Re: This used to be on disease and immunity

Eric Brunner (
16 Jul 1996 16:00:07 GMT

Philip Deitiker ( wrote:

There actually is something here other than attitude, so I'll respond to
that. Deletions to get to anything useful.

: (Eric Brunner) wrote:

: >As a francophone (non ille de france) I find the suggestion charming, but
: >rather naive. As a defense of unlearnedness, it is less than compelling.
: Ah yes, and so only you have a command of the English language and
: everyone else here are pagan barbarians.

Well, that isn't useful. Continuing...

: Listen guy, since I subscribed to this newsgroup 2 years ago all I've
: seen on here is countless counterbabble from fervent religious/racist
: and on the other hand overzealous and singleminded 'scientist' or

Agreed. There is no shortage of posters with serious kinks in sci.anth,
from low-rent pseuds of the scientism variety to the common kitchen kooks.

: can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen'. I've found serious
: errors in many of the arguments on both sides, most errors are the
: result of over generalizations and do not carefully weigh contributing
: factors. Some gloss over some rather common perceptions in medicine.

"Both sides"? When did the issue develop "sides", and what interests can
you associate with either a reduction to a bi-modal model? What serious
errors, and/or glosses are identified?

: >I would be interested (slightly) to know what of my arguments you found to
: >be "technically correct", and on what basis you reached that conclusion.

: Because I actually did some searches on some of the points you made, I
: don't agree with the data, but since its not yours to begin with and
: other sources are less enlightening, one just has to put tounge and
: cheek and move on. I can't go down to the isalnds of the carriben and
: attempt to find bones of the early 16th century to assess the relative

Why would _you_ need to? Read the primary, or secondary literatures of
the fizzies who do that professionally.

: causes of death, if the spanish slanted the original reports then I
: think the slant becomes a fixture of history and there's not much a

That is why we bother to attempt to deconstruct the ethnographic record,
European historicism included.

: 20th century biochemical immunologist can really do about it.

That is a problem. Identifiying the actual issues correctly w.r.t. some
allied discipline, such as immuno to fizzy. Most, as I've pointed out,
are not applicable to disqualifying the primary mechanisms, hence are of
rather limited interest. See my comments your original cite and the sample

: >I'd also be interested (slightly) to know what "slant" you perceive, and
: >how you reached that perception, and so forth.

: The slant is using 16th to 18th century data without first _fully_
: qualifying the source and possible discrepancies in the presentation
: and descrepancies of the reports. To give an example the reports of

See above.

: late 15th and early 16th century antilles indicate that there were
: serious population declines and epidemic diseases, and interestingly
: the reports of dramitc declines coincided with the depletion of
: precious ore reserves on those Islands. What is unclear is what the
: impact of force overexploitation had on the immunity of those who were
: forced into such circumstances. In addition one has to question the
: generosity of the spanish as ore reserves declined. Third the reports
: are not clear on the affect of spanish occupation on the ability of
: the arawak to resist incursions by hostile tribes in the region, and
: whether endemic populations placed in protectorates realy were
: actually protected (even modern data suggest that disease rates are
: higher inside versus outside protectorates for amerinds).

As an asside, Spanish-bashing is a well-documented problem in the Anglo-
American historical record. That also requires deconstruction. Nothing
new there.

Uhh. What are "protectorates" and are other factors probably primary?

: There are folk stories in the carribean which reflect a different
: version of events, and tell of what happen to insubordinant native
: peoples who refused to subjugate to force labor. One of them involves
: the discovery by a young lad that the spanish actually bleed and
: weren't in fact gods. I'm sure that you've heard similar. Not that
: they are reliable, but they suggests that not all written reports were
: accurate as written, and the behavior is consitent with colonial
: behaviors in other areas were better documentation had occured.

Curious choice of materials, given the utility of actual labor-extraction
(taxation, enconomeda-enlistment, etc) record available. Favoring the
episodic over the systematic... the point is, why?

: From a scientific point of view how does one _really_ (meaning
: definitatively) assess the relative impact of disease, dimunition of a
: favorable lifestyle, and aggression in overall mortality rates, if one
: is going to matter of fact quote mortality as disease mortality.

That is a line of work that has been ongoing in Contact Period Studies for
over two decades, and in "interacting" with MB, Domingo, and myself with a
stylistic "grin" you've been speaking to scholars. Rather inutile at that.

