I liked your focus on the question of diversity in the last chapter. It reminds me of the concerns that have been raised about the loss of biological diversity that is happening as the human race cuts down, paves over, or pollutes the natural habitats of the world.

I read a book a few months ago that I found thought provoking. It's
Deep Time: How Humanity Communicates Across Millennia by Gregory Benford. He spends some time talking about how civilizations rise and fall, and talks briefly about the way that one civilization is stimulated or enriched by contact with a frontier or another civilization. (Not the main point of his book, which is also interesting.) It seems that we are now witnessing the homogenization of civilization, courtesy of cheap air travel and even cheaper communications. I wonder if the stimulation of encountering a frontier or a strange culture is a thing of the past for the human race. As your book documents, we seem to be also eliminating the psychological diversity among people in the one remaining culture.

Not good!

I am a short term pessimist, but a long term optimist. I suspect that much of the anxiety that is causing people to give their kids Ritalin to make them financially successful (a rather gross oversimplification, but you know what I mean) will eventually evaporate. I see it as a reaction to the state of scarcity that has existed for the last million or so years for us and our predecessors. We're still programmed to think in terms of acquisition, when in fact there are now enough material goods to give everyone on the planet a reasonably comfortable existence. The human race has a surprising ability to adapt to fundamental changes, but takes a while.

I very much enjoyed your comments and your optimism. Iíll keep it in mind the next time some school is demanding that a child be on Ritalin.