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Old 05-15-2018, 11:19 PM
Lizard Lizard is offline
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Why has China always had so MANY people?

I was doing some general reading on Wikipedia and came across a chart of world population and distribution. Apparently the proportion of the population in the entire world that is Chinese (or living in what it referred to as the "Chinese empire") has fluctuated from 22 to 36%, going all the way back to the year 1000. Even assuming that not everyone living in what is now the nation of China is not actually ethnic Chinese, that still means the population of this one part of the world has always been almost a quarter or more of the entire world population for a very long time.

The question that came to me was: Why? China is physically vast, sure, but no bigger than North America, which probably has fewer people today than China did 100 years ago. Why has the population of the Chinese region always been so comparatively large? Does it have abundant resources? Easy-to-deal-with weather? Is there a reason?

Last edited by Lizard; 05-15-2018 at 11:21 PM.
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Old 05-15-2018, 11:49 PM
Smapti Smapti is offline
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No cite, but ISTR reading somewhere once that it largely had to do with an abundant food supply, due to rice having a higher yield than most staple grains.
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Old 05-15-2018, 11:53 PM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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Two big-ass rivers and lots and lots of flat fertile farmland. See also India.
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Old 05-15-2018, 11:54 PM
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My guess is most of the population live in non urban areas where larger families are better suited for the lifestyle (agriculture, animal farms, etc). Also, since males are held in much higher esteem (demand), parents keep trying for boys. When the One Child policy was strictly enforced, baby girls were often abandoned or worse.

As for the natural resources, there are few great famines compared to other countries. The vast land mass affords a great amount of shared resources within the country.

Last edited by lingyi; 05-15-2018 at 11:55 PM.
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Old 05-16-2018, 12:06 AM
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Two big-ass rivers and lots and lots of flat fertile farmland. See also India.
Woulntd the Great Lakes region also have abundant water and plenty of nearby farmland? But it hasn't supported hundreds of millions of people, even now.
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Old 05-16-2018, 12:28 AM
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Woulntd the Great Lakes region also have abundant water and plenty of nearby farmland? But it hasn't supported hundreds of millions of people, even now.
Rice (China) and maize (Mexico) were both domesticated about 10,000 years ago or so. Paddyfield rice agriculture, which is much more productive, was developed about 7,000 years ago. But intensive maize production by Native Americans didn't start in what is now the US until around 1000 AD, and the population would have largely collapsed due to disease after the arrival of Europeans. In 1000 AD, the population of China was already 75 million, so they had a huge head start.
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Old 05-16-2018, 12:41 AM
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Rice has always provided considerably higher yields and calories per acre than cereal grains.

Through the 1930's, corn (maize) yields were anywhere from 10-25 bushels per acre, depending on a lot of factors. At 56 pounds per bushel of corn, that's 560-1,400 pounds per acre - at the very peak in the best of times on good land.

In the Roman era, wheat yields were close to that 1,400 pounds per acre in Italy, but only about 400 pounds per acre in Tunisia. An 8:1 return on your seed was considered 'average' in Italy while the only 4:1 in dryer areas was barely profitable.

What was even worse was that Wheat was produced on a 3 year rotation, where a specific plot of land would only be sewn to wheat once every 3 years, limiting production.

Rice, on the other hand, was domesticated somewhere between 8,000 and 13,000 years ago in China and by medieval times was producing up to 2,500 pounds per acre on good land. It also is far more calorie dense than cereal grains (except Corn and Sorghum).

So China could produce a lot more calories and food value off less land, which supported a lot more people.

That and European history is just successive waves of invaders killing off all or most of the existing population, whereas the same isn't true in China for the most part.
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Old 05-16-2018, 12:55 AM
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Woulntd the Great Lakes region also have abundant water and plenty of nearby farmland? But it hasn't supported hundreds of millions of people, even now.
But N.America had no large animals that could be used as beasts of burden to pull carts or used as transportation.So the advancement of civilization moved more slowly.
See Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel. A fascinating, easy to read* "history of everything."








*though not fully accepted by professional anthropologists.

Last edited by chappachula; 05-16-2018 at 12:58 AM.
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Old 05-16-2018, 01:09 AM
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Forgot what is probably the main reason. Since China was united over 2000 years ago by The Yellow Emperor (Qin Shi Huang Di) it's been under central political rule with no major (i.e. country encompassing, which is geographically near impossible) wars that drastically reduced the population. China as a country has historically expanded, but rarely contracted.

There's also the importance of filial piety (common to all Asian cultures) where large families ensure that there will always children to care for their live and deceased relatives.

Last edited by lingyi; 05-16-2018 at 01:10 AM.
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Old 05-16-2018, 01:22 AM
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Another thing is China didn't ban polygamy until the early 20th century.....it wasn't uncommon for the the wealthy guys to have up to 8 wives

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Old 05-16-2018, 03:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Chimera View Post
Rice has always provided considerably higher yields and calories per acre than cereal grains.

Through the 1930's, corn (maize) yields were anywhere from 10-25 bushels per acre, depending on a lot of factors. At 56 pounds per bushel of corn, that's 560-1,400 pounds per acre - at the very peak in the best of times on good land.

In the Roman era, wheat yields were close to that 1,400 pounds per acre in Italy, but only about 400 pounds per acre in Tunisia. An 8:1 return on your seed was considered 'average' in Italy while the only 4:1 in dryer areas was barely profitable.

What was even worse was that Wheat was produced on a 3 year rotation, where a specific plot of land would only be sewn to wheat once every 3 years, limiting production.

Rice, on the other hand, was domesticated somewhere between 8,000 and 13,000 years ago in China and by medieval times was producing up to 2,500 pounds per acre on good land. It also is far more calorie dense than cereal grains (except Corn and Sorghum).

So China could produce a lot more calories and food value off less land, which supported a lot more people.
Rice, however, requires a huge amount of water to grow. It's not as if the Romans could have produced the same amount of rice as the Chinese did even if they tried - they lacked the proper geography for it.
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:55 AM
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Rice, however, requires a huge amount of water to grow. It's not as if the Romans could have produced the same amount of rice as the Chinese did even if they tried - they lacked the proper geography for it.
Rice does not, in fact, require flooded conditions to grow. Rice can grow quite happily in a dry field. The main reason most rice is grown in paddies is as a form of weed control. Rice can grow in flooded conditions and most weeds can't. Rice yields are thus much higher in a paddy than a dry field.
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Old 05-16-2018, 04:37 AM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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I did not know that.
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Old 05-16-2018, 06:12 AM
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Did European countries use human feces as a fertilizer? Or any other early/ancient civilization?
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Old 05-16-2018, 06:14 AM
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I am not sure that the answer is Rice. India is a neighbor to China and in different parts of India, different food grains are grown. Coastal regions grow rice but the northern / western states grow wheat / corn.

Historically, population densities in India and China have been comparable. Also within India, there was no big population difference between parts producing rice and parts producing wheat.
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Old 05-16-2018, 06:44 AM
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Woulntd the Great Lakes region also have abundant water and plenty of nearby farmland? But it hasn't supported hundreds of millions of people, even now.
It also has nice cold winters. It's hard to support hundreds of millions of people when you're waiting for the ground to thaw.

Last edited by Alessan; 05-16-2018 at 06:45 AM.
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Old 05-16-2018, 06:53 AM
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Not only did they have an ample amount of food as mentioned several times, but they had a very HEALTHY diet. It was extremely low in fat. Also, by being an agrarian culture, most people got a lot of exercise every day. Another factor I didn't see mentioned yet was their highly evolved system of health care that we have often referred to simply as "eastern medicine". While the Chinese were using herbs, acupuncture, etc, the filthy lice infested Europeans were using leeches and superstition.
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Old 05-16-2018, 07:06 AM
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While the Chinese were using... acupuncture,... filthy lice infested Europeans were using... superstition.

And the difference is?
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Old 05-16-2018, 07:39 AM
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Not only did they have an ample amount of food as mentioned several times, but they had a very HEALTHY diet. It was extremely low in fat.
A low fat diet has been the standard for most people everywhere up until recently.
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Also, by being an agrarian culture, most people got a lot of exercise every day.
The bulk of the population in all regions of the world were agrarian until recently.

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Another factor I didn't see mentioned yet was their highly evolved system of health care that we have often referred to simply as "eastern medicine". While the Chinese were using herbs, acupuncture, etc, the filthy lice infested Europeans were using leeches and superstition.
Chinese traditional medicine was no more effective, or less superstitious, than European medicine. Some things worked, some things didn't, and people couldn't confidently tell them apart.
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Old 05-16-2018, 07:43 AM
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Not only did they have an ample amount of food as mentioned several times, but they had a very HEALTHY diet. It was extremely low in fat. Also, by being an agrarian culture, most people got a lot of exercise every day. Another factor I didn't see mentioned yet was their highly evolved system of health care that we have often referred to simply as "eastern medicine". While the Chinese were using herbs, acupuncture, etc, the filthy lice infested Europeans were using leeches and superstition.
Actually, because their farming produced so much food, relatively fewer people had to work on farms, which means that China was always more of an urban culture than Europe.

As for fat, until the 20th century when people started going overboard, a high-fat diet was always healthier than a low-fat diet. The body needs fat.
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Old 05-16-2018, 07:53 AM
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I think the answer may lie in geological aspects. The Indus River (root of the name India), the Ganges and the Yangtze river originate from the Himalayas/Tibetan Basin. Both the Himalayas and the Tibetan Basin are new mountain ranges (geological time wise) and have nutrient rich soil/rocks (because they are new and have not been washed/eroded). The rivers from these mountain ranges carry plant nutrients with them throughout the year.

Historically the plains where these rivers deposit rich nutrients have been the bread baskets or rice baskets.

The rivers in North America do not seem to have this benefit.
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Old 05-16-2018, 08:32 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is online now
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The answer to this question generally comes down to two things: energy and water. The parts of east Asia that is China's breadbasket has both of those things in abundance. This allows for increased yields which leads to higher population potential.

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Woulntd the Great Lakes region also have abundant water and plenty of nearby farmland? But it hasn't supported hundreds of millions of people, even now.
One of the real issues here is the simplest. Time. Humans have been in China for essentially all of our existence. Even before modern humans evolved, there were hominids doing their thing on those floodplains.

In North America, however, humans have only been around for maybe 20,000 years? Even then, two things kept the population from meeting its old world cousins. First, a diaspora is a lot more hazardous to a population than settlements. The fact that humans were spreading increased the death factor. Second, only a small initial population came into the Americas to spread out and grow. While 20,000 years ago China may have been growing from 1,000,000 humans the Americas would have been growing from 5,000?
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:04 AM
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And the difference is?
The difference is that the Chinese have a system of medicine that is at least 2,000 years old.

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According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Chinese herbal medicine is a major part of Traditional Chinese Medicine … it has been used for centuries in China, where herbs are considered fundamental therapy for many acute and chronic conditions.” (2) Chinese herbal therapy has its roots in a traditional medicinal text called “Materia Medica.” Thousands of different herbs, minerals, teas, tinctures and other extracts are listed in this text and utilized by trained herbalists depending on a patient’s specific symptoms.
Compare this to the European "system of medicine" in the Middle Ages

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Medieval astrologers believed that the movements of the stars influenced numerous things on earth, from the weather and the growth of crops to the personalities of new born babies and the inner workings of the human body. Doctors often carried around special almanacs (or calendars) containing illustrated star charts, allowing them to check the positions of the stars before making a diagnosis. Many of these almanacs included illustrations, helping to explain complicated ideas to patients. The picture below shows a 'zodiac man' from one of these almanacs from 1399. The diagram was intended to explain how the astrological formations (or star signs) rule over each part of the body. The man's pointing finger serves as a warning against the powerful forces of the stars.

Ancient studies of astrology were translated from Arabic to Latin in the 12th and 13th centuries and soon became part of everyday medical practice in Europe. By the end of the 1500s, physicians across Europe were required by law to calculate the position of the moon before carrying out complicated medical procedures, such as surgery or bleeding.
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:28 AM
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Ooo. That Dr Axe site looks pretty wonky. It throws around names like Medical University of South Carolina - where I've been treated - and University of Maryland but it is woefully short on actual citations.

