Thanks to shows like Ancient Aliens, the idea that early civilizations could create structures like the Great Pyramids without supernatural help is being questioned more than ever. On this second installment of Good Question, Jack learns about the staggering things prehistoric peoples were able to accomplish, no aliens required. First, he will talk to Charles Mann, the author of "1491," about the surprisingly advanced technology North Americans had before Columbus arrived. Then, Jack interviews historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto about the roles of art, gender and cannibalism in ancient civilizations.


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Jack needs to get that there’s a difference between the modern day western world and the one of two or three hundred years ago, jack treated them as interchangeable.

the overly British guy at the end was just getting into complete value judgments about what makes cultures better or worse, and choosing value judgments that reflect badly on the modern west.

Jack seems to come away from his conversation with the British man thinking that the British man had said native people may be smarter than we are (again not sure who jack precisely means by “we”). What he actually did was claim intelligence is subjective then choose a subjective measure of intelligence that makes native people look better.

The British guy’s claim that pre literate people had all the brilliant ideas first is again a total value judgement (I mean I’d say computers and the theory of gravity are brilliant ideas), and kind of unfair on later humans. I mean how are we supposed to have ideas other people have already had before us? There’s no way to know later humans couldn’t have arrived at ideas like imagining other worlds, on their own because they inherited those ideas ready made from their preliterate ancestors.

I’m totally unclear on way jack was dismissive of writing by the end? Many of the civilisations he was praising (the Mayans and the Aztecs) had writing