October 28, 2010

Conspicuous Assumption

Economist Thorstein Veblen introduced the term "conspicuous consumption" in 1899 to describe the nouveau riche. The term "conspicuous assumption" might describe much of modern writing about humanity, although this article by geographer Ian Morris goes out of its way to stand out:

Many reasons have been given for the West’s dominance over the last 500 years. But, Ian Morris argues, its rise to global hegemony was largely due to geographical good fortune.

... Most people, at some point or another, have wondered why the West rules. There are theories beyond number. Perhaps, say some, westerners are just biologically superior to everyone else....

Explaining why the West rules calls for a different kind of history than usual, one stepping back from the details to see broader patterns, playing out over millennia on a global scale. When we do this the first thing we see is the biological unity of humanity, which flatly disproves racist theories of western rule.

Our kind, Homo sapiens, evolved in Africa between 200,000 and 70,000 years ago and has spread across the world in the last 60,000 years. By around 30,000 years ago, older versions of humanity, such as the Neanderthals, were extinct and by 10,000 years ago a single kind of human – us – had colonised virtually every niche on the planet. This dispersal allowed humanity’s genes to diverge again, but most of the consequences (such as the colour of skin, eyes, or hair) are, literally, only skin deep and those mutations that do go deeper (such as head shape or lactose tolerance) have little obvious connection to why the West rules. 
 
Lactose tolerance is not obviously relevant? Here's a bit about a non-Western set of conquerors from Wikipedia:
China is particularly notable as a place of poor tolerance, whereas in Mongolia and the Asian steppes horse milk is drunk regularly. This tolerance is thought to be advantageous, as the nomads do not settle down long enough to process mature cheese.

Morris goes on:
A proper answer to this question must start from the fact that wherever we go – East, West, North, or South – people are all much the same.

... Humans are all much the same, wherever we find them; and, because of this, human societies have all followed much the same sequence of cultural development. There is nothing special about the West.

... Humans may all be much the same, wherever we find them, but the places we find them in are not. Geography is unfair and can make all the difference in the world.

... So what do we learn from all this history? Two main things, I think. First, since people are all much the same,

As for the title of Morris's article, "Latitudes not Attitudes," I'm reminded of a more perceptive observer's conclusion:
It's those changes in latitudes,
changes in attitudes, nothing remains quite the same.

As I wrote in my review of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel 13 years ago:
Diamond makes environmental differences seem so compelling that it's hard to believe that humans would not become somewhat adapted to their homelands through natural selection.

86 comments:

dearieme said...

If it's all to do with latitude, why was The West not dominant 6000 years ago? It was at just the same latitude then.

Anonymous said...

Ignorami über alles.

Anonymous said...

Haha. How quaint California Über Alles now appears.

TH said...

What was funny is that despite Diamond's meticulous "anti-racism", some leftist reviewers disliked the way he explained the rise of the West in Guns, Germs, and Steel. For many on the left, the idea that the West became dominant due to accidents of environment is unacceptable. Rather, they argue that Europe conquered the world because Europeans are evil, and any theory that unsettles this morality tale approach is unwelcome.

AMac said...

In the course of dismissing the concept of human biodiversity, Morris gives his Cliff Notes version of the birth of agriculture.

"...in the process of managing these other species... humans unintentionally domesticated them. We unwittingly altered their genomes so much that they became new species..."

Evolution is impossible, except where it is inevitable.

Reading this essay is like trying to eat the food props at a photo shoot. Attractively presented, but.

Acilius said...

"Geographer Ian Morris" would more accurately be described as "classical scholar Ian Morris." He's a professor of Greek and Latin whose work shows the strong influence of cultural anthropology.

Shouting Thomas said...

Christianity is what separated the West from the East.

May seem outdated to you now, but the Judeo/Christian philosophical and theological foundation is what led to the legal and technological triumph of the West.

No, it didn't come out of nowhere.

Maguro said...

A proper answer to this question must start from the fact that wherever we go – East, West, North, or South – people are all much the same.

Start off by assuming the answer to the question...how scientific!

sebastian said...

What an embarrassing article. A professor of history at Stanford. He appears to not even be aware that the strong out of africa theory is dead and on its way to the cemetery.

Chicago said...

It's all just a matter of location, we're nothing special, others were great when we were mere barbarians, we're mean, cruel, oppressive, inferior in comparison to the great Papua New Guineans, and yada yada yada. So how many years has this broken record been playing in our society? It's not very original to simply elaborate on an already existing theme, as this Morris character does. To avoid the me-too lockstep conformity of current culture a person has to retreat to the internet to find thinking that's original and innovative. Blogs like this.

Anonymous said...

Morris like Jared Diamond notices that everything worthwhile in the modern world originated with his people and must somehow apologize.

This essay is so wrong I was tempted to makes notes. I won't bother to write again on the misperception of Leonardo or the anti-Western bias of Needham. I'll confine myself to his central fallacy - humans react to geography but don't adapt to it.

Human like creatures have been living in the favored latitudes for maybe a million years. Fully modern humans have lived in those latitudes as long as there have been fully modern humans - at least 50,000 years.

Cochran and Harpending have a book called "The 10,000 year Explosion" in which they argue that human evolution continues and has been active in the last ten thousand years. This book was meant to be controversial but seems to have failed. Instead everyone seems to accepted their argument. There is no evolution when the time scale is hours but there can be plenty of evolution when the time scale is 10,000 years.

If you accept that those latitudes are superior then it would seem to follow that the peoples who have always occupied them would have grown to be superior too. You would think that Morris is arguing for the biological superiority of whites. Horrors!

No danger of such an embarrassing conclusion. Morris simply invokes the doctrine of "biological unity" - all people are the same beneath the skin. Those latitudinal advantages are real but they had no effect on humans. Then quite recently the white Europeans (who, remember, are exactly the same as everyone else) reaped the benefits. In this way Morris doesn't have to feel guilty. He's not better, he's just been lucky.

Albertosaurus

Wanderer said...

The term "Geopolitics": These days it is used as sort-of a weak synonym for "international politics". Originally, it strictly meant how geography and politics relate. Mackinder's "World Island" theory, Mahan's "Periphery" theory (later to evolve into the "Rimland" theory), Haushofer's "Organic State" theory, and so on.

Prune-out 10-15% of the article -- i.e. the PC inanity, i.e. all the parts cited by Steve -- and it is actually a decent effort at reviving geopolitics in the old sense. Aracial Geography does matter.

For those who want the executive summary: find the paragraph beginning with the words "Geography determined that when the world [..]". Ctrl-F and read this single paragraph for the 30-second version of the article.

erranter said...

