Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rebuttal to ‘Our Greatest Challenge: Remarks to the Commonwealth Club’, by Michael Crichton

Eric G,–
My rebuttal:– Distinguishing Reality From Fantasy, Truth From Propaganda
So Pygmies have a higher murder rate per capita than Americans? Their insatiable blood lust second only to that of environmentalists? [‘environmentalism has already killed somewhere between 10–30 million people since the 1970s’]

Since the USA has the 4th largest murder rate of any nation on earth and the highest rate of assaults, he must have had to dig a bit to find a group that we could feel superior to in that regard.

I do agree with Mr. Crichton’s use of the frequency of violence as a measure of a civilization’s value. However, is the Pygmy culture completely untouched by western civilization? If not, and if that influence is to be completely discounted, then why not cite the high incidence of alcoholism among native Americans as another ‘proof’ of our superiority? As an aside: in violent crimes there are still, to this day, far more assaults against native Americans by whites than visa–versa.

The Pygmies better thank their gods that they are not situated over any petroleum or anything else we want, otherwise we would have to use that high murder rate as proof of their inherent terrorist tendencies, claim they are developing weapons of mass destruction [maybe a bow that could fire several arrows at once?] and then make a preemptive demonstration of what violence really can be – American style – – which leads me up to this – what is his definition of murder? I suspect it is the Republican definition, because if we factor in state–sanctioned murder, of which almost all of us are complicit, then I bet ours would far exceed the murder rate of the Pygmies.

What about the rate of suicide as an indicator of a civilization’s health? Would that not be just as valid, if not more so? Industrialized countries tend to have a higher suicide rate than poor, developing countries, this in spite of the lack of psychiatric help and access to antidepressants. In fact the rate of suicide has increased 60% worldwide in only 40 years, so as technology expands and we draw further and further away from the ‘misery’ of the primitive state, the option of “checking out” is looking more and more attractive. See a correlation?

A belief in limits and in conservation is a ‘religion‘? The belief that waste and steadily increasing demand leads to shortages, and that fouling one’s nest leads to a fouled nest is somehow an irrational one. Coincidentally the Religious Right shares many of Mr. Crichton’s views; they share his philosophy that there is no need for conservation. President Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior told the president that he need not worry about the environment because the Lord’s return is imminent.
Natural Resources
‘A secular society will lack faith in God’s providence and consequently men will find fewer natural resources. The secular or socialist has a limited resource mentality and views the world as a pie [there is only so much] that needs to be cut up so that everyone can get a piece. In contrast, the Christian knows that the potential in God is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in God’s earth. The resources are waiting to be tapped’.

http://www.beliefnet.com/frame–offsite. … christian/
Mr. Crichton’s religion is a very appealing one; who wouldn’t like to believe that all is well, that environmental problems will sort themselves out? That our present lifestyle is sustainable forever, and that we, God’s chosen ones, are favored by God Himself not to experience the failures that so many previous human civilizations have had to face. We are immortal! It’s a mighty cry for inaction that is sure to be heeded by many.
Personally, if I were shopping for a religion and truth didn’t matter, I would choose the Crichton religion over the environmental one because his religion requires nothing, but promises much. The alternative promises nothing but requires much. A no–brainer.

The Christian Right also share his belief that environmentalists and scientists are evil and not to be trusted, just have faith that The Holy Trinity of Halliburton, Exxon and Monsanto have our best interests at heart, they would never do anything that would harm us or the environment, just believe!
The gentle hand of The Lord on the shoulder of the rich industrialist: ‘My child; let not your heart be troubled, I shall wash clean your filth, renew the resources, and make all things new again‘……… Can I get an Amen?
In Mr. Crichton’s own words: they want to help you to see things the right way. They want to help you be saved. They are totally rigid and totally uninterested in opposing points of view.

Mankind’s track record on the sustainability of each one of his ‘civilizations’ is not good, with most past civilizations collapsing at least partially as a result of environmental damage and resource depletion. To believe in the possibility that ours may follow the pattern of history if we do not plan ahead and make changes – – or to believe with conviction and certainty that we are so different and special that there is no possibility of this outcome, which no doubt the elite of those past civilizations also believed – – which belief would require the greater leap of faith? Again: ‘the beliefs of a religion are not dependent on facts, but rather are matters of faith, unshakable belief’.

The following is not from a ‘left–wing Eco nut’, but rather from an arch–conservative.
By Orson Scott Card August 22, 2004

Who Was On Watch As the Dark Age Approached?

Civilization is a fragile thing.

