Easter Island: Genocide or Ecocide

John Hawks has an extended discussion of Jared Diamond’s new book, Collapse, from which I discovered this recent paper [PDF] by archaeologist, Benny Peiser of Liverpool John Moores University. Titled From Genocide to Ecocide: The Rape of Rapa Nui, the paper tackles head on the evidence Diamond uses to assert that the residents of Easter Island (aka Rapa Nui) committed ecological suicide, or ecocide.

While his theory of ecocide has become almost paradigmatic in environmental circles, a dark and gory secret hangs over the premise of Easter Island’s self-destruction: an actual genocide terminated Rapa Nui’s indigenous populace and its culture. Diamond, however, ignores and fails to address the true reasons behind Rapa Nui’s collapse. Why has he turned the victims of cultural and physical extermination into the perpetrators of their own demise? This paper is a first attempt to address this disquieting quandary. It describes the foundation of Diamond’s environmental revisionism and explains why it does not hold up to scientific scrutiny.


According to Peiser, the primary evidence Diamond relies upon are oral traditions from the residents of Rapa Nui and from historical sources, not from the archaeological record. There are several problems with this. First of all, the oral traditions of the Rapa Nui are highly suspect:

It is generally agreed that Rapa Nui’s oral traditions are untrustworthy and of relatively late origin; they are extremely contradictory and historically unreliable. As Bellwood (1978) emphasises: “By the time detailed observations were made in the 1880s, the old culture was virtually dead [...] It is my own suspicion that none [of the traditions] are valid.” Most of the information was “gleaned from a few surviving natives from the late nineteenth century onwards, by then decimated, demoralised and culturally impoverished population which had lost most of the collective cultural- historical memory” (Flenley and Bahn, 2003).

In spite of this widely-held consensus among researchers, Diamond insists that these highly questionable records are reliable. In his view, “those traditions contain much evidently reliable information about life on Easter in the century or so before European arrival” (Diamond, 2005:88). Without his confidence in the reliance on mythology and concocted folklore, Diamond would lack any evidence for pre-European civil wars, cannibalism and societal collapse.

Secondly, his reading of the historical sources is highly selective.

there are compelling reports from the late 18th century that Rapa Nui was far from being in a state of terminal decline … Yet Diamond does not provide a balanced account of these reports, depicting Easter Island’s natural environment in the bleakest possible way …

He also importantly overlooks evidence that abundant seafood was a crucial part of the diet.

Together with abundant and virtually unlimited sources of seafood, the cultivation of the island’s fertile soil could easily sustain many thousands of inhabitants interminably. In view of the profusion of broadly unlimited food supplies (which also included abundant chickens, their eggs and the islands innumerable rats, a culinary ‘delicacy’ that were always available in abundance), Diamond’s notion that the natives resorted to cannibalism as a result of catastrophic mass starvation is palpably absurd. In fact, there is no archaeological evidence whatsoever for either starvation or cannibalism.

But the most damming argument of all, and one that directly relates to our discussions concerning Yali’s question, is that Diamond overlooks the importance of the historical context in which the oral traditions he relies upon were produced.

It is important to understand the context of these early conversations. While the customary keepers of traditional folklore had been deported or killed, the island’s ethnicity had changed as a result of population transfers on the 1860s and 70s, with an influx of a number of foreign Polynesians on Easter Island (Thomson, 1891:453). As Holton (2004) points out, “most of the island’s myths were collected in the nineteenth century, after the population collapse.” This was during a time when much of the cultural memory was “already contaminated by tales from Tahiti and the Marquesas, and elements of Christianity.” Yet Diamond, who heavily relies on these unreliable records, fails to mention that these myths and legends were written down by Europeans after they had converted the survivors to their own belief system.

In the one case where Diamond does rely upon archaeological data, the evidence appears to contradict him:

Diamond also employs archaeological evidence for his claim of the pre-European date of civil war and societal collapse. He refers to obsidian points (mataa) as indicators of increased fighting as a result of environmental degradation. Their exact dating, however, remains ambiguous. Bahn and Flenley (1992:165) point out that these spear points only “proliferated in the 18th and 19th centuries when they became the commonest artefact on the island”.

The implications of archaeological evidence thus contradict Diamond’s argument that the collapse occurred prior to Easter’s traumatic collision with European visitors and attackers. Rainbird (2002:446) emphasises: “It thus appears from the evidence presented by Bahn and Flenley themselves that the majority of the major indicators of apparent competition, warfare, and social disarray, apparently caused by islander-induced ecodisaster, dates to the decades and centuries following initial European visits.”

