Re: diseases and immunity

Domingo Martinez-Castilla (
Tue, 02 Jul 96 19:40:06 GMT

The "above" I refer below :-) applies to the method of discourse
employed, not to the specific claim about mesoamerican mortality rate,
which Sisial did not make. What that mysterious Sisial person does is
to state things like:

" A city is defined as a population center where ..."

which sounds very, very matter-of-fact, and then, in the next post or
so, s/he recognizes that

"As far as definitions, they were my own..."

That confuses the reader at best, and is openly misleading at worst.

In article <>, wrote:
>Domingo Martinez-Castilla wrote:
>> 2. Example on above (also applies to some of the more recent unsigned
>> posts coming from the address where did the
>> "fact" that mortality was lower among mesoamericans came from? Mr
>> Deitiker repeats it like a well-known fact, but I have never seen a
>> comment on that in the literature. It sounds like the most extensive
>> works on the subject have not even been prused. I strongly recommend
>I do not think I've stated anything about mortality being lower among
>Mesoamericans. In fact, I do not think I stated anything regarding
mortality. I
>did try to address Mesoamerican and European population densities and
> technology.

Also, the very peculiar definition of manufacturing vis-a-vis production
of "raw materials"is dubious at best. The most important category to
show complexity is, I believe, division of labor and not the nature of
the products themselves. What about the fact, chronicled in multiple
instances by Europeans, that the market of Tlatelolco was the biggest
organized market in the world? Is that an invention too, or
revisionism? What may be the meaning of such a large and well organized
market, regarding the complexity and organization of that civilization?

It is not that I agree or disagree with every point sisial does, but
her style seems full of sophisms. Sometimes, all of Europe is compared
to the Aztecs; sometimes crops are important; etc., sometimes trade is
important (but conveniently forgetting the size of the mesoamerican
markets); sometimes writing is important; sometimes the wheel, or the
horse, or iron, or whatever applies nicely to some preconceived notion.
That is a sophist method.

What I perceive in this thread (and at least four other discussions like
this since 1992) is some very understandable anthropocentrism. We
humans tend to give credit of everything to ourselves (even the whole
universe, according to Judeo-Christian tradition, was created for us
people). All merit is ours. Circumstances? C'mon. Nature? God put
it for us, etc., etc. If you oppose to this any evidence of
natural-history facts affecting human history, we just tend to dismiss
it. Very good historians (in most other respects) mention and recognize
the terrible impact (loss of technology, languages, people, memories)
of disease four and five centuries ago. However, if a summary is made
of the reasons why American civilizations fell so easily, they prefer to
ignore them. Check any history book. Chances are that disease is
mentioned either marginally or not at all. Instead, a litany of
"writing, wheel, iron, freedom, horse" is repeated at nauseaum. Very
self-serving, to say the least.

And I repeat again: there is not a one-way road towards the future or
the past for that matter. If it were, we could dispense of
anthropologists altogether.

Back to life.


Domingo Martinez-Castilla