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    Posted: 05 Sep 2017 at 07:32
Jared Diamond being undone again. His theories are folding faster than Superman on laundry day.

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Diamond's and others got it wrong apparently. Wrong about Rapa Nui or Easter Island. It was not depleted of resources, added to the population fighting and cannibalizing itself out of existence. 

They did find spear heads and there was tribal war. There is also physical evidence of people who had a varied diet, kept gardens and maintained themselves. Small pox got them so this study says.
 
When the Dutch captain Jacob Roggeveen arrives on the island in 1722, he estimates roughly 3000 people. Later, when confronted by the massive statues, Europeans such as Captain Cook in 1774 assume that there must have been lots more people on the island at one time. Others follow the same kind of argument, including Jared Diamond. He (and others) argue that there must have been 10,000 or 20,000 (or 30,000!) people, not because of the archaeological record or any direct evidence of demography but from the assumption that the statues must have required huge populations.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Sep 2017 at 21:53
I don't know, the fact that Diamond's theories are collapsing might imply that we won't, at least not so soon.  His book "Collapse" is a cautionary tale.  I am not sure that we are totally out the woods.  Maybe we should be cautiously optimistic, instead of so doom and gloom.  But of course, the chicken littles of the world will find this news to be calamitous.

Isn't Jared Diamond really something like a biologist or an ornithologist??  Personally, I think his arguments are interesting, even if perhaps he starts off with misguided premises.


Edited by franciscosan - 06 Sep 2017 at 21:57
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Sep 2017 at 17:00
Diamond has been popular but according to a growing number of anthropologists and archaeologists Diamond's work doesn't pass muster scientifically. Virtually every theory about Easter Island is being challenged by existing evidence. Everything from the impact of rats, lethal violence between family groups, the method of moving Moai and use of palms as sustenance...further, the islander's diet supposed by Diamond and a long list of predecessors has been scientifically established in the laboratory and it doesn't support Diamond's claims.

Diamond even dates the occupation of Easter 300-500 years before evidence of their presence exists.
No evidence supports that the Pacific Islands were occupied before 1200 AD but Jared has stated that the evidence "just hasn't been found."

There are more problems with Diamond's work on Easter Island, including his lack of field work there.  I read Collapse and it's disappointing that he used Easter Island as a case study without independently investigating the evidence. It's more than a misguided premise it's a distortion of history. There is no evidence of sustained decline until after the 1700's and European contact.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2017 at 01:31
I'd never heard of Jared Diamond before, so I had a quick look at Wiki.

From what I read there, providing it's all true and accurate, it seems to me that he could be a Jack of All Trades, Master of None.

During his lifetime he's changed focus many times, but I don't know what his intellectual level is, although he is considered to be very influential.

There have been a few theories over the years as to why Easter Island was vacated, war, famine, disease, so I guess until there's more definitive evidence, we'll never really know.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2017 at 01:32
Guns, Germs and Steel was interesting, but I approached it as a theory, meaning it is a presentation of the facts, but has its limits, its biases.  I guess I am not that disappointed in Diamond because I never totally bought into his perspective.  It is a very interesting theory about latitude and climate making or limiting cultures.  But there are many different ways to slice up the pie, so to speak.  Guns Germs and Steel are an interesting way of looking at things, but they should be an alternate, used to shake up more established perspectives.

I am disappointed to hear that "Collapse" doesn't hold water.  But I also think that there is a heck of a desire to want to be a prophet about destruction.  And perhaps Diamond's desire got the better of his judgment.  I believe that he talks about other civilizations in there, such as Japan's environmental consciousness.  Is it only the Easter Island case study that is quite unsupported by what have been revealed as facts on further investigation, or is there other case studies in there that are slanted as well?

I prefer to think it is proverbial good intentions, rather than any overt malice that lead astray.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 2017 at 03:49
Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

I'd never heard of Jared Diamond before, so I had a quick look at Wiki.

From what I read there, providing it's all true and accurate, it seems to me that he could be a Jack of All Trades, Master of None.

During his lifetime he's changed focus many times, but I don't know what his intellectual level is, although he is considered to be very influential.

There have been a few theories over the years as to why Easter Island was vacated, war, famine, disease, so I guess until there's more definitive evidence, we'll never really know.

Starting in 2012 there were a flurry of studies and archaeological research into Easter Island, Moai and actual physical evidence of the populations, the time of earliest human habitation and the diet of the Rapa Nui. National Geographic, Nature and Live Science among others, are detailing the physical evidence. 
Quote From what I read there, providing it's all true and accurate, it seems to me that he could be a Jack of All Trades, Master of None.

My impressions of J. Diamond are similar to yours and I don't think it means that he can't have a theory that is supported by evidence. I liked his books and his ideas made sense but why assume the factors lead to same conditions in such widespread parts of the world? 

In Collapse Diamond goes from Greenland to the South America, Southwestern United States and Easter Island. It's just that he slipped in a case that was -not like the others. Which makes me wonder whether the other societies featured in the book have had the same lack of scientific analysis and the physical evidence may not exist yet. The human remains can prove the reasons for decline.


  
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Sep 2017 at 02:21
So the flaws regarding Easter Island call into question the other cases in "Collapse"?  How about "Guns, Germs and Steel"?  Do you feel his other work is compromised by the flaws regarding Easter Island.

I like seeing how a theory (or theories) stem from a body of evidence.  A lot of what I read is old scholarship, which has often been superseded in one way or another, by people coming at the raw evidence from a different heretofore unimagined angle of approach.  I assume that Diamond's conclusions follow from his premises.  Time will show that premises are inadequate in the long run.  Sometimes figuring out why premises fail reveals a lot (is revelatory) about the area of study, sometimes however, the premises are mediocre and their failure is mediocre.  From what you say, it sounds like if Daimond did his homework, he would have figured out that his model was all skewed, and should have either abandoned his claims, or scaled them way back.  He did not do his homework and took a shortcut, are there signs that he took shortcuts elsewhere?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Sep 2017 at 17:51
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

So the flaws regarding Easter Island call into question the other cases in "Collapse"?  How about "Guns, Germs and Steel"?  Do you feel his other work is compromised by the flaws regarding Easter Island.

I like seeing how a theory (or theories) stem from a body of evidence.  A lot of what I read is old scholarship, which has often been superseded in one way or another, by people coming at the raw evidence from a different heretofore unimagined angle of approach.  I assume that Diamond's conclusions follow from his premises.  Time will show that premises are inadequate in the long run.  Sometimes figuring out why premises fail reveals a lot (is revelatory) about the area of study, sometimes however, the premises are mediocre and their failure is mediocre.  From what you say, it sounds like if Daimond did his homework, he would have figured out that his model was all skewed, and should have either abandoned his claims, or scaled them way back.  He did not do his homework and took a shortcut, are there signs that he took shortcuts elsewhere?

Lots of short cuts. I loved his books and I think he has many of the facts in order but they were already accepted as fact before Diamond started writing. He's presenting less clinical work and more of a world view much like Bronislaw Malinowski.

Both applied ethical reasoning or moralizing to ancient people. We simply cannot conceive of any civilization that " chose to fail" as Diamond states in Guns, Germs and Steel. Malinowski worked in the field in Papua New Guinea, no shortage of facts and information. However he moralized about the native's promiscuity while sampling his choice of young women. The following is a good look at Diamond..
from the article;
After once labeling agriculture the Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race, the idea that European superiority was all based in early agriculture seems curious. However, it was not entirely incongruous. Diamond here did not intend to comment on internal social and sexual inequality, or the ravages of disease and despotism for those who had adopted agriculture. Those factors remained true. But when such societies encountered others, the Europeans had the advantage of disease immunity as well as a longer experience with agriculture and agricultural technologies.


Edited by Vanuatu - 17 Sep 2017 at 17:55
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Sep 2017 at 01:34
It's fairly common for qualified experts in one field to air their views on matters not in their field of expertise.

Unfortunately, their views are either tainted by their learning, or do not pass the test of accuracy by people who are experts in that other field.

The media doesn't help when it pronounces that so and so is a Professor at XYZ University, and not detail his knowledge of expertise in that other field.
I often wonder why I try.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2017 at 03:32
The idea that agriculture was the worst mistake in human history is totally subjective. I have imagined that tribal living is the most natural state of being for humans, like all creatures great and small.

