Climate change global warming natural disaster freak weather etc. (1 Viewer)

Lili Marlene

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Goes to great lengths to demonstrate that deforestation was the fault of rats rather than Moai-making. What does it matter? The ecology of the island changed dramatically after human arrival, that's not disputed.
This is really fucking bugging me. There's a long held racist, colonial narrative that the people of Easter Island were so backwards they would rather build their idols than eat food and it led to the complete collapse of their civilization, it's the kind of narrative that Europeans at the time used to justify murder, rape and enslavement. An alternative theory is presented that totally upends this and you ask "What does it matter?"
 

Lili Marlene

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He goes to great lengths to demonstrate that very little was done to help the Irish during the famine and that they didn't die because they "didn't like corn." What does it matter? The population changed dramatically after the potato blight hit Ireland, that's not disputed.
 

egg_

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This is really fucking bugging me. There's a long held racist, colonial narrative that the people of Easter Island were so backwards they would rather build their idols than eat food and it led to the complete collapse of their civilization, it's the kind of narrative that Europeans at the time used to justify murder, rape and enslavement. An alternative theory is presented that totally upends this and you ask "What does it matter?"
He asserts that there was no ecological collapse on Easter Island at all. If the deforestation didn't do anyone any harm, then what difference does it make whether it was rats or humans who caused it?

AFAICS it only matters if you're trying to demonstrate that Easter Islanders didn't deserve what happened to them, so that part of the story (along with all the glowing references to Polynesian ingenuity) says to me that the podcast is mostly a reaction against the "racist, colonial narrative" you refer to. It doesn't feel like an honest attempt to uncover what really happened on the island

it's the kind of narrative that Europeans at the time used to justify murder, rape and enslavement
You see this kind of argument all over the internet, but I don't think it's plausible. Europeans sailed around the world in search of riches, took what they wanted, and killed millions through disease - just because they could. Any justifications they made were just post-hoc rationalisations to keep the do-gooders at home happy

Fighting against colonial narratives won't prevent exploitation, it just generates noise that obscures the truth. What really happened on Easter Island and what can we learn from it? You don't need to be "backwards" to fuck up your environment
 

Lili Marlene

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He asserts that there was no ecological collapse on Easter Island at all. If the deforestation didn't do anyone any harm, then what difference does it make whether it was rats or humans who caused it?
No he does not. He states several times that there was a collapse and puts forward a theory as to what happened (mostly that it was disease carried by Europeans that the natives had no protections against). He also discusses how the people who lived there changed the environment and learned how to deal with the changes they made.

AFAICS it only matters if you're trying to demonstrate that Easter Islanders didn't deserve what happened to them, so that part of the story (along with all the glowing references to Polynesian ingenuity) says to me that the podcast is mostly a reaction against the "racist, colonial narrative" you refer to. It doesn't feel like an honest attempt to uncover what really happened on the island
He is making an argument, of course he has a bias, the most dishonest arguments are the ones that pretend they are unbiased. Any listener with half a brain can discern between the bits where he is speculating and the bits based in evidence, he's not hiding this stuff. You don't even have to agree with it all, but shouting BIAS like that's an argument in itself does not help.

You see this kind of argument all over the internet, but I don't think it's plausible. Europeans sailed around the world in search of riches, took what they wanted, and killed millions through disease - just because they could. Any justifications they made were just post-hoc rationalisations to keep the do-gooders at home happy
Sorry, can you clarify what you're saying here, are you saying

Europeans sailed around the world in search of riches, took what they wanted, and killed millions through disease - just because they could.

or the opposite of this? Because that's what happened and if you agree with this I don't see what you're disagreeing with.

Fighting against colonial narratives won't prevent exploitation, it just generates noise that obscures the truth. What really happened on Easter Island and what can we learn from it? You don't need to be "backwards" to fuck up your environment
The truth? Yeah, indeed, the truth.

... oh and btw, "weasel words" was a description rather than an insult - it has a specific meaning in the wiki world and he is definitely using them Weasel word - Wikipedia
Yes i'm aware of the phrase and it's got an insulting tone to it for a reason.
 
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egg_

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No he does not. He states several times that there was a collapse and puts forward a theory as to what happened (mostly that it was disease carried by Europeans that the natives had no protections against). He also discusses how the people who lived there changed the environment and learned how to deal with the changes they made.
I said "ecological collapse", not population collapse. If deforestation didn't adversely affect anyone, which he most definitely does assert, then why do we care whose fault it was?

of course he has a bias
I'm saying he has an agenda, not a bias. It's the obvious agenda that makes me want to pick holes in his argument, and that makes you want to agree with him

can you clarify what you're saying here
Europeans sailed around the world in search of riches, took what they wanted, and killed millions through disease - just because they could.

That's what happened, yes. I'm disagreeing with the idea that what happened needed to be enabled by a racist-colonial narrative. Opportunistic competition for resources/status is explanation enough
 

egg_

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Actually, let me put that bias thing differently - I understand that people have intrinsic biases, and you can only look at the world with your own eyes, and the story you construct from the facts reflects your view of the world

In this case though I feel like he makes it obvious that there's a story he wants to construct. It's not an honest attempt to reflect what happened, it's a defense of the pre-European-arrival people of Easter Island, and therefore I am suspicious
 

Lili Marlene

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Actually, let me put that bias thing differently - I understand that people have intrinsic biases, and you can only look at the world with your own eyes, and the story you construct from the facts reflects your view of the world

In this case though I feel like he makes it obvious that there's a story he wants to construct. It's not an honest attempt to reflect what happened, it's a defense of the pre-European-arrival people of Easter Island, and therefore I am suspicious
Strange thing to say to say but yes, the guy is correcting 300 odd years of racist history, sorry 300 years of post-hoc rationalizations of opportunistic competition for resources/status, and in order to do so he's putting his thumb on the scales on the side of the natives. That much we can agree on even if I don't see that as acting dishonestly.

Now, in regards the details, he makes an argument that the people changed the environment by deforesting their island and then adapted to live with the changes successfully, but that something big changed where it all fell apart that coincides with contact with Europeans. Do you disagree with that and do you have any evidence for your case aside from disliking how he sides with the natives?
 

egg_

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Now, in regards the details, he makes an argument that the people changed the environment by deforesting their island and then adapted to live with the changes successfully, but that something big changed where it all fell apart that coincides with contact with Europeans. Do you disagree with that and do you have any evidence for your case aside from disliking how he sides with the natives?
As you say, my main issue is that he obviously sides with the natives, and therefore it's hard to me to trust what he's saying

Having said that - the key question IMO is whether deforestation caused a decrease in food supply leading to societal problems, and as far as I can see he presents very little evidence either way. He describes the islanders' horticultural techniques, but there's no indication of whether they'd be sufficient to maintain the population that a forested island may have supported.

But c'mere, here's a fairly recent paper on it Variation in Rapa Nui (Easter Island) land use indicates production and population peaks prior to European contact ... actually reading this thing it becomes obvious how very little can be known about the past, and how flimsy the scaffolding that any stories of the past are built on is.
 

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