Unwilding America

Before the Amerindians arrived, North America had much more varied (and dangerous)  wildlife than it does today: particularly when it comes to large animals, the megafauna.  Today, or for that matter during colonial times. there are only a few dangerous creatures around:  grizzly bears, black bears, polar bears, and a few poisonous snakes.  Mountain lions attack people, but rarely. I suppose some people die from drunkenly running their pickup into a buck on a country road.

Back in the Pleistocene, life was more exciting. You had to worry about really potent predators like dire wolves,  sabertooth cats, lions, and short-faced bears. There were also plenty of giant herbivores that would have been dangerous, ranging from mammoths to ground sloths.  In general, more like Africa today, a place where people who fall asleep walking home from the beer joint in the next village have their faces eaten by hyenas.

Paul Martin, who did excellent work in showing that Quaternary extinctions were caused by human hunters, felt that we should do our best to recreate those extinct faunas in North America, by introducing  wild horses,  camels, elephants, tigers,  and such to the great plains. I don’t think he ever bothered to explain why anyone would want to do this.  To him, it was obvious.  Not to me.

A related concept, the Wildlands Project,  was put forth almost 20 years ago. Loons are still pushing it.   The idea is that many species, especially predators, can only survive in the long term if they have much more space than they do currently.  So the people backing the Wildlands project want to expel humans from as much as half of the continent.   Some big names such as Paul Ehrlich and E. O. Wilson have endorsed this.  Of course, they’re all mad as hatters.

First question is why anyone would want to infest the nation with maneaters?  Right now, in most of the country, you don’t have  to worry about your kids being eaten.  Why would anyone want to change that? They’d have to be implacably hostile to the human race.  And of course, they are. Personally, reading the paper in the morning, I sometimes get sick of being  overly involved with mankind (Father slays Family of Five ! Millions Die in Indian Famine !) , but I’m not willing to go that far. Second, why would anyone think they could get away with this?  You’d have to be stupid as well as crazy.  Even with creeping Pinkerization, there are still an awful lot of rednecks with rifles.

Sometimes it is good to be reminded just how far around the bend our thought-leaders are.

I argue that cleansing the land of most of the creatures that were likely to squash or devour us was a good thing. I prefer farms and ranches to a howling wilderness.   The next time you see an Indian, remember what his ancestors did to make your children safe, and buy him a drink.

 

 

 

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77 Responses to Unwilding America

  1. Leonard says:

    The next time you see an Indian… buy him a drink.

    Oops. Well, it’s the thought that counts.

  2. dearieme says:

    There’s a similar movement in Britain. It has begun modestly by returning beavers to Scotland and wants to move on to the lynx. Long term, it wants wolves back. I dare say it’ll be bears after that.

    • dearieme says:

      I should point out that a restored British lynx would be quite a big chap. Here are figures from WKPD for males.

      Eurasian lynx 18 to 30 kilograms (40 to 66 lb)

      Canada Lynx 8 to 11 kilograms (18 to 24 lb)

      Bobcat 7.3 to 14 kilograms (16 to 31 lb)

  3. thras says:

    It is a mistake to think that mere human existence is the ultimate good. We cannot sum up everything with an equation like “(num. of humans) * (avg. num. years lived) = (your win points at the end of the universe).” Nor is there any ultimate value in the universal maximum utilization of nitrogen for human biomass.

    And given that, it would seem that there is some space for non-human animals to be valuable for their existence apart from their utility.

  4. anon666 says:

    ” I prefer farms and ranches to a howling wilderness.”

    I enjoy forests and mountains too, but preferably of the Norwegian variety, where if you walk far enough in any direction, you’ll hit a road in less than a day, which can lead you to a town. No need to worry about predators either. The Norwegians told me when I was there that there weren’t any animals that could kill you other that moose, who you can usually back away from unharmed.

    Some deep ecologist types regard any human settlement as a form of pollution upon the landscape, but I really enjoy the intermingling of natural and synthetic elements. I like trees and forests, but I also like looking at houses on a hill with a wooded backdrop. Some regard that as an abomination.

