If I hadn't killed 52 flies as a child?

I really liked this topic. I was actually looking for an answer as to how many flies there are on earth, the answer turned out to be about 17 quadrillion but that became beside the point when I also noticed on the first page of google results this question about the swatting of 52 flies as a child and how many flies would be alive if they had lived and had offspring.

It added to the idea that we are far too obsessed with statistics and truth is many things are important that can be crushed under the heavy feet of those who use statistics, but it can be very hard to argue such a conclusion, although if you turn the situation around more often a than not it is clear that this is in fact the case and that no statistical truth can ever be found and should always be treated with caution.

That qualitative rather quantitative approach to individuals is essential in moral and legal terms but also philosophically that even the lowest of us can not reasonably be compared with the highest of us.

So we and everything else is unique and no meaningful comparison exists onely in that it is an easy way to categorise something you don’t have the ability, time or inclination to understand properly or it simply just doesn’t matter.

What if there was more to life than this? What if there is more to the 52 flies dying in 1969 and more to the 17 quadrillion who live today and of course the solar system crammed full of the offspring of the unfortunate 52 flies who were squashed all those years ago had they lived?

I think that we are limited in our understanding of the true nature of life and increasingly we appear to be little more than primitive in our conclusions as life increasingly shows the biz arrest of colours.

You are not what you appear… This is not what it appears… maybe there is more to life? :wink:

How was that? :slight_smile:



The relevant column is If I hadn’t killed 52 flies as a child, how many descendants would they have had by now?, dated August 29, 1980.

And the 36-year-old calculation by the inestimable Cecil neglects, of course, the fact that most flies die without any progeny. That’s why they need so many eggs to ensure the survival of their species.

Right, the real answer would have been that the number of flies at any given time represents an equilibrium between flies being spawned and flies being swatted, webbed, frogged, etc. and meeting an untimely demise. The precise value of that equilibrium point depends on what’s killing flies, and so a world where humans in general did not swat flies would have slightly more of them than a world in which humans do swat flies.

You mean Cecil should have said something like

Oh wait, he did.

Balance of Nature. Fewer people swatting flies --> more flies at least temporarily --> more food for the lizards, snakes, frogs and venus fly traps --> more lizards, snakes, frogs, and venus fly traps --> greater predation on flies --> new equilibrium in the populations of all of the above.

Time’s fun when you’re having flies.
– Kermit the Frog