Wade Davis+

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wade Davis
Born December 14, 1953

West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Citizenship Canada
Alma mater Harvard University
Occupation Anthropologist, Ethnobotanist
Known for Author, The Serpent and the Rainbow

Edmund Wade Davis (born December 14, 1953) is a notedCanadian anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author and photographer whose work has focused on worldwide indigenous cultures, especially in North and South America and particularly involving the traditional uses and beliefs associated with psychoactive plants. Davis came to prominence with his 1985 best-selling book The Serpent and the Rainbow about the zombies of Haiti.

Davis has published popular articles in Outside, National Geographic, Fortune and Condé Nast Traveler.

In 2009 he was selected to be the speaker for the Massey Lectures, for his publication, The Wayfinders.[1]




Davis was born in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and grew up in Pointe Claire, Quebec. He attended Lower Canada College and later, when his family moved back to British Columbia, Brentwood College School. He received degrees in Biology and Anthropology as well as a Ph.D. in Ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. Mostly through the Harvard Botanical Museum, he spent more than three years in the Amazon Basin and Andes as a plant explorer, living among 15 indigenous groups in eight Latin Americannations while making some 6,000 botanical collections. Davis's work later took him to Haiti to investigate folk preparations implicated in the creation of zombies, an assignment that led to his writing The Serpent and the Rainbow (1985), and Passage of Darkness (1988). The first was an international best-seller, which appeared in 10 languages and was later adapted by Universal Studios into a 1988 horror film that Davis despises.[2]The second reprints material from the first, and is primarily about the theories of how zombies are made, while the first is the story of the investigation. He is author of eight other books, including One River, in which he follows in the footsteps of his mentor, Harvard ethnobotanist Dr. Richard Evans Schultes.

Davis is a citizen of Canada, Ireland and the United States.[citation needed] He has worked as a guide, park ranger and forestry engineer. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork among several indigenous societiesof northern Canada. He has published scientific and popular articles on subjects ranging from Haitian Vodouand Amazonian myth and religion to the global biodiversity crisis, the traditional use of psychoactive drugs, and the ethnobotany of South American indigenous peoples. His discussions of drugs such as the Amazonian entheogenic brew ayahuasca reveal how some human uses of psychoactive substances can be profound and culturally enriching.

A research associate of the Institute of Economic Botany of the New York Botanical Garden, Davis is also a board member of the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecotrust, Future Generations, and Cultural Survival—-allNGOs dedicated to conservation-based development and the protection of cultural and biological diversity. Recently his work has taken him to Peru, Borneo, Tibet, the high Arctic, the Orinoco Delta of Venezuela and northern Kenya. Davis's television credits include Earthguide, a 13-part television series on the environment, which he hosted and co-wrote. He hosted the National Geographic Channel and History Television seriesLight at the Edge of The World.[3] He also wrote for the documentaries Spirit of the Mask, Cry of the Forgotten People, and Forests Forever.

Davis is an outspoken conservationist and belongs to many non-governmental organizations that work to preserve biological and cultural diversity. He appeared in the IMAX documentary film Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk, promoting water conservation.

In 2009 Davis delivered a series of talks for the CBC Massey Lectures entitled The Wayfinders,[4] which has also been published as a book under the same name.

Wade Davis was one of the contributors for writing the book, We Are One: A Celebration of Tribal Peoples, released in October 2009.[5] The book explores the culture of peoples around the world, portraying both its diversity and the threats it faces. Among other writings, we can find several western authors, such asLaurens van der Post, Noam Chomsky, Claude Lévi-Strauss; and also indigenous peoples, such as Davi Kopenawa Yanomami and Roy Sesana. The royalties from the sale of this book go to the indigenous rights organization, Survival International.[6]

In January 2010, Davis was the Schwartz Visiting Fellow of the Pomfret School in Connecticut


