50 Matching Annotations
  1. Aug 2022
  2. Jul 2022
    1. Yet there were still many traps along the way. In what is now Iraq, the Sumerian civilization (one of the world’s first) withered and died as the irrigation systems it invented turned the fields into salty desert. Some two thousand years later, in the Mediterranean basin, chronic soil erosion steadily undermined the Classical World: first the Greeks, then the Romans at the height of their power. And a few centuries after Rome’s fall, the Classic Maya, one of only two high civilizations to thrive in tropical rainforest (the other being the Khmer), eventually wore out nature’s welcome at the heart of Central America.

      Progress traps through history: * 1. Sumerian civilization (Iraq) irrigation system turned fields into salty desert * Greek and Roman empire - chronic soil erosion also eroded these empires * Classic Mayan empire may have collapsed due to the last 2 of 7 megadroughts because it was over-urbanized and used up all water sources, leaving no buffer in case of drought: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/02/new-clues-about-how-and-why-the-maya-culture-collapsed/

    1. The Southern Levant, situated between modern day southern Syria via Israel to Sinai, has a spatiotemporally dense and continuous Paleolithic archaeological record offering a unique opportunity to detect faunal changes, including those predating the appearance of Homo sapiens (Bar-Yosef, 1980; Stutz, 2014). It is thus a suitable model to test long-term changes in the body mass of mammalian assemblages, in view of paleoclimates and changing human lineages, to decipher whether climate and/or humans are responsible for animal body size declines. The excellent archaeological record can further illuminate whether size declines are observed since hominins first colonized the region, or whether they start with the emergence of Homo sapiens (Louys et al., 2021), or are concentrated in the last glacial and its aftermath. We tested whether the size, and size changes, in hominin prey through the Pleistocene and early Holocene were related to time, the prevailing human lineages and cultures, paleoenvironment, and temperatures.

      Southern Levant is unique for providing records for this study.

  3. Apr 2022
    1. Carl T. Bergstrom. (2021, August 18). 1. There has been lots of talk about recent data from Israel that seem to suggest a decline in vaccine efficacy against severe disease due to Delta, waning protection, or both. This may have even been a motivation for Biden’s announcement that the US would be adopting boosters. [Tweet]. @CT_Bergstrom. https://twitter.com/CT_Bergstrom/status/1427767356600688646

  4. Feb 2022
  5. Jan 2022
  6. Dec 2021
    1. That, Pinker tells us, is the kind of dismal fate ordained for usby evolution. We have only escaped it by virtue of our willingness toplace ourselves under the common protection of nation states,courts of law and police forces; and also by embracing virtues ofreasoned debate and self-contro

      It's interesting to note that the founders of the United States famously including Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr regularly participated in duel culture which often ended in death despite its use as a means of defending one's honor and relieving tensions between people.

    2. When archaeologistsundertake balanced appraisals of hunter-gatherer burials from thePalaeolithic, they find high frequencies of health-related disabilities –but also surprisingly high levels of care until the time of death (andbeyond, since some of these funerals were remarkably lavish).16
      1. Formicola, Vincenzo. 2007. ‘From the Sungir children to the Romito dwarf: aspects of the Upper Palaeolithic funerary landscape.’ Current Anthropology 48: 446–53.

      It will require some investigation, but on it's face this reference to Formicola seems to be about a small number of cases and doesn't point to or back up their claim about high frequencies of societal care and support. Where is their evidence within the archaeological record.

    3. ‘What is it about the ancients,’ Pinker asks at one point, ‘that theycouldn’t leave us an interesting corpse without resorting to foul play?’

      Part of their point here seems to be that Pinker is suffering from a form of bias related to the most sensational cases which will tend to heighten the availability bias. (Is there a name for this sort of sensationalism effect?)

      Is there also some survivorship bias at play here as well?

      We don't have access to a wide statistical survey of dead bodies from a large swath of times and places which makes it difficult to determine actual numbers.

    4. Now, this may seem counter-intuitive to anyone who spendsmuch time watching the news, let alone who knows much about thehistory of the twentieth century.

      Are they suffering from potential availability heuristic (cognitive bias) here? Are they encouraging it in us? Just because we see violence on the news every day doesn't mean it's ubiquitous.

      Apparently we'll need real evidence here to provide actual indications.

      Does Steven Pinker provide archaeological evidence in his book? What are the per capita rates of violence and/or death over time?

    1. Simultaneously, there was a revival of the old art of excerpting and the use of commonplace books. Yet, the latter were perceived no longer as memory aids but as true secondary memo-ries. Scholars, in turn, became increasingly aware that to address the informa-tion overload produced by printing, the best solution was to train a card index instead of their own individual consciousness.

      Another reason for the downfall of older Western memory traditions is the increased emphasis and focus on the use of commonplaces and commonplace books in the late 1400s onward.

      Cross reference the popularity of manuals by Erasmus, Agricola, and Melanchthon.

  7. Nov 2021
    1. Anyone who accidentally creates discomfort—whether through their teaching methods, their editorial standards, their opinions, or their personality—may suddenly find themselves on the wrong side of not just a student or a colleague but an entire bureaucracy, one dedicated to weeding out people who make other people uncomfortable. And these bureaucracies are illiberal. They do not necessarily follow rules of fact-based investigation, rational argument, or due process. Instead, the formal and informal administrative bodies that judge the fate of people who have broken social codes are very much part of a swirling, emotive public conversation, one governed not by the rules of the courtroom or logic or the Enlightenment but by social-media algorithms that encourage anger and emotion, and by the economy of likes and shares that pushes people to feel—and to perform—outrage. The interaction between the angry mob and the illiberal bureaucracy engenders a thirst for blood, for sacrifices to be offered up to the pious and unforgiving gods of outrage—a story we see in other eras of history, from the Inquisition to the more recent past.

      Certainly this modern inquisition is a more gentle one than the original Inquisition of the Catholic Church.

      Is this a supporting data point on the continuum of decreasing violence for Steven Pinker's decline of violence thesis?

      Is the totality of what we may be giving up worth it for the greater overall comfort for society?

  8. Oct 2021
  9. Sep 2021
  10. Aug 2021
    1. After a long and influential career, commonplace books lost their influence in the late seventeenth century. Classical passages were relegated to the anti- quarian scholar; they no longer molded discourse and life. Men who sought confirmation in empirical evidence and scientific measurement had little use for commonplace books.

      I believe that Earle Havens disputes the idea of the waning of the commonplace book after this.

      I would draw issue with it as well. Perhaps it lost some ground in the classrooms of the youth, but Harvard was teaching the idea during Ralph Waldo Emerson's time during the 1800s. Then there's the rise of the Zettelkasten in Germany in the 1700s (and later officially in the 1900s).

      Lichtenberg specifically mentions using his commonplace as a scientific tool for sharpening his ideas.

      Can we find references to other commonplacers like Francis Bacon mentioning the use of them for science?

  11. Jul 2021
  12. Jun 2021
  13. May 2021
  14. Mar 2021
  15. Feb 2021
  16. Oct 2020
  17. Sep 2020
  18. Aug 2020
  19. Jul 2020
  20. Jun 2020
  21. May 2020
    1. Myers, K. R., Tham, W. Y., Yin, Y., Cohodes, N., Thursby, J. G., Thursby, M. C., Schiffer, P. E., Walsh, J. T., Lakhani, K. R., & Wang, D. (2020). Quantifying the Immediate Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Scientists. ArXiv:2005.11358 [Physics]. http://arxiv.org/abs/2005.11358