Numbers from Nowhere: The American Indian Contact Population Debate

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9780806130446: Numbers from Nowhere: The American Indian Contact Population Debate

In the past forty years an entirely new paradigm has developed regarding the contact population of the New World. Proponents of this new theory argue that the American Indian population in 1492 was ten, even twenty, times greater than previous estimates. In Numbers From Nowhere David Henige argues that the data on which these high counts are based are meager and often demonstrably wrong.

Drawing on a wide variety of primary and secondary sources, Henige illustrates the use and abuse of numerical data throughout history. He shows that extrapolation of numbers is entirely subjective, however masked it may be by arithmetic, and he questions what constitutes valid evidence in historical and scientific scholarship.

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From the Back Cover:

In the past forty years an entirely new paradigm has developed regarding the contact population of the New World. Proponents of this new theory argue that the American Indian population in 1492 was ten, even twenty, times greater than previous estimates. In Numbers from Nowhere David Henige argues that the data on which these high counts are based are meager and often demonstrably wrong. Interpreting the archaeological as well as the historical evidence, Henige concludes that the task of assigning meaningful numbers for the American Indian contact population is an impossible one.

About the Author:

David Henige is African Studies and Near East Bibliographer in the Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin Madison. He is the author of In Search of Columbus: The Sources for the First Voyage.

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