Bloody shovel

Don't call it a spade

High Level Equilibrium Trap

If you’ve read some history you’ll probably know about the Needham Question, i.e. why China didn’t have an industrial revolution. Personally my favorite answer is the High Level Equilibrium Trap, which is a theory saying that China had developed medieval technology so efficiently that it just never had a need to develop machinery and high density energy sources.

It is perhaps unrelated, but one does have the impression that Asians generally do more with less. The Confucian exhortation to self-improvement and mastery in some way produces a mindset conducive to extracting all the juice from whatever you have, instead of abandon it and come up with something new from scratch.

For a more graphic take on the idea, take a look at this:


3 responses to “High Level Equilibrium Trap

  1. Handle November 15, 2013 at 11:35

    That’s incredible. I wonder how he explains his job to girls. “Baby, I’m the world’s greatest at the hand flute”

  2. Thales November 15, 2013 at 14:32

    Allow me to be the first to make the “skin flute” joke.

    Anyways, this dovetails with my observation that the most ingenious technicians I’ve seen here in Aerospace land, the one’s best at improvising, are indeed the Asian ones, generally Cambodian or Viet. (Chinese here are too wealthy and high-status for career manual labor, so I can’t speak about them.)

  3. Pingback: High Level Entitlement Trap | Bloody shovel

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