Re: diseases and immunity

Gerold Firl (
30 Jul 1996 20:39:41 GMT

In article <4tbn1f$>, Beth Williams) writes:

|> In <4tbatd$> (Gerold Firl)
|> writes:

|> >Recall that I had cautioned you not to place too much emphasis on
|> >smallpox as the cause of amerindian mortality, since if smallpox
|> >hadn't gotten to the indians first, some other disease would have later.

|> Gerold, dozens of different *epidemic* diseases infected and devastated
|> the 100 million Native Americans in the Western Hemisphere, but your
|> continous claim that TB would have been the one to do it, for many
|> reasons, is inconsistent with the characteristics of the disease, as
|> well as the fact that it was endemic in the population for a least 500
|> years prior to European Contact.

I'm not sure if an argh, a sigh, or some form of amusement is the most
appropriate response here. Read the two paragraphs above. I said *some*
disease, not necessarily TB. It's a waste of my time to continually
correct your inability to follow this discussion. Even when you have the
quoted passages included, you still don't understand. I don't know if
your lack of comprehension is a deliberate obfuscatory tactic or if you
just can't help it; in either case, there really isn't much point to it.

|> >I had stated that TB can act as an epidemic disease among
|> >inexperienced populations, in contrast to the endemic status it had
|> >occupied among old world populations. It is not as swift and dramatic
|> >as smallpox, which is why smallpox, in free and open competition, will
|> >be the leading cause of epidemic mortality. However, in the absense of
|> >smallpox, other diseases will do the same damage, albeit at a more
|> >deliberate pace.

|> No, it will not do the *same damage* as the *slow, deliberate pace*
|> allows for care that massive epidemics, such as smallpox, do not... Not
|> everyone in a community gets TB at the same time, so there are people
|> to care for the sick, breastfed children of infected mothers, gather
|> vital food and fuel supplies. And you keep avoiding the devastating
|> rate of infection of TB among European and African populations, both in
|> the Old and New Worlds. Just do a little research on TB in mill
|> populations in the Northeast, or among soldiers in the Civil War.
|> You'll see mortality rates very comparable to those of the purported
|> *inexperienced* populations you cite.

So why did the population of new zealand drop so much? European contact
brought not only diseases and muskets, which killed many maori, but also
the pig, the potato, and grain, which enormously increased the carrying
capacity of the land.

In the time and place of european contact in new zealand there was no
violent conquest, no massacres or extermination campaigns, and the
introduction of new sources of food could have resulted in an _increase_
in maori numbers, instead of the 50-80% decline which actually occured.
Disease made the difference, and according to my source smallpox was a
non-factor. We're looking at a multi-generation process of genetic and
cultural adaptation to the new disease environment, along with the
spread of acquired immunity throughout the maori population.

Regardless of the "devastating" rates of TB infection among old world
populations at the time, the fact is that old world populations were
growing rapidly while the maori were dropping. I brought up the maori
because this occured without the presence of smallpox; you seemed to be
laboring under the impression that if it hadn't been for smallpox,
amerindian losses to disease wouldn't have been nearly as large. The
case of new zealand contradicts that assertion.

|> >Sheesh. You are incorrigible. Like I said above, quote me directly, do
|> >not paraphrase, because you are either unable to comprehend what I'm
|> >saying, or else you are dishonest.

|> Gerold, noone is misquoting you, except, of course, you. You claimed
|> that 50-75% of the Maori populations died from TB.

Wrong. I stated, citing crosby, that TB and venereal disease were the
two most damaging diseases responsible for maori population decline. I
stated that explicitly, and quoted crosby directly. what part of that
don't you understand?

Perhaps the problem consists of some confusion regarding the distinction
between the terms "most" and "all". (I can't believe I'm explaining this
on sci.anthro) I said that maori population declined by 50-75% from
1820-1920. (The minimum was actually in the 1890's, and the first
epidemics actually hit around the turn of the century, so a better
time frame is roughly 1800-1900). I also said that TB and venereal
disease were the most important diseases involved in that decline.
You interpret that as a claim that "50-75% of the maori died from TB".
Do you see the difference? "Most" indicates a pre-eminant factor among
others, while "all" indicates a single cause which was uniquely
responsible. I recommend that you try and understand the difference
there, it'll come in handy later.

|> :::deleting all the rest of the crap, as I don't have the energy to
|> deal::::

Tiresome, isn't it? Do you ever ask yourself why you go to the trouble?

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf