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Darwin - The Next Million Years (How to Kill Off Excess Population) (1953)

Darwin - The Next Million Years (How to Kill Off Excess Population) (1953)

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Published by miguelfrimer
Darwin - The Next Million Years (How to Kill Off Excess Population) (1953)
Darwin - The Next Million Years (How to Kill Off Excess Population) (1953)

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Published by: miguelfrimer on Oct 24, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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HEN anyone starts to write on a subject, atwhich he has not hitherto worked professionally,his proper procedure should be to set out on a longcourse of reading, with careful preparatory annotationsof all he has read. Such a course on a tremendous subjectlike the present one might easily take ten years. At thetime when I determined to write this essay I was alreadyover sixty-one, and it is safe to say that it would neverhave been written, if I had adopted this policy. Since Ivery much wanted to write it, the only alternativeseemed to be to give up the idea of elaborate preparatoryreading, and to make use from memory of a veryconsiderable amount of unsystematic reading andthinking on the subject. A book written in this way canof course make no claim to the sort of authority thatmight be given to one which was based on exhaustivepreliminary studies.
I fear that the absence of references will give someinconvenience to my readers. I might be able to quotesome of the references, but many of them I could not,and some of these among the most important, so that justice would not be done to the subject by only citingthe sources I could recall accurately. In the same way, Ihave gathered a good many of my ideas from conversa-tions and discussions, in only some of which could Iname my informants, so that there again it is juster to
name none of them. In view of these doubts about thesources of my knowledge, it would not be proper forme to claim any originality in the views I express; Ibelieve that some of them are original, but even withregard to these I shall not be at all surprised, if it turnsout that I have been anticipated.
I have realized to the full the dangers to which I amexposing myself in forgoing the elaborate preliminarystudies which the subject demands, but from my ex-perience in other subjects I am encouraged to think that little harm will be done by it. The spirit of criticismis much commoner in the world than the spirit of invention, and progress has often been delayed byauthors, who have refused to publish their conclusionsuntil they could feel they had reached a pitch of certaintythat was in fact unattainable. Progress in knowledgeis more rapidly made by taking the chance of a certainnumber of errors, since both friends and enemies areonly too pleased to exert their critical faculties inpointing out the errors; so they are soon corrected,and little harm is done.
Nevertheless I have taken all possible precautions soas not to make mistakes. I have tried to avoid errors bothof principle, and in the examples which I cite, by gettingcomments from various friends who are well versed inthe different branches of the subject, and I have certainlybeen saved from a good many errors in this way. Lestthey should be thought responsible for opinions theymay not share, I will preserve their anonymity, but Iwould take this opportunity to thank them for thegreat help they have given me.

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