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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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  • Evolution in action (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:41AM (#46701937)

    I always find it interesting when people who believe in evolution get upset when instances of it take place in real life. If you can't adapt to the current world, then you die. That's evolution in action. This is the world we live in and being shut of from it doesn't help anyone's society or the human race in general progress further. Millions of species have died out over millions of years, so why not specific groups of humans too ? But no, evolutionist want to have a kind, caring world, even though their very theory demands the opposite. For the human race to survive and grow, it must move forward and evolve in new ways. This means that the failures die off just like they have throughout the entire history of this planet and this benefits the race as a whole. And please, don't call me a troll. I'm not trolling. I'm saying exactly what evolutionists have been saying for decades, but tried to hide. This is evolution in action. So deal with it.

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:45AM (#46701955)

    Weren't they already in serious decline before being visited?

    That first graph shows a lot larger average population before year 0 (the year of contact), which slowly grows in the 20 years after contact.

    http://www.nature.com/srep/201... [nature.com]

    The original article seems to confirm this:

    http://www.nature.com/srep/201... [nature.com]

    Estimates of population sizes before sustained peaceful contact (n = 22, recorded an average of 45 years before contact, range 1–106) were on average 5.5 times larger than populations at contact ...

    So if populations were 5 times higher before any contact at all, why do they blame the contact for population declines?

  • What do they think? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by erlegreer ( 1994842 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:46AM (#46701967) Homepage

    What do uncontacted tribes think when they see our passenger jets and cargo ships? Gods?

  • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @01:39AM (#46702151)

    Various Native American tribes are engaging in self-destructive behavior. Some say it is over gambling profits.

    Disenrollment leaves Natives "culturally homeless" [cbsnews.com]

    One tribe in California will shortly have cut itself in half, down to 900 or less: I Know I Am, But What Are You? [thisamericanlife.org]

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @01:43AM (#46702175)
    I am going to go out on a limb; but maybe the solution is to figure out which diseases are typically killing all these people, then put together a tasty treat that is filled with weakened strains of this and that, and air drop them into areas where these people might be living.

    Then stage two might be to hunt them sci-fi style with drones and fire vaccine darts into their asses.

    Now I am going to go even further out on a limb; To do anything less would be a condemnation on our lack of civilization. If the people of the world have to spend a few billion saving these people then I think that then we might be able to call ourselves at least marginally civilized.

    Look at the effort being spent on finding a missing plane. We are not doing it to find the plane so much as to find out what happened so that we don't have it happen to us. Maybe we can even find a selfish reason to save these people; so let's assume that one of their medicine men knows something pretty cool.
  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @02:03AM (#46702251)

    If you contact an isolated group, knowing you are a carrier for pathogens likely to kill 80% of them, then you are absolutely taking an action as an individual against a group of individuals.

    Not that I'm opposed to allowing natural selection back into human development, but I abhor a double standard. Tell you what, I've got a friend here who's a carrier to a particularly virulent strain of Ebola. His tribe are all immune, but what say I send him to your family reunion to make contact with a foreign culture?

  • by azrael29a ( 1349629 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @03:33AM (#46702541)

    What do uncontacted tribes think when they see our passenger jets and cargo ships? Gods?

    Yup. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]

  • Don't despair. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OpenSourced ( 323149 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @04:02AM (#46702613) Journal

    There is always the possibility that one of these tribes will have a sickness that will wipe out the rest of the world. Or at least 80% of it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @04:21AM (#46702681)

    You need to read up on this.... Sure, being a peasant farmer sucked. That's because Farming Sucked. Still does.

    Hunter/Gatherers don't really work all that hard. Their life expectancy is quite longer than 30 years. They DO have grandparents around. Childbirth wasn't really that bad... and frankly, when Europeans showed up in the Americas, the Natives thought they smelled horrible... Hunter Gatherers do bathe... That whole Bathing Is Bad For Your Health thing was a European mode of thought.

    BIG difference between Hunter/Gatherer and Peasant Farmer.

    Why'd we switch if it used to be so awesome? That's a big conversation, the real reasons lost in history.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @05:29AM (#46702835)

    Well, this guy's mom came from a tribe living in Brazil, moved to NYC then went back to live with her tribe in NYC. It's an amazing story.


  • by HeadlessNotAHorseman ( 823040 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @06:29AM (#46703039) Homepage

    "Nor" is a hangover from Old English, when the language had a dual number in addition to the singular and plural we have today.

  • Re:So? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @08:00AM (#46703395)

    I have to look it up again, but I remember a study that came to the conclusion that the hunter/gatherer that our ancestor was spent about four hours per day "working", i.e. doing what's necessary to survive. The rest of his time was what we'd today consider "leisure" time. That of course instantly provokes the question why the hell we went and increased our workload by becoming farmers. It's arguably more work to tend to a field and feed animals than to just go out where the stuff grows and simply harvest what grows naturally, and likewise it's much easier, especially with our superior brain, to hunt animals rather than raise them and tend to them until they're ready for "harvest".

    Personally, I think the reason is simply security. If you have a field growing in front of your house that you can eventually harvest, and that you can store that harvest which is much, much more food than you could possibly carry around with you all the time as a nomadic lifestyle would require, that all increases the likelihood that you have food not only today but also tomorrow. Animals that you have in your enclosures and stables are far more reliable as a food source than animals that run around free and might go away when you're not looking.

    But that's not where we stopped. We wanted more security. We organized past the tribal level, again increasing our workload, to lower the chance of war and pillaging. For that, again, we created a special "caste" of people to watch over the rest, a caste that didn't do any "meaningful" work but just took the responsibility to protect the others. And all those organizers, protectors and so many other "non-productive" members of the society need to be fed, clothed and sheltered, again increasing the workload on those that produce.

    Security and organization always comes at a price. Right now, that means that our workload about tripled from when we were hunters/gatherers. In turn, we did get a quite impressive amount of security. In our "civilized" world, we eliminated many of the threats that our ancestors worried about. Hunger is virtually unheard of (if anything, we have more food than is good for us). People usually have fairly good shelter and can reasonably expect it to be his "castle", i.e. that nobody else goes there and claims it as his own. We also don't have to keep one or two people on guard every night to ensure nobody steals our stuff.

    Of course, one could now complain about all the stress this brings along. It does. Compared to the "simple" life of a few millennia ago, it sure is a lot more complicated and stressful. But also a damn lot more predictable and safe!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:11AM (#46703763)

    What exactly was heartbreaking about the tribes reaction in your first link? They held up spears in the direction of the plane, it is human nature to show fear and caution towards things we are unfamiliar with.

  • Re:So? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:41AM (#46704061) Homepage

    How about a third option: alive and part of modern society! It is not an either-or proposition. The thing to do here is figure out what is killing them, and find solutions!

  • Re:So? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @11:53AM (#46705291)

    It's called arcadia. It's this myth that's been around since ancient Rome that life would be so much simple if wealthy urbanites could simply retire to the country for vacations to recharge. The truly delusional quit their jobs and buy farms thinking their lives will then be stress free.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong