Re: Cichlids & Memes

From: Dace (
Date: Tue Sep 11 2001 - 20:15:37 BST

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    Subject: Re: Cichlids & Memes
    Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 12:15:37 -0700
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    Hi Kenneth,

    > > Anyway, again the implication here is that some major historical
    > > events may have, at their root, environmental, natural causes. (The ten
    > > plagues of Egypt explanation is brilliant in this regard too). Are we
    > > simply too close to more recent historical events to see underlying
    > > environmental causal factors in them?
    > _ That is in a nutshell what Dace was trying to explain in his threads
    > about Shelrake and MR, that from a memetic point of view, environ-
    > mental causal factors are beyond our control and in a way we are not
    > very keen on that idea.
    > In a sense, we tranformed such events into our myths, legends and
    > folkore, our gods and beliefs and one of those is that the major ancient
    > civilisations like the Egyptian, Maya and others could not just vanish
    > by a " stupid " environmental catastrophy.

    The archaeologist Joseph Tainter makes a strong case that no civilization
    has disappeared purely as a result of environmental (external) factors. The
    Lowland Mayans, for instance, were done in by their overly complex
    irrigation system. At first their system was simple and very effective, but
    over time it became unwieldy. The more they tried to expand it, the more
    they experienced diminishing returns on their investments, until the
    bureaucracy and maintenance it required was greater than the benefits it
    yielded. The result was that the whole civilization was up-ended by a
    drought no worse than what the Mayans had weathered many times before. It's
    all discussed in Tainter's book, The Collapse of Complex Societies
    (Cambridge 1988). His analysis of the fall of the Western Roman Empire
    follows similar lines.


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