Wednesday, April 18, 2007

book notes

Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches by Marvin Harris

Pork may have have been outlawed by Middle Eastern religions because, in addition to pigs being maladaptive livestock for a desert environment, pigs competed with humans for the same kind of foods: fruits, nuts, tubers, grain. Like humans, they can't digest grass. In a subsistence-level economy, the rich could divert food from the poor to support the rich's taste for pork.

War in primitive societies served as population control but did not do so by killing males. Males are irrelevant to population growth. Rather, the threat of war put a social premium on having boys rather than girls, thereby reducing the girl population through infaside, malnourishment, or neglect. Fewer girls limit population growth.