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Old 04-14-2011, 02:39 PM
Taronyu
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Default Life as an adventure

This is probably how the Na vi live their life. It is also how the Hunter Gatherers here on Earth live, or used to live. We can learn from that.


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Life as an adventure

There is an aspect to the HG (Hunter Gatherer) lifestyle that has received relatively little attention, an aspect that I have called "life as an adventure": the life of a hunter-gatherer is a sequence of smaller and larger challenges, positive as well as negative, with the main characteristic that most challenges are unpredictable, of short duration, and of extremely diverse type and intensity. In contrast, agricultural and industrial societies prescribe a highly regulated life, where tasks and duties are predictable, constant, uniform, and rule-bound.

While HG challenges can be very stressful, e.g. running away from a bear, falling from a tree or crossing an ice-cold river, this stress is typically acute, i.e. intense and of short duration (seconds to hours). The rush of adrenalin is followed shortly by a pleasurable feeling of relief. The stress of modern life, on the other hand, is typically chronic, i.e. of low intensity but long duration (weeks to years). Examples are waiting for an evaluation report, preparing a PhD thesis, or enduring the daily traffic jams. This produces continuously high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which tends to break down muscle, suppress the immune system and promote obesity, anxiety and depression.

The modern approach to tackling challenges is based on formulating far-away goals, detailed planning to reach them, discipline and regularity in implementing the plans, and a strong sense of duty in order to keep on track and stick to the plan. This entails a constant worry about whether you are doing the right thing.

Hunting and gathering, on the other hand, cannot rely on planning, as it is impossible to predict precisely where or when a significant opportunity (e.g. prey to catch, or fruit to collect) or danger (e.g. a predator) will be encountered. This leads to a much more spontaneous, opportunistic style of problem solving, characterized by features such as intuition, improvisation, exploration, adaptation, and play.

There is plenty of evidence that this more playful HG style of living is what our brain was actually selected for, and what it is best at. Moreover, applying this lifestyle stimulates brain and body to further develop themselves. On the other hand, suppressing it, by sticking to unflinching rules and duties, produces chronic stress and its attendant health problems. This means that we would be happier, healthier and more effective if we could live more in the HG way.

That may seem naive and utopian, but the present state of our science, technology and economy perfectly allows such a more relaxed attitude. The strictly disciplined following of rules may have been necessary to build up the wealth we have now. But nowadays our technology has become so powerful that we can delegate that type of activities to machines. It is precisely the following of formally defined rules that machines are good at, while the more creative, "adventurous", intuitive aspects of problem solving are better left to humans.
Evolutionary Well-Being: the paleolithic model | ecco.vub.ac.be
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Old 04-14-2011, 08:54 PM
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Wow -- this is some great info! Thanks for sharing this, redpaintednavi. Very interesting. It does sound like a comparison btw our lives and the way the Na'vi live.
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Old 04-14-2011, 10:39 PM
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Now that was a good read.
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Old 04-14-2011, 11:26 PM
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I liked that too, but now I've got a problem: I'm trying to meticulously plan out the details of how to best work the HG style into my life. Something's wrong with this picture...
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Old 04-26-2011, 03:12 PM
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Here are some reflections about Hunter Gatherer lifestyle from another site. This could indeed also be a description of the Na vi:

Quote:
-Their work week is short enough to make us drool in envy.
-They enjoy almost unbelievable egalitarianism
-The religious gasp at their high levels of sexual freedom, experimentation, and enjoyment.
-They're damn happy people, laughing freely way more than we do.
-Outside a division of labor, women have total social equality with men.
-They rarely resort to violence or war
-Strong social safety nets in most of their societies support the disabled, old, and in many cases, even the lazy.
-They usually live to be at least as old as we do
-Their health is more robust than ours, and they're frequently immune to diseases ravaging their sedentary neighbors. Their social lives are rich, and they have the free time to indulge themselves.
-With a few exceptions, their lifestyle lets them live in harmony with the earth, relying mostly on renewable resources, and keeping their numbers at a sustainable level.
-Their senses appear many times sharper than their own, and many seem curiously immune to extremes of temperature.
-Their strength often seems unbelievable.
-They intelligently use their time to create more productive environments that needs little care.

We cannot go back and become hunter gatherers, nor would we likely want to, but these people have some important lessons we could integrate into our civilization for its betterment.
More to read:
Hunter Gatherers And The Golden Age Of Man
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Old 04-26-2011, 10:24 PM
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Truly enjoyable read. Sigh, how I envy hunter gatherers

Thanks for posting mate
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Old 04-28-2011, 01:15 PM
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I most definitely agree with The Silver Stag on that one, the life of a hunter-gatherer is something I envy so much. Sadly as red also said, it is most likely very difficult for us to return to this again, as an entire race. Although, I don't know how many people would turn it down, honestly. I generally believe that people almost fear this way of life, simply because of the way people see tribalists. As blood-thirsty and 'evil' savages who would sooner kill you than look at you. That is the way these people are often portrayed in popular culture, which is a sad way to percieve it all really.

I think the classic phrase "Don't knock it 'till you've tried it" may be applicable in this case.
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Old 04-28-2011, 07:10 PM
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We need to find the best of both
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Old 05-09-2011, 10:17 PM
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Hehe, good thread.
Indeed I am not even sure how many people would turn it down after trying it for a while. At least numerous anthopologists of all times have been drawn into that and could never get it out of their heads again. And during the colonization of North America, many Europeans have been captured by the indians and vice versa. Interestingly, the europeans captured by the indians upon returning to their settlements had a desire to go back to the indians and had to be kept inside the settlement by imposing punishment on them if they leave. In contrast, the indians captured by the white people always were really happy to return to their people, even if they have not been treated bad but rather have been given education and rather been treated like guests.

I also think that this way of life simply is what humans have evolved to. It is our natural way of life. If we want to be a happy human race, we have to recognize that and fulfil these needs as well as the other needs we have and that make us happy - to be with people but not in dense crowds, to see green plants and animals, to have food that we evolved to eat,...etc

If that needs to be done or can potentially be done by actually living a H&G life - I can imagine that it is so and that industrial civlization is a mere blip in earths history in which case the people living afterwards can only hope that not all the cycles of life have been broken and they still have somehting to hunt and gather. Another often promoted way is to "somehow" incorporate elements of that life in our civilized lives. To me this seems a bit strange and artificial and I do not know if it can work. Of course we already try - we gather our food in supermarkets, we play role playing games and sports for adventure and we hunt for good opportunities and cheap prices - But I think as long as it is only a supplement, something we always can opt out of, something to do in the free time - as long as the majority of our lives still is lived in chronic stress (tell me about the stress of doing a PhD...) and in an unfavourable environment, the positive effect of these incorporations are limited. Yes, we feel a lot better if we see a tree in a park compared to living only in a concrete city, but while that keeps us going, it does not compare to the wonders of walking though an old growth natural forest.

But I do not want to tell the same stories again - I'd like to know how do you think could the properties of such a HG life that appeal to us, that are reminescent of our ancestors life, that we have evolved to live - how can we truely incorporate them into out present or future lives with all the gadgets, machines, cities, skyscrapers, cars and jobs sitting in front of PCs?
The first article lists some of the things that can be done - do you think it is enough and adequate to be a "weekend hunter gatherer wannabe"? - or does it have to go deeper? Are there things that you personally do?
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Old 05-10-2011, 11:18 PM
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So you'd impose your choice upon others?
Also, you completely misunderstand the process of evolution - there is no goal that is 'evolved to' (despite what very bad films sometimes imply and certain people who tend to believe what they want to think, whether out of ignorance or some attempt to fit the actual facts into their choice) but it is based upon the circumstances of the time - humans these days are far taller than early humans as one example, due to little more than selective pressures of attraction.

I also doubt that 'everyone who met the native americans wanted to live like that' as you imply - you have a very romanticised and idealised view of them (and other similar people) which I would say does not actually correspond with reality - there are individuals from all extremes within all people, and while they may well have been happy most of the time, you ignore facts such as that they did regularly have wars among themselves, such as during shortages of food - it isn't necessarily bad if you honestly can live like that, but most people an not, and your ideal is to force such on everyone regardless of personal choice (or the fact that 99% of people would die by starvation, or else cause widespread ecological devastation for survival).

The goal of what most people consider as a future which does not involve extinction or loss of everything, is simply understanding and responsibility where the environment is concerned, but not living in a cave and spending all day looking for food and shelter, unless someone wants to do that personally.
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Old 05-11-2011, 03:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Human No More View Post
So you'd impose your choice upon others?
I thought she was just making an observation...?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Human No More View Post
Also, you completely misunderstand the process of evolution - there is no goal that is 'evolved to' (despite what very bad films sometimes imply and certain people who tend to believe what they want to think, whether out of ignorance or some attempt to fit the actual facts into their choice) but it is based upon the circumstances of the time - humans these days are far taller than early humans as one example, due to little more than selective pressures of attraction.
Actually, that's not true. Take a look at Jared Diamond's essay "The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race." And I quote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jared Diamond
One straight forward example of what paleopathologists have learned from skeletons concerns historical changes in height. Skeletons from Greece and Turkey show that the average height of hunger-gatherers
5 toward the end of the ice ages was a generous 5’ 9" for men, 5’ 5" for
women. With the adoption of agriculture, height crashed, and by 3000 B.
C. had reached a low of only 5’ 3" for men, 5’ for women. By classical
times heights were very slowly on the rise again, but modern Greeks and
Turks have still not regained the average height of their distant
ancestors.
As for everything else, here's a link to Diamond's read, take from it what you wish.

Jared Diamond - The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race
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The Dreamer's Manifesto

Mike Malloy, a voice of reason in a world gone mad.

"You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling." - Inception

"Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy **** we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off." - Tyler Durden
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Old 05-11-2011, 11:18 PM
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So selective pressures reversed over time - you act like that has any bearing on my point at all, which is a complete misunderstanding - it was an example, showing that there is no 'purpose' or 'end state'* but the traits that prove optimal for survival and/or reproduction are selected for and become expressed in more offspring, with no end goal.

* Something that, as I said earlier, is generally a myth believed by certain people who rely on general ignorance to continue to push their beliefs in the face of contradicting evidence
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Old 05-12-2011, 02:07 AM
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Quote:
Outside a division of labor, women have total social equality with men.
...uh, which groups were they talking about there?
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Old 05-12-2011, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Human No More View Post
So you'd impose your choice upon others?
- where did I say that? I know your view of me is that I want to force all people to live in caves or die, but that is not so and it definitely is not what I said here.

If anything, my argument is that a "life in a cave" is something humans are fit to do and that if it comes to that because no other ways are found, it would not be as horrible as people are made to believe. What I believe is, that the hierarchy of priorities should be different as it is now. Now, modern lifestyle and industrial civilization is primary, the desire to have cellphones, space travel, cars, computers and large heated houses with a hot tub is primary. Social issues are secondary, the poor depend on charity from the ones that have something to spare after they have reached the lifestyle they want, the hungry can eat when the rich have become obese. And Nature is tertiary, valued mainly as a nice thing to have, as something beautiful, as a place for recreation but the other two points are more important. This has to change drastically, because in the end 1 and 2 hinge on 3 to do well. There can be no human well being without a living planet. So the least I would call for is to place all three things equal, but I tend to give #3 and #2 a higher priority than #1. And actually when it comes to it, I probably would also favour #3 over #2 (in the context of if #2 will result in the degradation of #3 in a way that harms not only #3 but by that in the end also #2).
What that shifted priorities would result in I do not know, it may mean "living in caves" (actually people rarely lived in caves), it may mean a highly ecologically aware bright green spiritually enlightened ecotopia or it may be something very different altogether. And what I say is that if people do not make it into a very different form of civilization that takes care of nature in an unprecedented way, it will go to an end and then who will be left will have to hope that there is enough left to "live in a cave". And frankly I do not see the changes that would be required to avoid this right now. I see baby steps by some people and denial or opposition by others.

Anyways -
Quote:
Also, you completely misunderstand the process of evolution
Not really. You just misunderstood my argument.
Of course human evolution is not going to a goal or even finished, but it is as you said about how fit one is for the circumstances. And clearly it is not really debatable that humans have evolved to fit a certain lifestyle for hundreds of thousands of years. And that was band societies, rather egalitarian, hunting and gathering, eating a mix of meat and fish and vegetables, running a lot, being outside a lot and as the OP said always living in an adventure. That was the starting point. From that, the circumstances have changed drastically and we now live in concrete boxes with little green, sitting in a chair all day long or working backbreaking repetitive tasks and eat corn and wheat and meat mostly. For that situation, our body and minds do not fit so well paradoxically (paradoxically because we are supposed to have created the environment so that it fits us in an attempt to not having to adapt ourselves to the environment). So at the current state, evolution is off the track, we do not in evolutionary terms fit well in the circumstances we live in in some ways which causes health and mental issues. In addition to that, we have eliminated the means of evolution to work, because of the undoubtedly beneficial modern medical advances. They are nice to have, but from an evolutionary standpoint they are not helping.

Quote:
I also doubt that 'everyone who met the native americans wanted to live like that' as you imply - you have a very romanticised and idealised view of them (and other similar people) which I would say does not actually correspond with reality
I give a lot of credit to Benjamin Franklin who at least was living at that time and he has some things to say on that...
I am not saying everyone would, but many would. Not because they like having no more part in the advances of civilization, not because they do not want the things it offers, but because they do not want to suffer from the consequences of it - from alienation, fragmentation, distancing, opression, violence and so on. Of course everyone would like to have it all, but it seems that given the choice, at least quite a few people choose something other than they themselves would have thought.

Definitely it is not an utopia - certainly it is not. In some aspects it is "worse" (more walking, more carrying things, more need for constant awareness, health issues) but in others it is "advanced" (social issues, mental issues, overall health).

Quote:
The goal of what most people consider as a future which does not involve extinction or loss of everything, is simply understanding and responsibility where the environment is concerned, but not living in a cave and spending all day looking for food and shelter, unless someone wants to do that personally.
seems that is not really that "simple" though ....

I have my doubts that industrialism can work in a way that allows it to coexist with the rest of the world, but maybe there are some ways. But what definitely not works out is the mentality behind it, the priorities I described above, the purely mechanistic view of the world, the view of the world as a "natural resource" that has to be "exploited". That words alone make me cringe. So there are many elements in our culture, the dominant culture that are not working together with the idea that this lifestyle can be kept up while still having a living planet. So much would have to change - not in terms of technology but in terms of social, cultural, mental terms that I doubt seriously that it can happen. Heck, people still are damming rivers for copper smelters, burning more coal every year to make throwaway gadgets and people still claim that global warming does not exist, oil, coal, copper, etc will never run out and that it is a wise idea to take all one can get and leave a desert (agriculture with annual monocrops, clearcutting, bottom trawler fishing, aquifer-watered farming). One would think that a generation after all these things have been identified as severe problems at least the acceptance would be there and policy would have changed to reflect that, but instead there is still widespread denial that something is wrong at all - or if it is seen, then it is seen as "the price to pay".

If we can have computers and cars and at the same time can have a living healthy planet with functioning stable ecosystems, then I would not want to deny anyone these things.
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"Humans are storytellers. These stories then can become our reality. Only when we loose ourselves in the stories they have the power to control us. Our culture got lost in the wrong story, a story of death and defeat, of opression and control, of separation and competition. We need a new story!"
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Old 05-13-2011, 01:52 AM
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Fair enough on evolution then. Humans have evolved to a certain environment and lifestyle, yes, but then again, humans that are close enough to be fully biologically compatible are still found anywhere from the arctic to rainforest to deserts to cities, with only minor differences.

As for priority - why should anything be prioritised over anything else? That implies that they are mutually exclusive, when such things neither are nor have to be, with the possible exception of social issues, which are more a function both of politics and overpopulation.
I even agree on views of the world as simply a resource in many cases - but that doesn't mean that people should view themselves as inferior any more than they should consider themselves more important. In many cases such as mentioned (coal, etc.), then the main reason is a mentality that someone else will do it. That's where the change is needed. Some of your views before have been relatively easy to take as the opinion that everything that you can't find appearing on Earth by itself should not exist, it is good to know that is not the actual case, and I honestly agree with the idea of greater responsibility and living with the way things are rather than attempting to change them - but that is not a reason to avoid having anything.
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