In short, he first erects the "mobile, egalitarian, band-society" as a STRAW MAN and then sets about demolishing it to make his point that anthropologists have been fools and romantics. This is, essentially, the very same imaginary "Noble Savage" that Thomas Hobbes repudiated; the same fiction repeatedly resurrected and then demolished, with boring regularity, in the writings of other authors, such as Lawrence Keeley, Richard Wrangham, and Steven Pinker. Worse, Singh is taking liberties with the truth.
In 1972, as I was just about to get married for the first time, I read the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth. I decided not to have children, given the long term prospects.In the meantime, while I went to study hunter-gatherers in the Kalahari, a man called Robert Paine, who died two years ago, … Continue reading Economies are Trophic Flows
After that, what does anything matter but that all through the Pleistocene we continued to evolve cognition/behaviour systems finely tuned to cooperative (shared and learned thus collective) cultural adaptations?
All societies have ranking among individuals. Some people, by the time they are adults, are more highly respected than others. This is based on character and reputation. It means that most children, as they mature, look to such people - usually respected elders - as role models, as embodiments of ideals. The “fierce” egalitarianism of … Continue reading How Chiefs become Kings: reflections on the fragile power of states
HELGA INGEBORG VIERICH·SATURDAY, APRIL 21, 2018 “..The watchwords of the nineteenth century have been, struggle for existence, competition, class warfare, commercial antagonism between nations, military warfare. The struggle for existence has been construed into a gospel of hate. The full conclusion to be drawn from a philosophy of evolution is fortunately of a more balanced … Continue reading Right and Left? Nope.
When God food his perfect virgin -NOT according her, however!
Ecological engineering, and a keystone role, in any local ecosystem, is the human cultural adaptive niche.
Nov 7, 2018 11: 50 pm Symbolic communication can be visual or auditory: it can, of course, also be tactile and olfactory. Spoken language is made up of vast numbers of arbitrary combinations of vocal sounds, which the invention of writing and numeracy transformed into visual symbols for communicating across time and space. It seems … Continue reading Symbols:when a picture is worth a thousand words…
Nov 7, 2018 11: 50 pm The capacity for a learned and shared system of transmitting information between individuals, and across generations, is culture, a secondary adaptive system that many social animals have. Humans developed culture into a major adaptive system. In humans this is a learned and shared collective "cognitive niche", the "specialist" behavioural and cognitive … Continue reading Gardening in Eden
Jul 7, 2018 8: 44 pm Want to understand the brutality at Standing Rock? This banal evil has deep roots in extractive industries.. The problems with the kind of work and other conditions in the “oil patch” that many Albertans (and other regions in both Canada and the USA - indeed all over the world) … Continue reading Man-camps for oil, timber, mining… are “wretched hives of scum and villianry”? Reflections on resource extraction.
Why don’t people don’t understand that teaching a child that the killing of an innocent creature is fun.. is entertainment.. or making these acts into signs of manly virtue is destructive of the compassionate spirit of the child? what does it do to that child's innocent fascination with living creatures, when they are taught to consider … Continue reading When the Sacred Circle is Broken
Oct 9, 2017 3: 03 pm Humans, unlike whales and elephants, developed a system of learned behavior that was specialized at environmental manipulation – using technology to do everything from getting and processing food, to maintaining body microclimate. Tool use is, of course, prehumen: indeed, it is not limited to primates, and furthermore, creation of … Continue reading Human Nature is shaped by Culture: here’s how…
The emergence of Homo sapiens, has been as contentious an issue as is the emergence of the particular "Anatomically Modern” variant since the late Pleistocene, with more fragile jaws, chins, reduced or absent brow ridges, and elevated cranial vault. Much has been made of brain size increases throughout human evolution, as indicative of conceptual augmentation … Continue reading Thoughts on human evolution: what if modern behaviour and cognition come first?
“..The watchwords of the nineteenth century have been, struggle for existence, competition, class warfare, commercial antagonism between nations, military warfare. The struggle for existence has been construed into a gospel of hate. The full conclusion to be drawn from a philosophy of evolution is fortunately of a more balanced character. Successful organisms modify their environment. … Continue reading Why the Ecological Imagination Matters
Mar 10, 2017 5: 28 pm The fact that humans have generated a behavioral niche, – an anthro-ecology – within which other species of mammals and birds have been integrated, through natural and “artificial” selection, is clear. And it may be quite true that humans, being part of nature, constitute agents of natural selection along … Continue reading Anthro-Ecology
Check out this painting. Kungkarrangkalpa Tjukurrpa, 2015 by Australian indigenous artists Exhibition opens at The Box, Plymouth (and thanks to cousin Clair Drever for drawing my attention to this) Look at the bottom right hand corner - there is a group of people there. You know what this painting looks like to me? It looks like a … Continue reading Ecological engineering illustrated in a painting
Culture as a collective cognitive niche.I suspect that one of the problems is the idea that "science" - the method of testing causal hypotheses to establish models of reality - is a recent invention. This creates the illusion that all cultures, prior to the European "Enlightenment", were based on superstitious beliefs. The data from anthropology … Continue reading The collective cognitive niche
We humans, the compassionate predator, entered into a contract with a large number of species in the course of the past twenty thousand years (some think longer), and species like the wolf (our domestic dogs), Bos Taurus (domestic cattle), Tarpans (domestic horses of all breeds today) and a legion of others entered the relatively new … Continue reading Manure and Animal rights
THIS is what transformed humanity between 300,000 and 100,000 years ago - the development of a cultural system of environmental management that made the ecosystems of the world into gardens. And we of the "civilized" states, today, mistakenly call this all a "natural wilderness". This brings forcibly to mind what Ragai, a Kua hunter I … Continue reading The discovery that all human hunter-gatherers, throughout the at least the last 80,000 years, did ecological engineering, means that “wilderness” does not really exist.
While I was in the Kalahari with a group of hunter-gatherers called the Kua, a woman died. I did not witness this, I arrived at the camp after she was buried under the sandy floor of her hut. The people (four families, plus the new widower and his two children) were in the process of … Continue reading ON SPIRITS AND GHOSTS:
I suppose "identity" is the original politics of mankind, but who said it was always weaponized?
“In forty years of medical practice, I have found only two types of non-pharmaceutical ‘therapy’ to be vitally important for patients with chronic neurological diseases: music and gardens. I cannot say exactly how nature exerts its calming and organizing effects on our brains, but I have seen in my patients the restorative and healing powers … Continue reading Biophilia is real and may have saved our species