Scene from "The Wicker Man" (1973), a cult horror classic about nature worshippers in an isolated British island community.

Oregon State: The Ancient Greeks Caused Climate Change by Killing Belief in Dryads

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to an Oregon State Professor of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy, if we re-embraced the ancient indigenous worldview of living spiritual life in every tree and rock, we would be less likely to bulldoze the sacred grove.

How ideas from ancient Greek philosophy may have driven civilization toward climate change

October 20, 2021 11.43pm AED

Michael Paul Nelson
Professor of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy, Oregon State University
Kathleen Dean Moore
Distinguished Professor Emerita, Oregon State University

Wildfires driven by increasing winds and unprecedented heat surrounded Athens, Greece, this past summer, blanketing its ancient marble monuments and olive groves with ash and acrid smoke. These are the same places where philosophers gathered almost 2,500 years ago to debate questions about the nature of matter and morality.

The Atomists’ perilous path

The early Greek philosophers were primarily interested in two kinds of questions. The first kind was metaphysical: What is the world? The second kind was ethical: What is a good person? The two sorts of questions were intertwined, as the physical description of the world shaped humanity’s place in it.

If the world is only matter, it has no purpose or intentionality, no divine design or intervention, no spirit or sanctity. It’s just stuff moving around or not, crashing or not. The particles operate according to mechanistic laws, as expressed by the principles of geometry. Consequently, the world has no emergent qualities – soul, mind, consciousness – that cannot be expressed in numbers.

In that view, the world is profane, a word that comes from “profanum,” meaning “outside the temple.” There is nothing special about it, nothing inspiring respect or veneration.

An open door to exploitation and waste

Before the Atomists, early Greeks generally did not draw a sharp distinction between the material and the spiritual worlds. In their view, everything – river, mountain, child, tree – is enlivened by a life force. 

But the mechanistic, reductionist, matter-in-motion worldview stripped the spirit from the natural world. In doing so, it also stripped the world’s inherent value. The world became unremarkable, reducible, explainable, ownable, for sale. And so, the mechanistic worldview opened the door to exploitation, waste and abuse.

Over time, this worldview became deeply embedded in Western thought. And so human enterprise, following this view, could damage and destroy the matter of the world and offend no god, value or sacred place.

With a new worldview, or one inspired by ancient Indigenous cultures, we believe it may be possible for Western civilization to free itself from the old materialism and restore life, spirit, purpose, value – and thus, some measure of protection – to the substance of the planet. Consider alternative answers to the two great questions:

Reconsider: What is the world?

Read more:

I strongly suspect the Greek innovation was an effect rather than a cause.

The origins of engineering are lost in the mists of time, a few fragments such as the name Imhotep, an ancient engineer who lived 3000 years ago and likely pioneered the use of columns in large buildings. But something changed.

For most of the 300,000 year history of homo sapiens, the lifestyle of our ancestors was pretty much the same – hunter gatherer, crude farming or fishing villages. But we went from building crude huts to pyramids and wheeled vehicles in an eye blink of time.

Part of that may have been greater availability of resources with the end of the last ice age. Perhaps something in humans changed, a new way of thinking, or perhaps even a mutation which changed us, which drained the nature spirits from our worldview, gave some of us at least the ability to appreciate the world from a functional perspective.

My point is, I doubt we could turn back the clock even if we wanted to. The age of sacred groves, dryads and fairies is all but gone. The climate movement, with its yearning for personified nature, is perhaps the last gasp of this ancient tradition. The age of marvels is upon us.

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John Tillman
October 24, 2021 2:12 pm

Relative to the lifetime of our species, monumental stone buildings might seem to have emerged in an Augenblick, but actually, the earliest stone structures predate Egyptian pyramids by several thousand years.

Which fact doesn’t reduce my shame over what has become of my parents’ alma mater OSU (formerly Oregon Agricultural College).

Leo Smith
Reply to  John Tillman
October 24, 2021 2:26 pm

There seems to be only one stone building older than 5000BC – really buildings start almost independently across the world at 4500BC or thereabouts.

John Tillman
Reply to  Leo Smith
October 24, 2021 2:31 pm

The Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara is around 4600 years old.

Göbekli Tepe in Turkey is not well dated, but is from 11,600 to 9000 years old.

The walls of Jericho are about 10,000 years old.

Reply to  John Tillman
October 24, 2021 2:50 pm

There’s an ancient city under water off the coast of India also believed to be around the age of Göbekli Tepe.

John Tillman
Reply to  Scissor
October 24, 2021 2:58 pm

Controversial, but arguably dating to 9500 years ago:

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  John Tillman
October 25, 2021 2:57 am

We have stone structures in Portugal that predate Stonehenge, ~6000 years old. The area to the east of Lisbon has a lot of these structures. There are also a lot of stone tombs, over 200, in the Antelas region. The age is about the same, build with stone tools and lots of human ingenuity. The painted stone is still brilliant crimson. When I visited the Dolmen at Antelas I was impressed by its beauty.

Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
October 26, 2021 5:53 am

Interestingly, before a culture can produce stone buildings or monuments, it generally has to be able to make rope of consistent quality and long lengths…the peasantry dragging stones around and building tripods of swinging stones to shape other stones is then a natural project tribal leaders will occupy their subjects with…

Reply to  Leo Smith
October 25, 2021 4:21 pm

While searching the Black Sea for older sunken boats the team imaged dwellings, made from wood.

Dwellings that predate the flood.

Abolition Man
Reply to  John Tillman
October 24, 2021 3:55 pm

No reason to feel ashamed; Progressivism is a highly contagious mental disorder! It is quite possibly more dangerous and destructive than the ChiCom bioweapons program funded by Fauxi with our tax dollars!

John Tillman
Reply to  Abolition Man
October 24, 2021 4:17 pm

Wokeism is more dangerous than FauXi’s kowtowing to Communism, since it’s a symptom of the West’s complicity in totalitarianism.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  John Tillman
October 24, 2021 5:28 pm

since it’s a symptom of the West’s complicity in totalitarianism.

… and abandonment of any semblance of reason or science.

Reply to  John Tillman
October 25, 2021 4:46 am

There is a village being excavated in Jordan, with walls built of stones about 5 to 6 inches in size, going back about 12,000 years.

The City of Ur was built around 3800BC. which makes its nearly 6,000 years old.

And let’s do remember that Troy was attacked, sacked and burned seven times.

Civilization has risen and fallen (see the history of Egypt, et al.) like waves on the beach. What’s old is new, and what’s new fades into history.

If we’re coming to the “end of civilization”, so be it, but dissing the Dryads and ignoring the Land of Faerie doesn’t have a whole lot to do with it. It’s human silliness and not much else.

If you notice those time frames, including those mentioned in comments below, they all seem to occur around the end of the last ice/cold period.

And anyway (since I take a dim view of hippies’ dysfunctional pronouncements), nothing lasts forever, despite the attempts by museums and curators to stop things from going down the rabbit hole.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  John Tillman
October 25, 2021 11:27 am

The whole thrust of the OSU piece is to sustain the CAGW meme, which continues to exist solely from the promotion of beliefs over knowledge.

Tom Halla
October 24, 2021 2:18 pm

A good many greens seem to have a mystical view of nature.
”Pollution” is nearly equivalent to ritually unclean, with almost entirely quasi-religious views as to the effects.

Reply to  Tom Halla
October 24, 2021 2:24 pm

Environmentalism fills the religion-shaped hole in the minds of affluent Westerners.

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  Graemethecat
October 24, 2021 3:04 pm

I have been reluctant about this being religious fanaticism, but there is evidence of so many papers with caveats that don’t matter about models like this one ( using Ecopath with Ecoism) on oysters from the 2017 Louisiana Master Plan – “….. Limitations of the model include high uncertainty in cultch cover across the coast, lack of a temperature response curve, and no connections between the previous year’s oysters’ suitability or long-term salinity trends. Despite these limitations, the model works reasonably well in predicting oyster habitat distribution in coastal Louisiana. ”

A 2002 paper from someone studying these “overenriched” world-wide coastal systems recognized nitrogen demonzied, suggested caution about another necessary element in many forms essential to life, carbon dioxide comes to mind. And then I just ran across this, should have known it because another believer used the word about his preaching in a paper back at the turn of the century about the N crisis. Paywalled, have to wait to see them, but I might guess.

Fulweiler, R.W., N. N. Rabalais, and A.S. Heiskanen. 2012. The eutrophication commandments. Marine Pollution Bulletin 64 (10):1997–1999. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2012.07.025
“Based on our current understanding of eutrophic systems we present ten eutrophication commandments or guidelines as a tool for scientists, policy makers, managers, and the public.”

Reply to  Graemethecat
October 24, 2021 5:59 pm

Exactly. Voices-in-the-head environmentalism a.k.a phony-environmentalism, environmentalism sans that horrid mathematics thingy, etc.etc.

Reply to  Tom Halla
October 24, 2021 2:57 pm

“A good many greens seem to have a mystical view of nature.”

Yes, and what they seem to forget is that Mother Nature expects their death by around age 30-35, along with a good percentage of their children by age 5. Everything else is only accomplished by fighting Mother Nature on many fronts, adapting and exploiting her on others, then adapting ourselves to that which we can’t control.

And as George Carlin said, perhaps Mother Nature put us here to create plastic.

Reply to  BobM
October 24, 2021 6:22 pm

Nature is hostile to all living species, constantly trying to eliminate the least competitive strains – survival of the fittest.

Our “fight or flee” instincts aren’t an accident of nature – it’s deliberate DNA.

And we can only “flee” so many times.

Reply to  Mr.
October 25, 2021 5:21 am

Nature is neither hostile nor friendly.
It simply is.
At Some places it easier to get energy than others.

If nature was hostile,no life could ever exist for more than a short period of time,as even the most simple of all living beings is so extremely complicated and vulnerable that it couldn’t exist in a hostile environment.

Reply to  SxyxS
October 25, 2021 8:56 am

I would say that entropy is hostile to life, which is why an individual life form does not exist for more than a (relatively) short period of time, even absent competition from others. Even the simplest of living beings have evolved complicated methods of renewal of the species as the only viable option. Can’t live forever, so far.

Reply to  SxyxS
October 25, 2021 4:48 pm

You need to read the real history of adventurers, travelers and people encountering real wilderness.
e.g. how many people journeyed to the ‘new world’ that were unable to “make it” until the local natives assisted them.

Nature does not offer second chances.

  • If you are unable to feed yourself, you’ll starve.
  • Unable to find clean water? You’ll likely die from intestinal distress.
  • Unable to keep yourself warm when it is cold outside? You’ll die from exposure. Early severe cold fronts claim victims every year.
  • Unable to keep yourself dry, again you’ll likely die from exposure or pneumonia.

Not until mankind discovered bacteria, internal parasites and other illnesses And mankind also discovered means to control those infectious agents did mankind’s average life span lengthen.

Reply to  Mr.
October 25, 2021 4:37 pm

And we can only “flee” so many times.”

Nonsense. You can flee every time.

It’s getting away unhurt that has limitations.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  BobM
October 24, 2021 6:55 pm

And as George Carlin said, perhaps Mother Nature put us here to create plastic.

My theory at about 12 years old, was that the Earth had nurtured and raised us in order to prevent a life-destroying meteor impact. It’s about as sensible as CAGW, although I never actually believed it.

Citizen Smith
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
October 25, 2021 9:03 am

Plausible as Vonnegut’s Sirens of Titan where we are just a link in a system to deliver a spare part for a space craft. All answers come with patience.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Tom Halla
October 25, 2021 3:11 am

A good many greens seem to have a mystical view of nature.

A good many” seems to me an underestimante of what in plain English is called “all” or “100 %“.

Even when they try to be (or try to seem to be) quantitative, their underlying hypotheses are mystical.

John Larson
Reply to  Joao Martins
October 25, 2021 12:09 pm

Me thinks it’s mostly just virtue signaling.

October 24, 2021 2:21 pm

Oregon professors bloviate “and…”,

Richard Page
Reply to  gringojay
October 25, 2021 7:03 am

Nothing has changed for longer than that – wildfires across Greece have been happening for a very long while. Homer, in ‘the Iliad’ mentions natural wildfires happening across a heavily wooded Greece. Those Muppets are living in a fantasy dreamland, an imagined world that never existed.

Ron Long
October 24, 2021 2:25 pm

Jeez, Eric, you’re damaging my psyche with these two fruit-loops from Oregon State University. I have an MS from OSU, and my two influential professors, Bill Taubeneck and Cy Field, would raise hell for this kind of nonsense, unless it was from the Arts and Crafts group. Wait, it is from the Arts and Crafts group. Never mind.

John Tillman
Reply to  Ron Long
October 24, 2021 2:59 pm

That was then, Paisano. Now is now.

Ron Long
Reply to  John Tillman
October 24, 2021 3:55 pm

I ain’t going back, that’s for sure.

Reply to  Ron Long
October 24, 2021 4:55 pm

I stopped reading when these two educated nincompoops said that the ancient Greeks postulated philosophy based on the word profane, from profanum. It was obvious that the profanum was Latin, not Greek and so right into the dumper bucko. I shall sneer at the campus on my next drive past…what a couple of doufi!.

October 24, 2021 2:36 pm

It is the Anti-Science Greenies who are bulldozing entire forests and huge swaths of farmland to put up the Bird Choppers and Bird Fryer farms, not the fossil fuel realists.

Abolition Man
Reply to  TEWS_Pilot
October 24, 2021 3:32 pm

That should be “BAT Choppers and Bird Fryers!” Chairman Xi recommends Wuhan Fried Bats as the best way to build a healthy immune system; and every committed Greentard knows that bats should be harvested early in the morning while they’re still fresh from having their lungs explosively decompressed! You then place them on the nearest solar panel for a scrumptious lunch, or dinner, depending on the season and local weather conditions!