Humans thrive best in almost every way when they are able to band together in large numbers and live peaceably together.

Any community helps improve the odds of survival and reproduction of the individuals within it, but the larger and more stable the society, the more those odds improve.

A larger community will be better able to promote safety from outside invasion.

The larger the community, the larger the pool of potential mates for each new generation, the more the genetic mixture is likely to stay robust and varied.

The larger and more prosperous the community, the more its members can specialize to the benefit of all.

And the larger and more specialized the community, the more good ideas are likely to be thought of, taught, learned, and passed on to the next generation.

Civilization occurs when the community becomes so large and stable that it can be called a city – – that is, when it is self–sustaining without having to rove, and able to protect itself from outside domination for an extended period of time.

The more effective a civilization is, the more it will attract the allegiance of people who did not grow up within its boundaries. They will migrate to it, either for trade or, if they are allowed, citizenship.

Some civilizations become so convinced of their superiority to all others that they deliberately reach out to include other cities or nations within their sphere of influence. Sometimes this is by conquest, sometimes by alliance and trade.

But what we can never forget is that civilizations all die.

Some of them can last for centuries; some flourish and disappear in a few generations. Some leave behind great monuments and influence other civilizations far into their future; others are completely swallowed up and forgotten except, perhaps, by archaeologists.

And some just … fade away.

Every civilization seems to itself to be indestructible – – even in the midst of self–destruction. And those who call attention to this fact, and point out the great danger the civilization is in, are generally resented, hated, despised, or ridiculed.

When the civilization doesn’t collapse, the doomsayer is discredited; and then is cited as a precedent for all future doomsayers. ‘Oh, yes, Jeremiah used to say that sort of thing, and yet we weren’t destroyed. So your warnings are just another jeremiad!’.

That’s what happened to Winston Churchill, when he saw Hitler’s civilization–wrecking potential. Not until Hitler proved his bad intentions did anyone believe Churchill – – and even then, even after the invasion of Poland, it took months for public opinion to embrace the obvious. It was almost, but not quite, too late.

But the story of Cassandra is the more usual one. The person giving warning is simply not believed until the Trojan horse has been dragged into the city and the enemy has snuck out, opened the gates, and brought down destruction on all.

Then everybody wishes they'd taken the warnings more seriously.

The trouble is, the people giving warning never know themselves whether they’re going to be proven right in the short run. Civilizations are often resilient and self–healing – – because the survival of the civilization is viewed as being desirable, even crucial, for many of the sub communities within it, they find ways to prop it up and keep it going for another year or decade or generation or century.

And when they do, the person who gave warning is treated as just another ‘boy who cried wolf’ – – even though the dangers were real and the damage was severe and the civilization that survived was not really the one that originally achieved greatness.

The Byzantine Empire limped along, ever more feebly, long past the time when it represented anything productive or vigorous or fine. It was coasting on the achievements of its founders, but it wasn’t Roman anymore, it was just another Middle Eastern empire, corrupt, destructive, and failed. As long as it could maintain the illusion that it was the same empire, though, it retained legitimacy in the eyes of enough people that it could endure.

Think of the warning we’ve been given, over and over, about depletion of oil. The original doomsayers made the gross mistake of naming a year when we would run out of easily extracted oil. When that year came and went and there was still plenty of gasoline at the pumps, a surprising number of highly educated fools talked as if this proved that free market forces could deal with the oil problem.

But the doomsayers were absolutely right: We did run out of oil that was cheaply extractable by then–known methods, from known reserves. What the doomsayer could not predict was (1) improvements in extraction technology and (2) discovery of new reserves that could now be extracted.

So I read statements that are put forward in all seriousness that ‘free markets will solve the oil problem’ simply because free market forces served to make new extraction technologies cheap enough to stave off the oil collapse for another generation.

But the jeremiahs were right: There is a finite amount of oil in the world and the free market (which, by the way, creates nothing – – people do that) cannot create any more oil. Yes, other energy sources will certainly be invented to make up for the missing oil – – but there will be a horrible dislocation beforehand with an almost certain collapse of the global economy and the resulting deaths and misery. All of which could be avoided by energy–replacement efforts as intense as, say, the space program of the 1960s.

Hitler was eventually stopped – – but only after millions of people had died. Wouldn’t it have been better, though, if Britain and France had heeded that annoying (and sometimes wrong) jeremiah, Churchill, and nipped the Hitler problem in the bud?

And didn’t the people who once cheered Chamberlain curse his name as they sent their sons off to war and as bombs fell in their neighborhoods?

