Geoffrey and Satoshi, no, it aint gonna be like either of your scenarios.
First let me disagree with Satoshi Kanazawa's absurd idea that Asians cannot think outside the box or make creative use of their intelligence. This ignores what the Japanese, South Koreans, Chinese, and millions of other Asians are doing right now.
While it is true that industrial and technological progress began and prospered in the west, it was not due to any deficiency on the part of Asians. It has to do with capital. Not just money capital but time capital as well. Capital is defined as what is left over after the basic needs of a society has been satisfied. Symphonies were written by men with time and/or money on their hands. Science is done by people with both time and money that enables them to pursue such things.
When the age of fossil fuel began, about two hundred years ago, all of Asia was
already pushing the Malthusian limit of population. It was all the average Asian could do to feed his family. His culture and the feudal system kept him in chains. Of course that is a vast oversimplification. I could write a book on the differences on Eastern and Western culture and why the former suppressed the arts and scientific research while the latter encouraged it. It is as Richard Bernstein wrote: "Culture is powerfully conservative. It enforces obedience to authority, the authority of parents, of history, of custom, of superstition." It is, or was, basically a difference in cultures and the availability of capital, not in ability.
But now all that is changing. They, the Asians, now have both plenty of time and money. And their culture is no longer holds them in chains. That does not apply to the Islamic culture of course, they are still bound and gagged by a cruel medieval culture, but that is another story.
But I do not agree with Geoffrey Millers scenario either. Geoffrey assumes that all the present trends we now see in progress will continue for at least another one hundred years. It just aint gonna happen! We are already seeing the ghost of Malthus take his toll in much of Africa and Asia. Birth rates are dropping but not because of birth control but because of the poor health of mothers. Infant morality and all other types of death rates are increasing as the population begins to outstrip food production. Desertification takes tens of thousands of hectares per year. The land blows away during the dry seasons and washes away during the wet seasons. Water tables are dropping all over the world. And simultaneous to all this we are reaching the peak in world oil production.
To make a bad situation worse, just when the call on agriculture is the greatest, men are talking about taking much of the crop, the food crop, and turning it into
motor fuel. We are already destroying the earth just trying to feed 6.5 billion people, now people are talking about tilling the remaining few wild hectares to feed our cars, trucks and tractors. At any rate all that will be far too little too late. Even if we could cut down all the rainforest and plant corn and sugarcane for ethanol and palms for palm oil, there still would not be enough.
But alas, it is way too late to do anything. We are deep into overshoot, way past the long term carrying capacity of the earth even if we had plenty of fossil energy. But we dont, peak oil is upon us. In ten fifteen years the worlds production of petroleum will down to about half of what it is today
.and falling. And the worlds food production and delivery system depends almost entirely on fossil fuel. When the energy starts to dry up, food production will do likewise. And unfortunately, so will the population.
world population could be held constant, in balance with "renewable" resources, the creative impulse that has been responsible for human achievements during the period of growth would come to an end. And the spiraling collapse that is far more likely will leave, at best, a handfull of survivors. These people might get by, for a while, by picking through the wreckage of civilization, but soon they would have to lead simpler lives, like the hunters and subsistence farmers of the past. They would not have the resources to build great public works or carry forward scientific inquiry. They could not let individuals remain unproductive as they wrote novels or composed symphonies. After a few generations, they might come to believe that the rubble amid which they live is the remains of cities built by gods."
- David Price, "Energy and Human Evolution"http://dieoff.org/page137.htm
Ron PattersonDenis Dutton <constant.force@...>
You will not want to miss this exchange.
Sent: Saturday, July 22, 2006 6:36 AM
Subject: Asian future of evolutionary psychology
I thought you might be interested in the exchange between me and Satoshi
Kanazawa regarding the Asian future of evolutionary psychology, which has
been published this
week in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.
My article is at:
Kanazawa's commentary is at:
Best wishes -- Geoffrey Miller, University of New Mexico
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