So this is what you learn at Cambridge and teach at Stanford, that we're "all the same." He really had to shove that one down our throats. Even my mom, not an intellectual, but who is perceptive in her own way, and who is recently going back to college, said to me the other day that she thought it was strange we look and act so differently if we're supposed to be all the same. I'm sure she only recently "learned" that by one of her professors, but had already gone through enough experiences to doubt it. Looks like it'll work the other way around for the newer generation.

Simon in London said...

"human societies have all followed much the same sequence of cultural development"

The Khoi San, the Tasmanians, the Easter Islanders - they've all followed the same sequence of cultural development as Europe?

That's just one breathtakingly stupid statement.

SF said...

A little off-topic, but I have been trying to research candidates for Calif. Superintendent of Public Instruction. Torlaksen has a long solidly liberal voting record in the Assembly. He is articulate, and a monogamous heterosexual with kids. He taught a sport (cross country) with a high level of white participation.
Aceves seems slightly more of a hands-on practical guy, but he is endorsed by the council of La Raza, and was once quoted as saying there were too many old Anglo, white teachers in his district. I may end up voting for my tribe.

Mike said...

I believe it's the 10,000 Year Explosion which talks about the evidence that lactose tolerance enabled the multi-continent spread of Indo-European (because it gave Indo-Europeans such an advantage... and not one that could easily be copied). Definitely not a trivial mutation.

Whiskey said...

In order for something like grain, or milk, to have value as foodstuffs, it needs to be stored. So it can provide a surplus population. Thus cheese, beer, and other long-lasting foodstuffs are critical in providing a large, excess foodstuff dependent population, that also provides more people for random genetic mutations to work on (evolution 101).

I would assume this was obvious.

Victor Davis Hanson took Diamond apart, noting that in Mexico, two decades after conquest, the Spanish were casting cannons (against orders) with local materials, and Cortez descended into volcanoes during the campaign to obtain sulfur for manufacture of more gunpowder. Mexico not lacking in materials for guns, germs, or steel. Indeed China had all those first, including gunpowder, and did little with it.

The secret of the West has traditionally been, a much deeper level of productivity on a smaller (than the East or Africa) population base. Women contributed to the craft-making and food processing instead of being sex slaves and nothing else. Everyone competed to make ever-better guns or printing shops, instead of a few eunuchs or aristocratic classes. Common soldiers like Cortez or the Duke of Milan could rise to great heights on ability. A deeper, more flexible, and adapted to change social order in turn depended on Western tribalism mixed with monogamy that channeled competition away from harem building and towards a nuclear family.

Whiskey said...

Let me add the Western Nuclear Family is relatively recent: around 900 AD or so, and Europe during the Dark Ages, or before the Romans, wasn't much. The Romans, who were impressed by the Egyptians, or Hellenistic Greeks, or Persians, or Carthiginians, had little complimentary to say about Europeans. In terms of architecture, medicine, organized armies, city building, metal working, or anything else.

From living in wooden huts and wooden palisades you get these immense Gothic Cathedrals in only a few hundred years. More impressive considering the weather and population than that of the Pyramids.

M Schwartz said...

***Humans may all be much the same, wherever we find them, but the places we find them in are not. Geography is unfair and can make all the difference in the world. ***

I wonder if this guy has read any of Gregory Clark's material?

"In my recent book, A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World I argue two things. First that all societies remained in a state I label the “Malthusian economy” up until the onset of the Industrial Revolution around 1800. In that state crucially the economic laws governing all human societies before 1800 were those that govern all animal societies. Second that was thus subject to natural selection throughout the Malthusian era, even after the arrival of settled agrarian societies with the Neolithic Revolution.

The Darwinian struggle that shaped human nature did not end with the Neolithic Revolution but continued right up until the Industrial Revolution. But the arrival of settled agriculture and stable property rights set natural selection on a very different course. It created an accelerated period of evolution, rewarding with reproductive success a new repertoire of human behaviors – patience, self-control, passivity, and hard work – which consequently spread widely.

And we see in England, from at least 1250, that the kind of people who succeeded in the economic system – who accumulated assets, got skills, got literacy – increased their representation in each generation. Through the long agrarian passage leading up to the Industrial Revolution man was becoming biologically more adapted to the modern economic world. Modern people are thus in part a creation of the market economies that emerged with the Neolithic Revolution. Just as people shaped economies, the pre-industrial economy shaped people. This has left the people of long settled agrarian societies substantially different now from our hunter gatherer ancestors, in terms of culture, and likely also in terms of biology. We are also presumably equivalently different from groups like Australian Aboriginals that never experience the Neolithic Revolution before the arrival of the English settlers in 1788."

The Domestication of Man: The Social Implications of Darwin

Marc B said...

It certainly appears that Northern and Middle latitudes and their climate/geography drove the advantageous mutations that allowed for highly developed cultures in the East and the West. If you accept the above thesis, it's rather easy to understand that each race and their subsets (ethnicities) developed the physique and intellect required to prosper in their native environs.

If a similar viewpoint holds true for evolution for every other species on the planet, is it possible to apply it to humanity without labeling one a heretic, and decrying them as a crackpot pushing junk science? If somebody truly believes in the Darwinian theory of evolution they espouse, this idea makes perfect sense and explains almost everything regarding genetic differences in race.

Anonymous said...

This dispersal allowed humanity’s genes to diverge again, but most of the consequences (such as the colour of skin, eyes, or hair) are, literally, only skin deep.
This is the height of liberal absurdity. The whole essence of evolution is to create massive diversity in biological organisms. From amoebas you get fleas and whales and birds and snakes, and a whole lot more.

Consider the different environments that blacks and Scandinavians lived in during their developmental years. One lived in the jungle or the veldt, and the other lived in caves during an ice age. For blacks, group violence (teenage "wolf packs") would help survival a lot. So would being able to sprint really, really fast. Either to catch game or run from predators. High intelligence isn't all that necessary. Just raw emotion, as a push to quick action. That's what we see today.

For ice age people, planning ahead is crucial. So is an ability to live together in a small place without quick tempers and without killing each other. So also is the trait of self-privation, if the food supply starts to run low. And also a grim cruelty, to select who gets "put outside" if the food starts to run out. How did northern women get so beautiful ? Maybe in not so nice a way as you would want to think.

Liberals don't even think like this for a moment.

Aside from the evolutionary stuff, the secret of the West is our "can do" attitude. Part of that is contained in our belief in the individual dignity of each man and woman. Liberals don't believe in this. Outside of themselves, they regard humanity as insects, or hamsters at best. Just dumb animals for liberals to take care of. To a real Western man, liberalism is an insult on a grave level.