Environmental false alarms? Our local fire department has several false alarms for every major fire – – should we then disband it? We need a warning system, even if an imperfect one.
Declining fertility rates – – I won’t get into the possibility of endocrine–disrupting chemicals that have caused male sperm count to drop precipitously in the past generation, so let’s consider the possibility that warnings were heeded and action was taken, just as what happened to the smog situation caused by auto emissions. It’s still an area of concern but things have improved in some places due to forced changes.

We just barely avoided a nuclear holocaust in the early 60s. I would like to think that the ‘doomsday prophecies’, the ‘fear–mongering’ and the ‘hysteria’ might have contributed a bit toward swinging critical decisions in favor of the survival of our species. Well, at least for now, the threat is far from gone

What about the members of Mr. Crichton’s belief group when they said that starvation would be completely eliminated worldwide by the end of the last century? That there would be cures or vaccine for all common diseases? That nuclear energy would be plentiful and virtually free? etc., etc. Apparently they have their false prophets as well.

the early peoples of the New World lived in a state of constant warfare. Generations of hatred, tribal hatreds, constant battles.

Columbus’ account of his first contact with some of those hate–filled peoples; ‘They have no iron or steel or weapons, nor are they capable of using them, although they are well–built people of handsome stature, because they are wondrous timid …. they are so artless and free with all they possess, that no one would believe it without having seen it’.
‘Of anything they have, if you ask them for it, they never say no; rather they invite the person to share it, and show as much love as if they were giving their hearts; and whether the thing be of value or of small price, at once they are content with whatever little thing of whatever kind may be given to them’.

In 1869 Brevet Col. John Green marched from Fort Thomas with a small expeditionary force. He was given authority to destroy village crops, food stock and people. He burned more than 100 acres of corn. Yet the White Mountain Apache remained friendly. This is not what he expected. Instead of hostility, Green found a peaceful tribe living on their ancestral lands. Escapa, an Apache chief who the Anglos called Miguel, visited the camp and invited Col. Green to visit his village. Green sent Captain John Barry, urging him ‘if possible exterminate the whole village’.
When Captain Barry arrived at Miguel’s village, however, he found white flags ‘flying from every hut and from every prominent point’, and ‘the men, women and children came out to meet them and went to work at once to cut corn for their horses, and showed such a spirit of delight at meeting them that the officers [said] if they had fired upon them they would have been guilty of cold–blooded murder’.

Of course Captain Barry is to be commended for a display of conscience, which was an extremely rare thing among his colleagues of the time, because cold–blooded murder was a perfectly acceptable recourse, if not the preferred one.

Could these displays of kindness have been just isolated incidents? Read of the Louis and Clark expedition and their many contacts with native peoples, most of them never having ever seen a white person before >>> http://www.nps.gov/jeff/LewisClark2/The … Peoples.htm
Not all first contacts were friendly, but for the most part does it sound like the actions of peoples that were filled with ‘generations of hatred‘?

Don’t forget that all of us in the USA who have descended from the pilgrims of the Mayflower [Mr. Crichton himself included] owe our very existence to the kindness of native people who fed our ancestors when they were starving to death. Here in Canada there were similar incidents when the first Europeans were saved by the kindness of the natives.

The warlike tribes of this continent are famous: the Comanche, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas. Some of them practiced infanticide, and human sacrifice. And those tribes that were not fiercely warlike were exterminated…

Why is no mention made of the more peaceful White Mountain Apache, Susquehanna, Shawnee–Delaware, Ongiaras, Hopi, Miwok, Southern Arapaho, Unalachtigo, Pueblo, Zuni, Cocopas, Pais, Dieguenos, Conestoga, Hawasupai, Esopus, Chemehuevi, Yurok, Narraganset, Ponca, or Omaha?
There is a specific reason why these ones are not so famous.
There are also specific reasons why the ‘warlike’ tribes that were once so friendly to our ancestors eventually decided to revise their attitudes toward them, those who didn’t often were indeed exterminated.
[BTW- I didn't realize that the Inca were of this continent, I had always thought they were from the continent of South America]
Our ancestors made the same mistake that Mr. Crichton makes; when confronted by retaliatory attacks by natives they would often go after the more peaceful, less dangerous and more conveniently located tribes than the actual ones responsible, because they too believed that all Indians are the same.

The Polynesians, living in an environment as close to Paradise as one can imagine, fought constantly, and created a society so hideously restrictive that you could lose your life if you stepped in the footprint of a chief. It was the Polynesians who gave us the very concept of taboo, as well as the word itself. The noble savage is a fantasy, and it was never true.