But what is most disturbing is the extent to which Diamond seems determined to avoid looking at the actual genocidal violence of the colonial encounter.

The striking lack of research into actual European atrocities contrasts noticeably with the fixation of most researchers on hypothesised ecological ‘suicide’ which is squarely blamed on the self-destructive actions of the natives themselves. As a result, our knowledge about the exact number, gravity and detrimental consequences of the more than 50 European incursions on Easter Island during the 19th century remains extremely incomplete. We don’t even know whether the island’s population – before it crashed in the 1860s and 70s – stood at 3,000, 5,000 or as high as 20,000, a dubiously high estimate provided by A.A. Salmon who was the first to take a population census in 1886 (Thomson, 1891:460).

What is undisputed, however, is that as a result of the series of slave raids, the subsequent small pox pandemics and numerous population transfers of the 1860s and ‘70s, the population was chopped down to a mere 100-odd survivors in 1877.

It seems strange that Diamond would overlook a story of guns, germs, and steel, but I suppose a different book title needs different kinds of evidence.

In many ways, Diamond’s methodological approach suffers from a manifest lack of scientific scrutiny. Instead of carefully weighing up and critically assessing the quality, authenticity and reliability of the data he employs to support his arguments, he consistently selects only the data and interpretations that seem to confirm his conviction that Easter Island self-destructed.

UPDATE: Serious doubts have been raised about the reliability of this author and the journal that this critique was published in. Please read the comments below for more details.

29 thoughts on “Easter Island: Genocide or Ecocide

  1. Pingback: HotBlogsToday.com
  2. It was Heyerdahl’s conviction – based on his belief in the authenticity of these myths and oral traditions – that the large statues were produced by the superior Caucasian settlers during what he called the Middle Period. These were members of a race of “light-skinned” people who were called ‘Long-Ears’ due to their large plugs that elongated their earlobes. According to Heyerdahl’s race theory, they constructed the stone statues, cutting them in their own image (Holton, 2004). It was during this imaginary zenith of the island’s civilisation that the “dark-skinned” Polynesian migrants arrived. After centuries of peaceful coexistence, conflicts between the two races mounted and finally culminated in a war of extermination. Relying on dubious and largely unreliable genealogies put together by the island’s parish priest, Father Sebastian Englert (1948/1970), Heyerdahl maintained that the legendary “race war” resulted in the extermination of the light-skinned ‘Long-Ears’ by their dark-skinned adversaries and the termination of the statue cult in AD 1680 (Heyerdahl and Ferdon, 1961). Thus, the mythological civil war which caused the collapse of the statue cult plays a decisive role in Heyerdahl’s racial history of Easter Island’s collapse. It is important to understand the implications of Heyerdahl’s revisionism.

    According to his plot, the destruction of Rapa Nui’s statue cult and its complex society was not the fault of European perpetrators. On the contrary, he blamed the natives for their own demise: Heyerdahl claimed that shortly before the arrival of the Europeans, in 1680 to be precise, a civil war had already led to Easter Island’s self-destruction.

    Full: http://www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis/EE%2016-34_Peiser.pdf

    ===

    KENNEWICK MAN

    ANCIENT CAUCASIAN IN NORTH AMERICA
    This article is adapted from the summer 1997 issue of The Runestone.

    “THE STORY SO FAR…”

    About a year ago, scientists examined the 9,300 year old remains of a man who died near what is now Kennewick, Washington. Skeletal measurements showed strong Caucasoid traits, leading to the idea that relatives of modern Europeans might have made the long trek across the Bering land bridge many thousands of years ago.

    The Asatru Folk Assembly filed suit in Federal court to keep the remains from being surrendered to local Indian tribes. Our feeling was that if the deceased was one of our ancestors, he ought not to be buried by an alien people. In order to clearly say just who are the “next of kin,” futher study is necessary – study which the Indian tribes say they will not permit if the bones are turned over to them.

    As the months passed, evidence accumulated to show that the earliest peoples in the Americas may have been either Caucasians or their immediate relatives. Native American groups have strongly contested this idea, perceiving that they have much to lose if their status as the “First Americans” is overturned. Alongside this is the prevailing cultural norm which dictates that any development which might benefit European Americans at the expense of any other group is to be resisted and condemned.