Anonymous said...

Really, par for the course as far as modern academic social scientists go, just rehashing Jared Diamond's two books " The Third Chimpanzee " and " Guns, Germs, and Steel ". Really after reading those two books, I wouldn't waste my time with a historian just rephrasing the same ideas. Re: TH, You are right, as far left as Diamond appears to some who frequent this site, there are those on the fringes of academia who treated his books like they would treat Cecil Rhodes' view of third world development. I think this is why Diamond views himself as a middle of the road rationalist, because in the world of California academics who are "social scientists" or "humanities" types he is.

Fjordman said...

For an alternative view of human history instead of Jared Diamond's I would strongly recommend that people read the book Understanding Human History by Michael H. Hart, which focuses specifically on IQ differences. I quoted it extensively in my own essay/booklet Why Did Europeans Create the Modern World?. The entire book can also be found online as a pdf file.

Michael H. Hart basically supports the cold climate theory for the evolution of high IQ. Applying this gives a pretty good fit with observed average IQ levels, but there are a few exceptions such as Eskimos/Inuits vs. East Asians. Eskimos don't have higher IQs than the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese, although they clearly live in a colder climate than the latter. Similarly, reindeer herders in Lapland in far northern Scandinavia don't necessarily have higher IQs than, say, the Germans or the Dutch. This can be explained if we modify the cold climate theory a little bit and state that evolution toward high IQ will move faster in a region which has cold winters, but nevertheless is capable of supporting a large and dense population. If the region is sparsely populated by nomads, the evolutionary pressures will move more slowly. Applying this modified cold climate theory, we should expect to find the highest IQ levels in north-central Europe and in the densely populated lowlands of Northeast Asia. This is exactly what we can observe.

I could add that the cold climate theory doesn't stipulate that climate is the only or only possible factor behind rising IQ, certainly not today in our industrialized societies, merely that for many thousands of years it was the single most important factor. In the case of Ashkenazi Jews, climate apparently wasn't important at all. While the rise of IQ for Western Jews per century was impressive and probably unprecedented in human history, the Jewish evolutionary strategy carried potential pitfalls. Climate worked more slowly for Europeans and East Asians, but it eventually raised the IQ of the entire population in these regions. The Jewish strategy raised the IQ of a small minority, which made them numerically vulnerable. Jews paid a heavy price for this in the twentieth century.

Luke Lea said...

I'm with Shouting Thomas. Christianity is what made the difference, at least in the case of China.

Wandrin said...

Erranter
"Even my mom, not an intellectual, but who is perceptive in her own way, and who is recently going back to college, said to me the other day that she thought it was strange we look and act so differently if we're supposed to be all the same."

That's precisely why the cultural marxists had to target the schools and universities. They couldn't persuade adults with actual life experience to believe their nonsense but you can persuade kids of anything - and youthful conditioning is hard to break out of. It's like a trance.

Whiskey
"The Romans, who were impressed by the Egyptians, or Hellenistic Greeks, or Persians, or Carthiginians, had little complimentary to say about Europeans."

Culturally true but they got the design of their shields and swords from the Iberians in Spain, their helmets from the Gauls of France and their chainmail from the northen Celts of North Italy and Switzerland.

In terms of military technology the Europeans were already ahead in many areas but lacked the ability for long-running and large scale social organisation.

Wandrin said...

"The Jewish strategy raised the IQ of a small minority, which made them numerically vulnerable."

There's also the genetic illness aspect. Although i don't know if that is actually true.

Fjordman said...

By far the most important thing IQ cannot explain is why the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions took place in Europe, not in East Asia. I am willing to accept as correct the numbers indicating that Northeast Asians have slightly higher average IQs than northern Europeans and significantly higher than southern Europeans. At the same time it is also a fact that Europeans easily outperformed the same East Asians in mathematics, astronomy and the theoretical sciences, certainly during the past 500 years, but arguably much longer than that.

How to explain this? One possible explanation that has been suggested is that although East Asians may have at least as high average IQ, Europeans have a greater standard deviation, which means more individuals with very high or very low IQ. If we postulate that scientific progress is disproportionately made by a few geniuses then it might be possible to claim that Europeans produced more geniuses than East Asians, despite having a slightly lower average. This claim is often repeated in certain circles. It may or may not be true; I haven’t yet seen conclusive evidence demonstrating that it is correct. It is also possible that while IQ is important, there are mental traits affecting accomplishment that it doesn't measure.

Another possible explanation is cultural, and this is almost certainly partly correct. Culture can be summed up as genes plus ideas. Although the analogy is imperfect (a computer can be physically “upgraded” with newer technology, which is harder to do with humans), perhaps the human brain can to some extent be compared to an electronic computer. To achieve the best results you need good hardware; powerful machinery and a fast microprocessor. IQ is a decent indicator of how good your “hardware” is. Just like very complex programs cannot run well on slow computers, there are certain tasks that a person with an IQ of 80 or less cannot perform well, while a person with an IQ of 120 can. A person with high IQ will almost always have greater potential for great achievements than one with low IQ, but to what extent that potential is realized depends upon social factors. You can easily destroy a high-IQ society through bad policies, for instance by banning private property rights, but you cannot make a nation with a mean IQ in the 80s the global leader in space exploration no matter how hard you try. It simply lacks the necessary potential for this.

In addition to good hardware you also need good software, that is, useful programs to run on your computer as well as skilled, competent users who can utilize the hardware and software to its maximum potential. Based on this analogy, we might claim that although East Asians had and continue to have fine genetic “hardware,” their cultural software in some ways prevented them from realizing their full potential and utilizing this hardware to the full extent. According to this line of thinking, the white West may or may not have produced more geniuses than East Asia did, but the West, despite its flaws, certainly took better care of the geniuses it produced and gave them more room to flourish. The cultural software was definitely better. I say “was” because it is not at all clear that this remains the case today, when the West is dominated by many very bad ideas.

Anonymous said...

"Diamond makes environmental differences seem so compelling that it's hard to believe that humans would not become somewhat adapted to their homelands through natural selection."

Exactly!

That's almost trivial. But say it and kiss your job goodbye.

ATBOTL said...

"The Romans, who were impressed by the Egyptians, or Hellenistic Greeks, or Persians, or Carthiginians, had little complimentary to say about Europeans. "

That's false. First of all, Romans and Greeks were Europeans. Secondly, Roman authors praised Northern Europeans for a variety of things, including having virtues that many late Romans felt their own people had lost.

