by Tyler Cowen
on May 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm
1. Short essay on David Thomson and his writings on movies.
2. Timur Kuran on the weak foundations of Arab democracy.
3. Charles C. Mann on the origins of religion, very good piece.
4. Robin Hanson on driverless cars.
Have you heard about this? http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/mar/25/iceland-most-feminist-country
It is going to be funny to hear what the social liberals here in the US will say about this…
That read like a self-parody. Love how it’s perfectly ok to profit off your body if it’s busy making art, or if you are only using the brain part of it.
Stiff competition from Norway, whose capital city recorded no sexual assaults from natives (or even western looking) men from 2006-2010. Now all they need to do is convince immigrants from the Muslim world to adopt the same feminism.
Timur Kuran delivers once again.
Nice post over there . God makes Religion for joining the peoples but today’s most peoples break or destroy its moral rules. And kill other persons. Our thinking should be more Scientific because today’s the religion get many disadvantages. More Industries should be developed and for more Industries as industrial chemical manufacturer, industrial chemical supplier will be needed. So in my view religion should be source of calmness not should killings for the name of religion .
Good comments over above. In ancient time the religion becomes the source of faith. With the believe in religion many person dod very beneficial works for civilization . But today’s for the name of religion some peoples kill the peoples that’s very pity . Science and industry related things as swnt, single walled carbon nanotubes and many more give important role in development . Development is the main motive of human’s life .
WIth so many important archaeological sites now submerged since the last ice-age, the number of assumptions made about the people of 9000BC sound really spurious.
Monumental architecture in Europe around 4000-3000BC is all concentrated within coastal areas (when sea levels were 10+ ft higher than they are today). Sumeria (Ur) sprouted on the upper extent of these rising seas. The appearance probably only seems sudden because the civilization there developed over the last ice age from 60,000-9000 BC when the Persian Gulf was dry and sea levels were 300 ft lower than they are today. To say we have a good guess about peoples who we have such small archaeological evidence compared to the amount that must be submerged is a bit presumptuous.
@4 – In the U.S., people are not congregating into dense center cities (or even inner ring suburbs). Most growth is happening at the fringes of metro areas (think Naperville, Illinois). As for driverless cars – I’ll temper my skepticism when we’ve had cruise-control systems that can steer the car, but as far as i know, no automakers even have this on the drawing board yet. And why not envision a lower density future with minimal congestion and where everybody has local access to green spaces and the wasted time and energy of commuting has been drastically reduced (rather than increased via automation)?
I’ll temper my skepticism when we’ve had cruise-control systems that can steer the car, but as far as i know, no automakers even have this on the drawing board ye
There are cars for sale that have such capabilities built in, but because they’re not fully automated vehicles they work first to warn the driver and then take control if the driver does nothing.
Link please? I’m aware of automatic emergency braking systems, but not emegency systems that steer the car.
The LKS (scroll down) is the type that can control the car.
To comment on Name’s point above, even without getting into rising sea levels, ancient ruins are more likely to be preserved in some places than others. This also affects how we view history.
For example, the swampy Nile Delta (Lower Egypt) is not a good environment for ruin preservation. The earliest archeological finds in Egypt come from the drier parts upriver (Upper Egypt). But untold history texts and museum displays confidently assert that civilization developed earlier in Sumer than in Egypt, and some even assert that civilization developed earlier in Upper Egypt than in Lower Egypt. I’ve even seen some (older) historians write about how remarkable the Egyptians were to unite as soon as they developed civilization, without the earlier period of city states that occurred elsewhere! All this assumes that the archeological finds that have been discovered so far are all the relevant evidence. In fact we don’t know and probably never will know about the early development of Lower Egypt. And we have better sources (archeological and written) for early Egypt than for just about anyplace else.
For this reason I read histories of the Old World civilizations before about 600 BC (material from the Assyrian archives is an exception), and New World civilizations before about 1450 AD with big grains of salt, and only read the most recent historians. There is just too much that we don’t know, and many cases where we can’t decipher the language. And I think accounts of these periods should sound much more tentative than than tend to do.
@Ed – I think this quote from the National Geographic article speaks volumes about the nature of archaeology and the way our history gets written:
“In the 1960s archaeologists from the University of Chicago had surveyed the region and concluded that Göbekli Tepe was of little interest. Disturbance was evident at the top of the hill, but they attributed it to the activities of a Byzantine-era military outpost.”
Regardless of what gets preserved, there’s always room for new excavations and fresh perspectives on the ruins we do have access to.
@Name – Different part of the world, but here’s a recent story about what you’re talking about: http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report_a-civilisation-as-old-as-indus-valley_1547987
@Slocum – It’s funny you used that particular example, because I actually moved from Naperville to Chicago a year ago.
Mann’s article repeatedly assumes that civilization was organized by the people at large.
Instead, suppose that civilization was created by the most ambitious 1%. Improving most people’s quality of life is necessary for stability; agriculture, ritual, and awe-inspiring architecture make it possible for leaders to gather the surplus. “The human impulse to gather for sacred rituals” doesn’t explain Göbekli Tepe any more than the human impulse to gamble explains Las Vegas.
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