    The legal battle continues, but the truth is out. The idea that Caucasians played a role in the very early peopling of this land is now respectable, and increasingly well known. The establishment will have a very hard time sweeping this information under history’s rug!

    Full: http://www.runestone.org/km.html

  3. that’s kind of a bummer to learn about. I always had a soft spot for Thor Heyerdahl and Kon-Tiki, just on the crazy dreamer principle.

  4. Er, I don’t think Peiser is an archaeologist. He’s a social anthropologist. He’s well-known on the net for criticizing Naomi Oreskes’ review of global warming literature. Chris Mooney. Tim Lambert. Henry Farrell.

    The journal in which Peiser’s paper was published, Energy & Environment, appears to be a forum for global warming denial; the current issue consists of criticisms of Diamond’s Collapse. In short, it seems that the global-warming-denial folks have launched an attack on Diamond.

  5. For anyone who hasn’t read Collapse, the chapter on Easter Island is based on a 1995 article in Discover, “Easter Island’s End”, available online.

    I just wanted to point out that Peiser isn’t an archaeologist; he’s a social anthropologist. He’s well-known on the net for criticizing Naomi Oreskes’ review of global warming literature. Chris Mooney. Tim Lambert. Henry Farrell.

    The journal in which Peiser’s paper was published, Energy & Environment, appears to be a forum for global warming denial; the current issue consists of criticisms of Diamond’s Collapse. In short, it seems that the global-warming-denial folks have decided to launch an attack on Diamond.

  6. Russil Wvong said: “In short, it seems that the global-warming-denial folks have decided to launch an attack on Diamond.”

    Well, that’s it then. If the people who raise doubts about global warming are also raising doubts about Diamond’s scholarship, we can safely assume that Diamond is correct. No need for evidence at all.

  7. “Well, that’s it then. If the people who raise doubts about global warming are also raising doubts about Diamond’s scholarship, we can safely assume that Diamond is correct. No need for evidence at all.”

    I wouldn’t say that. But I wouldn’t put too much weight on Energy & Environment’s criticisms, because they do have a political agenda, namely to downplay environmental issues. I was surprised to see Kerim citing Peiser’s article, although I’m guessing he didn’t know about E&E’s political agenda. (It’s the same journal that published McIntyre and McKitrick’s attack on the “hockey stick”.)

    As a general reader, my impression of Diamond’s books is that he’s not driven by a political agenda. But I’d certainly be interested in other criticisms of Diamond’s account of what happened to Easter Island: from what we know, did Easter Island suffer an environmentally-induced collapse, resulting in a population crash and cannibalism, or didn’t it?

    If it did, that’s a pretty compelling argument for taking environmental concerns seriously. From an economist’s point of view, as a resource becomes scarce, people will come up with substitutes for it; and it will also become more valuable, so people will naturally conserve it. But this didn’t happen on Easter Island.

    If there’s scholarly controversy over the argument that Easter Island suffered a major collapse, I haven’t been able to locate it using Google, although of course other people may be able to do a better job of searching for it. I did a Google Scholar search on Easter Island: The Simple Economics of Easter Island, Late Quaternary pollen records from Easter Island, A recently extinct palm from Easter Island. Doing a Google search on “easter island review”, the first hit is a book review of The Enigmas of Easter Island (John Flenley and Paul Bahn) and Among Stone Giants (Jo Anne Van Tilburg) by Diamond himself, in the New York Review of Books.

    Peiser cites Flenley and Bahn as well as evidence against Diamond; but from looking at the Amazon page for Flenley and Bahn’s book, it looks like it gives the same account as Diamond: “Bahn (Written in Bones; The Cambridge Illustrated History of Archaeology; etc.) and ecologist Flenley cover other aspects of the island’s vanished culture, from the remarkable seafaring skills of the Polynesians who settled the island to the prevalence of phallic, vulval and birdman motifs in the islanders’ eccentric artistic stylings. Above all, they see Easter Island’s saga as a cautionary tale of mankind’s ‘eco-stupidity.’ As the Polynesians and the rats they brought with them decimated the once verdant forests, the island withered into a treeless desert stalked by famine, violence and possibly cannibalism–a microcosm illustrating the consequences of resource depletion for an all too finite Earth.”

  8. Searching for citations for the Rainbird article in Google Scholar (to see what other people thought of it), only three citations appear, one of which is Peiser’s. Another one is available online, but curiously, it presents the same account as Diamond (ecodisaster happened prior to contact).

