Lessons from Easter Island I grew up in a cult. It was heaven -- and hell. 2 days ago   21:51

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This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Anthropologist Dr. Carl Lipo says everything we thought about Easter Island’s famous collapsed civilisation is wrong. He suggests Bermuda can learn lessons from that catastrophe about long-term survival on our own isolated, water-parched island.

I currently serve as an Associate Professor at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). I am part of the faculty of that forms the basis of a Program in Archaeology and a founding member of IIRMES, a multi-disciplinary institute for the study of materials, environments and society. At CSULB, I teach classes in Introductory Archaeology, World Prehistory, Eastern North American Prehistory, Artifact Analysis, GIS, Statistics, Method and Theory, Foundations of Anthropology Field Research Design, Geophysical Techniques, and the Scientific Study of Origins. My research focuses on the use of evolutionary theory to generate scientific explanations about human cultural change in the archaeological record. I see this focus as a critical challenge for the social sciences and that our ability to be able to due this task vital to our future. My perspective is fairly idiosyncratic to my background but lodged in the philosophy of science and evolutionary biology. You can view some of my recent work (here) to see a little into how I think about the world. My recent studies include the development of theoretical models and the construction of methods for studying patterns of change caused by cultural transmission and the process of natural selection in cultural systems. In addition, I have interests in remote sensing to efficiently and non-destructively study the record. This work includes the use of magnetometry, resistivity, conductivity, thermal imagery and ground penetrating radar. My field research has taken me from the Mississippi river valley to Easter Island to California and coastal Guatemala.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

Comments 38 Comments

Teressa Karr
I have a theory on how they moved these statues on Easter island. They used beeswax. After the statues were removed from the quarry they left a long narrow rectangular vein on the backs and inserted that into a tract they constructed and slid them on a cushioned pathway they created using Palm leaves soaked with beeswax , thus a frictionless surface. They easily slid them down the mountain, so to onlookers at the base of the mountain it would appear these statues were walking. Once the statues were on more level ground they inserted compressed beeswax slabs under the front angled space in the base to move them to the platform. Once the statues were in place they carved off the vein and levelled the base.
Dingo Bul
If the community was so small and so isolated...it seems building and keeping that statues was the thing that gave a sense of the community. Doing something toghether, something in what all belived and participated. Despite the basic labor for producing food.
From otherhand in sertan moment of natural changes that cultural norm of making statues could over ehsoste the rescources. Could be both true.
Manny Revuelta
Brilliant presentation.
Ellie C
Great presentation. I would have loved to listen about findings about the moai top hats and also who the team of Japanese were that came post 1950 to stand moai up
DontFearUnity DividedWeFall
due to its isolation from the rest of the world by 2000 km of sea, i think its likely they got trapped and as the sea rose they fled to the mountains, easter island being the tip of the mountain, the statues face in to say we are all here, you have to remember if they sailed there they could sail back or elsewhere unless sailing was not an option e.g either did not have the tech or resources. it makes sense to me what robert schoch suggests as an electromagnetic storm created the flood (check joe rogan podcast with him included)
Ponnita Hs
I'm rapanui, and I can say that the Moai are monuments built for commemorate our ancestors, they are like really big cemetery sites but for kings and other relatives of the royal family.
Russ G
OK, am I the only one who concludes that the Moai, rather than being a waste of human labor, might actually be the BYPRODUCT of those rock gardens? IOW, they were what was left over after they quarried the minerals they needed? Carving the statues might have simply provided some motivation for what would otherwise have been a task of pure drudgery.
Blue
If people got there and started to make the statues, why aren't there similar statues elsewhere?
MrGigigigia
It's easy. The statue fall on their own over time.
blanca roca
Interesting stuff! What about the destruction of the trees which was supposed to a big thing?
Josh Young
I think maybe those tools are coconut openers 😕
Samantha Laurie
The part that he did not say is the stone is not native to Easter Island it was put there
Hammer Of Crom
Many of the statues you see as heads actually have bodies that have sunk underground. Basically what we see is the upper 30-50%. So these statues are far larger than what people commonly believe.
Bertie Pimplebum
If you were a passing alien, where would you land? Easter Island statues depict what they looked like.
Robert La Mont
Thank you!  I have read these things but this is a great presentation.
Chris McMahon
I don't see how they were so successful at much except erecting statues. Not sure if I buy the politically correct theory that Europeans we're always the horrific cause of all the bad in the world. Sure, they were no saints. But somehow we now cannot speculate that an indigenous society could do anything bad.
anthony y
Hello Ted,do u have some more footage of u guys walking the statue . looks so good and amazing
Salty - Typo
WHOW
Salty - Typo
Beautifull
taina vaikava
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I grew up in a cult. It was heaven -- and hell. Lessons from Easter Island 2 days ago   20:06

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Lilia Tarawa was brought up in the Gloriavale Christian Community on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, where she was constantly surrounded by everyone she loved. But over time, she began to see the dark side of her community, and ultimately realised that she had to get out. In this raw and emotional talk, Lilia shares the reality of life in a cult, and her heart-wrenching journey to break free.

Lilia Tarawa is a New Zealand writer, speaker, holistic health consultant and business coach. She is a member of the Māori Ngāi Tahu tribe. Lilia was born into New Zealand's infamous religious cult, Gloriavale, and fled with her eleven family members at eighteen years of age. Her extraordinary life experience compelled her to pursue a career promoting human rights, welfare and empowerment. Lilia Tarawa is a New Zealand writer, speaker, holistic health consultant and business coach. She is a member of the Māori Ngāi Tahu tribe. Lilia was born into New Zealand's infamous religious cult, Gloriavale, and fled with her eleven family members at eighteen years of age. Her extraordinary life experience compelled her to pursue a career promoting human rights, welfare and empowerment. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx