The Bible as Ethnography ~ 04 ~ Agricultural Transitions

In Genesis 4, we see specific reference to herdsmen and farmers as distinct groups, represented by Abel and Cain, respectively. God indicates a preference for the results of herding over planting, and the sibling troubles that ensue result in the world becoming a difficult place to farm, and humans becoming more nomadic, as herders. This is interesting, because it seems like a dramatic shift from reference to irrigation agriculture to herding. Given the usual role of origin stories, we may be seeing a layering of blame in this case. If this is the origin story of cattle keeping nomadic pastoral people, one has to explain the distinction from farming, and if possible, develop a disdain for the practice of farming, typical at least in Africa of herding cultures. Continue reading

Ancient Jade Exchange in Southeast Asia

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed ResearchHot off the presses from PNAS, we have a paper on ancient jade exchange in Southeast Asia. From the abstract:

We have used electron probe microanalysis to examine Southeast Asian nephrite (jade) artifacts, many archeologically excavated, dating from 3000 B.C. through the first millennium A.D. The research has revealed the existence of one of the most extensive sea-based trade networks of a single geological material in the prehistoric world. Green nephrite from a source in eastern Taiwan was used to make two very specific forms of ear pendant that were distributed, between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D., through the Philippines, East Malaysia, southern Vietnam, and peninsular Thailand, forming a 3,000-km-diameter halo around the southern and eastern coastlines of the South China Sea. Other Taiwan nephrite artifacts, especially beads and bracelets, were distributed earlier during Neolithic times throughout Taiwan and from Taiwan into the Philippines.

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Is religion a form of child abuse? Part II

PZ Myers at Pharyngula examines this question in an entirely different case. This is the case of 14 year old Jehovah Witness Dennis Linberg. Dennis died on Wednesday night at a Seattle area hospital because he refused to accept a life saving transfusion on religious grounds.This is, indeed, a parent’s worse nightmare. Your child finds religion, in this case from some crazy religious aunt, and that religion leads the child to his death.[ADDED: Go see this commentary by Orac] Continue reading

Don’t be a Closed Source Moron

Morons are so annoying. Even the ones that are just passing by, the ones you don’t really have to talk to.These days I often have lunch in a public dining area where most of the patrons are scientists or geeks, or students learning to become scientists or geeks. The other day two geeky scientist guys were walking by my table talking to each other too loudly for me to ignore. So one guy, he says: “You know we can solve this problem. I have a lot of faith in our Open Source solutions.” (hmm, cool, I thought). The other guy responded: Continue reading

Wikipedia: Bad for ID, DI

The blog Afarensis brings us an amusing yet at the same time disturbing discussion of the Discovery Institute’s Casey Luskin concerns about the reliability of Wikipedia as a source of information for students.

This is hysterically funny because of the fact that Casey Luskin and all the others at the Discover Institute are a pack of bald faced liars.

Or is it simply the case that the Discovery Institute does not fare well on Wikipedia.

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