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Friday, November 03, 2017

Book Review: SAPIENS by Yuval Harari

Review of Yuval Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
by C.R.Hallpike

Part I of IV

The biological title Sapiens is intended to give the impression of a work of hard-nosed science in the Darwinian tradition. Human history is presented as 'the next stage in the continuum of physics to chemistry to biology', and our ultimate destiny, and not so very ultimate either, is to be replaced by intelligent machines. It is a summary of human cultural and social evolution from stone age foraging bands through the agricultural revolution, writing and the rise of the state and large-scale societies, through the gradual process of global unification through empires, money, and the world religions, to the scientific revolution that began the modern world and its consequences.

As an anthropologist who has trodden roughly the same path as Harari in a number of books (Hallpike 1979, 1986, 2008, 2016) I was naturally curious to see what he has to say, but it soon became clear that its claim to be a work of science is questionable, beginning with his notion of culture. Language is obviously the basis of human culture, but one of the central themes of the book is the idea that not just language but what he calls 'fiction' has been crucial in the ascent of Man:

...the truly unique feature of our language is not its ability to transmit information about men and lions. Rather it's the ability to transmit information about things that do not exist at all. As far as we know, only Sapiens can talk about entire kinds of entities that they have never seen, touched or smelled...But fiction has enabled us not merely to imagine things, but to do so collectively. We can weave common myths such as the biblical creation story, the Dreamtime myths of Aboriginal Australians, and the nationalist myths of modern states. Such myths give Sapiens the unprecedented ability to cooperate flexibly in large numbers. (p. 27)

The claim that culture is fiction is not an important insight, but is simply a perverse way of stating the obvious fact that culture is a set of shared ideas, and ideas by their very nature can't be material objects. Language has been revolutionary because it has allowed human beings to be linked together by shared ideas into roles and institutions. One cannot see or touch the Prime Minister, for example, but only a human being, and someone who does not know what 'Prime Minister' means has to be told. This can only be done properly by explaining how this role fits into the British Constitution, which in turn involves explaining parliament, cabinet government, the rule of law, democracy, and so on. This world of roles, institutions, beliefs, norms, and values forms what we call culture, but just because the components of culture are immaterial and cannot be seen, touched or smelled does not make them fiction, like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, or the myths of Genesis or the Australian Aborigines. We can't see, touch, or smell truth because truth is not a material object, but that does not make it unreal or fictitious either.

If Harari's test of reality is only what we can see, touch, or smell then mathematics, like truth, should also be a prime example of fiction. Maybe simple integers might just pass his reality test, since we can see groups of different numbers of things, but how 'real' in his sense are zero, negative numbers, irrational numbers like π or imaginary numbers like the square root of -1? And if mathematics is fiction, then so is the whole of science including the theory of relativity and Darwinian evolution, which Harari would find very embarrassing indeed because he loves science. He is just in a philosophical muddle that confuses what is material with what is real, and what is immaterial with fiction. But the opposite of fiction is not what is material but what is true, and what is fictional and what is true can both only exist in the immaterial world of thought.

When it comes to the task of explaining social institutions, the idea of culture as fiction is about as useful as a rubber nail:

People easily understand that 'primitives' cement their social order by believing in ghosts and spirits, and gathering each full moon to dance together round the campfire. What we fail to appreciate is that our modern institutions function on exactly the same basis. Take for example the world of business corporations. Modern business-people and lawyers are, in fact, powerful sorcerers. (p. 31)

Really? He takes the Peugeot motor company, with its image of a lion, and tries to argue that the company itself is no more real than an ancient tribal totem, but nevertheless can form the basis on which large numbers of people could co-operate:

How exactly did Armand Peugeot, the man, create Peugeot, the company? In much the same way that priests and sorcerers have created gods and demons throughout history...It all revolved around telling stories, and convincing people to believe them...In the case of Peugeot SA the crucial story was the French legal code, as written by the French parliament. According to the French legislators, if a certified lawyer followed all the proper liturgy and rituals, wrote all the required spells and oaths on a wonderfully decorated piece of paper, and affixed his ornate signature to the bottom of the document, then hocus pocus - a new company was formed. (p. 34)

Harari seems unable to distinguish a belief from a convention, presumably because neither is a material object. Beliefs in ghosts and spirits may be shared by members of particular cultures, but derive from the nature of people's experience and their modes of thought: they did not sit down and deliberately agree to believe in them. Conventions, however, are precisely the result of a collective decision, consciously taken to achieve a certain purpose, and as such are completely different from myths in almost every respect. Peugeot SA rests on the legal convention of a limited-liability company, which performs a very useful social function, and another very useful social convention is the rule of the road by which in Britain we all drive on the left. Neither beliefs in spirits nor social conventions are material objects, but they are still quite different sorts of thing, as are legal documents and magical rituals, and Harari achieves nothing by confusing them.

More unsustainable claims do not take long to appear. It may well be true that by about 400,000 years ago Man became able to hunt large game on a regular basis, and that in the last 100,000 years we jumped to the top of the food chain. There also seems little doubt that after humans migrated out of Africa in the last 70,000 years or so they exterminated large mammals in Australia, the Americas, and other parts of the world. But part of his explanation for this is that:

Having so recently been one of the underdogs of the savannah, we are full of fears and anxieties over our position, which makes us doubly cruel and dangerous. Many historical calamities, from deadly wars to ecological catastrophes, have resulted from this over-hasty jump (pp. 12-13). 

No, we're not full of fears and anxieties about our position in the food chain, and never have been, because a species is not a person who can remember things like having been the underdog of the savannah tens of millennia in the past. Knowledge of our life on the savannah has only been vaguely reconstructed by archaeologists and anthropologists in modern times.

He then describes us as 'embarrassingly similar to chimpanzees' and claims that:

Our societies are built from  the same building blocks as Neanderthal or chimpanzee societies, and the more we examine these building blocks - sensations, emotions, family ties - the less difference we find between us and other apes. (42)

In fact, however, if we study the research on the differences between human infants and chimpanzees, such as Tomasello's Why We Co-operate (2009), the greater we find the differences between us and other apes. Tomasello's studies of pre-linguistic human infants between 12-24 months and chimpanzees showed marked differences in behaviour related to co-operation, for example. Human infants start co-operating at about 12 months, and when 14 - 18 month infants were put in situations where adult strangers needed help with problems, the infants, unlike chimpanzees, spontaneously provided it. Even before speech develops human infants will try to provide information to adult strangers who need it by pointing, whereas apes do not understand informative pointing at all. Infants also have an innate grasp of rules, in the sense of understanding that certain sorts of activities, like games, should be done in a certain way, whereas apes do not. 14 - 24 month old infants also collaborate easily in social games, whereas chimpanzees simply refuse to take part in them, and infants can also change and reverse roles in games. Human collaborative activity is achieved through generalised roles that can potentially be filled by anyone, including the self. This is the basis of the unique feature of human culture, the institution, which is a set of practices governed  by rules and norms. 'No animal species other than humans has been observed to have anything even vaguely resembling [social institutions]' (Tomasello 2009: xi - xii).

For Harari the great innovation that separated us from the apes was what he calls the Cognitive Revolution, around 70,000 years ago when we started migrating out of Africa, which he thinks gave us the same sort of modern minds that we have now. 'At the individual level, ancient foragers were the most knowledgeable and skilful people in history...Survival in that area required superb mental abilities from everyone' (p. 55), and  'The people who carved the Stadel lion-man some 30,000 years ago had the same physical, emotional, and intellectual abilities we have' (p. 44). 

Not surprisingly, then,  'We'd be able to explain to them everything we know - from the adventures of Alice in Wonderland to the paradoxes of quantum physics - and they could teach us how their people view the world' (23).

It's a sweet idea, and something like this imagined meeting actually took place a few years ago between the linguist Daniel Everett and the Piraha foragers of the Amazon in Peru (Everett 2008). But far from being able to discuss quantum theory with them, he found that the Piraha couldn't even count, and had no numbers of any kind, They could teach Everett how they saw the world, which was entirely confined to the immediate experience of the here-and-now, with no interest in past or future, or really in anything that could not be seen or touched. They had no myths or stories, so Alice in Wonderland would have fallen rather flat as well.

Part II of Dr. Hallpike's review will be posted tomorrow.

Labels:

89 Comments:

Blogger Kristophr November 03, 2017 1:27 PM  

It looks like the book's author had difficulty with concepts like ordered structure being real. If you can't create mental structures, you can't get past clubbing Ogg for that tasty bit of food ...

Blogger Rashadjin November 03, 2017 1:30 PM  

Yuval Harari reads like everyone consumed by the Philosophy of Evolution.

Poor soul never stood a chance. Neither did his books.

Anonymous fop November 03, 2017 1:32 PM  

'We'd be able to explain to them everything we know - from the adventures of Alice in Wonderland to the paradoxes of quantum physics - and they could teach us how their people view the world'

Harari, the pale, noodle-armed, vegan homosexual would have been beaten to death with a log by the ancient homo sapiens long before he got to ask them their opinion of Alice in Wonderland.

Blogger BassmanCO November 03, 2017 1:54 PM  

How does one conflate spells and shamanistic practices with legal documents? That takes a special kind of stupid right there.

Blogger DonReynolds November 03, 2017 2:02 PM  

Forget the bloody apes, because it blinds us to the fact that we do not live in ONE WORLD. The reason we do not live in ONE WORLD is because people are not the same everywhere and those differences are not merely technological or social or environmental. There are very real differences between societies regarding what is considered knowledge and information, and not merely differences in custom, habit, and tradition.

What makes OUR society very powerful is not just knowledge and information but more importantly.....our social organization. Our men and women are not the tallest, or the fastest, or the smartest, or the strongest, or the most fertile, or the most productive. We are told this every day by critics of our society without them mentioning why this society has become so dominant in the world.

Some would say it was all privilege, but they never say how anyone can imagine themselves to be privileged or why the rest of the world would ever award them any such privileged status.

Anonymous Crew November 03, 2017 2:02 PM  

This looks like a very interesting book from Halpike, although expensive:

https://www.amazon.com/Ethical-Thought-Increasingly-Complex-Societies/dp/1498536328/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1509731787&sr=8-2&keywords=CR+Hallpike&dpID=51O4KGzXZdL&preST=_SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

Is there another one I could read?

Anonymous Forrest Bishop November 03, 2017 2:10 PM  

Review of the Review

Hallpike has some things correct and other things, not so much. I'll land on his side for the most part and only point out a few of his extraordinary claims.

1. "hard-nosed science in the Darwinian tradition." This is a "rubber nail" theory if ever there was one. Irreproducible results, shifty definitions, lack of observational evidence, all attended by a corp of noxious true believers. It's a state-sponsored religion, not a hard-nosed science. Some 20 or 30 examples of UnDarwin- https://www.scribd.com/document/319906948/The-Solution-to-the-Ice-Age-Extinctions

2. "If Harari's test of reality is only what we can see, touch, or smell then mathematics, like truth, should also be a prime example of fiction. Maybe simple integers might just pass his reality test, since we can see groups of different numbers of things, but how 'real' in his sense are zero, negative numbers, irrational numbers like π or imaginary numbers like the square root of -1? And if mathematics is fiction, then so is the whole of science including the theory of relativity and Darwinian evolution,"

Math is manmade fiction. The numbers you 'see' are in your head. Three apples don't have the number three as one of their properties: you added that in. (This reminds me of the time that Geoff Landis claimed that 'an electric field of zero strength is real, man', in one of his attempts to rebut The Catt Question.)

Like Darwinism, the Einstein version of the theory of relativity has long-since been debunked as junk science. Don't use it as your argument, it makes you look silly.

3. "There also seems little doubt that after humans migrated out of Africa in the last 70,000 years or so they exterminated large mammals in Australia, the Americas, and other parts of the world."

There is plenty of doubt about the Out of Africa theory, from many different quarters. In the alternate view, the races of Man are older than Man, i.e. each race (species...) evolved, or was created if you prefer, in the region where they are found today. The similarities are due to hybridization, not to Darwinian descent through gradual modification.

There is also plenty of doubt about the abilities of primitive Man to exterminate ANY of the Pleistocene giants. Actually, my new theory is best theory- https://www.scribd.com/document/319906948/The-Solution-to-the-Ice-Age-Extinctions
The human-hunting idea has what amounts to a military problem. Our ancient parents were as bands of Hobbits surrounded by armies of giant Orcs numbering in the hundreds of millions between their different kinds. A field marshal, reviewing his rag tag tribe of midgets armed with sticks and arrows, would have to weigh those facts against his enemy’s tooth and claw, tusk, armor, size, and troop strength. He would have to retire from the field, discretion being the better part of valor.
We saw this dynamic play out in North America in historical times. The Great Plains Indians could not subdue the immense herds of bison that ranged across the prairie lands. Even after the gifts of the horse and the gun, there were still too many buffalo and not enough Indians.



4. "Harari seems unable to distinguish a belief from a convention..." I am not able to distinguish this argument from a circle.

Blogger Nathan November 03, 2017 2:23 PM  

Chesterton demolished this line of argument in the Everlasting Man almost 100 years ago. A new "intelligent machines" paint job doesn't change that the author -- and the reviewer -- are making things up from a lack of evidence. The evidence we do have is that Man has always been Man and will always be Man, until the end of the Age.

Blogger Nathan November 03, 2017 2:36 PM  

Also, the total absurdity of modern thought is revealed by the inductive chain: physics -> chemistry -> biology - > storytelling -> ...linear algebra machines?

The chain of complexity becomes more alive and conscious... until it becomes a simalcrum of life. The irrationality of our rationalist is truly astounding. At least previous Hegelians created more sensible, if incorrect, inductive chains.

I have heard this writer has a lot of clout with the Davosie. If so, it goes to explain a lot about why most of the global elite sound like naive campus radicals.

Blogger James Jones November 03, 2017 2:36 PM  

OT. Ivan Throne, you are awesome.

Blogger Student in Blue November 03, 2017 2:39 PM  

Harari seems unable to distinguish a belief from a convention, presumably because neither is a material object.

Hallpike puts words to something I've run into a while ago but couldn't quite express. I had bought a couple of books in a series on personality and psychology, and both of them were so heavy-laden with this monomania of totems and shamans that it made any truth the book could've contained inordinately burdensome to excavate. When I ran across nuggets of actually decent info, it made me think that perhaps the author was actually smart and I just wasn't getting it, but eventually I realized the author was just full of it. Wasted a lot of brain cells.

And thanks to Hallpike, now I know this inability to distinguish important differences in immaterial constructs wasn't a one-time problem, but probably an effect of a materialistic worldview.

Anonymous Steve November 03, 2017 2:45 PM  

How does one conflate spells and shamanistic practices with legal documents? That takes a special kind of stupid right there.

I know little of anthropology, but from what little I know, it's been a weird SJW cult for some time.

I once had dinner with an exec from a major international oil company. Turned out his degree was in anthropology, and he'd written a dissertation on a tribe of pygmy negritos or something. He was waxing about how they live in harmony with nature and the impressiveness of their spear-chucking and missionary-based diet is, or some such rot.

Personally, I have no use for feral little hobgoblins from the jungle, but I am an urbane dinner guest, and not just when the company is paying. So - looking to make polite conversation - I offered the half-joking opinion that an oil company is just a highly advanced tribe.

"Oh, no!" he replied, horrified and offended. "We can never say that we're more advanced than another group of people."

If an allegedly educated man, whose livelihood depends on the intersection of science, technology and global finance - and sitting in a fancy restaurant in London with utensils and non-cannibal options on the menu and everything - can't or won't tell the difference between his colleagues and a troupe of illiterate forest savages who presumably smell like poo, is he actually educated?

OpenID widlast November 03, 2017 2:59 PM  

If an allegedly educated man, whose livelihood depends on the intersection of science, technology and global finance - and sitting in a fancy restaurant in London with utensils and non-cannibal options on the menu and everything - can't or won't tell the difference between his colleagues and a troupe of illiterate forest savages who presumably smell like poo, is he actually educated?

That there is funny!

It has been my observation that though many get an "education", very few ever become educated.

Blogger Noah B The Savage Gardener November 03, 2017 3:06 PM  

Harari's inane babblings do not even rise to the level of Jared Diamond.

Blogger kevmalone November 03, 2017 3:08 PM  

Very amusing and informative post, I'm looking forward to the remaining parts.
Great comments here too.

Anonymous VFM #7916 November 03, 2017 3:13 PM  

It appears that SJW's are founding a modern intellectual cargo cult...

Anonymous krymneth November 03, 2017 3:14 PM  

Student in Blue wrote:now I know this inability to distinguish important differences in immaterial constructs wasn't a one-time problem, but probably an effect of a materialistic worldview.

In my experience, extremely few people are capable of nuance. Certainly far fewer than the number of people who pride themselves on their nuance. (Those people are generally priding themselves on their ability to rationalize anything, thus making them impervious to evidence. This does not strike me as something to be proud of, but, well, sometimes I think the light looks at the darkness and has at least a little trouble comprehending it.)

It does not strain my credulity too much to believe that it is simply the cognitive inability to make distinctions, followed by the brain's natural assumption that therefore distinctions do not exist. I think you can train yourself to realize when your brain has thrown a shoe and bailed out due to the issues being too complicated like this, but it's not easy, and I haven't seen much evidence of this skill in the wild.

Steve wrote:If an allegedly educated man, whose livelihood depends on the intersection of science, technology and global finance - and sitting in a fancy restaurant in London with utensils and non-cannibal options on the menu and everything - can't or won't tell the difference between his colleagues and a troupe of illiterate forest savages who presumably smell like poo, is he actually educated?

