Wayfinders Lost

While I have yet to read The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World by Wade Davis, if the book review is any indication of its actual contents, then I must disagree wholeheartedly with its premise.

Mary Edwards suggests that Davis presents “indigenous cultures [as] guiding lights on how to live sustainably.” As anyone familiar with Jared Diamond’s well-researched book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed will know, this blanket statement is simply not supported by the facts.

The Anasazi of the American Southwest, the Maya of Mexico, and the first inhabitants of Easter Island are but a few examples of indigenous cultures whose demise was in part or entirely due to anthropogenic environmental degradation.

To solve these problems, we need knowledge – the kind obtained through objective empirical evidence that transcends religion or culture – not ancient “wisdom” unsupported by facts.

Note: This appeared as a Letter to the Editor in Alternatives Journal (Vol. 36, Issue 5)