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Why Was Much of the Non-European World Stagnating Well Before 1492?
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The emergence of Europe as the world’s dominant civilization is easy to explain from roughly 1492 onward: European ships were showing up all over the world, trading, conquering, and spreading Eurasian diseases, building the wealth of Europe and depleting that of the rest of the world.

But, much of the non-European world entered a sort of cultural recession well before Europeans directly interfered with them. If you look at, say, Charles Murray’s 2003 book Human Achievement, several major non-European civilizations appear to have lost momentum in making progress in the arts and sciences over roughly the time period of 1000 or maybe 1250 to 1500.

Much of the world seemed to be becoming more reactionary and less interested in new ideas just as the Europeans were getting themselves in gear. (The Japanese are an outlier in that like Western Europe, although at a slower pace, they continued to develop new things.)

What happened?

Maybe the Mongols caused places they’d invaded to get more reactionary? Russia, Islam, China, and India all seemed to lose momentum at inventing new stuff after they got out from under the Mongols or subsequent Asian nomad invaders.

Two things happened: The Mongol conquests tended to be worst for cities where literate people were concentrated. The Mongols tended to leave peasants alone, but could do terrible things to city dwellers who didn’t surrender. The Mongols couldn’t hang on to Poland, for instance, but in their incursions they killed a lot of the Polish urban bourgeoisie, apparently leading surviving Polish nobles to invite in Rhineland Jews to do the jobs that literate and numerate Poles used to do.

Another thing about the Mongols is that once they’d won, they tended to rapidly settle down to intelligent exploitation of their conquests, encouraging trade, bringing in clever outsiders to rule their new domains, and spreading inventions and ideas around. In power, the Mongols tended to be globalist modernizers (with the usual globalist problems like vast international pandemics, such as the Black Death).

After the Mongols were thrown out of power, which took 200 years in Russia, for instance, modernization tended to be in bad odor among the national elites who’d regained control of their countries.

The Chinese, for instance, became increasingly xenophobic under the Ming, in part as a reaction to the Mongols, who had been both foreign conquerors and xenophilic pragmatists (e.g., encouraging trade and putting foreigners like Marco Polo in charge of ruling Chinese provinces for them).

So, the Mongols were good for, say, the Italians because they never got within 500 miles of Italy, but then for a few decades the Mongols encouraged trade across Eurasia, letting Chinese inventions like paper, compass, and gunpowder get to Western Europe. Similarly, the Japanese, who had also avoided the Mongol Yoke, didn’t get averse to modernization?

 
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  1. TGGP says: • Website

    The Japanese were also rather isolationist & reactionary until Commodore Perry made it clear they couldn’t keep the rest of the world out. What’s astonishing is how they were able to change in response. Thomas Sowell used that & the Scottish Enlightenment as examples of cultures greatly changing for the better.

  2. Enochian says:

    My favorite idea is that standardized testing in China had a dysgenic effect on the locals, turning the formerly inventive Han into a race of exam crammers at the expense of creativity. But that doesn’t really explain what happened to the rest of the world that wasn’t China and wasn’t Europe.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Corvinus
  3. @J.Ross

    J.Ross wrote:

    Government.

    To elaborate just a bit on your laconic comment…

    Most of the highly developed areas of Eurasia were under the control of centralized empires. And imperial elites tend to like things the way they are — after all, they made things the way they are.

    Except for Europe… which was an utterly insane patchwork of polities. Almost like the anarcho-capitalist ideal of competing security agencies.

    There was one over-arching power in Europe that had a chance of crushing dissidents: the Catholic Church. But Martin Luther dealt with that. (Note: I am making no claims that Luther was a more tolerant person than the Catholic hierarchy. The opposite may have been true. But Luther, rather unwittingly, created religious competition.)

    Competition is good. Decentralized power is good.

    Omnipotent centralized power does not lead to creativity and innovation.

    Points that are, I think, still relevant today.

  4. Two things happened: The Mongol conquests tended to be worst for cities where literate people were concentrated. The Mongols tended to leave peasants alone, but could do terrible things to city dwellers who didn’t surrender.

    When Tamerlane invaded Northern India and conquered the city of Delhi, it is said that he build a tower of the heads of 100,000 inhabitants of that city. But his descendants lived and married into local nobility, and created a new, syncretic local Northern Indian culture.

    ps: While that headcount (literally) might be fanciful, skull towers were a thing in Turco-Islamic lands, and were built as commemorative markers after a victory. The towers were made of stone and plaster, with the heads stuck into the mortar before it dried. Here’s a miniature painting of one that the Mughal dynasty emperor Akbar of India had built after a victory in a local battle in the 1500s. He was a descendant of both Tamerlane and Genghis Khan.

    • Replies: @vinteuil
    , @Bhakt
  5. Anonymous[193] • Disclaimer says:
    @TGGP

    The first Europeans in Japan were a few Portuguese sailers on a Chinese ship who reached a minor outlying island. They had a couple functioning guns and shot a duck as a demonstration. The local lord bought them and had thousands of copies made. Japanese warfare was quickly transformed with domestically produced firearms. Nobody else responded to western contact this way.

    • Agree: Mr. Grey
  6. Anonymous[193] • Disclaimer says:

    It’s an overlooked distinction between western Europe and the rest of civilization. There’s not been a true turnover of the ruling class by nomadic hordes for over a thousand years.

    Perhaps SE Asia is an exception in addition to Japan.

  7. Maybe partly for the same reason that Iberia stagnated later. Asia and the middle east had a profitable, mostly overland spice trade. Then Da Gama found a sea route to India, opening the way for Portugal to takeover the spice trade, and Columbus discovered the New World, eventually leading to the galleon trade for Spain. They were both able to mint money for years without the need for much further innovation.

    • Agree: Spect3r
    • Replies: @Spect3r
  8. J.Ross says:
    @PhysicistDave

    You know what Chinese have been credited with innovation? Guangdong dogs. The free enterprise obsessed Cantonese who say “the mountain is tall and the emperor is far away.” So internationally and intranationally, it is government that keeps the grass from growing by sitting on it.

    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
  9. Interesting thesis, really. What was the excuse for the rest of the non-Euro world though – the Americas, Africa, and Australia? (4 out of the 6 livable continents) OK, we know the reason but can’t say.

    BTW, I don’t agree with the one part about “depleting that [the wealth] of the rest of the world”. Most of it was the extraction of resources that the other people’s didn’t know existed or didn’t know how to extract, but still have PLENTY of. If you mean the taking of the precious metals from the Mexican, C. American, and S. American Indians, then, yeah.

    OTOH, with the precious metals, if they didn’t know its value as real money and used it for interior decoration instead, they deserved to lose every bit of it. The Sun God? Screw him.

  10. AKAHorace says:

    Steve,

    this is an interesting idea, but Northern Europe spent a lot of it’s time stagnating in the years before 1500. If you had been posting on a website in 1200 AD you would be making witty and insightful observations about how the Germans, Anglo Saxons, Scandanavians could not get their act together compared to the Arabs, Byzantines, Chinese etc.

    It may be better to stick with the traditional question “what was so unusual about western Europe post 1500 ?” rather than what was wrong with the rest of the world.

  11. @AKAHorace

    Chartres Cathedral:

    Built primarily between 1194 and 1220.

    There were another 100 or so Gothic cathedrals built in northern Europe in the same general time period.

    Northerners came up with the two greatest inventions of the era: the mechanical clock and the printing press.

    • Thanks: Coemgen
  12. They had stagnation, we’ve got stagflation.

  13. If a city did not immediately surrender to the Mongols, it would be destroyed and its citizens killed or enslaved. Kiev suffered this fate, and when the Mongols were eventually expelled from the Russias it was the northern upstarts from Moscow who did it.

    Baghdad was also destroyed, and with it the Abbasid Caliphate.

    I would guess that when a medieval country lost its cities, this would have included most of its literate people, with the exception of rural priests. Without local buyers for food, much of the countryside would have reverted to subsistence agriculture. Recovery would have been painfully slow. Neither Kiev nor Baghdad ever regained their former status.

  14. Daniel H says:
    @TGGP

    The Japanese were also rather isolationist & reactionary until Commodore Perry made it clear they couldn’t keep the rest of the world out.

    Think about this for a minute. A flotilla arrives from across the vast sea and the Commodore demands that you submit to the dictates of this frightening, distant power, and if you don’t snap to it the Commodore will begin to level your capital…

    Much like how the EEU has been treating, say, Hungary lately: admit one million Muslim men as migrants and let Globo-homo run rampant through your institutions or we will show you what real power is. Well, due to the Ukrainian war Hungary has found a respite, but be assured, Globo-homo will return, ferociously.

    So, you can understand why many of us are rooting for Putin. He’s the only power standing athwart Globo-homo demanding halt.

    • Agree: YetAnotherAnon, Gordo
    • Thanks: Bill Jones
    • Replies: @Peter Akuleyev
  15. Thoughts says:

    Isn’t the answer just Christianity?

    All of the Above in relation to everything Christian

    and then after 1000 the rewards were reaped at exponential rates

    Printing press? So everyone could read the Bible

    Everyone reads the Bible? Well considering The Bible is a college Level Class

    Everyone in Europe got a Modern Day Level Undergrad Education

    • Replies: @Mr. Grey
  16. @PhysicistDave

    This sounds a lot like what Paul Kennedy writes about in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, especially the gun-powder empires.

  17. Oddly enough, on the other side of the world the situation was in many ways the opposite. In 1492 two new, energetic empires, the Inca and the Mexica (or “Aztecs”), had recently, and for the first time, united and pacified huge regions of Central and South America, and by most indicators they were just getting started. Andean metalsmiths had used annealing and electroplating for more than a thousand years, and the Mexica’s main northern rivals, the Tarascans, were closing in on the magic 88/12 alloy ratio of copper to tin. If the citizens of the New World had been left alone for another century while they moved into the Bronze Age, and if they’d kept their act together, they could, possibly, have successfully resisted the Conquistadors.

  18. @J.Ross

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/upstart-money-manager-gets-billionaires-to-back-the-anti-blackrock-11652134919

    It’s called “Strive”, for anyone who wants to switch up their portfolio. It opposes the Larry Fink-style woke capitalism with plain old capitalism.

    • Replies: @SFG
  19. Thoughts says:

    Oh sorry, I didn’t answer the question

    Maybe the other places didn’t stagnate…they only appeared to stagnate in comparison to the rate of development of Europe

    I’ve never really bought into the argument of ‘Oh China and those places were so much more innovative until this and this time’

    My uneducated impression is that China has pretty much been China at the same pace for forever

    We had the Romans and the Classical Dudes, then we had Jesus Christ, then we had Charlemagne

    I mean….we were pretty innovative…maybe not in Science or technology Per Se but we were always Up To Something

    Europeans…always Up To Something

  20. There is no single answer because that’s not a simple question.

    1. Europe, even in Antiquity, from ca. 500 BC to 300 AD was a dynamic civilization- unlike all others. Despite all the emperors, slavery etc.- the West was essentially individualistic, secular, non-conformist & always in restless expansion. Christianity preserved, more or less, many of its spirit, but somehow immobilized it in a hibernated state of a fossilized middle eastern civilization.

    2. this state of affairs lasted until ca. 1100, when demographic & cultural changes caused West to begin to awake from a dogmatic slumber and in the next 300 to 400 years became active in reshaping itself through conflict with Islam & especially the humanist movement, going from theocentric world-view back to (mostly) anthropocentric, as it had been during the classical Antiquity. High Renaissance & Reformation, as different they had been, worked consciously & unconsciously in that direction around 1500.

    3. Mongols destroyed decadent Arab Islamic civilization, liberated Persian Islamic one; moved masses of Turks westward (just, Turks have adopted Islam without a new sense of destiny); demographically decimated the Chinese civilization (prior to Genghis Khan, China had ca. 100 million inhabitants; after the Kublai Khan’s conquest, 60 million); also, Mongol later defeat resulted in strengthening of traditional Chinese isolationism; Russia was a shapeless Mongol fief until the 1400s; India never showed any ambition to expand across the sea.

    So, to simplify things: West was almost forced to win the globe, due to its legacy of dynamism (after the 1450s “helped” by religious fanaticism & greed for spices), also, the West was the only sea-oriented civilization, as Greeks had been centuries ago. Impressive Chinese and Arab maritime accomplishments did not change the basic fact that these were essentially land empires.

  21. @J.Ross

    “internationally and intranationally, it is government that keeps the grass from growing by sitting on it”

    Up to a point. In the total or virtual absence of government other forces arise which may or may not be good. Gangsters/criminals/warlords etc. England under King Stephen was a place where “Christ and His saints slept” – bit like Russia in the Yeltsin years.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Anarchy

    Dave is right.

    Competition is good. Decentralized power is good.

    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
  22. @PhysicistDave

    Agree with J.Ross‘s comment and your elaboration. I would add that the American founders understood that the US was going to become a continent-spanning behemoth, and that in order to avoid stifling and omnipotent centralized power, government had to remain as decentralized to individual states as possible.

    Sadly, shortly after the continent was spanned and the lands incorporated into states and into the union, the ever-foolish intellectual elites set about undoing that far-sighted precaution, ironically under the banner of “Progressivism”, centralizing and stifling everything they could get their petty little paws on.

    And now here we are. So many citizens are so accustomed to this stagnated state of affairs, that when the nine berobed figures who heretofore had enunciated blanket, central prescriptions for everything from the Atlantic to the Pacific start musing that, hey, maybe individual states should decide some things after all, half the public erupts in a fury of rage that the imperial capital won’t tell them what to do.

  23. Anonymous[923] • Disclaimer says:

    There’s more to it than that, Steve.

    The crucial developments were in technology – and these didn’t really come to prominence until relatively late in the day, in the latter part of the 18th century.
    Many have hypothesised that the development of accurate clocks, based on the pendulum escapement, was the key driver of the precision metal working industry which, perhaps, was *the* driver of rising productivity, and hence living standards in the 18th and 19th century. From the engineering industry we got the steam engine, the rest, as they say, is history.
    Another key driver, of course, was the accomplishment of smelting iron with coke instead of charcoal. Without this advance there would either be not a single stick of wood remaining on the planet – or scarcely any manufactured products.

  24. Dule says:

    Speaking of the ‘stagnation of the Roman empire’ (a.k.a. Byzantium), perhaps the destruction of its capital city of more than a million inhabitants and the pillaging of its riches by the united West (a.k.a. crusaders) in 1204 had something to do with it? The distribution of the Roman gold and scientific knowledge in the west was labelled there as “the Rennesaince”, while the lack of these commodities in Constantinopol ultimately led to the Turkish conquest two centuries later, in which the entire civilization of the Ortodox Christianity received a (near) fatal blow from which it suffered for several centuries, until the subsequent rise of the Third Rome.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  25. @Achmed E. Newman

    Yeah, my question is when and where was this supposed period of non-European non-stagnation?

    Yeah okay, China came up with the printing press and gunpowder (firework powder to them) over the course of a couple of thousand years, but neither of those things became especially useful until they had passed through European hands.

    India, I’m told, came up with the zero. So okay, good job guys … [sotto voce] for millennia of work. But again, the zero only became a world-beating killer app once it got into the hands of Italian bankers, Portuguese navigators, French mathematicians, and German physicists.

    Arguably, the Mongol terror had something to do with Eastern Europe’s lagging of Central and Western Europe, but even there the question of cause or effect arises: the mobile-warfare Mongols overthrew wooden fortifications on the open country of the steppe, but found the stone forts and denser terrain further west to be insurmountable.

    Meanwhile, since 1492, the innovation emanating from Europe has been so staggering as to beggar any comparison. Well, not quite any comparison. The ancient Greeks and Romans still stand out for their innovations in architecture, engineering, science, culture, and art, as do the medieval cathedral-builders. But dang it if it ain’t those pesky Europeans again!

  26. OT but I noted yesterday the death of another of Nick Cave’s kids (2 out of 4 now), and I wondered:

    How many people who make a living singing about “the dark side”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nostalgie_de_la_boue

    have actually been able to both have a stable existence AND successfully raise stable children? I can only think of Jacques Brel (who still lived with a mistress for years before his death), and I don’t know anything of how his kids turned out.

    Janis, Billie Holliday, Nico, Amy Winehouse – seems to damage girls even more than chaps. Polly Harvey seems relatively immune though.

    • Replies: @SFG
  27. AndrewR says:
    @TGGP

    I wouldn’t call the unfathomable suffering inflicted by the Japanese empire in the 1930s and ’40s a “great change for the better.” But Japan today does seem to be markedly more pleasant than it was 170 years ago.

  28. Midnights says:

    OT: Seems iSteveish— Former male, now female, dating a former female, now male. Shoots ‘him’ and shoots ‘her’ brother too, who is still a male. Rumor is, the brother was nailing the former girl, who is the MTF trannie’s ‘girlfriend’. Took me a minute to sort this one out.

    Welcome to the new world.

    https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/local/2022/05/09/oakland-county-woman-wanted-in-murders-of-boyfriend-brother-found-dead-what-we-know/

  29. AndrewR says:
    @Almost Missouri

    We get it. You’re exuberantly proud of things that people you’re not related to did centuries before you were born.

    • Replies: @Edmund
    , @Anonymous
    , @Sfffhhjdss
  30. Anon 2 says:

    Re: Mongols killed a lot of Polish urban bourgeosie

    1. Half-true. Kievan Rus’ and Hungary were by far much more devastated
    than Poland. Poland was partly protected by being farther north;

    2. The famous Battle of Legnica (1241), near the German border, was between
    the Mongol Empire and the combined European (Polish, Moravian, German, …)
    forces, not just Polish forces. The Mongols, of course, won, but the Kievan Rus’
    was the greatest victim, Kiev was completely destroyed, and the Rus’ lands were
    subjected to the Tatar yoke until 1480;

    3. Then in the Black Death (ca 1350), which killed roughly 50% of the population
    of Western Europe, Poland was almost completely spared.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  31. Charon says:
    @Almost Missouri

    half the public erupts in a fury of rage that the imperial capital won’t tell them what to do.

    Except that this isn’t quite how the issue is being framed, is it. [To state the obvious..]

  32. SFG says:
    @YetAnotherAnon

    When you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.

  33. The whole question is misconceived. All civilizations at the time were based on peasant agriculture or pastoralism. They were *all* stagnant most of the time. The thing is to accurately identify and then explain any periods of relative non-stagnation.

    NB very weird claim about the Japanese … they had almost no social or technological change for the entire Tokugawa period, practically the definition of stagnant.

    • Replies: @Prof. Woland
  34. SFG says:

    It’s an interesting theory, though it reminds me a little too much of trying to project your local resentments back through history-just because globalists are trashing America in 2022 (and yes, I agree with this!) doesn’t mean they caused China and Russia to stagnate in 1522.

    Still I have never heard this particular connection before, and would love to see a good counter argument. One competing pattern I have noted is that places under a foreign invader for a long time tend to develop a cynical attitude toward law and order that causes problems with corruption-Southern Italy and Greece come to mind, and much of Eastern Europe as well. (The Poles seem to have escaped the worst of it?)

  35. Thea says:

    The movie Andrei Rublev details the creation of Russian culture as a result of the Mongol invasion. Great movie about a pivotal moment.

    It nicely juxtaposes the superstitious stupidity of many of the peasants with the absolute brilliance of a few and how that shapes everything.

    • Agree: PiltdownMan
    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  36. J.Ross says:
    @AKAHorace

    When the Chinese decided to tell people they had once built a fleet that could cross an ocean, they put together an old ship design but sized something like what a modern person would expect of a marine vessel.
    The Vikings did it in a river boat.

    • Replies: @AKAHorace
  37. J.Ross says:
    @Anon 2

    Poland was spared specifically because they quarantined, which then enabled their population and GDP to grow from a “normal” starting point, with the result that by the Renaissance, Poland was a regional power and its competitors were relatively diminished.
    So, the opposite of what the United States is doing now.

  38. “. . .building the wealth of Europe and depleting that of the rest of the world.” No, the countries Europe traded with or conquered were, in general, made richer by the experience.” There is a huge literature on this.

  39. @Steve Sailer

    Right and what did the Christian culture do: It helped people to trust one another and – it told them not to marry their cousins and close relatives. This is a form of socio-biological progress – see Harvard anthropologist Joseph Henrich’s 2020 book The WEIRDest People in the World – How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_WEIRDest_People_in_the_World#:~:text=The%20WEIRDest%20People%20in%20the%20World%3A%20How%20the,with%20approaches%20from%20cultural%20evolution%20and%20evolutionary%20psychology.?msclkid=d08f0bf4d04f11ecb0e2a88f0aa9560e

    Btw.: Joseph Henrich ran into no PC-troubles with his work, because he remains strictly descriptive and does not spell out the consequences of what he describes in minute detail: Namely, that Christianity did improve the European gene-pool from the 4th (!) century on. – Jo Hnerich came ultimately close to – but did not enter your – – – IQ-niche – – – ). – .

    • Agree: Roger
    • Replies: @Thea
  40. Coemgen says:
    @Almost Missouri

    Yeah, it’s the difference between knowing “the price of things” vs knowing “the value of things” that determines whether one is tending towards stagnation rather than progress.

    Knowing the price: stagnation.

    Knowing the value: progress.

    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
  41. bomag says:
    @Almost Missouri

    Yeah, my question is when and where was this supposed period of non-European non-stagnation?

    A son’s in college; reports on the anti-Whiteness and love of indigenous peoples, people who then and now generate scant advancement. Has got me musing that a big chunk of wokeness reflects jealousy and discomfort with White accomplishment. Most people trend toward the Hunter Biden ethos: have a good time; no particular accomplishment other than turning food into poo. All these modern machines; the chemicals; the biologicals; are rather threatening, invoking a sense that we have gotten too far away from our comfort zone of basic village life.

    Of course, people happily use modern conveniences and such, but they feel guilty about it, so voice lots of wokeness as a sort of penance.

    • Replies: @stillCARealist
  42. Admiral Zhang He was the great 14th Century Chinese explorer. His fleet traveled much of Asia and visited Africa and Arabia. Had the new Ming Emperor not prohibited New voyages and destroyed the Navy, the Chinese may have made it to California as Columbus hit the beaches of Hispaniola.

  43. @PhysicistDave

    Agreed… although it has been noted that the consistent moral authority and communication network set up by the Church (and even after the Reformation, Protestant morals and ethics were not significantly different from Catholic ones) allowed an exchange of information in addition to intense competition between secular authorities.

  44. @Almost Missouri

    China came up with china, which was an obsessive subject for European industrial espionage for centuries.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  45. mc23 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Can’t recall the source but suppose ably Medieval Europe was far more labor efficient then Classical Greek and Roman civilization. The latter relied on large numbers of slaves. Medieval Europe ended up developing better agriculture tools and techniques. They also utilized wind and watermills, far more, for grinding grain and working metal. As it’s said “Necessity is the mother of invention”

  46. @Achmed E. Newman

    Most of the exploitation of natives happened in South Asia, where most of the colonised peoples lived.
    And they did know the value of their resources – spices etc
    That’s why Indian and other South Asian people in medieval times had a higher standard of living than Europeans, but lower after a century of colonisation, and much lower at the end of the colonisation. After independence the difference is again slowly getting reduced.

    • Replies: @Recently Based
  47. @Midnights

    I still can’t sort out sexual (not gender) identity of these 4 people …

  48. @Thea

    Thanks Thea – it’s coming from the library as I write.

  49. @Coemgen

    “Knowing the price: stagnation.

    Knowing the value: progress.”

    Absolutely. Hence the Guardian talking about a “booming housing market” as if paying more for the same land/bricks/mortar is a good thing.

    OT but I think I posted a while back about how a recent journey across the Black Sea took a pronounced southerly route, much to my relief.

    I see this drone is tootling about, presumably gathering SIGINT to feed to Ukraine. You can see the civil air traffic keeping well to the south.

    It says it’s from Catania airport in Sicily, but I assume it’s from here.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Air_Station_Sigonella

    Steve – didn’t the Chinese invent the compass too?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Great_Inventions

  50. @Steve Sailer

    Well, obviously the china. The china goes without saying, doesn’t it?

    Besides the gunpowder, the paper, the china, the powered milk made of concrete dust, the burned/ripped copies of The Office, the defective face masks, and the 1.5 Trillion Dollars, WHAT HAVE THE CHINESE EVER DONE FOR US?!

  51. @Almost Missouri

    Indians – zero, Chinese – printing and gunpowder LOL
    You really know so little. So so little.

    Mentions culture and art, but fails to mention that India has had probably the most advanced form of classical music in the world (carnatic), the most sophisticated classical dance, possibly the greatest philosopher (Nagarjuna), some of the greatest architecture (check medieval South Indian temples – wonders of art and technology — especially by early medieval standards). And almost all of it is virtually exclusively native unlike the Romans who got most of their culture and knowledge from the Greeks.

    Let’s not even get into Chinese contributions…

  52. Anonymous[361] • Disclaimer says:
    @PhysicistDave

    Agreed. Competition, while seeming to be an inefficient way of organising large groups of people, provides far better technical development than cooperation. This article about fusion power (https://quillette.com/2022/02/21/fusion-power-is-coming/) is a case in point. The ITER experimental reactor pretty much stalled fusion research for nearly three decades. The recent breakthroughs have come entirely from small, independent research companies.

  53. Edmund says:
    @AndrewR

    Hey, I’ll take a bit of excessive pride in our ancestors over the excessive shame whites are supposed to feel these days.

  54. Jaichind says:

    What about Black Death? Black Death was extra severe in Western Europe which created a labor shortage and incentives to look into labor saving technologies.

  55. Coffee and tea.

    In days of yore, the water was so bad that it had to be sterilized with alcohol (by being brewed into weak beer or wine) before it was safe to drink. So everyone walked around all day half crocked, mumbling and bumbling and stumbling ineptly from one unsolvable problem to another. Just as today, the beer besotted workman created as many problems as he solved.

    Then, along came tea from China and coffee from the Middle East. The Viennese coffee house and English tea break dispensed sterilized water that not only sobered Europeans up but goosed them to a caffeine-fueled romp of clear-minded innovation.

    (Course, that doesn’t explain why those civilizations didn’t go on a caffeine fueled romp themselves. Hey, I’m just kicking cans here.)

    • Replies: @Anon
  56. mc23 says:
    @PhysicistDave

    In the patchwork states of Europe competition was a must. China and Japan tended to be highly centralized. and stagnant. Ingenuity and wealth didn’t benefit society at large.

    China invented gunpowder and crude cannons. In the opium war of the 1840’s against the British the Chinese cannon were still tied to large blocks of wood and a handful of infantry were using matchlocks.
    When the Perry Expedition landed in Japan in 1853, the Japanese were still using matchlocks that the Portuguese in the 1500’s.

  57. Steve, it’s “Accomplishment” not “Achievement” in title–full title: Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950

  58. @mc23

    Medieval Europeans had an impressive number of mills. Building them helped them gear up for clocks and then the Big One: the printing press.

    • Replies: @Elmer T. Jones
  59. SIMP simp says:

    Another thing about the Mongols is that once they’d won, they tended to rapidly settle down to intelligent exploitation of their conquests, encouraging trade, bringing in clever outsiders to rule their new domains, and spreading inventions and ideas around.

    That’s somewhat true only for China during Kublai’s reign. After the division of the great khanate the mongols either fought civil wars for the control of a khanate, waged wars between khanates or launched ineffective attacks on their neighbours. This mess went on until the locals rebelled and threw them out.
    For example as soon as the last universally recognized Great Khan, Mongke, died in 1259, the westernmost mongol khanates, the Golden Horde of East Europe and the Ilkhans of the Middle East fought each other leading to the defeat of the Ilkhans by Egyptian Mamluks and the loss of Syria. Both khanates then entered a period of infighting partly due to the conversions of their elites to islam and were eventually brutally raided and ruined by the central asian Timur the Lame, who claimed descent from the royal mongol Borjigin clan but culturally was much more of a turkish-speaking muslim.
    Kublai himself didn’t do much better. He only gained power after a civil war and his authority in the mongol khanates west of Mongolia proper was always symbolic or contested. His attacks on Japan, Burma, Vietnam, and Java resulted in costly defeats which made his paper currency lose any value. The Yuan dynasty he founded collapsed 50 years after his death.

  60. What happened? These staid conservative cultures failed to discover their inner LGBTQIAPPQWERTYUIOP+ inner selves and therefore failed to expand their DIE quotient, thus remaining blind to the expanded world of possibilities.

  61. Anonymous[376] • Disclaimer says:
    @AndrewR

    He most certainly *is* related to them, in the strictest genetic sense, if we regard the hard science of computational genetics and the concept of IBD sharing of DNA sequences.

  62. @Midnights

    There needs to be some sort of standard charting system developed to illustrate such convoluted scenarios, kind of like an electronic schematic. Maybe color-coded for component persons or otherkins and with pattern-keyed lines to indicate relationship characteristics that are sexual, genetic, and/or criminal.

    For example, ->->-> or <-<-<- could indicate the mechanical nature of carnal relations, regardless of current identities (as reflected in color of nodes). Red could be male, pink as gay, yellow as mtf, blue as female, purple as lesbian, green as ftm.

  63. The Bubonic Plague may have been a factor. I have not seen any mention of this in conjecture about the abandonment of Angkor Wat and subsequent Khmer depopulation but it seems plausible that plague was the reason as it followed the European pandemic chronologically.

    • Replies: @Peter Lund
  64. The Mongols couldn’t hang on to Poland, for instance, but in their incursions they killed a lot of the Polish urban bourgeoisie, apparently leading surviving Polish nobles to invite in Rhineland Jews to do the jobs that literate and numerate Poles used to do.

    D’oh!

    • Replies: @TheJester
  65. SFG says:
    @Almost Missouri

    A huge portion of the money going into blackrock, fidelity, and vanguard is index investing, basically just buying one of every stock in an index (most commonly the S&P 500). This of course means Vanguard, Fidelity, and Blackrock now own huge portions of the US economy.

    It’s not a terrible strategy and beats most money managers, but there are definite returns to scale. If these guys want to get into active investing instead that’s great but they will never attract enough money to compete with vanguard and blackrock either way, and there are thousands of money managers trying to beat the market.

  66. @Steve Sailer

    Mill and textile technology was also the basis for modern computers. Charles Babbage, notable for the first computer project failure, wrote a treatise on manufacturing organization that drew on his experience in textile mills. Some mill terminology is still used to describe computer architecture thanks to Babbage applying them to his Difference Engine. 19th century efforts to automate textile production contributed to emergent computing technology.

    • Agree: Gordo
    • Thanks: mc23
    • Replies: @Anonymous
  67. AKAHorace says:
    @J.Ross

    When the Chinese decided to tell people they had once built a fleet that could cross an ocean, they put together an old ship design but sized something like what a modern person would expect of a marine vessel.
    The Vikings did it in a river boat.

    The Vikings were impressive sailors. But but they are not unique, look at the Polynesians.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
    , @Mike Tre
  68. @Bardon Kaldian

    If the stagnation was consistent across several regions, then something that happened to all regions would be the likely culprit.

    Still, there were a few areas mongols did not reach. They didn’t conquer North Africa, which isn’t trivial. In the manner that the Caucasian world stood head and shoulders above the rest in the mid 20th century, ancient Egypt was far above any other civilization ever seen anywhere for thousands of years. But they were stagnating under Islamic rule, which happened to deliberately value stagnation.

    The mongols devestated northern South Asia but they did not reach southern South Asia. Was south India stagnating? From what I know, I get the impression they were doing quite well in 1000 ad, with something of a cultural renaissance. And they did expand. There are Hindu temples throughout southeast Asia and Indonesia, so they did manage to export their culture, sometimes through imperialistic means. I am looking into Wikipedia about it and it seems the mongols might have gotten to them to through their seafaring routes, albeit at least a century later than when they were bothering everyone else.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    , @prosa123
  69. Ian M. says:
    @PhysicistDave

    This is too reductive.

    The Scientific Revolution coincided with a notable concentration of state power: divine right of kings, absolute monarchy, rise of the nation-state, especially in England and France.

    • Replies: @bomag
  70. @PhysicistDave

    Except for Europe… which was an utterly insane patchwork of polities. Almost like the anarcho-capitalist ideal of competing security agencies.

    Competition is good. Decentralized power is good.

    Omnipotent centralized power does not lead to creativity and innovation.

    Thanks Dave. This is–a sometimes overlooked–critical part of the story.

    One snippet that I find interesting is the Ming treasure fleet/voyages. Huge fleets sent out to establish imperial control of trade, show off Chinese power, pull other nations into being Chinese tributaries and bring back loot. Starting with the South China Sea, but pushing on through the Indian Ocean all the way to Arabia and East Africa. An early 15th century “Belt and Road”. This at a time when Henry the Navigator was just getting going tiny boats.

    And then … they stopped! Bureaucratic infighting, private trading interests, politics. Critically there was no competing state who could do it, would do it if they did not, hence making it imperative for them to continue.

    We–well we would not be here–but the world could have had a massive globe spanning “Chinese Empire” upon which the sun never set. But … no competition.

    • Replies: @Corn
    , @Lockean Proviso
  71. Mr. Anon says:
    @YetAnotherAnon

    England under King Stephen was a place where “Christ and His saints slept” – bit like Russia in the Yeltsin years.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Anarchy

    England is always made out to be have been a peaceful, quiet, orderly place, free from the upheaval and oppression that characterizes the Continent. It has been made out to be so by English propagandists of one kind or another. The fact is that England was wracked by war for much of the Middle ages: peasant revolts, dynastic wars, baronial wars. The period you mention was just one of them.

    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
    , @Corn
  72. @Wendy NY. Kroy

    Hi, Wendy. You write, “[By 1492,] Andean metalsmiths had used annealing and electroplating for more than a thousand years”. How was the electricity for electroplating generated?

  73. @Anonymous

    The local lord bought them and had thousands of copies made

    That’s a point that gets overlooked. A society doesn’t necessarily have to innovate itself. But it needs to be able to adapt.

    • Replies: @R.G. Camara
  74. J.Ross says:
    @AKAHorace

    Fantastic point — see my river boat, raise me a canoe — except that we’re not worried about Polynesians overrunning Australia and becoming the global hegemon.

  75. J.Ross says:

    There was a meme on 4chan which actually speaks to this point by way of fantasy roleplaying games. A certain voice (which on the chans does not necessarily denote a certain person) criticized discussion of Western games, which to an extent are modelled off Western stories such as those of Tolkein, RE Howard or Michael Moorcock. Westerners, without realizing it, tended to default to the lone anti-establishment outlaw or a similarly politically unpopular band as a character. The closest we came to official power would normally be the defeated royal family in exile who hope to retake the thrown from the current government. Some Asians, on the other hand, gravitated (quite historically correctly) towards the local lord, who after all had the wherewithal to equip and supply his men, retainers on horse, men in harness, and furthermore to attract skilled trainers and craftsmen. So they’re rejecting individualism and disconnection from conventional power in a teenage fantasy about magic.

    • Thanks: Catdog
    • Replies: @SFG
  76. Anonymous[141] • Disclaimer says:

    I think a big part was the development that was going on in Europe from late 1000s through 1492. There is a sort of stereotype to say that 500-1500 was the Dark Ages. But really it was more like 550-1050. in the first 500 years of the second millenium, you have Francis Bacon, universities, cathedrals, independent cities, the printing press, etc. etc.

    • Agree: AnotherDad
    • Replies: @Jim
  77. @bomag

    Do THEY actually feel guilty? I’d say NO, they talk about it like it’s something YOU should feel. They are referring to YOUR guilt that should cause YOU to give up power or status to THEM.

    Sorry for the capitals there, but this is a common ploy by the libs: “Oh evil capitalist/white/male/Protestant/colonizer/oppressor/destroyer of all that was natural and original. Give your goodies to me on the oppressed’s behalf.”

    • Replies: @bomag
  78. Dmon says:
    @Indifferent Contrarian

    Yes, the wonders of Indian technology:

  79. @Mr. Anon

    Be fair. Most ordinary people kept their heads down and got through somehow – these were, if you like, oligarch wars and might change your feudal lord but not your life otherwise, though you or your sons might be killed fighting in a feudal levy. The Black Death killed more Brits than any fighting could, even the Civil War.

    Most of the revolts, and there were a fair few over the centuries, involved relatively few people.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobite_uprising_in_Cornwall_of_1715

    When you look at things like the 30 Years War, when huge areas of Northern Europe were depopulated, or the Albigensian Crusades or Vendee Rebellion when whole cities were put to the sword, not to mention the two world wars, you realise why Peter Hitchens wrote:

    “Britain is the only virgin in a continent of rape victims”

  80. @Spangel226

    ancient Egypt was far above any other civilization ever seen anywhere for thousands of years. But they were stagnating under Islamic rule, which happened to deliberately value stagnation

    Egypt’s ruler, Mamluk Baibars who previously served in the Mongol army, decisively defeated Mongols in 1260, thus preserving Egypt & Syria for Islam. Until they fell to the Ottomans in the 16th C, Mamluks (former slaves) did much to restore order, build impressive edifices etc.- but hadn’t shown any expansionist or innovative spirit.

    [MORE]

    The mongols devestated northern South Asia but they did not reach southern South Asia. Was south India stagnating? From what I know, I get the impression they were doing quite well in 1000 ad, with something of a cultural renaissance. And they did expand. There are Hindu temples throughout southeast Asia and Indonesia, so they did manage to export their culture, sometimes through imperialistic means. I am looking into Wikipedia about it and it seems the mongols might have gotten to them to through their seafaring routes, albeit at least a century later than when they were bothering everyone else.

    There is a passage in “The Secret History of Mongols” recounting the story of Genghis Khan’s dream during his devastation of Khwarazmia. As Khan was contemplating, in his dream, invasion of India, a unicorn appeared and informed him that Tengri/Heaven was against it & that he should not try to attack peaceful & noble people. Always obedient to the Will of Heaven, Temujin refrained from that aggression.

    True, there was a sort of renaissance in many parts of India around 1000 AD (Kashmir, Bengal, Tamil lands,.. ) in religion, philosophy, architecture etc., but it didn’t translate into anything similar to expansion of land-grab. Only cultural diffusion, later mostly supplanted by Islamic missionary activity.

    But, even better illustration was quoted in Murray’s “Human Accomplishment”, showing different spirit of the Chinese civilization (never mind technological superiority).

    HANGZHOU DURING THE SONG DYNASTY, 960–1279
    ……………………………………………….
    Yongle, the second emperor of the Ming Dynasty, wished to incorporate the states of South and Southeast Asia into the Chinese tribute system that China used to maintain trade and diplomatic relations with the states on its periphery. Until Yongle came to the throne, China had relied on land
    routes. Yongle decided to send China to sea. He directed that maritime expeditions be carried out — a total of seven over almost three decades —commanded by a court eunuch named Zheng He.

    For a portrait of China in all its imperial grandeur, the Ming Dynasty
    (1368–1644) that sponsored Zheng He’s voyages would be a good place to
    remain.
    …………………

    Zheng He’s fleet set sail at the beginning of the same century that would end with Columbus’s first trip to the New World. Since Columbus’s voyage is rightly considered a huge step in the West and technologically on the cutting edge of what the West was able to do, it is instructive to contemplate what Zheng He’s feat entailed. Columbus successfully negotiated a round trip from the Western Mediterranean to the Caribbean, conducted with three vessels that were little more than large boats (the flagship Santa Maria is thought to have been only about 85 feet long) and a company numbering 90 men and boys.Total elapsed time of the expedition, including time ashore, was a little more than seven months.

    The first of Zheng He’s voyages, begun 90 years before Columbus left harbor, went to Java and Sumatra, then passed through the Straits of Malacca and on to Ceylon and India before returning. Zheng He covered about the same total distance as Columbus, but with 62 ships instead of 3. The last of the seven expeditions, in 1433–1435, involved 317 ships crewed by 27,750 men. The largest of these vessels was 444 feet long, about the length of a large modern destroyer, with four decks and watertight bulkheads.The smallest of the 317 ships w as about twice the length of Columbus’s flagship. The final Chinese expedition traveled from China down to Java, west to Arabia,
    and then down the east coast of Africa before turning for home. Total time at sea was more than two years.

    To put a fleet of 317 ships and 28,000 men to sea for two years would be a major under taking for a modern nation. It bespeaks formidable technological, industrial, and administrative capacity. Imperial China did it at the beginning of 15C. To judge China by its standing in 19C and 20C is as misleading as to judge the Roman Empire by its condition in 6C and 7C.

    And yet….

  81. Corn says:
    @AnotherDad

    One snippet that I find interesting is the Ming treasure fleet/voyages. Huge fleets sent out to establish imperial control of trade, show off Chinese power, pull other nations into being Chinese tributaries and bring back loot. Starting with the South China Sea, but pushing on through the Indian Ocean all the way to Arabia and East Africa. An early 15th century “Belt and Road”. This at a time when Henry the Navigator was just getting going tiny boats.

    And then … they stopped!

    Reminds me of how we went to the moon. Then stopped.

  82. Mr. Grey says:

    Islam! Related to this, by the 19th century the Ottoman Empire looked like it was on it’s way out. Russia was by this time clearly stronger militarily and wanted drive the Mohammedans out of Constantinople. The British and French were more worried about an expanding Russia than Islam and did it’s best to try to train and equip and modernize the Ottoman army. The attempt failed over and over and it was due to the Islamic culture that resented “modernizing western influences”.

  83. Mr. Grey says:
    @Thoughts

    Christianity certainly made possible what we now recognize as the modern world, in contrast, Islam acquired much of ancient Greek and Roman learning by conquest, and then squandered it and gets in the way even today of muslim countries adapting to Western innovation.

    • Agree: Alden
  84. Corn says:
    @Mr. Anon

    Street crime was high as well. Violent crime was rife in late 1500s/early 1600s England. When the Puritans settled New England they set up a strong court system. I was told this was because they wanted to encourage people in disputes to sue rather than knife each other.

  85. How did the US ever get off the ground, much less grow into 19th-C industrialized power, without the massively bureaucratic, public education system we know of today?

    Results are in on the school taxes/bond votes from the first week in May. Texas alone held 122 of them; 67(?) passed.

    Amarillo ISD voters heroically rejected all 4 proposals — totalling \$286M — that were targeting them. But schoolies captured the big prize: a Northside ISD (San Antonio) \$992M whopper. Of course GOP leaders were AWOL on all of these referenda, but now the governor is demanding an investigation into reports that an NISD principal had put out the word for [his subordinates] to vote YES. Pathetic.

    SDs always like to mention, in their bond information packets (slick ad campaigns) to voters, that “the new bond won’t increase your taxes”. A distortion. What’s really happening is that an old bond is about to be paid off. Without the new bond, property taxes would go DOWN.

    In 2019, the Texas Legislature voted to require that school districts become (slightly) less dishonest: They now require SDs to include boilerplate language that the new bond will raise taxes. Still, the arrogant districts surround the advisory with political verbiage basically stating that they they disagree with their own disclosure, and that the warning is included under protest.

  86. kihowi says:
    @TGGP

    “Can’t keep the rest of the world out” is quite a way to put “let us make money of your country or we destroy your coastal cities with our guns”. There was nothing benevolent about it. This American tendency of fucking with everybody under a slimy layer of pretend-morals is one of its most disgusting aspects.

  87. Catdog says:

    Risk adversity might have something to do with it.

    Europeans in the age of discovery were willing to take insane risks. Sometimes they paid off, sometimes they didn’t. When the Portuguese arrived in the Indian ocean, they immediately started attacking large Muslim ships with their own much smaller and outnumbered ships. Their aggression sometimes led to disastrous defeats, but on balance it paid off, and the Arabs were banished from the Indian Ocean. The conquests of Mexico and Peru similarly were fought along a razor’s edge and those expeditions were very likely to end in the grisly deaths of all involved. For decades, about a quarter to a third of the inhabitants of the Virginia colony died each year, and the colony grew only because so many Europeans were eager to settle there anyway. And Columbus and his crew, of course, risked their lives on the bet that the islands of Japan were located somewhere around the longitude of Cuba.

    It wasn’t just a few crazy captains risking everything. They had their crews and monarchs supporting them. This was a society-wide effort. One source says that 446,000 Europeans colonized the New World just from 1492-1640, and 1.3 million from 1640-1760.

    The Chinese might have been capable of conquering the Indian ocean or discovering the Americas, but they didn’t try. Europeans did.

    To some degree this is probably religiously instilled. It would be a neat explanation of why the atheistic, risk-adverse Westerners, who think they will live forever as robots if they can just survive catching covid, are letting their civilization crumble.

    • Agree: Recently Based
  88. Yahya says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Europe, even in Antiquity, from ca. 500 BC to 300 AD was a dynamic civilization- unlike all others. Despite all the emperors, slavery etc.- the West was essentially individualistic, secular, non-conformist & always in restless expansion. Christianity preserved, more or less, many of its spirit, but somehow immobilized it in a hibernated state of a fossilized middle eastern civilization.

    “Europe” is an anachronism when applied to antiquity. There was no Europe, only the Mediterranean. Northern Europe at the time was a primitive backwater. Culturally and economically – zero. The area spanning from Britain to Russia was a land of illiterate tribal people. No significant structures or eminent intellectual figures to speak of. Much of that was due to poor climactic conditions which made intensive agriculture impossible until later technological innovations such as the heavy plow, the use of horses in farming (because of the horse collar and the horseshoe), and the three-field system allowed Northern Europe to develop full-fledged agrarian societies.

    The Gothic cathedrals are the first indicators of Northern European civilizational advancement. Though they are spectacular achievements in their own right, Europe was still relatively backward materially and intellectually compared to China or the Islamic World during the Medieval period. Apart from a few isolated exceptions like Thomas Aquinas, Europe had no figures who could compare to Ibn Al-Haytham (c. 965-1040), Al-Khawarizmi (c. 780-850), Omar Khayyam (c. 1048-1131), Avicenna (c. 980-1037), Averroes (c. 1126-1198), Al-Biruni (c. 973-1053), Al-Zahrawi (c. 936-1013), Abu Bakr Al-Razi (c. 854), ibn Hayyan (c. 721-815), Ibn Yunus (c. 950-1009), Al-Zarqali (c. 1029-1087) etc.

    Why Europe was an intellectual desert during the period is multi-faceted, but to speak of Europe being immobilized like “fossilized middle eastern civilization” is ridiculous given the Middle East was a dynamic region for much of the period you mentioned.

    Mongols destroyed decadent Arab Islamic civilization, liberated Persian Islamic one; moved masses of Turks westward

    The effects of the Mongol invasion weren’t extensive throughout the Arab world. Only Iraq can be said to have been definitively destroyed by the Mongols; whose devastating raids led to a breakdown of civil government and the collapse of irrigation works on which the country depended for its prosperity. But the Mamluks of Egypt managed to secure a decisive victory over the Mongols at Ain Jalut in 1260 AD; which spared both Syria and Egypt from devastation; and shifted the mantle of Arab-Islamic civilization from Iraq to Egypt, where it has remained ever since. The two great Arab polymaths Ibn Khaldun (c. 1332-1406) and Ibn Al-Nafis (c. 1213-1288) both died in Cairo.

    Persia likewise continued to flourish even after the Mongol conquests; which were not as lasting or devastating as in Iraq. The Maragheh observatory, which at the time was the most advanced institute of its kind, was built only a year after the Mongol conquest of Baghdad, under the patronage of the Ilkhanid Hugalu. Iran continued to produce world-class science and literature, as evidenced by the two great Persian poets Saadi (c. 1184-1291) and Hafiz (c. 1320-1389) and a series of astronomers working at the Maragheh observatory. Persian architecture also reached its peak in the period following the Mongol conquests, as evidenced by the Shah Mosque in Mashhad, Iran; which many regard as the greatest achievement in Iranian architecture.

    [MORE]

  89. Anonymous[309] • Disclaimer says:
    @Elmer T. Jones

    The jacquard loom was the first real, practical, programmable computer.

  90. Anonymous[309] • Disclaimer says:
    @mc23

    Apparently, the windmill was unknown to the Romans, but the Romans built some very impressive watermill, from enormous examples in Spain to drain the Imperial mines, and a very impressive ‘cascade’ system of watermills at Barbegal, France.

  91. @AKAHorace

    If you had been posting on a website in 1200 AD you would be making witty and insightful observations about how the Germans, Anglo Saxons, Scandanavians could not get their act together compared to the Arabs, Byzantines, Chinese et

    By that point, the Europeans had (1) launched several Crusades into the near and middle east, saving Constantinople and briefly setting up a kingdom in Jerusalem; (2) half-way beaten back the Muslims in Iberia and taken back their land; (3) build magnificent architecture that rivaled anything in the world, including the richer Islamic nations; (4) created extensive trade networks within their various kingdoms; (5) had a thriving trade republic (Venice) that was working with some of the great powers of the world bringing goods to Europe; (6) created several growing nation-states (England, France, Holy Roman Empire, Spain, Portugal) with advanced political, scientific, and military systems; (7) had art and music and learning in their universities that rivaled any outside Europe; (8) had an extensive and philosophically deep religious environment; and (9) had already been to the New World.

    The idea of “medieval stagnation” of Europe is a Black Legend invented lie of Protestants, Jews, atheists, and anti-Christians, all of whom had their own goals to denigrate the Roman Catholic Church that held sway during the thousand years between the fall of Rome and the discovery of the New World. Such a lie is powerful, and you’ll hear people who are mentally 14-years-old repeat the b.s. today, even though when confronted with reality they run away instead of providing proof.

    • Agree: Alden, Dumbo
    • Thanks: fray juan crespi
    • Replies: @BB753
  92. @Steve Sailer

    Northerners came up with the two greatest inventions of the era: the mechanical clock and the printing press.

    https://ciechanow.ski/mechanical-watch/

  93. @Hypnotoad666

    The story of Japan since Commodore Perry appears to be they aren’t very good at invention, but they are very good at recognizing good ideas in others, adopting them, and improving upon them in some way.

    Whiskey is a great example. Suntori is a top-flight brand. Comic books are another. Manga has pretty much become the gold standard, while U.S. comics are sunk into wokeism and crap sales.

    Funny, the Marxists would probably call this…cultural appropriation if white guys did it.

  94. “Similarly, the Japanese, who had also avoided the Mongol Yoke, didn’t get averse to modernization?”

    Hold up. The 1603-1868 Edo period was quite zenophobic. Japan literally cut off all foreign trade.THey were quite backward by the time Perry visited in 1853. Unlike China, Japan decided to modernize beginning with 1868 and by 1900 they had made excellent progress.

  95. Anon[403] • Disclaimer says:
    @Enochian

    It is entirely possible that the smart Chinese who passed the exams and became officials, were periodically executed for ticking off the Emperor. That would have had the effect of limiting the spread of smart genes. In China, being smart made you visible to the government, who may have been suspicious of you even as it wanted to use you.

  96. ‘Similarly, the Japanese, who had also avoided the Mongol Yoke, didn’t get averse to modernization?’

    I’d say the Tokugawa Shogunate was actually pretty averse to modernization.

    That may actually explain the Japanese willingness to modernize (he said nonsensically). According to one book I read, things were starting to break down by the early nineteenth century. Discontent and pressures were building up, in a rigid society, with no available release. So when the ruling paradigm obviously failed to fend off the West and change, a lot of people were open to Plan B.

    It’s like…now. If, sixty years ago, you’d proposed a homicidal revolutionary regime with mass shootings for all the new order found objectionable, only a few nuts would have signed on.

    These days, a lot more people would at least think about it. The pressures are building up, the old paradigms only lead to absurdity, and we’re ripe for change.

    I would say maybe I’m just projecting, but I’m hearing it all over these days.

    • Replies: @Alden
  97. Kylie says:
    @TGGP

    “The Japanese were also rather isolationist & reactionary until Commodore Perry made it clear they couldn’t keep the rest of the world out. What’s astonishing is how they were able to change in response.”

    I have no doubt that you are more knowledgeable than I am. But I always understood the Japanese to be a very adaptable people all across the board, far more so than other East Asians and indeed than many other peoples. So I don’t find their ability to “change to meet a change” astonishing at all. What am I missing here?

  98. @Mackerel Sky

    The Mongols where like a big motorcycle gang. They were a horse based culture and the various affiliated tribes would round up and then go invade. They could overwhelm the local defenses with their sheer numbers but could not occupy or stay in a siege for very long because they would quickly strip the local human and horse based fodder so they were fundamentally about plunder and tribute.

    Their biggest problem politically was that their affiliations were so loose and prone to change that as soon as the Kahn would die, it would take a generation or two before one of equal stature could rally all the tribes. When they invaded Europe the second time they were prepared. The main cities had walls and we not just castles. This meant the populace could go inside and have a chance for a week or two meanwhile the Mongols on the outside would have to go on raids to stay fed and gather enough loot to make the trip worth their time. Then came the gun which pretty much f****d up their business model.

