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This Washington Post article quotes Brian Nosek as making the claim that:

Brian Nosek offers up a stunning factoid: More than half of the scientists who have ever lived are alive today.

It then challenges the reader to double-check this claim:

Though, yeah, someone ought to double-check that.

Are half of scientists who have ever lived alive today?

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    It probably depends on who you count as a scientist. Science in it's current form is very different from the science performed a thousand years ago. This question can be answered pretty much any way you like. – PointlessSpike Jun 5 '15 at 10:01
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    Given that roughly 8% of people who have ever lived is alive today, and science as a "thing" is fairly new, I don't see why it should be a controversial claim. – Williham Totland Jun 5 '15 at 13:02
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    right i can see this being close, we probably have millions who could be classified as scientists, while even 2-300 years ago maybe thousands could be called scientists. – Himarm Jun 5 '15 at 13:20
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    @leekaiinthesky I sure can! prb.org/Publications/Articles/2002/… – Williham Totland Jun 6 '15 at 9:54
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    This seems very close to an answer, but mapping from the number of journal articles to the number of scientists seems messy. – Oddthinking Jun 7 '15 at 11:20

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