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Ian Morris, “Why the West Rules – For Now”

by Stewart Brand on April 15th, 02011


Geographical determinism

A Summary by Stewart Brand

Historians and others who try to explain the world dominance by the West since the 18th century usually put it down to long-term lock-in or short-term accidents, said Morris. The lock-in theories are belied by the dominance of the East from 550 to 1750 CE. The accidents approach is undermined by clear patterns that emerge when you look for them in a rigorous way.

Morris has devised a quantitative “social development index” based on evaluating a civilization’s energy capture, organization (size of largest cities), information management, and war-making capability. (The details of his method are online here.) When you graph human progress since the last ice age 15,000 years ago, the results show…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary here.