    • Replies: @Daniel H
  99. @Bardon Kaldian

    ‘Christianity preserved, more or less, many of its spirit, but somehow immobilized it in a hibernated state of a fossilized middle eastern civilization.

    ‘2. this state of affairs lasted until ca. 1100…’

    I think this simply betrays a lack of familiarity with the changes that occurred between 400 ad and 1100. If you’d been in fifth century Gaul, and suddenly found yourself transported to eleventh century France, it would have like arriving in an alien world. Different technology, different social order, different mores, different people.

    Ditto for England, Ireland, Denmark, Italy, the Near East — everywhere, really. The Roman Empire in the east of the fifth century didn’t look much like eleventh century Byzantium.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  100. Jack D says:
    @Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)

    It wasn’t. It’s speculated that they used electrochemical replacement plating. Basically you dissolve the gold or silver in some chemical solution and it will spontaneously plate itself onto copper without needing an electrical current based upon the natural difference in electrical potential. You only get a very thin coat this way but it’s sufficient for a decorative object that wouldn’t experience much wear. It wouldn’t work for say silverware where the thin coating would quickly get rubbed off thru use.

    This was a neat trick for producing shiny objects such as grave jewelry for rulers but would not have been much use against Spanish muskets.

    • Replies: @Joe Stalin
  101. prosa123 says:
    @Spangel226

    The mongols devestated northern South Asia but they did not reach southern South Asia. Was south India stagnating? From what I know, I get the impression they were doing quite well in 1000 ad, with something of a cultural renaissance.

    Even today, southern India seems somewhat more prosperous than the northern part of the country.

    • Replies: @epebble
  102. @Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)

    How was the electricity for electroplating generated?

    They didn’t use electroplating(current applied to electrolyte bath), they used electro-chemical replacement plating(electron transfer in solution through oxidation/reduction.)

  103. “The Chinese … became increasingly xenophobic under the Ming …”

    During the later stage of the Ming Dynasty China was ruled by a bureaucracy of eunuchs. Perhaps this deep state of the ball-less led to an insular mindset that produced irrational xenophobia and stagnation.

  104. @Indifferent Contrarian

    “(check medieval South Indian temples — wonders of art and technology — especially by early medieval standards).”

    Plenty of pictures of Indian castles and temples can be seen online. Very impressive. The Vedic religion, with its many gods, essentially begat Hinduism. Besides the commercial and pillaging opportunities, maybe it was the secrets of the Vedics that led the ruthless English to infiltrate India and impose their will wherever possible. In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy tried to answer this question. With little success.

  105. Ian M. says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    This seems a somewhat Whiggish take.

  106. FKA Max says: • Website
    @PhysicistDave

    A centralized European power (mainly cousin marriage bans of the Catholic Church) is actually what caused decentralized European power(s) (mainly the Reformation and then the American Colonies):

    Michael Shermer with Joseph Henrich — The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous
    Sep 22, 2020

    a very unique Nature and Nurture dynamic and combination of environmental and cultural/religious factors started an ((epi)genetic) population transformation process in Europe over many centuries, which created and resulted in WEIRD (“Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic”) culture and peoples, and has, so far, reached its weirdest and most extreme evolution and expression in American Protestantism and its even weirder religious offshoots, like Mormonism, etc. ( Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire; A 500-Year History https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasyland:_How_America_Went_Haywire ):

    A New Theory of Western Civilization
    October 2020
    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/10/joseph-henrich-weird-people/615496/ or https://archive.ph/1JzNf

    Henrich calls Protestantism “the WEIRDest religion,” and says it gave a “booster shot” to the process set in motion by the Catholic Church.

    https://www.unz.com/article/the-aryan-ideal-from-ben-franklin-to-national-socialism/?showcomments#comment-5303818

  107. Muggles says:

    Interesting topic.

    There are a lot of historical currents to consider.

    Mongols had some very good, advanced ideas, considering their lack of formal education, language, etc.

    Religious tolerance, free trade, relatively low taxes, respect for cultural creators, adaptation of new inventions (in warfare especially), postal and trade route security. The downsides were family rule and succession, later adoption of Islam.

    During the post Roman eras there were several pandemics and often related drastic climate changes. Possibly due to volcanic actions very far away. Even fairly short run climate problems had drastic effects on population sizes. pandemics.

    It is difficult to sort out the strands of changes and come to a singular analysis.

    The Siberian American population in the Western Hemisphere could grow only very slowly, when it did, until agriculture could replace hunting-gathering. This happened in Mexico and to some extent in western South America and parts of southern, central North America. But too late to really produce much to stop the European invasions. And of course new diseases that came with them.

    A lack of technology and means to transmit knowledge (written languages, scholars, books) kept the Americas in fairly primitive, low population status. Africa much the same with a few exceptions.

    While AmerInd “justice” promoters, mainly White Leftists, bemoan history, it is a universal truism that peoples will move into better resourced lands which cannot stop their movement. Except for a handful of places (Iceland) with no prior population, people have always invaded richer lands or those which promised better living. Indians of course did this also.

    That isn’t a moral justification (to invade Ukraine, say) but merely historical fact. We see it now in uncontrolled “migration” from the shithole countries into those which are not.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  108. Anonymous[282] • Disclaimer says:

    But why did Northern Italians, who kicked off the Renaissance, fail to join the dominant club in later centuries?

    Why did Spain and Portugal, which had a leg up in adventure and discovery, stagnate and become backwaters?

    Why did the Byzantines keep stagnating and stagnating until it was defeated by the Turks?

    Why did Germany gain in power following unification but Italy failed to?

    Why was Poland once so grand and powerful, poised to dominate central and swaths of Eastern Europe but fall apart and carved up by others?

    If not for UK and France, would Europeans have come to dominate the world?

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  109. Japan is interesting and certainly an outlier compared to all other East Asian cultures, genetically the Japanese descend quite a lot from the rather obscure and Caucasoid admixed Jomon people, this undoubtedly set the stone for what would be a very different culture from that of mainland China and Korea, quite why the Jomon did not leave many descendents in China etc is a mystery, heck the whole origin of the Japanese language is a mystery what with it being an isolate. The theories are diverse but probably the ancient Japanese had origins very deep into Siberia: https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/ase/advpub/0/advpub_201215/_pdf/-char/en

    There are so many parrallels between Japanese and Germanic cultures for there to be a coincidence, the individualism relative to other nearby states, the incredible innovation and a technological powerhouse, just look at the video game innovation you see in Japan compared to China or the brilliant car technology. I am certain that there is a genetic link that connects northern Europe with Japan that probably goes back as much as 50,000 years.

  110. @TGGP

    No more so than China, whose leadership wore their isolationism like a badge of honor.

  111. @AndrewR

    But they ARE related. Who is closer?

    • Replies: @AndrewR
  112. @PhysicistDave

    “Omnipotent centralized power does not lead to creativity and innovation.”

    Concentrated, centralized power in fact produces stagnation and generalized societal desiccation. As we saw demonstrated in the form of the late and unlamented USSR.

    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
    , @Hhsiii
  113. epebble says:
    @prosa123

    1000 A. D. Temple:

    Close up of the top (217 feet High): The sikhara, a cupolic dome (25 tons), is octagonal and rests on a single block of granite, weighing 80 tons.

  114. @Wendy NY. Kroy

    So basically stone aged cultures with nice jewlrey, arts, and human sacrifice. Bronze age weapons weren’t going to defeat the conquistadors and their native allies.

  115. Mike Tre says:
    @AKAHorace

    What was harder to cross with that technology? The Atlantic or the Pacific?

    • Replies: @AKAHorace
  116. epebble says:
    @J.Ross

    Islam – wherever it went, destruction followed. Zoroastrian Persia, India, Greece (the part that is Turkey), Spain, Middle East/Israel/Egypt/Mesopotamia/Syria/Lebanon, Malaya, Java (Indonesia).

    • Agree: Alden
    • Replies: @J.Ross
  117. Daniel H says:
    @Prof. Woland

    They could overwhelm the local defenses with their sheer numbers

    I don’t think that large numbers had anything to do with Mongol success in conquest. We hear the world horde and we think of large numbers but I am certain that Mongolia (and central Asia in general) was similarly populated in medieval times as it is now, that is sparsely so, and their armies were not unusually large. Nothing like the size of the Ottoman armies that came on the scene a few centuries later.

    Some things to consider for Mongol success:

    1) as an army they could truly live off the land, for they were pastoralists and on campaign they brought their flocks with them. They could campaign for months and years.

    2) the compound recurve bow, the horse and the stirrup. Deadly combination. The tried and true tactic was to approach the opposing army, slowly and steadily pass in front of the opposing lines or better yet, amble around them in a circular motion and pick them off, one by one. Stay out of reach of the opponents arrows and javelins. (How would the Mongols have stood up against opponents that had mastered the heavy cross bow as Central and West Europeans had? Could they have withstood the English longbow? And of course, 200 years after their reign of conquest and terror gunpowder would have made them a joke) If the opponent charged, feint a retreat, bring them out from the, lines, at a good enough distance turn around and pounce.

    3) they were as effective fighters in the dead of winter as they were in more temperate climes.

    4) For siege operations they recruited Chinese engineers and technology.

    5) Make judicious alliances. Up against the Seljuks they reached out to Armenians and Georgians When they went up against the Egyptian Mamelukes they reached out to the Christian crusader states. The crusaders demurred but the Mamelukes went on to defeat the Mongols in battle and they never threatened the Levant again.

  118. @Prester John

    Not quite as simple as that. The concentrated, centralised power of the USSR put the first satellite and the first human, Yuri Gagarin (pbuh) into space.

  119. Hhsiii says:
    @Prester John

    Not unlamented but Putin.

  120. Jack D says:
    @Muggles

    Indians of course did this also.

    One of the reasons why Europeans were able to conquer the Americas is that the Indians did not see themselves as a single nation but as members of various tribes that had been engaging in warfare with each other forever. So when the Europeans came on the scene, Tribe A was only too glad to cooperate with the colonialists who promised to help them and arm them in warfare against their eternal enemy Tribe B. Tribe A hated Tribe B a lot more than they hated the British.

    That isn’t a moral justification (to invade Ukraine, say) but merely historical fact.

    Invasion has been going on forever, but there was a sort of implicit bargain following WWII that Europeans had gotten so good at killing each other that they wouldn’t do it anymore or else European civilization wouldn’t survive – white people would end up all killing each other and some other race would inherit the ruins. Putin broke that bargain and sure enough lots of white people have been dying, including plenty of Putin’s own people (although in the case of Putin’s army, lots of Asiatic Buryats, etc. also).

    • Replies: @Art Deco
    , @BSDN
  121. Meanwhile, parts of Europe are making progress and joining Asia in lagging behind.

    https://sputniknews.com/20220510/increasing-numbers-of-swedes-diagnosed-as-mentally-retarded-1095391756.html

    And the word Immigrants never passes their lips.

  122. @Louis Renault

    Don’t forget that they were centuries ahead of the West in some medical procedures: Open heart surgery springs to mind.

    • Replies: @Louis Renault
    , @ad21
  123. Jack D says:
    @Joe Stalin

    The trick is to find a combination of chemicals that will put silver or gold (or in this case nickel) into solution but won’t dissolve the base metal. And the Meso-Americans had to do this using naturally occurring substances without any systematic understanding of chemistry.

  124. TheJester says:
    @AnotherDad

    I accept that Polish nobles, like the Russians, decided to import populations to make up for cultural deficits, especially people with the numeration skills to manage rural estates, and manage trade between estates and towns, between towns and cities, and between one country and another.

    However, I believe iSteve has his geography confused. Northern European Jews immigrated westward from Kazakhstan to Ukraine and later to Poland. Indeed, at one point in time, Ukraine had been part of the Kazak Empire. Closer to our historical era, in the 19th Century Poles and Jews migrated further westward to get jobs in newly industrialized western Germany. In the late 19th Century, Germany was subjected to mass migration on a level currently being experienced by the United States and Western Europe today. As in our current society, there was a miasma of issues between locals and foreigners who did and those who did not assimilate. Many of these alien communities in 19th Century Germany (including Prussia) assimilated to the point they considered themselves “German”. In many cases, they became “more German than the Germans”.

    Three examples:

    * My relatives on my mother’s side are Volga River Germans. Many Volga River German communities migrated en masse to the States in the 1870s. My grandmother spoke German and my great grandparents were born in Russia. “Deutschland uber alles!” However, when I bought a DNA test in 2014, I was surprised that I did not have one German gene in my body. My genetic profile identified nothing more than a generalized Slavic profile from Eastern Europe. Hence, my relatives from their centuries in German-influenced Eastern Europe and later in Russia became “Germanized Slavs”. I’m glad this was not brought to their attention. They would have been very, very upset to learn they had Slavic origins.

    * I ran across a well-documented article that claimed that the German Chancellor Frau Merkel’s family were Polish Jews who “Germanized” circa the 1850s. Frau Merkel seemed to know her heritage. In a speech to the Israeli Knesset, she allegedly gave part of her speech in Hebrew and claimed it was her native tongue.

    * If I am to believe sources on the Internet, the UknoNazis from Galicia and western Ukraine conversely believe that they are “Slavisized Germans”, which is why they sided with the Germans in WWII, continue to idolize the Nazis, and disdain the Russians. Hence, they believe the Russians and other Slavs are “Untermenschen”. Similar to the Nazis, they want a racially pure homeland.

    To further confuse the issue, at one time 23&Me identified Poland as “the genetic homeland of the Jews”. Hence, as with my genetic heritage (tracking my mother’s genetic travels), the generalized migration pattern was the east to the west from central Asia to Ukraine, to Poland, and then on to Germany and Western Europe. Of interest, that map is no longer displayed. It mysteriously disappeared.

    Regardless, Eastern Europe appears to be a mishmash of cultural and genetic migrations. It is a nightmare; it is impossible to sort it out. But in any case, Jews with the last name of “Kagan” (i.e. Victoria Newland-Kagan (her grandfather was from Odessa) or Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan) have their origins within the Kazakhian – Urkanian – Polish – German nexus. They have nothing to do with the Middle East, Israel, or Palestine.

    iSteve, I believe, has the cardinal directions driving this aspect of human history completely backward.

    • Replies: @Daniel H
    , @Jack D
    , @Peter Lund
  125. TG says:

    Amateurs talk strategy, and professionals talk logistics.

    500 years ago most of the world was in the Malthusian trap – which is NOT apocalyptic famine, but a population crushed up against the limits of subsistence. This not only creates poverty, but also make a society capital-starved and incapable of making large investments.

    It was mostly the Black Death, which culled europe’s population and – unusually for a plague – held it down for a prolonged period of time. All historians are in agreement that this radically boosted the European standard of living (though some accounts refer to this as ‘the economic calamity’ because estates dependent on cheap labor tended to fail). But also: it wasn’t just a high standard of living for the working class, a large sustained economic surplus is a necessity for future non-trivial growth and expansion.

    Yes it takes more than an investible surplus to create a renaissance – but without an investible surplus, that would have been impossible. It doesn’t matter how many millions of chronically malnourished peasants you have, most of their efforts will be swallowed up with subsistence-level survival and the overall economy and society will be stagnant.

  126. Thea says:
    @Dieter Kief

    Joseph Henrich Is great. He has been strongly and successfully opposing attempts to introduce polygyny to Canadian law. Strong, unemotional arguments against this harmful, anti-western practice

  127. Rob says:
    @Wendy NY. Kroy

    The New World civilizations were really interesting. When the conquistadors arrived, the natives were really close to the beginnings of civilization. Wow, were they weird, but interesting parallels to the first fertile crescent civilizations.

    Take gods. Unlike the Great Bear and Great Eagle of the hunter-gatherers in North America, the Aztecs had a pantheon of human-like gods. The gods gave them corn, much like the fertile crescent gods gave people wheat. Human gods instead of animals probably changes over when people deal with each other instead of nature.

    The cruelty! Were the earliest old world civilizations as awful? I remember reading about Assyrians putting hooks through the upper lips of new slaves and leading columns of them to their awful fate. Without the old world diseases, I wonder if new world cities were population sinks or not.

    [MORE]

    I don’t know how much of Aztec religion we really know. I have heard that Quetzalcoatl was something the Spanish made up and spread to pacify the conquered. A bearded white god of wonderfulness coming from the east? That’s a little too convenient. But we’ve found places with lots of bodies with their hearts cut out and such. Maybe they did human sacrifice because there were next to no domestic animals majestic or imposing enough to make good sacrifices. Sacrifice a bull to Zeus and he will smile upon you. Sacrifice a chinchilla to Xipe Totec? He’s gonna be all “lol, srsly?”

    If Native Americans just had another few thousand years, I’m pretty sure they’d have domesticated bison. Bison could probably be bred to be ridden faster than horses. I do wonder why they were so slow on metal. Were stone tools just better than the first metal ones? I’d bet an obsidian knife works better than a pure copper blade. Maybe there just weren’t convenient deposits?

    Unless contact happened after Europeans invented vaccines, Old World diseases would have been apocalyptic for the Indians in almost any scenario. Orson Scott Card wrote a time travel book where time travelers bring a vaccinating genetically engineered virus and a Jesus figure so they stop eating people. Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus. It was a fun read. I think he was planning on a series where people fix the past. My idea for an awful time travel story? Hitler was the best thing possible. Like, if the Holocaust hadn’t happened, there would have been a civilization-ending nuclear war. Turn the old, “would you murder baby Hitler?” thought experiment into a definite “no,” Go Hitler!

    I don’t think a book on that theme would ever get published.

  128. JimDandy says:
    @PhysicistDave

    But, in the short term, does/can omnipotent centralized power create forces that can crush creative/innovative cultures?

  129. Art Deco says:
    @Jack D

    The other reason is that it’s a reasonable inference that there simply weren’t many Indians to conquer.

  130. Alden says:
    @Colin Wright

    Japanese historians claim the 19th century modernization was a collaboration between the Emperor and the merchant manufacturing classes to end feudalism. And become a modern country. Which did happen.

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  131. epebble says:
    @Rob

    …. I’m pretty sure they’d have domesticated bison. Bison could probably be bred to be ridden faster than horses.

    Old world has domesticated water buffaloes for over 6,000 years. So, it is not particularly difficult. But no one rides them; they are mostly milk, meat and draught animals. Oxcarts are preferred over buffalo carts.

  132. Anon[267] • Disclaimer says:
    @ThreeCranes

    This is a fascinating comment, I think this was quite significant.

  133. epebble says:
    @Rob

    Take gods.

    I think choice of gods is a rather weak measure of civilizational advancement. Take the gods of Old World religion like Islam (Allah) or modern religion like Scientology (Xenu); are they any better than the gods of any New World religions?

  134. Yet , even in New Foundland , Canada there seemed to have been enough Siberian descended people to prevent Viking colonization

  135. Anonymous[151] • Disclaimer says:
    @Wendy NY. Kroy

    Peter Frost suggested something similar with respect to the Iroquois in North America:

    https://evoandproud.blogspot.com/2011/07/rapid-cultural-evolution-case-of.html

    This cultural evolution was actually accelerating when the Europeans arrived. What if their arrival had been postponed? The Iroquois would have certainly surpassed the mound builders of the Mississippi valley and probably reached a level of civilization like that of the Aztecs.

    Such a scenario almost did happen. Indeed, conditions were far from ideal when the English and the French began to settle North America. Western Europe was just returning to the population levels that had existed before the Black Death. The North Atlantic was entering a cold period, called “The Little Ice Age,” that made trans-oceanic crossings difficult. Finally, the Turks were pushing deep into Central Europe, laying siege to Vienna in 1529 and 1683 and vowing to drive on to Cologne.

    Had this fragile context taken a turn for the worse, there might have been insufficient will or ability to colonize the Americas. European settlers would have perhaps arrived on the Eastern Seaboard only in the late 1700s.

    And beyond the Appalachians, they would have found millions of sedentary Amerindians living in fortified cities and recently united under the aegis of the Iroquois Confederacy …

    • Agree: Wendy NY. Kroy
  136. @Rob

    Did you drop a lot of acid back in the hippy days?

    Actually, it was a pretty interesting post. I’m just not going to agree with it or anything.

    • Replies: @Rob
  137. Anonymous[360] • Disclaimer says:
    @mc23

    Medieval Europe ended up developing better agriculture tools and techniques.

    Not really true. It’s not really until Jethro Tull and the British agricultural revolution that you get a major change in agriculture. People were still using Virgil’s almost 2,000 year old writings in the 18th century as farming manuals.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jethro_Tull_(agriculturist)#Rejection_of_Virgilian_husbandry:_debate_with_Stephen_Switzer

    While supported by a number of powerful patrons, Tull’s revolutionary claims regarding horse-hoeing husbandry and rejection of Virgilian, “old” husbandry presented in The Horse-Hoeing Husbandry drew fire from a variety of critics. One of his most vehement dissenters was Stephen Switzer, a contemporary landscape gardener and leader of the Private Society of Husbandmen and Planters.[19] Following the publication of The Horse-Hoeing Husbandry: Or, An Essay on the Principles of Tillage and Vegetation in 1731, Switzer fiercely attacked Tull in the final two volumes of his own monthly publication, The Practical Husbandman and Planter, in 1734.[20] He not only accused Tull of plagiarizing his technological inventions from others, namely the horse hoe and drill, but also attacked him for his criticism of farming techniques found in Virgil’s Georgics and his rejection of traditional, “Virgilian” husbandry.[21]

    Throughout the 18th century, Georgics, a didactic poem written by the Roman poet Virgil in 37–30 BC, continued to hold great philosophical and cultural power in Britain, serving not merely as poetry but as manuals of husbandry and even scientific treatises.[19] The sheer number of English translations and editions of Georgics between 1690 and 1820 highlights its cultural significance in British society.[22] In the preface to his translation, William Benson declares his certainty that “the Husbandry of England in General is Virgilian

    • Replies: @ad21
    , @mc23
  138. @Bill Jones

    Lots of hearts got cut out to get that expertise.

  139. ad21 says:

    >letting Chinese inventions like paper, compass, and gunpowder get to Western Europe.

    The European compass and the Ancient Chinese compass are completely different. Google image both. The European compass took no influence from the Chinese compass. The inventor of the European compass most likely never saw or heard of a Chinese compass because they were very rare. Usually only used for Chinese emperor travels with an entourage.

    There is also good reason that every non-european copied the European compass and not the Chinese compass. The usability of the Chinese compass is minuscule. You cant use if for sea travel(main reason the Europeans invented the compass) except in the most gentle of waters. Since it doesn’t fit in the palm of your hand, instead it is a giant board you have to carry with you, not to mention all the other things that come with it to use it, it has no use for a small group of people, merchants, wanderers, etc. for traveling.

    The european compass is superior in every way which is why it is wrong to make the two seem comparable or that one had influence from the other when there is no such evidence, just conjecture.

    • Agree: Gordo
  140. Daniel H says:
    @TheJester

    Northern European Jews immigrated westward from Kazakhstan to Ukraine and later to Poland.

    You are talking about the Khazar hypothesis, not Kazakh. Recent genetic evidence has debunked this theory. The evidence points to the startling fact that ALL Ashkenazi Jews stem from a founder population of a few hundred people, settled in Italy in the 12th century. The men were all Levantine, the women were all local to Italy (Italic, Celtic?). This population underwent a further bottleneck event in the 13th-14th century (again reducing it to a few hundred souls), after which it expanded and thrived to an absolutely stunning degree (just like the Gypsies. Take that, the theory that the Jewish and Gypsy experience was one of unremitting hostility and oppression at the hands of Christian Europeans. Maligned, brutalized, oppressed, harried populations do not thrive and expand at the rate and to the extent that these two populations have. Many in the history of the world should have been as fortunate as the medieval->modern Jew), most of it migrating to Poland/Ukraine where it underwent further ingress from Slavic women. Hey Jack D, all your great-great…..great grandmas were Shiksas. Ain’t that a kick in the pants.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @Bardon Kaldian
  141. ad21 says:
    @Anonymous

    We still use Sun Tzus art of war in business and military teachings.

    It doesn’t mean much. What the Europeans developed with plowshares, mills, animal husbandry, iron and steel tools, crop rotation and so on to develop agriculture in hard european soil and during harsh european winters is something that the rest of the world couldn’t surpass at the time.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  142. Peter Frost says: • Website

    If we compare southern Europe with North Africa during the period between 1000 and 1500 AD, we find the same divergence that we find more generally between Christian Europe and the rest of the world. So I don’t think the Mongol collapse is a reason with much explanatory power.

    If we look at ancient DNA from Greece, we see a decline in mean cognitive ability beginning at some point during Classical Antiquity. I suspect the same decline happened throughout the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East of that time. Why? The causes were probably demographic, specifically:

    – A decline in fertility and family formation among the upper classes
    – An increase in the slave population, particularly foreign slaves, which further disrupted the process of local cognitive evolution. Even if there had been demographic overflow from the upper classes, that overflow could not have replaced the lower classes, since those classes were being replaced from external sources.

    Christianity and Islam were both attempts to correct the ruinous demographic state of the ancient world. Islam succeeded in reversing negative population growth but failed to restart cognitive evolution. There were several reasons:

    – The upper classes tended to congregate in urban centers, where the death rate was higher
    – Polygamy undermined the reproductive importance of upper-class women
    – Large-scale importation of slaves disrupted local cognitive evolution

    Christianity, especially Western Christianity, succeeded in creating a demographic package that could restart cognitive evolution, i.e., emphasis on monogamous family formation; discouragement of slavery, at least during the long period from 500 to 1500 AD; and eventually the formation of a middle class. The rise of Christian Europe actually began before its expansion into the Americas and Asia. The latter was, in fact, a consequence of the former.

    References

    https://evoandproud.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-golden-age-of-intelligence.html

    https://evoandproud.blogspot.com/2018/12/rise-of-west.html

    http://evoandproud.blogspot.com/2012/01/do-classes-become-castes.html

    • Thanks: FKA Max
    • Replies: @Roger
    , @TheJester
  143. ad21 says:
    @Bill Jones

    Sounds interesting. Evidence of this?

    I remember woke people were saying that the ancient population that lived in what is now peru being more skilled in dealing with head trauma and brain surgery. Then when you looked at their ‘evidence’, it was ancient remains with holes in the skulls that even many woke anthropologists believe were associated with ritual sacrifice.