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Abolition Man
October 24, 2021 4:11 pm

When I was out collecting in the Sonoran Desert, when I got to where I was going I’d put a couple of frozen Arby’s roast beef sandwiches, wrapped in their aluminized paper, on the exhaust manifold of my Scout. When I got back in a couple of hours, they were not only unfrozen, but an ideal temperature for eating. There is a lot more meat in an Arby’s than on a bat.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
October 25, 2021 3:11 am

Agreed, Arby’s roast beefs do contain a lot of beef-like substance. But have you ever examined it closely? Like so many fast-food meats, they flake the real meat and then compress it in a form that can be sliced or extruded into the desired shapes. I applaud your very clever method of reheating your frozen meal, however.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
October 25, 2021 9:36 am

I said nothing about the nutritional value. As Nietzsche observed, “That which does not kill you, makes you stronger.” 🙂

John Larson
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
October 25, 2021 1:06 pm

Of course he lost his mind at 45 . . so you might want to go easy on that fast food ; )

Reply to  John Larson
October 25, 2021 5:20 pm

Not to worry. Nietzsche never had any of that fast food.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
October 25, 2021 5:18 pm

With curly fries?

They do broaden the nutritional intake.

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  Abolition Man
October 24, 2021 7:12 pm

comment image

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Abolition Man
October 25, 2021 4:30 am

The windmills don’t even chop the bats. Instead, all the bats have to do is get close enough and the air pressure caused by the windmills makes their lungs explode.

Windmills are an environmental disaster.

Richard Page
Reply to  TEWS_Pilot
October 25, 2021 7:04 am

Not to mention the palm oil plantations for their biofuels.

Reply to  TEWS_Pilot
October 25, 2021 7:27 am

Half of Borneo mowed down and orangutans kicked out to make room for palm oil plantations to make bio-diesel.

Environmentalists are killing the environment!

October 24, 2021 2:45 pm

Now we’re getting somewhere. Cancel everything associated with the Greeks. That should atone us for our climate sins! Then can we get back to normal?

Reply to  markl
October 24, 2021 6:01 pm

You homophobe.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  markl
October 24, 2021 6:30 pm

What have the Greeks ever done for us?

I mean not as if they were the Romans!

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Craig from Oz
October 24, 2021 6:57 pm

Exactly! The Greeks, they mainly sat about thinking about stuff. The Romans, on the other hand actually implemented stuff using these ideas. Many structures still stand and are in use today, and those roads are phenomenal.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
October 25, 2021 3:14 am

Here in Portugal we have a lot of Roman stuff extant. There are segments of road all over the country and still in use. Their bridges are everywhere and many are still being used, even for auto traffic. The Romans built stuff to last!

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
October 25, 2021 3:28 am

“The Romans built stuff to last!”
One benefit of slave labor.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
October 25, 2021 4:13 am

Was it all built by slave labor? Didn’t the military do a lot of building in the provinces also?

Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
October 25, 2021 5:16 am

No it was not slave labor. Please see my comment above. The Army required skilled labor of its soldiers.

Richard Page
Reply to  Sara
October 25, 2021 7:07 am

Let’s not forget that it was the Greeks that were the greatest slave-owning society in the world (based on numbers of slaves per free man), not the Romans.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
October 25, 2021 4:34 am

The Romans were pretty good at military construction, too.

Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
October 25, 2021 5:14 am

The Romans were excellent engineers. And N-O, no, the roads and bridges and buildings were NOT built by slave labor. That is a complete fallacy.

They were built by the Army. Every soldier had a manual labor skill like carpentry or stone-cutting or blacksmithing (armor and weapons) or harness repair, and when the ARMY was not fighting Caledonians and Picts and Galls and Bretons, they were building roads and bridges. It was the Army that built Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall further south (mostly buried now), not slave labor. There were twp other walls built in Britain.

It was a Roman engineer who discovered that cement made with the right materials (fly ash) will harden under water. That was tested and confirmed some 40 years ago. This allowed Roman engineers to build a port at Myos Hormos on the Red Sea, among other constructions, to increase trade between Rome and the Far East.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Sara
October 25, 2021 6:35 am

That’s what I thought. It would not have been a good thing to allow all those soldiers to sit around with nothing to do. Idle hands are the devil’s tools, after all. Portugal gave them endless grief but they kindly left us a lot of good stuff.

Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
October 25, 2021 7:27 am

It’s been a long time since Mr. Dirksen’s 2nd year Latin class, but if I recall correct6ly, the Roman Army required a skill such as carpentry or leather/harness making or blacksmithing or engineering buildings for entry into the Army. The pay was good, too: families of Roman Army got quarterly grain allotments as well as an annual year-end bonus. There were referred to as “donae” (plural of “dona”), and the equivalent in modern cash value, as I calculated it for an article on a veterans’ blog, was close to $180,000 per annum in toto.
They also got sala (salt), from which salaria (salary) originates, and health care was a given.

Reply to  markl
October 25, 2021 10:56 am

No, that would obviate their need for continuing “research” in the Greek isles.

Dave Fair
Reply to  markl
October 25, 2021 10:57 am

markl, that is what has been going on for decades. Which is the culture being canceled, do you think?

Mike Dubrasich
October 24, 2021 2:50 pm

Reconsider: What is the world?

A better question is “What’s for lunch?” The sophists of Thermageddon won’t be providing the provender because they can’t do anything useful. Lost in dreamland, they would starve without “ethically challenged” farmers, ranchers, truckers, grocers, butchers, cooks, and other mechanistic reductionists.

Thankfully for the Ivory Towerists, the less-than-good citizens of Oregon do provide lunch and much more for the exceedingly useless faculty at our land grant university. Are the leaches of privilege grateful? No, the fools think they’re owed a salary for trite sophistry and other insults.

If anyone is to blame for the decades of catastrophic wildfires that annually destroy our heritage forests, it’s the faculty of dunces at OSU. They stare blankly at walls and proffer ridiculous theories and excuses while entire watersheds go up in flames. The studious amorality of degreed philosophers of “environmental ethics” is a burden the rest of us would rather not bear any more.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
October 24, 2021 6:59 pm

Reconsider: What is the world?

A better question is “What’s for lunch?”

I believe that this may have been the genesis of the Theory of Bistromathics. Remember, time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.

Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
October 25, 2021 7:29 am

They’re likely all a bit too plump for their own good, too, aren’t they? Put a rake and a shovel in their hands and tell them to get busy chopping weeds out of the carrots. I’d like to see just how long they last.

Curious George
October 24, 2021 2:55 pm

Back to Hunting and Gathering! Unfortunately, not everybody can survive. Fortunately, our Elites are getting ready for this new lifestyle and changing curricula everywhere for the purpose.

Reply to  Curious George
October 25, 2021 7:31 am

No, no, George! They will expect YOU to bring home the venison and the wild hog pork chops. They should, instead, be required to do the butchering if they want to have a meal, so drop the carcasses on their desks and tell them to get busy. 🙂

Reply to  Sara
October 25, 2021 6:20 pm

Start em on the easy stuff.
Digging tubers using a stick; picking fruits & berries then drying fruits & berries; Picking seeds e.g., corn, squash, beans, sorting, cleaning and drying same; cleaning fish, splitting fish, drying fish; picking nettles, picking flax then processing both for fiber.

Every day for at least half the day.

Among the Plains Indians, the men shot the bison and the family did all of the butchering, carrying the meat home, slicing meat and drying the meat.
The ladies processed the skins in a society without cloth… That is, they chew the skins to soften them for use as clothing.

The men got a little more freedom, they didn’t get to be indolent. It is a lot of work hunting, trapping, fishing, husbandry over hill, dale and mountains and rivers. Day in, day out, season after season.

Nor were these communities little socialist groups. It was up to every person to pull their share. First providing themselves, their families, their livestock the foods they need. Sharing was amongst family groups. Gifts of food and clothing to the needy were not unusual.

Reply to  ATheoK
October 26, 2021 4:59 am

Same thing with Heidelberg man, several hundred millenia earlier. The entire family participated in prepping meat for storage and kids were taught early to hunt along with adults. The Heidelberg museum has javelins – double-ended lances that were child-sized, among other things like hand axes.

October 24, 2021 3:05 pm

The ancient Greeks wrote down their thoughts. If I recall correctly, at least one of them expressed the opinion that Greek civilization was a way better way to go than the barbarity of some of the local tribes that weren’t civilized.

So, what were those uncivilized barbaric tribes thinking. We don’t know because they couldn’t write. So it’s all conjecture. University profs are really good at conjecture. They can spin whole societies from whole cloth.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  commieBob
October 24, 2021 4:15 pm

It has been my experience that what distinguishes Mensans from average people is they are better at articulating their rationalizations for their irrational behavior. That is even more true for most PhDs.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
October 24, 2021 7:07 pm

I’ve come across many educated idiots in my lifetime.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
October 25, 2021 9:40 am

I suspect that part of the problem is that as they continue their education they become so specialized that they lose sight of the bigger picture. Thus, they become functional ‘idiots.’

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
October 25, 2021 7:22 pm

“It has been my experience that what distinguishes Mensans from average people”

I’ve met very few Mensans that impressed anyone.
Someone that mentions Mensa, once, in a conversation, is odd enough as it is extremely infrequent that Mensa is the topic. i.e., a signal of an attention seeker.

Someone mentions Mensa twice and I start looking for the exit path. More than an attention seeker, they’re looking for reasons to feel superior.

Having brains is only a small portion of intelligence. Common sense, to me, is worth far more than basic intelligence.
Beyond that, it takes social skills to live in a society, especially to live as equals in the society.

I’d add physical skill to that, as a healthy body helps a healthy mind.
Even though most of us are temporarily able, quite a few souls are disabled early in life and must make do with the physical skills they have.

Then there a honest willingness to get down, dirty and work hard.
My Father ran a large chemical laboratory.
The quickest way for new PhDs to get on his bad side was to leave their labware and lab-space dirty.
Saying something akin to, “I’m a Doctor, I don’t wash test tubes!” shortened many careers. If they would have started with how much per hour they earn and that it’s be cheaper to buy new labware, they’d be talking his language. It wouldn’t work, but they’d be on more favorable terms.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  commieBob
October 24, 2021 7:03 pm

So, what were those uncivilized barbaric tribes thinking.

I suspect that they were mostly thinking “Who are those useless twats sitting about yakking all day? Who’s up for some rape and pillage?”

Richard Page
Reply to  commieBob
October 25, 2021 7:11 am

The Greeks divided the world into Greeks and barbarians – with barbarians only fit for slavery. The Persians also wrote extensively and had the greatest library in the world at Persepolis until the Greeks burned it to the ground.

michael hart
October 24, 2021 3:07 pm

“Kathleen Dean Moore

Distinguished Professor Emerita, Oregon State University”

I shudder to think what the undistinguished Professors are like.

Reply to  michael hart
October 24, 2021 6:22 pm

I hope they’re watching the global transmission of the Western drought, live from Santa Clara.

(49ers winning BTW)

Tom Abbott
Reply to  philincalifornia
October 25, 2021 4:40 am

They played a good footbal game considering how hard the rain was falling in Los Angeles Can’t they afford a covered stadium out there?

Here comes the California drought relief. Just like happened a few years ago. It a good thing they got the dam fixed.

October 24, 2021 3:08 pm

Maybe this silly Scientific article has the answer?


Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 24, 2021 7:06 pm

In fact, our brains are so enormous compared to all other mammals that we have to be born utterly helpless. Most mammals are born with abilities to help them survive, at least after a very short time. We need years to become even slightly independent.

That’s quite a serious trade-off to enable intelligence. And now we seem to be losing our intelligence too…

Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 24, 2021 7:55 pm

They used to think wolves would be smarter than dogs because they needed to be. It turns out that dogs are smarter than their wild cousins because they have a steady supply of food and being smarter is beneficial for getting along with people. link (there are plenty of opinions to the contrary)

I suspect hunter-gathering requires less brain power than civilization. To stretch the point, perhaps beyond its elastic limit, any dumb squirrel is a successful hunter-gatherer but is not at all adept at using power tools.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  commieBob
October 25, 2021 3:18 am

To survive as a hunter-gatherer you don’t have to work nearly as hard as a farmer or tender of livestock. I saw an article about this some years ago, a few hours a day can provide for one’s needs.

Reply to  commieBob
October 25, 2021 8:34 am

I agree with a caveat, environmentalists and politicians adept at using the modern tools of smartphones and computers seem less intelligent than, say, a beaver, who builds for the future using age-old trusted methods.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Patrick
October 24, 2021 8:01 pm

<wry smile>

Folks who have been paying attention to my ravings will know why I’m smiling.
I’ll bookmark this one and come back to it sometime, maybe several times.

Give you a chance to figure it out.

Clue 1: Myself and Donald J Trump would have exchanged a brief knowing glance, very brief and no more, should we have been within sight of each other upon learning this.
Clue 2 The name/word ‘sciencealert‘ in this context is so funny I really do have tears in my eyes right now
Clue 3 Is the essay-writing comp still open, I may enter it now…..

edit to PS another clue:
Its 4 in the morning here and I am wide awake, the subwoofers are singing at 5.8 ‘out of 11’ – I am in 2nd heaven & loving it
is that why I smile and laugh?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Patrick
October 25, 2021 4:42 am

We must be on the same page, Patrick. I posted somthing similar just a few minutes ago.

John the Econ
October 24, 2021 3:33 pm

Again with these “hunter-gatherer” intellectuals. Their professed desired lifestyle is available to them any time they wish to actually engage in it.

Reply to  John the Econ
October 25, 2021 5:18 am

And then there are those urban hunter gatherers who survive by dumpster diving.

But they are dependent on a population that eats out a lot and doesn’t clean their plates. It doesn’t work if everyone starts dumpster diving for sustenance.

Reply to  John the Econ
October 25, 2021 5:29 am

Oh, now, John the Econ, you know quite well that they don’t really want the real hardships that accompany living in a primitive lifestyle. Even a brief trip back to the 1950s would shake their complacency and smug little SFBrains and scare them to pieces.

While I would enjoy the denouement involved in watching them faint from sheer fright at having to live like my great-grandma did in the 19th century (wood-burning stove in the kitchen, a lost skill these days), I doubt they could survive more than a half day of exposure to that reality.

However, I’m willing to set up a log cabin like my great-grandparents did in Wisconsin and knuckle down to cook my food in the fireplace, and make them bake bread that has a crust so hard, you can use it as a soup bowl (trencher bread bowl). I doubt they’d survive the experience, but it might be worthwhile to thrust it upon them.