  5. anon666 says:

    “It is a mistake to think that mere human existence is the ultimate good. We cannot sum up everything with an equation like “(num. of humans) * (avg. num. years lived) = (your win points at the end of the universe).” Nor is there any ultimate value in the universal maximum utilization of nitrogen for human biomass.”

    However, one could take a less aspergersy approach and just say: I personally prefer civilization (with some natural elements mixed in) over unfettered wildness.

    In the grand cosmological scheme, the survival of a wilderness ecosystem isn’t any more or less important than the survival of humans, both of which are but a blip on the timeline.

  6. bob says:

    Of course, they’re all mad as hatters.

    That hasn’t stopped them. The .gov brings giant Mackenzie wolves from Canada and reintroduce them into Idaho, among other places, where they are becoming troublesome.

  7. Sid says:

    I think the dangerous wildlife of the America was more easily eradicable than it was in Africa. When the Indians first ventured into the Americas, the wildlife had never encountered human beings. In Africa, conversely, the wildlife had dealt with hungry, meat-eating human beings since the homo habilis, and had about two million years to adjust to hairless, upright mammals with sticks.

    So, “reintroducing” predators to the American landscape would mean bringing in types that had two million years to learn how to brutalize and devour human beings.

    • Glossy says:

      Humans have lived in Eurasia far longer than in the Americas, so ancient Eurasian megafauna must have been more used to people than ancient American megafauna. Yet a lot of the Eurasian megafauna is gone. The mammoths have all been eaten. There were still lions in southern Europe in Greco-Roman antiquity. They’re gone. Lions, saber-toothed tigers and cave bears were depicted in paleolithic European cave paintings. All of these are gone.

      It’s possible that the dangerous wildlife of America was more eradicable than its old-world counterpart. It’s also possible that Eurasians and Amerindians were better eradicators than Africans.

      • Sid says:

        The homo erectus began to march across Eurasia at least 1.8 million years ago, which gave the Eurasian megafauna a considerable amount of time to adapt. The homo erectus was a formidable hunter, but its intelligence, in the early years, was nowhere near our own. Once the Indians went across Beringa, though, their intelligence was formidable*.

        I’m sure the rise of agriculture and civilization spelled doom for much of the remaining megafauna in Eurasia. I’ll add, also, that Richard Lynn maintained that Africa has many more fruits and vegetables, so there was less impetus for intelligence to evolve. In Uganda, you could pick out enough fruits and vegetables to survive. In Mongolia, you needed huge slabs for meat to survive.

        * I know someone will try to correct me, stating that Native American intelligence is not high compared to whites and Asians (IQ around 88 or so). That intelligence is still high enough to hunt extremely effectively, and is far, far beyond the intelligence the early homo erectus had.

      • Cubano says:

        Intelligence still enough to hunt very effectively, and to study astronoy, for that matter. Now, IQ seems to vary in much shorter terms that what you are considering. Apparently it was so with the Ashkenazi. The IQ may have varied several times in 1.8 m.y.

      • Cubano says:

        correction: Still *high* enough

      • Sid says:

        “Now, IQ seems to vary in much shorter terms that what you are considering. Apparently it was so with the Ashkenazi. The IQ may have varied several times in 1.8 m.y.”

        The difference between the Ashkenazi and the homo erectus is that the Ashkenazi lived in agricultural societies. The Askhenazi evolution towards higher intelligence was possible because there were so many more of them (because of agriculture), and thus there was a broader number of them, and of those, many of them were very intelligent. The Ashkenazis were also in a situation whereby intelligence was actively selected (i.e., Rabbis and bankers were considered choice mates among Ashkenazi women), and those who couldn’t compete could opt out and convert to Christianity.

        I’m not doubting that the homo erectus became more intelligent over the ages, but it probably was not quickly enough for Eurasian megafauna to not be able to adapt to their intelligence in turn. The Native Americans, in contrast, were already highly intelligent, and the megafauna in the Americas had no experience with hominids, and hence were easy prey.

      • Sid is amending his list: Agriculture, high population, bone cold winters. Does the Levant qualify?

      • Sid says:

        “Agriculture, high population, bone cold winters. Does the Levant qualify?”

        Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen put the average IQ of Lebanon at 86…

    • Cubano says:

      Fair enough.

      • Sid, hombre: Is agriculture the sine qua non of intelligence? Should I marry an Iowa farm girl?

      • Sid says:

        “Is agriculture the sine qua non of intelligence? Should I marry an Iowa farm girl?”

        Agricultural societies produce more people than do their hunter-gatherer counterparts. Hunter-gatherer societies are extremely violent, relative to their populations. More people died in WWII than did Yanamamo over the same period, but a far higher percentage of men died violent deaths in the Yanamamo societies than did European men in the 20th century (see: The Blank Slate). This means that hunter-gathers thin out their human stocks, and that population growth is not a sure thing.

        Agricultural societies, in comparison, safeguard their producers more effectively, and so more of them are born. More people being born means that, among their ranks, more intelligent people will be born.

        So your aforementioned Iowa farm girl may not be the brightest tool in the shed, but the system she helps support enables more intelligent people to be born than would be in a hunter-gatherer society. Ceteris paribus, intelligence improves reproductive fitness, so the increase of intelligent persons means that their alleles which confer high intelligence will trickle down throughout the population.

        Now, I’m not denying that intelligence was beneficial to the reproductive success of the homo erectus. I’m just saying that there were fewer homo erectus than there are homo sapiens now, and hence there were fewer intelligent homo erectus. Their collective intelligence increased over the ages, but much more slowly than it was with the homo sapiens under agriculture.

        When there are even more evolutionary pressures for the intelligent to reproduce, such as it was the Ashkenazi, then their intelligence will increase even more rapidly, even over historical time spans. But I’ve just been reiterating the points made in “The 10,000 Year Explosion,” which the author of this blog co-authored.

      • Sid: The booming populations in Africa, agricultural all, should be pumping out that IQ baby! And Europe, with its low lambda, is doomed. How did those post glacial Swedes get so high on your IQ list, there much more ag and pop in Maya land?

      • Sid says:

        “The booming populations in Africa, agricultural all, should be pumping out that IQ baby!”

        Compare the IQs of black Africans as compared to those of the Bushmen, and come back to me as to what you find.

        (I’ll shorten your search: the IQ of black Africans averages around 70 points or so. The IQ of Bushmen averages in the mid 50s.)

        “And Europe, with its low lambda, is doomed. How did those post glacial Swedes get so high on your IQ list, there much more ag and pop in Maya land?”

        Okay, and why is it that the Eskimos have IQs which average around 90 or so?

        There’s little doubt in my mind that colder winters are a selective pressure for superior intelligence. In climates with freezing winds and pilfering snows, thinking ahead is clearly advantageous. Furthermore, there is less vegetation to eat year round, so hunting takes precedence over gathering, which means needing to develop useful tools and efficient hunting strategies.

        That being said, if the land is so frigid as to preclude agriculture from taking root, then ultimately there will be far fewer people around, and the effect I described before (more people means more intelligent people, and since intelligence is useful, the alleles which confer superior intelligence will trickle down to the rest of the population) will not occur.

        Broadly speaking, the populations of Europe and East Asia, or people whose ancestors evolved in those places, have the highest IQs in the world. (The European average IQ is around 100, the East Asian around 105.) They both had the advantages of fertile land, a high number of domestic animals and plants easy enough to cultivate. They both also had the disadvantage of cold, bitter winters. Agriculture and cold winters, in tandem, produced a high number of people, and pressures for those people to be smart.

        This is why the Eskimos, who had cold winters, and the Mayans, who had agriculture, but neither of them having the other, both have IQs in the 88-90 range. In order for intelligence to truly abound in a population, they must have both the advantages of fertile land and the bane of cold winters.

    • On second thought, Sid is resurrecting Lusotropicalism. It is an antidote to Pinkerization.

  8. ghazi-less says:

    I half way agree with you. I’ve slept in the open enough to learn to fear bears, and I don’t like that fear one bit. And I’ve found that landscapes shaped by generations of humans are much more aesthetically pleasing to me than raw wilderness. But the Big Open, proposed for the high plains US, makes economic sense: consolidate a bunch of ranches, build a fence around them, turn a bunch of animals loose, and charge hunters to kill them. The alternative use of the land is to pump up fossil water and irrigate wheat or sunflowers. Not “sustainable”.

