10 Times Humanity Found the Answer (and Then Forgot)


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Author's Note: 10 Times Humanity Found the Answer (and Then Forgot)

It's unfortunate that so many of these examples came from the Western world. This is a consequence not of a lack of great inventions from the rest of the world — quite the opposite, in fact. Rather, because of such a continuity of civilization and preserved culture in places like China and India, it was difficult to find examples of answers that had actually been lost — although those who value cultural antiquities might argue that such is happing today in China. In places where it did happen, tragically — I'm thinking here of the despoiling effect of the African slave trade or the post-Columbian loss of so much Native American material culture — it is no easy task to find clear accounts of what exactly was lost.

To end on a more positive note, human minds are inexhaustibly fertile and somehow find a way to inventively solve persistent problems, whether that means reinventing the wheel or rendering it obsolete. So long as we can turn that resourcefulness away from destruction, we as a species can continue to progress.

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