Articles to 2022-02-02

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First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.


With an autoimmune reaction it is quite plausible for vaccines to show the same effect as an infection. What surprised me in Couzin-Frankel & Vogel is the assertion that makers informed the regulator. I had always understood it to be the other way round.


Katzourakis lists several endemic diseases that are still highly virulent and deadly. For one two become harmless two additional conditions have to be fulfilled. The disease has to be mild in children and the young and prior infection has to confer long lasting immunity at least against severe courses. For Covid the first is certainly the case and the second seems increasingly probable. If so, it’s well on its way to becoming one of the many ubiquitous childhood diseases.


From the time I first heard it in an introductory lesson, I have always been annoyed by the glib assertion that “people adapted” to climate crises. Hunter-gatherers have mostly had meat-rich diets. The very point of a cereal based agriculture was the much higher population density it allowed. So when Marshall claims people adapted by eating meat, what he really means is, the majority starved and a tiny remnant survived by reverting to hunting. Of course drought hits pasture land as well and the carrying capacity will have been even less than in pre-Neolithic good times.

There may well be no mass graves to be found. Preserved graves are the exception anyway, only a tiny minority of all the people who ever lived have come down to us. We don’t have that many commoner graves from that time and region in the first place and mass internments at a time of societal breakdown will have the least chance of long term preservation.

If “people had long practised irrigation agriculture” on Tigris and Euphrates rivers, those places will have already been densely settled. The drought may have been less catastrophic there, but it will have been felt too. So how many refugees can they have absorbed?

“People adapted and survived” is true for the species, but it never was for the majority of families and individuals.

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