Dismantling evolution in terms of technological advance might mean no human evolution as we know it, therefore progress is part and parcel being human. I don't know, we seem to be on a trajectory of self destruction as a species maybe that's our gift to the planet.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2017 at 07:05
Quote The idea that agriculture was the worst mistake in human history is totally subjective.

I'd go so far as to say that the idea is stupid.

Quote Writing with characteristic verve, Diamond’s “Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race” summarizes an impressive amount of material in just three pages. At the top of the second and third pages, he headlines the main point: “The adoption of agriculture, supposedly the decisive step to a better life, was in fact catastrophic. With agriculture came the curses of social and sexual inequality, disease, and despotism” (1987:65-66).
 

Diamond has drawn a very long bow in his book, and from the piece that I've read, offeres to substantiation for his comments. Who knows how society would have developed without agriculture?
 
Human beings have evolved to need certail vitamins in their diet, vitamins which can only be obtained from vegetation. It made common sense to take samples of various vegitation and grow them in one place rather than go hunting every day.

I'd imagine that, in ancient times, our ancestors experimented with various items of vegetation to find which was edible and tasteful, and in time to cook it in various ways.

Had agriculture not been developed, where would we be now?


Edited by toyomotor - 21 Sep 2017 at 07:14
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2017 at 15:13
The prevailing theory seems to be that the Natufians migrated to Fertile Crescent and found wild grasses growing like they had not seen before. One team of anthropologists figured that one person sewing seeds for three weeks would be able to produce enough food for four people. *for one year. 

And your talking about a three hour work day. So plenty of time for thought experiments.  Natufians developed better strains of wheat and barely, their remains show the damage done by field work but were otherwise healthy. 

*Evidence that they used containers for storage is being uncovered very regularly. Giant mortar & pestles that were left behind when people moved on, turn up often. 

It's just that nothing stays simple. Complexity is evolution and eventually complexity is chaos. 


Edited by Vanuatu - 21 Sep 2017 at 15:17
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2017 at 22:48
Agriculture had to be developed in order for populations to get above a certain size, density and complexity.  By agriculture I mean grains, for tubers would not require the group harvest, and with group harvest, then you can have a centralized authority taxing them.  It is not all forms of agriculture that are prerequisites for more complex, centralized authorities.

I wonder how fertile, the Fertile Crescent is today compared to, what? 7000 years ago?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Sep 2017 at 00:56
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Agriculture had to be developed in order for populations to get above a certain size, density and complexity.  By agriculture I mean grains, for tubers would not require the group harvest, and with group harvest, then you can have a centralized authority taxing them.  It is not all forms of agriculture that are prerequisites for more complex, centralized authorities.

I wonder how fertile, the Fertile Crescent is today compared to, what? 7000 years ago?

1. No. Not really, the Mongols lived off the land as they moved about, but relied on their horses for milk, cheese and meat.

2. In ancient times there was no taxation!! Ever heard of "many hands make light work"? It's possible that while the women and children attended their "gardens" the men made weapons and went hunting.

3. No-one on this forum has suggested that all forms of agriculture are prerequisites for more complex, centralised authorities, but, IMO, agricultural development would have increased the likelihood of the creation of stable, village type communities.

4.
Quote I wonder how fertile, the Fertile Crescent is today compared to, what? 7000 years ago?

And this is relevant to, what?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Sep 2017 at 16:15
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Agriculture had to be developed in order for populations to get above a certain size, density and complexity.  By agriculture I mean grains, for tubers would not require the group harvest, and with group harvest, then you can have a centralized authority taxing them.  It is not all forms of agriculture that are prerequisites for more complex, centralized authorities.

I wonder how fertile, the Fertile Crescent is today compared to, what? 7000 years ago?

Right, well it's desolate isn't it? Evidence that the Natufians were growing fruits, nuts and grains 1000 years before the Pyramids are being documented around Mt Carmel. They can literally see the stages of selective crossbreeding in ancient grasses. 

Domestication of goats are indicated as the reason why no new saplings could grow to replace felled trees. Goats eat practically Everything and they are widely held to have been the earliest domesticated animal.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Sep 2017 at 16:20
Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

[QUOTE=franciscosan]Agriculture had to be developed in order for populations to get above a certain size, density and complexity.  By agriculture I mean grains, for tubers would not require the group harvest, and with group harvest, then you can have a centralized authority taxing them.  It is not all forms of agriculture that are prerequisites for more complex, centralized authorities.

I wonder how fertile, the Fertile Crescent is today compared to, what? 7000 years ago?

Trade is the precursor to taxation. That starts with pre-dynastic Egypt. Clay balls were halved and then small stones or pieces of bone were pressed in to account for inventory. Upon entering a chiefdom village (Bronze Age) they would crack yer balls, 'n tax ye. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Sep 2017 at 01:35
Quote they would crack yer balls, 'n tax ye.

And nothing's changed.  LOL


Edited by toyomotor - 24 Sep 2017 at 03:14
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Sep 2017 at 00:57
The example I read about grain favoring taxation, and more complex societies is Asia (China?) with rice over tubers.  With rice the overlord can see when it is about ready and the village is going to need extra labor.  He also can probably tell whether it is going to be a good harvest or not.  And so he can be there and hit them up, when they bring in the grain.  With tubers, you cannot tell how many are planted, nor is it obvious from a glance when they are ready, and they can be dug up at anytime, including on the sly in the middle of the night.  There are reasons why grain is a staple, whereas tubers didn't develop that way.  and it probably has little to do with nutritional value.  Of course, potatoes eventually conquered the world, was it a matter of when in society, they developed?  I am not sure.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Sep 2017 at 03:20
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

The example I read about grain favoring taxation, and more complex societies is Asia (China?) with rice over tubers.  With rice the overlord can see when it is about ready and the village is going to need extra labor.  He also can probably tell whether it is going to be a good harvest or not.  And so he can be there and hit them up, when they bring in the grain.  With tubers, you cannot tell how many are planted, nor is it obvious from a glance when they are ready, and they can be dug up at anytime, including on the sly in the middle of the night.  There are reasons why grain is a staple, whereas tubers didn't develop that way.  and it probably has little to do with nutritional value.  Of course, potatoes eventually conquered the world, was it a matter of when in society, they developed?  I am not sure.

Why do you keeping wandering away from the OP, which was about Diamonds writing on Easter Island, which many, including me, don't accept as accurate?

 Just a reminder, Vanuatu wrote
Quote Jared Diamond being undone again. His theories are folding faster than Superman on laundry day.

First-


Now-

Diamond's and others got it wrong apparently. Wrong about Rapa Nui or Easter Island. It was not depleted of resources, added to the population fighting and cannibalizing itself out of existence. 

They did find spear heads and there was tribal war. There is also physical evidence of people who had a varied diet, kept gardens and maintained themselves. Small pox got them so this study says.


Edited by toyomotor - 24 Sep 2017 at 03:22
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Sep 2017 at 00:17
Originally posted by toyomotor toyomotor wrote:

Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

The example I read about grain favoring taxation, and more complex societies is Asia (China?) with rice over tubers.  With rice the overlord can see when it is about ready and the village is going to need extra labor.  He also can probably tell whether it is going to be a good harvest or not.  And so he can be there and hit them up, when they bring in the grain.  With tubers, you cannot tell how many are planted, nor is it obvious from a glance when they are ready, and they can be dug up at anytime, including on the sly in the middle of the night.  There are reasons why grain is a staple, whereas tubers didn't develop that way.  and it probably has little to do with nutritional value.  Of course, potatoes eventually conquered the world, was it a matter of when in society, they developed?  I am not sure.

Why do you keeping wandering away from the OP, which was about Diamonds writing on Easter Island, which many, including me, don't accept as accurate?

 Just a reminder, Vanuatu wrote
Quote Jared Diamond being undone again. His theories are folding faster than Superman on laundry day.

First-


Now-

Diamond's and others got it wrong apparently. Wrong about Rapa Nui or Easter Island. It was not depleted of resources, added to the population fighting and cannibalizing itself out of existence. 

They did find spear heads and there was tribal war. There is also physical evidence of people who had a varied diet, kept gardens and maintained themselves. Small pox got them so this study says.

They are both theories that Diamond adopted from other researchers that turned out to be lacking in the area of PHYSICAL EVIDENCE.

Why do you keep wandering off?
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