Monday, April 02, 2018

"Who We Are and How We Got Here" - David Reich

Amazon link

For millennia astronomy (~ astrology) was a naked eye science. That was sufficient to chart the phenomena: the wanderers, the cloudy blobs, the falling stars. It fostered theories - the crystal spheres. There was an origins story: creation then stasis under the guiding hands of angels.

Telescopes, emission spectra and doppler shifts changed all that. The naked-eye astronomers with their theocratic agendas hated the new instruments and balked at the maths.

You have to pity the archaeologists and anthropologists: they really don't like Reich's book.



Perhaps more from me later: it's interesting and full of unexpected insights but despite the studied lack of jargon, it does make conceptual demands. It's not an effortless page-turner.


Update: Saturday April 7th 2018

I've now finished Reich's book, having read with trepidation those parts where he criticises Nicholas Wade, Henry Harpending and Greg Cochran, and James Watson by name, not shrinking from use of the r-word. His criticisms are curiously uncompelling, though veiled by intemperate language and tendentious argumentation.

As he himself observes, the message of his book is profoundly unsettling to the current liberal orthodoxy. He himself deals with the resulting cognitive dissonance by compartmentalisation .. exhibiting psychic stress when dealing with people who are less inhibited.

None of this really takes anything away from what is a fine piece of science-writing at a high conceptual level, which if taken on board revolutionises our ideas of human history.

And the work is just beginning!

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