The following from this site– ‘http://www.ratical.org/many_worlds/6Nations/EoL/chp1.html’

Coming from societies based on hierarchy, early European explorers and settlers came to America seeking kings and queens and princes. What they sought they believed they had found, for a time. Quickly, they began to sense a difference: the people they were calling ‘kings’ had few trappings that distinguished them from the people they ‘ruled‘, in most native societies. They only rarely sat at the top of a class hierarchy with the pomp of European rulers. More importantly, Indian ‘kings’ usually did not rule. Rather, they led, by mechanisms of consensus and public opinion that Europeans often found admirable.

During the 170 years between the first enduring English settlement in North America and the American Revolution, the colonists’ perceptions of their native neighbors evolved from the Puritans’ devil-man, through the autonomous Noble Savage, to a belief that the native peoples lived in confederations governed by natural law so subtle, so nearly invisible, that it was widely believed to be an attractive alternative to monarchy’s overbearing hand. The Europeans’ perceptions of Indian societies evolved as they became more dissatisfied with the European status quo. Increasingly, the native societies came to serve the transplanted Europeans, including some of the United States’ most influential founders, as a counterpoint to the European order. They found in existing native polities the values that the seminal European documents of the time celebrated in theoretical abstraction – ;– life, liberty, happiness, a model of government by consensus, under natural rights, with relative equality of property. The fact that native peoples in America were able to govern themselves in this was provided advocates of alternatives to monarchy with practical ammunition for a philosophy of government based on the rights of the individual, which they believed had worked, did work, and would work for them, in America.

Along the length of the Atlantic Seaboard, a sense developed among some colonists very early that the American Indians lived in a series of confederacies. Alexander Whitaker, called the ‘Cambridge Apostle to Virginia‘, described the people of the Powhatan Confederacy near Jamestown the decade after initial settlement:

There is civil government among them which they strictly observe, and show thereby that the Law of Nature dwelleth in them. For they have a rude kind of commonwealth, and rough government; wherein they both honor and obey their kings, parents, and governors, both greater and less; they observe the limits on their own possessions, and encroach not on their neighbors' dwellings. Murder is a capital crime scarce heard of amongst them. Adultery is most severely punished. [5]

In 1683, William Penn commented in his letter to the ‘Society of Free Traders’ on the Indians he knew:

Every king hath his council, and that consists of all the old and wise men of his nation . . . nothing is undertaken, be it war, peace, the selling of land or traffick, without advising with them; and which is more, with the young men also. . . . The kings . . . move by the breath of their people. . . . It is the Indian custom to deliberate. . . . I have never seen more natural sagacity.

Penn described the native confederacies of Eastern America as political societies with sachem-ships inherited through the female side. In addition to the above description of tribal councils, Penn briefly described some aspects of the Iroquois Condolence Council. He noted that when someone kills a ‘woman they pay double’ [the wampum] since ‘she breeds children which men cannot’. [13] While in Pennsylvania, Penn ‘made himself endeared to the Indians’ and he ‘walked with, them, sat with them on the ground, and ate . . . their roasted acorns and hominy’. [14] After almost twenty years of experience with native confederacies in America, Penn formulated in February of 1697 a ‘Plan for the Union of the Colonies of America‘. Penn stated that the plan ‘may be useful to . . . one another's peace and safety with universal concurrence’. [15]

Observations of Indian governments showed a remarkable similarity all along the Seaboard. Everywhere they looked, immigrant observers found confederacies of native nations, loosely governed by the kind of respect for individual liberty that European savants had established only in theory, or as relics of a distant European Golden Age. Indian languages, customs, and material artifacts varied widely, but their form of government, perhaps best characterized as counselor democracy, seemed to be nearly everywhere.

Some of the most glowing reports of Indians societal harmony came from missionaries who had been dispatched into the wilderness assuming that civilized society was impossible without knowledge of the Gospel. Many a missionary returned from his errand in the wilderness carrying accounts of government without coercion, religion without churches, and charity without knowledge of Christ. An Extract from the Journals of . . . Reverend Mr. Bolzius, published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in London during 1734, contained this description of Indians' governance:

Their Kings do not reign with absolute power, but give Counsel. The King proposes to the Old Men, and the Old Men to the Young men; after which it is put in Execution. . . .When a King is not fit for his office, they choose another. The wisest is their King; who doth not distinguish himself from others by Clothes. . . . If a present is made to the King, he doth not keep it, but he distributes it among all, and keeps nothing for himself. [25]

Between the time of Roger Williams and the American Revolution, native societies provided the new Americans with a living example of people doing their best to govern themselves by natural law. The essence of these ideas did not much change. What did change was the scope of their appeal, spreading from a small number of travelers, philosophers and free thinkers to large enough portions of the population to spur revolution, first in America, then in France.

