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Isolated Tribes Die Shortly After We Meet Them 351

Daniel_Stuckey writes: "It's a story we all know — Christopher Columbus discovers America, his European buddies follow him, they meet the indigenous people living there, they indigenous people die from smallpox and guns and other unknown diseases, and the Europeans get gold, land, and so on. It's still happening today in Brazil, where 238 indigenous tribes have been contacted in the last several decades, and where between 23 and 70 uncontacted tribes are still living. A just-published report that takes a look at what happens after the modern world comes into contact with indigenous peoples isn't pretty: Of those contacted, three quarters went extinct. Those that survived saw mortality rates up over 80 percent. This is grim stuff."
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Isolated Tribes Die Shortly After We Meet Them

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  • by MikeTheGreat ( 34142 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:25AM (#46701845)
    C'mon people - aren't we nerds? Clearly we need an OR here, not an AND!
  • So? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:25AM (#46701847)

    Why do people think it's best to leave others living in the stone age?

  • by RightwingNutjob ( 1302813 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:31AM (#46701905)
    The metaphorical White Man has a heavy burden here. Reach out to the savages, and there are adverse consequences, suffering, death, and loss of traditions going back millennia. Stay away, and people who should be your fellow human beings are cut off from the fruits of civilization, and are treated like livestock whose habitat must be delineated and (un)managed to keep their numbers healthy so that more children can be born into a life where their greatest aspiration can be to live just like their grandfathers going back tens of thousands of years.
  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:34AM (#46701923)
    People complain when you put the wildlife ear tags on the natives.
  • Inherent bias (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JazzHarper ( 745403 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:42AM (#46701941) Journal

    We have considerably less data on the isolated tribes that die out before we meet them.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:50AM (#46701981) Journal

    So if someone walks up and shoots you in the head, that's fine because it's evolution?

    Evolutionary biology is science, not morality.

  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:56AM (#46702003) Homepage

    Why do people think it's best to leave others living in the stone age?

    Alive in the stone age or dead but part of the neoplastic mess that is Homo Industrialis?

    You decide.

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @01:32AM (#46702131)
    A first contact situation with a pilot landing in the New Guinea highlands showed that "Gods" or not, it was not an important enough situation to miss out on lunch :)
    In that situation a lot of people turned up to look and then went home after a while. Unlike fiction they recognised the pilot as a person that just happened to have a lot of really cool stuff.
    People are people wherever they are even if fiction likes to paint some as more superstitious than a Californian crystal healing fanatic or with less reasoning ability as a meth head.
  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @01:57AM (#46702235)

    One man spends a few hours a day supplying for all his worldly needs, and the rest in the pursuit of art, spiitual development, and other pleasures.
    The other spends half his waking day slaving away for somebody else's goals, in order to earn money he doesn't need in order to buy things he doesn't want so he can impress people he doesn't care about.

    Which is the wiser man?

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @02:07AM (#46702265)

    That makes sense, except why haven't we been visited by the drunken alien frat boys out for a joy ride?

    Wait a minute... Random graffiti in corn fields. Mutilated cows. Probe-rich abductions. Suddenly it all makes sense!

  • Re:Reality Check (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @02:15AM (#46702295)

    That would presume compatible biology. It's just as likely their pathogens take one bite of our incompatible amino acids and go belly up. And that's assuming they're even amino acid based at all.

  • Re:Other animals (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RoknrolZombie ( 2504888 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @02:28AM (#46702331) Homepage

    Explain how tribes can survive after thousands of years without disease?

    I'm pretty sure the OP intended to say "new diseases". Obviously they have their own diseases - and their own immunities...they just aren't the same as the rest of the worlds'.

    Native Americans used herbs and other plants to heal themselves, and yet today /.ers deny any chance that alternative medicine works.

    Yes, because when it's proven to work it's called "medicine".

    And what does this say about Europe who used religion as a heal/execute all. comment? People were largely uneducated back then? I'm not sure what the excuse is in this day and age though...

    Natives Americans were fairly populated, just divided into several tribes. Without any major population wiping disease.

