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We of the industrialised countries have a tremendous amount to gain from the tribal peoples of the world, concerning problems of our era.

I spent some time visiting the Turkanas and Digos of Kenya recently -
my experiences have been primarily in Africa
I realised 2 things -

firstly, that our knowledge of ancient societies, and our level of contact with them, are extremely small -
and when they occasionally happen, it is with great cultural bias and a presumption of superiority by the visitor (NGOs, government representatives, corporate staff, churches ..)
secondly, that many of the core topics of today in the industrialised world (environment, conflict and human social connection) are
- in some cases - managed far more successfully by these
ancient societies -

but there are of course many nuances and downsides in this story -
it is not black and white

I propose that we should have friendly, equal interaction with these peoples in a careful way that does not disrupt their lives -
as a way of pursuing our own search for what is right and what we want
in the West

and we should absolutely not allow these societies to disappear
a little a time - we should rather protect them from threats to their way of life, and get to know them better

Pinkers rapid dismissal of the 'myth' of social harmony in tribal societies
is merely a symptom of the fact that 'we' barely know 'them' at all,
and have extremely little reliable information -
for myself, and for 2 of your TED speakers, it is easy to distinguish
between those who have had close contact with tribal peoples,
and those who have not, like Pinker

it is true that for any normal person, a real personal contact with them
is not easy to arrange - there is travel, there is finding a personal introduction, and survival in areas without shops or hotels

I maintain that nothing has ever been more worth the effort -
and that there is no substitute for the real thing -
films, books and talks cannot convey the experience

The nearest I can come is that it changes you permanently,
and as Pinker says "everything you thought before was wrong"


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    Dec 29 2012: two observations.

    1. you did not list a single one of the tremendous.

    2. how could we "not allow" those societies to disappear? maybe they have some say in the matter, i believe. if they want to live the way they do, you don't have to "not allow". if they don't, you don't want to force them, do you?
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      Jan 5 2013: By not polluting their lifestyle into an impossibility and developing over their lands.
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        Jan 5 2013: polluting is a metaphor. explain.
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          Jan 5 2013: The ecosystems they rely on are impacted negatively by choices they had no say in making -- namely, development choices. Do you believe that the wants of the industrialized are more valuable than the needs of the tribal? Why should they give up a life more ancient than ours to make room for the greed of others?
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        Jan 5 2013: i still don't understand what you are talking about. i don't care about such things like "wants of industrialized" and "needs of tribal". inevitably, tribes will meet industrial societies. they will face the choice to either follow their own lifestyle, or adopt some of the habits/methods of their industrialized fellow. how can we not "pollute" their lifestyle? what is your proposed action/inaction besides metaphors? be specific.
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          Jan 5 2013: Consider their lifestyle and its impacts. Consider ours. Like you said, "inevitably, tribes will meet industrial societies." But do you really think that following their own lifestyle is even an available choice at that point? If they say no, we will either pay them or perform legal jujitsu to displace them. The industrialized, "civilized" world has been destroying tribal peoples since the agricultural revolution. Nothing will change this, and it makes me sick. I am one person. I have my voice and I will use it for the things I care about. I am no expert, but I care.
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        Jan 5 2013: how much i need to pay you to argue for my side?

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