    Don’t believe everything you hear on the internet without evidence from something, and be mindful of the source’s agenda providing their evidence and whether they have been compromised by wokeness that lends them to interpret things in a way for sociopolitical concerns.

  144. @mc23

    It’s almost like cheap labor is a short-term benefit but creates long-term problems.

  145. Daniel H says:

    If we look at ancient DNA from Greece, we see a decline in mean cognitive ability beginning at some point during Classical Antiquity.

    Enlighten us. How can one determine modern or ancient IQ level from traces of archaic DNA?

  146. Anonymous[126] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dule

    Were the crusaders interested in Greek books? They seem to have taken everything else but I’m not sure they took the libraries as well.

    Iranians incidentally have a similar complaint against the Greeks, claiming that the wealth and knowledge plundered by Alexander from their ancestors led to the subsequent flowering of Greek culture.

  147. Islam, Christianity, Black Death, Smallpox, TB, Cholera, other infectious diseases.

    Edward Gibbon laid a lot of the blame on Christianity, which promoted superstition and obeisance to feudal power, and a preoccupation with the future life rather than the present.

    So actually a bit like the history of the United States.

    At first a huge open playing field with land for everyone once the pesky natives were subject to clearance.

    Then the heir to the industrial revolution in Europe, with almost unlimited land, water power, coal, and natural resources.

    Then the world power with the ability to end world wars and bang heads together.

    Then the world leader in prosperity and comfortable living where hardly anybody needed servants because domestic machines could do a day’s work in an hour and supermarkets replaced markets with one-stop shopping and everyone had a car.

    So what led to the Decline and Fall of the American Empire? It seems like the American Dream sleep-walked into the American Nightmare.

    At the mid point of the twentieth century American seemed confident. Brash maybe, but confident in its position ahead of the world.

    What could be more confident and American than this?

    Which had replaced this as war darkened the skies of Europe:

    But now?

    Implicit in Make America Great Again! is that America is no longer great.

    Even in 1950 we were much closer to Jefferson and Madison than we are today. The population has expanded, eating up resources. There are still huge open spaces, for example almost the entire Panhandle of Florida is empty, but the water table is endangered and humans are so full of shit that sewerage can hardly be managed.

    Growing up in America has become so traumatic that boys will castrate themselves so they don’t become men, and women don strap-on penises so that they can pretend to impregnate other women.

    The Supreme Court that was once totally respected as the arbiter of progress in the US has become the laughing stock of the world as it tries to paper over the cracks in a creaking Constitution that was originally designed to protect the rich and wealthy without a king or a church to do the dirty work.

    The Supreme Court has now become more preoccupied with the rights of the unborn than of the born and with protecting corporations rather than citizens, apparently having convinced itself that imaginary bodies have priority over real bodies.

    In a worried Congress, for once both sides joined together this week to vote for added protection for the families of Supreme Court justices whom protesters were forcing to deal with the reality of actually living in contemporary America rather than in an ivory tower. A bit like medieval rulers protecting the cardinals who kept the common people under control, isn’t it?

    The US is barely able to hold fair elections any more, and after Bush vs Gore and Trump vs Biden it seems that teams of international observers will soon be needed to ensure fair play at the polls while American squabble over whether drinks or sandwiches can be served to those in line to vote, or whether states can disregard voters in presidential elections, or whether the transfer of power can be prevented simply by invading congress to prevent a vote that had hitherto been thought of as purely ceremonial.

    If the United States goes the same way as the Roman empire, it will probably be religion what done it. Anyway, we may soon discover what really happened to the Romans.

  148. Roger says: • Website
    @Peter Frost

    Yes, I think the crucial development was what Christianity did from 500 to 1500 AD. Progress must have seemed slow for centuries, but by 1500 a much superior society was created in Europe.

  149. The impact of Genghis and Kublai Khan on China cannot be understated:

    1. The Mongols were sui generis in whereas previous steppe invaders, Huns, Xiongnu, Xianbei, were illiterate, the Mongols had their own script and became highly competent in civilian administration. Kublai came to rely as his main advisor a Sinicized Khitan Confucian scholar:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yelü_Chucai

    2. Mongol conquest swept away the old Han Chinese aristocracy,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_nobility

    Although this was not entirely by the sword, the old Chinese aristocracy much like WASPs, gave way by relinquishing power to the scholar-official meritocracy.

    3. The older dynasties Han, Tang, Song, were all named after feudal territories. The late imperial dynasties, Yuan “Origin”, Ming “Clear, Bright”, Qing “Clear” would all have Manichean sounding names.

    became increasingly xenophobic under the Ming, in part as a reaction to the Mongols

    4. The Mongols didn’t go away during Ming and remained a constant existential threat. The Ming emperors had to constantly go on “forward defense”,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yongle_Emperor’s_campaigns_against_the_Mongols

    until a new threat emerged from the north, the Manchus
    5. The Japanese reacted to the Mongol Manchu conquest of China very negatively. The notion of 華夷変態 Kai hentai* “Perversion from Zhonghua to Barbarian” began to take place,

    https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/華夷変態

    * Yes that is an original coinage of hentai.

    6. The period Sakoku 鎖国, “locked country” (1603 to 1867) began so that Japan would not be subjected to tributary status to (barbarian as they perceived) Manchu Qing.

    This seclusion would end by gunboat diplomacy of both the West and the Russians; and when Qing was thoroughly defeated in the Opium War,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sakoku#Challenges_to_seclusion

  150. ad21 says:
    @Almost Missouri

    >Yeah okay, China came up with the printing press and gunpowder

    China came up with gunpowder and it certainly spread to europe from china – but there is no comparison between the European mechanized printing press and the Chinese printing press.

    The chinese printing press was wooden blocks with chinese symbols carved in the them. Much of the printing was still by hand.

    The European mechanized printing press never took influence from the Chinese version and neither did the compass that some people also like to make comparisons of. Both European techs completely outclass the Chinese versions in every way and there is little evidence of one being developed on the shoulders of another.

    There is a reason European techs were fully copied around the globe while chinese ones were not.

  151. Frank M says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    Well, we accept that Homer nods so I suppose we should excuse your first sentence–except that I could not force myself to read beyond it. Lately, Steve, you seem to want to prove yourself omnicompetent. You’re not. Stick to what you know or what you can work up with a reasonable effort. And at least read, say, Niall Ferguson’s “Civilization” before you venture into the deep end.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  152. Corvinus says:

    “Why Was Much of the Non-European World Stagnating Well Before 1492“

    Misinformation, Mr, Sailer. Jared Diamond’s work states otherwise.

    • LOL: Gordo
    • Replies: @Alden
  153. @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    The impact of Genghis and Kublai Khan on China cannot be understated:
    * cannot be overstated

    To add:

    – Like Muskovy, the Ming, by overthrowing the Mongol yoke, became a despotic Horde in itself. The world’s earliest secret police agency was instituted during Ming (so there, another Chinese innovation)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_police#China

    – The Japanese would later use the barbarian origins of Yuan and Qing to justify their claim as true inheritor of classical Chinese civilization.

  154. Alden says:
    @Corvinus

    There’s not one word of truth in any of Diamonds books nor any of your comments.

    • Replies: @Corvinus
  155. Anon 2 says:

    Re: Why Western Europe advanced so quickly for awhile

    1. Christianity – A more advanced concept of God: God is regarded as
    a rational (divine rationality is stressed especially by St. Thomas Aquinas
    within Catholicism) Creator outside the world of space and time.
    The Universe is not eternal, and therefore cannot be regarded as divine
    as in most pantheistic views. Thus nature ceased to be an object
    of worship, and could become an object of study. What is Christianity?
    It’s basically a higher synthesis of the Jesus Movement Heresy within
    Judaism combined with the best of the Greco-Roman Civilization;

    2. Just like the Mississippi was the father of the United States, the
    Mediterranean became the father of Western Europe. Both the Ancient
    Greeks and Ancient Romans were sea-going civilizations. The tradition
    was later transferred to Iberia, France, England, and the Low Countries.
    The countries that fought for the dominion of the Baltic got hopelessly
    behind. The Industrial Revolution in Germany occurred 50 years after
    England, in Poland and Scandinavia 50 years after Germany, and in
    Russia 50 years after Poland. Germany, Poland, and Russia lacked
    an ocean-going tradition, and suffered as a result

  156. J.Ross says:
    @epebble

    Islam was often able to take root because, like Christianity taking over decaying pagan Europe, the systems preceding it were old and losing functionality. It had one good episode, but then they got clobbered by the Mongols and never recovered.

    • Agree: PhysicistDave
    • Replies: @epebble
  157. J.Ross says:
    @Frank M

    >Sailer is imperfect,
    Surely.
    >especially regarding the history and motives of foreigners,
    Recent examples have presented themselves.
    >and the guy to teach him is Less-Stupid-Piers-Morgan.
    No.

  158. Jim says:
    @Wendy NY. Kroy

    The Bronze Age in the Old World was the Second Millennium BC. New World civilizations were not yet at that level at 1500 AD. More than 3000 years behind Europeans.

    Anyway smallpox by itself devastated New World populations.

    • Replies: @Wendy NY. Kroy
  159. Anonymous[993] • Disclaimer says:
    @ad21

    It’s significant that Virgil’s Georgics were used as farming manuals as late as the 18th century. Farming techniques and methods had been relatively unchanged for almost 2,000 years.

    Tull invented horse drawn seed drills and hoes. Before it was done largely by hand or simple hand tools. Tull also introduced 4 field crop rotation. Before then, 2 and 3 field crop rotation was used in Europe and elsewhere. The iron mould board plow that developed in Medieval Europe had also been used in China.

  160. Jim says:
    @Anonymous

    The term “Dark Ages” is very poorly defined and any ending date for it is pretty arbitrary however the most convenient ending date is probably 800 AD when Charlemagne was coronated as Emperor.

    The term mostly applies to Western Europe not Byzantium but even in the so-called “Dark Ages” parts of Western Europe were still quite prosperous. Italy and Spain probably were more prosperous in the sixth century than they had been in the fifth century.

  161. epebble says:
    @J.Ross

    It is my belief that Christianity taking over paganism was much less bloody than Islam taking over whatever it replaced. Christianity was and still is about pursuing rather than force; the generally used word is evangelism. Islam, on the other hand, proudly proclaims Jihad; Islam literally means submission.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  162. @AnotherDad

    What if the Chinese had continued trans-oceanic exploration and made it to western North and South America and the Europeans still had their age of exploration and conquest? Presumably the Spanish and Portuguese would have encountered Chinese fleets. Pacific South America may have already been contacted by China, and the Philippines would probably not have been conquered by Spain. The Chinese would have introduced old world disease to Pacific North and South America, probably with the same population-reducing results. But the Chinese were not previously inclined towards conquest and colonies overseas, so maybe they wouldn’t have been much of a presence when the Europeans got there. I don’t know enough about Mandarin vs Eunuch rivalry to speculate on whether China would have had the political and economic will to send colonists to the Americas. The Han did expand and colonize indigenous lands into peasant rice paddy agriculture well into the 1800s in what is now southern China (which makes the CCP propaganda about European colonialism that much more hypocritical), but expansion into adjacent land is different from overseas conquest and settlement. Certainly the Han have long sent economic colonialism into other countries, but have maintained separate culture and not sought to convert or impose their culture on the larger nation.

    Would the Europeans have defeated them in the 1500s as they did in the mid-1800s? Maybe, because European gunnery was already better. But maybe the Chinese would have had an existing seafaring class and large ships to improve from, and would have learned and caught up. Such battles would not be on home soil and waters so early defeats would not necessarily be as large a setback as were the Opium War losses in Canton and Nanjing. Counterfactual 16th century Pacific war, Chinese vs Iberians: who would prevail?

  163. AKAHorace says:
    @Mike Tre

    What was harder to cross with that technology? The Atlantic or the Pacific?

    In the North Atlantic there is the problem of cold, but the land masses are larger, so I think that navigation would be easier. Polynesians had to navigate between tiny islands that were a long way apart.

  164. Anonymous[376] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous

    ” .. a few Portuguese sailers …. ”

    Good God!
    Steve really does have an ancient and cosmopolitan provenance.

  165. @Daniel H

    If Orban and Putin were the people you fantasize they are then the world would be a better place. Unfortunately both men are simply gangsters trying to avoid being taken down by other gangsters. Orban and Putin offer no future – just the same reactionary stagnation Steve is highlighting here.

    • Replies: @Paul Mendez
  166. Spect3r says:
    @Anonymous

    Just a small correction, we (portuguese) sold them 3 firearms, not a couple.

  167. Spect3r says:
    @Dave Pinsen

    We Portuguese were worst in that.
    We were getting silk from India and instead of developing our own clothing factories, we sold it to the French then we went and bought the clothes.
    We had plenty of wood from Africa and Brazil (black wood, etc), and instead of making the furniture, we sold them to the English and then bought the furniture from them, etc, etc, etc

    • Thanks: Dave Pinsen
  168. Anonymous[923] • Disclaimer says:

    ….. And don’t forget the Antikythera mechanism.

  169. J.Ross says:
    @epebble

    In places. In a lot of Germanic Europe, “christianization” could mean an all-but-completely-pagan warlord surpassing a truly pagan warlord long enough to demand baptism or death of the constituency, by which he might not even mean monotheism, but certainly, fealty to him. This was a factor in the first case of Germans going around calling themselves Arians like idiots. In the south it was largely peaceful except for the gang-style riots such as happened in Alexandria. In both Poland and Ireland, the Vatican licensed local thugs to “christianize” by violence well after those places were thoroughly, authentically, and officially Christian (but not necessarily beholden to the Vatican).

    • Thanks: epebble
    • Replies: @epebble
  170. @Yahya

    Europe means the West.

    And even during so-called Dark Ages,when Islamic civilization flourished (I know about all these great names of the Golden Age of Islam), the West produced: Pseudo-Dionysus, Augustine, Fibonacci, Guido d’Arezzo (whose musical notation the whole world uses now), Roger Bacon, Scotus Erigena (the most original philosopher in the world in the first millennium, the precursor of Hegel), Albertus Magnus, Chaucer, Dante, Icelandic sagas, Hildegard of Bingen, Peter Abelard, Gregory of Nyssa, Romanesque and Gothic Cathedrals, Duns Scotus, …

    That “medieval” West was the first in the world to found universities and to build hospitals.

    And it began with Carolingian renaissance in the 9thC:

    And- I don’t think that any other culture elsewhere in the world has given us anything comparable to this, at that time & later:

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Ian M.
    , @Yahya
  171. @Colin Wright

    Europe means the West, with its most advanced & most backward areas put together.

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  172. SFG says:
    @J.Ross

    Tolkien, Howard, and Moorcock were writing in the 20th century. If you look at the original Robin Hood stories, he serves the legitimate king when the usurper is on the throne. Similarly, all the Arthurian stories are about kings and knights, and Mordred is similarly illegitimate.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  173. J.Ross says:
    @SFG

    Good throw two inches to the left, apart from the confused Robin Hood illustration which is to my point anyway: RPGs of a certain generation and provenance were specifically based off certain 20th century stories and, in style and rules as well as Western user preference, happened to bake in certain characteristics. Asians picked up on this because of their own preferences. It’s still an example of Asians generally preferring to not stand out.

  174. @AKAHorace

    ‘God’s Philosophers’ by James Hannam makes the claim, with ample evidence, that by 1300 Western Europe was easily the most technologically advanced civilization on earth. Mechanical clocks, eyeglasses (and lens grinding), water and wind mills, advanced metallurgy were all accomplished by Europeans in the century or so before the year 1300. Not to mention the gothic cathedrals, universities, and any number of borrowed technologies from the east.
    Western Europe’s backwardness before the year 1000 was mostly due to the constant chaos of collapsing empire, invading barbarians, Muslims, Vikings, Magyars, etc.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Ian M.
  175. bomag says:
    @stillCARealist

    True enough; but like the psychopath, they are attuned to situations that generate guilt in people with a working conscience and use that as a weapon.

    But as I noted, their main motivator is jealousy. The Narrative is that Columbus showed up and replaced a people with his own. That is the psychological projection of the Woke; they are into replacement, and want to channel the Columbus of their fevered dreams.

  176. bomag says:
    @Ian M.

    It was a concentration of power into competing polities.

    Seemed to be a sweet spot in Europe: had the brains and scale for competitive growth. Smaller groups are too scattered and weak; larger groups become ossified monopolies.

  177. @He's Spartacus

    Sounds highly plausible. Western Europe by the middle ages was really good at mechanical skills, such as building mills, which then turned out to be vastly important: the clock, the printing press, and the steam engine.

  178. @Bardon Kaldian

    Medieval Europe didn’t really have the concept of the celebrity artist yet, so incredible works like Chartres Cathedral can’t be attributed by us to individuals, although presumably whoever the architects were, they were geniuses comparable to the greats of the Renaissance.

    The Florentines pretty much invented artistic celebrityhood from Dante onward. Today, three of the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are named after Florentines.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  179. @Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)

    Jack D. and Kagaganovitch are correct. They didn’t have proper batteries and hadn’t sent electricity through wires. Instead the bath plus the piece of jewelry or whatever acted as its own battery. Here’s the bit from Wikipedia:

    The Moche independently developed electroplating technology without any Old World influences. The Moche used electricity derived from chemicals to gild copper with a thin layer of gold. In order to start the electroplating process, the Moche first concocted a very corrosive and a highly acidic liquid solution in which they dissolved small traces of gold. Copper inserted into the resulting acidic solution acted both as a cathode and an anode, generating the electric current needed to start the electroplating process. The gold ions in the solution were attracted to the copper anode and cathode and formed a thin layer over the copper, giving the latter the appearance of a solid gold object, even though gold only coated the outermost layer of the copper object. The Moche then allowed the acidic solution to boil slowly, causing a very thin layer/coating of gold to permanently coat the copper anode and cathode. This battery-less electroplating technique was developed around 500 CE by the Moche, a thousand years before Europeans invented the same process.

  180. @Louis Renault

    True. But the Mexica alone, not even counting the other states in Mesoamerica, had many times more people than the Eurotrash could have sent over in the small caravels they had at that time. Cortes and his 615 men would have been eaten long before they’d gotten to Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City) if they hadn’t had an escort of thousands of warriors who hated the Mexica.

  181. @Steve Sailer

    More like individuality. Off the top of my head- yes, Renaissance re-invented individualism, but it was present (although subdued) in the medieval period, depending on an area. In visual arts, we know, at least by name, who built the Palace of Aachen in the 9th C. In Chartres- not so.

    But in other areas the authorship is well known, growing into the Renaissance period. It isn’t for nothing the West is the place of autobiography, from St. Augustine to others. In Islamic, Confucian, Hindu & Buddhist cultural spheres- there is no need to depict (inner) lives of people like Peter Abelard and, later, Cellini, Casanova or De Quincey.

  182. @Rob

    They were indeed a rough lot. But they didn’t often burn people as the Inquisition did. And it seems that they treated their slaves better than slaves were treated in Europe. Also, their battles were all hand-to-hand, so they killed a smaller proportion of their enemies in combat than were killed in European wars.

  183. BB753 says:
    @R.G. Camara

    I agree with you except about the part where the crusades saved Constantinople. Sacking Constantinople and setting up paralell roman Catholic bishoprics and fleeting power structures in the Levant does not count as a benefit in my book.

  184. Jack D says:
    @Daniel H

    Hey Jack D, all your great-great…..great grandmas were Shiksas. Ain’t that a kick in the pants.

    Hey Daniel H, that means that all the Joos that you hate are actually your cousins – ain’t that a kick in the pants?

    • Replies: @Daniel H
  185. Didn’t read all the comments, but agree with those who said that what needs explaining is not non-European stagnation, but European non-stagnation.
    Let’s face it, after the introduction of agriculture, our “civilized” ancestors had shorter and more miserable lives than our earlier barbarian ancestors. It is only thanks to European, later worldwide, progress in the last millennium that we now live better than our barbarian ancestors.
    There was technological and intellectual progress before the last millennium, of course, but the Malthusian logic applied: population growth cancelled the effects of technological progress.

    It is also of interest to note who the main drivers of progress have been: (Northern) Italy, protected from the Empire by the Alps; Portugal and Spain, protected by the Pyrenees; the Netherlands, protected by the tactic of opening the dykes to flood invading armies; England/Britain, protected by the Channel; and the USA, protected by the Atlantic.

    I have read a theory that Italian/European progress was triggered by the conflict between Church and Empire: that made it possible for the Northern-Italian city-republics to keep themselves free by triangulation. It sounds plausible: at least, the timing is right.

  186. epebble says:
    @J.Ross

    Germans going around calling themselves Arians like idiots

    Arians as different from Aryans, right? Because German fascination with Aryans is much more recent. Arthur de Gobineau and Houston Stewart Chamberlain are from 19th Century.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_de_Gobineau#Focus_on_Aryans_as_a_superior_race

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Stewart_Chamberlain#Peoples_defined_as_Aryans

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  187. @AKAHorace

    “what was so unusual about western Europe post 1500 ?”

    for starters: certain drunken ignorant and backwards geographic regions thought killing learned priests and stealing the local church’s gold, melting it down to pay for boats to float to africa in order to enslave the negro (for profit of course!), all while promoting the supposedly enlightening practice of unabashed homosexuality amongst the most esteemed echelons of poser “christian” cabalist elites.

    the sooner this queer ideology and spirit that stems from that albion island is pushed back onto that island where it came from, the world and europe will be a better place.

  188. Ian M. says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Scotus Erigena (the most original philosopher in the world in the first millennium…

    Bold, interesting claim.

    More original than Plotinus, with his emanations from the One and his metaphysics of evil?

    More original than Augustine, with his innovative theory of mind and his speculations on time?

    But maybe I am confusing ‘original’ with ‘great’. I don’t know too much about Erigena.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  189. Ian M. says:
    @He's Spartacus

    …were all accomplished by Europeans in the century or so before the year 1300.

    This sounds plausible: I recall that at the end of the 12th century or thereabouts, there were some Latin writers who remarked how Islamic civilization was far ahead of Europe in philosophy and natural science. But then the 13th century saw an explosion in learning, in large part due the new availability of Aristotle and other works via the Arabic-Latin translation movement. The rise of universities also contributed.

  190. anika says:

    The world labored under a rule of slavery. The Christian West was a source of slaves for Byzantium, among other places. The Christian rulers would end slavery for their constituents. Charlemagne killed off the pagan barons, not so much for beliefs, but more to keep them from stealing and selling people. There were cities in France dedicated to slave processing: castrating young men was a specialized skill set in a world before antibiotics.

    We are used to the descendants of the less expensive slaves. Western, Christian slaves were chosen for beauty, intelligence and strength. There are still diaries written by slave traders about stealing particularly beautiful children.

    The Romans took slaves. The post-Roman provinces suffered their women and children to be taken as slaves. All of the innovations of Westernness that we love are anti-slavery devices: castles to keep people safe from raiders, locks to keep children safe in their homes- locks are complicated metal things- why waste the effort to make these when you have nothing? – rushes on the floor provided a sound when someone tried to sneak in or away- two story houses with bedrooms on the second floor- an extraordinary effort to build in a subsistence world- kept children safe- sheriffs to stop human thieves.

    When they had more or less solved this problem, they celebrated. Every cathedral has a painting or a window of a mother holding her child safe in her arms.

    Eastern Europe never quite figured out how to stop the thieves. Roxelana got stolen from her cathedral town Rohatyn. We have letters from her, as she was sold into a harem, and became the sultana. Millions of people died defending their wives and daughters from raiders. This isn’t counting the ritual of taking young men to become Ottoman soldiers.

    To take the most beautiful, in general, is to take the brightest, and the future mothers of the brightest. Throw in castration of bright young men, and immurement in harems- where the expected birth rate is one child per woman- and you’ve got a society wide investment in stultification.

    To give you modern parallels: the amount of models and entertainers from before 1972 who were orphans adopted out- Ric Flair, and so on- just, lovely, smart people. That is the equivalent of who was getting taken.

    • Replies: @Anon
  191. AndrewR says:
    @Sfffhhjdss

    How many of your beloved hhhwhyte people know all their second cousins? Or leave a cent to their nieces and nephews in their will unless the decedents are childless? Stop LARPing about muh big white family.

  192. @Alden

    ‘Japanese historians claim the 19th century modernization was a collaboration between the Emperor and the merchant manufacturing classes to end feudalism. And become a modern country. Which did happen.’

    Perhaps. But that something did happen neither demonstrates that the parties had the motives assigned to them nor that they saw it as we do.

    I tend to be leery of explanations that assign motives to people that we would have. For example, sometimes it’s observed that the Crusades opened up trade routes between Europe and the Middle East — with the implication that the prospects for commerce were what motivated the Crusaders.

    Yes on one, no on two. To return to Japan, the Emperor and the merchants may have been two groups with the least to lose from change. That’s not quite the same as demonstrating that they consciously sought to bring that change about. It may have been; but I’d guess that if it was like most things, it was all kind of a random walk, with everyone responding to each successive situation as it developed from the previous situation. Commodore Perry sails into Tokyo Bay and won’t leave. Okay, so…

  193. @Bardon Kaldian

    ‘Europe means the West, with its most advanced & most backward areas put together.’

    I don’t see how that affects my point. You claim that the West was somehow ‘fossilized’ between the fifth and the eleventh centuries.

    That’s not true at all. There was change — and often radical change — in all regions of the West. That it may or may not have been change we would approve of or regard as progress is a different matter entirely. To illustrate the distinction, if the Mongols sweep into medieval Rus and reduce half of it to a depopulated wasteland, we may not see that as progress — but we can hardly argue that nothing changed.

  194. @Ian M.

    Original, because Erigena invented the concept of dynamic Absolute, which as different from Plotinus’ (and other belonging to orthodox or semi-orthodox metaphysical traditions from Greece to India and China) does not consider Absolute, even semantically, to be Absolute- not in the need of creation & self sufficient. The concepts of God of Neo-Platonists, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, various branches of Hinduism & Buddhism (insofar as it is a religion) … all operate with the idea of immovable & eternally self-sufficient Godhead.

    Not so with Eri(u)gena. Paging Kolakowski …..

    • Thanks: Ian M.
  195. Rob says:
    @Colin Wright

    Not in the hippy days, but yes, in my hippy days at Reed. However, I was really weird before that, so I think I went weird → acid, not acid → weird.

  196. vinteuil says:
    @PiltdownMan

    …skull towers were a thing in Turco-Islamic lands, and were built as commemorative markers after a victory. The towers were made of stone and plaster, with the heads stuck into the mortar before it dried.

    Various African Chieftains were also pretty enthusiastic about adorning their places with the skulls & bones of of their victims.

    • Replies: @Corvinus
  197. @Louis Renault

    True, but they could mobilize many times the number of warriors. If they could put together a united front, Cortes and his 615 men would be eaten long before they could get to Tenochtitlan/Mexico City. And Europeans wouldn’t be able to get many more soldiers to the new world in the small caravels they had at that time.

  198. @Jim

    Yes, but even after the epidemic, they had many, many times more people. And their arrows were quite effective. It would be like the Little Bighorn.

  199. @Anonymous

    Italians couldn’t advance further because of national disunity & their war culture which was completely opposite to Roman (Romans- great at war, sucked at high culture; Italians- sucked at wars, great at high culture); then, the Mediterranean had become a parochial sea.

    Spain and Portugal lacked stronger intellectual, commercial & legal traditions combined with regulated liberty, basically Catholicism on steroids (with Italians, it was a Pagan Catholicism).

    Byzantines had been stagnating after Manzikert in the 11th C.

    Germans gained power with unification because they’re warlike & organized. How far would have Hitler gone in 1939 if he had an army consisting of Italians instead of Germans? Poles would have obliterated them.

    Poland was territorially big, but a combination of the absence of strong centralized power, modernizing tendencies in the society plus the absence of any serious middle class (universities, invention, trading, burgher mentality, guilds,..) spelled its doom.

    Without the UK and France, Europeans would be a powerful presence at the global level, but without science, technology, organized military, grand ideas about property & limited power of monarchy & the ever growing urban class and its greed- they would have not conquered the world.

  200. Anon[334] • Disclaimer says:
    @anika

    All of the stuff you are talking about was invented by the Chinese, not “Western innovators”. Locks in particular are an especially Asian thing and not really characteristic of medieval European culture, which was more open and less fearful. Methinks you are projecting your feminine spirit on to history with ethnocentric tendencies.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  201. @Daniel H

    I don’t think it’s to correct. Simply, following Jewish demographics from Spain to Babylonia, from the 3rd to the 17th C, one can easily see that population bottleneck is something similar to Piltdown man or phlogistone.

    And Eastern Slavic women did not contribute in any significant number to Eastern Jews (unlike both men & women to the German Christians).

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  202. By the way, for too many peoples-shit truly did happen …

    • Agree: mc23
  203. Corvinus says:
    @vinteuil

    Per usual, you’re not offering the full story.

    Colonial masters considered it their right to take human remains collected from colonies or plundered as a result of war. The skulls of Chief Mkwawa and the sub-chief Songea, for example, were looted in the same manner from Tanganyika (now Tanzania) to Germany. While Chief Mkwawa’s skull was returned in 1954, the demands for sub-chief Songea’s skull are ongoing, with the Tanzanian community contesting ownership of human remains in European museums.

    Other sources of interest:

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/27563663

    https://www.ft.com/content/a60dc444-ab9e-11e8-94bd-cba20d67390c

    https://amp.france24.com/en/20200703-france-returns-skulls-of-algerians-who-fought-colonisation

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @vinteuil
  204. Corvinus says:
    @Alden

    Jared Diamond was complimentary to white Europeans in his work. By your own metric, he lied about their achievements. Great to know.

  205. J.Ross says:
    @Anon

    Vikings had locks.

    • Replies: @Anon
  206. Corvinus says:
    @Enochian

    “My favorite idea is that standardized testing in China had a dysgenic effect on the locals, turning the formerly inventive Han into a race of exam crammers at the expense of creativity. But that doesn’t really explain what happened to the rest of the world that wasn’t China and wasn’t Europe.”

    For a time (early and mid-1800’s), it was the British who got the Chinese hooked on yum-yum (opium) merely because China refused to purchase goods from foreigners, while Europeans bought trade goods from it, which resulted in a trade deficit for whites. It was literally a century before the Chinese recovered from European “benevolence”.

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  207. Anon[334] • Disclaimer says:
    @J.Ross

    Locks were not common at all in Viking culture. Don’t conflate “a lock has been found in an archaeological dig” for “everybody in the Viking world used locks”. Half the Viking population didn’t even live indoors but in tents that were erected on boats or land. They were nomadic seafarers.

  208. Yahya says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    And even during so-called Dark Ages,when Islamic civilization flourished (I know about all these great names of the Golden Age of Islam), the West produced:

    Well that depends on how one defines the “Dark Ages”. My opinion was that it lasted from roughly 500-1000 AD. That would exclude most of your cited major figures except John Scotus Eriugena. As I said previously, the Gothic cathedrals stand as impressive achievements; but are not sufficient at disproving the Dark Age hypothesis. There was a clear economic, demographic and intellectual decline in Europe following the collapse of the Roman Empire. This much is proven by data extracted from arctic ice cores in Greenland which show concentrations of lead declining by roughly 1/2 from 450 CE to 850CE, only recovering to pre-collapse levels in 1050 CE. Lead pollution is an indicator of economic activity linked to human lead-mining.

    Estimates of GDP per capita for Western Europe by Lo Casscio/Malanamia and Maddison, though they are less reliable than lead data, show that economic activity in 1000 AD (\$1000/\$576) was less than it was in 1 AD (\$900/\$427).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_regions_by_past_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

    Up until the construction of the Aachen Cathedral in 800 AD, Europe was a rather backward place architecturally; most of its buildings were made of wood or stone rubble, compared to the advanced stonework of Borobudur in Java, Indonesia or the Hindu temples of India. Even in 800 AD, the Aachen stood out as being one of the few exceptional pieces of European architecture built during the period. One need only look at the churches of San Salvador de Valdediós and San Julián de los Prados, both in Spain, to see the difference. These are hardly world-class structures. Windows are small and unevenly spaced. Most of the building is made from stone rubble. Compare it to the well-formed proportions and meticulous stonework of the Armenian church of Saint Hripsime, or to the Shore Temple in Mamallapuram, India, or the Bhringesvara Shiva Temple in Bhubaneshwar, India, both of which demonstrate meticulous stonework and complex curving surfaces.

    Church of San Salvador de Valdediós, Spain:

    Borobudur Temple, Indonesia:

    And- I don’t think that any other culture elsewhere in the world has given us anything comparable to this, at that time & later:

    True.

    Europe means the West.

    You say this, yet cite a Berber philosopher from Roman North Africa as an example of a major Western thinker. Though they have some basis in reality, terms like “the West” are by and large artificial constructs. Their borders are hard to define. Is Russia part of the West? The 19th century French nobleman Marquis de Custine certainly didn’t think so. Nor did the 19th century Slavophile intellectuals; who wanted Russia to reconnect with its indigenous, Eastern roots rather than imitate the West. How about in the days of the Roman Empire? Were the Balto-Slavic peoples Western in antiquity? Germanics? Nordics? Celts?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Art Deco
  209. Anonymous[189] • Disclaimer says:
    @Corvinus

    Europeans collect bones in the name of ‘science’. What’s the difference between a war chief with skulls nailed to his walls and a museum with skulls in glass cabinets?

    • Replies: @Corvinus
  210. @Peter Akuleyev

    Please provide the names of some current world leaders you do find admirable. Not being snarky. I’m genuinely interested in your opinion.

    • Replies: @Peter Akuleyev
  211. mc23 says:
    @Anonymous

    Lynn Townsend White Jr. in” Medieval Technology and Social Change”

    “The chief glory of the later Middle Ages was not its cathedrals or its epics or its scholasticism: it was the building for the first time in history of a complex civilization which rested not on the backs of sweating slaves or coolies but primarily on non-human power”

    The Medieval plows and animal harnesses for both ox & horse were far better than Classical Europe. Water mills were a late Roman invention and not widespread at the time. They were reinvented and improved in Medieval Europe and used for multiple purposes.

    Medieval Europe was a backword and barbaric world but there are reasons it never stagnated. The very idea and structure of European Universities was a breakout invention. You can find someting comparable in other cultures but not its equal.

  212. TheJester says:
    @Peter Frost

    Peter, come back. You’re missed!

  213. @Corvinus

    ‘For a time (early and mid-1800’s), it was the British who got the Chinese hooked on yum-yum (opium) merely because China refused to purchase goods from foreigners, while Europeans bought trade goods from it, which resulted in a trade deficit for whites. It was literally a century before the Chinese recovered from European “benevolence”.’

    Of course, not being white, the Chinese had no agency. On the other hand, who would you blame for the impact of Mexican heroin on the United States?

    • Replies: @Corvinus
  214. @Bardon Kaldian

    ‘And Eastern Slavic women did not contribute in any significant number to Eastern Jews (unlike both men & women to the German Christians).’

    I doubt that very much. You have to understand that most of those ‘genetic studies’ are cooked — and then when the results are popularized, cooked again.

    If you get down to raw, uncooked data, over and over, the case appears to be that Jews are, first and foremost, related to the gentile population among which they lived.

    Also known as ‘everyone fucks the maid.’ That’s just the way it is. To put it more delicately, it proves to everyone’s benefit if dependents are absorbed into the ruling class. Whoever the Jews rule, will become Jewish.

    Jews from, say, Poland, may have some ties to Italian Jews. They may have some ties to German Jews. They may even have some ties to the Middle East.

    Above all, they have ties to gentile Poles. That’s how it is. You can even see it. Look at a picture of Netanyahu. What are you looking at?

    A Pole.

    • Replies: @Wielgus
  215. Jack D says:
    @TheJester

    No, it’s you that have it backward. If the Jews had arrived from the east they would be speaking a Turkic dialect instead of a German based language (Yiddish). The actual history can be inferred not only from linguistics but from DNA as well. The Khazar thing has been debunked.

    The Merkel story sounds crackpot. Maybe she was cousins with Hitler since he was Jewish too? E. European Jews did not speak Hebrew as their “native tongue” – it was basically a dead language like Latin, used mainly for prayer and the everyday language was Yiddish, or in Germany just German.

  216. Ian M. says:

    How about the question of why America’s cultural output has been so dismal compared to that of Europe’s?

    https://orthosphere.wordpress.com/2022/04/29/matthew-arnold-antonin-dvorak-and-the-mystery-of-americas-underperforming-culture/

  217. @Yahya

    The first full Gothic style churches were built in the 1130s. There were impressive Romanesque buildings in the previous century, but fewer great churches from before the early 1000s.

    Charlemagne’s Palatine Chapel, Aachen from c. 800 is supposed to be the greatest building of Northern Europe’s Dark Ages.

    https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/medieval-world/carolingian-ottonian/carolingian1/a/palatine-chapel-aachen

  218. @Almost Missouri

    ‘…Sadly, shortly after the continent was spanned and the lands incorporated into states and into the union, the ever-foolish intellectual elites set about undoing that far-sighted precaution, ironically under the banner of “Progressivism”, centralizing and stifling everything they could get their petty little paws on….’

    I think it also owed a lot to immigration. The population that had been here when the nation was founded — they were from New York or Virginia or South Carolina. They became Americans as well, but the state identity remained as or more important than the federal one.

    The immigrants — the Germans, the Irish, those who came after — didn’t come to Ohio or New York or Pennsylvania. They came to the United States, and that became their primary identity.

  219. tamo says:

    Before the Industrial Revolution, Europe was basically a copying and adaptive culture. The Greek civilization was NOT an ORIGINAL civilization like the Chinese civilization. As a matter of fact the ancient Greeks were the BIGGEST COPYCATS in the ancient world.

    The Greek civilization was heavily influenced by both Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations ( Greek myths and religion had their roots in various Mesopotamian and Egyptian beliefs).. The Greek architecture was adopted from Egypt. Also ancient Greeks extensively COPIED Babylonians ( the ancestors of the present day Arabs) for it’s astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, medicine,etc.

    For example, such Greek astronomers and mathematicians as Hipparchus. Ptolemy were greatly influenced by previous Babylonian studies. The Babylonian text, Dialogue of Pessimism contains similarities to the agnostic thought of the Greek sophists, the Heraclitean doctrine of contrasts, and the dialogs of Plato, as well as a precursor to maieutic Socratic method of Socrates. Also Milesian philosopher Thales studied philosophy. Even Greek alphabet was based on the non- European semitic Phoenician alphabet. How about later Greek conversion to Christianity which was originated among non-European semitic people— Jews?.

    As you can see, the Greeks were the biggest copycats in the ancient world. On the other hand, the ancient Chinese developed their astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, medicine, architecture ON THEIR OWN WITHOUT BORROWING from OUTSIDERS. During this ancient time period, there were a lot of ORIGINAL Chinese thinkers such as Confucius, Laozi, Mozi, Zhangzi, Mencius, Sun Tsu, etc in China whose thoughts were at least as great as those of any Greek thinkers.

    But in TECHNOLOGY, ancient Chinese were far ahead of Greeks or Romans. This Chinese technological superiority over Europe lasted until the coming of the Industrial Revolution.
    I want to say something before I go any further. Anybody who is interested in pre-modern Chinese science and technology, should read monumental masterpiece SCIENCE AND CIVILIZATION IN CHINA by Joseph Needham which was picked as one of the 100 best English language non-fictions of the 20th century by Random House.

    For your information, the Western domination ONLY began with the coming of the Industrial Revolution. From the ancient times to the Industrial Revolution, along with India, China had the biggest economy in the world and was far ahead of Europe EVEN in TECHNOLOGY.

    I’m going to list VERY FEW of many Chinese inventions and ideas that were transmitted to the backward Europe through direct or indirect or stimulus diffusion before the Industrial Revolution (some of the Chinese technologies were even transmitted at the late stage of the first Industrial Revolution) and revolutionize the backward Europe.

    China invented compass, rudder, leeboard, centerboard, multi-mast( ships with more than 3 masts
    without using oars) and also watertight compartments (Europe didn’t use for their ships until the late 18th century). Without adopting all these Chinese inventions, the European voyages of discovery and later -day high sea sailings wouldn’t have been possible.

    Also China invented not only paper but also printing (both woodblock and movable type about 400 years before Gutenberg who had been very likely influenced by the movable type developments in China and Korea beforehand, developed one). Without assimilating these Chinese inventions, the SPREAD of Renaissance would have been extremely difficult.

    China invented not only gunpowder but also gun, cannon, rocket including multi-stage ones, both land and sea mines, bomb, even hand grenade. All these Chinese military technologies were transmitted to Europe by direct or indirect diffusion . Can you imagine the modern military without these Chinese inventions?

    Also China invented blast furnace, cast iron,coking coal and so- called Bessemer Steel Process, Siemens’ Steel process, weaving machines (the British weaving machines such as spinning jenny , flying shuttle were inferior copies of existing Chinese weaving machines), drilling techniques for oil and natural gas ( China drilled for natural gas and transferred it through pipelines for heating and lighting starting in the 4th century BC, on the other hand Europe didn’t use natural gas until the 19th century but again Britain was the first country in Europe to use natural gas in 1798 and Europeans and Americans finally got the deep -drilling technologies for oil and gas from China in the 19th century).

    All these Chinese inventions were transmitted to Europe. So without using all these Chinese inventions, the Industrial Revolution wouldn’t have been possible.

    Even in agriculture, the backward Europe got modern horse collar, moldboard cast iron plow, rotary winnowing fan, MULTI -seed drill technologies and the techniques of row cultivation of crops and intense hoeing by horse-drawn hoes from China( with the exception of the horse collar which Europe adopted in the 8th century, the rest of the Chinese agricultural technologies were adopted by Europe only in the 18th century).

    This really shows how backward Europe was at the time. By adopting all these Chinese technologies, Britain could bring about an agricultural revolution in the 18th century These are just some of the ground- breaking Chinese inventions and ideas that were transmitted to Europe before the Industrial Revolution. According to Robert Temple, a well-respected sinologist, more than half of the inventions that laid the foundations for the modern world BEFORE The Industrial Revolution, came from China .

    Now I think there is a good chance China will be the biggest economy by 2030 and overtake America in technology in the next 15 years and become the most powerful country in the world by the middle of this century.

    • Replies: @Peter Lund
    , @Anonymous
  220. tamo says:

    China practiced free market economy since about first century BC with the exception of salt enterprise that the state controlled and intervening from time in iron production, and also kept taxes low. China was one of the two biggest economies ( the other being India) in the world and kept people’s living standards very high from the ancient times to the end of the 18th century.

    China was SO FAR ADVANCED SO EARLY ON by making a lot of ground-breaking technologies and in the later dynasties, even though they came up with their own breakthrough technologies, they concentrated MOSTLY steady, incremental improvements on their preexisting technologies.

    I definitely think that’s not being stagnant but making steady progresses. I’m going to paraphrase and quote from THE ART OF THE STATE by Christopher Hood, a prominent British scholar
    specializing in analysis of various government systems.

    “According to Max Weber a great German social scientist, a modern state must have the fully formed modern bureaucracy that clearly establishes official duties, elaborate rules governing the exercise of authority, continuous and regular performance of tasks by staff appointed on the regulated qualifications”. “Han Dynasty of more than 2000 years ago that had much more complex and sophisticated bureaucracy than the imperial Rome, met Weber’s criterion for the modern state”.

    Starting from the middle of the 2nd century BC, Han Dynasty implemented the civil service examination that was rooted in winnowing-down meritocratic system. It’s officials operated under clearly defined duties and rules. For checks and balances, Han dynasty had the institutional system that even applied to the emperor. The dynasty had an office of inspector general that had “the power to impeach officials, inspect their efficiency and integrity and criticize the policies of topmost officials or even of the emperor”

    So we can say Han Dynasty had been a modern state long before any Western country became one. Also according to Angus Maddison a well- respected economic historian, Han Dynasty had a bigger economy and was much wealthier than the Roman Empire. Also China’s Han Dynasty was technologically more advanced than the Roman Empire.

  221. tamo says:

    CHINA MADE WORLD -CLASS CANNONS FROM THE 16TH CENTURY TO THE LATE 18TH CENTURY.
    Even though China invented the cannon in the 13th century, Europeans started making better cannons by the late 15th century and this European cannon superiority lasted until around 1522

    But in 1523. Chinese cannon-makers not only adopted European cannon making technology but also innovated on their own thus coming up with excellent cannons that were comparable to European ones.

    In page 390, chapter 7,volume 5 of SCIENCE AND CIVILIZATION IN CHINA by Joseph Needham, Needham states that in 1585, a Spanish Domnican friar who was also a former Spanish military officer said the Chinese cannons were BETTER MADE and STRONGER THAN Spanish ones.

    I’m going to quote from a book named WAR,POLITICS AND SOCIETY IN EARLY MODERN CHINA 900-1795 by Peter Lorge

    “But both Ming and Qing dynasties HAD EAGERLY EXPLOITED European developments in FIREARMS’.

    Also if your read SCIENCE AND CIVILIZATION IN CHINA by Joseph Needham, you will find out the Jesuits transmitted their cannon making technology to Chinese canon makers who then combined both European and Chinese technologies to manufacture excellent cannons.

    I’m going to quote from page 407, chapter 7, volume 5 of SCC ( this particular chapter deals with Chinese gunpowder weapons technology )

    “The world of learning has been UNDULY DAZZLED by the cannon of the Jesuits, so that the REAL ACHIEVEMENTS of the INDIGENOUS (meaning Chinese) ARTILLERY have been somewhat OVERLOOKED”.

    From pages 407 to 415, Needham listed various Chinese advances in cannon making technology from the 16th century to the middle of the 19th century.

    He described Tsu Mu cannon produced in the late 17th century by a superb Chinese gunsmith named Tai Tzu “It fired a projectile which burst sent burst another projectiles that fell down upon the enemy. It was rather like a Western mortar”.

    What we are talking about here is some kind of shrapnel shell. British began developing the Shrapnel shell only in the the late 18th century.

    Also according to Needham , in 1635 Chinese cannon makers installed telescope sights on their cannons. This is many decades before Europeans came up with the same Idea.

    Also I’m quoting from pages 201.202 of GUNPOWDER AGE : MILITARY INNOVATION AND THE RISE OF THE WEST IN WORLD HISTORY by Tonio Andrade

    ” Chinese gunsmiths continued to modify “red barbarian(Eropean)” cannons after they entered the Ming arsenal, and eventually improved upon them by applying native casting techniques to their design”.

    “In 1642, Ming foundries merged their own casting technology with European cannon designs to create a distinctive cannon known as the “Dingliao grand general.”

    Through combining the advanced cast-iron technique of southern China and the iron-bronze composite barrels invented in northern China, the Dingliao grand general cannons exemplified the best of both iron and bronze cannon designs.

    Unlike traditional iron and bronze cannons, the Dingliao grand general’rs inner barrel was made of iron, while the exterior of brass” “The resulting bronze-iron composite cannons were superior to iron or bronze cannons in many respects.

    They were lighter, stronger, longer lasting, and able to withstand more intensive explosive pressure.

    Chinese artisans also experimented with other variants such as cannons featuring wrought iron cores with cast iron exteriors.

    While inferior to their bronze-iron counterparts, these were considerably cheaper and more durable than standard iron cannons.

    Both types met with success and were considered “among the best in the world” during the 17th century. The Chinese composite metal casting technique was effective enough that Portuguese imperial officials sought to employ Chinese gunsmiths for their cannon foundries in Goa, so that they could impart their methods for Portuguese weapons manufacturing.

    Soon after the Ming started producing the composite metal Dingliao grand generals in 1642, Beijing was captured by the Manchu Qing dynasty and along with it all of northern China.

    The Manchu elite did not concern themselves directly with guns and their production, preferring instead to delegate the task to Chinese Han craftsmen, who produced for the Qing a similar composite metal cannon known as the “Shenwei grand general.

    On the other hand Europeans could produce very few of bronze-iron cannons but couldn’t mass-produce them because of their inferior casting technology.

    So Chinese produced cannons that were just as good as or even better than European cannons until the 1750s.

    But with the coming of the Industrial Revolution around 1760, Europeans started producing far better cannons than Chinese.

    So by the time the Opium War which began in 1839, compared to the advanced European cannons, the Chinese cannons were nothing but old useless relics.

    • Replies: @Peter Lund
  222. @Indifferent Contrarian

    Indian art (and philosophy) was deeply influenced by the Greeks after Alexander the Great.

    If you want to mention native Indian greats, you should mention Pāṇini (linguistics + a type of math) and the Kerala School (math, particularly clumsy(!) descriptions of infinite series for trigonometric functions with zero proofs or reasoning to support them).

    As for what you call philosophy (which should perhaps be classified as religion instead), I prefer my Seneca, my Epictetus/Arrian, and my Marcus Aurelius, thank you very much.

    • Replies: @Ian M.
  223. tamo says:

    According to a well-known economic historian Kenneth Pomeranz, When we think about the kind of trade taking place across the world in the 1600s and 1700s, and we recognize that Chinese finished goods are going to Europe in return for Western silver,( eventually about 40% of the silver mined in the Americas by Europeans ended up in China).

    This shouldn’t be too great a surprise, if we go back to the 11th century Song dynasty that had a real vibrant commercial economy.

    The improvement of agricultural technologies to raise the yields of rice and other grains and crops and there was the development of transportation technologies to take advantage of river transport and also using sophisticated metallurgical technologies to increase iron and steel production. that Europe couldn’t match until the coming of the Industrial Revolution.

    Those developments started much earlier in China than they did anywhere else in the world. So in the year 1100, the most developed economy in the world was certainly in Song China.

    The Chinese economy remained a very productive economy for the following 500 years so that when trade started to take place between China and Europe, fueled by the American silver that the Europeans were bringing to China, it was not surprising that the Chinese economy was a very productive.

    when we compare food supply per capita between China’s Lower Yangzi delta and England, the most developed area of Europe in 1750, it is roughly comparable. Cloth production per capita would again be very close. And those were the two most important sectors of the economy: food and textiles. They were the two largest sectors.

    I think Pomeranz did a good job of giving us an excellent overview of the pre-modern Chinese economy.

  224. @tamo

    You should take Needham with a grain of salt. He was always in favour of China (and Mao), far in advance of the supporting evidence. What he wrote was the upper bound of what China could/did/invented, with the true level often being far lower.

    What he writes about escapement mechanisms (for clocks) is a good example of that — it’s just laughable. Laughable, but sad.

    • LOL: tamo
    • Replies: @tamo
    , @tamo
    , @tamo
  225. @Rob

    And oh, yes, judging by remains in burials, Tenochtitlan and the much earlier giant city, Teotihuacan, do seem to have been population sinks. They had their own “diseases of civilization”, parasitic and otherwise.

  226. tamo says:

    Jesuits in the late 16th and 17th centuries transmitted advanced European astronomy and mathematics to China while the Jesuits also transmitted such advanced Chinese technologies as metallurgy, weaving machine, porcelain, silk, dye, tea, agricultural etc to Europe. Also at this time period, China was ahead of Europe in botany, chemistry. medicine.

    Just read SCIENCE AND CIVILIZATION IN CHINA (the book was chosen as one of the 100 best non-fictions in English language in the 20th century by Random House) by Joseph Needham, the most respected sinologist of all time.

    Here I want to mention Chinese invention of the mechanical clock.
    The mechanical clock which was NOT a water clock but was driven by water power. was first invented in China in the 8th century with the invention of the most critical part of the mechanical clock, the ESCAPEMENT MECHANISM.

    According to historian Derek J. de Solla Price, the Chinese escapement spread west and was the SOURCE for WESTERN ESCAPEMENT TECHNOLOGY. Many centuries later, Europeans made more advanced mechanical clock run by a weight or springs.

    Derek J. de Solla Price stated that Europeans could not have developed their mechanical clock without incorporating the Chinese ESCAPEMENT MECHANISM first. By the 18th century, after learning the advanced European mechanical clock technology from the Jesuits ,China made mechanical clocks that were as good as British ones but at two-third of the cost.,

    • Replies: @Peter Lund
    , @Peter Lund
  227. tamo says:

    When it came to mathematics Chinese were ahead of Europeans up to the 17th century. In the 14th century BC, China already used the decimal PLACE (not just a decimal) system, Europe didn’t have the decimal place system until the 10th century AD.

    Also in around the 4th century BC, China had the most advanced numeral system in the world that was called the counting rod number system which some scholars think is the precursor of the Hindu-Arabic Numerals

    Ancient Chinese had highly-developed algebra while Greeks couldn’t develop one because the primitive Greek number systems were based on their alphabet. It was not until the 3rd century AD, Greeks started BARELY developing algebra.

    On the other hand, Greeks developed geometry that they had imported from Babylonia, to a high degree. China also developed geometry using algebra . The Chinese development of algebraic geometry is essential to the modern engineering.

    The CONCEPT of ZERO was known in China in the 4th century BC before in any other civilization. Chinese used a blank space for zero instead of using 0.Europe finally got the idea of ZERO only in the 10th century AD.

    The NEGATIVE NUMBERS were invented in China in 2nd century BC.
    Although the Greek mathematician Diophantus ran into the negative numbers in the 3rd century AD, he discarded them because he thought the negative numbers were ABSURD. So it was not until the 16th century AD that Europeans finally accepted the negative numbers.

    Chinese also solved the Pythagorean Theorem in around the 11th century BC. long before ancient Greeks did. Also Chinese developed DECIMAL FRACTIONS in the 1st century BC. On the other hand, Europe couldn’t develop the decimal fractions until the 16th century AD. China developed so-called PASCAL’S TRIANGLE in the 11th century AD about 600 years before Pascal did in Europe.

    Also Chinese developed binary numbers too. These are some of the great Chinese contribution to mathematics.

  228. @tamo

    Lay off the Needham and read some real books.

    Ships
    European ships could tolerate harsher weather than Chinese ships. That allowed them to sail far from land (across oceans) whereas the Chinese ships had to stick close to land. This is because the native waters around China aren’t as harsh as those around Western Europe.

    Paper
    Chinese paper making was very inefficient. The process didn’t work well unless you used just the right kinds of plant fibres, preferably from the inner bark of plants, preferably mulberry trees. The fibres also had to boil for a long time (3 days but you could accelerate it by adding chemicals). The moulds were not particularly efficient, because they were made of bamboo or wood so there wasn’t much space between the slats for draining the water. On the other hand, the paper was very smooth.
    The Europeans figured out how to make paper from pretty much everything and anything, including wood pulp. Their moulds were also much more efficient because they were made of metal wire mesh. That made paper much cheaper in Europe than in China, but unfortunately the paper wasn’t very smooth (and the cheap paper from wood pulp was quite bad). That has consequences for the printing techniques…
    Oh, and why didn’t the Chinese use wire mesh? Because their wire making technology was more than a thousand years behind… that’s also why chainmail was standard in Europe while being a rare imported luxury item in China.
    Why did paper arrive so late in Europe — or why didn’t we invent it ourselves? Because it wasn’t necessary. The Mediterranean area had papyrus (which was much cheaper than Chinese paper). China had to write on bamboo slats (cumbersome, bulky) or silk (expensive!) before they invented paper.

    Printing
    What the Chinese had was not printing (which involves a press — that’s in the very name, derived from the Latin premō, “to press, push, compress, squeeze, tighten”).
    What the Chinese had was rubbing. They put ink on the woodcut, paper on top, and then carefully rubbed the paper (often with a wooden spoon-like thing). The whole method is cheap but the quality isn’t great. It lends itself quite well to division of labour between an educated person who draws the characters on thin paper glued to the wood and menial labourers who carve the wood and do the rubbing.
    The European alternative was to copy by hand, which was realistic because it didn’t require anywhere near the same extreme amount of training as learning to read and write Chinese characters did.
    The Chinese (and Koreans) did indeed invent various types of movable type (with porcelain and bronze) but nothing as sophisticated as the Gutenberg system. They were still based on rubbing and not on presses.
    This is where the paper smoothness matters. It’s also where Gutenberg’s systems superior precision matters. The rubbing method requires smooth paper. The printing method requires the inked surface to be level and hard/robust. The East Asian systems made it a lot harder to create a proper level inked surface. The wood based (and likely also porcelain based) methods don’t take pressure well. That was actually a problem for European printing for a couple of centuries because the wood blocks used for illustrations/figures tended to break.
    Summary: The Chinese and European systems were very different and operated under very different constraints.
    The Chinese system was a necessity for rapid copying of texts, whereas Europe didn’t need a printing press for similar rapid copying of texts. The European printing press was actually invented for aesthetic reasons: to provide more visually pleasing books.

    Conclusion
    It is a huge mistake to believe China was ahead of Europe — just like it is a huge mistake to believe Europe was ahead of China. They each were ahead in some areas and behind in others — and the situation changed over time, sometimes on the scale of centuries, sometimes on the scale of decades.

    One thing is true, though: Europe was far, far, far ahead in math. Europe was so far ahead that it was absurd.

    • Disagree: tamo
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  229. tamo says:

    All the ancient civilizations were pre-scientific. There was NO TRUE science because no civilization used the EMPIRICAL SCIENTIFIC METHOD that has about 5 crucial steps ; observation, making a hypothesis, lengthy strictly- controlled experimentation with repeatable results, analyzing and quantifying the results by using mathematics, conclusion ( either proving or disproving the hypothesis).

    The ancient Greeks were only good at hypothesizing after relatively casual observation. But they NEVER ENGAGED IN LENGTHY STRICTLY CONTROLLED EXPERIMENTATION WHOSE RESULTS MUST BE REPRODUCED ALL THE TIME.

    Greeks used syllogism which used assumptions to prove a hypothesis. The Aristotelian syllogism dominated Western PSEUDO scientific thoughts for many centuries. Syllogism itself is about how to get valid conclusion from assumptions WITHOUT VERIFYING the assumptions first ( very unscientific to say the least). So Greeks and PRE-RENAISSANCE Europeans over time focused mainly on the logic part and forgot the importance of verifying the assumptions.

    Science was born in the 11th century in the Islamic civilization with the birth of the EMPERICAL or EXPEREMENTAL SCIENTIFIC METHOD pioneered by Ibn al Haytham and other Islamic scientists. That’s why Ibn al Haytham is called THE FIRST TRUE SCIENTIST in the world by some scholars.

    According to such scholars as James Ackerman, Mathias Schramm, Rosana Gorini, Jim Al-Khalili, Ibn al Haytham formulated the EMPIRICAL SCIENTIFIC METHOD about 5 centuries before such European scientistsas Francis Bacon.

    Bacon’s idea that science should be based on experimentation and the maximum benefit could be had from the division of labor was almost WORD FOR WORD THE SAME ARGUMENT MADE BY THE EARLIER ISLAMIC SCHOLARS.

    Only biased Eurocentric people ( among them are some non – westerners) question Ibn al Haytham’s monumental achievements. Without Ibn al Haytham’s formulating the experimental scientific method first, there would have been no scientific revolution in Europe in the 17th century or the modern science developing in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    Robert Briffault, a famous social anthropologist in the early 20th century said trying to give the credit of inventing the EMPIRICAL scientific method to European scientists who came many centuries after Ibn al Haytham is the COLOSSAL Eurocentric misrepresentation of the origin of the empirical scientific method. Science owes it’s existence to the Islamic civilization,period.

    Nobody denies the West dominated science from the 17th century and technology from the late 18th century on.

    But things are going to change in this century. By the middle of this century, there is a good chance that China will be the science and technology superpower.

  230. @tamo

    I don’t believe Price, a supposed expert on the Antikythera mechanism, really wrote that. If he did, he was an idiot.

    (And it was the *Japanese* who figured out how to make European-style clocks and automata — of original designs — that were every bit as good as the European ones. I know all Asians look alike, but they were not Chinese.)

    Furthermore, Europe was ahead in metallurgy, the Byzantines had silk almost a millennium earlier, Europe managed to reverse engineer porcelain from scratch AND invent a completely new type of porcelain (bone china) which is today the standard type of tableware porcelain, the dye trade was from India (Indian yellow + indigo) and from Europe to East Asia, etc.

    China was NOT ahead in botany, chemistry, or medicine (Vesalius!).

    You are right about tea, though. That was outright stolen by the British.

    You are also halfway right about silk: the Byzantines seem to have forgotten how to make silk (I don’t understand why or how) and the knowhow was stolen from China, together with silkworms and mulberry trees.

    (And as a footnote: the porcelain tech was stolen from China and widely published in Europe, but that was *after* the independent reinvention of Chinese-style porcelain and the completely new invention of bone china.)

    • Disagree: tamo
    • Replies: @tamo
  231. tamo says:

    Zheng He’s Voyages.

    Zheng He made total 7 voyages from 1405 to 1433 each voyage lasting more than two and a half years
    Each voyage consisted of about 200 huge ships that were equipped with cannons and 25000 people that included sailors, soldiers, technicians, scholars, diplomats and even CAVALRY forces.

    Zheng He once sailed from Ache Sumatra Indonesia to Mogadishu Somalia about 4000 miles in a HIGH SEA voyage without hugging coast lines

    Zheng’s junk ships that had up to 9 masts with superior batten sails travelled a lot faster than Columbus’ ships that only had 3 masts with square sails.

    The British naval historian Herbert Warington Smyth considered the Chinese junk ship as one of the most efficient ship designs, stating that “As an engine for carrying man and his commerce upon the high and stormy seas as well as on the vast inland waterways, it is doubtful if any class of vessel… is more suited or better adapted to its purpose than the Chinese junk, and it is certain that for flatness of sail and handiness, the Chinese rig is unsurpassed”.

    Zheng He’s voyages were diplomatic, militaristic, and commercial in nature. It was not Zheng He’s mission grabbing territories. China at the time was only interested in trade.

    Zheng He was instructed to establish Chinese control over the maritime routes to bring the maritime trade into the tributary trade system, and to force foreign countries to comply with the system.

    The diplomatic aspect comprised the announcement of the Yongle Emperor’s accession to the throne, the establishment of HEGEMONY over the foreign countries, and safe passage to foreign envoys and traders.

    The Chinese did not seek territorial control, as they were primarily motivated by the political and economic control across the seas entailing a domination over a vast trade network with its ports and shipping lanes.

    The voyages brought about the Indian Ocean’s regional integration and the increase in international circulation of people, ideas, and goods.

    In the Ming capitals of Nanjing as well as Beijing, foreign representatives and people from different countries congregated, interacted, and traveled together as the Ming treasure fleet sailed from and to China.

    For the FIRST time in its history, the MARITIME region from China to Africa was under the dominance of a single imperial power namely Ming China.

    During the course of the voyages, the Yongle Emperor reasserted the political and cultural HEGEMONY of Ming China over all others. Diplomatic relationships were based on a mutually beneficial maritime commerce and also the presence of a Chinese MILITARISTIC NAVAL FORCE in nearby waters intimidated the coastal states.

    Zheng He established mutually profitable trade relationship between China and the Indian Ocean and South China Sea countries. During his 7 voyages, he brought more than 30 countries into Chinese trading system.

    For the FIRST time in its history, the MARITIME region from China to Africa was under the dominance of a single imperial power namely Ming China.

    The primary reason Ming dynasty discontinued the voyages was that it had to concentrate all the national resources in building the Great Ming Wall to stop the resurgent Mongols in the north.

    Even after the cessation of Zheng He’s voyages, Chinese commercial ships carried out thriving maritime trades with Indian Ocean and South China countries IGNORING the Ming dynasty’s sea ban that was later abolished.
    So Zheng He gets the credit for laying the foundation for the trade network.

  232. @Elmer T. Jones

    The Bubonic Plague may have been a factor. I have not seen any mention of this in conjecture about the abandonment of Angkor Wat and subsequent Khmer depopulation but it seems plausible that plague was the reason as it followed the European pandemic chronologically.

    We still know very little about the bubonic plagues outside of Europe. We know that at least the Black Death hit East Asia — but we don’t know how hard or for how long. We also know that it (and other plagues) hit at least parts of Africa (not thanks to written records but to ancient DNA amplification and testing) but that research field is still in its infancy.

    It’s been a year or two since I last read up on it and I can’t be bothered to find my old notes so I’ll just throw in some quickly googled links:

    https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2019Sci…363.1022W/abstract
    https://journals.openedition.org/afriques/2125
    https://asm.org/Articles/2022/January/Genomic-Sequencing-of-Ancient-DNA-Illuminates-Plag

    (The last one is quite interesting and contains the throwaway remark “including amoeba that may harbor the bacteria during the quiescent periods between outbreaks”!)

    Oh, and the Justinian Plague might have been spread directly or indirectly (through the peoples they displaced) by the Huns.

  233. tamo says:

    From 14th century BC on, earlier than any other civilization, ancient china kept the records of solar and lunar eclipses.

    Also in the 14th century BC, China discovered sunspot. In the 4th century BC, China produced star catalogues that were about 2 centuries earlier and much more extensive than one produced by the Greek astronomer, Hipparchus (about 134 BC).
    Chinese already used the equatorial (essentially modern) coordinates in making these star catalogues

    Also in the 13th century BC, Chinese astronomers already invented a 365.25 day calendar.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  234. @Peter Lund

    A lot of opinions about Europe in the Middle Ages were based on regional rivalries. Italy was well ahead of Northern Europe until the second millennium AD. But then the Northerners developed impressively — e.g., Gothic cathedrals, a pointy style innate to the North. By 1386, even in Milan they began building their new cathedral in the pointy Gothic style, although the Italians have never been too happy about it.

    The Florentines decided in 1294 to build a new Cathedral with a dome, the first in Western Europe in roughly 1000 years. The Romans were the masters of domes, as in the 2nd Century Pantheon. But how to build domes had been forgotten in the West. The Florentines intended to build a dome, but they didn’t yet know how to do it. In 1418 Brunelleschi was selected to build the dome, which he completed in 1436. He probably also invented perspective drawing, or reinvented it (the Romans might have had it), which would have been a big help in getting his dome built.

    Brunelleschi appears to be the key man in launching the Renaissance. But keep in mind that the idea of the Renaissance was a sort of Italian conspiracy against the rapidly rising culture of the North. Italian Renaissance partisans lambasted the era of rising Northern dominance of European culture as the Dark Ages when the wisdom of Rome had been forgotten.

    In turn, the Southern Renaissance led to the Northern reaction of the Reformation over the immense expense of that ultimate project of the Italian Renaissance, St. Peter’s.

    My view is that all these guys were, in my view, pretty awesome.

    We know who Brunelleschi was because the Florentines had a sort of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cult of artistic celebrityhood — Donatello! Leonardo! Michelangelo! — that has made history much more interesting.

    Presumably, the first architects of Gothic cathedrals were geniuses of the same order, although we have only a vague idea of who they were. We know the first fully Gothic church, St. Denis near Paris, was sponsored by Abbot Suger in the 1130s, but history is vague on whether Suger was the designer or patron, probably the latter. For instance, with Notre Dame cathedral, we don’t know who the first three or four chief architects were, and then have the names (but not much else), of the next chief architects.

    A huge influence on our view of European cultural history was Vasari’s 1550 book “Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects.” Vasari was a Florentine, so Florentine artists reign supreme in his first edition. Interestingly, Venice was the center of Italian book printing and had a spectacular artistic heritage, but a Florentine wrote the most fun book about painters and sculptors, so a Florence-centric interpretation of art history has reigned supreme for the last 470 years.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lives_of_the_Most_Excellent_Painters,_Sculptors,_and_Architectsxt chief architects.

  235. tamo says:

    America is the granddaddy of industrial espionage and counterfeiting. When America was a developing country in the 19th and early 20th centuries, An America that lacked both creativity and originality, was the biggest thieving- copycat in the world. Consequently, the U.S. became the counterfeit capital of the world.

    America copied other countries’ inventions, ideas without regard to patents, copyright, trademarks. Even the U.S. Treasury Department in the 19th century even set up a bounty system for rewarding anybody for stealing and bringing foreign technologies to America.

    As a matter of fact, the 19th century American textile industry was basically based on stolen British technologies.

    Also Americans were infamous for illegally copying Charles Dickens’ novels or manufacturing inferior hats in New York and then slapping made-in Paris labels on them and had a very bad reputation for making unsafe and gross food products (For example, American meat packers used extremely harmful TB -infected pork to make sausages).

    You can find all this information and more by reading Aug 26, 2007 Boston Globe article named A NATION OF OUTLAWS A CENTURY AGO, THAT WASN’T CHINA—– IT WAS US and also a Dec 5, 2012 Foreign Policy article titled WE WERE PIRATES, TOO.

    Every developed country went through copying stage before it became innovative. Germans copied from British. Americans stole and copied from Europe (Even in the early 20th century, American car makers were busy reverse-engineering more advanced European cars) and Japan stole and copied from both Europe and America.

    Also before the Industrial Revolution the technologically backward Europeans directly or indirectly copied a lot of things from China and Islamic civilization.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
  236. @tamo

    We know that the Crab Nebula supernova appeared in the daytime sky on July 4, 1054 AD, because that’s what the Chinese Imperial Astronomer wrote down, and he wouldn’t be wrong.

    • Replies: @Peter Lund
  237. tamo says:

    When it came to warships in the 16th thru 18th centuries European warships were superior to Chinese warships. But in the early 17th century. Chinese technicians built Dutch- style large and large warships with heavy powerful guns.

    After seeing the Chinese made Dutch-style ships, Dutch sailors were very impressed and said the Chinese-made ships were large and beautiful and equipped with large cannons and some of these Chinese- made ships had even more large powerful cannons than their own Dutch warships (on page 204 of Tonio Andrade’s The Gunpowder Age).

    So China had the technology to build warships as powerful as Europe. But they decided not to manufacture European- style large warships because it was very expensive to make them.

    After the cessation of Zheng He’s voyages, China stopped the high-sea voyages and concentrated on coastal defense so that China didn’t need expensive European -style large and heavy ships,

    But if China really wanted to build large European -style large ships with heavy powerfuk guns, China had no technological problems building them.

    The smaller and lightly-armed Chinese warships in large numbers had NO problem defeating large and heavily- armed Portuguese warships in 1521 and 1522.

    Also during China’s conflicts with Dutch from the 1620s thru 1670s, Chinese warships and land forces had NO problem defeating Dutch naval and land forces. Also Qing army didn’t have any problems defeating Russian troops in the border conflicts in the 17th century.

    But in the 16 thru 18 centuries, Chinese COMMERCIAL ships were far better made than European ones. For example, Chinese ships had leeboards from around the 8th century but Europe did not have them until the 16th century.

    Also Chinese ships had very sophisticated FENESTRATE or BALANCEDED rudder which European ships didn’t deploy until the 19th century.

    Since 2nd century, Chinese ships had very important watertight compartments to prevent ships from sinking but European ships only started deploying them NOT until the LATE 18th century.

    Chinese ships had batten sails that were far superior to European square sails.
    According to the British NAUTICAL expert, H, Warrington Smyth ( 1867-1943), the Chinese batten sails and ships were the best in the world

  238. tamo says:

    The trouble with Euro-centric people is that they claim their own independent inventions when they are confronted with either direct evidence or overwhelming circumstantial evidence that non-European countries had invented certain things before Europe did. Good example is the invention of the movable type.

    The typical Eurocentric BS is that Gutenberg invented metal movable type independently, even though about 300 years before Gutenberg, China invented metal movable type after inventing porcelain, wood movable type in the 11th century.

    According to Henri-Jean Martin, a leading authority on the history of the book in Europe, and an expert on the history of writing and printing, who was a leader in efforts to promote libraries in France, and the history of libraries and printing,

    the Gutenberg’s metal movable type was EXTREMELY SIMILAR TO THE KOREAN METAL MOVABLE TYPE THAT HAD INVENTED IN 1403 about 50 YEARS BEFORE Gutenberg developed one in Europe. Also the Korean metal movable type in turn was modeled after MUCH OLDER CHINESE movable type.

    The Eurocentric people say that Chinese seldom used the movable type after inventing it, is PURE nonsense. Chinese used metal movable type very frequently to print many books,
    For example, the Qing government sponsored bronze- movable type printing, as they crafted 250,000 bronze characters earlier in 1725 to print the Gujin Tushu Jicheng ( Complete Collection of Illustrations and Writings from the Earliest to Current Times). The encyclopedia encompassed 5020 volumes in length, contained 100 million words in 80000 pages and 66 copies of the encyclopedia were made.

    According to the Jesuits in China, the Chinese printing press was better than and had a lot of advantages over European one. Also China was ahead of Europe in color printing in the 17th and 18th centuries. Only in the 19th century, European press became faster.

    • Replies: @Peter Lund
  239. @tamo

    According to the Jesuits in China, the Chinese printing press was better than and had a lot of advantages over European one.

    Did they now? I don’t think they did and I don’t think you understand the first thing about European printing or Chinese “printing” (rubbing). I think you are copying lists cribbed together by other people who don’t understand printing/”printing”, either.

    The weird thing is that some of the stuff you “write” (copy) is Sinocentric and some of it is Islamocentric. That doesn’t make sense unless you are a Hui.

    Also China was ahead of Europe in color printing in the 17th and 18th centuries.

    Nope. Simply not true. Scroll back to my explanation of European printing versus Chinese “printing” (rubbing). European printing can easily create very sharp edges and Chinese rubbing can’t. You can’t make good multi-colour prints without sharp edges and good registration. Europe could do that, China couldn’t.

    (Also take a look at the pictures of Gutenberg bibles — some of them were printed with both black and red inks. Notice how precise the prints are.)

    • Disagree: tamo
    • Replies: @Wielgus
  240. Daniel H says:
    @Jack D

    Hey Daniel H, that means that all the Joos that you hate are actually your cousins – ain’t that a kick in the pants?

    Wooha. Jack. Who’s talking Jew hate. Calm down. Where are you getting this Jew hate from. Sensitive , sensitive, aren’t we. You are projecting Jack, some Jews are tooooooooo involved with blood purity. Calm down.

    There is no doubt that some Jews have a chip on their shoulder with the Slavs, I don’t understand it. Jews absolutely thrived under Slavic hegemony. Thrived. To a world changing degree, became a world power. This development didn’t happen in the Levant. It didn’t happen in Sephardia (sic). It didn’t happen in the Rhineland. It happened in Slav-land. Why? Who knows, it is a phenomenon worthy of investigation.

    Tell me Jack, would you rather come from a strain of, say, Yemeni Jews. Inbred and retarded, with a mean IQ of about 85? Or pushy, macho/guido/gangster Arabic Jews from Iraq? C’mon , the Slavic development experience has had an immense enlightening and civilizational effect on the Jews. One can say that Slavs are, and have been, the greatest lovers of the Jews. Literally, LOVERS, as Joe Biden might say. Just think and look around, how many Jews have a Slavic bearing and phenotype? C’mon. Relax.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  241. Art Deco says:
    @Yahya

    Philip Daeleader has said that Europe was bedeviled by a demographic implosion which began in the 3d century and lasted until the 7th century. He said the modal opinion of his guild today is that the standard of living reached its nadir around 650 AD. He also notes that the archaeological evidence tentatively indicates that serfdom was a social innovation that appeared in Ile de France right around that time, and replace slavery in increments.

    I think ‘with the collapse of the Roman Empire’ applies to Britain, where you had a pit in the 5th and 6th century followed by an upward trajectory with only temporary hitches. Not sure Hispania or north Africa ever suffered a Dark Age per se. In Italy, there was a moderate prosperity up until Justinian’s botched attempt to reconquer it ca. 545 AD (There was also a catastrophic plague around that time). Gaul / Frankland had ups and downs, sinking in late antiquity, sinking under the Merovingians, improving dramatically under the early Carolingians, sinking again under the later Carolingians, with pits in the 7th and 10th centuries. I think what’s called the ‘Byzantine Dark Age’ was in the 8th or 9th c.

  242. @Steve Sailer

    Chinese astronomy was weird. It was state sponsored observation of the night sky for superstitious purposes so it continued almost uninterrupted by war, famine, unrest, changing dynasties, etc.

    On the other hand, the instruments were imprecise and clumsy (some of them basically amounted to huge buildings) and they obviously understood nothing of what they saw.

    Their records are basically only useful if you want to know about ancient novas and comets — if you want real science, then the Greeks were ahead 2200 years ago and basically stayed ahead ever after.

    (Yes, the Greeks didn’t have to start from scratch — they got a lot from the Babylonians and the Egyptians. Hipparchos’ discovery of the precession of the equinoxes relies not only his own observations but on perhaps a century or three of even older observations. Some of them are due to specific, named Greek astronomers but there might also have been some Babylonian/Egyptian observations among his sources. The Chinese did eventually also discover it — about half a millennium after Hipparchos.)

    • Replies: @tamo
    , @tamo
  243. @tamo

    Here I want to mention Chinese invention of the mechanical clock.
    The mechanical clock which was NOT a water clock but was driven by water power. was first invented in China in the 8th century with the invention of the most critical part of the mechanical clock, the ESCAPEMENT MECHANISM.

    You obviously don’t know what an escapement is.

    The liquid escapements used (rather late) in Chinese water clocks and (very early) in Greek water clocks have nothing in common with the mechanical escapements later developed in Europe.

    How did those liquid escapements work? There were several types, all of them basically variants on the hollow bamboo stick so common in Japanese gardens — it gradually fills with water until its center of gravity moves outside of its support surface, then it tips over and empties itself, and flips back to its original position. This could be combined with floats (made of pumice, for example) or a corking/uncorking mechanism.

    The whole point was to release lots of water quickly in order to turn smoothly flowing water into pulses of water. Those pulses could 1) make a sound or 2) propel a display mechanism.

    This was known to the Greeks in the 3rd century BC — and was used for clocks even then. Lots of mechanisms in this family were later described by Vitruvius. It would not surprise me if some of them were Egyptian or Babylonian and thus even older but we have (yet) no evidence for that.

    The thing is, liquid escapements are not very precise — and they don’t really help make a clock more precise than just using a standard water clock + controlled even outflow of water (which can be done by having more than one water vessel in a series — also described by Vitruvius).

    The mechanical escapement is different, because it actually made clocks more precise.

    The above is also why I find appeals to the authority of Needham laughable.

    • Disagree: tamo
    • Replies: @Jack D
  244. Art Deco says:
    @tamo

    Thanks for the multiparagraph complex of assertions. I’m sure we’re all educated by it.

    Per the Maddison Project, the most affluent countries in the world, with the ratio of their per capita product to Britain’s as a benchmark noted.

    1732:

    Netherlands: 1.33x
    Italian states: 1.1x
    Britain: x
    Cape Colony: 0.9x
    Portugal: 0.78x
    France: 0.65x
    Sweden: 0.65x
    Mexico: 0.51x
    Peru: 0.37x
    Poland: 0.36x

    (Spain not reported)

    1776:

    Netherlands: 1.33x
    Britain: x
    Italian states: 0.87x
    Cape Colony: 0.75x
    Portugal: 0.65x
    France: 0.58x
    Sweden: 0.53x
    Mexico: 0.49x
    Peru: 0.43x
    Poland: 0.34x

    1820:

    Britain: x
    Netherlands: 0.91x
    United States: 0.81x
    Italian states: 0.81x
    Belgium: 0.71
    Denmark: 0.61
    Uruguay: 0.6
    Hapsburg lands: 0.59
    France: 0.55
    Portugal: 0.50
    Spain: 0.48
    La Plata: 0.48
    German states: 0.48
    British North America: 0.48
    Sweden: 0.43

    1867:

    Britain: x
    Australia: 0.91x
    United States: 0.88x
    Netherlands: 0.76
    Belgium: 0.73
    Denmark: 0.54
    France: 0.53
    German states: 0.52
    Switzerland: 0.51
    Italy: 0.48
    Greece: 0.37
    Norway: 0.37
    Sweden: 0.36
    Spain: 0.36
    Chile: 0.31

    1913:

    United States: 1.23x
    Australia: x
    Britain: x
    New Zealand: x
    Switzerland: x
    Canada: 0.86x
    Belgium: 0.82x
    Netherlands: 0.79x
    Denmark: 0.76x
    Argentina: 0.74
    Germany: 0.71
    France: 0.68
    German Hapsburg lands: 0.67
    Uruguay: 0.59
    Chile: 0.59
    Sweden: 0.56
    Norway: 0.54
    Ireland: 0.53
    Italy: 0.49
    Finland: 0.41
    Hungarian Hapsburg lands: 0.41
    Czech and Slovak Hapsburg lands: 0.41
    Spain: 0.37

    What’s your thesis? We only steal from the Dutch and the British? Or someone else’s technology in our hands produces more output than it does in their hands?

  245. Jack D says:
    @Daniel H

    Considering that the Jews were in the East for almost 1,000 years, there was remarkably little mixing. Yemeni Jews look just like other Yemenites but generally speaking (not 100% of the time, but quite often) you could tell a Jew from a Pole at a glance. For one thing, Slavs tend to be rather large and Jews on the short side. I have a memory of a Polish man from my mother’s village who used to visit us on the farm and the man looked like a giant standing next to my 5’5″ father.

    Yes there were friendships between Poles and Jews, even occasionally romances but not often – the social barriers were too high, like blacks marrying whites in the Jim Crow South. To the extent that any Jew crossed the line, he or she would end up in the Christian community, shunned by the Jews. So Jews remained unmixed for the same reason that white people in the South are unmixed. It would be interesting to see how many Jewish genes there are in the Polish population, but the fact that the Jews were a small minority (they experienced a population explosion in the 18th and 19th century but before that were quite small in number) must limit the amount.

    Generally speaking what you had was a sort of punctuated equilibrium. Decades, even centuries would go by and everything was great, but then there would be a war or an uprising or something and there would be pogroms. It’s not unlike what is going on in Ukraine now (except that the Jews are mostly gone). People lived peacefully in some of these Ukrainian towns for the last 75 years and then the war comes and civilians are murdered and their property is destroyed.

    • Replies: @Johann Ricke
  246. Jack D says:
    @Peter Lund

    The thing that makes mechanical clocks accurate is not the escapement but the pendulum – Galileo discovered that a pendulum swing of a given length always takes (about) the same amount of time regardless of amplitude.

    They had mechanical clocks with escapements before they had pendulums but they were not very accurate until the Dutch genius Huygens added Galileo’s pendulum to them in the 17th century. Very few of these early clocks survive because they were mostly retrofitted with pendulums or spring balance wheels later to make them more accurate. (Huygens also invented the spring balance but so did Hooke , independently and it now appears that Hooke might have been a little earlier). A spring balance (the swinging wheel seen inside every mechanical watch) has the same attribute as a pendulum in that each swing takes the same amount of time because springs also have a natural frequency or rate of oscillation dependent on (among other things) length.

    • Replies: @Peter Lund
  247. BSDN says:
    @Jack D

    Putin broke that bargain and sure enough lots of white people have been dying, including plenty of Putin’s own people (although in the case of Putin’s army, lots of Asiatic Buryats, etc. also).

    No mention of NATO missiles or US biolabs?
    Or W. Ukraine pounding E. Ukraine?
    Hmmm.
    I know. OT.
    cheers

    • Replies: @Jack D
  248. Anonymous[210] • Disclaimer says:

    The West is called ‘the West’ because Europe is west of Jerusalem, which to Medieval Christians was the center of the world. With the discovery of the Americas the term was extended to apply to Europe plus its transatlantic diaspora.

  249. BSDN says:

    Interesting discussion.
    But no mention of religion or the alphabet.
    The first in re. to a cyclical or linear view of history leading respectively to stagnation or innovation.
    For the West, that was largely Christianity.

    Two, 24 alphabetic characters representing sounds as opposed to a couple of thousand ideograms or pictures necessary to a basic vocabulary and a very large bank of movable type or unwieldy typewriter.

  250. Wielgus says:
    @Colin Wright

    Roman Polanski also looks like a Polish Gentile, which he posed as during the war, while a child.
    Judging from photos, Vladek Spiegelman, the protagonist of Maus, looked a bit like Netanyahu and he successfully passed as a Polish Gentile or even a German. He was worried about his wife Anja who physically approximated more nearly to the Jewish stereotype.

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  251. @Jack D

    Yes, but the escapement feed energy into the pendulum (or spring) in a way that doesn’t disturb it much (while releasing some pent up energy to move hands etc). You can’t do much with a pendulum on its own (except prove the rotation of the earth)… and a weight on a rope isn’t very precise without an escapement, either.

    Liquid escapements can release some energy (to move hands or activate mechanisms) but not really in a precise way.

    The mechanical escapements that the Chinese/Muslim “scholar” claims were derived from Chinese liquid escapements were of the earlier type without pendulums… and initially without springs. They used a foliot, a horizontal beam with weights that can rotate in the horizontal plane and is pushed back and forth by the escapement. The foliot on its own doesn’t keep time in the way a pendulum or a balance spring does — because it doesn’t oscillate on its own. It needs the verge escapement to oscillate.

    (Yes, I know how clocks work, I swear! Yes, I know I worded it badly. I know. I watched Gerald Sussman’s lecture on mechanical watches several times over the years. Sigh.)

    • Replies: @epebble
  252. @TheJester

    Jews with the last name of “Kagan”

    I believe it’s just a specific Slavic variant of Cohen/Cohn/Kahane/etc. The letter Г/г is pronounced like a ‘g’ or an ‘h’ depending on the language/dialect.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohen#Cohen_(and_its_variations)_as_a_surname

    (I apologize for the bad grammar in my response to Jack D — I edited the comment too much without editing it enough.)

    • Replies: @Jack D
  253. Ian M. says:
    @Peter Lund

    Indian art (and philosophy) was deeply influenced by the Greeks after Alexander the Great.

    Is there actual evidence for this? I don’t know about the art connection; however, as far as philosophy goes, this has been speculated on a lot, but I didn’t think there was much in the way of concrete evidence for it (also, I thought that any suspected influence was usually thought to go in the other direction, i.e., from India to Greece, e.g., Pyrrho picking up Buddhist skeptical influences during his travels to India with Alexander the Great; possible Indian influence on Plotinus).

    But it is interesting that both civilizations shared a conception of the same four basic material elements. In contrast, the Chinese – if I recall correctly – had five basic elements (two of which were wood and metal).

    • Replies: @Peter Lund
  254. epebble says:
    @Peter Lund

    Talking of Chinese technological prowess, Elon Musk is very impressed by them and compares them very favorably to American workers.

    https://nypost.com/2022/05/11/elon-musk-praises-chinese-workers-says-americans-trying-to-avoid-work/

    • Replies: @Peter Lund
    , @Wielgus
  255. vinteuil says:
    @Corvinus

    Per usual, you’re not offering the full story.

    So I guess you don’t agree that various African Chieftains were pretty enthusiastic about adorning their palaces with the skulls & bones of of their victims?

  256. Jack D says:
    @Peter Lund

    Russian lacks an “h” sound and substitutes a “g” so Cahan gets pronounced “Kagan”. Ukrainian is vice versa so the Russian Chernigov is now the Ukrainian Chernihiv.

    C/G/ Г (called Ge or He, depending) are all related to the 3rd letter in the Greek alphabet, gamma and has different sounds depending on the language and context . C and G were once the same letter in the early Roman alphabet but C without a cross got assigned the k sound and with a cross it got the g sound and got moved after F to replace a letter which was not used in Latin.

  257. Jack D says:
    @BSDN

    No mention of NATO missiles or US biolabs?
    Or W. Ukraine pounding E. Ukraine?

    No, because they are all bullshit. Aside from not existing, these 3 are what, 3 out of the 7 or 9 (mutually exclusive) excuses that Putinists have used for the invasion (oh, sorry, special military operation). You forgot to mention Nazis – that’s this week’s excuse. Biolabs are so last week. The Russians are there to kill all the Jewish Nazis like Hitler and Zelensky.

    I know. OT.

    Muggles was the one who mentioned Ukraine, not me.

  258. @Jack D

    Decades, even centuries would go by and everything was great, but then there would be a war or an uprising or something and there would be pogroms. It’s not unlike what is going on in Ukraine now (except that the Jews are mostly gone). People lived peacefully in some of these Ukrainian towns for the last 75 years and then the war comes and civilians are murdered and their property is destroyed.

    Prior to the unusual, historically-speaking, Nazi preoccupation with pedigree, I expect the usual thing was to kill the men, take the women and perhaps adopt the small children. So it’s more than a little likely that a non-trivial % of Poles where pogroms occurred has Ashkenazi genes. Traditionally-speaking, the focus tended to be on tribe rather than bloodlines – a wife, even if forcibly taken, who gave you sons was obviously one of your tribe. Similarly, small children who were brought up in your traditions and/or faith became part of your tribe.

  259. @epebble

    Of course he does. So would you, if your factory workers were afraid of poverty and were the kind of people who would have a (merit-based) office job in the West. China is still very early in its industrialization (about half the country are poor farmers, many others are poor migrant workers who would be lucky to get a factory job) and many bright people have to work in factories due to lack of credentials (China loves credentials). Even if the average IQs were the same in East Asia and the West (they aren’t), you would have a higher IQ among factory workers in China than in the US.

    Factory workers in the US are from a completely different demographic…

    • Replies: @epebble
    , @tamo
  260. @Ian M.

    Very strong for the. art, less strong for the philosophy.

    As for influence in the other direction, the Stoics and Cynics on the Western side do seem to be thinking along similar lines as the more cerebral Buddhists (I don’t think the Indian specimen mentioned upthreads was one of those — who was more of a verbose type than a thinking type). I think that convergence happened a good bit later than Big Alex — we know that there were a few Buddhist missionaries in the Eastern Mediterranean, perhaps there were more than the ones we know of.

  261. Anonymous[249] • Disclaimer says:
    @tamo

    SCIENCE AND CIVILIZATION IN CHINA by Joseph Needham which was picked as one of the 100 best English language non-fictions of the 20th century by Random House.

    Needham’s opus (much helped by his second wife and other collaborators) should be treated with caution. Its real utility is as a useful index and jump list to identify primary materials in Chinese as a basis for further analysis.

    It is undoubtedly true that ancient China produced astounding advances in many areas of technology, but much hard research work remains to be done.

    Classical Chinese tended to be written in a highly elliptic and thus ambiguous style. In the case of well-known texts such as Confucius or Sun-Tzu, educated readers throughout the ages absorbed the traditional consensus reading of key passages based on secondary and tertiary annotations. Of course, those traditional annotations could be reflect intervening errors.

    For the kinds of technical and arcane documents relied on by Needham and his collaborators, there is often NO tradition of annotations etc. to resolve ambiguities. Thus, the precise meaning of many technical terms used e.g. in 1000 AD can now only be guessed from the context – often, there will be no ongoing tradition of technical writing, so the precise nature e.g. of a component of an early clock or mousetrap can only be guessed at based on sparse hints in ancient writings.

    Other challenges include copying errors, replacement of taboo characters (e.g. characters appearing in the name of the current emperor) etc. All these further complicate the interpretation of ancient technical descriptions.

    Lastly, Needham personally barely pretended to much concern about objectivity. Giving China overdue credit for technical contributions was his shtick, and he can perhaps be forgiven for excessive enthusiasm.

  262. @Anonymous

    The Chinese often seemed to lose track of things they once knew.

    Europeans lost a lot of knowledge as barbarians overran the Roman Empire, but once the printing press was up and running, that didn’t happen. And even before then too

  263. @Anonymous

    #249, I read a book by Simon Winchester called The Man Who Loved China* about 10 years ago. This is a book about Mr. Needham’s life and work in China – 1930s into the ’40s.

    The gist of it is that, partly because he had a Chinese grad student mistress (his wife supposedly was OK with it all) Brit Joseph Needham was excited about learning all about the place. He spent many years researching Chinese inventions, most that I would called “alleged”, all around China. He wrote a 17 volume set of books on his work! Mr. Needham was a flat-out Communist, politically, and even met Mao Zedong, after he had taken over.

    Here’s what author Winchester, and I’m assuming (because I haven’t read the 17 books) Mr. Needham never seemed to get:

    It’s easy to say the Chinese invented airplanes (yep, that was one of them) because someone had drawn a diagram or written about the idea. It’s quite another thing to be the Wright Brothers and work on the idea in an engineering fashion for years. Why didn’t the Chinese have men like that? Simple, the political system, over their 3,500 year Han history had no incentives for someone to try to make money and gain fame by working hard on an idea, like a Thomas Edison. There was no point. Someone else could take the credit and fame, and someone else could take the money.

    You’d think, after a whole book by Needham admirer, and 17 volumes by Needham himself. SOMEONE could have seen this very obvious explanation of why most Chinese alleged “inventions” never got anywhere. Nope, Commies are gonna Commie, I guess …

    .

    Subtitle is: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom.

    • Replies: @Ian M.
  264. Bhakt says:
    @PiltdownMan

    It wasn’t just Tamerlane.
    The islamic invasions between the 11th and 13th century wiped India off the map in terms of scientific and technological progress.
    India until then was a heavy lifter across many fields – philosophy, astronomy, maths / Algebra (the “Arabic” numerals were Indian), medicine, architecture…..

    And it’s an interesting (and painful) case study regarding the question raised in this article.
    It was partly, as pointed out, destruction of the intellectual elite in the cities, and their replacement by people who believed all truth resides in one book.
    The most stark impact was on the several massive universities that India had, well before Oxford or Cambridge had even existed.

    All burnt down to the ground, in cold blood, in an act of intellectual and cultural sabotage without parallel.

  265. Bhakt says:
    @Steve Sailer

    One underrated strength of European culture was reliance on written history rather than oral.

  266. @Paul Mendez

    Please provide the names of some current world leaders you do find admirable

    I don’t admire any of them. That’s the advantage of the West and a market economy – we can afford to have venal leaders. I have never understood the willingness of so many on the right to sign up so enthusiastically for leadership cults. I even prefer to have a doddering old man run the country rather than a loud narcissist desperate for my attention. Good leaders should be unobtrusive. Eisenhower was maybe the last of that model.

  267. @Anonymous

    Classical Chinese tended to be written in a highly elliptic and thus ambiguous style.

    I found a bilingual edition of Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian (“Shiji”) on Amazon and browsed through the public pages. The English translation was clear but extremely sparse — and the Chinese characters seemed so few and general that I could scarcely believe they matched the English. I mean, given the “solution” I could work backwards and work out that that character could be intended to mean this and that one could be intended to mean that, but…

    Of course, Old Chinese was different from modern Mandarin, but still… it seemed more like short riddles, one after another, than like a real text. It was nothing like the experience of working my way through (short!) classical Latin texts… those seemed like completely normal real texts with no missing parts and no guesswork.

    I wonder how much of that style was due to the limitations of using bamboo slats for writing.

  268. @tamo

    You are making your case for East Asian creativity in the least creative way possible– by citing and cherry-picking from Anglophone sources.

    And doing so in the English language on an American’s blog using technology invented by Europeans.

    If you actually can read and write in Chinese, you would know there are no serious Chinese thinkers who doesn’t acknowledge that there isn’t a creativity gap.

    • Replies: @tamo
  269. Ian M. says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    Speaking of Simon Winchester, his 2018 book The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World is a pretty enjoyable and (popular-level) informative read about the history of precision engineering.

    • Thanks: Achmed E. Newman
  270. @Steve Sailer

    Mozi ( c. 470 – c. 391 BC) was contemporaneous with Confucius and Plato and the most scientifically minded of the Hundred Schools. Large corpus of what’s known about him was long lost and later reconstructed.

    The Yongle Encyclopedia (15 CE), the largest encyclopedia until 2007, is also lost. Possibly due to foreign invaders and/or some extremely nihilist emperors and rebels.

    This isn’t a unique Chinese problem but the Chinese published as prolificly as anyone else.

    The Mongols couldn’t hang on to Poland

    Some centuries later, the Poles were again bulwark to another invasion led by a Mongol — Lenin, at Warsaw. This I think is key to the question of the Great Divergence, NW Europeans and Japanese are the two Ice Peoples* insulated from foreign invasions, a feature rather than bug of Eurasia.

    * This qualifier since Vietnamese and some other Sun Peoples have also been insulated from conquest.

    • Replies: @Wielgus
  271. Malla says:
    @Almost Missouri

    India, I’m told, came up with the zero.

    There is a theory that Indians were inspired by some mathematical concepts which came from China via South East Asia for their zero.

  272. epebble says:
    @Peter Lund

    Factory workers in the US are from a completely different demographic…

    I think you are saying what Elon Musk is saying with different words. What is worrying is the new belief that Americans ‘trying to avoid’ work. Historically, Americans were thought well of for their work ethic. That an intelligent and successful man thinks poorly of American workers is sad, because, for a long time, many people consoled themselves that businesses are off shoring due to lower labor cost. But, this new revelation that businesses may be going abroad because American workers are not good (or good enough, compared to others) shines a whole different light on the problem.

  273. tamo says:
    @Peter Lund

    You said “European ships could tolerate harsher weather than Chinese ships. That allowed them to sail far from land (across oceans) whereas the Chinese ships had to stick close to land. This is because the native waters around China aren’t as harsh as those around Western Europe.”

    This statement shows you really are an ignorant person knowing nothing about ship-making technology in ancient and medieval times so that they can operate any weather conditions

    Zheng He once sailed from Ache Sumatra Indonesia to Mogadishu Somalia about 4000 miles in a HIGH SEA voyage WITHOUT hugging coast lines

    T he British naval historian Herbert Warington Smyth considered the Chinese junk ship as one of the most efficient ship designs, stating that “As an engine for carrying man and his commerce upon the high and stormy seas as well as on the vast inland waterways, it is doubtful if any class of vessel… is more suited or better adapted to its purpose than the Chinese junk, and it is certain that for flatness of sail and handiness, the Chinese rig is unsurpassed”.
    How do yow know the Chinese native waters are not as harsh as those around Western Europe?
    Prove it to me.

    China was far ahead of Europe in shipbuilding technologies,
    Chinese ships had very sophisticated FENESTRATE or BALANCEDED rudder which European ships didn’t deploy until the 19th century.

    Since 2nd century, Chinese ships had very important watertight compartments to prevent ships from sinking but European ships only started deploying them NOT until the LATE 18th century and Chinese batten sail was superior to western square sails.

    When it comes to discussing about paper, the most important thing is that paper was invented by China and without it, Europeans would have been stuck with cumbersome papyrus or sheep skin a lot longer.
    So without Chinese inventing paper first, there would have been no good quality paper or bad quality paper, period.

    The same principle applies to printing. The most important thing about printing is it’s invention itself. Without Chinese inventing printing first, there would have been no discussion about the quality of printing, period.

  274. tamo says:
    @Peter Lund

    Hey buddy, I not only consulted Needham’s SCC but also The List of Chinese Inventions in Wikipedia that quotes from hundreds of Asian, American, European scholars.

    It’s very obvious China invented a lot of things before the Industrial Revolution.

    • Replies: @Peter Lund
  275. tamo says:
    @Peter Lund

    I think you have a reading comprehension problem. In discussing the development history of cannon in China, I quoted not only Needham but also Tonio Andrade who is an expert on cannon development in China.
    He stated that even though China invented the cannon in the 13th century, Europeans started making better cannons by the late 15th century overtake China in cannon technology and this Europeancannon superiority lasted until around 1522

    But in 1523. Chinese cannon-makers not only adopted European cannon- making technology but also innovated on their own thus coming up with excellent cannons. So from 1523 to the 1750s Chinese made cannons that were just as good as or even better than European ones through China’s own innovations and incorporating European cannon technology into it[s own.

    • Agree: Corvinus
    • Replies: @Peter Lund
  276. Corvinus says:
    @Colin Wright

    “Of course, not being white, the Chinese had no agency.”

    Chinese middlemen weee complicit. But the primary factor was for the British to break the back of Chinese trade, who had a surplus of silver.

    On the other hand, who would you blame for the impact of Mexican heroin on the United States”

    The drug cartels. Duh.

  277. tamo says:
    @Peter Lund

    The Chinese cosmological view of infinite universe with celestial bodies at rare intervals floating in it is far more advanced than the Greek view of of a stationary earth surrounded by circulating planets pinned to SOLID CELESTIAL SPHERES.

    Also Chinese astronomers came up with star catalogues in the 4th century BC that was about 2 centuries earlier and one third bigger than the ones produced by Hipparchus.
    The Chinese star catalogues already used the equatorial (essentially modern) coordinates in making these star catalogues

    From 14th century BC on, earlier and longer than any other civilization, ancient China kept the records of solar and lunar eclipses.
    Also in the 14th century BC, China discovered the sunspot for the first time in the world.

    Chinese astronomers unlike Greek ones, accomplished all this without borrowing from another civilizations.

  278. tamo says:
    @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    As usual, you are talking a lot of B.S. here. You just show up like a bad penny,lol. China has always has been one of the top creative nations in the world from the ancient times with the exception of the 19th and 20th centuries. China is becoming one of the most innovative nations AGAIN in the 21th century

    According to the well-respected Global Innovation Index in 2021, China ranks 12th ahead of Japan that is in the 13th place.

    Also South Korea ranks 5th. Singapore 8th. China is ahead of such “liberal democratic” countries as Austria, Australia, Canada, Norway, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Belgium, etc. Also Germany and France are just ahead of China 10th and 11th places respectively.

    China is ONLY developing country that ranks within 30th place. Oh, by the way, ” democratic” India ranks only 46th.

    In 2012 PISA CREATIVE PROBLEM test which is different from the regular PISA test in which the East Asian students regularly outperform American and European students, the East Asian students proved also their more creative than their Western counterparts.

    Also let’s talk about your favorite subject, the Nobel Prizes in Science.

    According to to THE POLITICS OF EXCELLENCE : Behind The Nobel Prize In Science, written by Robert Marc Freidman who researched for about 20 years for the book,

    the author reveals that the Nobel Prize in SCIENCE is NEITHER above the politics NOR the personal agendas or prejudices of the Nobel Prize Nominating Committee members

    As the result of this kind of unprofessional behavior by the committee members, very often NOT the
    best physicists or chemists get the Nobel Prize in SCIENCE.

    Anyway, Nobel Prizes are lagging indicator rewarding scientists for what they accomplished 20 or 30 years ago.

    According to our Anatoly Karlin, the better indicator for present and future scientific strength is the Nature Index

    The biggest contributing group to the Nature Index seems to be ethnic Chinese when you add the research papers written by Chinese scientists under the flag of America.

    The main reason China received no Nobel Prizes in sciences except just one Nobel Prize in medicine a few years ago, is that in the past, China being a relatively poor and developing country, concentrated it’s meager financial resources in applied science to make reasonably adequate export goods to bring in money to develop the country as quickly as possible instead of spending precious little money it had on pure basic research that might give you bragging rights by winning Nobel prizes but it does little in advancing practical technologies that is a result of applied science research.

    Now China has got richer it has started spending a lot more money in basic research, There is a good chance of China getting many Nobel Prizes in science in the next 10-20 years PROVIDED the Nobel Prize Nominating Committee shapes up and gets more professional without prejudice.

    For your information. Japan did the same thing what China has been doing. In the 20th century, Japan didn’t get many Nobel Prizes in sciences because it concentrated in applied science rather than in basic research. . But starting in about the 1980s, Japan began spending heavily on basic research.

    That’s the reason why Japan gets more than it’s share of Nobel Prizes in science in the 21st century. I have the suspicion that if Japan were a white European country that doesn’t have to face possible anti-Asian attitudes by some members of the nominating committee, it could have gotten more Nobel Prizes in science,

  279. @Wielgus

    ‘Roman Polanski also looks like a Polish Gentile, which he posed as during the war, while a child.
    Judging from photos, Vladek Spiegelman, the protagonist of Maus, looked a bit like Netanyahu and he successfully passed as a Polish Gentile or even a German. He was worried about his wife Anja who physically approximated more nearly to the Jewish stereotype.’

    Ditto for Abe Foxman, the guy who made the ADL what it is today. He was sheltered by his Christian nanny from 1941 to 1944, and in at least his Wikipedia photo, he looks distinctly Polish.

    What always interested me about ol’ Abe, though, is that his nanny raised him as a Roman Catholic from age one to four — and then he goes on to become Super Jew.

    It’s my belief that what’s imprinted on us from one to four tends to stick pretty good. For example, my parents were pretty much orthodox left — and deep down inside, I still think we should line up the rich and shoot them. Not that I consciously advocate it — but the belief is there. Kids believe what they’re told.

    So anyway, I’ve always been amused by the concept that all through his tenure at the ADL, Foxman was in denial. For all the Jewish advocacy, deep down inside ol’ Abe is a little Catholic boy trying to get out.

    Come on, Abe. You know you really want to go in and kneel and cross yourself every time you pass a Catholic church…admit it.

    Or better still, don’t admit it. We understand.

  280. tamo says:
    @Peter Lund

    So you don’t believe China was ahead of Europe in medicine. I disagree with you. I’ll list some of Chinese accomplishments in medicine.

    Circadian rhythms in the human body was known in China in the 2nd BC and in America in the 20th century.

    The science of endocdcunlogy was known in China in the 2nd century BC and in Europe in the 20th century.

    Treating various deficiency diseases by using balanced diet was known in China in the 3rd century AD and in the West in the 20th century.

    Discovering diabetes by urine analysis and treating the disease was known in China in the 7th century and in Europe in the 17th century.

    Use of thyroid hormone was known in China in the the 7th century and in Europe in the 19th century.