In 1983, Davis first advanced his hypothesis that tetrodotoxin (TTX) poisoning could explain the existence of Haitian zombies.[7] This idea has been controversial and his popular 1985 follow up book (The Serpent and the Rainbow) elaborating upon this claim has been criticized for a number of scientific inaccuracies.[8] One of these is the suggestion that Haitian witchdoctors can keep “zombies” in a state of pharmacologically induced trance for many years.[9] As part of his Haitian investigations, Davis commissioned a grave robbery of a recently buried child.[10][11] (Dead human tissue is supposed to be a part of the “zombie powder” used by witchdoctors to produce zombies.) This has been criticized in the professional literature as a breach of ethics.[12][13]

The strictly scientific criticism of Davis’ zombie project has focused on the claims about the chemical composition of the “zombie powder”. Several samples of the powder were analyzed for TTX levels by experts in 1986. They reported[14] that only “insignificant traces of tetrodotoxin [were found] in the samples of ‘zombie powder’ which were supplied for analysis by Davis” and that “it can be concluded that the widely circulated claim in the lay press to the effect that tetrodotoxin is the causal agent in the initial zombification process is without factual foundation”. Davis’ claims were subsequently defended by other scientists doing further analyses[15] and these findings were criticized in turn for poor methodology and technique by the original skeptics.[16] Aside from the question of whether or not “zombie powder” contains significant amounts of TTX, the underlying concept of “tetrodotoxin zombification” has also been questioned more directly on a physiological basis.[17] TTX, which blocks sodium channels on the neural membrane, produces numbness, slurred speech, and possibly paralysis or even respiratory failure and death in severe cases. It is not known to produce the trance-like or “mental slave” state typical of zombies in Haitian mythology, or Davis’ descriptions.

See also


As author

  • Davis, Wade (1985). The Serpent and the Rainbow. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-50247-6.(1997 edition retitled: The Serpent and the Rainbow: A Harvard Scientist's Astonishing Journey into the Secret Societies of Haitian Voodoo, Zombis, and Magic.)
  • Davis, Wade (1988). Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie. Robert F. Thompson, Richard E. Schultes. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0807817767.
  • Davis, Wade and Thom Henley (1990), Penan Voice for the Borneo Rain Forest, Western Canada Wilderness.
  • Davis, Wade (1991), The Art of Shamanic Healing, Cross Cultural Shamanism Network.
  • Davis, Wade (1996). One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80886-2.
  • Davis, Wade (1998). Shadows in the Sun: Travels to Landscapes of Spirit and Desire. ISBN 1559633549.(Published in Canada as The Clouded Leopard: A Book of Travels, Douglas & McIntyre, 1998.)
  • Davis, Wade (2001). Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures. National Geographic. ISBN 0-792-26474-6.
  • Davis, Wade (2009). The Wayfinders: why ancient wisdom matters in the modern world. Toronto: Anansi Press. ISBN 0-88784-842-1.

Photography books

As editor

  • Davis, Wade and K. David Harrison (2008) Book of Peoples of the World: A Guide to Cultures, National Geographic, (2nd edition).

Provided introduction, foreword or afterword

  • Ranier, Chris (2004), Ancient Marks: The Sacred Art of Tattooing and Body Marking, Media 27, Inc.
  • Price, Travis (2006), Archaeology of Tomorrow, Earth Aware.
  • Semeniuk, Robert (2007), Among the Inuit, Raincoast Books.
  • Grand Canyon: A River at Risk (2008), Earth Aware Editions.


  1. ^ CBC Massey Lecture Series 2009 http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/massey/massey2009.html
  2. ^ http://www.ed.psu.edu/icik/2004Proceedings/section7-davis.pdf
  3. ^ Light at The Edge of The World at nationalgeographic.ca
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "‘We Are One: a celebration of tribal peoples’ published this autumn". Survival International. 2009-10-16. Retrieved 2009-11-25.
  6. ^ Survival International - We Are One
  7. ^ Davis, Wade (1983), “The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie”, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 9: 85-104.
  8. ^ Hines, Terrence (2008), “Zombies and Tetrodotoxin”, Skeptical Inquirer, Volume 32, Issue 3 (May/June), pp 60-62.
  9. ^ Booth, W. (1988), “Voodoo Science”, Science, 240: 274-277.
  10. ^ Davis, Wade (1985), The Serpent and the Rainbow, New York: Simon & Schuster, pp 92-95
  11. ^ Davis, Wade (1988), Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie, University of North Carolina Press, pp 115-116.
  12. ^ Booth, Op. cit.
  13. ^ Anderson, W.H. (1988), “Tetrodotoxin and the Zombie Phenomenon”, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 23: 121-126.
  14. ^ Kao, C.Y. and T. Yasumoto (1986), “Tetrodotoxin and the Haitian Zombie”, Toxicon, 24: 747-749.
  15. ^ Benedek, C. and L. Rivier (1989), “Evidence for the presence of tetrodotoxin in a powder used in Haiti for zombification”, Toxicon, 27: 473-480
  16. ^ Kao, C.Y. and T. Yasumoto (1990), “Tetrodotoxin in 'Zombie Powder'”, Toxicon, 28: 129-132.
  17. ^ Hines, Op. cit., pg 62.

External links

Dmitry Orlov

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dmitry Orlov (born 1962) is an engineer and a writer on subjects related to "potential economic, ecological and political decline and collapse in the United States, something he has called “permanent crisis”.[1] Orlov believes collapse will be the result of huge military budgets, government deficits, an unresponsive political system and declining oil production. [2]

Orlov was born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) and moved to the United States at the age of 12. He has a BS in Computer Engineering and an MA in Applied Linguistics. He was an eyewitness to the collapse of theSoviet Union over several extended visits to his Russian homeland between the late 1980s and mid-1990s.[3]

In 2005 and 2006 Orlov wrote a number of articles comparing the collapse-preparedness of the U.S. and theSoviet Union published on small “peak oil” related sites.[4] Orlov’s article "Closing the 'Collapse Gap': the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US" was very popular at EnergyBulletin.Net.[5][6]

In 2006 Orlov published an online manifesto, "The New Age of Sail." In 2007 he and his wife sold their apartment in Boston and bought a sailboat, fitted with solar panels and six months supply of propane, and capable of storing a large quantity of food stuffs. He calls it a “survival capsule.” He uses a bicycle for transportation. Having bartered vodka for necessities during one of trips to the post-collapse Russia, he says "When faced with a collapsing economy, one should stop thinking of wealth in terms of money." [7]

He continues to write regularly on his “Club Orlov” blog and at EnergyBulletin.Net.[8]

Reinventing Collapse

Cover of Reinventing Collapse

Orlov’s book Reinventing Collapse:The Soviet Example and American Prospects, published in 2008, further details his views.[9] The New Yorker's Ben McGrath writes that Orlov describes "superpower collapse soup" common to both the U.S. and the Soviet Union: “a severe shortfall in the production of crude oil, a worsening foreign-trade deficit, an oversized military budget, and crippling foreign debt.” He believes the U.S. will fare worse because Americans have fewer backup plans. Orlov told interviewer McGrath that in recent months financial professionals have begun to make up more of his audience, joining "back-to-the-land types," "peak oilers," and those sometimes derisively called “doomers."

Author James Howard Kunstler, who has been described as “one of Orlov's greatest fans” but denies he is a “complete ‘collapsitarian’”[7], described the book as an “exceptionally clear, authoritative, witty, and original view of our prospects.”[10]

In his review of the book, commentator Thom Hartmann writes that Orlov holds that the Soviet Union hit a “soft crash” because centralized planning, housing, agriculture, and transportation left an infrastructure private citizens could co-opt so that no one had to pay rent or go homeless and people showed up for work, even when they were not paid. He believes the U.S. will have a hard crash, more like Germany’s Weimar Republic of the 1920s. This is partially true because the U.S. is so much more dependent on imported oil.[11]

Writing on Atlanta’s Creative Loafing, Wayne Davis considers Orlovs views and anecdotal stories to be an easy read for a serious subject. Orlov gives practical advise, like when to start accumulating goods for exchange purposes and the need to buy goods that would sustain local communities - "hand tools, simple medications (and morphine), guns and ammo, sharpening stones, bicycles (and lots of tires with patch kits), etc." Orlov writes: “Much of the transformation is psychological and involves letting go of many notions that we have been conditioned to accept unquestioningly. In order to adapt, you will need plenty of free time. Granting yourself this time requires a leap of faith: you have to assume the future has already arrived.” He also advises: “Beyond the matter of personal safety, you will need to understand who has what you need and how to get it from them.”[12]

The EnergyBulletin.Net review states that “Orlov's main goal is to get Americans to understand what it will mean to live without an economy, when cash is virtually useless and most people won't be getting any income anyway because they'll be out of a job.”[13] The review by author Carolyn Baker, PhD, notes that Orlov emphasizes that "when faced with a collapsing economy, one should stop thinking of wealth in terms of money." Physical resources and assets, as well as relationships and connections are worth more than cash and those who know how to "do it themselves" and operate on the margins of society will do better than those whose incomes and lifestyles have plummeted.[14]

Not all commentary has been favorable. In a 2009 article in Mother Jones Virginia Heffernan labels Orlov a “collapsitarianism” which she believes involves “a desire for complete economic meltdown” and writes that Orlov espouses “bourgeois survivalism.”[15]


  1. ^ Punishing Greens puts climate crisis on back burner, The Irish Times, June 11, 2009.
  2. ^ http://www.energybulletin.net/node/23259
  3. ^ Biographical details of Dmitry Orlov, Barnes & Noble website. Accessed 07 January 2008.
  4. ^ Club Orlov May 2006 listing of articles. Available at Google Docs: Thriving in the Age of Collapse(2005), full text at Google Docs of a three-part internet article originally published atLifeaftertheoilcrash.net and Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century, (2005); full article text at Google Docs.
  5. ^ Closing the 'Collapse Gap': the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US, EnergyBulletin.Net, December 4, 2006.
  6. ^ Discussion of Orlov’s writings by Shepherd Billis, US Economy–Recession, Depression, or Collapse?, DissidentVoice.org, November 15th, 2007.
  7. ^ a b Ben McGrath, The Dystopians, The New Yorker, January 26, 2009.
  8. ^ EnergyBulletin.Net articles include:The five stages of collapse, February 26, 2008; The Collapse Party platform, March 31, 2008; That bastion of American socialism, January 10, 2009; Of swans and turkeys, February 27, 2009.
  9. ^ Orlov, Dmitry, Reinventing Collapse, New Society Books, 2008, ISBN 9780865716063
  10. ^ James Howard Kuntsler, A Christmas Eve Story, at Kunstler.Com, December 24, 2007; also published at EnergyBulletin.Net and Atlantic Free Press.
  11. ^ Thom Hartmann, The Thom Hartmann 'Independent Thinker' Review, BuzzFlash.Com, November 11, 2008.
  12. ^ Wayne Davis, Hard times ahead: a discussion on the post-oil world, Atlanta Creative Loafing, May 11, 2009.
  13. ^ Amanda Kovattana, Review: Reinventing Collapse by Dmitry Orlov, EnergyBulletin.Net, April 19, 2008.
  14. ^ Carolyn Baker Reviews Dmitry Orlov's "Re-inventing Collapse", 26 February 2008.
  15. ^ Virginia Heffernan, Apocalypse Ciao: Let the End Times Roll, When the economic Rapture comes, will collapsitarians be the chosen ones?, Mother Jones, July/August 2009.

External links