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Aug 26, 2009

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Rick McGinniss

Wow, that is amazing. Stunning, really.

I'm enjoying this series!

Michael W. Kruse

Thanks Rick.

Events of the past two centuries are a mixed bag. But what I hope becomes clear is that at the core issues that affect our material existence, we have seen astonishing change for the good.

David Rowbory

And yet, I wonder if this is really accurate in every respect. What do we make of evidence from the Bible and other written records of people regularly much older than 20-30 years? Do we presume them to be unusual and thus dismiss the evidence? It's a complex matter yet it would seem to me that various places have in the past had vastly _greater_ life expectancy than 100 years ago. And not all groups have 'evolved' from being brutal hunter-gatherers to peaceful agriculturalists etc. It's more complicated than that. Restrict the domain to the last 200 years, and generalise over the whole world (but especially Europe) and this may be accurate, but before then...?

Michael W. Kruse

David, keep in mind that we are talking about average life expectancy at birth. Twenty to thirty percent of live births ended in death in the first year. Live past the first year and your life expectancy at age 1 improved significantly. A sizable number died between 1 and 5 (though not like infant mortality.) Make it to age 5 and your life expectancy at age 5 goes even higher.

So yes there were people who lived several decades in cultures throughout history. What you don't see are the great majority who didn't live that long.

The general ranges of short life expectancy at birth and high infant mortality in history across cultures are not in dispute among historians and demographers.

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