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Climate and the Industrial Revolution
Posted: 16 November 2011 08:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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thevillageathiest - 16 November 2011 08:08 AM

No, I mean an English vs. an Indian vs. an African, working the same number of hours, on identical machines, all under similar management

OOH! a “what if” scenerio. Ok. Well, I couldn’t answer that question without sounding racist, but given identical conditions in all three areas I assume that they would produce identical results. In this instance what could possibly be different? I guess that I’d better read the book you mentioned before I make any more general claims. It’s next on my reading list after Shook’s book.

cap’t Jack

Actually, it’s not a “what if” question at all. This topic is well documented with supporting data in Clark’s book. Maybe we can discuss it further after you get to read it.

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Posted: 16 November 2011 09:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Sounds good. Let’s put this on hold till then.

Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 16 November 2011 10:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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George - 16 November 2011 06:00 AM

That must be one of the best examples of confusing correlation with causation I have ever seen.

OK, Weber was wrong. It was the literacy related to protestantism that did the job. But still, it was protestantism…

Max Weber attributed the higher economic prosperity of Protestant regions to a Protestant work ethic. We provide an alternative theory, where Protestant economies prospered because instruction in reading the Bible generated the human capital crucial to economic prosperity. County-level data from late 19th-century Prussia reveal that Protestantism was indeed associated not only with higher economic prosperity, but also with better education. We find that Protestants’ higher literacy can account for the whole gap in economic prosperity. Results hold when we exploit the initial concentric dispersion of the Reformation to use distance to Wittenberg as an instrument for Protestantism.
<snip>
We argue that the roughly concentric dispersion of Protestantism around Luther’s city of Wittenberg yielded exogenous variation in Protestantism, allowing us to use distance to Wittenberg as an instrument in a “double-IV” specification estimated by 3SLS. In this system of three equations, we find that distance to Wittenberg predicts Protestantism, which predicts literacy, which predicts economic prosperity.

From here.

Read the whole article to get the full idea.  tongue rolleye

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Posted: 16 November 2011 11:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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What does any of this have to do with productivity? Each species is as productive as they need to be to survive. A hunter may have to travel 10 miles (8 hrs) on foot to catch his meal, while a factory employee may spend 8 hrs behind a desk or a machine to earn enough to buy his meal.
What we call increased productivity is “producing more than what we need”, i.e. making a profit, usually enjoyed by the people who put in the least amount of effort.

[ Edited: 16 November 2011 11:14 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 16 November 2011 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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GdB - 16 November 2011 10:23 AM
George - 16 November 2011 06:00 AM

That must be one of the best examples of confusing correlation with causation I have ever seen.

OK, Weber was wrong. It was the literacy related to protestantism that did the job. But still, it was protestantism…

Max Weber attributed the higher economic prosperity of Protestant regions to a Protestant work ethic. We provide an alternative theory, where Protestant economies prospered because instruction in reading the Bible generated the human capital crucial to economic prosperity. County-level data from late 19th-century Prussia reveal that Protestantism was indeed associated not only with higher economic prosperity, but also with better education. We find that Protestants’ higher literacy can account for the whole gap in economic prosperity. Results hold when we exploit the initial concentric dispersion of the Reformation to use distance to Wittenberg as an instrument for Protestantism.
<snip>
We argue that the roughly concentric dispersion of Protestantism around Luther’s city of Wittenberg yielded exogenous variation in Protestantism, allowing us to use distance to Wittenberg as an instrument in a “double-IV” specification estimated by 3SLS. In this system of three equations, we find that distance to Wittenberg predicts Protestantism, which predicts literacy, which predicts economic prosperity.

From here.

Read the whole article to get the full idea.  tongue rolleye

Protestantism had probably as much of an influence on economic prosperity back then as Judaism influences economic prosperity (along with the chances of winning the Nobel prize or becoming the the chess master) today.

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Posted: 16 November 2011 12:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Write4U - 16 November 2011 11:11 AM

What does any of this have to do with productivity? Each species is as productive as they need to be to survive. A hunter may have to travel 10 miles (8 hrs) on foot to catch his meal, while a factory employee may spend 8 hrs behind a desk or a machine to earn enough to buy his meal.
What we call increased productivity is “producing more than what we need”, i.e. making a profit, usually enjoyed by the people who put in the least amount of effort.

Just wondering, Write4U, did you build your own smartphone or grow your own coffee beans? Have you ever heard of that strange think called “trade,” which separates us from other species? I am sorry, but what you wrote here is very silly.

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Posted: 16 November 2011 12:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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George - 16 November 2011 12:02 PM
Write4U - 16 November 2011 11:11 AM

What does any of this have to do with productivity? Each species is as productive as they need to be to survive. A hunter may have to travel 10 miles (8 hrs) on foot to catch his meal, while a factory employee may spend 8 hrs behind a desk or a machine to earn enough to buy his meal.
What we call increased productivity is “producing more than what we need”, i.e. making a profit, usually enjoyed by the people who put in the least amount of effort.

Just wondering, Write4U, did you build your own smartphone or grow your own coffee beans? Have you ever heard of that strange think called “trade,” which separates us from other species? I am sorry, but what you wrote here is very silly.

Well, I build my own log-cabin, dug my own well, raised three pigs p/yr (two for trade and sale), ran 100 chickens (5 dozen eggs per day for trade and sale), grew potatoes, corn and vegetables, which kept us fed and sheltered for 5 years, without debt. Then we bought a home, went 100,000 in debt and joined the productive people…... confused

[ Edited: 16 November 2011 12:27 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 18 November 2011 12:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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George - 16 November 2011 11:37 AM

Protestantism had probably as much of an influence on economic prosperity back then as Judaism influences economic prosperity (along with the chances of winning the Nobel prize or becoming the the chess master) today.

Tsss. No I have a beautiful example of historical research, and you just throw it away while it does not fit your world view.

Weber thought it was protestant ethics concerning labour. Then this team of researchers also noticed this correlation and thought of empirical facts that should be the case if it were true. They tried to find out based on population censuses if the idea holds, and it didn’t. But they did find a correlation between literacy and economic prosperity, and between literacy and protestantism. Now of course, correlation is not causation. But there are good grounds to think that being able to read and write helps economic progress. The idea that protestantism was an important factor in economic progress has been strengthened.

I think such a result belongs to the better ones one can get doing historical research. It is so a rational reconstruction how development in Europe might have taken place, that fits the known facts. Now the result is fallible: maybe somebody will find new facts. Maybe somebody will find a new rational reconstruction that encompasses more facts. I cannot imagine Clark does something else.

And, not to forget, it is the same way that the theory of evolution advances. We know how evolution might have taken place. We think what facts we should find now. And we search for such facts. The rational reconstruction of evolution may change: some of these reconstructions might not hold in the light of fossil finds, and our reconstruction breaks down to a ‘just so story’. We may get better understanding of mechanisms in genetics and biochemics, which prove a theory to be wrong, or fit to the theory and confirm it.

I think you are ideologically prejudiced. Maybe I am too, in my thinking that cultural phenomena have a huge impact on human history. The difference is, I do not deny influence of genes and evolution. I just take care for making too strong propositions that are not supported by empirical evidence.

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Posted: 18 November 2011 06:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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No, what you have here is, once again, a beautiful example of confusing correlation with causation. In order for you to understand that Clark seems to be much closer to finding the actual cause of the IR you’ll have to do a little more than “imagining.” Yes, you’ll have to read about his findings. You’ll seldom find a research as well documented and supported by data as Clark’s study.

If Clark is right when he says that the rich replaced the poor and that it first happened in England, then in other northern Europen countries followed by the rest of Europe along with Japan, it is more than obvious one will find a correlation between literacy (rich people were smarter) and Protestantism (the first countries were Protestant).

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Posted: 18 November 2011 03:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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I kind of posted the letter to the Economist as a joke, turns out it caused quite a useful discussion (and no philosophy; Yea!!).  It has long been my opinion that major social changes in society cannot be reduced to any one single or small group of causes.  I think this discussion supports that thesis.  I have read many of the books suggested over the years, however I am somewhat surprized that no quoted or recommend any of the economists and economic historians and their almost total lack of intrest in this area.

IMO, one of the things Weber in the Protestant Ethic was showing that Protestantism emphasized indivdual action and responsibility much more than the R.C. traditions that it evolved from.  That this increased individualism supported and in turn was supported by the working conditions of the Industrial Revolution.

Its been awhile since I read Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and The Third Chimpanzee so I am not going to comment on how they apply to this issuse.  Other good books along this line is The Great Warming - Climate Change and the rise and Fall of Civilizations by Brian Fagan; and Who Gave pinta to the Santa Matia?  - Torrid Diseases in a Temperate World by Robert S. Desowitz

[ Edited: 18 November 2011 03:33 PM by garythehuman ]
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Posted: 19 November 2011 05:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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George - 18 November 2011 06:25 AM

No, what you have here is, once again, a beautiful example of confusing correlation with causation. In order for you to understand that Clark seems to be much closer to finding the actual cause of the IR you’ll have to do a little more than “imagining.” Yes, you’ll have to read about his findings. You’ll seldom find a research as well documented and supported by data as Clark’s study.

I did not say he is doing nothing more then imagining. I am sure he backed up his thesis with a lot of empirical facts, just as I wrote historical research makes rational reconstructions. And I do not necessarily see a contradiction between Clark and the article I linked to.

From Clark’s book:

For England we will see compelling evidence of differential survival of types in the years 1250–1800. In particular, economic success translated powerfully into reproductive success. The richest men had twice as many surviving chil­dren at death as the poorest. The poorest individuals in Malthusian England had so few surviving children that their families were dying out. Preindustrial England was thus a world of constant downward mobility. Given the static na­ture of the Malthusian economy, the superabundant children of the rich had to, on average, move down the social hierarchy in order to find work. Craftsmen’s sons became laborers, merchants’ sons petty traders, large landowners’ sons smallholders. The attributes that would ensure later economic dynamism—patience, hard work, ingenuity, innovativeness, education—were thus spread­ing biologically throughout the population.