  9. Russil,

    Thanks for the background story – which I was unaware of. I would have mentioned it if I was. However, I don’t think it affects my reading of the article. The concerns he expresses regarding the importance of contextualizing oral data in terms of the colonial encounter in which that data was collected are perfectly valid, no matter what the motivation might be.

  10. You’re welcome, Kerim. My suggestion would be to read Diamond’s article (or the book chapter) and compare it to Peiser’s characterization: “According to Peiser, the primary evidence Diamond relies upon are oral traditions from the residents of Rapa Nui and from historical sources, not from the archaeological record.” In fact Diamond is relying primarily on the archaeological record, not oral traditions: most of Diamond’s article discusses pollen analysis by Flenley and King, and analysis of animal bones in garbage dumps by Steadman.

  11. Well, it is all well and good to cast aspersions on Peiser. I myself winced at his dismissal of Marxism, especially since he conflated Jared Diamond’s attempt at understanding historical laws with it, albeit wrongheadedly. The one thing that stuck with me, however, is the Heyerdahl angle. Although I haven’t really thought that much about him since 6th grade when the teacher talked about the recently published “Kon-Tiki,” the notion that a “caucasoid” race erected the massive stone heads is–to put it bluntly–racist. That sticks in my craw almost as much as Diamond’s veiled suggestion that Haiti went downhill because it was too *African*.

  12. Russil,

    I’ve read the online essay (but not yet the book chapter). The archeological data discussed in the chapter is explicitly discussed by Peiser, who asks: If the forests disappeared so early, how come the statues continued to be built and transported centuries later? A fair question. He also points to contemporary accounts which do describe palm trees on the island.

    Also, I think it is safe to assume that the oral histories are used more extensively by Diamond in the book, unless you think Peiser is just making stuff up. Although I plan to read the book eventually, I don’t have the time at present. However, it seems that the archaeological data is not enough to demonstrate the collapse of the society at the time of European contact, and that both Diamond and Peiser need the oral data in order to establish the state of Easter Island civilization at that time.

    There is one piece of oral history used by Diamond in this chapter which Peiser does discuss – that of Captain Cook’s account of his arrival. Here Peiser makes a strong case that there were contradictory accounts in other reports from that period and that Diamond is fairly selective to choose only Cook’s account. For this reason it seems to me that Peiser’s objections are worth taking seriously, even if he is wrong and even if the journal he is publishing in has dubious origins.

  13. “Also, I think it is safe to assume that the oral histories are used more extensively by Diamond in the book, unless you think Peiser is just making stuff up.”

    I’ve got the book in front of me, and I’ve just re-read the chapter. Diamond doesn’t rely heavily on oral histories in the book, either. Pages 79-82 are introductory. Pages 83-86 cover Easter Island’s geography, and provide a map. Pages 87-89 discuss Polynesian settlement of Easter Island; there’s a brief reference to oral tradition on page 88. Pages 90-93 discuss agriculture and population estimates. Pages 93-95 discuss political structure. Pages 95-99 discuss the statues. Pages 99-102 discuss how the statues were erected; some of the material in this section is based on oral tradition, but it’s also based on experimental tests and statues which were only partially completed. Pages 102-107 discuss botanical history and diet, based on pollen analysis, analysis of middens, and other archaeological methods. Pages 107-111 discuss the consequences of deforestation; this includes some material based on oral tradition, but Diamond includes archaeological evidence as well (e.g. human bones cracked to extract the marrow in middens). Page 112 discusses the European impact on Easter Island. Pages 113-114 discuss alternative theories of how Easter Island became deforested. Pages 115-118 discuss geographic factors that made Easter Island particularly at risk for deforestation. Pages 118-119 conclude the chapter.

    Is Peiser making stuff up? Yes, I think so. He’s making it sound as though Diamond came up with this theory to push an environmentalist agenda, when in fact Diamond is just summarizing the results of various other researchers, e.g. Flenley and Bahn.

    Regarding trees on Easter Island, for example. Diamond: “The Easter Island that [Roggeveen] viewed was a wasteland with not a single tree or bush over 10 feet tall.” (Emphasis added.) On pp.102-103, Diamond describes the plants on Easter, including the toromiro.

    Peiser says that Diamond “encountered an island devoid of trees”, and then says, what about the toromiro?