And, honestly, any health care thing that references Dr Oz has to go on the 'silly and pointless' pile. It's not every healthcare practitioner that gets summoned before congress for his quackery and his potential negative health impacts.
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:31 AM
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Here's rationalwiki on Dr. Axe. Note: not an MD.

https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Joshua_Lee_Axe

He appears to lack knowledge of basic chemistry - railing against heavy metals (good, mostly) while selling a product that contains heavy metals (bad, mostly).

In addition, he appears to lack any form of knowledge of physics, confusing ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:37 AM
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Rice has always provided considerably higher yields and calories per acre than cereal grains.
Nitpick: rice is a cereal.
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Old 05-16-2018, 10:05 AM
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You can cherry pick examples easily enough. I mean, hey, that natural herbal medicine also includes thinking you can grind up tigers into dick pills. About as well founded as astrology.
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Old 05-16-2018, 10:08 AM
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Forgot what is probably the main reason. Since China was united over 2000 years ago by The Yellow Emperor (Qin Shi Huang Di) it's been under central political rule with no major (i.e. country encompassing, which is geographically near impossible) wars that drastically reduced the population. China as a country has historically expanded, but rarely contracted.
I think there might be something to this, but I don't agree with all your details. The An Lushan Rebellion, the Three Kingdoms War and the Mongol conquests all happened in the last 2000 years, and all killed millions of people. BUT, even before those happened, China had a huge, growing population. It might have been that the land lent itself to growth, as others have said; then China had a long time to grow, as others have said, and theses trends became self-reinforcing over time. China developed a sophisticated society that could support a large population earlier than anywhere else, and just kept on growing.

Last edited by Lizard; 05-16-2018 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:13 AM
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All these cultural explanations are nonsense. China has had a large population for thousands of years because China has had the most productive farmland in the world for thousands of years. India and China had larger and denser populations than Europe because Indian and Chinese farmland was more productive than European farmland.

All the other cultural explanations proposed above are a consequence of higher population, not the cause.

Note that this concerns China proper...the lands in and around the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, not Manchuria, Mongolia, Central Asia, or Tibet. Those lands are obviously less productive, ranging into outright uninhabitable.
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:29 AM
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All these cultural explanations are nonsense. China has had a large population for thousands of years because China has had the most productive farmland in the world for thousands of years. India and China had larger and denser populations than Europe because Indian and Chinese farmland was more productive than European farmland.

All the other cultural explanations proposed above are a consequence of higher population, not the cause.
What I would have said.

Also Lizard's point as well - China has suffered horrendous population losses on several occasions, it is just that a) it started from a very dense base and b) it was always able to rebound relatively quickly because its productive capacity is enormous.
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:31 AM
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I am not sure that the answer is Rice. India is a neighbor to China and in different parts of India, different food grains are grown. Coastal regions grow rice but the northern / western states grow wheat / corn.
China grows wheat too. 30% more wheat than India does.

Same ballpark as China exceeds India in rice production.

But they're about even in population.

Last edited by MrDibble; 05-16-2018 at 11:34 AM.
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:41 AM
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It also has nice cold winters. It's hard to support hundreds of millions of people when you're waiting for the ground to thaw.
"Nice cold" is easy to say from the comfort of Israel. But they do kill off most of the insects.

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I did not know that.
Neither did I. Fascinating thread.
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:51 AM
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China grows wheat too. 30% more wheat than India does.

Same ballpark as China exceeds India in rice production.

But they're about even in population.
I'm fairly certain that a larger percentage of India than China is conducive to dense settlement.
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:57 AM
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China grows wheat too. 30% more wheat than India does.

Same ballpark as China exceeds India in rice production.

But they're about even in population.
I was talking historically - like 1000s or more years ago. As far as I know, wheat came later to China than rice. This site says something to that effect :

http://archaeobotanist.blogspot.com/...china.html?m=1
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Old 05-16-2018, 12:14 PM
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I'm fairly certain that a larger percentage of India than China is conducive to dense settlement.
That's because China as annexed lots of less-dense areas. "Core" China, though, is roughly the same size as "core" India*, and has roughly the same population.




