Thesis #25: Civilization reduces quality of life.

by Jason Godesky

Nothing in human existence has had a more profoundly negative impact on our quality of life than civilization. As we have already seen, it introduced the unnecessary evil of hierarchy (see thesis #11); it introduced the difficult, dangerous, and unhealthy agricultural lifestyle (see thesis #9); it makes us sick (see thesis #21), but provides no better medicine to counterbalance that effect (see thesis #22). It introduced endemic levels of stress, a diet and lifestyle maladapted and deleterious to our health, war as we know it, and ecological disaster, but it has given us nothing to counterbalance those effects; it has no monopoly on medicine, or knowledge in general (see thesis #23), or even art (see thesis #24), making the overall impact of civilization on quality of life disastrous.

Measuring quality of life is always a tricky thing, but the United Nations’ “Human Development Index” looks at three criteria: longevity, knowledge, and standard of living. In the case of the HDI, all three are measured in ways biased towards civilization. For example, longevity is measured by life expectancy at birth–a measure which presumes the common civilized assumption that life begins at birth. It does not weight the average with abortions, for example, even though there is disagreement even within our own culture of when life begins. Given such disagreement, we should not be terribly surprised to learn that other cultures have different measures of when life begins. Foraging cultures, for example, often believe that life begins at age two, and thus classify infanticide and abortion in the same category. Children are often not named or considered persons until that time. A !Kung woman goes into labor, and walks into the bush–maybe she comes back with a baby, and maybe she doesn’t. Whether stillborn or killed at birth, it’s not considered any business of anyone else’s. This kind of attitude has given foragers a very high infant mortality rate, leading many naive commentators to assume that their way of life must be terribly afflicted with disease to claim so many infants, and ultimately taking the skewed statistics that arise from such a practice to make statements on forager quality of life. In fact, all such commentary provides is a glimpse of the power of ethnocentrism to skew even what we might consider unbiased statistics.

A less biased measurement might take expected age of death at a given age. Richard Lee noted that up to 60% of the !Kung he encountered were over 60 (in Western countries, that number is 10-15%). The table provided by Hillard Kaplan, et. al, in “A Theory of Human Life History Evolution: Diet, Intelligence, and Longevity” (Evolutionary Anthropology, 2000, p. 156-185: PDF) is quite instructive. Comparing the Ache, Hazda, Hiwi and !Kung shows an average probability of survival to age 15 of 60% (reflecting the enormous impact of normative infanticide), but the expected age of death at age 15 shoots up to 54.1. In Burton-Jones, et. al, “Antiquity of Postreproductive Life: Are There Modern Impacts on Hunter-Gatherer Postreproductive Life Spans?” (American Journal of Human Biology, 2002, p. 184–205: PDF) another table is presented on p. 185, showing that at age 45, women of the !Kung could expect to live another 20.0 years for a total of 65 years, women of the Hadza could expect to live another 21.3 years for a total of 66.3 years, and women of the Ache could expect to live another 22.1 years for a total of 67.1 years. We should also bear in mind that all of the forager cultures examined to derive these statistics live in the Kalahari Desert–an extremely marginal and difficult ecosystem, even for foragers. Could we expect significantly higher numbers from foragers, if they were allowed to roam the sub-Saharan savannas to which humans are adapted, or verdant forests? We can only speculate, though the inuitive assumption would be affirmative.

An expected age of death even at 54.1, or even 67.1, may seem dismal to us in the United States, but even here in 1901, life expectancy was 49. It has only been very recently that civilized life expectancy has caught up to even the most marginal foragers. Moreover, in thesis #8, we explored the relationship between the First World and the Third World. Focusing on First World statistics produces the same skewed result as focusing only on medieval royalty, to the exclusion of the peasants they relied upon for their abundance. The worldwide average life expectancy, then, is the far more relevant measure than the United States’. That number is currently 67 years–exactly the number Burton-Jones found for !Kung women eking out a living in the Kalahari. Given the marginality of the ecosystems these foragers exist in, it seems that we could easily conclude from these data that the incredible advances made in our life expectancy–advances which are now slowing, due to the diminishing marginal returns of medical research (a point addressed explicitly in thesis #15)–we have managed to raise our life expectancy to that of the most meager and marginalized foragers.

Archeological evidence, however, does not entirely bear this out. Life expectancies in the Mesolithic were quite low. How do we reconcile these conflicting data? Caspari & Lee suggest an answer in “Older age becomes common late in human evolution,” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 2004, p. 10847-10848), where they note a trend of increasing longevity that goes back not to the origins of civilization, but to the Upper Paleolithic Revolution. If we work under this assumption–that modern, abstract behavior had led to increasing longevity–then the data makes much more sense. We see forager longevity extending through the Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and into historical times prior to being wiped out by the advance of civilization. In those meager areas where they have not been wiped out yet, forager longevity continues to grow longer, even though the marginal nature of their ecosystem makes for a fairly harsh life.

What we also see, archaeologically, is a massive crash in life expectancy associated with the innovation of agriculture. Dickson’s Mounds, already discussed in thesis #6, shows a catastrophic drop-off in life expectancy. We see the same pattern repeated wherever agriculture enters. Until recently, average agricultural life expectancy tended to vary between 20 and 35 years, while even the Kalahari foragers likely enjoyed the same 54.1 years they do today. Today, life expectancy in the First World is in the low 70’s; in the Third World, however, it is still often in the 30’s.

The second criteria the U.N.’s index measures is knowledge, but here they use literacy as a stand-in. We have already discussed the high level of knowledge in primitive cultures in thesis #23, but such systems of knowledge are rarely written. Though impressive, they are of a different kind than literate knowledge. The U.N.’s measure systematically ignores this body of knowledge, however, by judging only by literacy. As Walter Ong takes such pains to express in Orality and Literacy, orality, though it differs greatly from literacy, is by no means inferior to it.

It is by the third criterion, “standard of living,” that the disaster of civilization is laid bare, though it is once again obscured in the U.N. index by a systematically biased metric, in this case, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita at purchasing power parity (PPP) in U.S. dollars. This is an intrinsically consumeristic metric that systematically sidelines the world’s “original affluent societies” by measuring a wealth they have no need for, and neglecting the wealth they possess in such abundance. Where foragers only equal civilization on the first two criteria, it is the third in which they excel.

On the very first day of any introductory economics class, a student will learn the concept of scarcity, presented as an unassailable truth which forms the rock-solid cornerstone of all economic theory. Scarcity simply means that there is not enough of a given resource to satisfy the desires of everyone; therefore, some system must be established to control access to the scarce resource. As Marshall Sahlins points out in his famous essay, “The Original Affluent Society“:

Modern capitalist societies, however richly endowed, dedicate themselves to the proposition of scarcity. Inadequacy of economic means is the first principle of the world’s wealthiest peoples.

The market-industrial system institutes scarcity, in a manner completely without parallel. Where production and distribution are arranged through the behaviour of prices, and all livelihoods depend on getting and spending, insufficiency of material means becomes the explicit, calculable starting point of all economic activity….

Yet scarcity is not an intrinsic property of technical means. It is a relation between means and ends. We should entertain the empirical possibility that hunters are in business for their health, a finite objective, and that bow and arrow are adequate to that end.

Sahlins goes on to explain the wealth that foragers enjoy. They do not place much value in possessions, since these are a double-edged sword to the nomad. Since the items they need are so easily manufactured from freely available, abundant raw materials, foragers typically display a “scandalous” nonchalance with them. As Martin Gusinde remarked regarding his time with the Yahgan in The Yamana:

The European observer has the impression that these Indians place no value whatever on their utensils and that they have completely forgotten the effort it took to make them. Actually, no one clings to his few goods and chattels which, as it is, are often and easily lost, but just as easily replaced… The Indian does not even exercise care when he could conveniently do so. A European is likely to shake his head at the boundless indifference of these people who drag brand-new objects, precious clothing, fresh provisions and valuable items through thick mud, or abandon them to their swift destruction by children and dogs…. Expensive things that are given them are treasured for a few hours, out of curiosity; after that they thoughtlessly let everything deteriorate in the mud and wet. The less they own, the more comfortable they can travel, and what is ruined they occasionally replace. Hence, they are completely indifferent to any material possessions.

Sahlins also notes that foragers enjoy a terrifically varied diet, and one that is virtually assured against famine. Le Jeune despaired of the Montagnais’ laid-back attitude, writing:

In the famine through which we passed, if my host took two, three, or four Beavers, immediately, whether it was day or night, they had a feast for all neighbouring Savages. And if those People had captured something, they had one also at the same time; so that, on emerging from one feast, you went to another, and sometimes even to a third and a fourth. I told them that they did not manage well, and that it would be better to reserve these feasts for future days, and in doing this they would not be so pressed with hunger. They laughed at me. ‘Tomorrow’ (they said) ‘we shall make another feast with what we shall capture.’ Yes, but more often they capture only cold and wind.

The European Le Jeune was anxious about how they would survive, but the foragers were so completely confident in their ability to feed themselves that they refused to store food, and ate recklessly. Among most foragers, the concept of starvation is unthinkable. If this represents any kind of primordial “Eden,” then it is typified by the injunction of the gospels, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Matthew 6:26) Of course, foragers have lean times like any other, and Sahlins supposes that there may be more to their lack of food storage than simple ideology. Food storage would encumber their movement, which would push them towards sedentism–and thus push them towards over-exploiting a given area, noting, “Thus immobilised by their accumulated stocks, the people may suffer by comparison with a little hunting and gathering elsewhere, where nature has, so to speak, done considerable storage of her own–of foods possibly more desirable in diversity as well as amount than men can put by.”

To gather such a bounty, foragers work much less than we do today. Richard Lee’s initial assessment of the !Kung work week is neatly summarized by Sahlins:

Despite a low annual rainfall (6 to 10 inches), Lee found in the Dobe area a “surprising abundance of vegetation”. Food resources were “both varied and abundant”, particularly the energy rich mangetti nut- “so abundant that millions of the nuts rotted on the ground each year for want of picking.” The Bushman figures imply that one man’s labour in hunting and gathering will support four or five people. Taken at face value, Bushman food collecting is more efficient than French farming in the period up to World War II, when more than 20 per cent of the population were engaged in feeding the rest. Confessedly, the comparison is misleading, but not as misleading as it is astonishing. In the total population of free-ranging Bushmen contacted by Lee, 61.3 per cent (152 of 248) were effective food producers; the remainder were too young or too old to contribute importantly In the particular camp under scrutiny, 65 per cent were “effectives”. Thus the ratio of food producers to the general population is actually 3 :5 or 2:3. But, these 65 per cent of the people “worked 36 per cent of the time, and 35 per cent of the people did not work at all”!

For each adult worker, this comes to about two and one - half days labour per week. (In other words, each productive individual supported herself or himself and dependents and still had 3 to 5 days available for other activities.) A “day’s work” was about six hours; hence the Dobe work week is approximately 15 hours, or an average of 2 hours 9 minutes per day.

This is the oft-quoted “two hours a day” statistic, but it has come under fire from critics who point out that Lee did not add in other necessary activities, such as creating tools, and food preparation. So, Lee returned to do further study with these revised definitions of “work,” and came up with a figure of 40-45 hours per week. This might seem to prove that hunter-gatherers enjoy no more liesure than industrial workers, but the same criticisms laid against Lee’s figures also apply against our “40 hour work week.” Not only is that increasingly a relic of a short era sandwiched between union victories and the end of the petroleum age as the work week stretches into 50 or even 60 hours a week, but it, too, does not include shopping, basic daily chores, or food preparation, which would likewise swell our own tally. Finally, the distinction between “work” and “play” is nowhere nearly as clear-cut in forager societies as it is in our own. Foragers mix the two liberally, breaking up their work haphazardly, and often playing while they work (or working while they play). The definition of work which inflates the total to 40-45 hours per week includes every activity that might be considered, regardless of its nature. Even the most unambiguous “work” of foragers is often the stuff of our own vacations: hunting, fishing, or a hike through the wilds.

We often contemplate how the greater leisure afforded by agriculture allowed people the time to develop civilization. On the contrary; agriculture drastically cut our leisure time, and much of our quality of life. Civilization, then, is a contrivance to try as much as we can to make such a difficult and maladaptive way of life the least bit bearable. The typical means of measuring quality of life are all distinctly biased, and for good reason: the abundance and affluence the forager enjoys is of a kind that we are now blind to, and can no longer even concieve of. They have their health, unlike us; they have a reliable, diverse diet, unlike us; they have liesure time, unlike us. The past 10,000 years have constituted an umitigated disaster in every dimension possible. Civilization is unprecedented in all our knowledge both as such an absolute failure, and for such a swift failure–lasting only 10,000 years before coming to this point of collapse. For us, its victims, it has caused a catastrophic loss of quality of life, regardless of however one might choose to define it.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Elsewhere, Elpel points out that the Stone Age life is a difficult one. That may well be true, but if so, Elpel neglects to point out: so is the civilized one. As we saw in thesis #25, the Stone Age quality of life is far, far superior to our own. […]

    Pingback by » Stone Age Freedom The Anthropik Network — 20 February 2006 @ 6:23 PM

  2. […] We have seen what disastrous effect civilization has had on our quality of life (see thesis #25), but the alternative–collapse–seems little better. However superior the Paleolithic way of life might have been, it is long gone, and there does not seem to be any way back. For the past ten millennia, that sentiment has been true. But, as we have seen, we are now nearing the limits to our growth, and we are past the point of diminishing returns for our investments in further complexity (see thesis #15). Collapse is now inevitable (see thesis #26)–it is already underway. Collapse is an economizing process (see thesis #20) that begins when the alternative–continuing civilization–is no longer tolerable. We stand on the brink of collapse. That is a statement that would terrify most people, but it shouldn’t: collapse increases our quality of life. […]

    Pingback by Thesis #27: Collapse increases quality of life. (The Anthropik Network) — 17 October 2006 @ 10:40 AM

  3. […] The Hobbesian myth that life “in the state of nature” is “solitary, nasty, brutish and short” is one that simply cannot stand in the face of anthropological evidence. As we have seen again and again, while wild humans certainly do not live in the perfect, idealistic utopias of Rousseauian fantasy, their ways of life do enjoy the benefit of being the pattern of life to which two million years of evolution have adapted the human animal. A rational person would positively expect their quality of life to be much improved over civilization’s.1, 2 But of course, it is not an ideal utopia, either. We might best explore this topic by learning from an animal that we’re especially close to, one that has shaped us and molded us into who we are: Canis lupus, the gray wolf. […]

    Pingback by Wolves & Dogs (The Anthropik Network) — 13 November 2006 @ 4:19 PM

  4. […] This “party atmosphere” is how many ethnographers have described the everyday life of hunter-gatherers and other primitive tribes, such as Jean Liedloff’s description of the Yequana in The Continuum Concept. Primitive life is to work one day, and take the next day off, averaging as little as two hours per day.7 With all that extra time, foragers tell stories, gamble, joke, and play (and do a lot more sleeping than we do, too), creating the relaxed, informal, “fun” atmosphere we would assoicate with a party. In Liberia the Kpelle, for instance, grow rice, which is work—strenuous work—by any definition. But these “neolithic farmers” conduct their workd in a way that the organizers of our work can’t or won’t even consider. Lii-nee’, “joy,” axiomatically accompanies any work the Kpelle do or they won’t do any. Work is conducted in groups to the accompaniment of musicians whose rhythms pace the strokes of their hoes and machetes. Intermittently a woman throws down her hoe and dances to entertain her companions and relax muscles made sore by repetitious movements. At the end of the day the workers drink palm wine and sing and dance together.8 […]

    Pingback by A Pirate’s Life for Me (The Anthropik Network) — 13 November 2006 @ 5:08 PM

  5. […] Foragers have a good deal more free time than we civilized folk. For the most part, this time was spent divided between three primary leisure activities: sleeping, storytelling, and gambling. The latter two are those that concern us presently. […]

    Pingback by The Fifth World Manifesto (The Anthropik Network) — 13 November 2006 @ 5:45 PM

  6. […] The myth of progress is one far more deserving of our scorn. Where is the evidence for it? Our medicine,50 our knowledge,51 nor even our art52 can truly be said to have advanced beyond what it was 10,000 years ago. Yet for this way of life we suffer an inferior quality of life, even by our own skewed standards.53 […]

    Pingback by “The Savages are Truly Noble” (The Anthropik Network) — 23 May 2007 @ 1:50 PM


Comments

  1. I think that the method by which we define “quality of life” is actually worth considering–not that it changes the validity (in my opinion) of this argument. It’s important because, as a society, we need to figure out what we want to maximize by our conscious activity. This holds true whether its the US Congress or a tribal council of elders meeting to decide on the wiset course of action.

    For example, in “the West,” governments tend to measure “quality fo life” in quite empirical terms, primarily with income or “wealth.” Bhutan has undertaken an interesting project, to both measure “gross national happiness,” and then to use government as a tool to maximize that figure. Unfortunately, they haven’t defined what constitutes “happiness,” and it is at least partially subjective. I don’t know what is the right set of factors that create “quality of life” for us to work to maximize–I could give a partial list, but it would hold true mostly for me. Another example of where a smaller decision making unit can be more responsive to marginal requirements for “quality,” and therefore can be automatically more effective at creating quality of life.

    It’s also important to consider what measure of “quality of life” we will use–because it creates fundamental differences the resulting society, and is grounded in a fundamental value judgement. Specifically: do we maximize Mean (average) quality of life, Median (the middle point) quality of life, Mobility of quality of life (ability to improve your life through “effort”), etc.??? Our society tends strongly towards maximizing Mean quality of life (and, they define quality of life largely as money). So if you have 100 people, one of whom is Tiger Woods, you have a very, very high mean quality of life (as measured by income). However, he probably won’t make the any real change in the median quality of life. This might seem simplistic, but I think that it’s a very important point–for both “modern” society and for a small, tribal group. This is because measurement by Mean trends towards hierarchy, whereas measurement by Median trends towards rhizome. This conceptual use of the Median must be ensconced in the cultural values and mythology of any tribe that wishes to be successful over the long-term. It is, in my opinion, as important, or perhaps more important than the actual set of values constituting quality of life that one is trying to maximize. There’s a wide range for variation (such as maximizing the quality of life of the “lowest” party, or maximizing the sum quality of life of the bottom half, etc.), but it’s worth considering…

    Comment by Jeff Vail — 11 January 2006 @ 12:41 PM

  2. Nice work Jason, but first, a couple of places where you seem to be pushing the data in your favour:

    An expected age of death even at 54.1, or even 67.1, may seem dismal to us in the United States, but even here in 1901, life expectancy was 49.

    Wasn’t the US figure measured from birth, rather than from 15? Wouldn’t it be fairer to measure by the same standard?

    The worldwide average life expectancy, then, is the far more relevant measure than the United States’. That number is currently 67 years–exactly the number Burton-Jones found for !Kung women eking out a living in the Kalahari.

    To be fair, women live longer than men.

    As for the argument about 1st world vs. 3rd world health and lifespan - its true, there is a huge disparity. But are you saying that we get our health and lifespan from activities which effectively extract an equal amount of the same from the poor of the world? Or do we rather maintain a healthy (for us) wealth differential which means that they will always be willing to work for us? I believe the situation is quite as zero-sum as the first possibility. If our hierarchical civilisation relies on a wealth differential in order to get work done, then it is possible that the health and longevity of the world’s poor could rise above that of hunter gatherers, and still be below that of the rich, thus allowing the hierarchy to continue to function, and spoiling your argument. I’m not a neoliberal primitivist-baiter, I’m just saying that I don’t think that the average (mode?) lifespan and health of a global civilisation (i.e. the 3rd world plust the 1st) HAS to be below that of hunter-gatherers.

    On the other hand, if you count time spent cleaning toilets or pushing paper as time spent not really being alive (which I do), I’d say our average (mode) lifespan in the rich world is probably about 30 years anyway.

    Comment by Clive — 11 January 2006 @ 2:36 PM

  3. Sorry, I meant NOT quite as zero sum!

    Comment by Clive — 11 January 2006 @ 2:38 PM

  4. Wasn’t the US figure measured from birth, rather than from 15? Wouldn’t it be fairer to measure by the same standard?

    It would be, if I could find such a thing. But since we’re talking about the impression the statistic leaves, rather than a flat-out comparison, it seems fair. My overall conclusion there isn’t that foragers live longer, but that they live as long as the richest civilized people.

    To be fair, women live longer than men.

    Which is why I have two statistics, for 54.1 and 67.1 for women.

    But are you saying that we get our health and lifespan from activities which effectively extract an equal amount of the same from the poor of the world?

    In a round-about way, yes, we live longer by sucking out theirs. Like vampires. :) But really, we lower violence and increase prosperity in the imperial heartland by increasing violence and lowering prosperity throughout the periphery. That’s how every empire has worked, including ours. For example, industrialized health care has allowed that U.S. life expectancy to shoot up from 49 to 72, but it’s bought by the use of oil–and to get that, we’ve sacrificed most of the Arab world to hideous repression and poverty, which makes a big cut in their life expectancy.

    If our hierarchical civilisation relies on a wealth differential in order to get work done, then it is possible that the health and longevity of the world’s poor could rise above that of hunter gatherers, and still be below that of the rich, thus allowing the hierarchy to continue to function, and spoiling your argument.

    A hypothetical possibility, but given the amount of energy actually at our disposal, not practical.

    On the other hand, if you count time spent cleaning toilets or pushing paper as time spent not really being alive (which I do), I’d say our average (mode) lifespan in the rich world is probably about 30 years anyway.

    Good point. :)

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 11 January 2006 @ 2:52 PM

  5. no kidding!

    “On the other hand, if you count time spent cleaning toilets or pushing paper as time spent not really being alive (which I do), I’d say our average (mode) lifespan in the rich world is probably about 30 years anyway.”

    our modern lifestyle leaves us so little time to use as we see fit, as individuals, that most of us probably don’t even KNOW what to do with that “free” time when we have it, and so we mostly waste it on the approved recreational activities of our given class or culture (TV, strictly managed vacation tours, hobbies, etc.)

    if they’re going to include meal prep in the forager “work-week” then you have to include so much crap in the modern one, that we don’t even have enough time left over in the day to get 8 hours of sleep! i work a 7.5 hour day, which in practice means that i’m here for 8.5+ hours, add in 30 to 45 minutes commute by bus/foot in each direction, time spent getting junk together in the morning, and that doesn’t even touch on the shopping for food and other chores–and i don’t even have anyone else to take care of at home, or kids to drag around!

    at some point you wake up and realize that all you are is a conduit through which money flows, and that is not a happy morning.

    (thanks Jason for the link to the paleo recipees, by the way. sadly, there isn’t so much in the ELK department available locally, even at the Co-Op :-), but i do have access to pretty much unlimited, free venison through family friends with a big farm down in Bedford county, so maybe i can learn to take better advantage of that resource? funny, for all the years i’ve been *largely* vegetarian, i never gave up occassionally eating that particular meat source, as it does not present the same factory farm health and ethical concerns for me that most commercial beef and chicken products do! i just wish i had the time to help my dad out with some of the hunting, to be fair!)

    Comment by Librarian — 11 January 2006 @ 3:52 PM

  6. Don’t forget that study on the !Kung was done during a drought. In the forest foragers (after including washing, cooking, etc) probably have a work week equal to our free time.

    Comment by Benjamin Shender — 11 January 2006 @ 7:54 PM

  7. A drought in the fruggin’ Kalahari.

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 11 January 2006 @ 8:01 PM

  8. The !Kung live in the region around Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

    The average life expectancy in Namibia is 43.9. In Botswana, it’s 33.2. In South Africa, 43.3.

    The !Kung are at 54.1. They beat out their civilized neighbors, on average, by a decade or two.

    If we wanted to add in that it’s the Kalahari we’re talking about here. :)

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 11 January 2006 @ 8:04 PM

  9. Elegant. I appreciated how you not only added on the “chore time” of the !Kung, but of civilization, too. It’s amazing how many people miss that!

    I’m in the military, and my last deployment I worked 110 hour weeks literally 8 months straight, but that doesn’t include the waking hours I had to use to shower and eat, so it was probably closer to 120. At several points, I realized that in some parts of the world, this was actually pretty normal, and I wondered what f***ing point a life like that has at all.

    - Chuck

    Comment by Chuck — 11 January 2006 @ 8:45 PM

  10. Own a small business that afforded me to work only 3-4 hours a week (that has recently changed). Spent my time hunting, fishing, and gathering mushrooms and wild berries. Instincts?

    Comment by Rick Larson — 11 January 2006 @ 10:39 PM

  11. This is a good website with statistics about how unhappy people in America are.

    http://www.ecofuture.org/pk/pkar9506.html

    Comment by planetwarming — 11 January 2006 @ 11:58 PM

  12. OK so let’s look at how much work is done by couples with small children in modern society (I’m too scared to look into the work life of a solo parent).

    It’s pretty easy to work out. The couple might get an hour or two each day to themselves after the kids are in bed and the chores are done each night. I’m going to argue that most of the time spent with children is work since the last thing a tired adult wants to do is play with kids - they do it because they love them but they actually NEED to be resting.

    Also if there are babies we will factor in an hour a night of work (although the broken sleep has a far greater effect on a parent).

    It’s a bit random but we’ll say 8 hours sleep, minus the one hour lost sleep plus the 2 hours free time equalls 63 hours not working (mostly sleeping). Total hours in a week is 168 so that makes 105 hours work a week and I think I’m being generous.

    Thats the figure that should be compared to the hunter-gatherer week of 40-45 hours.

    It’s also worth noting that the groundwork for the future mental health of our society is being laid by massively stressed people who work 100+ hours a week.

    Comment by Aaron — 12 January 2006 @ 6:08 PM

  13. Some people, apparently, thrive under stress.

    They are, in fact, half-breeds with goblinoids from the center of the earth.

    - Chuck

    Comment by Chuck — 12 January 2006 @ 10:31 PM

  14. Let’s remember, I know the working class is officially invisible in the US, but let’s try to keep in mind, life expectancy is HIGHLY keyed to social class in the US. Go to a working-class area and look around, spend some time studying the population, and you’ll see very very few working-class people over 60. Most of them at 50 look 65 or 70, so you have to learn first how to age them, the worn out old guy or gal waiting at the bus stop may be only 50 or even 40-odd years old. I noticed this in Colorado Springs, Colorado - lots of people, a very blue-collar town (traditionally ranching and military) and truly old working-class people are rare as hen’s teeth. So sure, the upper-middle class and upward in the US are living to be 80-something, and what’s left of the middle class living to 70-odd, but for most of us, the paleo life would be a big step up. No more cleaning toilets! You get to walk around! In the sun! Normally the sun is seen only a few hours a week, on Sunday lol, for most of the US working class if they’re working inside. You get to catch stuff - bugs to birds to whatever you can run down! Yes a person can run down a rabbit, you just keep on the bugger until gets all tired out. You can fool around and wear beads and sometimes count your ribs but boy, can you walk and walk and walk when you’re not overweight.

    The Unibomber was right. The bombing part was stupid, but he is right in his worldview.

    Comment by Alex — 18 January 2006 @ 1:56 AM

  15. Assalamualikum,
    How are you. Sadia, this is what I have found

    Comment by sadia — 21 January 2006 @ 10:16 AM

  16. In regards to the issues raised by Clive above, I was able to find some numbers showing life expectancy in the United States as measured from age 15.

    In 2003, the life expectancy measured from birth of someone aged 15 or more was 78.3. This number is a much fairer comparison to your number of 54.1 for modern indigenous peoples.

    Setting the quality of life argument aside for a moment, this figure suggests that modern medical science actually has provided us life expectances greater than those of pre-civilization or modern foraging societies.

    This table isn’t immediately obvious (a bit of computation is required), but this is the reference I used:
    http://encarta.msn.com/media_701500279_1741500824_-1_1/Life_Expectancy_by_Age_Race_and_Sex_in_the_United_States.html

    Comment by Jason Cook — 15 August 2006 @ 6:21 PM

  17. Actually, I pointed out that the number for the U.S. is fairly skewed, since we have a geographically concentrated elite. It’s the same as measuring the life expectancy of medieval nobles, without the peasants.

    Also, other studies found averages closer to 67.

    Your attribution of this increase to medicine is largely incorrect; it hasn’t had nearly as much to do with medicine as sanitation.

    Finally, the fact that we have only the most marginal, meager forager groups to consider is certainly something that needs to be weighed.

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 15 August 2006 @ 7:15 PM

  18. A. To write off U.S. figures as unrepresentative (a geographical elite) is to beg the question. Clearly the exercise is to determine whether, and if so why, the West can claim to be elite in this particular way. I think it can, because:

    B. I believe the jump in U.S. Life Expectancy is not mainly the result of improved sanitation but of improved neonatal care. The basic sanitation that led to an explosion of LE in classical times, ie. sewers, has no analogue in the post-industrial West, unless you count germ theory, which was already well established. Which is why:

    C. Your comparison between Kaplan’s LE numbers and the US CDC LE numbers is both wrong and misleading. Kaplan factor out infant mortality by presenting us with the LE at age 15 number. You would similarly have to factor out infant mortality for the US numbers. Or, just look at current LE, which basically removes infant mortality from the equation (IM = about 7 deaths per 1000). On this basis:

    D. “Civilization”, a silly word the way you use it–I think you mean technology, but I’ll go with it–initially through advances in sanitation, and eventually through advances in neonatal and infant care, as well as advances in treatment for a variety of previously life-ending illnesses, has dramatically increased life expectancy for its beneficiaries. So much so that:

    E. All the number twisting in the world won’t make it not so. Nevermind the LE at birth — factor out all the infant mortality you want: the expected age of death of an American, British, or Canadian woman at age 65 is between 84 and 85 years old. Compare to your 67 figure for a 50 year old Ache woman. Their lives are 27% longer.

    Comment by Dave — 14 October 2006 @ 6:45 AM

  19. Hi, Dave. Welcome to Anthropik. You might want to read some of the preceding theses, as most of your points have already been answered there, but for the sake of this thread, I’ll summarize what has been previously established here.

    A. It may be begging your question, but it’s certainly not begging mine. My question is, “Does civilization increase life expectancy?” That requires a look at the effect of civilization on total human life expectancy. Since civilization has always helped the elites at the expense of the poor, it does no good to focus solely on the elites, just like you can’t judge mortality in medieval England based on the longevity of the royal family. The modern United States enjoys the quality of life it does because of the squalor and suffering of the Third World. That cannot be discounted.

    B. Improved neonatal care may explain the rise in life expectancy compared to agrarian societies, but not to foragers. It is more common in the United States today to lose babies to complications in birth or early disease, SIDS, or other medical causes than among most extant hunter-gatherer groups. Granted, foragers do have high infant mortality rates, but this is not due to medical concerns or neonatal care, but due to the widespread practice of infanticide. We argue whether life begins at conception or birth; they put it at two years, or when the child learns to speak. For them, it is the same as abortion, so the more accurate comparison if we take the from birth numbers would be to weight our abortions into our own life expectancy. This was done by a Christian pro-life group, and what they came up with was 42 years—not very far from the forager mean, and that’s in the most complex center of civilization.

    C. As I pointed out in the article, our manner of calculating life expectancy is heavily biaed in our favor. It takes our assumptions for granted, and ignores forager assumptions entirely. I would prefer to compare it to American life expectancy at 15, though I don’t believe it would be much different, since the United States has very little infant mortality. But if I could find U.S. life expectancy at 15, I’d gladly prefer that for the comparison. As it stands, I think the CDC data is still a roughly fair comparison, since there is so little infant mortality in the U.S.

    D. We’ve discussed the definition of “civilization” previously, and there’s nothing silly about it. It has something to do with technology, insofar as technology is a form of complexity. Civilization is a particular type of society that must always increase its complexity. Your story about how civilization increases life expectancy is our common mythology—the very myth I’ve disproven in this thesis. In other words, it’s a nice story, but it just ain’t so.

    E. Yes, an Ache woman at 50 can expect to reach 67, and yes, an American at 65 can expect to reach 84 or 85. That’s 27% longer. Of course, you’re making the same error you accuse me of in (C), but I’ll go with it anyway. You’re forgetting the fact that the American has a whole Third World of people dying in their 30’s so that she can reach that ripe old age, while the Ache woman is scraping by in one of the most marginal habitats on the planet. We don’t have any foragers in good climates to compare to; they were long ago wiped out. But if they live that long in the most marginal places, how much longer do you suppose they’d live in healthy ecologies?

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 16 October 2006 @ 10:26 AM

  20. Hi Jason, thanks for the welcome.

    When I say you beg the question, I mean you assume the conclusion in your premises. Ref:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question

    The point of duplicating your error in C is to show that even accepting your basis for comparison, your conclusion is incorrect. Following from this, I let me provide you with like-for like WHO numbers for LE for a 50 year old woman in various countries.
    Bots 74
    Alg 77
    Ang 71
    Bangl 74
    Ghan 74
    Zim 71
    Pak 74
    Nam 73
    USA 82
    Can 84
    (*WHO averages for the 50-54 age range, so the actual number will be slightly higher, but evenly so).

    Not exactly your dying at thirty number, eh? But not an insignificant difference, and there is at least the suggestion of a correlation with the state of medical technology and access (for the latter, see the USA-Canada difference). And, though I can’t get figures for foragers from national statistics, I think it’s a fair guess to say that most “third world” figures will fall somewhere between forager LE and “first world” LE. I’m sure that though this contradicts several of your points, you will find a way to use it to prove them.

    By the way the number for an American at age 15 is about 75.

    Comment by Dave — 17 October 2006 @ 8:06 AM

  21. by the way, you might be interested in a couple little graphs I whipped up from the WHO data:
    http://users.ox.ac.uk/~ball1839/lecomp.jpg
    I’m sure you’ll make of them what you will. To they support the account I give above.

    Comment by Dave — 17 October 2006 @ 8:44 AM

  22. Dave,
    I’d like to mention that if Jason is right then by starting at age 50 you have already excluded all of the people dying at age 30, leaving yourself with only the elites. What is the life expectancy in those countries from Age 15?

    (And, btw, where/how did you find those numbers?)

    JimFive

    Comment by JimFive — 17 October 2006 @ 9:08 AM

  23. I’m well aware of what “begging the question” means; I have a degree in computer science, and formal logic was something of my specialty in that. My conclusion is that forager life expectancies are not very far from civilized life expectancies; my assumption is that life expectancy in the United States is causally related to life expectancy in the Third World. My assumption is not my conclusion. Now, it may be the conclusion you’re interested in, and that’s why I said, “It may be begging your question, but it’s certainly not begging mine.” The dependence of First World longevity on Third World brevity is something I established in thesis #4.

    I think I have to cede the point about life expectancy at 50, though. In the original article, I noted that it might seem “dismal” compared to current First World numbers, but I also noted that it was not so long ago that it would have been enviable even in the United States. The past 100 years has seen enormous leaps in lengthening years, though not necessarily for the quality of those years, which is the other major element of this thesis. But you are correct—the First World has, in the most recent past, added quite a few years of senility, decrepitude and suffering to the end of people’s lives.

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 17 October 2006 @ 9:28 AM

  24. Like Jim, I’m still much more interested in the “from age 15″ number. I’d also like some way to control for the fact that the First World countries are exploiting some of the most abundant ecosystems on the planet, while the foragers in question are living in places like the Kalahari Desert.

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 17 October 2006 @ 9:29 AM

  25. WHO life tables:
    http://www3.who.int/whosis/life/life_tables/life_tables.cfm?path=whosis,bod,life,life_tables&language=english

    The reason I used the age 50 numbers is because Jason thought that this was a significant number for an Ache woman. 15 is just as arbitrary, excluding infant mortality on the basis of cultural difference. And the least defensible is to compare across ages, for instance to assert that a 50 year old american woman can expect to live to 84 _because_ LE at birth in sub-saharan africa is “in the thirties”, as if those two figures had anything to do with each other. Anyway that’s why I put those charts up, since it shows the range (in three countries).

    I think all the talk of elites and nonelites is misleading. There are countries in which people live longer than in other countries. My contention above has been that the higher level of complexity in a society (not across societies), the more access it has to technology, the longer one of its members can expect to live. Jason’s contention seems to be that members of more economically and technologically complex societies enjoy longer lifespans at the direct cost of people in less complex societies, and, even further, that the result of complexification over all societies (”civilization”) is a net loss in “quality of life”. I don’t know how to measure quality of life, but I do know how to measure quantity of life, and on that basis at least it is clear that increasing complexity, including technology, economy, etc., leads to increasing life expectancy.

    Comment by Dave — 17 October 2006 @ 9:35 AM

  26. I know where you got 50 from, but it’s not particularly significant—it’s simply evidence that foragers do reach old age, and often. 15, too, is arbitrary; it’s the data I have. But it eliminates our cultural bias with regards to infant mortality, and that’s important, as I’ve argued above.

    My contention above has been that the higher level of complexity in a society (not across societies), the more access it has to technology, the longer one of its members can expect to live. Jason’s contention seems to be that members of more economically and technologically complex societies enjoy longer lifespans at the direct cost of people in less complex societies, and, even further, that the result of complexification over all societies (”civilization”) is a net loss in “quality of life”.

    You’re right on both counts, but it is only the second one I’m arguing here. The first I’ve already established in previous theses, and take here for a given. You are right, to one degree or another, that a more complex society will in general have longer-lived people. The scale of that effect is often over-estimated, however, and more importantly, neglects the cost of that complexity in the lower complexity, and reduced life span, inflicted on other regions that must bear our externalized costs. My contention with life expectancy is merely that foragers enjoy comparable, though not necessarily longer, life spans, once we account for cultural biases in how we count life expectancy, and ecological marginality. Life expectancy is an area where we have recently “caught up” to the forager level once again, after some 10,000 years of recovery from the Neolithic mortality crisis. It’s other areas of quality of life where foragers surpass us. You’ll also note some significant discussion in the article dedicated to how one measures quality of life, and the difficulty of that.

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 17 October 2006 @ 9:42 AM

  27. “Life expectancy is an area where we have recently “caught up” to the forager level once again, after some 10,000 years of recovery from the Neolithic mortality crisis.”

    - An astonishing conclusion, given the available evidence. But as you say, we all have our basic assumptions about the world, which can often trump fact.

    Final point before I stop banging my head against the wall: Your idea about “cultural bias” is cute, but you assume that cultural views on infantacide stand in a cause relationship to high rates of infant mortality in forager societies. It seems at least as plausible, if not more so, that the reverse is true, that the attitude towards infanticide/infant mortality is a coping strategy for an inevitable but otherwise lamentable aspect of bush life.

    Comment by Dave — 17 October 2006 @ 10:24 AM

  28. An astonishing conclusion, given the available evidence. But as you say, we all have our basic assumptions about the world, which can often trump fact.

    I fail to see how that applies. Even 100 years ago, even in the United States, life expectancy was merely 49 years. For most of history, we have been recovering from the Neolithic mortality crisis. It is only in the past century that we have approached forager life expectancies, much less surpassed them. When we also account for environment, we may not even have surpassed them yet, since the only foragers who remain for us to compare to all live in the world’s most marginal ecologies—ecologies where the civilized life expectancy is 33.2 (Botswana, from birth).

    Your idea about “cultural bias” is cute, but you assume that cultural views on infantacide stand in a cause relationship to high rates of infant mortality in forager societies. It seems at least as plausible, if not more so, that the reverse is true, that the attitude towards infanticide/infant mortality is a coping strategy for an inevitable but otherwise lamentable aspect of bush life.

    Except there’s little to no evidence of children dying due to medical reasons in their first years among foragers. This is not an assumption, and there’s no need to discuss what’s “plausible” when we know the facts. Among their agrarian neighbors, it’s an enormous issue, but more young children in the United States die due to medical problems than among foragers. Giuli’s preparing an article rght now on issues of childbirth among foragers. I’ll leave the evidence and details to her, but suffice to say, among foragers childbirth is a much easier and less risky affair.

    “Cute” is not the word I would use to describe cultural bias, though. Even we do not agree on where life begins. If we were to accept the oft-cited view that life begins at conception, for instance, we would need to count all of our abortions against our life expectancy, the same way you want to count infanticide among foragers against them. So then, the number to compare against in the U.S. is not 77, but 42, as noted from a pro-life polemical site above. Cultural bias matters a great deal; that’s a main point I tried to make in this article. These are not cut-and-dry statistics. What we count reflects deeply held, culturally-constructed assumptions, and the ways in which we’ve traditionally counted life expectancy reflect less about foragers’ short lives, than our priorities in how we count them.

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 17 October 2006 @ 10:54 AM

  29. Interesting, so we’ve caught up to foragers due to increased complexity.
    Wouldn’t it be plausible, that if we could further increase our complexity (another Deus-ex-Machina energy source would be required ofcurse), our life expectancy would increase even further?
    The increased complexity of our society could be leveraged into discovery of more potent energy inputs, which would fuel further complexity, which in turn is leveraged to discover more energy inputs faster. Isn’t it how this civilization became so huge in the first place? If this process could continue, surely it would inevitably proceed in this fashion, and the society would keep getting the benefits of increased complexity. As a part of this civilization’s elites, isn’t it in our interests to keep this civilization going in exactly this fashion, and only abandon it if it becomes clear that this is impossible?
    Why should a member of the elites care about the periphery and the external costs, unless these costs are coming due?

    Comment by _Gi — 17 October 2006 @ 2:31 PM

  30. Wouldn’t it be plausible, that if we could further increase our complexity (another Deus-ex-Machina energy source would be required ofcurse), our life expectancy would increase even further?

    More likely, there’s an asymptote of what “normal” human life expectancy is, and poor health detracts us from that. Considering that most of the increases in longevity occurred before 1950, and are now petering out, the asymptote of longevity we’re reaching is actually one of the examples of diminishing marginal returns on complexity. We’re pouring more and more resources into prolonging our lives, and we’re getting more and more trivial extensions for our efforts. So no, another bout of complexity probably wouldn’t extend our lives very much. We’ve managed to recover from the Neolithic mortality crisis, so we’ve found a way for a small elite in civilization to live the full human lifespan, at the expense of a much larger majority of the poor lucky to live half that long.

    Why should a member of the elites care about the periphery and the external costs, unless these costs are coming due?

    I don’t raise this point on some strange notion that they would care, only that our usual assessment is definitely skewed. But obviously, elites do not care about the plight of those who bear the cost of their way of life. Much more important to them is the fact that we’ve really reached the wall as far as prolonging life goes. To quote Tainter:

    Medical research and application provide a good example of a declining marginal return for increased investment in a scientific field. While it is less easy to measure the benefits of medicine than its costs, one sure indicator is life expectancy. Unfortunately, ever larger investments in health care do not yield proportionate increases in longevity. In 1930 the United States expended 3.3 percent of its gross national product (GNP) to produce an average life expectancy of 59.7 years. By 1982, 10.5 percent of GNP was producing a life expectancy of 74.5 years. … [F]rom 1930 to 1982 the productivity of the U.S. national health care system (measured thus) declined by 57 percent. (In fact, it is likely that the decline in the productivity of medicine has been even greater, for the effects of improved nutrition and sanitation on increasing life expectancy have not been included.)

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 17 October 2006 @ 2:37 PM

  31. Hey –

    Why should a member of the elites care about the periphery and the external costs, unless these costs are coming due?

    Well, there is basic ethics and (hopefully) some generalized ‘humanity’…

    If this process could continue, surely it would inevitably proceed in this fashion, and the society would keep getting the benefits of increased complexity. As a part of this civilization’s elites, isn’t it in our interests to keep this civilization going in exactly this fashion, and only abandon it if it becomes clear that this is impossible?

    Well, first you would have to weigh the ‘benefits’ against the ‘costs’. It does not matter how great the benefit is if it costs more still. Granted, many of these benefits and costs are relative — I for one would rather live 20 happy years than live a life of drudgery for eighty. No question. Others, may have different takes both on which matters more AND the quality of life actually available. But personal opinions aside, if one of the ‘costs’ of greater complexity is the destruction of our life support system… that would seem to be a cost that is obviously too high to pay.

    Janene

    Comment by janene — 17 October 2006 @ 2:39 PM

  32. Janene, the elites didn’t get to be the elites by consistently applying basic ethics and generalized ‘humanity’. Those are truly too high priced for anyone to extend universally to everyone on Earth. The power required to keep us all relatively secure and well-fed is awesome, and it has to be applied against other people’s interests. Caring about these other people would be counter-productive because little change is possible. There is no reform measures available in the system, besides applying some power to make the lives of people at the bottom more bearable, and ideally to change the shape of hierarchical structures in some places from pyramid to diamond

    Comment by _Gi — 17 October 2006 @ 4:47 PM

  33. Hey –

    I understand that there is limited pressure for basic ethics or generalized humanity… yet at the same time, most people do feel a bit of a quiver when they recognize genocide, war casualties and other dire consequences of our lifestyle.

    So the question is, how much of what would it take to give the average american just an inkling of the suffering they (we) cause every day?

    Its not that I expect this to actually change the world, but it is quite callous to suggest ‘to hell with ‘em, what can we get for us.’

    (BTW, you DO realize that the ‘elite’ we are talking about IS us, right?)

    Janene

    Comment by janene — 17 October 2006 @ 6:29 PM

  34. Dave, length of life span in primitive conditions vs civilized conditions is a straw man argument for this article.

    Who cares if my grandmother lived to the age of 82 if she was bed-ridden the last 3 years, and wasn’t able to really get out and enjoy life for the last 10 or so?

    Jason, shame on you for taking the bait and arguing over life-spans (even though I’m certain you’re absolutely correct in you conclusions. You are, after all, Jason). The very name of this post is “Civilization Reduces Quality of Life.” Not “Civilization Reduces Life Spans.” Life span is a very small part of quality of life.

    Life-span is numerically quantifiable, which is why I suspect it ends up being a point of argument so often on this topic. However, I do find it interesting that no one has yet disagreed with any of the other points; that primitives live in relative peace; that they enjoy deeper emotional relationships than we tend to; that they have a deep connection to their culture, and possess a sense of identity that is sadly lacking; that they are nutritionally far better off that even some of the elites of industrial civilization.

    This lack of disagreement on the really important points may just be because most of these things aren’t quantifiable (nutrition aside), but I can’t help but think that the lack of disagreement is the result of people wanting to disagree with the rest of the article, not being able to honestly do uit, and then nit-picking the details.

    In the end, Dave, what if you manage to finally pull out data that supports your claims? That civilized people, on the average, DO live longer? What then? Their lives still suck ass compared to their primitive counterparts.

    - Chuck

    Comment by Chuck — 17 October 2006 @ 7:03 PM

  35. We ofcourse, we are the elites.
    And feeling empathy for the whole peoples is still not feasible for us. We need personifications. We need individuals to attach the ethics. Genocide is an empty word until one gets to know one of those adorable Dinkas being slaughtered. Or something.
    But to hell with them, we always come first must be the logic of the empire. And members of emperial top who cannot agree with this logic must experience painful cognitive dissonance and live with it for as long as they benefit from their position. No sane human will endure this for long. There is no competitive edge to be gained by this type of empathy. Empathy is for people you know. You can only afford empathy when you are secure. Security is monopolized by the empire. So, empathy is the benefit of the empire just like food and clean water, and flushing toilets and other conveniences, it must be earned by working for the empire.
    The higher you are in a hierarchy the more empathy you can afford and the less empathy you really need.

    Comment by _Gi — 18 October 2006 @ 12:56 PM

  36. Gi — that’s why appeals to morality never stop anything. It just ensures the success of the least inhibited by morals. Which is why this thesis provides such a “selfish” appeal: civilization undercuts our own quality of life.

    Chuck — I agree that longevity is only a small part of the question of quality of life, but it is a part, and if Dave wants to discuss it, I consider that quite pertinent to the question of quality of life in civilization. If civilization does provide longer life, that might be a valid counter-point to the shorter-but-happier lives of foragers. It becomes a balancing act: do you want longer-and-harder, or shorter-and-happier? But, as I’ve shown in this article, that’s not the case at all. Civilization can’t even offer us longer lives. It offers us nothing but toil and stress. You can’t show that unless you’re willing to engage the life expectancy issues, too.

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 18 October 2006 @ 1:58 PM

  37. “In the end, Dave, what if you manage to finally pull out data that supports your claims? That civilized people, on the average, DO live longer? What then? Their lives still suck ass compared to their primitive counterparts.”

    Chuck -
    The point is, there _is_ data on LE, and there is _not_ data on the relative ass-suckiness of lives, only conjecture, and in some cases, theses. I don’t presume to debate on that because I don’t think it’s possible to, though I do have my own hunches. My initial point was that Jason’s use of figures on LE point was neither responsible nor responsible, though I do respect the way in which he deals with my objections above.

    Comment by Dave — 21 October 2006 @ 3:21 AM

  38. There are, of course, other metrics to measure “quality of life” than simply life expectancy, as mentioned above. The U.N. uses three different metrics, of which life expectancy is only one, as discussed in the article. Beyond that, we can also discuss psychological and sociological studies on things like the impact of hierarchy on stress levels, suicide rates in comparative societies, and so forth, to inform our discussion. So it is quite possible to have that discussion without relying on conjecture alone.

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 21 October 2006 @ 9:45 AM

  39. Jason, do you have any sources that you could point to that would prove that infanticide accounts for a significant portion of infant deaths among foragers? Any sources that would prove that infanticide alone accounts for the discrepancies in the infant mortality rates between foragers and modern (late 20th/early 21st century) civilized humans? I’d definitely like to see some numbers, because otherwise, I’m inclined to agree with Dave. (Especially because, it was my understanding, only some forager groups practice infanticide to being with.)

    Although, I should say, I don’t think that life expectancy is all that it’s cracked up to be. I mean, if I live, say, 70 years, and for 35 years spend 8 hours a day doing a job I hate, plus an hour or two in traffic getting to and from work, on top of all the years of industrial schooling that I had to suffer through… That adds up to years and years of my life that I would have preferred never to have had to live through! I think that, say, 50 years of forager life would’ve been a much better bargain.

    Comment by Hasha — 1 February 2007 @ 2:39 PM

  40. I just wanted to also point out, the reduction in quality of life by the additional diseases. Particularly, and this is one we currently live with, tuberculosis, which emerged with urban life (Pathogeny of archaic mycobacteria at the emergence of urban life in Egypt (3400 bc). nfection, Genetics and Evolution, Volume 6, issue 1 (January, 2006), p. 13-21) .

    Comment by Anonymous — 25 March 2007 @ 6:58 PM

  41. Interesting, balanced discussion going on here.. Nice to see.

    I’m just curious to what end so many of you guys are talking about the bad sides of civilization (and it can’t be argued that there aren’t a great many). Are you going to leave it? Or is civilization an arrowhead, doing too much damage to remove?

    “That adds up to years and years of my life that I would have preferred never to have had to live through!”

    The other possibility is to get a job you don’t hate. That’s what I’ve been struggling with for a while. I really don’t mind working, I just personally don’t want to end up in a career path that forces me into 40+ hour weeks for decades at a time. It isn’t actually impossible to do this.

    Besides, if you can cultivate a few aspects of hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and abandon materialism, you can live for next to nothing in western society. It’s not an impossible goal.

    BTW, from what I’ve been able to find in some casual research, numbers on infanticide amongst extant hunter-gatherer societies are almost impossible to gather accurately.

    Comment by Anonymous — 30 March 2007 @ 3:24 PM

  42. I’m just curious to what end so many of you guys are talking about the bad sides of civilization (and it can’t be argued that there aren’t a great many). Are you going to leave it? Or is civilization an arrowhead, doing too much damage to remove?

    In the Thirty Theses (of which this article is #25), I make the argument that civilization is destroying itself, and that this is actually a good thing for the future of our species, and life on earth. I also make the argument that the future belongs to those who choose to live beyond civilization. So, yes, we are planning and actively moving towards leaving it.

    Besides, if you can cultivate a few aspects of hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and abandon materialism, you can live for next to nothing in western society. It’s not an impossible goal.

    This is a vast improvement over the norm, a great middle step from here to fully beyond civilization, and eminently praise-worthy. There are plenty of individuals like that, including Ran Prieur and “Hobopoet.” Of course, we have our own plans.

    BTW, from what I’ve been able to find in some casual research, numbers on infanticide amongst extant hunter-gatherer societies are almost impossible to gather accurately.

    You’re right; all we really know is that it’s high.

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 30 March 2007 @ 3:37 PM

  43. We are talking about society. There can be three conclusions:
    1. Society is good.
    2. Some level of society is good.
    3. Society is bad.

    Conclusion 3 is the choice presented here. The points of the argument are not correct, but the ideas can be, depending on your viewpoint. Like many other things, there is no way to prove wich of the three options is better, because “better” is a matter of perspective and preference.

    We can only read about people without societies. What I want to know is: does anyone actually live the paleolithic lifestyle, or do we just talk about it?

    Do you really need to ” [save] up the finances, to make [your] big escape”? Shouldn’t it just be a matter of getting citizenship somewhere and walking into the bush?

    Comment by Jamie — 12 April 2007 @ 2:03 PM

  44. Hey –

    No one is talking about living ‘without society’, Jamie. Civilization is one singular type of society, and the thesis presents an argument that civilization, as a type of society, has a lower quality of life than other types of societies.

    Yes, people do live in paleolithic style societes: they are called bands, and if you want to know more about how they work, read up on the Kung! Bushmen, the Pygmies, Australian Aborigines, etc.

    Janene

    Comment by janene — 12 April 2007 @ 2:09 PM

  45. Firstly, society is very different from civilization. Civilization is just one kind of society, out of the wide range of possibilities. What I’ve presented here is evidence that civilization is bad, not society in general. This is a crucial distinction.

    Do you really need to ” [save] up the finances, to make [your] big escape”? Shouldn’t it just be a matter of getting citizenship somewhere and walking into the bush?

    Not at all. Gaming laws, camping laws and so forth make a forager lifestyle almost impossible in most places. Where hunter-gatherers still exist, they are hunted down and methodically destroyed by expanding civilizations. While civilization is still expanding, no other way of life is safe. Even if all civilized people were perfect angels, the way of life systematically requires the extermination of all other ways of life. They’d be compelled to do so, even if they didn’t want to.

    Once civilization enters into collapse, though, all the rules are reversed.

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 12 April 2007 @ 2:10 PM

  46. Jason,

    Can you provide a source to back up this statement in your text:

    Foraging cultures, for example, often believe that life begins at age two, and thus classify infanticide and abortion in the same category. Children are often not named or considered persons until that time. A !Kung woman goes into labor, and walks into the bush–maybe she comes back with a baby, and maybe she doesn’t. Whether stillborn or killed at birth, it’s not considered any business of anyone else’s. This kind of attitude has given foragers a very high infant mortality rate […]

    The paper that you cite, Antiquity of Postreproductive Life[…] sais this:

    While !Kung are known to
    have practiced occasional infanticide and
    Hadza claim never to have heard of such a
    practice, Ache used to regularly kill one or
    more children upon the death of their father,
    and sometimes in other circumstances.

    That doesn’t imply the regular practice you suggest in the article.

    Thanks for your work.

    Comment by Jonas — 1 July 2007 @ 2:07 PM

  47. I didn’t cite that paper in defense of that statement; I cited it later on, in the context of “t age 45, women of the !Kung could expect to live another 20.0 years for a total of 65 years, women of the Hadza could expect to live another 21.3 years for a total of 66.3 years, and women of the Ache could expect to live another 22.1 years for a total of 67.1 years.” That’s shown on the table on p. 185.

    For the paragraph you’re quoting, I’m afraid I don’t have any good citations handy. That’s what I remember from my anthropology classes in college, but as far as a specific article or book, I don’t have one for you anymore.

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 2 July 2007 @ 11:12 AM

  48. Yes, you are correct that you didn’t use the paper for that section, I wasn’t very clear there. I meant to say that you had used the paper as a reference in your text.

    Personally I would assume that females would give birth to the number of children neccessary to keep the population numbers in balance, like any other mammal, without having to resort to methods to make it so. In our (civilized) society we have low child mortality which means that we must counter with methods such as abortion or preventives.

    Comment by Jonas — 2 July 2007 @ 3:30 PM

  49. Do you know a lot of women who considered population numbers when they decide to have a child or not? A stable population is never achieved through conscious effort; it is always a question of ecological pressures. Forager women don’t use abortion or infanticide to control population levels, either; they use them when they lack the means to care for another baby, just like women in our culture use birth control. Naturally, each woman’s ability to raise a child is ultimately a function of a culture’s total energy intake, so these are related questions, but ultimately, foragers decide to keep children or not for much the same reasons civilized people do.

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 2 July 2007 @ 3:36 PM

  50. What a load of crap. Simple fact is that hunter-gatherer cultures never sustained more than about 10 million people world-wide. Thus a return to such a state means we’re 6.69 billion too many. As for art, knowledge and blah blah blah… culture and its benefits are what you make of them.

    Civilization is a human invention and can ultimately be transformed by humans, if we so desire. Many create their own tribes and sub-cultures and do so quite freely.

    Another point. Odd thing about hunter-gatherer cultures in really marginal environments is that they don’t fight as vigorously with the neighbours as peoples in more verdant environments. Factor in violent death - within group and without - and you’ll be less sanguine about the “benefits” of such tribal cultures.

    Preach “collapse” all you like, but if it happened you lot wouldn’t last more than a few weeks. Period.

    Comment by Adam — 3 July 2007 @ 8:33 AM

  51. Oh… and the next Super-Volcano or asteroid impactor would finish us off as surely as the peak of the last Glacial advance killed off the Neanderthals. Toba’s detonation almost took out our entire species c.70,000 bp. Next time a Post-Collapse tribal-humanity probably won’t make it.

    Comment by Adam — 3 July 2007 @ 8:37 AM

  52. There’s not a one of those claims that I haven’t written about in detail and refuted elsewhere on this site, Adam. Yes, there’s absolutely billions too many humans on the earth right now. We’re in a position of ecological overshoot. The human population will go down. Carrying capacity can only be exceeded temporarily, and overshoot always results in die-off. It’s as simple as that. No, hunting and gathering can’t support the world’s current population; but then, neither can permaculture, or “organic agriculture,” or anything else but industrial, petro-agriculture, and that’s horrendously unsustainable. And what do all unsustainable systems have in common? None of them can be sustained. The population will be reduced, one way or another. We can being opening the map and moving beyond civilization to make that descent as gradual as possible, or we can let it happen to us through war, disease and widespread destruction. The latter is more likely, but the more who pursue the former, the more that can be mitigated.

    Civilization is inherently exploitative and unsustainable. Any transformation that changed that would make it cease to be civilization. But we’ve put ourselves into a position of ecological overshoot. Population reduction, by one means or another, is now unavoidable.

    As far as violence, civilization makes violence an ubiquitous way of life. In primitive societies, violence is something that happens. We have a whole class of professional killers (soldiers, police, etc.) whose job is to use the violence necessary to keep the system running. Collapse means drastically reduced violence.

    And yes, one day, humanity will go extinct. There’s no way around that. What makes us human is rooted in the ecologies we inhabit; removed from that context, we’ve already lost our humanity, so hoping to keep the human species going by colonizing space is a fool’s dream. A Homo sapiens living his entire life in space loses his humanity, and becomes psychotic. We belong to this planet, and we’ll go down with it, or destroy ourselves trying to escape it.

    As far as our own survival, you may be right if you mean as we are now, but we’re doing what’s necessary to move beyond civilization. In the past year we’ve learned to forage food and medicine, how to tend injuries and make medicines and first aid, how to build shelters and make cordage and start fires and make tools. Before the year is out, we’ll have added archery, hunting, fishing, brain tanning and making clothes to that repertoire. We’ve started a permaculture garden, and have a whole cabinet full of herbal medicines we’ve whipped up ourselves. We’re on pace. Collapse doesn’t come like the Angel of Death to kill people at random. It destroys civilization, and everyone who relies on it will die with it. We’re cutting off our reliance on civilization, and with a few more years, we’re on pace to be able to do precisely that. How about you?

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 3 July 2007 @ 9:33 AM

  53. “A Homo sapiens living his entire life in space loses his humanity, and becomes psychotic.”

    Jason, normally I have a great deal of respect for what you write, because you liberally back it up with confirmable, solid evidence. But this… well, where are you getting this? If it’s your opinion on the matter/your hypothesis, I’d like to hear you say it, but I don’t think you could produce any evidence that backs this up. To put it bluntly, I think you just pulled this out of your ass due to some sort of dislike or phobia of human space travel.

    - Chuck

    Comment by Chuck — 3 July 2007 @ 10:06 AM

  54. I left it at that because otherwise I’d have to get really deep into ecopsychology. It’s no dislike of mine; I was rather hoping for primitive space travel. But the things that ecopsychology has come up with rather effectively rule that out. I should write this up in more detail, but it’s going to take a lot more space than I have here to do it right.

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 3 July 2007 @ 10:20 AM

  55. Do you know a lot of women who considered population numbers when they decide to have a child or not?

    What I meant to say was, in a population living in balance with its environment the number of births and the number of deaths over a period will balance, without need for family planning. We have infanticide because we are not in balance, we “chase” available resource to expand our economy continually. Foragers don’t live like this.

    There may be another reason for infanticide that is fitness related rather than economic.

    The searches I made on Google turned up some additional info:

    The time honored approach among anthropologists is to assume that infanticide is one of several population regulation mechanisms designed to prevent hunter-gatherers from depleting environmental resources or degrading their environment. From this perspective, infanticide is a way to maintain the balance between people and the resources they exploit. With the influential publication of Susan Lees’ and Daniel Bates’ “The Myth of Population Regulation”, some anthropologists now view infanticide as a mechanism to maximize the reproductive success of individuals (and not the stability of groups). Bear in mind, we discussed a variety of so-called “population regulation” mechanisms (invalidicide, senilicide, abortion, and post-partum taboos). However, we gave special attention to Daly and Wilson’s crosscultural research on infanticide to suggest that such mechanisms actually insure the quantity and quality of children and the decision to commit infanticide is made by the parents and not the group:

    Consistent with evolutionary theory, Daly and Wilson predict that infanticide should occur under the following conditions:

    1. uncertain paternity
    2. defects in offspring
    3. lack of parental resources to successfully rear the child

    From the HRAF Daly & Wilson analyzed the 60 societies in the probability sample. They found that 39 societies (65%) practiced infanticide. Of these, 35 gave reasons for infanticide with a total of 112 reasons for infanticide (many societies gave multiple reasons for infanticide). These reasons were placed into four categories: the three deduced from evolutionary theory and a fourth was were a collection of reasons that could not be classified from an evolutionary perspective by Daly & Wilson.

    Of the 112 reasons, 97 or 86% fell into the evolutionary explanations posited by Daly & Wilson.

    Jonas

    Comment by Jonas — 4 July 2007 @ 4:42 AM

  56. The quoted text was from http://www.unl.edu/rhames/courses/for_rev2_lec.htm by the way.

    Comment by Jonas — 4 July 2007 @ 4:43 AM

  57. Those factors certainly all play their roles, but there’s also the simple, unwanted child. The same kinds of children that modern American women abort, or use birth control to avoid. The most powerful population regulation in every society is the simple statement, “Honey, we really can’t afford a(nother) kid right now.”

    Which is why human population is a function of food supply.

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 10 July 2007 @ 2:42 PM

  58. Everyone here grossly overestimates the quality of life in Stone Age societies. Sure, they probably didn’t have lots of lawlessness, because if you had that in a small group on the razor’s edge of survival (which is all the time when you depend on the environment for food) your group dies off, and then you don’t have any more lawlessness, or any more group. So the individuals in groups that survive don’t commit many crimes, but they don’t really have so much fun either, because they’re in the stone age. What can you do for fun with stone age technologies? Not much. People have problems today in society because happiness is relative. We have a huge range of emotion. Sure, you can be extremely depressed (which anti-civilizationists love to cite statistics about), but you could also be raptuously happy, because of the many activities you can do in a complex society with advanced technology. Society isn’t so bad, which is why there are so many of us in it, and so few that choose to go live out in the woods in convents.

    The myth of progress is one far more deserving of our scorn. Where is the evidence for it? Our medicine,50 our knowledge,51 nor even our art52 can truly be said to have advanced beyond what it was 10,000 years ago. Yet for this way of life we suffer an inferior quality of life, even by our own skewed standards.53

    This is extrordinarily ignorant. Medicine not advanced? Just think about how the average lifespan has increased (supported by every other study than the obscure one cited here), how many diseases we have cures for, how we can create prosthetic limbs, how a broken limb can be perfectly repaired. Art? insane. We have more instruments, genres, type and variations of art that can be counted. Specialized people are able to spend their entire lives perfecting their art, which ensures quality and originality far beyond stone age cave paintings and drumbeatings.

    Foragers have a good deal more free time than we civilized folk. For the most part, this time was spent divided between three primary leisure activities: sleeping, storytelling, and gambling. The latter two are those that concern us presently.

    sleeping storytelling and gambling. Sound exciting to do for the rest if your life? I’d rather have the limitless options afforded by civilization actually, thank you.

    I’m going to keep skydiving, drinking, driving my car, flying around the world, using the internet and experiencing the benefits of civilization, and you probably will too. Don’t tell me that civilization is unnatural from an internet site.</b>

    Comment by Dean — 12 November 2007 @ 7:21 AM

  59. What can you do for fun with stone age technologies? Not much.

    really? wow. that’s a bit of a revelation to me actually.

    i mean, there’s storytelling (you know, it’s kind of like theather, movies or television, but in a lot of ways more engaging and democratic). then there’s music (which even the most artistic of musicians is beginning to recognize as more complex than the majority of what we listen to today). then there’s games (like, say, mancala, or dice/dice equivalents); or if you prefer athletic contests (ie, running, throwing, archery, wrestling, etc).

    Wikipedia lists these as examples of entertainment:

    Animation
    Anime (visual storytelling)
    Circus
    Cinema (visual storytelling)
    Comedy (funny storytelling)
    Comics (visual storytelling)
    Corporate Entertainment (not needed)
    Conventions (assuming we translate this as “fair” or “gathering”, then “Stone Age” peoples have this as well.)
    Dance (last time i checked, high tech wasn’t a requirement for this.)
    Fantasy (storytelling and/or daydreaming)
    Film (visual storytelling)
    Gambling (hell, you can bet on anything, right?)
    Games (see above)
    Horror (storytelling; i mean, where did all those stories of mythological monsters and beasties came from, right?)
    Lecture (um… not sure this actually qualifies as entertainment, but, if it did, and there was an interest, it’s certainly doable)
    Magic (plenty of stories about illusion games in “Stone Age” societies)
    Mass media (uh… okay, you got me, there wouldn’t be Mass media. Damn. Best call the whole thing off. ;) )
    Music (please, no problem here. and before you start talking about how there are more instruments now than in the “Stone Age”, think about how many instruments you can easily dig up that are anything but mainstream? (ie, pan flutes, guiro, maracas, bodhran, didgeridoo, ocarina, bullroarer, etc)
    Pornography (well, i suppose it’s all in the definition, eh wot?)
    Revue (i think a fair few evenings in a “Stone Age” society would count as a “Revue”)
    Reading (storytelling)
    Television (visual storytelling)
    Science Fiction (storytelling, i suppose)
    Sports (plenty of sports to be had, track & field, wrestling, etc)
    Theatre (visual storytelling)
    Video game (varies by video game, but i really don’t see anything earth shatteringly “new” in video games, just attempts at how to do it as well with an electronic chip as without.)

    bold represents my comments on each

    i suspect that whatever selections you think you see over and above what existed in the “Stone Age” are illusions and nothing more.

    Comment by jhereg — 12 November 2007 @ 9:00 AM

  60. Everyone here grossly overestimates the quality of life in Stone Age societies. Sure, they probably didn’t have lots of lawlessness, because if you had that in a small group on the razor’s edge of survival (which is all the time when you depend on the environment for food) your group dies off, and then you don’t have any more lawlessness, or any more group.

    You’ve grossly underestimated the quality of life in Stone Age societies. Razor’s edge of survival? We have no evidence of famine before the advent of agriculture, because hunter-gatherers ate such a wide variety of things. To starve out hunter-gatherers would take a cataclysmic event, with the death of nearly all life in a region; to starve out farmers, you just need a bad crop for a single, fickle cereal grain. Stone Age societies had plenty of food, which they provided with a minimum of work. That much we know for certain, quantifiably. We’ve measured it, and that’s what we found. Yes, it flies in the face of the recieved wisdom and assumption we had previously made about life beyond civilization as “nasty, brutish, and short,” but those are the facts. So who’s grossly underestimating whom: you, repeating the already-debunked myths of the Enlightenment, or us, citing the actual data?

    So the individuals in groups that survive don’t commit many crimes, but they don’t really have so much fun either, because they’re in the stone age. What can you do for fun with stone age technologies? Not much.

    I think jhereg already put this ridiculous claim to rest, but to reiterate, hunter-gatherers had far, far more liesure time on their hands than any of us do, and they spent it well. There was plenty to do for fun. There was also plenty of time to spend for yourself, just relaxing and contemplating and observing, which is also important. Most of the things we do for fun today are just recapitulations of what we were already doing in the Stone Age, and with things like TV or movies, we’re very often trying to fill a gap that the loss of Stone Age “fun” left, and coming up with pale mimicries that do little to measure up against the real thing. Anyone who’s ever been part of a storytelling circle with all the richness a developed oral tradition gives to that will know just how weak the best TV or movies seem next to that experience.

    People have problems today in society because happiness is relative. We have a huge range of emotion. Sure, you can be extremely depressed (which anti-civilizationists love to cite statistics about), but you could also be raptuously happy, because of the many activities you can do in a complex society with advanced technology.

    That’s true, to some minor extent, but if that were all there was to it, you’d have a bell curve. As many people would be rapturously happy as suicidally depressed, right? That’s not what you have. Most people are isolated, depressed, and alienated. That means something’s tipping that scale, skewing the bell curve. That’s civilization.

    Society isn’t so bad, which is why there are so many of us in it, and so few that choose to go live out in the woods in convents.

    Except that huge piles of evidence contradict that statement. For as long as civilization has gone on, people have run off to join the circus, join the gypsies, go native, “go to Croatan,” and so on. The moment the first opportunity arises, we leave civilization in a heartbeat. By contrast, no one has ever submitted to civilization willingly. Every new culture has had to be conquered, often with no small measure of genocidal fervor. Most societies have fought to the death, preferring annihilation to civilization. So few go into the woods because we don’t all for that possibility, because we’ve learned that our civilization cannot exist if its citizens have any alternatives.

    This is extrordinarily ignorant. Medicine not advanced? Just think about how the average lifespan has increased (supported by every other study than the obscure one cited here), how many diseases we have cures for, how we can create prosthetic limbs, how a broken limb can be perfectly repaired.

    This is extraordinarily ignorant. The average lifespan has not increased (supported by every actual study, rather than your hand-waving attempt to justify the mere repitition of recieved wisdom), we really have very few actual cures for diseases, and our ability to heal broken limbs or provide prosthetics has not really changed that much from the Paleolithic. Most importantly, even where some advancement has taken place, it is only available to the most fabulously wealthy in our society, as opposed to the medicine of hunter-gatherer societies, which is available to everyone.

    Art? insane. We have more instruments, genres, type and variations of art that can be counted

    Just like we did in the Paleolithic. Hasn’t really changed. Today, modern artists are studying cave art and Pygmy songs, because they’re recognizing that they’re at least the equals of Rembrandt and Mozart, if not superior.

    Specialized people are able to spend their entire lives perfecting their art, which ensures quality and originality far beyond stone age cave paintings and drumbeatings.

    But then we consider art as the expression of a single artist, ensuring that it can never be any deeper than the genius of a single individual, whereas so much of primitive art becomes a communal expression that becomes enriched the more people contribute to it and perfect it. This is why all of our art is so shallow, and why primitive art is so deep and nuanced. No single genius can ever achieve the artistic genius of an entire tribe. That ensures quality and originality far beyond classical paintings and piano chords.

    sleeping storytelling and gambling. Sound exciting to do for the rest if your life? I’d rather have the limitless options afforded by civilization actually, thank you.

    And all it costs is your humanity.

    I’m going to keep skydiving, drinking, driving my car, flying around the world, using the internet and experiencing the benefits of civilization, and you probably will too. Don’t tell me that civilization is unnatural from an internet site.

    One of the most common, and most lame, counter-arguments we get. Do you suppose that if we shut our eyes and hum really loud that the internet will go away? So you take away everything that makes us human, give us this pale imitation to replace it, and then tell us we’re not allowed to note that this is a rotten deal because the cheap knock-off is all we have left? If somebody loses his leg, and you give him a prosthetic, and he says he wishes he still had his leg, do you tell him he’s a hypocrite and to give back the prosthetic if he hates it so much?

    We’re in the process of reclaiming our humanity, in full. And for those still trapped in the web of myths, misconceptions, recieved wisdom and unexamined assumptions that keep us mired in domestication (like the ones you’ve been mindlessly repeating like a mantra against the evil eye), the internet provides the only way left to tell them how to do the same. You took away all the ways that really work, after all. And if it weren’t for the systems that spawned the internet, we wouldn’t need to use the internet to tell people about this–we’d be able to just live it, instead.

    Comment by Jason Godesky — 12 November 2007 @ 12:57 PM

  61. If somebody loses his leg, and you give him a prosthetic, and he says he wishes he still had his leg, do you tell him he’s a hypocrite and to give back the prosthetic if he hates it so much?

    “Hey! If you don’t like it here, leave the country!”

    *sigh*

    all too common….

    Comment by jhereg — 12 November 2007 @ 2:06 PM

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