    European impact. Diamond: “The sad story of European impacts on Easter Islanders may be quickly summarized. After Captain Cook’s brief sojourn in 1774, there was a steady trickle of European visitors. As documented for Hawaii, Fiji, and many other Pacific Islands, they must be assumed to have introduced European diseases and thereby to have killed many previously unexposed islanders, though our first specific mention of such an epidemic is of smallpox around 1836. Again as on other Pacific islands, “black-birding,” the kidnapping of islanders to become laborers, began on Easter around 1805 and climaxed in 1862-63, the grimmest year of Easter’s history, when two dozen Peruvian ships abducted about 1,500 people (half of the surviving population) and sold them at auction to work in Peru’s guano mines and other menial jobs. Most of those kidnapped died in captivity. Under international pressure, Peru repatriated a dozen surviving captives, who brought another smallpox epidemic to the island. Catholic missionaries took up residence in 1864. By 1872 there were only 111 islanders left on Easter.

    “European traders introduced sheep to Easter in the 1870s and claimed land ownership. In 1888 the Chilean government annexed Easter, which effectively became a sheep ranceh managed by a Chile-based Scottish company. All islanders were confined to living in one village and to working for the company, being paid in goods at the company store rather than in cash. A revolt by the islanders in 1914 was ended by the arrival of a Chilean warship. Grazing by the company’s sheep, goats, and horses caused soil erosion and eliminated most of what had remained of the native vegetation, including the last surviving hauhau and toromiro individuals on Easter around 1934….”

    Peiser: “While [Diamond's] theory of ecocide has become almost paradigmatic in environmental circles, a dark and gory secret hangs over the premise of Easter Island’s self-destruction: an actual genocide terminated Rapa Nui’s indigenous populace and its culture.”

    Kerim: “There is one piece of oral history used by Diamond in this chapter which Peiser does discuss – that of Captain Cook’s account of his arrival. Here Peiser makes a strong case that there were contradictory accounts in other reports from that period and that Diamond is fairly selective to choose only Cook’s account.”

    I’m afraid I don’t know enough about the various accounts to be able to say whether this is a fair criticism or not.

  14. Russil,

    Thanks for the exhaustive summary. The most damning thing I see in your summary is regarding the toromiro. This does indeed raise questions about how much Peiser can be trusted.

    I also found an inconsistency in the two essays regarding cannibalism. Peiser says that there is no evidence in Diamond, other than oral histories, for collapse and cannibalism, but the paper you linked to discusses archaeological evidence, including piles of human bones and the decline of certain other types of food. I assume this is in the chapter as well.

    Have you looked at Orliac and Orliac (1998)? It would also be interesting to look at what they actually say about deforestation, since they seem to be the ones who throw most doubt on the archaeological data.

    NOTE: I’ve updated the original post to reflect these concerns (directing people to read the comments).

  15. Thanks, Kerim. I really dislike ExxonMobil’s attempt to downplay environmental problems, especially when they resort to astroturf-style tactics. (What really kills me is the fact that these industry-funded organizations have names deliberately chosen to sound non-partisan, e.g. International Policy Network, George C. Marshall Institute.)

    I’ll see if I can locate the 1998 Orliac and Orliac paper (the Diamond chapter refers a couple times to findings by the Orliacs). I can’t find any libraries which have a copy of the proceedings in which the paper was published, so I may end up ordering it from the publisher (the Easter Island foundation).

    I did look up and read the 2002 Rainbird paper. I don’t think it cited much new evidence (Rainbird’s area of specialization appears to be the Caroline islands), it just argued for a different interpretation of Flenley and Bahn’s evidence.

    I’ll also pick up Flenley and Bahn’s book.

  16. Great comments! It seems to me, from the BBS documentary panel discussing the issues, that there was a massive breakdown prior to “discovery” that Diamond is quite right about. However, the islanders did not completely self-destruct, and in fact were experiencing a “fragile recovery” with their island still capable of supporting a sizable population despite the destruction of trees and their inability to build large canoes and to transport statues. Then they got devastated by the western invaders. So I suspect that Diamond is probably not correct in arguing that the islanders completely destroyed the island prior to conquest — which I think he does say, more or less. Other than that… I think he has his ducks in a row.

  17. Kerim,
    are you seriously telling me, you haven’t read the book that has caused a more than 100 comments long discussion in here ?
    [I had not spent much attention on that one at that time, because I have not read 'Collapse' myself yet.]

  18. I read the online article regarding Easter Island, which I understand to be close to the version in the book. But no, I have not read the book itself. Nor have I claimed to.

    Why should it matter? I’m simply summarizing someone else’s arguments which I think might be of interest to our readers. I haven’t read Hunt’s research either. I just read the USA Today article about it. If you find it interesting you can go read both and come to your own conclusions.

  19. I took it for granted, can’t tell.

    “Why should it matter? I’m simply … “

    It doesn’t matter on both your entries, the one on Hunt’s research and this one, but it is relevant to my understanding of your arguments on Diamond’s Collapse.

    “.. someone else’s arguments which I think might be of interest to our readers.”

    Thank you for that. I was not attacking you.

  20. Benny Peiser and the journal that published him is indeed a dubious source, however his argument appears to be well researched and convincing. I assume there is something to it unless some real Easter Island expert refutes his story as convincingly, or somebody demonstrates that his citations of the primary literature are manipulative. What I find most striking is the coincidence that the alleged self-inflicted collapse of Rapa Nui civilization (around 1680) happened just before European arrival (1722). It seems at least a plausible possibility that the convenient civil war/eco-collapse story (not to speak of the Heyerdahl racist fantasy) has been accepted by some researchers despite lack of evidence. If there was pre-European civil war, shouldn’t there be clear archeological evidence? What do you anthropologists think about how Diamond has made his case? What do you make of the cannibalism argument (on Daily Kos, somebody has argued that cannibalism is a colonialist fantasy anyway)? What I don’t quite understand is the significance of deforestation. Why does it immediately imply ecological collapse? Peiser says that there is abundant fish, and smaller trees have clearly been reported by Europeans.

  21. As an aside, isn’t it remarkable that somebody apparently aligned with the political right goes to such lengths to denounce European colonialism. I get the feeling that Diamond is hardly criticized on the left (here’s a marxist exception: http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/Blaut/diamond.htm) and this may in part be due to ideological reasons. Diamond the anti-racist, Diamond the environmentalist – don’t look too closely at his facts, you may be playing in the the hands of the racist / anti-environmentalist crowd. But Diamond’s focus on ecological collapse may serve to obscure issues like colonialism and economical injustice, e. g. his treatment of Ruanda and Haiti. It would be ironic if we need dubious ideologues like Peiser or Bailey (http://www.reason.com/0508/cr.rb.under.shtml) to bring this back to our attention.

  22. Easter Island

    I just completed translating a wonderful book that my father (dr. in Easter Island for almost two years ) spent with his family when ships went there once a year. I suggest checking out this exciting and non-conventional book:
    Life and Solitude in Easter Island. Visit Authorhouse.com and after tabing bookstore, serach under: family, travel or History
    Great reading from a unique family experience

  23. Quick survey- name all the “ecocides” you can think of.

    Now name all the genocides you can think of. Okay stop.

    Im guessing not too many ecocides and lots of genocides.

    Diamonds account is rife with inconsistencies. He says on page four of “Easter’s end”:

    “Not long after 1400 the palm finally became extinct”

    Which he corrected in “Collapse”, probably realizing that if deforestation was what caused the collapse and civil war…well his dates were off. He says forest clearance “peaked around 1400″ but lengthens the islands forest cover by over 200 years.

    As piglet was saying, why would the extinction of the palm cause the collapse of the civilization? Diamond makes an amazing leap in his discussion of the island’s garbage heaps:

    “Every species of native land bird became extinct…shellfish were overexploited until people had to settle for small sea snails…porpise bones disappeared from garbage heaps around 1500…The Easter Islanders intensified their production of chickens, which had only been an occasional food item. They also turned to the largest remaining meat source available: humans, whose bones became common in late Easter Island garbage heaps.”

    No more turtles and shellfish…so now its time to eat each other. Sure…seems logical on an island with abundant fish supplies and incredibly fertile soil. Diamond says later that chickens and cannibalism just wouldnt quite balance the diet, and that statuettes with sunken cheeks and visible ribs suggest that people were starving.

    I can see my ribs. Am I starving?

    Also, isnt it kind of silly to think that the islanders would keep cutting down the trees just to build the statues? And if the palm was so important, would they not cultivate it when they noticed it was declining instead of letting the rats eat all the nuts? Poor savages. If only they had kept Thor Heyerdahls white “non-semitic” race around, they might have been ok.

    Diamonds story is an agenda driven tale which once again exploits the natives of Easter Island. This is what we get now instead of science…pulp fiction posing as science.

Comments are closed.