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Jul 22, 2008


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Danny Gamache

One way I teach students the historical context is to use the videos by Hans Rosling from TED. Here is one:


Michael W. Kruse

Danny, I've linked this vid twice in the past and will again in couple more posts. :) Great stuff.


I'm not sure I can agree with that version of the history of life expectancy in the world. I think its in Psalms that David says that a man generally lives 70 years, or "if by reason of strength, 80 years. And we know from many old testament books how long people lived then. It seems to me that a U shaped chart would be more appropriate... what do you think?


Those advances always startle me when I see them on paper. This is another good one from Greg Clark's A Farewell to Alms.

Any thoughts on the view of Collier and others that the current global economic scene is increasingly characterized by a large group of 5 billion prosperous and prospering peoples starkly contrasted with another group of one billion, the poorest of the poor, whose prosperity and life expectancy are stagnant if not declining?

Michael W. Kruse

Seth, the stat here is life expectancy at birth. So if I say life expectancy is thirty, then what I'm saying is that half the people born will only live to be thirty or less. Half will longer, tappering off toward some upper limit.

As will be seen in the next post, infant mortality (children born that die before age one) has a significant impact on life expectancy. Historically, between 1/4 and 1/3 of children died before age one. Therefore, life expectancy at age one was longer than for at age 1 and possibly longer than at age 5.

I understand the Psalms reference to be about the upper limits of how long an "old person" might live.

As the characters in in Genesis 1-11, assuming this was intended as a precise accounting of historical events, I presume they existed well before 10,000 BCE. We have sufficient historical data to make estimates going back 4,000 to 5,000 years and good reason to make assumptions about the few thousand years preceding. So if it is a U, it has are really wide bottom. :)

Michael W. Kruse

J, I noted Collier's book in my introduction (see index link, top right column) to the series. I'm going to turn to it once I finish presenting these various trends.

Simon Fowler

Thanks for doing this series, and all your incredibly insightful thoughts and analyses. I really appreciate your approach and the grace of your interactions.

Your perspective and questioning has been extremely helpful to me as I've thought through and discussed matters of poverty and economics with others.

First time posting a comment here but I've been reading you for some time here and in the many conversations over at Jesus Creed.

Grace to you.

Michael W. Kruse

You're welcome Simon and thank you for your kind affirmation. Writing about this stuff helps clarify these things in my mind. I'm glad you find this helpful too.

Peace to you.


Michael - Thanks. Some how I missed your intro post, I'm looking forward to your thoughts.


"The Global Life Expectancy" graph: aha!! the Hockey Stick Model confirmed!!

PS: the end of the Hans Rosling URL is missing - I found it:

Best Stats

... but I couldn't get it to play all the way through from here. It stopped dead about 1 minute in.)

There are some amazingly good pieces in there - Muray Gell-Mann, for one, Ray Kurzweil, and even that rotund gentleman who wants us to believe that the Sky is Falling (in the guise of Global Warming).

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