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Hmm... This is turning more into a review of Collapse... than a Tainter bio. Anyway. I think what's still missing is Tainter's definition of the term "collapse" (to avoid Mad Max-type associations for people who haven't read the book). --Plek 19:17, 13 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Discussion of "Collapse" theory
I find Tainter's understanding of diminishing returns both compelling and well researched, but the language used is sometimes unclear in describing or perhaps understanding the difference between returns and marginal returns. The semantic distinction seems picayune, but is significant.
More fundamentally, it seems the argument is not solidly made, that collapse must follow declining returns. Why cannot society retrench to a reduced state of technology, interdependency and complexity? The difference being the broad scope, massive degree of reduction, and decimation of population implied by "collapse." I don't think this word misused: societies collapse. But why can't they just back up a little instead, or even make a smooth landing at the "top" of the Returns/Investment curve? I look unsuccessfully for a keystone argument of irrevocable commitment to the complexity, a position that brooks no retreat, that would precipitate collapse instead of something more graceful and moderate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 126.96.36.199 (talk) 11:08, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
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