The Evolution of Material Well-Being

At any time earlier than about 1000 AD, the material standard of living of almost every person was close to the minimum needed to sustain life. Societies in which the majority of the people attained a significantly higher standard of living have emerged only within the last two or three hundred years…

”O excellent! I love long life better than figs.”

Improved material well-being resulted in substantially longer lives. Infant mortality (defined as death within the first year of life) declined, and the life expectancy of those who survived infancy rose. Malnutrition and its associated diseases became less common, and the mass killers, famine and plague, receded…

Civilization and Disease

Humans are an environmental niche, and organisms arise through mutation to populate it. The survival of a colonizing organism depends upon its ability to adapt to the human body, and upon the body’s ability to adapt to it…

Why Were the Americas So Underdeveloped when Europeans Reached Them?

Mesopotamia at 1500 BC looks much like Mesoamerica at 1000 AD. The Eurasians had three thousand years to build upon their Mesopotamian foundations before the coming together of the New and Old Worlds. The Americans, by contrast, had only five hundred years…

Britain in the Early Eighteenth Century

Who were the people that brought about the Industrial Revolution? Although they had much in common with the Dutch, they were different from other Europeans in a number of ways. They were also very different from the British of a century earlier…