    This is a random link - I'm sure you can find more with a quick search: []

    The only reason that the Europeans had a chance was because the Native American population was already decimated. Not saying that it's "ok" or anything like that, but thems the facts.

    I'm not saying that having a large population wouldn't cause such disease, add that fact they lived with there livestock, any disease could jump from human into animal and mutate, or vice verse, and the vaccine for small pox came about because of [essentially] milk maids who didn't get the disease, due to their interaction with the heifers. Their lack of proper hygiene, not deposing of their feces in a proper manner. Contaminating their drinking water with their own feces, animal feces, ect....

    Hail dumb luck? Really? What are you getting at? That science is "bad"? By all means - segregate yourself from the scientific community...I don't think you'll be missed.

  • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Johann Lau ( 1040920 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @02:50AM (#46702407) Homepage Journal

    It's all pretty much relative, and ultimately stone age and transcendent energy beings with civilizations spanning the whole universe are exactly the same before the heat death of the universe. Can you tell me the fundamental difference between a bacterium, a dog, a human, or the entirety of human civilization? It's all just a bunch of life, and any hierarchy of value you could propose you made up yourself, self-righteously so.

    And actually, it's not like we are much more than toy people from a toy culture -- we can't even make lighters that can be refilled more than a few times because we're too greedy, and right now we have new devices and software on us pushed constantly just to keep us buying, with hardly any meaningful progress and plenty of regression. We're ones to talk, really. It's Dunning-Kruger all the way down -- if we were oh so advanced, maybe cultures we came in contact with would thrive, instead of shrivel up and die?

    This bit from "Network" comes to mind:

    It's too late, Diana. There's nothing left in you that I can live with. You're one of Howard's humanoids. If I stay with you, I'll be destroyed. Like Howard Beale was destroyed. Like Laureen Hobbs was destroyed. Like everything you and the institution of television touch is destroyed. You're television incarnate, Diana: Indifferent to suffering; insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. And the daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split seconds and instant replays. You're madness, Diana. Virulent madness. And everything you touch dies with you.

  • by Johann Lau ( 1040920 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @03:38AM (#46702555) Homepage Journal

    If you can't adapt to the current world, then you die.

    Heh. There is no singular "current world" outside our tightening sphere of slavery. Also: if you adapt successfully, for a while, you die as well.

    But no, evolutionist want to have a kind, caring world, even though their very theory demands the opposite.

    What is it with kids these days awkwardly rephrasing Mein Kampf and not even being aware of it? I swear I keep seeing that.

    Evolution doesn't "demand" shit, it just is. It doesn't strive towards a certain purpose or zenith, it just wobbles around here and there because it can, because there is energy available to do so, and when it ends, it ends. Yeah, there is competition and fighting, but it's not required for evolution to happen -- all we need is diversity and random stuff happening. And it's actually kinda hard, if not impossible, to get rid of that, and furthermore evolution also laughs at the tiny timeframes you can conceive of, the differences you see.

    Where you see a straight line to some kind of goal, it sees you bouncing around local optima, and none of the what any lifeform is doing is distuingishable from anything else if you zoom far out enough. Yet if you zoom in far enough, if you are that lifeform, it always matters. If you zoom in too far, you end up believing what you think matters, matters in general, and that's where unintentional comedy begins.

    Last but surely not least: a stone age baby raised by modern parents would behave like any modern child. Most of our supposed progress is not in us, it's in the networks of objects and human relations we amassed; by ourselves, we haven't changed. And 5000 years of progress would disappear in one single generation if it simply ceased to be passed on, you know? Not so for, say, the ability of a bird to fly. Instead of thinking we're hot shit because it feels good to hear us saying that, we should know our place and think for a change, really.

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @03:49AM (#46702575) Homepage Journal

    One has a life expectancy of 30-odd years, the other of 70+. He has access to literature, art and music from all over the world. If he breaks his leg, he is transported to a hospital, gets a cast and will be well again in a short time instead of getting an infection and having a 50-50 chance of surviving.

    We have romantic thoughts about prior times mostly because we forget all the shit about them. Your average medieval market fair doesn't include the open-latrines, your village getting burnt down in one of the constant wars, the fact that women had a reasonably high chance to die when giving birth or the simple fact that most likely everyone reeked to high heavens. Or just the fact that 90% of us would be pig farmers or something.

    I know what I'd pick if given a choice. If you think different, pick a tribe, learn their language and go and live with them for a few years.

    You can totally work a few hours a day to satisfy basic needs and spend the rest doing whatever you want. Of course it will probably mean not being able to buy the latest smartphone every year or going on expensive holiday trips, or very much medical care or a car - but then, the tribesmen do without those as well, right?

  • by Waccoon ( 1186667 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @04:01AM (#46702605)

    The one that can still feed himself for a few months if he breaks a leg.

    I'm not a very materialistic person and I don't make much money, but I do very much understand the concepts of emergency buffers and retirement savings.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @04:14AM (#46702655)

    Don't bother about it.
    No one here has spent more than a couple of days in the jungle, and most likely with a weeks worth of food with them.
    You go to any shit-hole village in the jungle anywhere and most people are trying to get out, or get their kids out.
    They have fuck all to do all day and they have all kinds of stuff to worry about that we take for granted.
    They worry about getting food.
    They worry about getting sick or injured. (no hospitals out there, and gg no re if you get some kind of infection)
    They worry about getting clean drinking water.
    They worry about crop failure because they don't have several years worth of strategic maple syrup stored up.
    And they eat the same fucking shit every day.
    Every time someone starts about how we are ruining these simple folk with our modern things I get pissed off.
    Maybe let those people decide for themselves what they want.

  • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ttucker ( 2884057 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @04:53AM (#46702751)
    It is funny how only the super wealthy countries pine for a simple life.
  • by ttucker ( 2884057 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @05:01AM (#46702771)
    This is the exact type of, romanticized version of the past bullshit, that we are saying is bullshit here.
  • by StripedCow ( 776465 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @05:43AM (#46702903)

    These tribes, that have never been in contact with western civilization, could be very helpful in the USPTO.
    Being void of any reference to technology, we could use them to figure out whether patent applications are truly non-obvious inventions.

    E.g., if a tribe member can figure out "slide-to-unlock" by himself, then we can be sure that it is obvious stuff!

  • by stenvar ( 2789879 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @07:23AM (#46703221)

    Hunter/Gatherers don't really work all that hard. Their life expectancy is quite longer than 30 years.

    Under ideal conditions that is true: a stable habitat with abundant resources and low population densities. But under such conditions, populations grow and people get pushed out into more and more marginal habitats. People didn't adopt farming and civilization for fun, we adopted it because most of us got pushed into poor habitats and had to be clever in order to make a better life for ourselves.

  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Imsdal ( 930595 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @07:34AM (#46703283)
    It's more healthy to live in the stone age because why, exactly? Average life span has tripled since the stone age, and that is generally considered the best proxy for health there is.

    Also, the idea that we work more now than we did in the stone age is also completely wrong. A regular employee works ~1600 hours/year for ~40 years. That's less than 10% of their time. Stone age people certainly worked more than 10% of their lives (even though I agree that it may be a myth that they worked most of the time.)
  • by Muros ( 1167213 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @08:33AM (#46703575)

    "Either" goes with "or" and "neither" goes with "nor", though neither "or" nor "nor" need either "either" nor "neither" (respectively) in all cases, and neither do either "nor" nor "or" ever pair directly with "and" as you had them, though either "and either" or "and neither" can introduce an "or" or "nor" clause (respectively) into a larger "and" clause just fine.

    I think that might be the best sentence I've ever tried to read out loud.

  • Re:So? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @08:54AM (#46703679)

    Why do people think it's best to leave others living in the stone age?


    Because they have a severe case of white people guilt. The way to cure that is to toss themselves off a high bridge onto rocks, but oddly enough, they never do. They just want others to pay for their guilt while they continue to enjoy the benefits of the damage we supposedly did to those poor peoples.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling