In the great extinctions, the dominant species disappears. This happened to the dinosaurs, and this happened to the "big bugs" in the Cambrian Extinction.

The reason for this is pretty obvious, so the science bureaucracy will grind it out eventually. The dominant species concentrates on competing with itself. Different parts of this ruling species, like the dinosaurs, rule in each environment and they compete with other dinosaurs.

Meanwhile other species are at the edges, adapting to whatever is left over. Then comes the extinction, the time when every normal environment becomes uninhabitable. The animals at the edges survive in some special environments. The species that dominated all the old regular areas disappears.

While historians talk about the power of Great Civilizations, they have always been sitting ducks. The ruins of one Native American city after another can be found in the dense jungle. What happened was that they destroyed the soil and cut all the trees in a century or so, collapsed, and moved on.

Very primitive. People who destroy the soil and move on are not admirable, but since they built some buildings, that makes them Great Civilizations.

The Sahara Desert was once a Garden of Eden. Apparently men did help destroy that the same the Native American Great Civilizations did. In the Nile Valley, the Nile kept bringing in fresh mud, so they couldn't destroy the soil there. So they had a long-term Great Civilization.

But if anything catastrophic happened, the Nile could be blocked and that Great Civilization would be turned off like a switch. The same thing would have happened to the Great Civilization of China if the Hwang Ho or Tang Tzu Rivers had been blocked up.

It would have taken a catastrophe far smaller than the Cambrian Extinction or the one that destroyed the dinosaurs to take out any of the so-called Great Civilization of history.

Every time a documentary describes one of those Native American Great Civilizations, it always says they were "remarkably sophisticated." They say that about everybody. But the fact is that as the Great Civilization deforested and destroyed the soil and the inevitable disasters occurred, they just had more and more human sacrifices.

In the Sahara, as the environments collapsed the shamans probably took more locoweed and said whatever sillyass thing occurred to them. If the Nile got blocked up in Egypt the Pharaoh and the priests would have done some more blubbering to their gods.

Great Civilizations before ours had exactly the same problem the dinosaurs did. All the competition was inside the protected environments they took over. The priests built a society they could dominate. They did this by declaring themselves masters of all knowledge. This blocked all real advance of knowledge, but Egypt didn't need it as long as the Nile continued its regular floods.

The Nile kept Egyptian society going, so all you had to do was secure a rank inside the society. But if the Nile went, the terrifically wildly sophisticated society would have been helpless because they knew nothing worth knowing. Like the dinosaurs, it had long since ceased to be able to deal with changes in its world. All its time has been devoted to battles for supremacy inside that world.

It used to be thought that white men would be going into space by now, just as we went across Europe and into America. We would go into space because it was there. But all our priorities are now dedicated to buying votes down here on earth. We call it "taking care of people." Everything has a code word.

The drive into pure science has been replaced by spending money and effort in political competition here inside our society. Why waste money on abstract research when millions of voters want all the research to be on AIDS?

Like the dinosaur and the dead Native American societies, we are turning inward.