4E Douglas
October 24, 2021 3:34 pm

My Girlfriend is Native American Choctaw, tribal member. I’m part Cherokee
Verified but because of where grandma was born can’t be member of the nation.
Not one of her realtives,or mine would consider going back to a lifestyle of hunter gatherers, and subsistence
farming. She gets oil money
from her tribe. She likes that .

The OSU people ought to spend time chasing Bison over the plains, living in a cold cave, in Europe, or mud hits on a savannah .

In other words, they will pry my Tahoe out of my cold dead fingers.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 24, 2021 5:00 pm

Yes, they have a vision for the society but have no desire to live in that vision themselves. At least, not at the level of those who will have to suffer through it everyday.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 24, 2021 5:45 pm

But think of the sacrifice they’re making … suffering the opprobrium of right thinking people in order to show how humans turned their backs on the true, ‘natural’ path. Clearly it is they who are making the sacrifice.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 25, 2021 5:31 am

People like you all do give me hope. Civilization will only fail in cities, not out there in the hinterlands.

October 24, 2021 3:46 pm

I didn’t realize it, but the whole field of anthropology is worse than climate science. Until you understand that, articles like the one above are apt to perplex you:

The Dangerous Life of an Anthropologist

Limping in crutches, his broken leg shielded in plaster following a jogging accident, the distinguished biologist Edward O. Wilson made his way slowly toward the stage at a convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1978. Climbing the stairs, taking his seat, and shuffling his notes, a sudden burst of activity punctuated the silence as the entire front row of the audience leapt onto the stage hurling insults. They jostled Wilson and then poured iced water over his head. The protesters would turn out to be Marxists, incensed by the publication of Wilson’s book Sociobiology.

Chagnon’s detractors were appalled. Not only was he accusing a pristine Amazon society of rewarding its most violent males with reproductive success, he was also inferring that mankind itself was stained with the blood of our ancestors. This hypothesis threatened to force an entirely new way of thinking about human behaviour, and promote a new paradigm of human behavioural ecology. Chagnon had tottered onto the unforgiving battlefield of the science wars, and anthropologists lined up to shower him with criticisms and derision.

How the Science Wars Ruined the Mother of Anthropology

And on and on it goes… search Quillette to find more.

I was very disappointed to discover all of that, naively thinking anthropology was a very interesting “truth seeking” social science. However, after wading through all of that the one thing I learned is that anthropology (and even archeology) will often tell you more about the “current society” we are living in than the ancient society anthropologists are studying. You can Google: “Marxist Anthropology“, “Nazi Anthropology“, etc to prove it to yourself. (sigh)

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Anon
October 24, 2021 5:52 pm

Margret Mead seems to have kicked off the move in anthropology from a quasi scientific field to one of pure fantasy, with no more important goal than sociopolitical propaganda.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Anon
October 25, 2021 3:30 am

It is not necessary to be a Marxist to be disgusted and feeling indignation after reading Wilson’s “Sociobiology” and other of his writigns on the same subject: having a sound knowledge of biology and the historical development of this science is enough to throw away those publications are pure, ideologic non-scientific rubish.

One of the older, senior full professors of mine, who was very far from being or thinking as a Marxist, immediately after “Sociobiology” was issued, has written and published (in Portuguese) one very well argumented book directed to students of biology and cultivated lay persons criticizing this doctrine and demonstrating that it was NOT compatrible with the then current biological knowledge.

Reply to  Joao Martins
October 25, 2021 7:49 am

The point I was trying to make was not to support Wilson, but to point out how untethered the field is in general. Hence, it is apt to reveal more about the thinking of one’s own society than the one being studied.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Anon
October 25, 2021 9:17 am

You are right. That is a plague in Biolgy: anthropomorphisation of nature. I often cite Crick’s “central dogma”: either it comes from a dogmatic mind (one that believes in dogmas, intellectual constructs without any relation whatsoever with material reality) or from someone that has not fully digested the significance of democracy and sees society as a pyramid where the vertex thinks and orders and everything downstairs obeys in proportion to its distance from the vertex, the base being absolute obedience. The “central dogma” is the reflection in the cell functioning of an authoritarian, Orwellian society: information ONLY can be transferred top-down, NEVER upwards (elites rule; people do not even have the right to speak). But a few years later reverse transcription has been discovered… And later on, prions and mad-cow disease… and…

Wilson has done the same when creating sociobiology. I understood your point and agree with it. But mine was to stress that to see this mistake one does not need to be a Marxist, having a good scientific basis is enough.

Abolition Man
October 24, 2021 3:50 pm

Articles like this make me rethink the Idaho state borders, again!
I now see their borders moving further and further west as rural Washingtonians and Oregonians despair of sanity ever being restored in their coastal cities! Maybe it would be better to isolate these centers of mass psychosis by building walls around them and declaring them free trade zones or some such!
We could add SF and LA to the mix, and merely require proof of sanity and sobriety to exit!
Let the eco-loons figure out how to provide themselves with water, food and power; maybe the ChiComs will provide floating power plants, as they seem to already be in control of the state governments!

Clyde Spencer
October 24, 2021 4:01 pm

I wasn’t really surprised when I discovered that this was first published in The Conversation.

I’m beginning to suspect that these old, formerly prestigious universities have lead water pipes.

Abolition Man
October 24, 2021 4:08 pm

Another great find!
If the High Church of Climastrology is so concerned about things spiritual, then why are they and their fellow co-religionists in the Progressive cults so intent on destroying Judaism and Christianity?
I mean aside from being integral parts of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, and serving as the basis for the only movement to win a worldwide war against slavery, what else has Judeo-Christian civilization accomplished?

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 24, 2021 5:56 pm

For some reason this attempt to tear down religions of the book does not seem to extend to Islam, I’m not sure why.

This has always been one of the great mysteries to me as well. How has Islam managed to dodge the bullet so often?

Reply to  Rory Forbes
October 24, 2021 7:12 pm

Islam is opposed to Western civilization. So are Marxists.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  MarkW
October 24, 2021 8:53 pm

Islam is opposed to Western civilization

Yes, that’s very clear. My quandary is how and why they manage to get such a free pass for how they manifest their hate for us. Marxists are all irrational and simply oppose everything reasonable.

Climate believer
Reply to  Rory Forbes
October 25, 2021 12:58 am

The left are the useful idiots of Islam, when the time comes they will be eliminated along with the rest of us Kufr.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Climate believer
October 25, 2021 9:40 am

The thing about the Islamists is; they can’t even get along with each other … rather like the “woke” people. Everyone is more virtuous than everyone else.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Rory Forbes
October 25, 2021 9:44 am

They deal very severely with apostates. Perhaps more so than infidels that don’t know better.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
October 25, 2021 10:23 am

They deal very severely with apostates.

You might even say they keep Medieval times alive and current.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Rory Forbes
October 25, 2021 7:51 pm

Surely you aren’t suggesting that they are responsible for the second coming of the Medieval warming? 🙂

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
October 25, 2021 9:03 pm

Heaven forbid … !

Reply to  Rory Forbes
October 25, 2021 11:01 am

“How has Islam managed to dodge the bullet so often?” – it may be because they are holding a gun…

Bad jokes/stereotypes aside, most Moslems are not shy about defending their faith, while Christians have been brow-beaten over the past few centuries about past ‘ religious’ wars and the need for tolerance, even tolerance for cults, and those religious wars were actually power grabs by the local king who wanted to be Pope too.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  PCman999
October 25, 2021 12:59 pm

Well said … and I might add; in Western culture tolerance is considered a virtue and in practice is just good manners, whereas other societies have no such nicety. Aside from that, though, Islam gets a complete pass. Almost within hours of 9/11 the apologists were out in force telling us not to look at the elephant in the room.

Bridget Gabriel’s response to Western complacency about Islam …

Full Context: Benghazi Accountability Coalition Event – YouTube

Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 24, 2021 6:26 pm

@Eric, it is because Islam was founded in the Seventh Century – and has not changed ever since. They view the followers of it as being much closer to the “Noble Savages” of Rousseau, which is their ideal state for Mankind.

Abolition Man
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 24, 2021 6:56 pm

Radical Islamists are acceptable to Marxists because they share so much in common! Both are slave-based; with one elevating the State to Godhood, and the other using the state to enforce ancient, anti-educational beliefs!
Besides, even Marxists know that if you push an Islamist too far they will happily kill you!

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Abolition Man
October 24, 2021 8:58 pm

Marxists and Islamists are kindred spirits primarily because they are both founded on the irrational ravings of sociopaths and believe the doctrines absolutely.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 24, 2021 9:54 pm

There is that concept that humans are somehow outside nature and must learn (be forced to ) live in harmony with it.

Joe Gordon
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 25, 2021 2:05 am


Same was true about the Christians hundreds of years ago. If America’s Founding Fathers had not recognized a need to separate church and state, we’d have a vastly different world. And the Beavers of Oregon State wouldn’t be senile professors, they’d be rodents cavorting around the Columbia River.

October 24, 2021 5:17 pm

The question arises: Why do you hate Gaia?
Granted, the thought of returning to a simpler time where life is in harmony with nature is alluring, but often considered as hopelessly romantic.
Perhaps it is worth a consideration, after all.
“With a new worldview, or one inspired by ancient Indigenous cultures, we believe it may be
possible for Western civilization to free itself from the old materialism and restore life, spirit, purpose, value”

To restore “life and spirit”, what could be better than the old pagan Springtime Fertility Rites. Just grab some hot, nubile young thing and off to the woods you go. Perfect.

How about those “ancient Indigenous cultures” in the New World.
Slavery, cannibalism, ritual sacrifice. They would take victim up to the altar, hold them down and cut out their heart. The heart would be held aloft, still beating, for the roaring approval of the crowd. Bring your kids, every summer and winter solstice, get good close seats.
Now whenever your kids act up, just tell them “You’re Next” The little brats will behave.
In any event, a good ritual sacrifice would be a much better evening out than a trip to the movies today with all the bland, politically correct bilge on offer.

And there is this: “With a new worldview”
Slavery – The greatest labor saving invention since the “Roomba”.
That is some “worldview”.

Perhaps the ancients did know what they were doing after all.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 24, 2021 7:13 pm

Too busy sitting about yakking all day. If the Romans had been given steam engines, we’d have had the industrial revolution before Christianity started.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 24, 2021 7:14 pm

They didn’t have the metallurgical knowledge needed to create high pressure boilers.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  MarkW
October 25, 2021 2:28 am

No reason they couldn’t have learned how to make high pressure boilers. Look how long it took to develop modern electrical technology, even ignoring various “toys” for producing and storing static electricity such as the Leyden Jar in the 1740s

Steam pump 1698 by Thomas Savery
Steam engine improvements James Watt 1775.
Water tube boiler 1776
Bessemer Converter 1856
Steam turbine 1884
First electric light 1802
First electrical alternator 1832
First mains system 1881 Godalming Surrey, generated using water

So 200 years before it all came together to create what we might recognise as a modern electrical mains system.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 25, 2021 4:30 am

See :
Leibniz, Papin and the Steam Engine:A Case Study Of British Sabotage of Science

The Greeks did not make Leibniz’s breakthrough of vis-viva, known today colloquially as kinetic energy, who realized a machine could do the work of 100 men, the basis of modern industrial economics.
Papin had a steam engine, needed better boilers, and Huygens demonstrated an engine running on gunpowder.
Huygens wrote :
“And although it may sound contradictory, it seems not impossible to devise some vehicle to move through the air ….”

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 25, 2021 10:02 am

Perhaps they didn’t see the point.

They had animals and human slaves to do menial work. The difference is that today our ‘slaves’ have skins made of metal or plastic, and don’t need to be fed when they aren’t working. Economically, ‘slaves’ that consume fossil fuels are more efficient and stronger. It took a paradigm shift to realize that human slaves were more expensive and less efficient than machines. In another 25 years even the Confederacy would have understood that and would have wanted to dispose of their slaves.

What king of old had a carriage drawn by 300 or more horses? If he had, those horses had to be fed and groomed even when they weren’t hitched up to the carriage and working. Fossil fuels and industrialization made slavery uneconomical, and created a middle-class.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  TonyL
October 25, 2021 9:50 am

… but often considered as hopelessly romantic.

As well it should be! It is the inexperienced view of urbanites that have always had refrigerators, have never had to butcher their own meat, and have never had to use an outhouse in the dead of Winter when it was -30 deg F!

Edward Katz
October 24, 2021 5:58 pm

A little reminder that if some theory is asinine enough, it has a good chance of being embraced by some branch of academia.

October 24, 2021 6:01 pm

It looks like a degree in “Environmental Ethics and Philosophy” is about as useful as a degree in Babylonian Pottery.

John Tillman
Reply to  PaulH
October 25, 2021 8:21 am

Less so.

Dave Fair
Reply to  PaulH
October 25, 2021 11:20 am

At least with the latter, you have something to piss in.

October 24, 2021 6:31 pm

A baby in every womb? There is no mystery in sex and conception.

Craig from Oz
October 24, 2021 6:40 pm

Irony of this?

These Educated Elites of Academia believe that society would be better if only we rejected the trappings of material life and went back to the old more spiritual ways.

Do they honestly believe that in a society that worships the moon cycle of the mushroom god there will be enough social structure to support Universities?

Learning and innovation is allowed to exist when you have safely solved the problems of where your next meal is coming from. Sitting down and musing on the ethics of the gender of trees does not hunt or gather your family group’s dinner.

These people are actually suggesting devolving the society that supports their very existence.

Like I have argued before, the main role of higher education in today’s environment is to keep the unemployable out of the job market.

John Dowser
October 24, 2021 10:30 pm

In their view, everything – river, mountain, child, tree – is enlivened by a life force”

This is a very odd interpretation of the ancients and certainly not any mainstream reading. If anything they described “everything” at times as being a primal balance of forces itself. Not as some mystic container. This is why it could evolve into natural sciences so easily.

alastair gray
October 25, 2021 12:59 am
October 25, 2021 1:30 am

What is the world? That was Plato. What is a good person? That was Socrates. Most Greeks were not philosophers but just interested in protecting and feeding their families. Everyone knows that the present Mediterranean climate was effected by goats.

October 25, 2021 2:44 am

So it is all about yet another fake religion. Got it.

October 25, 2021 3:33 am

Eric W. mentioned Rousseau’s “noble savage” in a comment above. That is exactly what this reads as to me. A glorification of the past. In reality it was hard, dirty, short, and only the strong survived. The authors would want us to believe that cattle were treated equal to humans, and in a way they were, as humans were routinely put into slavery.

