This was written around March 2022, long after the completion of the Antimemetics tales on the SCP wiki.
This SCP essentially covers the same narrative ground as the epilogue of Antimemetics, Champions Of Nothing. Now, redundancy in storytelling is generally something to be avoided. I have eliminated content from Antimemetics because I felt it was redundant before, Haku being the primary example of this. So you might wonder why I decided to write it, after Antimemetics was completed, knowing ahead of time that it would be redundant.
The answer is that I had a feeling that this particular story beat might actually work really well as a standalone SCP. Although it shares continuity with Antimemetics, I felt that this SCP would actually read much better to someone who was unfamiliar with Antimemetics and had no context or explanation for what the SCP reveals. I hoped that the SCP would convey a kind of harsh, implacable, simple horror, in a very concise Series I or Series II style. With this in mind, my intention was to leave it out of the main Antimemetics reading list, and certainly not to incorporate it into the existing book editions of the story.
However, several people who read drafts of this independently remarked that if you are familiar with Antimemetics, the SCP comes off as redundant. A waste of the reader's time, even. I was concerned about this negative impact and so this stayed in my drafts page for over a year, with me unable to figure out whether to post it to the wiki or not. Now I've made up my mind not to post it to the wiki. So here it is, an official deleted scene.
Item #: SCP-6X57
Object Class: Euclid
Special Containment Procedures: SCP-6X57 is impossible to perceive or remember without the use of experimental Procedure-Λ' memory enhancement. As Procedure-Λ' was recently developed by the Foundation's Noöspherics Division and is not available outside of the Foundation, SCP-6X57 does not require special containment procedures.
Description: SCP-6X57 is an unexplained serious mismatch between predicted and observed local, national and global population demographics starting in 2019. This mismatch appears most strikingly in public world population charts produced by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the United States Census Bureau, the (independent) Population Reference Bureau and the Foundation's own Bureau of Global Statistics. All of these organisations are in very close agreement about the following basic figures:
In 2011, with an observed global population of 7,391,000,000 people growing at a rate of 1.21% per year, it was projected that the global population in 2019 would be approximately 8,137,000,000 people. However, as of 2019, the actual observed figure was 7,186,000,000 people.1
1 Note that population growth from 2019 to the present day has shown the same pre-2011 growth rate of 1.21% per year.
This represents an absolute decrease of 205,000,000 people, and an estimation shortfall of some 951,000,000 people. This shortfall applies uniformly across regions, age groups and sexes. The cause of the shortfall is unknown.
Global population estimation is extremely difficult, and subject to numerous sources of inaccuracy. Absent any other information, the most likely explanation for a shortfall of this magnitude would be a serious (non-anomalous) systematic error in estimation methodology. Hypothetically, this error affects all pre-2011 data, the error was corrected between 2012 and 2018, and data from 2019 onwards now show corrected estimates. However, there have been no significant changes in estimation methodology between 2011 and 2019. Moreover, this explanation does not account for two additional observations:
Firstly, SCP-6X57 has a novel anomalous property provisionally termed memory-negativity, whereby human observers2 are, for reasons yet to be determined, unable to perceive or remember it. When members of the general public are surveyed, the shortfall goes unquestioned, even when presented in its starkest form: a steadily rising global population chart with an obvious gap and drop between 2011 and 2019. When asked to redraw the chart from memory, people draw a smoothly increasing curve, with no discontinuities. Even population scientists — including Foundation staff at FBGS not having undergone Procedure-Λ' — appear to be uniformly unaware of their own estimation anomaly. When questioned about it, they demonstrate confusion, anxiety and sorrow. They are unable to explain their own observations, and are often unable to remember assembling the numerical data and charts which bear their name.
2 Including mentally humanoid AIs.
Secondly, population data from the years 2012 to 2018 inclusive are affected by a significantly stronger memory-negativity effect. Attempts to recover and study population data from these years, or simply to read figures off from population charts, fail, with or without the use of Procedure-Λ' memory enhancement. Without the aid of Procedure-Λ', even the fact that these data cannot be perceived or remembered cannot, itself, be perceived or remembered. This memory-negativity effect also affects other data sources which could be used as indirect population signifiers, such as global spending records, energy usage statistics, pollution indices, higher education attendance figures and hospital admissions figures. The data appear to be complete, as do news archives and historical records from the entire interval; however, analysis of the data with intent to uncover what happened fails.
Based on these observations, the Noöspherics Division's tentative conclusion is that the shortfall is genuine: sometime between 2011 and 2019, as many as 951,000,000 people disappeared, and this mass disappearance was "covered up" using extremely powerful anomalous memory-affecting technology which Foundation science is only now beginning to independently discover.
The proximate cause of the mass disappearance is unknown. The specific relationship between the mass disappearance and the memory effect which conceals it is unknown. Research intending to locate or at least identify any of the missing individuals is continuing. Research into improved memory enhancement techniques is continuing.