August 17, 2015

Atlantis Rising

I have long enjoyed Atlantis Rising.  Fallen civilizations number in the hundreds if not thousands, and are a long term interest of mine.  I comb your pages for clues to the causes, and in Martin Ruggles’ “Fighting to Forget,” Atlantis Rising 133 September/October 2015 page 23 the question comes through clearly, “Just what are we forgetting.  What has been the mechanism?

Chemists studying the mechanism of a reaction classically look at the “kinetics,” a technical term referring to the rates of reactions.  Similarly we can look at the rate of fall of civilizations.  Simply set up your arithmetic as if they all started on the same day and see how many lasted fifty years, a hundred and so forth and then look at the rate: Of the lot, what percentage outlasted fifty, what percentage of them outlasted one hundred and so forth out to three hundred.  No need to look further, by then they are essentially all gone. 

For a more complete description go to and read the summary put up last January 1.  I break it down by geographical location.  The first I ever did was lower Mesopotamia.  So what would we expect, what happened to them?  If they were taken out by factors outside of the population, or more strictly the administrators, engineers, essentially the middle class, then we would consider bolide, impact of comet or asteroid, climate change and so forth.  These would have in common the fact that they had nothing to do with the age of the civilization.  The line would be flat, and probably very noisy.

If by contrast we assume that they fell because of factors within the middle class then no doubt we take our modern assumption that we are politically correct, nobody else has ever been and so they fell for lack of political correctness, then we might still assume that some civilizations were more correct than others, the least correct would fall first and those more correct would show their greater resilience in the following half century.  The line would go up and likely be very dirty.  Which ever one it was, we have – as I think is rightly pointed out – systematically forgotten.

In fact the line goes down.  And it is very clean.  Since it is neither within the population nor outside of the population it can only be because of the very fact of a large population with random mating.  This was demonstrated by a man named Calhoun; he put mice in a cage with all they needed of food, water, space and bedding and watched what happen.  The birth rate was high, stabilized and then on a single day went to zero.

Everybody knows that all the rich countries in the world have a birth rate too low for long term survival.  The birth rate has been high, has fallen to below replacement and appeared to stabilize, just like those mice. 

The only first hand account of one of those Mesopotamian catastrophes seen from within is the book of Daniel.  The birth rate is not mentioned, but it is recorded that Hebrew boys were groomed to become high prestige members of the Babylonian middle class.  You may doubt the historical accuracy of scripture, but you have no other report.  Nobody remembers.

On the face of it we will continue with thus unsustainably low birth rate until one day or year or generation, pow; it’s over.  There may be a few survivors.  Will they remember? 


M. Linton Herbert

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