA World Factbook, Muslims are a whopping 2.7% of the UK population. In the Netherlands, the CIA World FactBook says that Muslims are a crushing 5.8% of the population. Not only that, but it says that the Netherlands have a fertility rate of 1.66. Woo! Scary!

Now that I come to think of it… let me look this up.

CountryVideo Claimed Fertility RateCIA FactBook Fertility Rate

Yikes - they didn’t get a single one correct! The closest was England, and even there they rounded in the wrong direction.

So should we really believe that French Muslims have a birth rate of 8.1? Think about that, EIGHT kids on average, which means that for every childless Muslim woman, there’s another out there with SIXTEEN KIDS. That sounds totally plausible, right?

The Population Reference Bureau (who I’ve never heard of, but they were linked to by about.com) says that in Austria, Muslim women had a fertility rate of 3.1 in 1981, but that by 2001 the rate was a mere 2.3 (apparently they didn’t get the memo from their French kindred). That reflects the falling fertility rates in Muslim countries the immigrants came from. For example, in Turkey the fertility rate dropped from 3.3 in 1985 to 2.2 in 2003. According to the CIA World FactBook, Turkey’s current fertility rate is 2.21. In Morocco it fell from 4.5 to 2.5 in the same time period (CIA says 2.51). And get this: in Iran, it fell from 5.6 to 2.1 in 2003. The CIA World FactBook currently pegs the Iranian fertility rate at a paltry 1.71!

1.71! 1.71! The Iranian culture cannot survive! The US fertility rate is 2.05! We will crush them with our progeny! MUAHAHAHAHA!

Oh, wait, does that not serve the purpose of getting people riled up?

I’m thinking of a word… fearmongering! That’s the one.

It reminds me a lot of grade school. I remember playing with a bunch of computer “simulations” that showed that the world population was exploding and that we’d run out of food by the turn of the millenium. The reason they were wrong is that they made assumptions without realizing it. For example, they assumed that food production would stay constant, and that fertility rates would stay constant. Surprise! They didn’t.

And THAT reminds me of another quote:

Scientists have shown that the moon is moving away at a tiny, although measurable distance from the earth every year. If you do the math, you can calculate that 65 million years ago, the moon was orbiting at a distance of about 35 feet from the earth’s surface. This would explain the death of the dinosaurs … the tallest ones, anyway.

Don’t believe everything you see on YouTube. ;)

About May 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Kyle in May 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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