    Now A REALLY BIG medical innovation: IMMUNOLOGY- INOCULATION ( SMALLPOX VACCINATION) was first introduced in the 10th century in China and in Europe in the 18th century.

    • Thanks: Corvinus
    • Replies: @Art Deco
  281. Corvinus says:
    @Steve Sailer

    “The Chinese often seemed to lose track of things they once knew.”

    Not quite.

    https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/09/eac.html

    The weakening of the Ming dynasty in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries paves the way for the Manchu takeover of China in the mid-seventeenth. As the Qing dynasty, the Manchus rule China, large parts of Central Asia, and other neighboring regions until the late nineteenth century. China is one of the wealthier and more populous nations in the world during this period, largely due to efficient production and trade in tea and luxury goods such as silk and porcelain.

    The arts flourish despite a tendency toward conservative thought. Porcelains are produced in record numbers for export and use at home. New palettes such as the well-known famille verte and famille rose are added to an already impressive repertory of shapes and glazes. Orthodox painters preserve and reinterpret earlier traditions, while “Individualist” masters develop new sensibilities with regard to themes and techniques. The widespread export of Chinese goods has a profound effect on the visual arts of much of Europe, influencing architecture, textiles, and ceramics, and creating a taste for new materials such as lacquer.

    “Europeans lost a lot of knowledge as barbarians overran the Roman Empire, but once the printing press was up and running, that didn’t happen. And even before then too.”

    You can thank Muslims for preserving Greek and Roman culture.

    https://aeon.co/ideas/arabic-translators-did-far-more-than-just-preserve-greek-philosophy

    This was thanks to a well-funded translation movement that unfolded during the Abbasid caliphate, beginning in the second half of the eighth century. Sponsored at the highest levels, even by the caliph and his family, this movement sought to import Greek philosophy and science into Islamic culture. Their empire had the resources to do so, not just financially but also culturally. From late antiquity to the rise of Islam, Greek had survived as a language of intellectual activity among Christians, especially in Syria. So when Muslim aristocrats decided to have Greek science and philosophy translated into Arabic, it was to Christians that they turned. Sometimes, a Greek work might even be translated first into Syriac, and only then into Arabic. It was an immense challenge. Greek is not a semitic language, so they were moving from one language group to another: more like translating Finnish into English than Latin into English. And there was, at first, no established terminology for expressing philosophical ideas in Arabic.

  282. tamo says:
    @Peter Lund

    In these days, young Chinese unlike their parents, don’t want to work at factories. Smart young Chinese want either open their own business or get an office job.

    So you can say only the ones who can not get an office job end up at factories. I don’t think the IQ of Chinese factory workers higher than that of American factory workers but I think they have better work ethic than American counterparts.

    • Replies: @Peter Lund
  283. Wielgus says:
    @epebble

    There is a vogue for claiming foreigners are better. After the launch of Sputnik, Westerners wondered whether Soviet education methods were better, and it was sometimes conservative types saying that – they noted that in the USSR and related systems people were actually supposed to study and learn in school and university, and there was none of the academic experimentation going on in the West at the time.
    Then later the Japanese were supposed to be a role model for Western businesses.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  284. Wielgus says:
    @Peter Lund

    For several decades, Bibles and suchlike were completed by “rubrication”, someone writing in by hand letters, often in red ink, at the start of biblical chapters. It was a holdover from manuscript culture but eventually the practice died out.

  285. Wielgus says:
    @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    Exaggerating Poland’s influence. Such claims were made in the 1920s, but disappeared when Poland succumbed in WW2 and then was in the Soviet sphere of influence for decades. Even Norman Davies, a historian known for his pro-Polish judgments, examined it in White Eagle Red Star, a book about the Polish-Soviet war, but eventually dismissed the idea, at least in the edition of the book I read in the 1970s. The idea has been revived more recently but Poland as Guardian of Western Civilisation is as distorted as the idea that, for example, Polish-Americans are innately stupid.

  286. @tamo

    We both know that credentials (fake or real) matter a lot in China. That means there are still plenty of intelligent young Chinese who end up in factories.

    We also both know that China has changed rapidly recently so there are plenty of people in their 30’s who never got the chances that their younger relatives do — so they also ended up in factories despite being intelligent.

    We also both know that a factory job is a big step up for rural farming families.

    We also both know that factories have their pick of workers.

    That clearly means — ceteris paribus — that Chinese factory workers are brighter… at least for now. That’ll probably last about a decade or two — and then suddenly the Chinese will wonder why they are no longer as good at manufacturing as they used to be.

    • Replies: @tamo
  287. @tamo

    And you did that while talking crap about European casting technology — which makes me wonder if you know anything about European bell casting.

    You clearly understand nothing of all the stuff you copy and paste from lists made by others — who also probably didn’t understand any of it. You argue exactly in the style of young earth creationists from a bygone century — or in the style of reasonably learned and civilized Muslims from the current one.

    • Replies: @tamo
  288. @tamo

    Hey buddy, I not only consulted Needham’s SCC but also The List of Chinese Inventions in Wikipedia that quotes from hundreds of Asian, American, European scholars.

    Hey “bro”, I’d be more impressed if you demonstrated any knowledge about the stuff you copy pasted.

    Trusting Needham is extremely strong evidence that you don’t know the first thing about the history of Chinese technology.

    I also noticed you didn’t write anything about glass — how come? Or ceilings, for that matter. Ceilings are more interesting than most people think!

    You don’t even know the (rather funny) story of how and why Europeans improved Chinese “gunpowder” so much that it became real gunpowder (that actually worked). It was basically due to the usual utter Chinese disregard for the safety of its workers — mixing the powder was dangerous. The Europeans figured out that it was much safer to wet it slightly with water (or an oil) first. This incidentally also turned out to make the powder much better!

    It’s very obvious China invented a lot of things before the Industrial Revolution.

    Of course they did. So did many, many others. Including Romans, Greeks, Etruscans, Egyptians, and a long list of successive Mesopotamians.

    • Replies: @tamo
  289. Art Deco says:
    @tamo

    The Maddison Project has produced some estimates of per capita product for the Medieval period. In their estimation, the standard of living in Britain, France, the Netherlands, Italy, and Sweden had surpassed that in China by 1400 ad and that Britain was only a shade behind China in 1000 ad. They assess China and India as having about the same standard of living in 1600, behind a number of European countries.

    • Agree: Peter Lund
    • Replies: @tamo
    , @tamo
  290. tamo says:
    @Peter Lund

    Of course, some intelligent young Chinese work at factories but more intelligent ones open their own business or work at the office.

    These days, young Chinese in rural areas are a lot better educated than their parents so that they just don’t want to work at factories.

    It means a lot of factories have a hard time to fill their vacancies. I don’t think Chinese factory workers are brighter than American ones but they have better work etic,

    You said “then suddenly the Chinese will wonder why they are no longer as good at manufacturing as they used to be.”

    I don’t think that’s going to happen to China. Unlike America, China puts a heavy emphasis on manufacturing. China has been heavily investing in AI and robotics so that it can less depend on human workers at factories in the future.

  291. tamo says:
    @Peter Lund

    You are full of BS. You just don’t know much about China. I bet you didn’t even know China invented cast iron in the 5th century but Europe couldn’t make cast iron until the 15th century. The time lag is about 2000 years !!!

    It sounds like you don’t even read much about China so that you can not even copy and paste. lol !!
    All you are doing is just winging it because you have nothing between your ears. lol !!!!

  292. tamo says:
    @Peter Lund

    Hey little man, I would be very impressed if you prove to me you have read any books dealing with the inventions and discoveries by the pre-modern China.

    Needham’s SCC is an ongoing project. The Needham Research Institute was established to update SCC by many scholars
    For example, Colin A. Ronan wrote The Shorter Science and Civilization and updated Needham’s SCC volumes 2,3,5,

    Also Nathan Sivin wrote and edited a shorter version of Needham’s SCC volume 6

    Robert Temple wrote The Genius of China based on Needham’s SCC that is a very short edited version of Needham’s SCC.

    In spite of some criticisms. Needham’s SCC remains the most important masterpiece on technology and science in premodern China. Still a lot of scholars quote profusely Needham’s SCC.

    You think Europeans were only ones to improve on gunpowder?
    China had been improving the quality of gunpowder long before Europe did.

    Chinese technicians experimented by changing ratios of saltpeter, surfer, charcoal, and other stuffs to come up with more powerful gunpowder. As a matter of fact, in the 14th century China invented exploding cannon shell to replace the unexploding cannon balls. On the other hand, Europe couldn’t make exploding cannon shells until the 16th century.

    • Replies: @Peter Lund
  293. tamo says:
    @Art Deco

    According to Nuno Palma, lecturer (Assistant Professor), Department of Economics, University of Manchester,research Fellow, ICS, Universidade de Lisboa, research Affiliate, Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), London whose fields are economic history, economic growth and development, macroeconomics and monetary economics, political economy,

    the Angus Maddison’s GDP data is BASICALLY a lot of BS. I’m going to quote what he said about Maddison’s GDP figures on 27th May 2019.

    “Despite the importance that Maddison’s GDP and population figures had in stimulating our thinking about economic history and development, it is fair to say that his pre-1820 figures were LESS than SOLID.”.

    “I often get emails asking me about Maddison’s figures because I have worked a lot on historical national accounts reconstructions and I was for 2 years faculty in the University of Groningen, where Maddison worked, and this is a justifiably renowned place for this type of work”

    ”Maddison’s figures are simply MADE UP”. The best way to think about Maddison’s estimates, especially for the period BEFORE 1820, is: when estimates DID NOT EXIST (and they USUALLY DID NOT), HE WOULD MAKE STRONG ASSUMPTIONS”.

    “If you are an economist working on long-run growth YOU NEED TO BE WARY OF THESE ASSUMPTIONS”.

    ” For China, real income per capita was stuck at exactly \$600 “international” 1990 GK dollars between 1300 and 1850, according to Maddison in his late “Chinese Economic Performance in the Long Run” book (p. 157)”.

    “Does this show that China was Malthusian? NO, because Maddison effectively ASSUMED China was Malthusian (meaning that population tends to increase faster, at a geometrical ratio, than the means of subsistence, which increases at an arithmetical ratio, and that this will result in an inadequate supply of the goods supporting life unless war, famine, or disease reduces the population or the increase of population is checked), and this is why he chose these numbers”.

    “I once saw an economist present at a conference and looking frankly ridiculous by claiming he had found that China was Malthusian for most of its history by using Maddison’s numbers and by the way, we now know that Maddison was NOT QUITE RIGHT”.

    “Part of the problem is that Maddison often presents Tables in a way that makes it DIFFICULT to trace the original sources (this, I dare say, often made scholars un-aware that those were NOT HIS ACTUAL ESTIMATES BUT THOSE OF OTHERS)”.

    As for GDP per capita, in Volume 1, p. 249 he writes:

    “I ASSUMED a growth rate of Spanish GDP per capita of 0.25 per cent a year from 1500-1600, no advance in the seventeenth century, and some mild progress from 1700 to 1820. I adopted a similar profile for Portugal”.

    “That’s it. He SIMPLY ASSUMED the numbers — vaguely citing only the following as inspiration, though not using it directly and citing with the following caveats (notice his own choice of words): “Yun’s (1994) rough per capita GDP estimates for Castile (about three-quarters of Spain) … his indicators for secondary and tertiary activity are WEAK“.

    ” So, Maddison’s Portugal GDP per capita numbers are hence SIMPLY ASSUMED to behave similarly to those of Spain, which are SIMPLY ASSUMED BY HIMSELF”.

    I only quoted Maddison once because Maddison had quoted Needham saying that China’s Han Dynasty was richer than the Roman Empire

    In a nutshell, Maddison’s GDP numbers before 1820 are PURE GARBAGE.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
  294. @Wielgus

    Polish-Americans are innately stupid
    You are just trolling. The Enigma was broken by Poles.

    My general point isn’t about Poland, but that Communist Bloc largely overlapped with that of Mongol Empire. At same time frame of German November Revolution and Polish-Soviet War, the Bolsheviks were expanding into to Mongolia/Manchuria and threatening to overrun China.

    Eventually China was overran by Communists, if they turned out to be somewhat “radish Communists” (red outside and white inside).

    Like NW Europe, Japan was somewhat insulated, but would had to intervene on the East Asian continent to prevent a repeat of the Mongol Invasions (13 CE), and later surrendered to the Americans for protection.

    • Replies: @Wielgus
  295. Wielgus says:
    @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    You obviously have never encountered the phenomenon of the “Polish joke”. A cultural trope of the United States, which I certainly noted personally in the 1970s.

  296. When it comes to discussing about paper, the most important thing is that paper was invented by China and without it, Europeans would have been stuck with cumbersome papyrus or sheep skin a lot longer.

    Papyrus was not cumbersome — and it was cheaper than paper because it was easier to make.

    The same principle applies to printing. The most important thing about printing is it’s invention itself. Without Chinese inventing printing first, there would have been no discussion about the quality of printing, period.

    We would definitely still be discussing the quality of printing, had Chinese rubbing not been invented.

    One thing that I still don’t understand about paper making — European and Chinese — is why they didn’t use some sort of finely woven cloth in their paper moulds, instead of a metal wire mesh (Europe) or bamboo or wooden slats with tiny gaps between them. Did it break too often? Did it rot? Was it too expensive? Did the paper come out with the wrong shape (slightly “rounded” instead of flat)?

    • Replies: @tamo
  297. @tamo

    Chinese technicians experimented by changing ratios of saltpeter, surfer [sic], charcoal, and other stuffs to come up with more powerful gunpowder.

    I know they did — as did the Europeans, of course. The main problem the Chinese had was their chemistry was pretty bad so they weren’t good at removing impurities. That’s why it mattered so much to them what their source of charcoal was, for example. They tried lots of different kinds of wood and bushes and lots of different treatments of them. The early European gunpowder recipes show the same kind of experimentation with different sources of charcoal etc.

    One funny difference is that the Chinese used saltpeter in mineral form — because eating crushed minerals (or drinking them in slurry form) was an integral part of the Chinese medicine you praise so much. Early medicinal manuals even warn the reader that crushing these minerals may cause them to suddenly burst into flames or explode!

    (And yet, it took centuries for the Chinese to go from these manuals to using “gunpowder” in weapons.)

    Gunpowder is called 火药 — “fire medicine” — because of this medicinal mineral use.

    The Europeans didn’t have that particularly stupid habit so they were not aware of where to find large-scale mineral deposits for their gunpowder. They had to figure out how to create it by other means. One of them was to let rotten carcasses lie for years in special walled “vats” and then after some time, the saltpeter could be scraped from the bricks. Yes, really.

    However, I don’t think you understand that the improvement I was referring to had nothing to do with chemistry.

    What you want for your ideal gunpowder is for it to develop lots of hot, high-pressure gas really fast — and you preferably want all of it to do that at the same time.

    The European wet mixing process meant that the gunpowder ended up as little grains when it dried, and the flame front could move rapidly from grain to grain and then work its way inwards in the grains with the result that the explosion happened more or less instantly in the entire gunpowder portion.

    I find it very damning that the Chinese didn’t figure that out and that the Europeans had to do it for them. I mean, if we are talking about how smart the Chinese are and how dumb the copying, non-inventive Europeans are.

    As for Needham: I’m pretty sure that you have never read him. You have just copied a list where other people quote him as an authority. I have read him here and there in spots, to see what he wrote about technology I knew something about — and I was sorely disappointed. I try not to fall into the Gell-Mann Amnesia trap, so when Needham turned out to be an idiot about every single thing I knew how to check, I decided that he must have been a prolific idiot about everything — but that he was useful for describing an “upper bound” and as an index of sources, exactly as Anon above writes.

    • Replies: @tamo
  298. Corvinus says:
    @Anonymous

    It’s how those items were procured. That’s the difference. Seems to me like you have no issue with ruthlessly lopping off heads and displaying them in a case. Perhaps you an admirer of Jeffrey Dahmer?

    • Replies: @vinteuil
  299. vinteuil says:

    Seems to me like you have no issue with ruthlessly lopping off heads and displaying them in a case.

    Sigh.

    Enough,

  300. Art Deco says:
    @tamo

    In a nutshell, Maddison’s GDP numbers before 1820 are PURE GARBAGE.

    Maddison died some years ago. The Project is maintained and extended by others. If he wants to go head to head with them about their methods he can do so.

    • Replies: @tamo
    , @Peter Lund
  301. Anonymous[284] • Disclaimer says:
    @Wielgus

    Western teachers really don’t like “rote learning”. They’ve been fighting a long war against the idea that the purpose of education is just to get kids to memorize lots of ‘facts’. (This is also the root of the phonics controversy.)

    Problem is, that’s exactly what you need to do when starting study of a subject. Memorize, memorize, memorize. Only once you’ve memorized the basics can you start doing more interesting things. However Western teachers want to skip the first step and jump straight to the second. An advantage that Chinese and other education systems have is that they still emphasize learning the basics in a way that Western systems don’t.

    • Agree: tamo
    • Replies: @tamo
    , @Wielgus
  302. tamo says:
    @Peter Lund

    China experimented a lot to come up with powerful gunpowder using not only saltpeter, charcoal, sulphur, arsenic, lead salt, dried plant materials, oils, resin pitch, lime etc

    Mixing them together according to proper ratios and combinations then ground them finely by placing under a water-wheel driven trip hammer.

    The explosive power of the gunpowder was good enough to break cast-iron bombs into fragments and also could destroy fortifications and city gates. China could make powerful gunpowder due to their excellent chemical knowledge gained from practicing alchemy for many thousands of years.

    You think Chinese drinking gunpowder is bad. How about medieval European blood-letting ?

    For some reason, in the Middle Ages, excess blood in particular was often seen as the cause of multiple ailments so doctors either placed leaches on your arm or just cut a vein.

    Also they used urine as an antiseptic and my favorite is hot ironing hemorrhoids, LOL !!!
    I’m truly impressed with the European medical practices.

    I have read Needham’s SCC vols 1, 4,5 and shortened and updated SCC vol 2,3 by Colin A. Ronan and edited version of vol 6 by Nathan Sivin. and also read The Genius of China that is another shortened and updated version of SCC by Robert Temple.

    • Replies: @Peter Lund
  303. tamo says:
    @Art Deco

    All I want is his followers to rectify Maddison’s shortcomings and come up with better methods. Nobody is perfect.

  304. tamo says:
    @Peter Lund

    I think Chinese method of inking type with inked roller first and set paper firmly over the inked type and sweep the back of paper with un-inked roller then it’s done, printed. It’s a very simple and fast but efficient’

    On the other hand, the 18th century European screw printing press based on old Roman press is very time-consuming to operate because heavy platen at the end of the long screw has to move down by turning a handle or a bar to press the inked paper and then the screw has to come back up for the next printing.

    It means you waste too much time just moving the platen-attached screw up and down by turning a wheel or a bar on the side

    Compared to the Chinese operation, this is very time-consuming process. While the simple Chinese method can print 10 papers, the European press would be lucky to press 1 paper.

    Granted the European press looks very impressive compared to the simple Chinese one, but very inefficient.

    The Jesuits in China were right, the simple Chinese printing system was much more efficient

    By the way, you don’t have to press the back of the inked paper so tightly with platen to print the paper well.

    I also read about paper making in the 18th century Britain before the Industrial Revolution and China in the Ming dynasty in about the 17th century

    Although paper-making materials were different, the paper making processes in the two places seem to be roughly the same but resulting paper quality seems to be different.

    The Chinese paper was very white and evenly pressed but the British paper was very yellow and rough looking.

    For the British paper making, just google “Adventures in Eighteenth Century Paper-Making.”, Pay special attention to the finished sheet of paper at the almost end of the article.

    • Replies: @Peter Lund
  305. tamo says:
    @Anonymous

    I’m going to quote a New York Times article on 23 Oct. 2017, titled Will Next Steve Jobs Come From China ?

    “For all its faults, the Chinese system provides some benefits that critics tend to dismiss. It imparts an early foundation of knowledge that can prepare a child for lifelong success. Cognitive scientists say that real learning doesn’t happen unless knowledge is imprinted on long-term memory. Once children lock away key information, they can free up the active memory for thinking deeply — and for being creative”.

  306. @tamo

    I have seen videos of people operating a replica of a very early printing press (which might have been slightly more advanced than Gutenberg’s — or rather, his most advanced version because he surely didn’t come up with all of it in one go). If operated by 2-3 people, it is actually astonishingly fast. Remember that the screw doesn’t have to be turned more than a quarter to a half rotation. Even if there is a speed advantage to the Chinese system (which I doubt), it is nowhere as big as you state.

    And don’t forget the advantages in precision — and the much better ink(s).

    And about those rollers… do you think they had suitable rollers 500 years ago? They couldn’t have made them out of (hard) rubber or elastomers.

    • Replies: @tamo
  307. @tamo

    Urine is actually, well, not sterilizing but relatively sterile (if you discard the first few milliliters and avoid contamination at the exit, i.e. from the foreskin for males). Therefore it actually makes sense to wash wounds in it. It’s an established part of emergency medicine in the wild, even today.

    As for the piles, cauterization works. I almost got cauterized in my nostrils because I kept having spontaneous nosebleeds as a teenager.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cauterization

    I absolutely agree that blood letting was stupid. Practically all medical practices world wide were stupid. We only improved thanks to proper science and (relatively) cheap books. Look up Vesalius when you can find the time…

    (Breaking cast iron is not that hard, especially if it is thin-walled, is carbon rich, and is hardened too much. It says very little about the strength of the explosives. And the Romans had trip hammers, too.)

    • Replies: @tamo
    , @Wielgus
  308. @Art Deco

    If he wants to go head to head with them about their methods he can do so.

    To which we can add:

    Which doesn’t contradict the numbers quoted earlier. In fact, Palma seems to be largely in agreement with Maddison regarding English/British numbers before 1820.

  309. tamo says:
    @Peter Lund

    I’m glad we agree on something.Chinese gunpowder must have been very powerful because Chinese cannon shells were able to destroy fortifications that usually had about 30 feet thick wall, made of extremely hard rammed earth with brick facing. I knew Romans had the trip hammer.

  310. tamo says:
    @Peter Lund

    China has a long history of producing ink going back to the Neolithic times. But they found out the soot from burning resin from pine tree mixed with animal glue and spring water made the best printing ink..

    Specially Ming and and Qing dynasties produced excellent movable type- printed books or color printing by wood blocks.

    The ink roller could have been made with a lot of things, wood or lacquer which is a natural plastic, etc.
    After that all you have to is to cover it with padding.

    • Replies: @Peter Lund
  311. tamo says:
    @Art Deco

    Palmer also said “Nothing I say here means to disparage Angus Maddison. He was a pioneer in these things. He did stimulate many of us to continue these lines of inquiry, and do a better job. He was great.”

    Then Palma basically accuses Maddison for MAKING UP MANY GDP NUMBERS.

    Palma also plainly said ”In short, for this and many other cases, Maddison’s figures are simply MADE UP”‘

    What Palmer did was after giving false praises to Maddison, he cut him down. That’s Palmer’s style.

    So you shouldn’t take Palmer’s fake praises of Maddison seriously.

    According to the List of regions by past GDP (PPP) per capita article in Wikipedia, “Maddison’s assumptions have been criticized by academics and journalists. Bryan Haig has characterized Maddison’s figures for 19th century Australia as “INACCURATE and IRREVERENT”,

    John Caldwell’s assessed Maddison’s arguments as having a “DANGEROUS CIRCULARITY “,(and W. W. Rostow said “this excessive macroeconomic bias also causes him (Maddison) to mis-date, in my view, the beginning of what he calls the capitalist era at 1820 rather than, say, the mid-1780s.”

    A number of economic historians have criticized Maddison’s estimates for Asia. For example, W. J. MacPherson has described Maddison’s work on India and Pakistan of using “DUBIOUS COMPARATIVE data.”

    Paul Bairoch who was one of the best economic historians of the 20th century, criticized Maddison’s work for underestimating the per-capita incomes of non-European regions, particularly in Asia, before the 19th century; according to Bairoch, per-capita income in Asia (especially China and India) was higher than in Europe prior to the 19th century.

    Others such as Andre Gunder Frank, Robert A. Denemark, Kenneth Pomeranz and Amiya Kumar Bagchi have criticized Maddison for grossly underestimating per-capita income and GDP growth rates in Asia (again, mainly China and India) for the three centuries up to 1820, and for refusing to take into account contemporary research demonstrating significantly higher per-capita income and growth rates in Asia.

    According to Frank and Denemark, his(Maddison’s) per-capita income figures for Asia up to 1820 are not credible, go “against what we know from sources” and may need to be adjusted by a factor of two.

  312. @tamo

    Specially Ming and and Qing dynasties produced excellent movable type- printed books or color printing by wood blocks.

    Then why haven’t I seen an excellent one? The “print” quality was lousy in all the ones I’ve seen and the poor ink played a part in that. I generally love the look of their wood cuts but their “printing” quality is rubbish.

    (Chinese book inks were water based — Gutenberg’s were oil-based and a new invention. European black inks did not necessarily use carbon as their pigment. Some used a chemical reaction between iron and tannins from oak galls — iron gall ink.)

    • Replies: @tamo
  313. Wielgus says:
    @Anonymous

    Some countries where rote learning is emphasized do well, but others don’t. Rote learning is favoured in Turkey but the education system is not much to shout about.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  314. Wielgus says:
    @Peter Lund

    I read somewhere that George Washington was severely bled by his doctors and this probably contributed to his death.

  315. tamo says:
    @Peter Lund

    Are you going to be belligerent again? I thought we passed that stage and be civil to each other.
    During Ming dynasty, all the inventions of previous dynasties such as woodblock carving, wood movable type, metal movable type, whole metal plates, and techniques of multi color printing were improved upon.

    Also a lot of advances made in printing technologies in Qing dynasty, specially in movable type technologies and multi-color printing. Bronze or ceramic, wood movable type attained to very high standards in quality. Also woodblock color printing became ever more popular and its quality kept improving.

    Google Ming and Qing dynasty printing and just look at the Qing dynasty color printing;
    Any fair minded person would consider them excellent.

  316. vinteuil says:
    @Corvinus

    Corvinus:

    you have no issue with ruthlessly lopping off heads and displaying them in a case.

    I unequivocally condemn anybody who ruthlessly lops off a head and then displays it in a case.

  317. Anonymous[347] • Disclaimer says:
    @Wielgus

    You can’t get away from rote learning. And it doesn’t necessarily end in high school either. Doctor and lawyer are both professions which are infamous for the large amount of information that needs to be memorized by students.

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