Just as people were shaping economies, the economy of the preindustrial era was shaping people, at least culturally and perhaps also genetically.

But if Clark wants it or not, economy is mainly a cultural phenomenon, and heavily value driven. So in this case, Clark is giving an example of genetics being on the leash of a culture. Culture provides the environment in which certain ideas and individuals can flourish better than others, and so also produce genetic pressure. Which does not mean I am denying the role of genetics in the process. But culture is also part of the causal process of a changing society.

Of course garythehuman is right:

It has long been my opinion that major social changes in society cannot be reduced to any one single or small group of causes.

[ Edited: 19 November 2011 05:36 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 19 November 2011 05:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Very good, GdB. This pretty much summarizes Clark’s book; BTW, the last is the one and only sentence where Clark reffers to genetics in the whole book as I mentioned earlier.

Now, I am still not sure we understand each other in our eternal debate on the question of genes and environment. I don’t know anybody (and I am certainly not that person) who would claim that environment (which is what culture is) doesn’t play an important role. What I am saying, though, is that culture is as depended on genes as our genes are depended on culture. I see culture as an extended phenotype of our genome and to me it seems therefore as a part of the whole process than just some independent driving force. A certain type of a beaver will build a certain type of a dam (a “beaver culture”), which in return will affect the gene selection of future beavers. The same goes for us. Genes certainly play a role in, say, our ability to read and that (what and how much we read) may impact our future generations. I am not denying any of that. It is actually people like you who often claim that culture has some magical power, when it can “cure” any type of given genome.

If you read all of Clark’s book, you’ll see what I mean: the same culture had a very different effect on people in England than in India. This is why Clark realized (after publishing the book) that there is more to it than he originally thought.

As for the initial cause of the IR, we may as well say it was the Big Bang. If we want to focus our attention on more recent times, however, we may find (again, according to Clark) that the original environmental (cultural) cuase of why IR started in England was…wait for it…the English being filthy. Don’t believe me? Read the book!

[ Edited: 19 November 2011 06:45 AM by George ]
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Posted: 19 November 2011 06:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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I know I should edit what I write before I post it, but there simply doesn’t seem to be enough time (especially during the weekends) in my life to follow this necessary rule. My “first attempt” at responding to you, GdB, made absolutely no sense, for which I apologize.

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Posted: 19 November 2011 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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George - 19 November 2011 05:57 AM

Very good, GdB. This pretty much summarizes Clark’s book; BTW, the last is the one and only sentence where Clark reffers to genetics in the whole book as I mentioned earlier.

Now, I am still not sure we understand each other in our eternal debate on the question of genes and environment. I don’t know anybody (and I am certainly not that person) who would claim that environment (which is what culture is) doesn’t play an important role. What I am saying, though, is that culture is as depended on genes as our genes are depended on culture. I see culture as an extended phenotype of our genome and to me it seems therefore as a part of the whole process than just some independent driving force. A certain type of a beaver will build a certain type of a dam (a “beaver culture”), which in return will affect the gene selection of future beavers. The same goes for us. Genes certainly play a role in, say, our ability to read and that (what and how much we read) may impact our future generations. I am not denying any of that. It is actually people like you who often claim that culture has some magical power, when it can “cure” any type of given genome.

If you read all of Clark’s book, you’ll see what I mean: the same culture had a very different effect on people in England than in India. This is why Clark realized (after publishing the book) that there is more to it than he originally thought.

As for the initial cause of the IR, we may as well say it was the Big Bang. If we want to focus our attention on more recent times, however, we may find (again, according to Clark) that the original environmental (cultural) cuase of why IR started in England was…wait for it…the English being filthy. Don’t believe me? Read the book!

I saw that about the filth. It is an interesting hypothesis!

I also found this in the book:

Thus we may speculate that England’s advantage lay in the rapid cultural, and potentially also genetic, diffusion of the values of the economically successful throughout society in the years 1200–1800.

There is one point I do not find in Clark’s book: how the rich got rich originally? I find this passage:

It could be that economic success was an idiosyncratic element, created by luck or by personality factors that were nonheritable. In this case, while survival of the richest would have the social consequences illustrated below, it would have no long-run effects on the characteristics of the population.
However, the children of the rich had one significant advantage over those of the poor: the significant amount they inherited from their parents.

Clark’s ideas seem to work from the moment that there is such richness (in a filthy environment…). But could it be the case that the rich were more social mobile because of their… working ethics? That even if they did not need to work, because they were rich enough, just continued working? I am not sure, and I have to confess, I will not read the book completely.

Concerning our ‘eternal debate’: it seems that we theoretically agree. But in my opinion you are too quick explaining social human phenomena with biology, specially genetics. Studying humans is difficult in this respect, as experiments are nearly not possible. If we study humans, we always have them with both their genetic and cultural background. Same holds for the researchers…

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Posted: 19 November 2011 08:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Well, to explain why there are rich people to begin with, we would have to go back to the Neolithic Revolution. I’ll try to comment on it when I have more time.

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