Laban said...

Totally off topic, but some people may find this dream beach wedding amusing (or horrifying) :

“You are swine” and “the children that you bear from this marriage will all be bastard swine,” a tourist couple renewing their marriage vows in the Maldives were told in a ‘traditional Maldivian’ ceremony conducted in Dhivehi at Vilu Reef Beach and Spa Resort.

“Your marriage is not a valid one. You are not the kind of people who can have a valid marriage. One of you is an infidel. The other, too, is an infidel – and we have reason to believe –an atheist, who does not even believe in an infidel religion,” the ‘celebrant’ tells the couple, who appear completely unaware of the humiliation they are being subjected to.

M Schwartz said...

As others have noted, Morris could also read 'The 10,000 Year Explosion", reviewed here:

"Much like Jared Diamond’s (1997) Guns, Germs, and Steel, this book acknowledges the
role of agriculture in substantively altering the previous 10,000 years of human history.

Diamond argues that genetic differences in psychological traits do not account for population
differences in technological advancement, and claims instead that the differences in
technological and economic advancement are due to geographical accidents and subsequent
cultural evolution. Unlike Diamond, Cochran and Harpending stress the selective power that
agricultural living may have had in building genetic adaptations that were useful to the socially
dense and sedentary lifestyle of farmers. What may be most controversial is their claim that
these adaptations are responsible for observed differences between populations in psychological
traits and personality characteristics, not just genetic differences in resistance to pathogens— which Diamond acknowledges.

Cochran and Harpending suggest that populations with a longer
Why Genes Still Matter
Evolutionary Psychology – ISSN 1474-7049 – Volume 8(x). 2010. -6-
exposure to agriculture may be more industrious, future-oriented, and submissive than are
populations with a longer history of hunting and gathering. According to Cochran and
Harpending, the long-term storage of goods enabled by agriculture led to the emergence of ruling
elites who in turn “domesticated” their populaces into subordination. Likewise, although
impulsivity may have been adaptive in hunter-gatherer populations, selection pressures
associated with agricultural living may have acted on some population gene pools by selecting
for patience and the foregoing of immediate gratification. If it is true that some populations are
more “domesticated” than others, then the social repercussions would be immense."

Why Genes Still Matter - A review of Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending, The 10,000 Year Explosion: How
Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution.

europeasant said...

"A long time ago, an ape ancestor from back as far as 60,000 years ago woke up and decided to build a full time shelter. Ever since one of his ancestors decided to move north, things haven’t exactly turned out as envisioned. Oh at first everything was just dandy. Fresh meat almost everyday, nice weather, no one to threaten us. We ruled, why not follow paradise north."

Svigor said...

Mare's milk was a pretty big deal for the Mongols, yes. They'd drink horse blood in a pinch, too. Mongols were the apex of medieval mobile warfare.

Christianity is what separated the West from the East.

May seem outdated to you now, but the Judeo/Christian philosophical and theological foundation is what led to the legal and technological triumph of the West.


First think about I think when I read this is how much work westerners had to do to make Christianity into something compatible with our natures. We formed it at least as much as it formed us. In fact, it's reasonable to suppose we Euro-formed it, rather than it Christo-forming us.

Morris like Jared Diamond notices that everything worthwhile in the modern world originated with his people and must somehow apologize.

I doubt very much Diamond's concept of "his people" comports well with what you're implying. Not saying he's an evil conspirator or anything (one of those caveats that should go without saying, but don't, due to a certain well-known ethnocentrism), just saying I doubt he thinks the way you suggest. But I guess your formulation works in the sense that Diamond would probably present it that way (we're on familiar ground there, too).

David said...

>I may end up voting for my tribe.<

You say that like it's a threat. "I may pull the trigger!"

Always vote for your tribe.

Svigor said...

From living in wooden huts and wooden palisades you get these immense Gothic Cathedrals in only a few hundred years. More impressive considering the weather and population than that of the Pyramids.

You must've missed the recent discoveries that suggest Europeans were building huge wooden structures long before the Romans.

Svigor said...

High intelligence isn't all that necessary. Just raw emotion, as a push to quick action. That's what we see today.

Seasons are a biggie too. Short time horizons and cold winters don't mesh well.

Anonymous said...

Morris maybe a liberal idiot, but the bloggers on this site need to read more world history.

The peoples of north-western Europe have dominated and transformed the world over the last 500 year, although that dominance seems to be coming to an end. If there is anything intrinsically superior about the peoples of N-W Europe, why was this area a backwater before then ? Similarly, the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Mongols had periods when they dominated everyone in their path (it is a pure accident of history that the Mongols did not conquer western Europe - there was nobody in their path after they routed all the armies of eastern Europe in the late 1230s, but the death of their Great Khan took them back east).

Great historians like Arnold Toynbee have not been able to figure out these riddles, so lets admit our lack of understanding of geo-historical ebbs and flows.

Qaz said...

The notion that northern climates were lucky to have more domesticable animals and plants seems like a stretch to me. How much difference was there between a zebra and a wild horse in eurasia? or wild cattle and buffalo? What about the banana, that thing is easy to cultivate, see banana plantations. You can tame any pack animal, and cultivate any fruit or nut producing tree.
Why is tropical India and its achievements not included in his analysis?
How are we to overlook the utter absence of any achievement from black africa?

Anonymous said...

More impressive considering the weather and population than that of the Pyramids.

I thought latest DNA evidence pointed to the ancient Egyptians being...well...pretty much white.

Consciously or unconsciously we are encouraged to believe that modern and ancient Egyptians are basically the same ethnic group. Thus modern Egyptians - and non-whites in general - can point to the pyramids as 'theirs'.

Whaht if this were not true?

Imagine future archaeologists digging up the ruins of concrete buildings in Zimbabwe and black chauvanists of the future trumpeting the acheivements of a long lost black civilisation.

Though without white people there wont be any future archaeologists.

asdfasdfsadf said...

http://antioligarch.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/hiroshima-and-detroit-65-years-later/

Location, location, location?

Or Homeboy more badass than Fat Boy?

TGGP said...

It is certainly not the case that all cultures follow the same path. The Tasmanians left Australia with stone-age technology and actually regressed.

Nobody knows what all the mutations are that have occurred since the neolithic revolution, and the reviewer certainly doesn't know how important they all were.

Harmonious Jim said...

As well as genes, Morris also dismisses memes: "Over and over again, the triumphs of western culture turn out to have been local versions of broader trends, not lonely beacons in a general darkness"

Maybe so before about 1600, but certainly not so afterward. Science or political liberty weren't Europe's local versions of a broad trend. Beacons in the darkness is exactly what they were.

Anonymous said...

"completely unaware of the humiliation they are being subjected to."

uh is that possible?

Being unaware you're being humiliated?

Toadal said...

Ian Morris reminds me of a superstitious, but cunning, witch doctor pitching animal charms to the ignorant, who winds up his talk with an evil eye and a warning not to let the local hospital's shadow fall on ones face.

In his Stanford University classroom he drones on about Europe's lucky latitudes and deep harbors, yet ignores Southern Africa's rich soil, mild Mediterranean-like climate, and abundance of game.

His wayward lectures do not compare his forefathers idea of the wheeled oxcart and horse breaking and breeding with the sub Saharan African's view of zebra and buffalo steaks and ribs. Nor does he consider his ancestors fatigue, fear, and unrelenting toil while wrestling an October harvest from the stubborn earth and husbanding his family's dwindling cache until mid April.

We must hurry woman, the darkness, the darkness.is upon us ...

The darkness and the bitter cold.

No, that would sully the egalitarian religion he was trying to plant, especially in those smart arse physics, microbiology and chemistry majors. The ones who sigh into their science notebooks while forced to listen to his crap.

Joe-6 said...

Fjordman

The problem with the Eskimos is they were traditionally eating a hunter gather diet. Heavy on the meat and fish and fat needed to survive so far North. But this limits IQ development because that happens best in peoples that eat grains for principal food. In Asia it was rice with some wheat+ barley while in Europe was wheat oats barley rye

In Africa the staple foods traditionally were tubers and starch found on trees such as bananas. Problem with the New World is corn is not the best grain for IQ plus the Indians had non corn staples such as potatoes, amaranths and others

IQ developed best among grain cultivators and eaters. Wheat (oats barley rye included) and rice eaters ....... further north the better generally.

Michio Kushi laid this out years ago and I'm glad to see sound thinkers write about cold climate theories of IQ. It seems pretty obvious to me. Winter demands certain IQ or your people die. Deserts are tough places to survive and should sharpen IQ but at least in Muslim deserts maybe too much clannishness and inbreeding militates against this. Also too much intellectual thought (when it is found) goes into Isalm

Best places for IQ are cold nations with good precipitation where you can raise and eat grain as good part of diet. The green-ness of these places also softens man's heart allowing women to contribute more to civilization which the desert Muslims lack. The green-ness must make people less clannish and more willing to attempt democracy and modern states. You only find libertarians (the ultimate non-clannish) in such nations

Laban said...

Fjordman : "By far the most important thing IQ cannot explain is why the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions took place in Europe, not in East Asia"

More than a thousand years ago, at the time of the Battle of Hastings, China had an iron industry as big as the UKs was in 1850 ! In the 15th century Cheng Ho was sailing the oceans long before Magellan or Vasco da Gama, and China was by far the world's biggest economy. Don't get me started on the civil service exams. Then a decision was taken by the centralised government to stop oceanic trade, and China turned in on itself for centuries while other nations overtook. China was big enough and powerful enough that it didn't have to innovate. By contrast European nations, always open to invasions from different directions, were locked in quasi-Darwinian struggles that rewarded innovation.

(the basic thesis is from Paul Kennedy's The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers - a great book)

FF said...

"The darkness and the bitter cold"

Even though the winters are not too cold and there is no snow here at 36 south latitude, they can be miserable with over 1000mm of rain .
My farming ancestors are from Sweden , Scotland and England.
Farming engenders a low-level background anxiety and reaches a peak in the autumn , when the shortening days and lower light levels have an almost physical influence on me as a farmer.

The anxiety is much heightened as I do the mental inventory of stock feed for the winter, food in the deep freeze for the family, completion of summer tasks, enough firewood to see us through the winter etc.
Some days I am literally running at this time of year, and as one gets older , there is certainly more awareness of one's genetic make-up and deep history and the resulting drives.

Elbrac said...

Off-topic.

What to make of this article?

http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=881

Steve Sailer said...

Dear FF:

Thanks, that's really helpful.

Steve

Elbrac said...

Off-Topic.

The Myth of Charter Schools by
Diane Ravitch.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/nov/11/myth-charter-schools/

Big Bill said...

He lost me at this point:

"Only around 1700 did [cultural development] shift westward again, largely due to inventions – guns, compasses, ocean-going ships – which were originally pioneered in the East but which, thanks to geography, proved more useful in the West."

So "geography" told the Chinese they didn't need/want to navigate with compasses? They didn't need/want to explore? They didn't need/want to travel on water?

These inventions were just as "useful" in the East as in the West. Compasses and guns do the same thing in both places. It was cultural/mental stagnation that cause the Chinese not to use such things, not the landscape or outside temperatures or terrain.

Anonymous said...

"Christianity is what separated the West from the East.

May seem outdated to you now, but the Judeo/Christian philosophical and theological foundation is what led to the legal and technological triumph of the West.

No, it didn't come out of nowhere."


Sigh. It's like clockwork, always someone comes along to uphold the idol of religion, bow down to it, credit it for everything good, absolve it of every evil, and so on.

Look, there is no such thing as a monolithic "Christianity" (much less that horrid modern innovation, "Judeo-Christianity"). Christianity differs from place to place and from era to era. All the good things people imagine as "Christian" today, didn't happen overnight, and much of what we call "Christian" today is foreign to original Christianity.

Western Europeans created what we today know as Christianity, far, far more than Christianity created Western Europe. Christianity had to be adapted to fit our mores and myths and culture, far more than we adapted to fit Christianity.

Christianity started out as an Eastern, mostly non-white, non-European religion. Now that is reverting to a mostly non-white, non-European religion, it is losing its hold on whites and losing its place as our source of identity.

If Christianity is the source of Western success, why didn't the East, which was Christian for far longer than the West was, experience anything similar to the success that the West has had? And you can't blame Islam: Christians formed the majority in the East for many centuries after the Islamic conquests and yet, nothing approaching any kind of Western success happened. Byzantium/Greece, Armenia, Ethiopia and other countries in the East and South remained Christian up until today, with a far longer history as Christian countries than the West could boast of, and yet, no accomplishments at all similar to the West's.

Crediting the West's success to Christianity is confusing correlation with causation; Western Christianity is a byproduct of Western culture, not its source. Western Christianity is an epiphenomenon of Western culture and Western civilization. But, being a totalitarian ideology that insists on taking credit for everything and blame for nothing, Christianity insists it created everything positive in the European West while ignoring its complete lack of similar "success" in the East, in spite of its early head start in the East.

And crediting Christianity with the West's technological and scientific achievements is beyond absurd. Yes, Western science started amongst churchmen - it couldn't start anywhere else as the Church held the monopoly on education. But the West made progress within this religious framework by ignoring the religious intellectual straightjacket that the Church had created and insisting on referring to Nature, not Revelation, as the ultimate judge in all factual disputes. This inevitably led to actual science and progress, and the eventual eclipse of the Church as a legal, cultural, and intellectual monopoly which it had been formerly.

Why this happened in the West, and not in the East, is an interesting question which may come down to genetic, ethnic, racial, cultural, and other factors. What it doesn't come down to is Christianity being some kind of magic totem that caused all this. Christianity didn't cause this 'magic' transformation outside of Western Europe, because Christianity wasn't the cause of the transformation. Christianity was just along for the ride, sometimes helping, sometimes hurting Western progress, but it was never the cause of it.

Peter A said...

"Christianity is what separated the West from the East.

May seem outdated to you now, but the Judeo/Christian philosophical and theological foundation is what led to the legal and technological triumph of the West."

No. Svigor is right - the Europeans formed Christianity into something useful, not vice versa. Christianity was the dominant world religion in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, even making inroads into China right up until the spread of Islam, and very large Christian populations lived in Ethiopia, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, the Levant, the Caucusese and the Balkans right up until the middle of the 20th century. It's probably only in the last 500 years that more Christians lived in Europe than lived in North Africa/Middle East. And nothing much productive ever came from those Christians (or the Jews in the Middle East and North Africa for that matter).

ben tillman said...

Diamond’s thesis stated at page 25 of Guns, Germs & Steel:

Authors are regularly asked by journalists to summarize a long book in one sentence. For this book, here is such a sentence: ‘History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves.”

The rather obvious hole in this thesis: environmental differences produce biological differences.

Diamond posits geological differentiation as causing cultural differentiation. Of course, this differentiation results in different selective pressures and, therefore, biological differences.

Humans migrated out of Africa many thousands of years before the advent of agriculture 13,000 years ago (to use Diamond’s date). Thus, if the first migration of homo sapiens out of Africa occurred roughly 110,000 years ago, humans had several thousand generations in which to adapt to new and different environments, even before the advent of agriculture, which accelerated changes in population size, social organization, and technology. And thereafter, humans had another 500 generations to adapt to their diverse geographic environments and their continually diversifying cultural environments.

Although environmental differences started this “feedback loop” (as Rushton terms it), biological differences arose long before the historical events Diamond discusses and have continued to be shaped up to the present.

Anonymous said...

Always vote for your tribe.

The evil of the "diverse" society is that it will force us to vote for our tribe in defense against other tribes, instead of the best policy.  We will not be able to vote for a possibly superior but lesser-known candidate from our own tribe because we'd lose a bigger prize.

Chief Seattle said...

FF wrote:

Farming engenders a low-level background anxiety and reaches a peak in the autumn , when the shortening days and lower light levels have an almost physical influence on me as a farmer.

I've noticed this in myself even though I have nothing to do with farming - by far my productive work of the year is in the fall - rushing to finish things before who knows what. Also, most of my major purchases happen in the fall. It's as if I'm preparing for something. By January I'm drained and basically muddle through until Spring.

Asia has hot and cold and coal and metal and animals and grain. But they don't have the Mediterranean. All ancient Western civilizations centered around the Mediterranean. It was porous enough to allow war and traffic, but separate enough to allow different people and cultures. Phonecians, Jews, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Turks. Hard to imagine the Western world rising without that body of water between them.

Kylie said...

FF said..."Farming engenders a low-level background anxiety and reaches a peak in the autumn , when the shortening days and lower light levels have an almost physical influence on me as a farmer."

Being preternaturally aware of the position of the sun throughout the day/month/year and of weather conditions generally and having "slept rough" in my youth, I can well understand this. When I complimented Steve Sailer early on by saying I even checked out his blog before I checked the weather, I wasn't kidding.

And when I read women on home decor blogs rhapsodizing about thunderstorms or long winter days spent indoors by the fire, drinking hot chococlate and playing board games, I'm dismayed. These same women often have a fondness for all things Victorian (by which they mean the decor, not the lamentable living conditions). Like most people in Western countries today, they're clueless, shockingly so.

It's a shame that Laura Ingalls Wilder's The First Four Years is not as well-known and widely-read as her earlier books. And Willa Cather's My Antonia should be even better known than it is. Almanzo Wilder is my hero. He successfully endured the hardships of life as a farmer than caused Francis Sadilek to commit suicide.

David said...

>If there is anything intrinsically superior about the peoples of N-W Europe, why was this area a backwater before then?<

N-W Europe was a minor area of Whitopia then. It became where whites shrunk to in disarray after much race-mixing on their imperialistic fronts. Google Tocarians, Clovis people, etc.

Anonymous said...

I'd love for someone to explain to me how dyed-in-the-wool liberals maintain the contradiction of avowing that 'we are the same under the skin' while their behavior routinely evidences their sense of intellectual and moral superiority.
You'd think something would snap eventually.

Difference Maker said...

"Great historians like Arnold Toynbee have not been able to figure out these riddles, so lets admit our lack of understanding of geo-historical ebbs and flows."

What a curious and effeminate mindset

Shouting Thomas said...

Steve, you've got a lot of Smartest Guys in the Room.

I'll repeat myself.

The Judeo/Christian theological/philosophical tradition is the foundation of the triumph of the West.

This is so self-evident that all the Smartest Guys in the Room have to twist themselves into pretzels to prove otherwise.

dsfasdfasdf said...

"Christianity is what separated the West from the East.

May seem outdated to you now, but the Judeo/Christian philosophical and theological foundation is what led to the legal and technological triumph of the West."

It's more like what the West DID WITH Christianity that separated it from the rest. After all, Christianity didn't do much for Byzantine Empire in the long run.

There are 100s of ways to use Christianity. Most Indians in South America and countless Africans in Africa are Chrstians, but for Indians, it just means being humble and superstitious and for Africans, it means a chance to sing and dance.

Baloo said...

How true is it that most of the scientific, etc. accomplishments of the Islamic world were Persian and not Arab?

Joe-6 said...

FF said...
Even though the winters are not too cold and there is no snow here at 36 south latitude, they

My comment: You must be in Tasmania. If not, then in New Zealand.

Wandrin said...

Anon,
"it is a pure accident of history that the Mongols did not conquer western Europe"

Nope, steppe horse archer armies are unstoppable but they need vast numbers of horses. I forget exactly but it think it's something like 20 or 50 per rider.

That number of horses can only be sustained on the steppe and a few other places like the Hungarian plain. Steppe armies have a fixed range - a limit based on the distance they can replenish their horses faster than they are losing them.

It's like an armored column with a fixed number of fuel trucks. They can use half of it and still get home or they can use all of it and settle down where they finish up but either way there is a fixed range.

FF,
Great comment.

FF said...

"You must be in Tasmania. If not, then in New Zealand"

Correct, NZ.

Farmer F (needing rain)

Svigor said...

Dear FF:

Thanks, that's really helpful.

Steve


It's also very interesting, because it rings so true with me. All sorts of restlessness and emotion and worry about the future is stirred up in me every autumn.

Svigor said...

The peoples of north-western Europe have dominated and transformed the world over the last [bla bla bla]

You're comparing apples and oranges. Nobody's done what Europeans have done. Remove Europeans from the historical record and you remove 95%+ of human accomplishment. There's no basis for comparison, so, no comparison.

Svigor said...

China was big enough and powerful enough that it didn't have to innovate. By contrast European nations, always open to invasions from different directions, were locked in quasi-Darwinian struggles that rewarded innovation.

(the basic thesis is from Paul Kennedy's The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers - a great book)


Which raises the question, is there something about NE Asians that leads them to such big, stultifying powers, rather than the smaller, freer, states typical of Europeans (and is there something about Euros that leads them to same?)?

Why is Britain's location now held up as an explanation for the Industrial Revolution, while Japan's is not? Would Euros have stood for a super-state? They don't seem to be all that happy with the one they're cooking up now.

I think it's reasonable to suppose that Euros are smart enough to innovate, and a bit too wild to sit comfortably under huge, despotic regimes (the way white babies resist having their noses pinched shut, and yellow babies do not), and that this constitutes a "sweet spot."

Svigor said...

"it is a pure accident of history that the Mongols did not conquer western Europe"

Nope, steppe horse archer armies are unstoppable but they need vast numbers of horses. I forget exactly but it think it's something like 20 or 50 per rider.


I didn't know it was that many, but yeah. The plains peter out and there go their supply lines; western Europe would've been a perpetual front, at best (from a Mongol POV).

And there goes the tactical advantage too, since the forests of western Europe would've negated their mobility. And western European forces would've crushed the Mongols in close combat.

People forget that Europe raised and sent eastward a hundred thousand men to fight the Mongols at one point, without any in-your-face-threat. Once the Mongols actually made it into their backyard, they'd have been looking at hundreds of thousands of European men-at-arms, who were fighting on their home turf, in conditions that favored them. They'd have zero chance.

But the Mongols were a clever lot. They'd have known all this perfectly well, or figured it out PDQ, and looked for greener pastures.

Tanstaafl said...

I'd love for someone to explain to me how dyed-in-the-wool liberals maintain the contradiction of avowing that 'we are the same under the skin' while their behavior routinely evidences their sense of intellectual and moral superiority.
You'd think something would snap eventually.


It is a desire to keep something from snapping that motivates their deception.

David said...

>The evil of [REALITY] is that it will force us to vote for our tribe in defense against other tribes, instead of [A WORSE] policy.<

Fixed it.

Jonathan Silber said...

On this string of comments alone you can find more good sense, better understanding, and livelier writing on the subject in question than in all the excerpts from professional Ian Morris, so-called expert.

HA said...

"If Christianity is the source of Western success, why didn't the East, which was Christian for far longer than the West was, experience anything similar to the success that the West has had?...nothing approaching any kind of Western success happened. "

Really? According to who? Actually, if you factor in the religion of peace, Byzantium was comparable in success to what the West was producing, right about the time it was driven into the ground by said neighbors. As to why the Christianity in those parts wasn't as devoutly held, to the extent that Islam was able to make the inroads it did, that may as much to do with why it wasn't able to make the same advancements there. (Not that I'd put much stock in that hypothesis, but if you're going to pull arguments out of thin air, well, two can play at that game.)

"Yes, Western science started amongst churchmen - it couldn't start anywhere else as the Church held the monopoly on education."

And, why do you think they bothered to do that? Why didn't these same churchmen spend all their money on whores, rent-boys and alcohol (instead of just large portions of it)? What exactly was it about Christianity that made the building of universities - as opposed to, say, rote-learning madrassas - such a priority? Could it have something to do with the fact that in order to make sense of the jumble that is Christianity, you need a couple of languages, linguistics, philosophy, history, etc? - I mean, as opposed to memorizing paperback's worth of Arabic and considering every other kind of knowledge as trivial miscellany?

You honestly think that difference wasn't a key component in the rise of the West? By the way, I'm not saying the actual theology wasn't also important. I'm just saying you don't need to even go there to know your argument doesn't hold water.

HA said...

As for dsfasdfasdf's comment about Christianity being a chance for South Americans and Africans to sing and dance and whatnot, that's probably as good or better as what the Europeans were using it for, in their first couple of centuries with it. So give these others a millennium or two to see what they do with it, then get back to us. Given the 1492 years of a head-start being just one difference between the Europeans and the rest, it's a bit premature to say anything else.

Silver said...

It's more like what the West DID WITH Christianity that separated it from the rest. After all, Christianity didn't do much for Byzantine Empire in the long run.

In the long run it provided an important impetus to resist Islamification and Turkification.

Camlost said...

As for dsfasdfasdf's comment about Christianity being a chance for South Americans and Africans to sing and dance and whatnot, that's probably as good or better as what the Europeans were using it for, in their first couple of centuries with it. So give these others a millennium or two to see what they do with it, then get back to us.

Ummmm, yeah sure.

There's lots of evidence showing that Africans will leverage Christianity to reach prosperity and social organization. Now, if they can just get that farming thing down they'll be well on their way...

Anonymous said...

Given the 1492 years of a head-start being just one difference between the Europeans and the rest, it's a bit premature to say anything else.

The indigenous South Americans still hadn't even discovered the wheel (at least not for carts and pulleys) in 1492. The first known use of the wheel for transportation, on the other side of the ocean, was in Mespotamia circa 3200 BC. How can you reconcile the fact of technological progress predating CHristianity with this idea that Christianity is responsible for all of it? Anyway Christian theology cannot be reconciled with darwinism and HBD. THerefore, in the modern context, CHristianity finds itself allied with Marxism, and whether or not there is really any irony is something that I wonder about. The early Christians were obviously dreaming of a universal monoculture. If you don't believe me just read the letters of Paul but next time around suspend your religious conviction.

9Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
Ephesians 2:9-21
But our citizenship is in heaven.
-Philippians 3:20

Christianity works a lot like PC does. In the past you could gain social status by declaring your piety and denouncing unbelievers. There's also talk of a 30 shekel payoff (heaven) for going along with it, which reminds my a bit of fundy conservatives believing that Jews will become social conservatives if they (the fundy conservatives) are pro-zionist enough.

Matt said...

Would Euros have stood for a super-state? They don't seem to be all that happy with the one they're cooking up now.

White Americans do not seem that dissatisfied with their super state, I must note (although perhaps with the people joining it).

Anonymous said...

If Christianity is the source of Western success, why didn't the East, which was Christian for far longer than the West was, experience anything similar to the success that the West has had?

Ashkenazi Jews are much more successful than Yemeni Jews and much more accomplished. Nonetheless, it is Judaism, at least to some extent, that made them what they are.

HA said...

The indigenous South Americans.... Mesopotamia circa 3200 BC.... How can you reconcile the fact of technological progress predating Christianity with this idea that Christianity is responsible for all of it?

Huh? Who said Christianity, which we all admit began some 2000 years ago, is responsible with "all of it" when it comes to technological progress? I plead guilty to a few stupid typos above (who -> whom, "memorizing a paperback's worth of Arabic"), but I don't see how anyone could assume what you just did based on anything I wrote. No one (outside of the Mormons, perhaps) is claiming Christianity had any effect on pre-Columbian South Americans, and even they would pass on any Mesopotamian connection.

Anyway Christian theology cannot be reconciled with Darwinism and HBD.

Care to elaborate? Two non sequitur quotes from the New Testament is hardly probative in any way. The majority of Christians on this planet (e.g. Catholics) have no particular problem with evolution, and even a fair number of those who think Darwin is wrong would have no particular objection to the observation that populations differ with regard to certain traits and abilities. As for Christianity being allied with Marx (who was himself a big fan of Darwin, by the way) -- even if Christianity and Marxism were shown to be irreconcilable to Darwinism (and again, good luck with that argument), that would hardly make them allies.

Anonymous said...

Huh? Who said Christianity, which we all admit began some 2000 years ago, is responsible with "all of it" when it comes to technological progress? I plead guilty to a few stupid typos above (who -> whom, "memorizing a paperback's worth of Arabic"), but I don't see how anyone could assume what you just did based on anything I wrote

You said something about a 1492 year head start, implying that technological progress in the west began on the day Jesus was born.

The majority of Christians on this planet (e.g. Catholics) have no particular problem with evolution, and even a fair number of those who think Darwin is wrong would have no particular objection to the observation that populations differ with regard to certain traits and abilities.

Perhaps the majority may say, as the Marxists do, that they accept Darwinism as true, but they are either deluded or lying. HBD denialsim is all pervasive throughout all denominations, and any acceptance that "populations differ with regard to certain traits and abilities" is almost unheard of anywhere in any church (contrary to what you say).

Svigor said...

White Americans do not seem that dissatisfied with their super state, I must note (although perhaps with the people joining it).

Which highlights the fact its a pretty weak super-state. And it didn't begin as one. The origins of the weak American super-state only go back to the middle of the 19th century. And it's hard to miss the American independent streak, even today. I don't see any tanks rolling over the Tea Parties yet.

Anonymous said...

"It's a shame that Laura Ingalls Wilder's The First Four Years is not as well-known and widely-read as her earlier books."

Yes, you're right there.
"The First Four Years" was considered a rough draft she never really finished, so it's the bare bones as recalled by Laura; no no Pa, Ma and sisters. The grinding work and undercurrent of desperation is the story, not family warmth. In the Ingalls household, salt pork and potatos read like ambrosia of the gods. You longed to come in, sit down and join them. That atmosphere is not conveyed in the First Four Years of her marriage, where one of the only two children she and Almanzo had died soon after birth, and their house with cabinets carved by a Swiss master carpenter, burned to the ground, Almanzo got diptheria and a stroke (never walked well afterwards) and their crops were lost...fairly common stuff back then. I think most people today have no idea about it. No wonder a lot of people died young. I think they just got sick of it all. Appropriately perhaps, Almanzo did try selling insurance for a while, before they packed up and headed for better luck. He and Laura each lived to be 90 after all.
Their daughter ended up being one of the best letter-writers and journalists that ever lived--Rose Wilder. She traveled through Albania in the 1920s and 30s and in 1968, went to Vietnam to do a story. She was 78.
Don't knock the Victoriano-philes too much though. The privileged playing at deprivation is old stuff. Marie Antoinette used to dress as shepherdess and pretend to live in a hut. There were kings who liked to go among their subjects disguised as beggers.

HA said...

You said something about a 1492 year head start, implying that technological progress in the west began on the day Jesus was born.

No, I did not. The 1492 reference was - as my post clearly indicated - in response to an observation of what different cultures use Christianity for, whereupon I pointed out the unfairness of the comparison given how long Christianity has had a chance to make its influence felt in each of those cultures. I.e., it is Christianity that had a 1492 head start (and in the case of sub-Saharan Africa, a few centuries longer). I don't find that a particularly controversial point, but you go out of your way to twist it into a ridiculous claim about Mesopotamia and the wheel and all technological progress. Given what you read into the words of others, do you honestly think an objective observer is going to take your word on what Christians do and do not believe? Before going after the Christians for their delusions, you might want to clear up a few closer to home.

As for the rest of your post, even though it is true that Christians have realized that hereditary slavery, for example, is no longer to be tolerated (and note that that, too, like many other of Christianity's effects, took more than a millennium to manifest itself), they still apparently have no theological problem with the notion of hereditary aristocracies, no problem with the concept of a "chosen people", and no problem with some of Paul's other passages about how we all have different gifts, and that when it comes to the body of believers, some are arms and feet while others are the head. The fact that Christians believe that the most important distinction is the line that separates the saved and the damned doesn’t mean they deny variability among groups of people when it comes to hand-eye coordination, lactose intolerance, or fast-twitch muscle fiber. If you persist in believing otherwise, I’ll wager it’s because you’re just eager to twist together another straw man.

In fact, there's a lot of things that get short shrift in Christianity. You don't hear all that much about the EPR paradox, or black holes, or gluons. Does that mean Christians deny the very existence of such, or could it just mean that they realize some topics might be better addressed in some other forum?

Anonymous said...

"She traveled through Albania in the 1920s and 30s and in 1968, went to Vietnam to do a story. She was 78."

If she went in 1968 she would have been older--she was born in 1886. Possibly she went a couple years earlier