The more modern incarnation (although also quite old) of the “life force in everything” concept is panpsychism – that consciousness is a fundamental force of the universe and in everything. But very important to note that this does not mean all matter is conscious in the same way humans are, and therefore not of the same moral importance. The theory is not saying that a spoon is self aware with an inner narrative or a feeling of free will.

Also interesting to note, if we’re being honest, panpsychism is actually a much simpler solution to the so called “hard problem of consciousness” than the strong emergence required for information processing and related theories.

This short paper by Phillip Gof provides an argument for panpsychism:

Panpsychism is Crazy, But it’s Also Most Probably True

This paper by Anil Seth provides a critique of panpsychism:

Conscious Spoons, Really? Pushing Back on Panpsychism

October 25, 2021 3:39 am

‘My point is, I doubt we could turn back the clock even if we wanted to. ‘

but what is climate skepticism if not a desire to stop/turn back the clock?

Reply to  griff
October 25, 2021 4:48 am

Greta clearly said the industrial revolution caused all her nightmares. Rolling back the industrial revolution is not an option.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  griff
October 25, 2021 4:58 am

That’s what you think skepticism is?

Joao Martins
Reply to  griff
October 25, 2021 6:22 am

You are right, griff!

But you are right IF, and only IF, you call “climate skepticism” to YOUR religion, that openly ignores and refuses to understand that climate is something of the realm of the “hard” (aka “exact”) sciences, and NOT one more post-modern social “science” playing with words which meaning they do not understand.

Yes, it is YOUR climate “science” that is “skeptical”, radically skeptical, of the physics and the other sciences of nature, it is YOUR “science” that rejects observed data when they do not fit its ideology, that cancels explanations that do not support YOUR irrational fears.

Richard Page
Reply to  griff
October 25, 2021 7:23 am

That’s the green position, Griffy. The Greens appear to want to take us back to a medieval society where the most advanced piece of technology is a windmill or water wheel. Grow up you delusional eedjit.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  griff
October 25, 2021 10:22 am

You have just demonstrated that you do not understand the issues! Those of us who consider ourselves climate skeptics complain about alarmists not rigorously following the Scientific Method by making assumptions and then looking for cherry picked facts to support the a priori assumptions. We want to “go boldly where no man has gone before” by inventing new technology without constraints of moral judgements or unsupported complaints about the negative impacts of technology. It is the alarmists such as yourself that want to rely on the obsolete technology of windmills and inefficient batteries to replace the wonder of a modern internal combustion engine. Alarmists are characteristically critical of power from nuclear fission, and typically are distrustful of thermonuclear fusion. Just because something is new does not mean that it is automatically better. But, we are willing to actually let the consumer try the new inventions and pass judgement with their credit cards, rather than emotionally reject things based on a quasi-religious dogma of what is good and bad.

Reply to  griff
October 25, 2021 10:26 am

Who is it that wants to put the climate back the way it was?

Richard Page
Reply to  TonyG
October 25, 2021 5:59 pm

No. They want to put the environment back the way they imagine it once was. They are fantasists.

Reply to  Richard Page
October 26, 2021 9:06 am

Good point, Richard. What’s funny is that they can never tell us what that desired end state actually is.

October 25, 2021 3:59 am

Gobekli Tepe pushed back to 12,000BP, shows something else about so-called hunter gatherers. This is the oldest ¨temple “site known, with full complex organization and engineering already fully developed there. Evidence of building at 14,500BP is reported.

This dates to just the Younger Dryas period.

Discovered by Klaus Schmidt to be much more than a Neolithic hill.
From 2020 new info :

For some Prof. to pronounce upon gods, etc, at this site, predating Stonehenge by 9000 years, is foolhardy.
Here is a debate :

Here is Pillar 43 :

Reply to  bonbon
October 25, 2021 4:44 am

And now a settlement older than nearby Gobekli Tepe : Boncuklu Tarla

Tom Abbott
October 25, 2021 4:16 am

From the article: “Perhaps something in humans changed, a new way of thinking, or perhaps even a mutation which changed us”

I read several article headlines yesterday claiming the human brain has gotten smaller since ancient times.

And my first search item a minute ago was this:

This should not cause concern. We know that small animals pack more neurons in a given space than does the human brain, so maybe the human brain is going this route. We are not getting dumber, we are just shrinking the thinking space. 🙂

Some people *are* getting dumber, but I doubt it has anything to do with their brain size. It’s CO2 that’s doing it.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 25, 2021 8:21 am

There is a historically unprecedented selection for stupidity going on right now so the smaller brains might just be the result of this. Never before that I know of were intelligent productive persons able to support the most intellectually, physically and morally inferior human beings.
The San Francisco homeless druggies situation reminds me of a mentally ill cat lady who keeps feeding cats until they eventually overrun her house.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Neonormal
October 25, 2021 10:25 am

The behavior would seem to be their emotions preventing them from looking into the future and imaging the long-term consequences of their actions.

Richard S Courtney
October 25, 2021 4:51 am

Eric Worrall,

Prof. Moore should refer to history before imposing her prejudices on her accounts of the past. Greek philosophy did generate the basics of experimental science but it did not initiate the need and desire for industrialisation.

The greatest inventor of all time, Heron (aka Hero) lived in Alexandria while Christ was conducting His ministry in Israel. Born in 10 AD, Heron devoted his life to science and technology until he died in AD 70. He is often called ‘The father of physics’ because he concentrated on learning through conduct of experiments instead of the then more traditional philosophical studies.

Heron recorded detailed descriptions of his many inventions and their mechanisms. They included
automata and automatic theatres,
a self-trimming oil lamp,
the hypodermic syringe,
the fire engine,
automatic doors,
coin-operated slot machines.

Temples used Heron’s devices to amaze worshippers. An especially impressive one of these was his coin-operated slot machine that dispensed precise amounts of holy water for cleansing the hands of worshippers.

Heron’s hypodermic syringe used tubular glass needles. Modern manufacturing methods enable metal syringe needles to be made and which, for example, are being used to inject vaccines against Covid-19.

Perhaps Heron’s greatest invention was his aeolipile or ‘wind ball’. This single device is the first known example of a steam engine, a gas turbine, and a jet engine (yes, all of those in one device!). A large, sealed cauldron of water was heated by a fire. The water boiled and the resulting steam left the cauldron via two pipes which vented into a hollow metal sphere. The sphere had a pair of bearings through its wall and these were on either end of the sphere’s diameter. The pipes passed through the bearings which formed pivots that supported the sphere while the pipes injected the steam into the sphere. Vents on the side of the sphere enabled the steam to escape. The vents directed the escaping steam as jets of steam which pushed the sphere so it rotated around the pivots.
A web search provides videos of several operating versions of Heron’s ‘wind ball’.

So, steam power existed since the time of Christ but nearly two millennia would pass before the industrial revolution happened. Some may ponder why this delay existed, and they are right to ponder because the reason is important for adoption of technologies to this day.

Societies adopt technologies that provide net benefit. Adoption of steam power would have been an economic disaster for the ancient world. That world depended on slavery and would have been unable to cope with the disruption of many slaves being displaced from employment.