  9. MikeP says:

    The black mat makes for a more interesting, albeit perhaps less likely, hypothesis.

  10. jb says:

    I don’t know about lions and elephants, but I would definitely like to see cheetahs introduced into the wild on the North American plains. They are beautiful animals, they’re endangered in Africa, they’re not particularly dangerous to humans, and they would keep the pronghorn antelope on their toes.

    • bob says:

      but I would definitely like to see cheetahs introduced into the wild on the North American plains

      So we can start with your back yard, right? Stupid is supposed to hurt.

      • jb says:

        If I lived out on the prairie I would love to have cheetahs as neighbors! Of course you could change my mind if you came up with some evidence that cheetahs are dangerous to humans, for example accounts of cheetahs attacking people or taking children in Africa, the way lions and hyenas will do. But I’ll bet you won’t.

      • bob says:

        jb says:

        Of course you could change my mind if you came up with some evidence that cheetahs are dangerous to humans,

        If you can come up with some proof that the cheetahs won’t be dangerous, that they will never adapt to new conditions and prey, knock yourself out. It’s on you since you want to actively introduce them where they don’t now exist.

      • jb says:

        Ah! I get it bob. You’re risk averse; you’re one of those timid unfortunates who feel that any risk at all is too much risk. You have my sympathy.

        My thanks to jamesd127 for the link to the cheetah mauling article which includes this quote: they’re the scaredy-cats of the African savannah, and there has never been a documented case of a cheetah attacking a human in the wild. (Thanks also for the cute video of the cheetahs at the zoo, and the irrelevant leopard video). Of course any large carnivore that’s kept in close proximity with humans will turn on them once in a while — dogs do it often enough. But cheetahs in the wild seem to be about as safe and harmless as it’s possible to get; certainly far less dangerous than mountain lions, or even feral dogs.

        Of course, you never know! Maybe, once they are introduced to the American plains, cheetahs will suddenly evolve into maneaters!!! You can never get away from risk….

      • bob says:

        Ah! I get it bob. You’re risk averse; you’re one of those timid unfortunates who feel that any risk at all is too much risk.

        Only partly. There is no point in increasing risk for no benefit. The fact that cheetahs in america would make some apparent enviro-whack-job happy is the same as no benefit.

        Of course any large carnivore that’s kept in close proximity with humans will turn on them once in a while — dogs do it often enough.

        Look, I’m against packs of feral dogs, too. Where they lack the instinct to leave people alone, they should be hunted down. They are bad.

        So are very large carnivorous animals of every sort. There is no point re-introducing these animals – especially since giving them protected status is also part of the enviro-whack-job procedure.

        If you like cheetahs so much, keep them in your back yard. You and your kids can do long-term research on just how safe they are. Don’t expect me to subsidize to put up with the bad consequences of your silliness.

        Since you ignored the most powerful of jamesd127’s links, here it is again:

        http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/23914554/ns/today-today_news/t/cheetah-mauling-victim-says-she-assumed-risk/

      • jb says:

        bob, I didn’t ignore that link, I quoted from it! Again: they’re the scaredy-cats of the African savannah, and there has never been a documented case of a cheetah attacking a human in the wild. Of course if you keep animals like that in a cage you are taking your chances. I don’t care about that. Even dogs bite their owners sometimes. What I care about is their behavior in the wild, and from the evidence we have their behavior would be quite benign.

        Of course if it turns out I am wrong there is still no problem. If they start taking livestock (I don’t think cattle would be at risk, but maybe sheep) then just wipe them out again, at least in the areas where they are causing trouble. Since these would be introduced animals they wouldn’t necessarily merit the same protections as endangered native species. In fact some such agreement would probably be politically necessary before the introduction could even happen, and I have no problem with that.

