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Judging__Eagle
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Location: Lake Ontario is in my backyard; Canada

PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

maglag wrote:
Do you have any specific examples of oral trumping written? Because then I must seriously ask why did people bother developing writing and paper and libraries and whatnot if oral is so super awesome.

This is, why do so many smart people insist on making literacy mandatory for everybody if oral is seemingly better at everything?


The rise of sea levels 10,000 years ago has been recorded more accurately in oral traditions than it was in written traditions. Likely due to the fact that in an oral tradition culture any narrative drift is collectively corrected; whereas in a literature tradition any narrative drift is not corrected and becomes the new norm. The problem with an oral tradition culture is that it relies upon the culture being maintained to ensure the knowledge isn't lost.

The reason literature is more advanced & proliferate is that it takes less effort to maintain (once soft clay is baked into stone, it doesn't need to be regularly reviewed/raconteured, nor passed down to the next generation); is vastly more democratizing (you only need to learn literacy to have access to literature, not by-rote memorization of the Method of Loci based data of an oral history); and allows its users to develop wholly new methods of developing new content. Also, the original reason why literacy exists is commerce; the majority of European scripts are modified Phoenician scripts (itself a derivative of Egyptian hieroglyphics).

However, even literature isn't immune to the same problems that can make an oral tradition culture's knowledge become lose. Egyptian hieroglyphics were basically "lost" knowledge for several centuries until the Rosetta stone was found. Likewise, Mycenaean languages such as Linear A, Cypro-Minoan, and the Phaistos Disc are other examples where literature can fail at maintaining cultural information compared to an oral tradition culture. While the Myecenean Linear B is somewhat understood, a fair amount of its characters are not clearly understood.

At the end of the day, the one thing that kills the cultural transferral knowledge is interruptions in the culture's populations ability to continue transferral of said knowledge. The Epics of Gilgamesh were 7,000 years old; and lost for quite a large part of that history due to interruptions. While Australian Aboriginal histories have been able to transfer data for 10,000+ years due to survival despite European colonization.
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Last edited by Judging__Eagle on Wed Jan 10, 2018 1:09 am; edited 1 time in total
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erik
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Judging__Eagle wrote:
maglag wrote:
Do you have any specific examples of oral trumping written? Because then I must seriously ask why did people bother developing writing and paper and libraries and whatnot if oral is so super awesome.

This is, why do so many smart people insist on making literacy mandatory for everybody if oral is seemingly better at everything?


The rise of sea levels 10,000 years ago has been recorded more accurately in oral traditions than it was in written traditions.


Eagle, are you being stupid? There weren't written traditions 10,000 years ago. That could be a factor.


Quote:
The Epics of Gilgamesh were 7,000 years old


Citation pls. The internets tell me you are off by a few thousand years extra, earliest being at 2100 B.C. Unless I overslept this morning and it is the year 5000.

You have offered zero arguments in favor of oral traditions being better than written.
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zeruslord
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm not too worried about the lower-than-modern progress levels making no sense. It's dumb, but it doesn't break any of the stuff that's presented in the rest of the book. What I'd prefer to see is some distinct categories of technology with progress levels explicitly per-category, rather than the assumption that all areas of technology move in lockstep as you get more advanced. Then campaign settings would pick a particular set of technologies at different levels. A typical cyberpunk game would have lots of advanced cybernetic implants but guns that are 20 minutes into the future and no FTL spaceships at all, while a space opera game would likely have minimal cybernetics but lots of spaceships and laser guns. Even the settings they're presenting in the book don't use tech that's all from the same progress level; Genetech uses PL5 weapons but PL6 or 7 genetics.
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Judging__Eagle
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

erik wrote:


Eagle, are you being stupid? There weren't written traditions 10,000 years ago. That could be a factor.


Except for one problem with such a highly limited idea as to what writing traditions are is that it forgets that humans have been recording data for later referral for as from as late as 18,000 years[1], 25-28,000 years[2], and as far back as between 44,200 and 43,000 years[3]. Especially since humans creating glyphic depictions actually goes back to 10,000-12,000 years old[4]. Just because highly stylized non-pictographic forms eventually became the norm for literature with progressing developments in pictogram abstraction (e.g. the Aleph and Bet that form the begining of the alphabet are a stylized ox's head, and a peaked-roofed house; respectively) doesn't mean that only non-pictographic forms should be the only way to decide if something classifies as human data-keeping.

[1]:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishango_bone
[2]:https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlčí_radius
[3]:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebombo_bone
[2]:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Göbekli_Tepe

Quote:

Quote:
The Epics of Gilgamesh were 7,000 years old


Citation pls. The internets tell me you are off by a few thousand years extra, earliest being at 2100 B.C. Unless I overslept this morning and it is the year 5000.

You have offered zero arguments in favor of oral traditions being better than written.


You're right, I was off by a couple thousand years on the history of Gilgamesh. However it's content are much older; closer to the 5,000 BCE than 2700 BCE; which is where I was probably stuck on the notion that it was 7,000 year old content. The Epic of Gilgamesh wasn't solely based on the events of the King of Uruk of c.2700 BCE, but also contains excerpts from texts that describe events from ~10,000 BCE such as glacial flooding as described in the (now lost) Epic of Atrahasis that the Epic of Gilgamesh recounts (& importantly to the fact that written data isn't perfect at transmitting data), but also makes changes to the original account.

The Epic of Gilgamesh's recounting of portions of the (now lost) Epic of Atrahasis[1] survival of the same event is evidence that written accounts have proven to not survive in unbroken success. Even the written versions of the Epic of Gilgamesh was lost for 2,000 years before being rediscovered.
[1]:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atra-Hasis

So yeah, that's actually a good example of how an oral tradition has been able to better transmit a piece of geological-cultural history; Gilgamesh's changes to Atrahasis and it's loss and only partial recovery. The same global events in written form has been lost not just once, but twice, and even then the retained parts are altered in the extant copy. While oral accounts of the same events have survived until only now being recognized as actually accurate.

I'm not saying that oral traditions are in any way superior to literature, but they have shown that they can have benefits that simply recording data onto objects hasn't.
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Omegonthesane
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Judging__Eagle wrote:
erik wrote:


Eagle, are you being stupid? There weren't written traditions 10,000 years ago. That could be a factor.


Except for one problem with such a highly limited idea as to what writing traditions are is that it forgets that humans have been recording data for later referral for as from as late as 18,000 years[1], 25-28,000 years[2], and as far back as between 44,200 and 43,000 years[3]. Especially since humans creating glyphic depictions actually goes back to 10,000-12,000 years old[4]. Just because highly stylized non-pictographic forms eventually became the norm for literature with progressing developments in pictogram abstraction (e.g. the Aleph and Bet that form the begining of the alphabet are a stylized ox's head, and a peaked-roofed house; respectively) doesn't mean that only non-pictographic forms should be the only way to decide if something classifies as human data-keeping.

[1]:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishango_bone
[2]:https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlčí_radius
[3]:[url]url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebombo_bone[/url]
[2]:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Göbekli_Tepe

Quote:

Quote:
The Epics of Gilgamesh were 7,000 years old


Citation pls. The internets tell me you are off by a few thousand years extra, earliest being at 2100 B.C. Unless I overslept this morning and it is the year 5000.

You have offered zero arguments in favor of oral traditions being better than written.


You're right, I was off by a couple thousand years on the history of Gilgamesh. However it's content are much older; closer to the 5,000 BCE than 2700 BCE; which is where I was probably stuck on the notion that it was 7,000 year old content. The Epic of Gilgamesh wasn't solely based on the events of the King of Uruk of c.2700 BCE, but also contains excerpts from texts that describe events from ~10,000 BCE such as glacial flooding as described in the (now lost) Epic of Atrahasis that the Epic of Gilgamesh recounts (& importantly to the fact that written data isn't perfect at transmitting data), but also makes changes to the original account.

The Epic of Gilgamesh's recounting of portions of the (now lost) Epic of Atrahasis[1] survival of the same event is evidence that written accounts have proven to not survive in unbroken success. Even the written versions of the Epic of Gilgamesh was lost for 2,000 years before being rediscovered.
[1]:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atra-Hasis

So yeah, that's actually a good example of how an oral tradition has been able to better transmit a piece of geological-cultural history; Gilgamesh's changes to Atrahasis and it's loss and only partial recovery. The same global events in written form has been lost not just once, but twice, and even then the retained parts are altered in the extant copy. While oral accounts of the same events have survived until only now being recognized as actually accurate.

I'm not saying that oral traditions are in any way superior to literature, but they have shown that they can have benefits that simply recording data onto objects hasn't.

1) If X has benefits over Y, then there likely exists a situation Z in which X is superior to Y. That is, of course, not the same as postulating that X is generally superior to Y, but you forgot that qualifier.

2) (more importantly) I don't think the URL function likes the words Vlčí or Göbekli - your post just didn't show at all until I removed the tags to make those ones links. (Also the third link was typed wrong anyway.)
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Mord
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm struggling to understand how oral traditions can be used to accurately date anything. I can understand how a nonliterate society can retain the knowledge that something happened at some time, but placing the remembered event at a specific moment in time..? That kind of thing you need to have invented the calendar for, and you by definition cannot do that without writing.
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Judging__Eagle
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You're right Omegonthesane, I kept editing the post to get the tags working properly, then to get the special characters in the links working properly; then I had to leave, so I left the post in it's "empty" state until I could back to it.

Mord, I think that it's done by counting different things that people who don't live indoors most of their lives would observe. Sometimes it's astronomical events/positions, other times it's by counting generations; other times it's by counting yearly seasons.
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erik
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
Except for one problem with such a highly limited idea as to what writing traditions are is that it forgets that humans have been recording data for later referral for as from as late as 18,000 years[1], 25-28,000 years[2], and as far back as between 44,200 and 43,000 years[3]. Especially since humans creating glyphic depictions actually goes back to 10,000-12,000 years old[4].


I don’t consider cave paintings or counting notches to be written traditions. Nor should anyone.
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maglag
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Indeed, writing demands an actual structure that repeats itself and thus allows other people to read and understand it, not a series of unique pretty splashes. You simply can't read cave paintings (at best you can try to figure out the intent behind them, but again each one would be its own unique thing), and for all we know it's just pre-historic graffiti because humans just doodle stuff everywhere they go.


Judging__Eagle wrote:

Mord, I think that it's done by counting different things that people who don't live indoors most of their lives would observe. Sometimes it's astronomical events/positions, other times it's by counting generations; other times it's by counting yearly seasons.


So now you're claiming the super tribals could keep track of tens of thousands of years by memory alone? Man, now I wonder why did we bother ever creating calendars then.

Also something I forgot to ask last time, if oral tradition auto-corrects itself thanks to the community as you claim, then how come languages mutate so much every time and actually how did we end up with hundreds(thousands?) of different languages accross the world? If words go extinct all the time or change to completely different meanings, sometimes in a single generation, how are you trusting tales from tens of thousand years ago?
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erik
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Judging__Eagle wrote:
While oral accounts of the same events have survived until only now being recognized as actually accurate.


Citation pls. And if your citation is a bone with notches on it again, you're fired.

I'm lost on why Eagle is saying that stories about Gilgamesh are a good example of oral tradition outlasting written. Were stories of Gilgamesh being passed down orally uninterrupted from 2000 BCE onward? i'm no expert on the matter, but from what I've just read when trying to find an answer, they had been lost entirely for well over a thousand years until rediscovered in the 1800's... thanks to discovery of a written copy.

Or, Eagle, if you're trying to say the legendary flood story of Noah which likely shares the same legendary origin as Atra-Hasis is a credit to oral tradition... well, that story also persisted because it was written down and being read. If the Noah version of Atra-Hasis wasn't written down then I'm sure the version we'd hear about today (if any at all), would be drastically different.
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Almaz
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Honestly I'm inclined to agree with the thesis that oral history could okayishly-accurately record some pretty far-flung histories, as long as you can keep people reciting the repetitive, mnemonic storyline over and over, just, we abandoned that technology when a much better tech came up: the ability to write down what you owe me so I can come by later and break your legs for not paying up and have everyone in the village be able to see the record when people ask me why I broke your legs. An accurate record of trivial details is much more powerful than an accurate record only of cool, big, important stories.

Last edited by Almaz on Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:21 am; edited 1 time in total
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erik
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Whoa. I think I was sleep posting. I recall writing that but then deciding I’d harped enough on Eagle and decided not to hit post. Sleepy erik must’ve had a change of heart. Usually he only answers my phone and does not tell me what was said, or promises to do errands and does not tell me.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Almaz wrote:
Honestly I'm inclined to agree with the thesis that oral history could okayishly-accurately record some pretty far-flung histories, as long as you can keep people reciting the repetitive, mnemonic storyline over and over, juxst, we abandoned that technology when a much better tech came up: the ability to write down what you owe me so I can come by later and break your legs for not paying up and have everyone in the village be able to see the record when people ask me why I broke your legs. An accurate record of trivial details is much more powerful than an accurate record only of cool, big, important stories.

Well, first someone needs to demonstrate you actually can keep people reciting the same stories without drift. I suspect anthropological studies suggest that doesn't actually work out so well at least over the short term. Public history programs do a lot on the persistence of historical memory these days, and it isn't good. Not mutates and changes pretty rapidly, according to the needs of the current generation- unsurprisingly history reflects more of the people composing it then the people it describes.

Of course, over the long term, the consistent accuracy of purely oral traditions isn't even vaguely verifiable, for obvious reasons.


Last edited by Voss on Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Zaranthan
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Is sleepy erik best friends with drunk Zaranthan? Because they sound like they have a lot in common.
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