: >: >This could be extreamly tedious, since there are lots of rather loaded words
: >: >rattling about in dictionaries and a discourse on what is actually ment in
: >: >some context would have to incorporate a history of how that specialized
: >: >meaning came into being and what the theoretical issues behind each nuance
: >: >of meaning actually incorporates. Clearly, an attempt to use nomenclature
: >: >as commonly used within a field is less of an imposition upon participants
: >: >in that field than an insistance on the use of meanings provided by the
: >: >authors and publishers of dictionaries, who have their own cultural limits
: >: >and problems of ethnographic construction to compound the problem of any
: >: >useful collective understanding.

: >: Very good point, but don't bash the users, simply correct the
: >: inaccuracies by stating that the defintion used is inaccurate or no

: >This has already been attempted, see the length of this thread and the density
: >of off-point tangents, some technical, most behavorial (of posters), for the
: >utility of such a suggestion.

: Then let's get the discussion back to those aspects of genetics,
: immunity, interpreted epidemiological data, and relative sources of
: mortality.

Bzzt. Genetics (human) is not causal, except to the obsedes (obsessives) of
Eurocentricism. Epidemiological data is not. The role of immunity is rather
limited to specific pathogens with specific host behaviors.

: >The import of such nomenclature does not exist by simple assertion.

: Sure it does when we talk about the most formidable mechanism of
: mutation certainly we have to consider gene conversion and being a
: subset of recombination linkage groups and complimentation groups and

Bzzt. The only thing(s) adapting in post-Holocene time are pathogens, not
peoples. The sole non-trivial (in terms of causation) area of interest for
biological adaptations is non-human.

: map units, etc can and ahve been used in the discussion of how new
: allelic isoforms orignate and are documented....... _I didn't think
: this terminaology would be best used in this conversation_. From
: immunity one has to be aware of major antigenic determinants and their
: relationship to antigen presentation and (unnamed) specific classes of
: T-lyphocytes involved in the recognition of pathogens. In addition one
: must also consider the (unnamed) non-specific mechanisms of general
: disease resistance which might be particularly important for 'first
: contact immunity'. Again all the specific factors involved were not
: brought up and discussed.

: > Few of
: >the casual mechanisms

: You've used this term so many times, for the sake of the discussion
: please redefine it. Casual in what regard.

Cause and effect. The usual sense. Did I manage to improve on the spelling?

: > are relevant to the actual depopulative events, of
: >those I've noticed you mentioning when not attempting to pass yourself off
: >as understanding Domingo or MB.

: No, what I challenge of the data is the ability to ascribe precisely
: all the factors related in the population declines, sort as if one was
: a forensic pathogist and ranking all teh related causes of death.
: I find the interpretation overly generalistic. something like:

Describe, not ascribe, and precision and universal inclusion are both rather
ambitious goals in forensics when the subjects at hand have been "dry" for
a significant fraction of a milliena.

: Healthy endemic people -------(epidemic disease)-----> 95% mortality

Try "No OW dual-pathway domesticant pathogens + dual-pathway domesticant
pathogens yeilds significant die-backs of virgin soil populations, on the
order of 90% within one century". Health is relative, presence or absence
of specific pathogens isn't.

: From what I know about the biology of humans this type of discussion
: makes my stomach crawl. Especially given all the epidemiological
: factors (not related to genetics) associated with many of the epidemic
: diseases that plaque current/scientifically-assessing modern society.
: IOW, I think that we must expect similar phenomena to pertain to
: epidemic diseases of the 15th to 19th century in which we have not had
: the greater opportunity to study related factors in disease
: aquisition.

The study of isolates, European Atlantic, and VS events runs well into
the 19th. Your point is?

: There are some diseases which existed then as now, such as TB and
: influenza, and clearly demostrates a number of non-genetic risk
: factors. When I've brought these into the discussion they have been
: swept under the rug for _apparently_ personal reasons. I don't mean

Uhh, which scholarship is now mere personal persiflage?

: to say that all or some or even any are involved simply that their
: contributions _must_ be considered. I think this is a scientifically
: fair assertion to make.

: >: Secondarily with respect to some precolumbian south american
: >: tribes and _possibly_ some north american, even according to what the
: >: contemporary usage is these groups might still be treated as
: >: functional paleoliths, although I must admit after refreshing my

: >Bzzt. Still trying? Check your batteries. That bunny got away.
: Check some of the literature.

Back to paleolithic after all this run-around? Still trying to hammer NW
horizons into OW forms? What an adventure.

: Philip

Eric Brunner