Re: Pre-contact diseases anyone???

Cameron Laird (claird@Starbase.NeoSoft.COM)
2 Aug 1995 20:54:47 -0500

In article <>,
Jeffrey L Baker <> wrote:
>On Wed, 26 Jul 1995 SHICKLEY@VM.TEMPLE.EDU wrote:
>> In article <>
>> Jeffrey L Baker <> writes:
>> >This is for a single disease, the 85-95% rate refers to the cumulative
>> >effect of a whole range of diseases. Crosby wrote his book more than
>> >25 years ago. At that time, a total of 50% mortality was not considered
>> >too low. We know better now. We also know that the behavior of diseases
> Is the 50% for a single disease or is it for multiple diseases?
>I would agree that 50% is on the high side for a single disease, but when
>you are talking about a series of diseases over a period of 100 years,
>50% is on the low side.
I'm not sure how you operationalize "the cumulative effect" over periods
of a generation and more. If I understand your arithmetic, tuberculosis
in the British Isles in the nineteenth century struck at a rate of "85-95%",
but I don't think that's the kind of result you want.

Closer to the ground, I recommend

Snow, Dean R.
1995 "Microchronology and Demographic
Evidence Relating to the Size of
Pre-Columbian North American Indian
Populations", Science, volume 268,
pages 1601-1604 (16 June 1995)

This report chronicles severe epidemics of smallpox and other diseases,
and correlates the documentary and archaeologic evidence for the Mohawks
of eastern New York State (as we now call the area). However, it con-
cludes that "lower populations [sic] estimates for [pre-columbian] North
America as a whole" are the ones most consistent with the data.

I'm a bit foggy about what the topic is now, and have halved follow-ups.


Cameron Laird +1 713 267 7966 +1 713 996 8546 FAX