After the Warming (James Burke 1989)

The Japanese run everything (does that scare you or delight you?). iTechnology is controlled with eyeMice. Everything he says about human evolution is VERY VERY wrong, just so you know. (E.g. “Mammoths” probably evolved after language. Native Americans do not descend from people who lived in caves in Siberia. Language did not emerge during the last ice age. And so on and so forth.)

Comments

  1. #1 llewelly
    September 18, 2009

    International agreement on global warming by 2000? Wow. What a mad optimist.
    But what good memories it all brings back. For what seems like almost 15 years, Connections was my favorite column in any periodical. Greatly influenced my view of history. Even after I learned Burke got tons of the details wrong (hm, seems to be a common trait for Scientific American columnists.)

  2. #2 Alan Kellogg
    September 19, 2009

    If you want to get technical about it, the ancestors of American Indians did live in that part of the world we usually refer to when we speak of Siberia. Though probably not in caves. By the time they got to North America they were very likely constructing shelters, and reserving cave dwelling for emergency situations.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    September 19, 2009

    Though probably not in caves.

    We paleoanthropologists are touchy about the cave thing. Modern humans (neanderthals included) lived in caves. Nobody else really lived in caves. Cave are not an earlier form of dwelling replaced by constructed houses. The homo erectus remains found in caves are almost always if not always, washed in or otherwise not associated with long term dwelling, with a few possible exceptions which are so rare or ambiguous as to not matter.

    That was the part I was objecting to. He has compressed the period from abou 2,000,000 to 50,000 into a few thousand years and had it all happen at all about the same time. That idea was vogue at some point in the past, but no longer is even close to supportable (and really hasn’t for a long time but there were silverbacks who kept it going longer than it deserved)

  4. #4 Lassi Hippeläinen
    September 19, 2009

    “Modern humans (neanderthals included) lived in caves.”

    Shouldn’t that be “…lived even in caves”? They must have lived elsewhere, too. Most of them.

    AFAIK the stone age caveman myth is based on sample bias. Remains have been found in caves, because there the environment preserves them well. But we don’t know how neanderthals lived in general, because we don’t have finds from other types of sites. Not even from bogs, because they are a post ice age feature. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    September 19, 2009

    Lassi: Also, everyone who works in the caves knows full well that if you dig a hole anywhere out on the valley that the cave overlooks it will be full of artifacts of the same age that the cave was occupied in. In other words, we actually DO know that they lived everywhere, did stuff everywhere, etc. This cave bias has several interesting aspects but one of them is that because archaeologist have focused on them to some extent at the cost of looking at open air sites, we know less than we might otherwise know.