        Finally, according to you: There is no point in increasing risk for no benefit. The fact that cheetahs in america would make some apparent enviro-whack-job happy is the same as no benefit. But benefit is in the eye of the beholder. If introducing cheetahs would make enviro-whack-jobs happy, then that is a benefit, and in a democracy their votes are just as valid as yours. Frankly, I think this would make a lot of people happy, not just the whack-jobs, and so far you haven’t come up with much in the way of counterargument, other than to say that you are just not willing to take any risk at all, however slight.

    • ironrailsironweights says:

      They’d probably be able to live only on the southern parts of the Great Plains, such as Texas. As far as I know they aren’t cold-adapted.

      • jb says:

        You may be right, but it would be interesting to find out. One important question would be how much their range overlapped with that of the pronghorn antelope, a natural prey species. Pronghorn are much faster than any of their current predators, and probably evolved that speed to escape the extinct American cheetah. I’m actually with Greg in that I wouldn’t want to introduce truly dangerous animals like lions or elephants to North America, no matter what used to live here before the Indians. But it would be fun to restart the cheetah/pronghorn arms race!

    • ironrailsironweights says:

      Even if cheetahs are not dangerous to humans, if they are a threat to livestock there certainly would be a lot of opposition to their introduction. Re-introduction of wolves to parts of the West has not gone over well with ranchers.

  11. jamesd127 says:

    In Australia, the salt water crocodile (fifteen feet long, eats people, cattle, and horses) is a protected species. This, of course, causes considerable outrage among those humans who share its habitat. I notice, however, that it seems quite rare wherever rural people live, suggesting that they don’t necessarily pay all that much attention to what is protected.

  12. Sandgroper says:

    Australia has its full equivalents, who want to introduce Komodo Dragons to replace Megalania. I’m not clear on how they propose to replace Thylacoleo carnifex – could be difficult, given that the Custodians changed the climate and vegetation with their firestick practices, and it looks like it was an arboreal ambush hunter.

    Personally I’m comfortable that my kid doesn’t need to watch out for either of them on her raids to the local Vietnamese take-away for sustenance. She does need to take evasive action to circumnavigate the occasional Custodian, though, being too miserly to hand over the price of a drink. Ungrateful child.

  13. John T. says:

    What is Pinkerization? I’ve read some of Steven Pinker’s books, but I don’t get this ..

  14. rjp says:

    Paul Martin, who did excellent work in showing that Quaternary extinctions were caused by human hunters, felt that we should do our best to recreate those extinct faunas in North America, by introducing wild horses, camels, elephants, tigers, and such to the great plains. I don’t think he ever bothered to explain why anyone would want to do this.

    I can understand wild horses. But camels, elephants, tigers and sich? That is insane.

  15. albatross says:

    Rewiliding North America with big predators and herbivores from Africa and Asia is part of the background of SM Stirling’s fun book _Conquistador_. The main character expresses the same opinion as Greg above, at one point when he is trying to avoid being trampled to death by a Rhino in Southern California.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I used to argue with Stirling on a closed list. He really hated me. I hated him too, but I enjoyed hating him. Remembering those days, I shall tell a tale of his childhood. At the time his parents were working in Africa. He was still in a crib, but his mother didn’t want to waste money on a babysitter. She mounted a silvery devil-mask (obtained from a local witchdoctor) on the opposite wall, and told him to never leave the crib while they were gone. if he did, it would eat his soul. I think it’s pretty clear he didn’t obey.

      Personally, I consider this a good deal harsher than the warning issued by Bill Cosby’s family: they explained that the crib was surrounded by invisible poisonous snakes, and if he ever even stuck a toe out, they would bite him, and he would swell up and be dead until morning.

      • TWS says:

        I asked Stirling once why he wrote stories about warrior/lesbian/superwomen. His answer was essentially ‘that some people write about lawyers’ implying that warrior/lesbian/superwomen were his genre.

    • pinchermartin says:

      The Aussie paleontologist Tim Flannery, in his book The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples, also supports rewilding North America.

      • albatross says:

        Marian Alston and Tiphaine D’Ath are the main ones I can think of, thoush Swindapa counts as a bisexual super warrior. I don’t recall any lesbian super warriors in Conquistador or The Peshawar Lancers.

        One question those books always raise in my mind is whether anything like the sex ratio of female:male fighters using muscle powered weapons makes sense. I’d naively expect the sex ratio to be that of the PPA–a tiny number of super talented females able to stay in a sword fight with men who do it for a living, rather than that of the Mackenzies or Dunedain, who are about 50:50. (Though the Mackenzies have all able-bodied adults in the militia, whereas the PPA’s fighters are professional full-time knights.).

  16. That Guy says:

    I take the view of Steven Colbert on this:
    Bears are godless killing machines, and they must be stopped!

    I apply this to all large carnivores.

  17. Steve Sailer says:

    I’ve seen a painting of Californios catching a huge grizzly bear with lariats in the middle of the San Fernando Valley in the 1850s. The grizzlies are all gone from California now, except for the state flag, but the mountains have been repopulated by smaller, less aggressive black bears moving in from other parts of the country because the fearsome grizzlies are gone. Seems like an improvement.

    • albatross says:

      Personally, if we’re going to reintroduce predators, I think we ought to do it Jurrassic Park style. Why be eaten by a mountain lion while jogging, when you could be eaten by a velociraptor?

  18. Bruce says:

    I’ve always been fascinated by Panthera Leo Spelaea, the European Cave Lion.

  19. Ian says:

    There was a poll of British mountaineers and hill-walkers asking if they supported the re-introduction of wolves to the Scottish Highlands. Something like 80% did.

    They’d repent if they ended up with a sprained ankle in some remote glen, listening to the howls get louder. Lynx might be a less troublesome apex predator but they wouldn’t control red deer numbers, which is one of the arguments behind re-introducing wolves. It’d also be bad for grouse, ptarmigan and capercailie numbers.

    • ironrailsironweights says:

      Wolf attacks on humans are very rare if not downright nonexistent in the parts of the United States where they’ve been reintroduced. Livestock destruction is a very different story, however.

  20. That Guy says:

    The end result of re-wilding is of course to make huge swaths of land intolerable to humans and eventually free of humans entirely.

    I once talked to an ardent environmentalist who stated the world would be better off without humans, and she had vowed to never have children – that was 20 years ago. To date she hasn’t had any, now she’s mid 40’s and probably can’t.

    This is taking self-loathing to a whole new level…

    • bob says:

      The end result of re-wilding is of course to make huge swaths of land intolerable to humans and eventually free of humans entirely.

      Thereby forcing people to the cities where they are more easily controlled. Whennit comes to Enviro-weenies, your typically talking about the same thing as with the other branches of Cultural Marxists and Liberals: POWER.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        Damn you Bob for exposing the evil intentions of this card carrying enviro-weenie and power glutton. Fortunately for me most will suspect you of just being a bizarro conspiracy nut and whennit comes time for us to sieze power you will be tossed out into the carnivore infested wilderness.

  21. dave chamberlin says:

    If we thank the indians for killing all the carnivores shouldn’t we get pissed off that they munched up nearly all the delicious herbivores. Who knows we might have turned all that useless forest land into highly productive giant sloth ranches if the indians hadn’t been so greedy and not saved any for us.

    • gcochran9 says:

      You have a point. All else equal, the tastiest animals would have been more likely to go extinct, and would have gone extinct more rapidly. The really special taste treats would probably have been among those species with no close surviving relatives: it may be that Toxodon and Macrauchenia would make you forget bacon.

      • j says:

        Macrauchenia was the last of the ungulates to be exterminated by humans, so it may have been the less tasty of all the beasts roaming the pampas. It looked like a camel, and it may have tasted like a camel too. Which is not too bad if your religion forbids bacon.

  22. TWS says:

    Marian Alston and Tiphaine D’Ath are the main ones I can think of, thoush Swindapa counts as a bisexual super warrior. I don’t recall any lesbian super warriors in Conquistador or The Peshawar Lancers. – Albatross

    That is one reason I really liked his Conquistador and Peshawar Lancer stories. No lesbian super-warriors. I find it hard to suspend disbelief for ‘Xena warrior princess’ types. I am absolutely sick of 95 lbs. women kicking the living shit out of men the size of Dwayne Johnson. There is no reason to include it in a story except for masturbatory fan-boy fantasies.

    His Draka novels are chock-full of lesbian or bi superwomen warriors. The novel Snow Brother and all of the novels set in that future are about lesbian superwarrior women. In the Emberverse, you have Countess D’Ath, Astrid Larssen, the Havel Twins, the lesbian chick from Maine and the straight one that married or was dating Sam. Not all were lesbians but all of them were in the absolute top tier of warriors.

    Looking at combat and sports from modern era, you would expect maybe one woman in ten able to hang with the average warrior. Half of all the top tier warriors are women. That was harder for me to swallow than having the guns quit. That would require re-engineering the human race which according to the story did not happen. IIRC Steve Sailer estimated that the best female golfer was about #400 overall in the world. Golf is a lot more forgiving than combat.

    • albatross says:

      I guess the real question there is how much strength and size and such matter in sword fighting. My assumption is that it matters a lot, though presumably less than in, say, boxing or wrestling, where fighting two or three weight classes below your real weight would give you a big advantage. But I really don’t have any experience at all with sword fighting where you’re both wearing armor and trying to kill each other, so maybe my intuition is just wrong here.

      • TWS says:

        I have a fair amount of experience in fighting. Both with and without armor and with and without weapons, modern or ‘archaic’. Size and strength matters a lot. Intent and skill matters as well.

        Just look at the standards used to hire female firefighters or police officers or to pass military physicals and combat related tests to see the difference. When I was first applying for police Jobs I noticed that at no point on the grading scale would women be held to the easiest standard for men. Thus, a fifty nine year old man had to run the mile and a half faster than the youngest woman and do more pushups and situps in less time. Since the tests are designed to allow for 4/5th’s of the women/men ration to pass for EEOC reasons, I think that pretty much says it all. I

  23. dave chamberlin says:

    I have a question regarding meagfauna extinctions in the Americas. After the goofy Solutrean publicity blitz that europeans had left their stone tools on the east coast 20,000 years ago hit the science news outlets back in March I went to John Hawks blog to get to the truth of the matter. He said it was the clever work of book publishers to sell a bad book and then he went on to reccomend a few good books on the subject Fagans “The First Americans” and Meltzers “First Peoples of the New World.” I enjoyed the books but their was one theory they both pushed that I flat can’t agree with. I’ll quote from page 262 of Melzers’ book which is titled “Is overkill dead?” It goes on to say
    “In the early 1980s at the annual national gathering of the archeology clan, Jim Mead and I organized a symposium devoted to late Pliesocene environments and extinctions in North America. We invited many of the aficionados of extinction, including naturally Jim Martin. It was a well attended session, and so Martin began his talk talking a poll of the couple of hundred archeologists in the audience. How many, he asked, thought climate change was to blame for Pleisocene extinctions? About one third raise their hands.He then asked how many believed climate change combined with human hunting was the cause: another two thirds did. Then he asked how many thought overkill alone was to blame. His own hand shot up. Out of the audience a single hand was partly raised, fluttered briefly then dissapeared.”
    Meltzers book was published in 2010 and he still thinks human overtkill was only partly to blame. What do I know, I’m no expert, but I can’t believe this is the mainstream opinion amongst experts. I know that island after island, continent after continent meagafauna gave up the ghost right at the time modern man got there. We have had fluctuating climates in the Americas for the last three million years with no major extinctions yet suddenly, now, climate is the complete or partial culprit. It is stories like this that make me put the archeologists in the same category as TV weathermen. What is your opinion?

  24. dearieme says:

    “What is your opinion?” I suspect hom sap dunnit. I have no intention of competing in the Sentimentality Olympics.

  25. John says:

    We at least need wolves back in a lot of places. Deer are overgrazing forest undergrowth where I live.

    And really, we need less cattle. The negative effects of livestock are too numerous to bother noting in an irrelevant comment like this.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      Wolves and mountain lions are natures natural preditors of deer, but they inevitably attack lifestock and then are hunted and killed by man. Coyotes have done a far better job of learning to co-exist with man but they aren’t large enough to hunt deer. So what has nature come up with: Coywolves, coming soon to a neighborhood near you. Just enough size to take down deer but shy and primarily nocturnal like the coyotes so they can coexist with man. Deer are extremely destructive to a forest if they have no natural preditor, the forests by my house in Illinois have nothing green below the reach of a deer’s mouth come late summer every year. Coyotes where i live aren’t the shrimpy barely bigger than foxes critters that they normally are when they fit their typical preditor niche. Some of them are now are waist high and capable of taking down a young deer.

      • TWS says:

        Sorry,

        The bigger Coywolves as you call them do attack and even kill full grown adults as well as children. We have a few larger coyotes out where I live. They’ll take down a deer but usually eat smaller stuff like cats and dogs.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        To be clear the genetic combination of wolf and coyote has only been confirmed on the east coast, not in Illinois. Why the coyotes are getting larger here hasn’t been confirmed to be because of wolf coyote interbreeding and is probably unlikely since we have no wolf population. It could be interbreeding with man’s best friend or just a variation in the coyote gene pool that is now being rewarded. Coywolves is the name these large coyotes are now being called but I don’t know how accurate it is.When I state that a larger coyote is filling a preditor niche and that deer are extremely over populated in areas of the country and are doing damage because of it, it does not imply I am rooting for the death of an occasional human by these preditors.

      • ironrailsironweights says:

        Any predator that’s large and strong enough to take down a deer is a potential lethal threat to humans. Adult humans are somewhat larger than whitetail deer, but we’re far slower and lack sharp hooves and antlers.

  26. Al says:

    Dr. Cochran

    All u had to do was suggest the movie “The Edge”, and we would have got your point :)

  27. “First question is why anyone would want to infest the nation with maneaters? ”

    See my website at http://www.anonymousconservative.com for an answer.

    There is a fair amount of evidence that Liberalism is actually an r-selected reproductive strategy. r-strategies thrive under conditions of predation, since predation culls the population back well below the carrying capacity of the environment, favoring a less competitive, more fecund reproductive strategy. There is a side of me which wonders whether Liberals actually are subconsciously programmed to seek out predation of their populations as a related strategy to eliminate the K-selected competition for resources. Today, the urge is maladapted, as we have the state to force a r-selected environment of non-competition on everyone, but a fascination/sympathy with predators still remains as a vestigial psychological artifact.

    In primitive times, this trait of seeking to support predation of their population would have allowed the r-strategists within our species great advantage. And the alternative, allowing the population to grow, sans predation, up to the carrying capacity of the environment, would produce K-selection. Under conditions of K-selection, r-strategists can end up totally eradicated from a population.

    If you buy the Selfish Gene Theory and believe r/K strategies are genetically imbued, it is not impossible that a segment of our population will exhibit an r-selected psychology, this segment will be overwhelmingly Liberal, and they will be subconsciously programmed to support the population’s coexistence with predators, as this will favor their r-strategy. This does comport with reality, where Liberals often take the sides of animal predators, as well as human predators like murderers, terrorists, foreign enemies, etc.

    Dr. Cochran – I have something I want to e-mail to you about, but don’t want to discuss here in public. Nothing big, just a quick thought you might want to investigate, realting to one of your theories. Can you possibly drop me a line at , if you see this? Thank you.

  28. van Rooinek says:

    there are still an awful lot of rednecks with rifles….

    …and who might enthusiastically WELCOME a new, diversified prey base. Far from destroying or thwarting the rewilding project, these guys might be the most enthusiastic promoters of it —

    “Hey guys, just got a letter from Fish and Game, I drew a Zone 7 LION tag this year!”

    Indeed, if I recall correctly, the Earth First founder and rewilding advocate, Dave Foreman, is also a hunter himself.

    The next time you see an Indian, remember what his ancestors did to make your children safe, and buy him a drink.

    Due to the deficit of alcohol processing enzymes in many native Americans, that’s probably a bad idea. There’s a reason why they don’t allow liquor stores on reservation. Offer him a smoke instead. Let each culture stick to its own co-evolved drugs; it’ll keep the car accident and lung cancer rates down.

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