I've often thought that I'm just too stupid to be a liberal. I can't maintain the ferociously complicated nest of internal mental walls between realities like they do. I see a tribe who builds a pretty decent stick house, and another who can put an oil rig in the Black Sea, and I'm simply not capable of dividing the intellectual worlds like they do. It's no wonder so many of them have mental disorders; liberalism is itself a low-grade form of the stereotypical multiple personality disorder.

"This is my personality Bob. He does politics. He does not speak to George, who does science. Neither of them speak to Phil, my resident engineer. Any time any of my dozen personalities start arguing with each other because they notice a contradiction, I just yell at them all to shut up. They stopped doing that a long time ago." Truly a recipe for mental health.

Blogger Forge the Sky November 03, 2017 3:30 PM  

Though I agree with many of Hallpike's criticisms, I think he tends to follow them off a cliff a bit. Harari is writing pop science - it is incomplete and inprecise, but that does not mean it lacks all usefulness.

Bishop, above, summed up my primary complaint well: '"Harari seems unable to distinguish a belief from a convention..." I am not able to distinguish this argument from a circle.'

Harari characterizes conventions as 'fictions' not because he is unable to distinguish between useful structures and the make-believe, but because he recognizes that it is useful to characterize things in this way as a conceit - as most people are much overawed by the structures they are embedded in. It allows people to externalize them for a time and consider them from an outside perspective.

This sort of drilling-down leads Hallpike to miss the sense of even the most simple of rhetoric in pedantry: "No, we're not full of fears and anxieties about our position in the food chain, and never have been, because a species is not a person who can remember things like having been the underdog of the savannah tens of millennia in the past. Knowledge of our life on the savannah has only been vaguely reconstructed by archaeologists and anthropologists in modern times."

This straw-man evades the obvious point - that humans have built-in behavioral instincts which were designed to defend us against threats in a dangerous environment of predators and foes. These instincts lead us - even in cases where such behavior is now maladaptive - to act in violent and 'tribal' fashions, even to the current day.

In a similar way, we tend to overeat in a society of abundance, acting on a 'species memory' of many periods of starvation and malnourishment.

That said, it certainly seems that Harari is more than slightly contemptuous of high human society's claims of advancement, and a bit idealistic when it comes to assessing primitive peoples. By and large, you cannot turn a primitive, tribal people into a modern people via a simple course of education. Civilization is built on deeper roots than he supposes.

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( Fine Purveyor of Quality Artisanal Gorm ) November 03, 2017 3:35 PM  

4. BassmanCO November 03, 2017 1:54 PM
How does one conflate spells and shamanistic practices with legal documents? That takes a special kind of stupid right there.



((( Yuval Harari ))) is not evolutionarily advanced enough to grasp the workings of the White Man's Juju.

thus he creates Cargo Cult models of White Man Culture and hopes to reap the benefits of Civilization thereby.



7. Forrest Bishop November 03, 2017 2:10 PM
He would have to retire from the field, discretion being the better part of valor.


absurd and trivially dis-proven every day. by that reasoning no wolf pack could down a moose and lions and crocodiles couldn't hunt wildebeest herds.

yet they do. all the time. because animals are dumb and the herbivores have never yet figured out that they could exterminate the predators via sheer weight of numbers if they simply put their minds too it.

7. Forrest Bishop November 03, 2017 2:10 PM
Even after the gifts of the horse and the gun, there were still too many buffalo and not enough Indians.



*facedesk*

SMALLPOX, do you speak it? most of the aboriginal population of North America died in the 16th century without ever seeing a White Man. American Indians didn't start to develop major resistance to most Eurasian diseases until the 20th century. and they are still horribly prone to alcoholism.

pre-15th century American ( North and South ) population levels were much, MUCH higher and the MesoAmerican civilizations produced wonders that come close to matching anything produced by Egypt or Babylon. and they had metropolises ( that is, the population base that you claim is lacking ) as well.

there is, in fact, a hypothesis that the massive buffalo herds of the 1800s were an anomaly, caused by the crash in Amerind population due to the introduction of Eurasian pandemics.



OT - union leaders are considering splitting from the Democrats, seem to be making serious efforts to creating a 'Labor' party

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaLZS6YoWZo

if this pans out ( it amounts to White Labor abandoning the increasingly Black and Hispanic Dems ), this could mean the end of the DNC as a major political force in the US.

humf.

and here just three years ago i was thinking it was going to be the Repukelicans that were going to dry up and blow away.

Blogger Student in Blue November 03, 2017 3:44 PM  

@krymneth
It does not strain my credulity too much to believe that it is simply the cognitive inability to make distinctions, followed by the brain's natural assumption that therefore distinctions do not exist.

Perhaps it's not a cognitive inability to make distinctions, but more the result of an insufficient mental power that is already bogged down by trying to avoid and constantly rationalize away inconsistencies.

Such inconsistencies being a result of materialism, or of an SJW nature.

Blogger Johnny November 03, 2017 3:48 PM  


>>Really? He takes the Peugeot motor company, with its image of a lion, and tries to argue that the company itself is no more real than an ancient tribal totem...

This is the recycling of an idea put forward by Plato. Plato argued that the idea you have of a horse in you head is real, and the horses out there one sees are somehow not real.

>>Harari seems unable to distinguish a belief from a convention, presumably because neither is a material object.

You are drawing more conclusions from this than you can. The problem is that unless the Harari can be shown to be the same branch of human ancestry that we are from, we have no way of knowing if they are our primitive ancestors. We may have been separate branches of humanoid evolution from some very early period. Plus in the absence of interbreeding, the Harari have been on one evolutionary track and we have been on another. Perhaps a hundred thousand years ago our ancestors were smarter than the Harari ancestors, or perhaps our ancestors were in a circumstance that favored intellectual development and the Harari ancestors were not. A consideration here, by the way, is that large groups evolve more rapidly than small groups. Outliers tend to be left behind. That is probably why both the Orientals and the European populations are relatively advanced. A large base population. Plus a northern climate seems to help also in that it requires preparation for the future.

Also the idea that our primitive ancestors on an African Savanna did nothing but cower in fear of predatory animals is not a done deal, compelling argument. For starters our reproduction rate is far too slow for any successful humanoid specie to withstand anything like routine predication. Owing to that slow reproduction, we must always have been a species that was relatively immune to predation or we would never have survived. One argument presented in detail in the book African Genesis, is that our very remote, very primitive ancestors were armed from some very early date.

My way of thinking about ideas is to point out that we all live in two different worlds at the same time. One is the real, physical world that we live in and the other is the world we imagine in our heads. Because our understanding of the physical world will always be to some extent imperfect, the world we imagine in our heads will never be identical to the one out there somewhere.

A second consideration is that the world we live in is too complex for us to understand directly. What we do is to form ideas that are generalizations or simplifications of the reality we live in, and we then use those ideas to help us understand the world we live in. By way of example I will consider the number two. When the number is combined with a unit the result is something that is real. There is such a thing (I contend) as two apples. But the two by itself has no representation in nature. There is no such thing as two beyond the concept in our heads. What happens when somebody tells us that somebody else said two words is that we immediately understand because we associate the idea of two with the unit words. But the words exist only in a past that is now gone, and so there are no two words except in our head. And as two is an abstract idea with no physical representation in nature, it is also an abstract idea. Put the two ideas together and the outcome is a better understanding of the world we live in. (Unless of course we are being lied to.)

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( Fine Purveyor of Quality Artisanal Gorm ) November 03, 2017 3:49 PM  

18. Forge the Sky November 03, 2017 3:30 PM
Bishop, above, summed up my primary complaint well: '"Harari seems unable to distinguish a belief from a convention..." I am not able to distinguish this argument from a circle.'



a 'belief' is ( or can be ) personal and individual. others might or might not share it.

a 'convention' is, by definition, communal.

you're not impressing, here.


18. Forge the Sky November 03, 2017 3:30 PM
Harari characterizes conventions as 'fictions' not because he is unable to distinguish between useful structures and the make-believe, but because he recognizes that it is useful to characterize things in this way as a conceit - as most people are much overawed by the structures they are embedded in. It allows people to externalize them for a time and consider them from an outside perspective.



*sigh*

an Abstract Fact is no more 'material' than an Abstract Fiction.

i don't need to pretend that the Abstract Fact is, in actuality, a Fiction so that i can "externalize" it. that's a function of the nature of Abstractions, not inherent or confined to Fictions.

that still doesn't mean i've figured out a way to subtract Abstract Facts from the Concrete though.

Blogger Resident Moron™ November 03, 2017 3:50 PM  

"Part II of Dr. Hallpike's review will be posted tomorrow."

The first part was brutal enough.

Reading this line I began to feel sorry for the author ...

Blogger Cmate November 03, 2017 3:58 PM  

OT
Looks like the Daily Caller hired Milo
http://dailycaller.com/2017/11/03/a-round-of-applause-for-kevin-spacey/

Blogger Rashadjin November 03, 2017 4:13 PM  

krymneth - "This is my personality Bob. He does politics. He does not speak to George, who does science. Neither of them speak to Phil, my resident engineer. Any time any of my dozen personalities start arguing with each other because they notice a contradiction, I just yell at them all to shut up. They stopped doing that a long time ago." Truly a recipe for mental health.

I quite like that.

But I think it's that liberals contain multiple, low-resolution, warped realities in their heads. I call them 'frames' after Overton Window.

It's like they step onto entirely different planets the moment their religious beliefs dictate it. So one world when talking to cis white men and then an entirely different one the moment they turn to the black lesbian.

This would be why they're natural sophists and the word definitions they use change at convenience.

It's not multiple personalities. It's a multi-dimensional, schizophrenic construction of reality.

OpenID widlast November 03, 2017 4:14 PM  

I'm impressed. Milo definitely has a way with words.

Blogger Forge the Sky November 03, 2017 4:23 PM  

"you're not impressing, here."

And you cited a quotation three writers deep. I'm not even sure who you're criticizing or praising here, or who you thought needed the definitions. Me? Bishop? Hallpike? or Harari? The irony is you see yourself as being precise here.

"i don't need to pretend that the Abstract Fact is, in actuality, a Fiction so that i can "externalize" it."

Who said I was talking about *you*?

Blogger S. Misanthrope November 03, 2017 4:38 PM  

This is fascinating. Can't wait for Part II!

Blogger Feather Blade November 03, 2017 4:45 PM  

BassmanCO wrote:How does one conflate spells and shamanistic practices with legal documents? That takes a special kind of stupid right there.

Well, you know, "insufficiently understood technology" and all that.

Anonymous E Deploribus Unum November 03, 2017 4:52 PM  

If an allegedly educated man ... can't or won't tell the difference between his colleagues and a troupe of illiterate forest savages who presumably smell like poo, is he actually educated?

As usual, Steve, head hits nail with a resounding thud.

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( Fine Purveyor of Quality Artisanal Gorm ) November 03, 2017 4:54 PM  

27. Forge the Sky November 03, 2017 4:23 PM
Me? Bishop? Hallpike? or Harari? The irony is you see yourself as being precise here.



everyone of you having difficulties differentiating between Fiction and Fact. it doesn't seem to be a problem for Hallpike.


27. Forge the Sky November 03, 2017 4:23 PM
Who said I was talking about *you*?



oh, i'm quite willing to concede that you and Harari are incapable of differentiating Fiction from Fact.

i was just explaining the difference and, using the personnel example of myself and the presented example of Hallpike, showing that there is a population, however small, which does not have these difficulties.

and while my first comment was a joke, i'm starting to wonder:
are there a large fraction of Jews who are developmentally incapable of differentiating Fiction from Fact?

i mean, you look up Harari's bio and he's a respected, tenured professor in Israel and a best selling book author.

and he's a halfwit, incapable of drawing distinctions between the subset of Fiction and the superset of Abstractions.

so much for Jewish intellectual superiority.

IF this is a common attribute amongst Hebrews
THEN it would go a long damn way towards explaining why nobody else can get along with them.

to them, EVERYTHING verbal is 'Fiction'. and thus, it's simply a matter of composing the correct combination of words ( incantation ) and the Goyim will do anything you want them too.

this explains Sarah Silverman and Al Franken:
http://2m2l2d2d.blogspot.com/2017/11/the-psychopaths-lament.html

it explains Harari AND those who exalt him as some kind of thinker ( perforce, a large fraction of the Israeli population ).

it explains the maddeningly ridiculous interactions Hitler complains about:
"The more I argued with them, the better I came to know their dialectic. First they counted on the stupidity of their adversary, and then, when there was no other way out, they themselves simply played stupid. If all this didn't help, they pretended not to understand, or, if challenged, they changed the subject in a hurry, quoted platitudes which, if you accepted them, they immediately related to entirely different matters, and then, if again attacked, gave ground and pretended not to know exactly what you were talking about. Whenever you tried to attack one of these apostles, your hand closed on a jelly-like slime which divided up and poured through your fingers, but in the next moment collected again. But if you really struck one of these fellows so telling a blow that, observed by the audience, he couldn't help but agree, and if you believed that this had taken you at least one step forward, your amazement was great the next day. The Jew had not the slightest recollection of the day before, he rattled off his same old nonsense as though nothing at all had happened, and, if indignantly challenged, affected amazement; he couldn't remember a thing, except that he had proved the correctness of his assertions the previous day."


all you have to remember is this:
to the Jew, all Abstraction is Fiction.

Blogger SirHamster November 03, 2017 4:57 PM  

BassmanCO wrote:How does one conflate spells and shamanistic practices with legal documents? That takes a special kind of stupid right there.

Cargo cultists cannot distinguish between magic and non-magic. Calls engineering, of social structures and technical work, magic.

Blogger Were-Puppy November 03, 2017 5:01 PM  

OT: Gamergate related
http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=57593

Blogger Student in Blue November 03, 2017 5:33 PM  

@25. Rashadjin
It's like they step onto entirely different planets the moment their religious beliefs dictate it.

There's a simpler explanation for it. When that happens, it's because they're in denial. To you, they step into a different planet, but that's simply because they're busy rejecting this planet.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab November 03, 2017 5:51 PM  

@18 It's not entirely useless, it's obviously an example of utter failure in human thought and a warning to fools to keep their bong-water meanderings to themselves.

Blogger Johnny November 03, 2017 6:25 PM  

When it comes to people who can not be argued into some conclusion regardless of the merits of the argument, what I see most often is people who use what I will call outcome based logic. What it ammounts to is that the have an outcome they want and will not accept any argument that does not reach the desired outcome. They obviously do not care about truth as an abstract idea because they ignore it.

The most common way of biasing the argument is not with illogic, but by an unwillingness to accept any prior assumptions (or alleged facts) that will lead to the conclusion they do not want to accept. The strange thing about it to me is that there has to be a logical mind in there somewhere because they can anticipate assumptions that will not reach the desired conclusion, and thus reject those assumptions on the face of it. And yet they seem to genuinely believe their own bogus conclusions.

Blogger Lazarus November 03, 2017 7:47 PM  

Johnny wrote:When it comes to people who can not be argued into some conclusion regardless of the merits of the argument, what I see most often is people who use what I will call outcome based logic. What it ammounts to is that the have an outcome they want and will not accept any argument that does not reach the desired outcome. They obviously do not care about truth as an abstract idea because they ignore it.

The most common way of biasing the argument is not with illogic, but by an unwillingness to accept any prior assumptions (or alleged facts) that will lead to the conclusion they do not want to accept. The strange thing about it to me is that there has to be a logical mind in there somewhere because they can anticipate assumptions that will not reach the desired conclusion, and thus reject those assumptions on the face of it. And yet they seem to genuinely believe their own bogus conclusions.


Let me 'splain.

"Man is not a rational animal, but a a rationalizing animal"

- Vox Day, sometime in the recent era.

Anonymous Forrest Bishop November 03, 2017 7:58 PM  

((( bob kek mando ))) - ( Fine Purveyor of Quality Artisanal Gorm ) wrote:7. Forrest Bishop November 03, 2017 2:10 PM

He would have to retire from the field, discretion being the better part of valor.


absurd and trivially dis-proven every day. by that reasoning no wolf pack could down a moose and lions and crocodiles couldn't hunt wildebeest herds.


The wolf can outrun the moose and the lion can outrun the wildebeest. A human cannot outrun a bison, so the analogy is false.

The crocodile doesn't pursue a herd, it waits for an individual at a watering hole, afaik. (They don't work in packs either, afaik.)

Pre-Holocene Man had to simultaneously contend with a variety of huge animals, not just a single type.

((( bob kek mando ))) - ( Fine Purveyor of Quality Artisanal Gorm ) wrote:7. Forrest Bishop November 03, 2017 2:10 PM

Even after the gifts of the horse and the gun, there were still too many buffalo and not enough Indians.


*facedesk*

most of the aboriginal population of North America died in the 16th century without ever seeing a White Man. American Indians didn't start to develop major resistance to most Eurasian diseases until the 20th century. and they are still horribly prone to alcoholism.

pre-15th century American ( North and South ) population levels were much, MUCH higher and the MesoAmerican civilizations produced wonders that come close to matching anything produced by Egypt or Babylon. and they had metropolises ( that is, the population base that you claim is lacking ) as well.

there is, in fact, a hypothesis that the massive buffalo herds of the 1800s were an anomaly, caused by the crash in Amerind population due to the introduction of Eurasian pandemics.


I'm referring to the documented events of the 19th C. on the Great Plains of North America.

There weren't huge herds of bison in Mesoamerica, so that's irrelevant. The pre-Columbian Great Plains Indian population is not known. Maybe a bunch died of smallpox. Or maybe not so much. Maybe they then had a population recovery, or not. There is not credible evidence of a massive pre-European population, afaik.

To extend this idea a bit further:

Even after the gifts of the horse and the gun, there were still too many buffalo and not enough Indians and White men. The Great Plains were only conquered from the bison after a new kind of creature had come into the world, one that was bigger, stronger, and faster than any animal on Earth.

Blogger Solaire Of Astora November 03, 2017 8:17 PM  

Yuval Harari's 'Homo Deus' was the first thing I read after finishing Taleb's 'Incerto' and it was funny seeing Harari doing a lot of the things Taleb criticized. Comparing the statistics of Gaussian and non-Gaussian events without making the distinction, neomania, a strange autistic aesthetic, I could go on. I found the book entertaining and a quick read. At least I learned something about the history of lawns.

That experience is why I always suggest Taleb be the first person people read before they start branching out beyond fiction. The thought of being ignorant and eating that stuff up without the proper intellectual defenses is disturbing.

Anonymous Haxo Angmaerk November 03, 2017 9:04 PM  

more po-mo claptrap. All cranked out by disappointed Marxists

and other Jews.

Blogger Aeoli Pera November 03, 2017 9:11 PM  

Johnny wrote:When it comes to people who can not be argued into some conclusion regardless of the merits of the argument, what I see most often is people who use what I will call outcome based logic.

You may be interested to learn that this is called counterfactual reasoning.

Blogger Aeoli Pera November 03, 2017 9:13 PM  

Also neanderthals rule and sapiens drool, true story.

Blogger Noah B The Savage Gardener November 03, 2017 9:37 PM  

@38 The wolf can outrun the moose and the lion can outrun the wildebeest. A human cannot outrun a bison, so the analogy is false.

That statement showcases both your lack of imagination and understanding of primitive human hunting methods. What our ancestors lacked in speed and strength they more than made up for with their intelligence.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab November 03, 2017 9:50 PM  

Oh for goodness sakes humans literally hunt by chasing animals off cliffs. A human in shape can rundown anything.

Anonymous Forrest Bishop November 03, 2017 9:59 PM  

Noah B The Savage Gardener wrote:@38 The wolf can outrun the moose and the lion can outrun the wildebeest. A human cannot outrun a bison, so the analogy is false.

That statement showcases both your lack of imagination and understanding of primitive human hunting methods. What our ancestors lacked in speed and strength they more than made up for with their intelligence.


Wow, you are so right! I never, ever, even considered that!!! And after "several days" had passed, they obviously must have been able to repeat this awesome display of primitive intelligence again and again, so they could eat again for a few more days. All year long.

But no need to argue- all you need to do is to show us how this is done. Then do it again in a few days. Don't tell us: show us.

Bob, I'll also need you show us how to stalk and run down a herd of bison using nothing but spears and arrows. An entertaining time will be had for all.

Blogger Rough Carrigan November 03, 2017 10:12 PM  

#38, actually human beings can outrun almost anything. Not in a sprint but over distance. There's an interesting book called "Born To Run" which sounds like it must be a bio of Bruce Cantsingsteen but is actually about the counter productiveness of most running shoes (they promote biomechanically wrong heel striking) and the innate and the human ability to run.

Human beings have some tremendous athletic advantages over a wide array of species. By standing upright we present less of our bodies to the heat of the sun in a daytime hunt than, say, a deer.

We have the ability to sweat over most all of our bodies whereas deer, for example, have nothing like this ability to cool themselves if chased in the heat of the day.

We have the ability to vary our breathing cadence irrespective of our speed of stride. Many potential prey for human hunters only breath at the cadence of their running stride and have to stop to pant.

The author of Born To Run talked to a South African(iirc) guy who accompanied some bushmen types on a persistence hunt. They separated one deer off from a herd, kept after it and ran it to death spearing the beast as it stood there panting, unable to run further.

Yes, man is armed with concepts and they are more powerful than any muscle or claw. But the romanticized notion of that ignores the fact that man, or actually a group of men, can run deer, dogs and even horses to death. Actually, men can run the beasts to exhaustion and then kill them as they stand there panting.

Blogger Lazarus November 03, 2017 10:27 PM  

Brick Hardslab wrote:Oh for goodness sakes humans literally hunt by chasing animals off cliffs. A human in shape can rundown anything.

Yah, but what if you are the prey?

Bears, lions, cheetah, wolves all run faster than you. Any animal probably runs faster than you.Better get a gun.

Anonymous Forrest Bishop November 03, 2017 11:13 PM  

Rough Carrigan wrote:Yes, man is armed with concepts and they are more powerful than any muscle or claw. But the romanticized notion of that ignores the fact that man, or actually a group of men, can run deer, dogs and even horses to death. Actually, men can run the beasts to exhaustion and then kill them as they stand there panting.

Cool. And then they ran all of the hundreds of millions of Pleistocene giants down, one by one, to exhaustion, and then they killed them as they stood there, panting. And then they ran all of the Great Plains Bison down, one by one, to exhaustion and then they killed them as they stood there, panting. And we know that this is true because we can see it happen time and time again, all over the world, even now.

I have to stop here. There are some coyotes outside that I must attend to, panting.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab November 03, 2017 11:16 PM  

Humans are only prey of desperation not first or even second choice. Big animals were a solved problem before bronze became the up and coming thing. No, like my caveman ancestors I don't need to out run anything and I don't need a gun (although I wouldn't say no) a spear, fire and other people are enough to make everything from hairy elephants to giant lions extinct.

Blogger Noah B The Savage Gardener November 03, 2017 11:21 PM  

@45 But no need to argue- all you need to do is to show us how this is done. Then do it again in a few days. Don't tell us: show us.

Here you go, professor.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab November 03, 2017 11:29 PM  

@48 Run forest, run. Yes humans use the same strategy for dealing with small predator/scavengers as for big herbivore critters.

We use razors to shave and wipe our behinds. Stoves to cook and freeze food. A car to drive some where and take a shower.

Maybe you use the same strategy to hunt big and small prey but that's not what I learned. Maybe I'm not human?

Anonymous Brick Hardslab November 03, 2017 11:38 PM  

@50 Noah, I don't get it, how can primitive man have used the advanced technology of green sticks and fire? This is wild.

Blogger PD Quig November 04, 2017 12:00 AM  

After buying and reading it, I learned that Harari's book was on Obama's summer reading list. I found it a thoroughly disappointing book after the first few chapters. Harari views mankind as glorified machines who are best explained by materialism. He views culture, religion, and ethics as basically fictional--or mythical at best. So where does this leave us as pertains to the future? How are we supposed to frame and shape our world? Are we really not thinking and feeling creatures with free will? Nihilists will love this apology for their dead end philosophy. So will cultural Marxists. Those who believe in something beyond random atomic reactions leading from hydrogen burning stars to man will find this thin gruel.

Anonymous Forrest Bishop November 04, 2017 12:20 AM  

Noah B The Savage Gardener wrote:@45 But no need to argue- all you need to do is to show us how this is done. Then do it again in a few days. Don't tell us: show us.

Here you go, professor.


Well hey, that's really great! Now I know how to make moose jerky on youtube. Dang! I'm such a city.
But that wasn't the question. How exactly do you chase down all the mooses that are looses, right on down to the Last Moose on Earth, using a pointy-stick and an arrow? Those city folk used a fire-stick (a Glock if I'm not mistaken) and they still only got one.

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( Fine Purveyor of Quality Artisanal Gorm ) November 04, 2017 12:21 AM  

38. Forrest Bishop November 03, 2017 7:58 PM
A human cannot outrun a bison, so the analogy is false.


a - your assertion is only true in the short "run". men are endurance hunters, there is NO OTHER land animal on the planet that can sustain our pace over even an hour. humans run 12-48 hours.

for fun. world record for 24hrs is +180 miles and almost 300 miles for 48.

https://infogalactic.com/info/Persistence_hunting

b - you're complaining about *my* analogies? well, dumbass, herds of bison DO NOT COOPERATE EFFECTIVELY. yes, they will do some rudimentary circling of calves and such.

but they are trivially easy to stampede via fire or other basic tools such as noise makers or scarecrows.

which is why the Amerinds would drive them off cliffs and kill hundreds or thousands at a time.

https://infogalactic.com/info/Buffalo_jump

you ... DO ... realize that this is a FAR more effective way to kill buffalo than one bullet at a time, don't you?

which is also why you're an idiot for comparing herbivores to an army of Orcs. Orcs 'have' consciousness. they are capable of plans and large scale cooperation. you know, for something that's fictional and never really existed anyways.

bison ( and, we should infer, mammoths ) DO NOT.


38. Forrest Bishop November 03, 2017 7:58 PM
The crocodile doesn't pursue a herd, it waits


OMG, you are such a tool.

are you actually trying to make the case that men are LESS capable of hunting from a blind or trap than a crocodile?


38. Forrest Bishop November 03, 2017 7:58 PM
had to simultaneously contend with a variety of huge animals,



none of which were cooperating effectively with each other.

what you're doing is called anthropomorphism for a reason.

all you're doing is demonstrating that you've never hunted anything in your life.


38. Forrest Bishop November 03, 2017 7:58 The Great Plains were only conquered from the bison

conquered? ... "from"? ... the bison? have we hit Stupid Warp 10 yet?

there's no "conquering" herbivores. nor is is it necessary to conquer herbivores to hunt them. otherwise wolves and lions and crocodiles couldn't do it.


45. Forrest Bishop November 03, 2017 9:59 PM
Bob, I'll also need you show us how to stalk and run down a herd of bison using nothing but spears and arrows. An entertaining time will be had for all.



damn, but you are a retard.

i've already linked an article on buffalo jumps ( as have others ).
to quote the reference article:
" Plains Indians in particular depended on the bison for their very survival. "

that is to say, their primary food source was bison. that they had killed themselves. prior to Columbus.


"Ulm Pishkun Buffalo Jump is likely the largest buffalo jump in the world. It was used by the Native Americans in the area between 900 and 1500 AD. The cliffs themselves stretch for more than a mile and the site below has compacted bison bones nearly 13 feet (4.0 m) deep"

historical mammoth hunting
http://mammoth.psu.edu/society.html


not only did ancient man hunt buffalo and mammoth, Masai hunt lions to this day. they USED to hunt lions as individual hunters, as a rite of passage. they hunt in groups today.

because there aren't enough lions for them to kill on an individual basis.

and yes, they use nothing but spears and shields for that. firearms would be too easy, not sufficiently difficult as a rite of passage.

https://infogalactic.com/info/Lion_hunting#Maasai_lion_hunting

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( Fine Purveyor of Quality Artisanal Gorm ) November 04, 2017 12:27 AM  

54. Forrest Bishop November 04, 2017 12:20 AM
But that wasn't the question. How exactly do you chase down all the mooses that are looses, right on down to the Last Moose on Earth


only a fucking moron would kill every single last one of his prey animals.

like you.

as for long term storage of meat, don't forget pemmican.

Blogger Meng Greenleaf November 04, 2017 12:43 AM  

Sort of OT, I seem to recall reading that Daniel Everett exaggerated his findings regarding the Piraha. Probably to gain noteriety and get more funding. Other researchers found these people, while they did have some particular notions of what they found interesting, and this was encoded in their language, it wasn't to the point where they couldn't understand some pretty basic categories of abstraction. Like past and future. I think they also adapted their culture quickly upon realization life was pretty good on the other side of the forests. I'll have to look into it again.

Anonymous Mr. Rational November 04, 2017 12:49 AM  

@37 That saying was around a long, long time ago.  But Vox takes from the best.

@45 I recall a story about Louis Leakey doing this himself, but I'm unable to find an on-line source for it.

Anonymous Forrest Bishop November 04, 2017 1:01 AM  

((( bob kek mando ))) - ( Fine Purveyor of Quality Artisanal Gorm ) wrote:54. Forrest Bishop November 04, 2017 12:20 AM

But that wasn't the question. How exactly do you chase down all the mooses that are looses, right on down to the Last Moose on Earth


only a fucking moron would kill every single last one of his prey animals.

like you.

as for long term storage of meat, don't forget pemmican.


"only a fucking moron... like you."

I find this defamatory. Explain it or retract it.

Only a idiot-species would exterminate its food source. This is another reason why the human-hunting story of the Ice Age extinctions does not hold water.

I did not forget pemmican nor moose jerky for that matter. These food-storage options don't help with the human-hunting theory of mass extinction- they make it even less tenable. Can you and the others see why that is?

Anonymous bruce November 04, 2017 1:21 AM  

It's true that really big animals were dangerous as well as tasty. But grass fires give you a lot of rabbits for every moose and a lot of moose for every mammoth. You don't need a big cliff, a stream bank ten feet high will kill enough to eat well for months, and you don't need fire. The Romans were still using a line of villagers with sticks and noisemakers and ropes for mass hunts.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab November 04, 2017 1:30 AM  

@56 Bob k. he's got to be a troll. No human is this stupid we'd have starved ourselves into extinction if we were.

Anonymous Just another commenter November 04, 2017 2:11 AM  

@59 - Well, we have over-fished a number of fisheries in the last 50 years with automated ships and drag nets. Different nations in international waters competing. "Tragedy of the commons," and all that.

@61 - I don't think he is, but from where I sit it looks more like ya'll are talking past one another and getting annoyed to the point of abbreviating your arguments a might too much, leading to further miscommunication.

Have a good night, everyone, and thanks for the critiques of the book.

Blogger Johnny November 04, 2017 3:16 AM  

For an animal that has its whole physical layout transformed by evolution into locomotion on the ground, we are amazingly slow. Almost anything can outrun us. A domestic chicken bred for meat can easily avoid being caught, and if you think you are fast, try to catching the neighborhood cat or dog, let alone something like a horse or antelope.

As for long distance running, our primitive ancestors could manage it only if they could do it safely, and they could not do it safely because the African savanna came with predatory animals that could easily turn a long distance runner into lunch. And we lack an ability for concealment. We are tall and therefore easy to see from a distance. Plus we smell a lot, thus we have only a limited ability to hide. And our mental development requires considerable play time for the children, further complicating concealment.

The only consideration I can reach based on the above considerations is that in groups at least, we had to have been too bloody dangerous to be hunted or we would have been exterminated owing to our inability to hide from predators. If you except that we are dangerous, and also our inability to catch much of anything with a burst of speed, then the obvious form of hunting, if we hunted, would be as scavengers. It negates the need for speed, but does require that the scavenger is dangerous enough to drive off or not be easily subject to lethal threat from the initial predatory animal.

And by the way, you can not kill months worth of food unless it can be stored, and that requires something close to our near modern ancestors, not the primates we evolved from. Plus the consideration of prey animal species reduction or extermination would not be a consideration for early tribal humanoids because their tribal bands would not be numerous enough to materially affect the environment. Thinking like that is projecting the modern human circumstance back.

Anonymous Alice De Goon November 04, 2017 4:23 AM  

@12
"Oh, no!" he replied, horrified and offended. "We can never say that we're more advanced than another group of people."

If an allegedly educated man, whose livelihood depends on the intersection of science, technology and global finance - and sitting in a fancy restaurant in London with utensils and non-cannibal options on the menu and everything - can't or won't tell the difference between his colleagues and a troupe of illiterate forest savages who presumably smell like poo, is he actually educated?


To any idiot who thinks all cultures are equally valid, point out this little detail: One day, long before the sun swells into a red giant and begins to die, it's going to come so close to the Earth that it will burn all life from its surface. Before that day comes, humanity, if it wants to continue living, is going to have to find a way to leave this planet and find a suitable home elsewhere. Now who do you think is going to accomplish this arduous task? The Tree People who think eating albino foreskins cures AIDs? Or the people living in cities making g**damn rockets? If you're a human tribe that spends all of its time dancing in circles to keep the cloud gods happy so they'll keep producing the rain, then you've ultimately doomed the human race to a fiery death. You'll still be shaking bone rattles and blowing on conches the day that global warming finally becomes real. But if you're in an advanced civilization developing warp drives, then humanity has at least a sliver of a chance to escape the apocalypse.

Any fart-sniffing suit homunculous who tries to convince you that human advancement as a concept doesn't exist is free to remain with the headshrinkers and cannibals while the rest of us blast off to beach planets and alien restaurants where triple-breasted waitresses serve pan-galactic gargle blasters.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab November 04, 2017 9:09 AM  

No you can still kill it. It just goes to waste.

Blogger GK Chesterton November 04, 2017 10:42 AM  

I have been forcing myself to finish that book simply because it is the "in" thing now and a friend wanted me to read it and discuss it with him. It has been so painful it has taken months and I'm still not done. I've made many of the same notes that Hallpike has. Hallpike however doesn't make clear that Harari repeats his contentions about ideas being fiction ad nauseum. In the end it is like a book written directly by Satan. Mathematics, as Hallpike notes, isn't a lie, even though Harari tries to tell us it is.

Anonymous Forrest Bishop November 04, 2017 11:45 AM  

((( bob kek mando ))) - ( Fine Purveyor of Quality Artisanal Gorm ) wrote:herds of bison DO NOT COOPERATE EFFECTIVELY. yes, they will do some rudimentary circling of calves and such.

but they are trivially easy to stampede via fire or other basic tools such as noise makers or scarecrows.

which is why the Amerinds would drive them off cliffs and kill hundreds or thousands at a time.

you ... DO ... realize that this is a FAR more effective way to kill buffalo than one bullet at a time, don't you?


https://infogalactic.com/info/American_bison
"Bison were described as having a "wild and ungovernable temper";[35] they can jump close to 6 ft (1.8 m) vertically,[36] and run 35-40 mph (56–64 km/h) when agitated. This agility and speed, combined with their great size and weight, makes bison herds difficult to confine, as they can easily escape or destroy most fencing systems, including most razor wire."

which agrees with what I wrote above.

"Bison display five apparent defense strategies in protecting calves from wolves: running to a cow, running to a herd, running to the nearest bull, running in the front or center of a stampeding herd, and entering water bodies such as lakes or rivers. When fleeing wolves in open areas, cows with young calves take the lead, while bulls take to the rear of the herds, to guard the cows' escape. Bison typically ignore wolves not displaying hunting behavior.[57] Wolf packs specializing in bison tend to have a greater number of males, as their larger size compared to the females allows them to wrestle their prey to the ground more effectively.[58] Healthy, mature bulls in herds rarely fall victim to predators"

which is considerably more than "rudimentary" behavior.

https://infogalactic.com/info/Buffalo_jump There are only 12 sites listed.
This is an extremely inefficient method of hunting because it requires several elements to all come together at the right place and time. For example, at https://infogalactic.com/info/Bonfire_Shelter there are two distinct periods of usage, separated by thousands of years.

"As guns and horses became common the labour-intensive buffalo jumps were soon abandoned" http://history.alberta.ca/headsmashedin/docs/Head-Smashed-In-Information-Guide-2015.pdf So the jumps were not as efficient as the horse and gun, which is what I asserted in the passage above ("...even after the gifts of the horse and the gun...").

At any rate, there is no way the Indians could have exterminated the bison using jumps. There were 60,000,000 bison for 10,000 years, say. The average lifespan in the wild is 15 years. Total number of bison is then (10000/15)* 60,000,000 = 40 billion bison.

The claimed largest jump has an estimated 6000 bison skeletons piled up at the base. https://infogalactic.com/info/First_Peoples_Buffalo_Jump_State_Park
Say there were, very generously, 1000 jumps like this one. 6000 * 1000 = 6,000,000 bison killed by muh jump over the course of 10,000 years. That's 0.015% of the total bison herd.

The same "jump" argument is used to claim that humans killed off the Mammoths. It fails for some of the same reasons. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/feb/28/neanderthals-driving-mammoths-cliff-jersey

Anonymous Brick Hardslab November 04, 2017 12:09 PM  

To hell with it. All the wolves, lions, aurochs, elephants, rhinos, and wild horses died off in Europe due to loneliness. Humans had nothing to do with it.

Same with the Americas. They got into homosexual relationships, black tar heroin, base jumping, (oh sorry they couldn't have died from that) and cigarettes.

Humans couldn't drive an edsel to extinction.

Blogger Akulkis November 04, 2017 12:37 PM  

@7 Forrest Bishop

You are obviously not an electrical engineer nor a physicist.

Catt is a KOOK.

I already pointed out to you in 2015 that his diagram contains a sign error which is so obvious that a FIRST WEEK student in an electrical circuit analysis class should be able to spot after the first 1-hour lecture on the subject.

Secondly, As you have brought up this ridiculous subject again, I looked up the original paper in which Catt comments on some phenomenon which he says proves that everything we know about electricity, going all the way back to Maxwell's equations (which, by the way -- as rearranged by Heaviside) are what make your internet connection possible at any speed above 5 bits/second.

Now.. having looked at the paper, he asks, In an electron tube, in which one terminal is grounded, and the other has just emitted some electrons which proceed to travel to the electrode at 0 volts, if we connect an oscilloscope to the 0 V electrode, why do we see a momentary increase in voltage BEFORE the electrons strike it. Obviously this tells us that an electric field "wave" preceded the electrons, but how can that happen when the electrons are in a vacuum travelling at the speed of light? This means the wave travels faster than the speed of light!

Answer: PhD guy makes a fundamental error that even a 2nd-year physics student can spot. The electrons are not travelling at the speed of light. And not even close to the speed of light.

A typical electronic vacuum tube operates in the range of 100~300 volts. Electrons, having mass, are subject to the same F=m*a rule as any other bit of matter. They start at a velocity of zero, and accelerate, continuously, as they travel towards the other electrode. If the voltage difference between the 2 electrodes is 200 volts, the the electron will have reached a kinetic energy of 200 electron volts. E= (m*v^2)/2, which for an E of 200 eV, is only about 1/100th the speed of light, so of course the wave reaches the electrode before the electrons.

That Catt should make such basic errors indicates that he's either incapable of learning, or he can learn the truth but refuses to do so,vwhoch means he's both a crank and a kook.

Kind of like you.

Anonymous Forrest Bishop November 04, 2017 12:52 PM  

Akulkis wrote:he's both a crank and a kook.

Kind of like you.


You just can't make your case without making an ass of yourself. Why is that? You didn't cite what paper you referred to, either. Here's some math, physics, and basic logic for you. https://www.scribd.com/document/320890002/The-Forbidden-Equation-i-qc

If you can't understand it, like all of the cited academic people (Cambridge, Oxford, UC, U Florence, etc.) obviously could not, then ask a first-year algebra student to walk you through it.

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( Fine Purveyor of Quality Artisanal Gorm ) November 04, 2017 1:32 PM  

62. Just another commenter November 04, 2017 2:11 AM
Well, we have over-fished a number of fisheries in the last 50 years with automated ships and drag nets.



yes. they behaved moronically.

but it still wasn't their CONSCIOUS GOAL to exterminate the fishery by which they made their livelihoods.

it wasn't even the goal of the White Man to exterminate the plains buffalo. they were just having fun and collecting trophies and hides.

67. Forrest Bishop November 04, 2017 11:45 AM
which agrees with what I wrote above.


which is trivially proven a lie every day at thousands of farms all across the US.

you should go to Jamestown NoDak. because they have a White Buffalo in their herd. how do you know WHERE the White Buffalo is to be found, specifically? because it's fenced in. on a farm.

and never gets out.

you can see it from I-94.


59. Forrest Bishop November 04, 2017 1:01 AM
I find this defamatory. Explain it or retract it.


*cites all of Forrest's posts in this thread*

as with Brick, i've been wondering if you were trolling us since yesterday. the whole comparing large herbivores to an "Orc army" in a thread critiquing a book's INABILITY TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN FICTION AND FACT is a pretty blatant tell.

if you are trolling us, i congratulate you. you're doing an excellent job.

if you think you're serious? you've got some pretty serious cognition issues, mang.

Blogger LP9 November 04, 2017 1:59 PM  

This is wonderful reading, very interesting review, its another book I have to read but probably wont be able to get, kindle still broken.

Blogger Akulkis November 04, 2017 3:35 PM  

Forrest Bishop,

I explained why Cart's alledged anomoly is NOT an anomoly, and clearly falls within our current model for electricity and electromagnetic theory.

All the handwsving in the world doesn't change the fact that he draws a diagram to support his argument that is amazingly wrong (and when you correct the sign error, the problem goes away) and also that his argument relied on a fundamentally FALSE assumption.

Garbage in, garbage F-ing out.

No go back to your hugbox, you kook.

Blogger Akulkis November 04, 2017 3:39 PM  

I understand it fully. I'm a computer and electrical engineer.

Catt is not only wrong, he's a pig-headed mule who refused to accept the answers from scores of people who point out precisely why he is wrong.

He complains that a faculty member at Oxford gave him the correct analysis, for example. He's a kook and a crank.

And
So
Are
You.

Anonymous Mr. Rational November 04, 2017 4:25 PM  

@69  There's an even simpler explanation:  capacitive coupling from the control grid.

@70  And when you have a static charge, such as on the plate of a capacitor, you have non-zero q but I = 0.  In other words, your "insight" isn't even wrong and you are a crank.

Anonymous Forrest Bishop November 04, 2017 5:30 PM  

Akulkis wrote:I explained why [Catt's] [alleged] [anomaly] is NOT an [anomaly], and clearly falls within our current model for electricity and electromagnetic theory

[Edits above by FB]

You failed to provide a link to this epic explanation, again. I think you are lying about it. The Catt Question has never been honestly answered. Instead, your childlike defamation + virtue signaling is the usual tactic. It's the same one the Italians and Gardner used. So did Geoff Landis, Brian Josephson*, and many others who have made the attempt. *Josephson was more sophisticated in his rhetoric; we actually have a pretty good relationship. http://www.ivorcatt.com/66bb.htm

You also failed to grasp the argument in "The Forbidden Equation".

Anonymous LurkingPuppy November 04, 2017 7:03 PM  

((( bob kek mando ))) - ( Fine Purveyor of Quality Artisanal Gorm ) wrote:it wasn't even the goal of the White Man to exterminate the plains buffalo.
Yes it was. They were exterminated in multiple places at multiple times for the purpose of depriving the Indians of food. (See https://infogalactic.com/info/Bison_hunting .)

Forrest Bishop wrote:You failed to provide a link to this epic explanation, again.
Because the explanation fits in a single sentence fragment, which Mr. Rational just gave.

Anonymous Forrest Bishop November 04, 2017 7:41 PM  

LurkingPuppy wrote:Forrest Bishop wrote:You failed to provide a link to this epic explanation, again.

Because the explanation fits in a single sentence fragment, which Mr. Rational just gave.


I'm referring to The Catt Question, which Akulkis calls the Cart anomoly, not a static charged capacitor or a vacuum tube. http://www.ivorcatt.com/28anom.htm

Traditionally. when a TEM step (i.e. logic transition from low to high) travels through a vacuum from left to right, guided by two conductors (the signal line and the 0v line), there are four factors which make up the wave;

- electric current in the conductors

- magnetic field, or flux, surrounding the conductors

- electric charge on the surface of the conductors

- electric field, or flux, in the vacuum terminating on the charge.

The key to grasping the anomaly is to concentrate on the electric charge on the bottom conductor. During the next 1 nanosecond, the step advances one foot to the right. During this time, extra negative charge appears on the surface of the bottom conductor in the next one foot length, to terminate the lines (tubes) of electric flux which now exist between the top (signal) conductor and the bottom conductor.

Where does this new charge come from? Not from the upper conductor, because by definition, displacement current is not the flow of real charge. Not from somewhere to the left, because such charge would have to travel at the speed of light in a vacuum. (This last sentence is what those "disciplined in the art" cannot grasp, although paradoxically it is obvious to the untutored mind.)

Blogger Dirk Manly November 04, 2017 8:14 PM  

"During the next 1 nanosecond, the step advances one foot to the right. "

Wrong.

Only LIGHT travels at 1 foot / nanosecond.


Electrons coming off a conductor start off with |V|=0, and accelerate towards a more positive potential.

Catt is FUCKING LYING when he says that the electrons travel at the speed of 1 foot/nanosecond.

They are traveling nowhere close to that velocity. If it's a 300V potential difference in the vacuum tube, then they are travelling at the speed which gives a kinetic energy of 300 eV (electron Volts).


Now, disprove that, KOOK.

This is the THIRD DAMNED TIME that I've told you that Catt's assumptions are WRONG.

The mass of an electron is 511 MeV / c^2.

We'll use a REALLY high voltage tube -- so that you can't come back and say I was lowballing...

If we use a 300 V tube, then when the electron gets to the other electrode, it's energy is 300 eV. (an electron Volt is the amount of energy gained by an electron travelling in a vacuum passing through a potential of 1 Volt).

So, E = 300 eV

We also know that E = (1/2) m*V^2

and m, as stated above, is 511 MeV/c^2

E = (1/2) (511 Mev/c^2) * v^2 = 300 eV

v^2 = (300 eV) * 2 * (c^2/511 MeV)

v^2 = 2 * 300 eV * c^2 / 511 * 10^6 eV

v^2 = ((600)/(511*10^5))c^2

_____ ______________________
v/ v^2 = v/ 1.17 * 10^(-6) * c^2

_____ ________________ _____
v/ v^2 = v/ 1.17 * 10^(-6) * v/ c^2


v =1.084 * 10^-3 * C

v = 0.001084 * c

Meanwhile, the electric field is propagating at C, NOT the same speed as the electron... it's propogating almost 1000 times faster than the electron is at the time the electron reaches the other electrode.......and for MOST Of the electron's journey, the electron is travelling much slower, and so the wave is propagating at speed which is even HIGHER than the 1000:1 ratio.

This DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS Catt's utterly hare-brained assumption that the electrons travel at speed c = 1 foot/nanosecond.

It's bullshit, and ANYBODY educated in the field knows that the conditions he states are bullshit.

And if he wasn't as stubborn crank and a kook, he would go "oops!", retract his idiotic paper, and hope that nobody noticed that he made such a moronic mistake.

But no... he won't, he insists that his assumptions are not wrong... (despite this being 2nd-year collete STEM material)... because HE IS A CRANK AND A KOOK.

NOW, SIT THE HELL DOWN
and SHUT THE HELL UP

about Ivor Catt and is inability to handle analyze something which ANY sophomore in electrical engineering or physics student can explain to him that HIS DAMNED ASSUMPTION IS FLAT OUT FREAKING WRONG.


You now get a PLONK --
Please Log Off, Net Kook!

As I said before, you are obviously NOT a physicist nor an electrical engineer.

I don't know what the hell Catt's problem is, because he's making horrendously false statements in this problem statement.



What does it take to get this sophomore-level knowledge to penetrate your thick, feces-filled skull?

Blogger Dirk Manly November 04, 2017 8:17 PM  

Just how many stupid pills did you ingest today, Forrest Bishop?

Blogger Dirk Manly November 04, 2017 8:20 PM  

"Where does this new charge come from? Not from the upper conductor, because by definition, displacement current is not the flow of real charge. Not from somewhere to the left, because such charge would have to travel at the speed of light in a vacuum. "


It's called charge-rearrangement, which any sophomore level class in electromagnetics covers quite thoroughly.

The distribution of electrons is rarely uniform, and NEVER in the presence of an electric field. In fact, Diodes work PRECISELY because charge concentration is NOT uniform throughout the device.

Moron.

Anonymous Forrest Bishop November 04, 2017 8:47 PM  

Dirk Manly wrote:HE IS A CRANK AND A KOOK.

NOW, SIT THE HELL DOWN

and SHUT THE HELL UP


Autistic screeching intensifies. This, along with the other 'tism fits displayed above, would make for some great lyrics for a hip hop song, or maybe bass & drums. Or a break beat?

Blogger VD November 04, 2017 9:47 PM  

Stop it, Forrest. You clearly don't understand any of this stuff. Pointing to a paper you don't understand and can't explain, then resorting to rhetoric when people actually try to explain the flaws in it to you, is not acceptable behavior.

There is nothing autistic about explaining science and math to a midwit who doesn't understand them.

Anonymous Mr. Rational November 04, 2017 10:02 PM  

It's really fun when I get to talk physics in front of people trying to school an idiot.

You can trivially prove Forrest Bishop's (Catt's) nonsense false.  Take the two-wire transmission line in a vacuum.  You can calculate its capacitance from first principles.  Say it's 1 pF per foot.  If you charge it to 300 volts between the conductors, each foot of wire will have 300 pC of charge on it.

When the end of the line is switched from the uncharged state to 300 volts, the voltage wave propagates at speed c.  In one second, you get about 10^9 feet of line charged with 300 pC each.  This comes to a whopping 300 mA of current.

A foot of 14-gauge copper wire weighs about 5.6 grams.  This is about 0.089 mole of copper, or 5.3e22 atoms.  300 mA requires the passage of about 1.9e18 electrons per second, so the electrons in the copper need to travel at about 350 millionths of a foot or a bit over 10 micrometers per second to carry that current.  The only thing that moves at speed c is the beginning of that wave of motion.

To recap, Forrest Bishop is an aggressively idiotic crank who can't even be bothered to test his assumptions with basic, well-known scientific facts he should long since have learned.  I'd love to tie him to a stake, surround it with kindling and set it ablaze just for the ability to say "The stupid, he burns."

Anonymous polyhedron November 04, 2017 10:43 PM  

I neither know nor care whether this Catt fellow is correct. But Dirk Manly clearly did not read the "anomaly" problem correctly.

Catt is FUCKING LYING when he says that the electrons travel at the speed of 1 foot/nanosecond.

Catt never claimed this. He claimed the TEM wave step travels at c. Not controversial. That's the whole point of his supposed anomaly: that charge carriers cannot travel at c. Dirk Manly was just too eager to show us his algebra to read the problem carefully.

Anonymous polyhedron November 04, 2017 11:05 PM  

But yeah, in the ideal transmission line, the conductor surface charge will vary sinusoidally under the influence of the propagating TEM wave (as Dirk Manly later pointed out). Classical E&M never claims that the "extra" charge arrived there via conductor current from the source. Not sure what Catt's problem is.

Anonymous Forrest Bishop November 05, 2017 2:49 AM  

VD wrote:You clearly don't understand any of this stuff. Pointing to a paper you don't understand and can't explain,

The only paper I pointed to in this context was the one that I wrote. https://www.scribd.com/document/320890002/The-Forbidden-Equation-i-qc

Blogger Dirk Manly November 05, 2017 4:51 AM  

It's been explained to you in two different ways (sign errors, and speed of propagation), why Catt is wrong.

BASIC ERRORS on things that are tested in SOPHOMORE level classes.

Catt supposedly has a PhD in this stuff... and yet he is making 2nd-year undergraduate errors.

Again, what does it take to get this foundation level information through your thick, feces-filled skull?

Blogger Thad tuiol November 07, 2017 1:31 AM  

Well this thread turned acrimonious...

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