thinking too loud

Theory of Smartness

I have a theory as to why it was the English, and the Europeans more generally, who came to dominate the world, instead of say some racial group from the tropics, say. Something set these guys apart – something made them go out to other places and take over, something made them the inventive people who worked so hard.

The reason? Cold. Miserable, wet, windy, cold weather you wouldn’t want to hang around in too long. Unfortunately enough for these people, that’s where they were destined to spend their whole lives if they didn’t go about changing things. So I say to you, an accident of geography and meteorology is more responsible for the European domination than anything else.

Think about it: when you’re cold, you do things to either take your mind off it, or alleviate your coldness. You invent things, like fire you can carry with you and control at will. On the other hand, if you’re hot, you sort of sit around in the shade, looking for a siesta maybe, until the heat of the day wears off. And then it’s time to go to sleep… and before you know it Europeans are marching around your town.

This theory plays itself out: The Romans dominated Mediterranean Europe/North Africa and a little bit further north, but ultimately the warmth of Rome and Constantinople meant they weren’t as motivated as the barbarians of the north. Some of the most exploratory people were the Vikings, who just wanted a patch of grass for their sheep to graze on. The Mongolians dominated vast expanses of Eurasia, but when they got bogged in Persia they ultimately fell to bits. The Chinese expanded south to Vietnam and Thailand, but couldn’t be bothered going further (seriously, it’s damnably humid down there).

More recently even – the French empire reached across Europe, to Moscow (where they hit people colder and thus more hard-headed than themselves), but reaching into Spain and northern Africa? That’s when they turned around and said, “bugger that, our south coast is warm enough.” The English on the other hand picked a place like Canada and northern America to expand first, and even then when they started to reach what would become the southern states, they let it go. When the USA got to Texas, and California, they took one look over the border to Mexico and said, “You know what? keep it.” The Russians – they hold vast expanses of basically arctic tundra, and they hold it well. The Germans – cold place that – romped across Europe twice before being beaten back from the warmer climes. The Japanese, even with their humid summers, made use of the cold winters to sharpen their skills and quickly brought most of Asia under their control, or at least until they got to Indonesia or the islands of the Pacific.

On the other hand, there was no armies marching out of Africa, the tropics or indeed anywhere where it is far more preferable to just genially lay on the beach. Nothing’s been invented in these places, either. Why do you think South Indians prefer to work white-collar jobs? Air-con! Who can be bothered working in a hot factory?

Call me crazy, but I don’t think I’m wrong here.

Note: Theory based entirely on thoughts plucked out of thin air.

8 replies on “Theory of Smartness”

Right, when you come back, we’ll lock you up in a fridge until you solve ALL the problems with dbTicket!

ALL the problems I tell you, ALL of them!

Oh, and if this is your “improvement” in intelligence since moving to a colder place, you need to come back. Its for your own good. :)


Yeah, I’ve heard that one before too. Harsher environment = harsher people needing to organize/conquer to survive. Although I heard the Mayans in Central America did pretty well for themselves until the civilization collapsed for reasons unknown.

In a class I once took, my prof said the dominance of Europeans globally was due to the formation of nation states in which every individual who was part of it had a duty to the state and a right to belong. It was a result of the Protestant Reformation … and connected to commercial and technological revolutions. He said it was chance (vs. some inherent superiority I suppose) that allowed Europeans to gain power at the time that they did and end up fixing global relations in a way we still haven’t really recovered from. At the beginning of this golden period/age of exploration for Europe, they were bringing money (lasting valuables like gold/etc) back home, often in exchange for goods and resources (or nothing at all). Enough money and you can buy off anyone or anything…

Anyway, maybe I babbled… sorry!

The Mayans in Central Africa were much like any other tropical kingdom – they held their own, sure, but they weren’t globe-striding behemoths like the Europeans. Or maybe that just says something about the inherent megalomaniac mentality of the Anglo-Saxon-Teuton-Norse (“white”) bunch :)

I’ve no doubt all those reasons were a factor, but to bring it back to my point, many of those things didn’t need to happen in the tropical zones because who could be bothered really, when the weather’s that sweet? just chill out :D Hence why the financial centre of America is north east (cold) corner, while the decadent entertainment zone is south west (warm).

and thanks!

Leave a Reply