Our world is very different from the ancient world. Our society benefits from full employment and obtains productivity increase from use of mechanical slaves. For example, I keep a mechanical slave in my kitchen: I put my dirty laundry in it and it does my washing. A modern manufactory uses a variety of mechanical slaves that are tended by people.

Transition from the ancient world to industrial civilisation required large adjustments of infrastructure, employment practices and social structures.  Many were hurt by the several changes and, for example, this is why the Luddite movement tried to stop mechanisation.

But we did achieve the transition, didn’t we? Well, some of us did, but not all of us. The developing world now wants the benefits of energy use and mechanisation which we in the developed world take for granted. Attainment of those benefits requires much adjustment.

Transfer of technology is not easy and is not cheap. The ‘Nigerian tractors’ example is instructive.

Nigeria decided to increase its agricultural production by use of tractors. Many tractors were purchased and distributed to farms. The immediate result was impressive: agricultural production soared. But tractors require maintenance and that needs training for mechanics and funds for replacement parts. Slowly and surely the tractors failed, but before they failed their weight had compressed the farmland which hindered use of the land for non-mechanical agriculture. Five years after adopting the use of tractors agricultural output had fallen in Nigeria and the farms had broken tractors by their fields.

The G7 economic summit was held recently and a UN CoP (i.e. climate conference) is imminent. Such conferences talk about doing difficult things as though those things were easy. For example, adoption of a few coal-fired power stations for electrification requires minimal staff training and infrastructure construction: that is why we used that method for electrification of our country. But the G7 claimed – and the CoP – will claim wind and solar power should be used for electrification of the developing world. That is an immoral excuse for keeping the poor in poverty. If wind power were economic then oil tankers would be sailing ships, and people want to switch their lights on – not off – when the Sun goes down.


Andy Pattullo
October 25, 2021 7:49 am

Trying to understand the past by focusing only on an aristocratic elite who had time to sit and ponder their navels in temples is like trying to understand modern life by studying the wealthiest idiots in Hollywood. Trying to emulate that elite existence is essentially ignoring the mainstream of human society and putting our whole existence at risk. Sense apparently isn’t common after all.

October 25, 2021 10:56 am

What changed? Agriculture and storable Grains. not everyone was working to sustain the population, there where now people who were free to build and innovate. In other words life was no longer as hard and dangerous, yeah lets go back to that.

Steve Z
October 25, 2021 2:02 pm

The distinction between non-living and living (or what the Greeks called material and spirit) has definitely evolved over time. Of the four examples given in the article (river, mountain, child, tree), only the child and the tree are truly alive, and it is not clear whether plants actually have a “spirit”, while a child certainly has a sense of self that could be considered “spirit”.

In today’s understanding of nature, air, water, soil, and rocks are considered inanimate matter, while plants, animals (including humans), and microbes are considered to be living. We also separate plants (which are normally considered to be fixed in one place) to be different from animals (capable of independent movement).

There are definite interactions between the inanimate matter and living organisms: plants can absorb inanimate CO2 from the air, water and other nutrients from the soil to produce sugars (for food) and leaves and flowers; animals can eat living plants and drink inanimate water for their sustenance, and animal excretions and dead organisms can be decomposed into inanimate materials. So it can be asked, at what point do six CO2 molecules and six water molecules develop a “spirit” when they are photosynthesized into sugar in a leaf?

Beyond paganism, the more recently developed religions also guided people’s attitudes toward other life and “spirit”. The God of the Old Testament asked the Hebrews to kill and burn animals to atone for their sins, while Hindus believe that the spirits of deceased relatives may be reincarnated in animals, particularly cattle. But modern religions do not believe that air, water, or rocks can have “spirit”, and most of their followers will cut down trees for use as fuel, and grow crops for the sole purpose of eating the fruit.

But re-imagining spirits in the air, water, or ground will not help humanity survive, because today’s large population needs “exploitative” agriculture to feed itself. We obviously don’t want to over-pollute the air and water that sustains us and turn them into poison, but we don’t need to worship them either, just use them wisely.

Richard S Courtney
Reply to  Steve Z
October 26, 2021 1:15 am

Steve Z,

You say,
The distinction between non-living and living (or what the Greeks called material and spirit) has definitely evolved over time. Of the four examples given in the article (river, mountain, child, tree), only the child and the tree are truly alive, and it is not clear whether plants actually have a “spirit”, while a child certainly has a sense of self that could be considered “spirit”.

Sorry, but that assumes ‘spirit’ is self-aware and that is a misunderstanding of the Greek model of reality which was pantheistic (see ).

In that Greek model everything contains ‘spirit’ which controls its nature. For example, blacksmith’s were observed to have mystical powers because they had control over which ‘spirits’ inhabited an item made of iron so it could be hard and brittle or soft and ductile. Our world view uses a model that the properties of a piece of iron are established by its molecular structure which can be altered by heat treatment. Both understandings are what the scientific method calls models.

Reality is what it is but our understanding of reality is fashioned by the models of it which we construct with our minds. The Greeks had a different world view from us because their models of reality were different from ours.

A present day example of different models of reality is use of the phrase “the science”.
All real scientists know ‘science’ consists of temporary models. This is because science is a method to obtain the closest possible approximation to ‘truth’ by seeking evidence that refutes existing understanding(s) and altering the understanding(s) to accommodate the findings. So, there is no “the science” for real scientists: there is only our best available explanation at present.
Pseudoscientists mistakenly think ‘science’ consists of permanent models. This is because pseudoscience is a decision that existing understanding(s) is ‘truth’ and seeks anything to bolster that decision (e.g. evidence, consensus, assertion, etc.). So, “the science” is important to pseudoscientists because they think it is ‘truth’ (i.e. it is reality).


October 25, 2021 4:14 pm

ancient engineer who lived 3000 years ago and likely pioneered the use of columns in large buildings”

Not likely. Stone columns are stone versions of tree columns. With the expectation that the stone column would last a lot longer.

Keep in mind, that after the owners of stone dwellings are dead, it is normal for locals to borrow stones for which they see a purpose.
The only reason the pyramids are still standing is because the locals, which includes the Greeks and Romans didn’t get much further than the outer polished limestone casing.

If the pyramids were normal buildings, the romans would’ve repurposed the lot.

Wildfires driven by increasing winds and unprecedented heat surrounded Athens, Greece, this past summer, blanketing its ancient marble monuments and olive groves with ash and acrid smoke. These are the same places where philosophers gathered almost 2,500 years ago to debate questions about the nature of matter and morality.”

Which of these sacred trees is 2,500 years old or older?
I doubt any of those trees are much more than a hundred years, if that.

Instead, it is all bluff and hubris where because an author calls the grove sacred, it must be so.

So much for sacred.

August Teen
October 25, 2021 4:43 pm

The original article cheering on animism is pretty much a crock. Go to any animistic culture and see how they have preserved the earth around them. Not the temple grounds, but everywhere else. Then compare it to the U.S. Compare national parks in any animistic culture to ours in America.

Part of the difference is due to wealth, but most of it is that the American ethos was built on man as the caretaker of the earth. Yes, exploitation happens, but looks the result. People who worship trees will always be poor. And they will not take care of themselves or the environment.

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