*Politics aside, by India here I think we should be referring to "historical" India, meaning India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
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Old 05-16-2018, 12:15 PM
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That's nice but there is zero evidence acupuncture is real medicine. Old superstition is still superstition. This has nothing to do with it at all.

The reason there are so many people in China is food. It matters not what your medicine is like; if you can't eat, you die. China is, geographically, exactly where you would expect the world's population to be the greatest; it has been populated for time immemorial and had every possible advantage in terms of growing food. Excellent soil, lots of water, temperate weather, the right crops. China would be immensely populated if they got their medicinal advice from Bill and Ted.

If we start getting into ludicrous arguments about culture and medicine I can point out any number of obvious counterexamples. Nigeria doesn't have Eastern medicine, why is it so heavily populated? The medicine in Australia is excellent, so why is it so thinly populated? Why is western China, presumably with access to the same culture of medicine, thinly populated, as compared to "China proper"? The answer, in every case, comes down to access to food.
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Old 05-16-2018, 12:25 PM
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Well, I guess my thinking has been strongly influenced by the case of my hair dresser who, about 20 years ago, was diagnosed with cervical cancer. After getting that diagnosis and treatment options from two purely western doctors, she went to an Asian doctor who practiced holistic eastern medicine as well and our standard western medicine. His treatment cured her of her cervical cancer without surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatments, and it hasn't returned in all of these intervening years.

Maybe she just got lucky. There are cases of cancer going into remission for no apparent medical reason.
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Old 05-16-2018, 12:42 PM
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Dr. Kathryn Hall, Director of Placebo Genetics at Harvard Medical School's Program in Placebo Studies, talked about how acupuncture helped her tennis elbow and how she has continued the treatment despite all the modern scientific evidence against it. This was on Adam ruins everything podcast.

Per her, traditional scientific methods of screen treatments miss the individuality of each “subject” and although she specifically insisted on not using the term “wholistic”, she said there is strong evidence of mind/brain interaction as to how medicines or placebos work. Hear the podcast if you get some time.

Last edited by am77494; 05-16-2018 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 05-16-2018, 12:58 PM
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Well, I guess my thinking has been strongly influenced by the case of my hair dresser
I'm so stealing this
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Old 05-16-2018, 01:02 PM
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Well, I guess my thinking has been strongly influenced by the case of my hair dresser who, about 20 years ago, was diagnosed with cervical cancer. After getting that diagnosis and treatment options from two purely western doctors, she went to an Asian doctor who practiced holistic eastern medicine as well and our standard western medicine. His treatment cured her of her cervical cancer without surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatments, and it hasn't returned in all of these intervening years.

Maybe she just got lucky. There are cases of cancer going into remission for no apparent medical reason.
So, as you say, she received treatment from a holistic doctor. Also, her cancer went into remission. But you don't know if those things are actually connected.

Does that doctor have the cure to cervical cancer? Does every patient who sees him see consistent and reliable remission of their cancer? Does he do this purely with "natural" herbs and acupuncture, and no use of "Western" medicine?

If not, then it seems kind of foolish to insist that "Eastern" medicine is more advanced and doubly so that your hairdresser's cancer remission is evidence of that fact.
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Old 05-16-2018, 01:03 PM
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I think there might be something to this, but I don't agree with all your details. The An Lushan Rebellion, the Three Kingdoms War and the Mongol conquests all happened in the last 2000 years, and all killed millions of people. BUT, even before those happened, China had a huge, growing population. It might have been that the land lent itself to growth, as others have said; then China had a long time to grow, as others have said, and theses trends became self-reinforcing over time. China developed a sophisticated society that could support a large population earlier than anywhere else, and just kept on growing.
Those conflicts were horrible, but there were decades, even centuries between them, when China was more or less at peace under a single government. Whereas Europe has not had a central authority since the Fall of Rome, and different parts have been in almost continuous conflict since that time.
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Old 05-16-2018, 01:12 PM
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....when China was more or less at peace under a single government. Whereas Europe has not had a central authority since the Fall of Rome, and different parts have been in almost continuous conflict since that time.
Maybe Taoism/Buddhism had a role in that whereas Europe was going through Abrahamic religions.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by zimaane View Post
Those conflicts were horrible, but there were decades, even centuries between them, when China was more or less at peace under a single government. Whereas Europe has not had a central authority since the Fall of Rome, and different parts have been in almost continuous conflict since that time.
Yes, but China has been densely populated since the bronze age. China has had various waves of central rule and collapse of central rule. China has gone through innumerable wars, rebellions, invasions, conquests, massacres, revolutions, famines, and natural disasters. Indian history is the same way.

