Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Defending the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Era

Steve Sailer rightly takes issue with a claim that "there was a sustained lack of productivity growth from 1300 to 1700, which supports his argument that economic expansion is a relatively recent phenomenon and by no means inevitable" — NYT: There was a sustained lack of productivity growth from 1300 to 1700. Really, what's the NYT printed on? Mr. Sailer:
    This may sound persnickety, but it's actually crucially important to understand that there was huge productivity growth in Europe from 1300 to 1700. Most notably, the greatest invention of them all, the printing press from the 1450s onward, seeded Europe with ideas and information. (The single most obvious cause of Islam falling hopelessly behind Christendom was Muslim society and state's hostility to the printing press. Around 1700, as I vaguely recall, there were about as many printing presses in the entire Muslim world as on the Spanish colony of Guam way out in the Pacific.)

    But there were many other technological advances, such as the spread of clocks, which allowed life to be much more efficient, much less hurry-up-and-wait. Eyeglasses were another wonderful development, especially as they solved problems (e.g., myopia) worsened by the spread of literacy.

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