A spirit of liberty suffused EuroAmericans’ characterizations of native societies during the revolutionary era, as the same concept became a patriotic passion, a driving force of revolutionary rhetoric. Samuel Peters, a preacher based in Hebron, Conn., wrote characteristically in his General History of Connecticut [1781]:

[Indians] enjoy liberty complete without jealousy . . . the conscious independence of each individual warms his thoughts and guides his actions. He enters the sachemic dome with the same simple freedom that he enters the wigwam of his brother: neither dazzled at the splendor nor awed by the power of the possessor. Here is liberty in perfection! [34]

Peters related European immigrants’ desire for liberty and equality directly to their observations of native societies in America:

[The colonists] discovered that they themselves were men, and entitled to the rights of that race of beings; and they proceeded upon the same maxims which they found among the Indians, viz., that mankind is by nature upon an equality in point of rank and possession; that it is incompatible for any particular descriptions of men to monopolise honours and property, to the exclusion of the rest; that it is a part despicable [sic] and unworthy of one freeman to stoop to the will and caprice of another on account of his wealth and titles, accruing not from his own, but from the heroism and virtue of his ancestors, &c., &c. [35, emphasis added]

To many Europeans becoming Americans, vox populi also was vox Americana. As Peters observed, many colonists looked across the frontier for working examples of the types of societies they wished to erect. This is not to say that they wanted to copy Indian societies; many writers (Franklin, Jefferson and Paine among them) were quick to point out that the Indian example could help shape the new nation, but that Europeans, with their cultural baggage, could not replicate ‘the primitive state’. Thomas Paine attended a treaty council at Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1777, in order to negotiate the Iroquois’ alliance, or at least neutrality in the revolution. According to Paine’s biographer Samuel Edwards, he was ‘fascinated by them’.[39] Paine quickly learned some of the Iroquois language. Soon, Paine was comparing native societies to Europe’s in his writing. He especially admired their lack of poverty. Poverty, Paine wrote in 1795, ‘is a thing created by what is called civilization’.[40] Despite the appeal of a society without poverty, Paine believed it impossible ‘to go from the civilized to the natural state’.[41]

The image of the Indian as an image of liberty was ever present, however, a beacon to generations which made much of freedom from European–style oppression. Rogers utilized the image much as Peters had, at about the same time:

The great and fundamental principles of their [Indians'] policy are, that every man is naturally free and independent; that no one . . . on earth has any right to deprive him of his freedom and in-dependency, and that nothing can be a compensation for the loss of it. [42]

James Adair, a trader who spent several years living among the Cherokees and other native peoples along the southern frontier, also used the image of the Indians he knew as an example of liberty and equality:

The equality among the Indians, and the just rewards they always confer on merit, are the great and leading – ;– the only motives that warm their hearts with a strong and permanent love for their country. Governed by the plain and honest law of nature, their whole constitution breathes nothing but liberty; and where there is that equality of condition, manners, and privileges . . . as prevails in every Indian nation and through all our British colonies, there shows such a cheerfulness and warmth of courage, as cannot be described. . . . If the governed are convinced that their superiors have a real affection for them, they will esteem it in their duty and interest to serve them, and take pleasure in it.

‘Liberty, in its fullest extent, is the darling possession of the Americans’, wrote one unidentified observer of the revolutionary scene, who did not make it clear whether he meant natives (the word ‘American’ was generally reserved for them at the time), the colonists, or both. ‘To this, they sacrifice everything . . . their education is directed in such a manner as to cherish this disposition to the utmost. They are indulged in all manner of liberty . . . they experience nothing like command, dependence or subordination’.[44]

Anthony F.C. Wallace quoted a Jesuit missionary on the Iroquois’ zest for liberty: ‘There is nothing for which these people have a greater horror than restraint’.[45] Another missionary, the Quaker Halliday Jackson, said much the same thing: ‘Liberty, in its fullest extent, becomes their ruling passion’.[46] In another account published just after the Revolution, John Long (in Voyages and Travels of an Indian Trader, 1791), described the Iroquois’ attitude toward liberty in ways that America’s revolutionary patriots often described themselves:

The Iroquois laugh when you talk to them of obedience to kings; for they cannot reconcile the idea of submission with the dignity of man. Each individual is a sovereign in his own mind; and as he conceives he derives his freedom from the Great Spirit alone, he cannot be induced to acknowledge any other power. [47]

