Thursday, May 17, 2012

You Look...Magedelanian

Or you do if you look as if some of your ancestors were European. The Magdelanians were a widespread Paleolithic culture that left various artifacts, including art (pretty good art!), weapons, tools and a few what-is-its scattered across the continent, chasing the glaciers back North -- and who do not appear to have made Mankind's Worst Mistake* in their 8,000-year run.

What else they might have done, we don't know. They didn't work metal, so if it's not stone, bone or paint inside a cave, it didn't leave much trace.
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* You might recognize this idea from L. Neil Smith's Pallas. It's not coincidence.

13 comments:

Dave H said...

"You Look...Magedelanian"

I hear that a lot. It's the wide nose and missing teeth.

I think Diamond has a point. I'd be a lot more fit if I had to actually chase my food down to eat it.

(Is that the same Jared Diamond who wrote Guns, Germs, and Steel?)

Drang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drang said...

Once again, with proper spelling:
Yes, it is Mr. "People from New Guinea are smarter than North Americans because they know more about the local fauna than we do" himself.

You may gather that I am not impressed by his particular flavor of White Man's Guilt.

Roberta X said...

Never said you should be.

LabRat said...

Diamond's point was that kids whose lives consist of exploring, working alongside adults, and generally engaging their environment directly tend to be brighter than kids whose education is being boxed in a classroom, isolated from normal adults, and passively fed information. A point which, in fact, I've seen brought up quite often by libertarians and conservatives.

He brought it up because if the New Guineans didn't conquer the world and the ancestors of North Americans did, it's not because they are stupider. The rest of the book was a serious examination of, if not that, why else it could have been. There is very little about race in the book, as the entire viewpoint is behavioral ecology.

I swear, one aggressive missing of the point from Mark Steyn...

Roberta X said...

What's "smart?" What's "stupid?" If we swapped the PNG locals with an equivalent group of kids from, say, Allentown, would they be able to function in one another's environments? If they can't, are they dumb?

docjim505 said...

Echoes of Catholic school...

My immediate thought when I hit the word "Magdelanian" was that it was some sort of organization associated with Mary Magdelene.

docjim505 said...

Echoes of Catholic school...

My immediate thought when I hit the word "Magdelanian" was that it was some sort of organization associated with Mary Magdelene.

Stuart the Viking said...

(sigh) We never should have come down from the trees.

s

Bubblehead Les. said...

Something to keep in mind. We no longer live in an Agricultural World NOR a Hunter-Gatherer. We live in the Age of Diesel.

Think of it this way. Can anyone realistic expect that 7 Billion People could head into the Woods and get a Deer for the Larder? Can anyone realistic expect someone who spends their Professional Life in a Cube to spend the Man-Hours necessary to Farm enough Crops to sustain their Family?

But with Petroleum Products for Tractors, Trains, Trucks and Ships, most people on this Planet in the year 2012 would Starve if the Oil for Ranching and Farming would dry up overnight. Throw in Electricity, and it's no wonder that the World Population exploded from the time of Drake's Well in Pennsylvania to the present day.

And yet, the TreeHuggers would have us go back to some Primitive Combination of Hunting and Farming and Fishing (unless they were PETA Members, then it's just Farming), with all the Labor and Danger such a Lifestyle would entail. Just ask all those Cambodians whom Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge forced out into the Killing Fields to build his Mad Agricultural Utopia.

Of course, they would be the FIRST to Bitch if they lost their Air-conditioning....

LabRat said...

The nonmeasure he was using was the ability to absorb and master novelty- i.e. exactly figuring out a new feature in the environment, or an entirely new environment. (The population he was speaking of were agricultural, not hunter-gatherers.)

But, you're right in that what even constitutes relevant intelligence at all is profoundly contextual. I'm firmly convinced it's why a truly "culture neutral" IQ test is impossible to create- because intelligence itself can't be culture-neutral. Useful cognitive skills are too different across sufficiently different environments.

docjim505 said...

LabRat - I'm firmly convinced it's why a truly "culture neutral" IQ test is impossible to create- because intelligence itself can't be culture-neutral. Useful cognitive skills are too different across sufficiently different environments.

I had a good practical education in this several years ago when I toured the museum on Ellis Island. One of the exhibits was an "intelligence test" that was administered to the immigrants at one point. Among the test questions was the seemingly easy task of drawing a copy of a simple shape.

Surprisingly hard to do if one has never even seen a pencil.

By the same token, in the movie "Lean on Me", a Hispanic girl is seen answering a question on a standardized test:

"Every morning, Mr. Smith has his ___ breakfast of oatmeal, milk, and bacon."

She scowled and marked "strange" instead of "usual".

Anonymous said...

We didn't start farming to eat plants, we started farming to make BEER. He can't even get the basics right.