“Those who vanished” · Why none will ever be satisfactory · What a difference a ____ makes! · For want of a meme, a civilization was lost · When the underclass becomes restless

According to the author, those who vanished just “took up less conspicuous ways of making a living, either by foraging or by some mixture of foraging and farming.” What do you suppose happened to the ruling and noble classes when this happened? [No one knows or is likely to know, so this is purely conjectural.]

After millennia of overgrazing and poor agricultural practices, much of the Fertile Crescent became the desert it remains today. What do you suppose happened to the farming peoples of the area?

Two guys are working at computers when the power fails. One keeps on working, the other sits there idle till power is restored. What did the first have that the second didn’t? [An uninterruptible backup power supply.] Come up with other (perhaps less easy) riddles of this sort.

Quinn says you can’t talk people into accepting an absurd idea on the spur of the moment, they have to hear it from birth. Can you think of any “absurd” ideas that people accept because they’ve heard them from birth?

As a writing assignment, have students survey our history of “underclass insurrections, revolts, rebellions, riots, and revolutions.” You might consider dividing the class into three groups, one to investigate the classical period, one to investigate the period following the fall of Rome, and one to investigate the period from the Renaissance to the present, then compare their results.