During the same year, William Bartram described his image of Indians and their societies very similarly:

The constitution or system of their police is simply natural . . . nothing more than the simple dictates of natural reason, plain to every one [which are] necessary for securing mutual happiness. . . . Every man’s conscience being a sufficient conviction (the Golden Rule, do as you would be done by) . . . produces a society of peace and love, which, in effect, better maintains human happiness, than the more complicated system of modern politics, or sumatary laws, enforced by coercive means: for here, the people are all on an equality, as to the possession and enjoyments of the common necessities of life, for luxuries and superfluities they have none. [48]

Jefferson, writing to Edward Carrington in 1787, expressed a similar view of native societies:

The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, our very first object should be to keep that right; and if it were left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I would not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. I am convinced that those societies [as the Indians] . . . enjoy in their general mass an infinitely greater degree of happiness than those who live under European governments. [49]

Bartram’s opinion also nearly matches that of Franklin:

The Care and Labour of providing for Artificial and Fashionable Wants, the sight of so many rich wallowing in Superfluous Plenty, while so many are kept poor and distressed for Want, the Insolence of Office . . . and restraints of Custom, all contrive to disgust them [Indians] with what we call civil Society. [50]

The Jesuits of New France described the same attitude among Indians with which they lived in the Saint Lawrence Valley. After Le Jeune opened his first school for Indian boys in Quebec, he complained that introducing native boys to the yoke of Christianity was easier said than done. ‘All these barbarians have the law of wild asses’, he wrote to his superiors. ‘They are born, live and die in a liberty without restraint. They do not know what a bridle is’.[51] Father Charlevoix agreed, in a less churlish tone: ‘These Americans are perfectly convinced that man was born free, that no power on earth has a right to infringe his liberty, and that nothing can repay him for the loss of it’.[52]

Philip L. Barbour, ed., The Complete Works of John Smith (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1986) [3 vols.], I, p. 232. See also Karen Ordahl Kupperman, Settling With the Indians: The Meeting of English and Indian Cultures in North America, 1580–1640 (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1980). Kupperman asserts that ‘Modern descriptions of the meeting between Indians and the English colonists generally agree that the English were abruptly dismissive of Indian culture, that they were either totally disinterested or saw it as something to be shunned or even destroyed as the work of the devil. My reading . . . yielded a very different result, and one that seemed to me to make better sense of this early cross–cultural confrontation’. [Ibid., p. vii.] According to Kupperman, the English immigrants to America believed that their society was ‘rapidly changing for the worse,:’ and they often found in Native American societies examples of better ways. [Ibid., pp. vii–viii.] Paradoxically, some Englishmen could be profoundly racist toward the Indians while others were very appreciative of what they saw in native societies. Kupperman found that racism tended to diminish with the frequency and intensity of direct contact with Native Americans. According to Kupperman, those European observers who knew Native America best tended to portray Native American individuals and cultures with respect and ‘far from characterizing the Indians as sub–human brutes who lacked government, eyewitness writers did not have the least doubt that the Indians were organized in a civil society’.
I think I now can see why Mr. Crichton has to reach into obscure corners of the earth for examples to back up his theories rather than look into his own back yard.

And if you, even now, put yourself in nature even for a matter of days, you will quickly be disabused of all your romantic fantasies. Take a trek through the jungles of Borneo, and in short order you will have festering sores on your skin, you’ll have bugs all over your body, biting in your hair, crawling up your nose and into your ears, you’ll have infections and sickness and if you’re not with somebody who knows what they’re doing, you’ll quickly starve to death. But chances are that even in the jungles of Borneo you won’t experience nature so directly, because you will have covered your entire body with DEET and you will be doing everything you can to keep those bugs off you.

Well I guess I will scratch the jungles of Borneo off of my list of places to visit!
Is he saying then, that the native peoples of Borneo (and he seems to be extrapolating this to all of nature everywhere) live in constant, terrible torment, covered in sores, diseased and infested with parasites? Why then are we the ones with such a high suicide rate? Why is it when people leave these ‘primitive’ societies to live in the comfort of civilization they are all too often unhappy in their new environment?

The truth is, almost nobody wants to experience real nature. What people want is to spend a week or two in a cabin in the woods, with screens on the windows. They want a simplified life for a while, without all their stuff. Or a nice river rafting trip for a few days, with somebody else doing the cooking. Nobody wants to go back to nature in any real way, and nobody does. It’s all talk – and as the years go on, and the world population grows increasingly urban, it’s uninformed talk. Farmers know what they’re talking about. City people don’t. It’s all fantasy.

And now a word from nobody: myself – I suspect that my brother and I have had more experience in this regard than the pampered Mr. Crichton. We lived on a farm in northern Canada for ten years. This farm was many miles of unpaved roads away from the nearest town, roads that, for the first couple of years were only passible part of the year. No electricity, running water, and only wood for heat and cooking up until the last couple of years.
From there I have lived off and on in various cities up untill the year 1999 when I left for the isolated west coast of Vancouver Island where I took up a profession that required myself and my brother to spend extended periods of time camping out in the wilderness with minimal provisions, where a rifle and fishing gear helped supplement our diet.
Due to a failure of that business venture and reasonable demands from a wife living back in the city whose considerable patience had finally begun to run out after four years, I found myself back in the city. I long to be back, I want so much to be disabused of my romantic fantasies again.
What about my brother? Well he has spent very little time in the city, he continues to live as he has, he is still spending most of his time in the forest, and though he works very hard his income is well below the poverty level. He loves it.
In fact he has just moved to the even more isolated Queen Charlotte Islands, he likes it there even more. Just to let you know; he is not at all an isolationist, he’s a very social person.

Anthropologists estimate that the original peoples here in the Pacific Northwest needed only two to two and one half hours per day to acquire all the essentials of life from their surroundings. I have to admit that for someone like myself who is currently working between 50 to 60 hours a week, not including considerable commuting time, this appeals to me.
Mr. Crichton says city people don’t know what they’re talking about, he reveals himself to be one of those.

I’m not a doomsday prophet, barring the unlikely event of our sun going supernova or a collision with a massive asteroid, this planet will endure, and human life will never be eradicated from it either. I base my belief on the fact that we as a species have survived even when there were monumental odds against us. True, never before in our history have we had the ability to completely destroy this earth as we do now, but I believe that even in the aftermath of a nuclear/biological war humans will survive. We have already survived a near extinction; our recent success with understanding DNA contributes this to our past. At some point in the last ten thousand to twenty thousand years, we were all but wiped out. We went from a large and robust gene pool to an extremely tiny one, almost a non–viable one. It’s all there in the genome.

But, by the same token, just as almost all prior human civilizations have failed to survive, we too may experience a collapse unless we start looking ahead [and looking back]. There is an immediate urgency to this if we are to avoid a catastrophe.
‘One of the defining features of religion is that your beliefs are not troubled by facts, because they have nothing to do with facts’… or history either I might add.

I can tell you that the Sahara desert is shrinking

He can tell us this, but I can’t tell you where he got it from. A Google search using the phrase ‘Sahara desert shrinking’ came up with these as the top two hits >>>
Is the Sahara desert growing or shrinking?


submitted by Encyclopedia John, 22 Apr 05

The Sahara is expanding southward into an area called the Sahel. The process is called desertification or desertification. The following are quotes from the Encyclopedia Britannica Online [April 22, 2005]:

‘Public awareness of desertification increased during the severe drought in the Sahel in Africa [1968–73], a drought that accelerated the southward movement of the Sahara desert’.

‘The Sahel, which borders the southern fringe of the Sahara in Africa, is extremely prone to drought. Persistent drought conditions, coupled with substantial population growth in the region [an increase of more than 30 percent since the early 1950s] and a doubling of the livestock herd, have resulted in a gradual desertification of the Sahel’.

And this from world-atlas.com >>>
Long-term weaknesses [of Chad] include its landlocked position, oppressive poverty, the shrinking of Lake Chad, and the ever increasing expansion of the Sahara Desert.
This from The National Geographic ---
Shrinking African Lake Offers Lesson on Finite Resources
Hillary Mayell
for National Geographic News
26 April 2001

Lake Chad, once one of Africa’s largest freshwater lakes, has shrunk dramatically in the last 40 years. Two researchers from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have been working to determine the causes.

In a report published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, they conclude that human activities are to blame for the shrinking of Lake Chad.

The question of interest to Jonathon A. Foley and Michael T. Coe is applicable to many other natural phenomena as well, such as melting ice caps, retreating glaciers and warming oceans: Are the dramatic changes we are now witnessing the result of natural variation over millennium, or more or less a direct function of human activities?

The lake’s decline probably has nothing to do with global warming, report the two scientists, who based their findings on computer models and satellite imagery made available by NASA. They attribute the situation instead to human actions related to climate variation, compounded by the ever increasing demands of an expanding population.

‘Humans in the system are the big actors here‘, says Coe, a hydrologist. ‘What has happened to Lake Chad may be an illustration of where we’re heading’.

So not only is the Sahara not shrinking, it is expanding very rapidly, an area the size of the state of Delaware is added to it every year.

I wonder if Mr. Crichton’s own words could possibly be applied to himself as well? ‘what more and more groups are doing is putting out is lies, pure and simple. Falsehoods that they know to be false’.

I find it hard to believe that Crichton is the product of such a highly regarded institute of higher learning as Harvard, to think of the calibre of people that have come from there; why even the president of the United States, George W. Bu...... oh wait, oops. Never mind.

I can tell you the percentage of US land area that is taken by urbanization, including cities and roads, is five percent.

But could he tell us that the total percentage of arable land in the US is under 20 percent and the bulk of urbanization is on that arable land?
And could he tell us that 40 percent of North America’s crop and range-lands have already turned to desert? Sand dunes are visibly forming along the farm fields in places like Mud Lake, Idaho.

the total ice of Antarctica is increasing.

True! Confirmed!! It’s almost a relief to read a truthful statement!
This from RealClimate > Thickening ice in Antarctica has been predicted by climate scientists for a long time, as a consequence of the greater moisture–carrying capacity of warmer air, so evidence for a thickening ice sheet would actually support, not negate, other evidence for global warming. In any case, there is abundant evidence that the ice sheet is getting thinner (and quickly) along the margins. .…the Antarctic Peninsula is the fastest warming region on earth.

I can tell you that second–hand smoke is not a health hazard to anyone and never was, and the EPA has always known it.

C’mon Mike, show some cajones! Why stop there? Let’s dispel some more of this anti–tobacco hysteria! Here we can read the suppressed truth that not only is even first hand smoke harmless, it‘s even good for you; smokers actually live longer than non-smokers!!– – http://www.smokersrightscanada.org/
In fact let’s refute every bit of science we have that may impede the fantastic profits of any large corporation at all! Start with this site, allow me to introduce Steve Milloy, darling of the corporate world and of The Washington Post…just do a site search on the word ‘hysteria’ on his site >>> http://www.junkscience.com/

Of course, in their minds, accusing environmentalists of killing 10 to 30 million people is not hysteria, nor are their warnings of catastrophic, even apocalyptic economic results if the Kyoto Protocol should be adopted or any other implementation of the precautionary principal.

What was that Eden of the wonderful mythical past? Is it the time when infant mortality was 80 percent, when four children in five died of disease before the age of five? When one woman in six died in childbirth? When the average lifespan was 40, as it was in America a century ago. When plagues swept across the planet, killing millions in a stroke. Was it when millions starved to death? Is that when it was Eden?

Are these Medieval European statistics valid for all the ancient world? Odd that at first contact early explorers usually found native peoples to be enjoying excellent health, also confirmed by Europeans who spent extended periods of time living among the Indians.

His statement assumes that [1] traditional medicine is completely ineffective and [2] that there is no link between diet and health.
When he speaks of America a century ago he is correct, modern medicine of the time involved procedures that usually hastened the demise of the afflicted, while at the same time the practitioners laughed at the treatments offered by native medicine (since proven to be effective) Keep in mind that fully 25% of all modern prescription medication is plant–based.

My wife would most certainly be dead if not for a shamanic healing performed as a last resort when many efforts by modern western medicine could not find the problem. A friend of mine suffered from a painful, debilitating illness for which western medicine has no cure, again, as a last resort, she turned to traditional Chinese herbal medicine which brought almost instantaneous relief.
Primitive peoples were not nearly as ignorant or violent as Mr. Crichton would have us believe.

Has Mr. Crichton never heard of the millions that are dying from Aids? Is he unaware of the many other diseases that take millions of human lives every year? Is the possible future threat of another massive epidemic now gone forever? Never heard of famine in modern Ethiopia, North Korea, etc? He doesn’t know of the 11 million children under the age of five that will be die this year because of poverty?
Is he completely unaware of the harsh reality of modern life in most parts of our world outside of his little protected corner?

It’s often the case that many of those promoting these beliefs are of the wealthy elite living in the most wealthy countries in the world, in their lifestyles filled with abundance shortages are unknown to them, an alien concept. To acknowledge shortages of essential human needs among the peasantry and the human suffering that results would be to acknowledge a need for personal action and possible sacrifice. Oh horrors!
Far less painful to simply close their eyes and deny the existence of any problem that might call for some effort, or worse yet, some money.

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