And what happens after the wars and destruction? The peasants go back to farming, and the productive farmland produces lots of food, and the population rebounds with the surplus, until there is no more surplus.

Europe has been poorer and less populated and technologically behind India and China and the Middle East for most of history. It's only in the 1600s that Europe started to catch up. Lack of central government is part of it. The Roman Empire wasn't primarily a "European" empire, it was a Mediterranean Empire. The Roman Empire was famously held together by grain imports...from Egypt and North Africa.

Wars only affect population when the peasants are killed and can't farm anymore. And when you look at the long history of medieval European wars, we see a common pattern--the aristocrats fight limited wars, the purpose of which is to see who gets to rule and exploit the existing base of peasant farmers. The peasants are part of the prize to be won by conquering various lands, not enemies to destroy. Sure there are sometimes examples of peasants being put to the sword--but only when conquering the land isn't an option.

China has had unified rule more often than Europe because it's geographically more unified. Again, we're talking China proper here. China has variously ruled various peripheral regions in various was over the millennia, but those conquests were fueled by superior armies fed by surpluses created by superior productive farms. And central China doesn't have any particular natural geographic barriers like Europe does.
  #44  
Old 05-16-2018, 02:16 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Well, I guess my thinking has been strongly influenced by the case of my hair dresser who, about 20 years ago, was diagnosed with cervical cancer. After getting that diagnosis and treatment options from two purely western doctors, she went to an Asian doctor who practiced holistic eastern medicine as well and our standard western medicine. His treatment cured her of her cervical cancer without surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatments, and it hasn't returned in all of these intervening years.

Maybe she just got lucky. There are cases of cancer going into remission for no apparent medical reason.
I don't think I'm being unreasonable if I suggest that the number of inferences required to extrapolate the cause of Chinese population growth from your hairdresser's experience puts a burden on fundamental logic fair greater than it can reasonably bear.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:30 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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Yes, but China has been densely populated since the bronze age. China has had various waves of central rule and collapse of central rule. China has gone through innumerable wars, rebellions, invasions, conquests, massacres, revolutions, famines, and natural disasters. Indian history is the same way.

And what happens after the wars and destruction? The peasants go back to farming, and the productive farmland produces lots of food, and the population rebounds with the surplus, until there is no more surplus.

Europe has been poorer and less populated and technologically behind India and China and the Middle East for most of history. It's only in the 1600s that Europe started to catch up. Lack of central government is part of it. The Roman Empire wasn't primarily a "European" empire, it was a Mediterranean Empire. The Roman Empire was famously held together by grain imports...from Egypt and North Africa.

Wars only affect population when the peasants are killed and can't farm anymore. And when you look at the long history of medieval European wars, we see a common pattern--the aristocrats fight limited wars, the purpose of which is to see who gets to rule and exploit the existing base of peasant farmers. The peasants are part of the prize to be won by conquering various lands, not enemies to destroy. Sure there are sometimes examples of peasants being put to the sword--but only when conquering the land isn't an option.

China has had unified rule more often than Europe because it's geographically more unified. Again, we're talking China proper here. China has variously ruled various peripheral regions in various was over the millennia, but those conquests were fueled by superior armies fed by surpluses created by superior productive farms. And central China doesn't have any particular natural geographic barriers like Europe does.
China has also been far more subject than Europe to invasions from steppe nomads, who (sometimes) care nothing for the life of peasants. The history of China is replete with such invasions - the primary purpose of the "Great Wall of China" was to keep 'em out (another purpose was to keep taxable peasants in ... ).

Europe is reasonably lucky in this respect - it has much more varied and difficult terrain, once one is past the plains of Hungary. Sure, it suffered the occasional Huns, but such incursions were relatively rare compared with what China suffered.
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:21 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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"Nice cold" is easy to say from the comfort of Israel. But they do kill off most of the insects.
Yup, a nice cold is a blue extra kick F4 glide day, but all those months spent frolicking in the snow are months when there's nothing growing locally. Prior to industrialization, that kept the Great Lakes dinner table based on local hunting and fishing, supplemented by non-meat foraging, with limited garden plot or very small scale agriculture at the southern end of the Great Lakes, rather than relying on bulk transportation as we do today.

At the top of the Great Lakes in Canadian Shield country, it's rock, trees and water, with only the occasional fertile valley, so even if it were not "nice cold" to "freeze your nuts off cold" for almost half the year, it still would not be a friendly land for farming.
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  #47  
Old 05-16-2018, 03:35 PM
MrDibble MrDibble is online now
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I was talking historically - like 1000s or more years ago.
Then you shouldn't have used the present tense.

And we're only talking about a difference of 1000 years in uptake, millennia ago. Wheat is an import to both regions, and in China, it just replaced millet, so it's not like the Chinese were ever a one-grain monoculture. Point being, you'd have to look elsewhere for any China-India difference in historical high population maintenance (if such is the case, I don't know).
  #48  
Old 05-16-2018, 06:51 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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Originally Posted by nightshadea View Post
Another thing is China didn't ban polygamy until the early 20th century.....it wasn't uncommon for the the wealthy guys to have up to 8 wives
I doubt polygyny was much of a factor; only the richest men indulged in it, and only the Emperor's had large harems.
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:41 PM
Lizard Lizard is offline
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Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
...
Europe has been poorer and less populated and technologically behind India and China and the Middle East for most of history. It's only in the 1600s that Europe started to catch up. Lack of central government is part of it. The Roman Empire wasn't primarily a "European" empire, it was a Mediterranean Empire. The Roman Empire was famously held together by grain imports...from Egypt and North Africa.
...
China has had unified rule more often than Europe because it's geographically more unified. Again, we're talking China proper here. China has variously ruled various peripheral regions in various was over the millennia, but those conquests were fueled by superior armies fed by surpluses created by superior productive farms. And central China doesn't have any particular natural geographic barriers like Europe does.
Cecil Adams weighed in on a related topic 20 years ago, and says something pretty similar, though looking at it from the opposite end:
Why did Europeans dominate the world and not vice-versa?
  #50  
Old 05-17-2018, 01:21 AM
China Guy China Guy is offline
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Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
Forgot what is probably the main reason. Since China was united over 2000 years ago by The Yellow Emperor (Qin Shi Huang Di) it's been under central political rule with no major (i.e. country encompassing, which is geographically near impossible) wars that drastically reduced the population. China as a country has historically expanded, but rarely contracted.

There's also the importance of filial piety (common to all Asian cultures) where large families ensure that there will always children to care for their live and deceased relatives.
I call BS. No offence Lingyi but I think you're claiming a mythical "Chinese culture or concept" where it doesn't really exist...

The Qin Emperor controlled what is now a tiny part of the Yellow River region of China. Even core China (excluding Manchuria, Tibet, Xinjiang) is much more recent.

"the empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide" (话说天下大势,分久必合,合久必分). Romance of the 3 Kingdoms circa 200 AD.

It's a freaking myth that China has 2000+ years of history. There are long periods of dynasties, decline and fall, anarchy, invasion by nomadic tribes, etc. The Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) was rivaled by Tibet -- so much so the emperor sent his daughter as a bribe. The Chinese claim the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) as theirs, even though it was basically a pimple on the ass of Genghis Khan's empire. BTW, Genghis Khan and descendents spread a lot of seed (not sure the veracity of this web site per say, but let's just say a Mongolian in the woodpile ain't exactly front page news).
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