I promised that I wasn't going to do this anymore, but CSL sent me a private mail requesting my take. And so I will provide as a way of winding myself down.
My take on Malthus is that he understood that there was a problem with population growth. He understood this from a systemic point of view. To boil his paper down, his conjecture was that growth in human population is geometric (it's not), and that growth in food production is linear (over time, it's not).
To those specific issues - Malthus was wrong. Most people don't realize that us Quinnians understand why and how Malthus was wrong. They call us neo-Malthusians because our arguments mention the words "population" and "problem". Human population growth is not geometric, nor is food supply growth strictly linear.
Of course, we also understand where Malthus was right. There are systemic problems in the relationship between the humans in our culture and our food supply.
From what i've learned in the textbook and from sources like wikipedia it seems like Malthus believed that population would continue unchecked for a variety of reasons and that eventually the population would be "checked" by a variety of factors such as the previously mentioned war and famine.
You say that like you are skeptical.
If that is how one wants to distill Malthus' work - then of course Malthus was correct. He was wrong about the timing of the crunch, of course, but not in the obviousness that the crunch must come.
That's just common sense.
But didn't he discount widespread use of contraceptives such as condoms which can allow for a check in population by itself?
We proved in the last thread (now gone as I didn't have a chance to archive it) that this statement is something of a fallacy. We presumed that contraception and education would give women the tools to satisfy their desire to have the number of children that they wanted. So our plan was to go around the globe and convince everyone else that education and contraception are the two things you need to solve the population growth problem (never mind the "6.3 billion people are already too many" problem).
What we discovered in that last thread though, were studies that surveyed women in countries where women had access to contraception and education - and they weren't having the number of children that they desire.
In the US and in Europe, they were having less children than they desired. Which I think is significant since I believe it shows that population growth is being slowed by something besides availability of education and contraception. Add to that the study I've used in the past which showed that providing women with education and contraception simply allowed them to have the 6 kids that they wanted.
Bah. I don't have the energy for this.