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万物简史(MP3+中英字幕) 第101期:势不两立的科学(2)

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That the bone didn't attract greater interest is more than a little puzzling, for its appearance came at a time when America was in a froth of excitement about the remains of large, ancient animals. The cause of this froth was a strange assertion by the great French naturalist the Comte de Buffon—he of the heated spheres from the previous chapter—that living things in the New World were inferior in nearly every way to those of the Old World.
骨头没有引起很大的兴趣,这有点儿令人费解,因为发现这根骨头恰好是在美国人对古代大动物的遗骸着迷的时候。伟大的法国博物学家布丰伯爵——就是前一章里提到的做加热球体试验的人——对这种着迷的原因作出了奇怪的断言:新大陆的生物几乎在哪一方面都要比旧大陆的生物低一等。
土著印第安人.jpgAmerica, Buffon wrote in his vast and much-esteemed Histoire Naturelle, was a land where the water was stagnant, the soil unproductive, and the animals without size or vigor, their constitutions weakened by the "noxious vapors" that rose from its rotting swamps and sunless forests. In such an environment even the native Indians lacked virility. "They have no beard or body hair," Buffon sagely confided, "and no ardor for the female." Their reproductive organs were "small and feeble."
布丰在那部评价很高的巨著《自然史》里写道,在美洲这块土地上,水源发臭,土地不长五谷,动物个儿很小,缺乏活力,肌体被从腐烂的沼泽和晒不着太阳的森林里逸出的“毒气”弄得十分虚弱。在这样的环境里,连土著印第安人也缺乏生殖力。“他们不长胡子,身上也没有毛,”布丰煞有介事地在私下说,“对女人没有激情。”他们的生殖器“又小又没有劲儿”。
Buffon's observations found surprisingly eager support among other writers, especially those whose conclusions were not complicated by actual familiarity with the country. A Dutchman named Comeille de Pauw announced in a popular work called Recherches Philosophiques sur les Americains that native American males were not only reproductively unimposing, but "so lacking in virility that they had milk in their breasts." Such views enjoyed an improbable durability and could be found repeated or echoed in European texts till near the end of the nineteenth century.
布丰的观察结果在别的作家中间——尤其在那些其实对这个国家不大熟悉,因而自己的结论也是缺乏根据的人中间——获得了出人意料的热烈支持。有个名叫科梅耶·波夫的荷兰人在一本名叫《关于美洲人的哲学研究》的通俗作品中宣称,美洲的土著男人不但在繁殖方面给人印象不深,而且“如此缺乏生殖能力,他们的乳房都流着奶汁”。这种观点奇怪地流行了很长时间,在欧洲的文献中反复出现或得到反响,直到19世纪快要结束的时候。
重点单词   查看全部解释    
familiarity [fə.mili'æriti]
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n. 亲密,熟悉,精通,不拘礼节
联想记忆
ardor ['ɑ:də]
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n. 热情,狂热 =ardour(英)
 
complicated ['kɔmplikeitid]
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adj. 复杂的,难懂的
动词complica
 
durability [,djuərə'biləti]
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n. 耐久性;耐用年限;坚固
 
popular ['pɔpjulə]
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adj. 流行的,大众的,通俗的,受欢迎的
联想记忆
inferior [in'fiəriə]
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adj. 次等的,较低的,不如的
联想记忆
feeble [fi:bl]
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adj. 虚弱的,无力的
联想记忆
vigor ['vigə]
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n. 活力,精力
联想记忆
unproductive
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adj. 不毛的;不生产的;徒劳的;非生产性的
 
assertion [ə'sə:ʃən]
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n. 断言,主张
 
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