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Old 05-13-12   #1
feranaja
 
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Default The vanishing Ethnosphere

An informative and important talk, courtesy of the inimitable Wade Davis.
We think our mainstream (science based, materialist) way of seeing is the "real" way or the more advanced way, but really, that's just the height of prejudice. I especially love the part where Davis asks the people he is visiting (I forget which group) how they know which ayahuasca to use and with which plant...they all said, "Wait, aren't you supposed to know something about plants? We listen to them at the full moon and they all sing in a different key".

Just a humbling and enlightening thought, isn't it.Please have a look.

http://www.ted.com/talks/wade_davis_..._cultures.html
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Old 05-13-12   #2
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Default Re: The vanishing Ethnosphere

Have you read his book "One River" about his ayahuasca journeys in the Amazon? Great book. I'll have to check out the link you gave.
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Old 05-13-12   #3
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Default Re: The vanishing Ethnosphere

I remember reading some of Davis' book on Haitian Voodoo, which I found really interesting, and, I definitely will watch the video, as the disappearance of indigenous cultures is something I'm really concerned about too (as their disappearance is very much tied in with the destruction of Nature).

Also, you're very much correct, fera, seeing the modern Western materialistic way as the "only" valid way of viewing the world is arrogant, and assumes a form of cultural imperialism (where you have those deemed to be "savages" or "barbarians" on one side, and the "enlightened" ones, aka, the Western Atheistic rational scientists).
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Old 05-14-12   #4
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Default Re: The vanishing Ethnosphere

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Originally Posted by David_2010 View Post
....and the "enlightened" ones, aka, the Western Atheistic rational scientists).
I am one of the "Western Atheistic rational scientists", and I don't view myself as having an elitist view. In fact, most of the scientists I know are concerned with both environmental and indiginous issues.
A few years ago, I was part of a research team to parts of the Amazon in Peru and part of our job was to learn about local approaches to medicine and conservation. There is no doubt that we in the West have much to learn from indigenous cultures, but a blanket view that we all have this "you barbarian, me enlightened" attitude is a wee bit unfair.
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Old 05-14-12   #5
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Default Re: The vanishing Ethnosphere

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I am one of the "Western Atheistic rational scientists", and I don't view myself as having an elitist view. In fact, most of the scientists I know are concerned with both environmental and indiginous issues.
A few years ago, I was part of a research team to parts of the Amazon in Peru and part of our job was to learn about local approaches to medicine and conservation. There is no doubt that we in the West have much to learn from indigenous cultures, but a blanket view that we all have this "you barbarian, me enlightened" attitude is a wee bit unfair.
It may be unfair, I agree, everyone isn't like that. The elitism I see - JMO - is when the WARS thinks that everything can BEST be understood in the language of atheistic science. Either it's one valid way of looking at the world - or, it's the RIGHT way. So, if I have to somehow prove my personal gnosis to a scientist, so it can be validated, thats elitism. I don't at all mean to be inflammatory here - that's simply the way it is, and that's what I suspect David meant.
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Old 05-14-12   #6
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Default Re: The vanishing Ethnosphere

I couldn't get the video to run, but I read the transcript. This part reflects exactly how I feel:
"It means that a young kid from the Andeswho's raised to believe that that mountain is an Apu spirit that will direct his or her destiny will be a profoundly different human being and have a different relationship to that resource or that place than a young kid from Montana raised to believe that a mountain is a pile of rock ready to be mined.Whether it's the abode of a spirit or a pile of ore is irrelevant. What's interesting is the metaphor that defines the relationship between the individual and the natural world."

John Muir summed it up in a similar way over 100 years ago:
"The world, we are told, was made especially for man - a presumption not supported by all the facts."

To view the Earth as a collection of exploitable resources without feeling the need to respect it or return anything to it is where, I think, we in the west have gone wrong. Through speaking with indigenous peoples from various areas, the message I've heard is a common one irrespective of geography - we take only what we need and we use all of what we take. You only need to see how fully a reindeer is processed by the Sami to realise that what the Earth provides is a life-giving gift and that it shouldn't be wasted (to me, the fact that an animal was killed means that that gift is even more precious).

For those interested, here's an excellent organisation that's well worth joining:
http://www.survivalinternational.org/
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Old 05-14-12   #7
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Default Re: The vanishing Ethnosphere

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It may be unfair, I agree, everyone isn't like that. The elitism I see - JMO - is when the WARS thinks that everything can BEST be understood in the language of atheistic science. Either it's one valid way of looking at the world - or, it's the RIGHT way. So, if I have to somehow prove my personal gnosis to a scientist, so it can be validated, thats elitism. I don't at all mean to be inflammatory here - that's simply the way it is, and that's what I suspect David meant.
Okay. I don't agree, though, that adopting the scientific method is elitism - it's a method open to everyone. The issue I have is that given we currently have over 7 billion individual cosmologies in operation, which ones do we look to to provide an objective view of the world?

Anyway, I could be getting off topic here, so I'll stick to the video theme. Really interesting find there, fera. Haven't seen this website before.
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Old 05-14-12   #8
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Default Re: The vanishing Ethnosphere

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Originally Posted by DrumWolf View Post
I am one of the "Western Atheistic rational scientists", and I don't view myself as having an elitist view. In fact, most of the scientists I know are concerned with both environmental and indiginous issues.
A few years ago, I was part of a research team to parts of the Amazon in Peru and part of our job was to learn about local approaches to medicine and conservation. There is no doubt that we in the West have much to learn from indigenous cultures, but a blanket view that we all have this "you barbarian, me enlightened" attitude is a wee bit unfair.
I understand where you're coming from, and, I think I could have worded it better, because, I was referring more to the "New Atheist" type (people like Hitchens, Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, etc, although, I know Hitchens wasn't an actual scientist), the ones who, essentially, believe only their view is right, and everyone else needs to accept it. I definitely wasn't referring to Atheists, like yourself (IMO, there's 2 types of Atheist - the ordinary ones vs. the "New Atheists").
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Old 05-15-12   #9
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Default Re: The vanishing Ethnosphere

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Originally Posted by feranaja View Post
It may be unfair, I agree, everyone isn't like that. The elitism I see - JMO - is when the WARS thinks that everything can BEST be understood in the language of atheistic science. Either it's one valid way of looking at the world - or, it's the RIGHT way. So, if I have to somehow prove my personal gnosis to a scientist, so it can be validated, thats elitism. I don't at all mean to be inflammatory here - that's simply the way it is, and that's what I suspect David meant.
Yep, I agree. It's not the Atheist bit, or even the Scientist bit, it's when the three are in combination - I'll skip the Western bit because occasional visitors to the Friday table include an Oriental and an Indian. To get briefly back on topic, another occasional visitor, of Arctic Circle origin person (he gets upset if we use 'Inuit', because he's not), is currently on a years research project attached to the University of the Arctic, documenting his own tribe's songs and stories.

The problem seems to be that the Radicals in the field tend to be the ones who can get the most press coverage. There are 'elitists' in the environmental movement as well - I'm constantly being told that if I just thought it through properly I'd see they're RIGHT, and I can hear the red capital letters with gold embossing in the voice in exactly the same way that I can with, say, Dawkins. A commentator one year on from Fukushima pointed out live on the Today programme that if a Richter nine 'quake hit Southern England, every wind turbine from John-o'Groats to Paris would fall over, causing a fairly large loss of life in places, particularly on the north coast of Europe, where farms are built in industrial areas. Did that get any publicity? Nope, when they rebroadcast the summary an hour later his piece had been dropped and the only viewpoint expressed was that Renewables are Right and Nuclear is Wrong.

Lumping all scientists together under the WARS banner tends to result in scientists who aren't, lumping all environmentalists in the 'Uninformed Tree-Hugger' bracket, and neither is a particularly useful generalisation.

And elitism cuts both ways - yep, it's unfair to ask someone to 'prove' their gnosis (although the science/meditation thread shows that science is going some way to do just that) - but I'm not sure that it's any different from saying to a scientist 'prove that this technology is entirely safe' when of course the bigger picture is that pretty much nothing on earth is entirely safe. Completely off-topic but a local example - a tree preservation order did for our local pub when said tree fell over onto the pub, injuring the landlady and trapping her in her bedroom, and it proved to be uneconomic to rebuild. The tree had long been known to be past its best but several appeals to the council had failed. Notably another with an order on it, closer into the city, also known to be rotten, was then felled.

I like the video, though, and everyone occasionally needs reminding that their way of seeing things isn't the only one.

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