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Guns Germs And Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

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  Quote Dawn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Guns Germs And Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
    Posted: 04-May-2007 at 09:54
Time to talk- Lets start with first impressions,  what did you think of it.

Edited by Dawn - 04-May-2007 at 09:55
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2007 at 00:04
Well, I believe that Jared Diamond stike it right on.
 
It is the first theory, as far as I know of course, that separates the issues of race and culture, or genetics and technology, it you wish.
 
Before Diamond people usually thought a superior culture was produced by superior people, like if something intrisically genetical, reductionist, mechanicist, it were the cause of development.
 
Diamond proved that idea is wrong, and that all human are the same. Yes, there are societies more advanced technologically than others, but the human being that is a part of any society is always the same.
 
What are the reason for the differences then? Many. From chance, to geography, to the minerals, plants and animals available in the landscape. Everything contributed to made a difference, and that is the reason of the inequalities.
 
I believe Diamond's work is one of the first basic theories in history that exist, and he deserves all the credit.
 
Pinguin
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Edited by pinguin - 05-May-2007 at 00:31
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  Quote Super Goat (^_^) Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2007 at 00:28
I agree. I think it's definatly a great book. I especially like his theory of the "axis" of continents being a major reason in their development. With africa and the America's having a vertical axis, hindering the movement of technologies and communications between regions, they did not progress as much as euroasia, which had a "horizental axis," enabling trade and contact on a much larger scale.

Also, his reasons for china's failure to progress techonologically as fast as europeans were quite convincing.


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  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2007 at 10:36
Diamond hasn't actually "proved" anything.  His theories, for the most part are convincing, however some of them are being contradicted by new research being done.  The vertical axis theory is being shot full of holes by Clark Ericsson of the U of Penna.  
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  Quote Maharbbal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2007 at 12:13
It is a brilliant sum up of other people's theories.
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  Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2007 at 12:22
Diamond had a lot of interesting scientific opinions and anecdotes.  However, his overall argument is too determinist for my liking.

Edited by Byzantine Emperor - 05-May-2007 at 12:22
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  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2007 at 14:22
Originally posted by Maharbbal

It is a brilliant sum up of other people's theories.
 
 
A more recent work which does the same is 1491, by Charles Mann.
 
From the San Francisco Chronicle-
          A Jared Diamond-like volley that challenges prevailing thinking about global development.
 
Pinguin hates it, which in itself is a strong recommendation. Wink
 
 
 
 
 
"Arguing with someone who hates you or your ideas, is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter what move you make, your opponent will walk all over the board and scramble the pieces".
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2007 at 17:37
1491?
 
I don't hate it. I believe it is misleading. I preffer realistic books. Native cultures were quite interisting and they not need to be glorified at all.
 
Pinguin
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  Quote kilroy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-May-2007 at 15:20
Hey all, sorry i haven't been able to discuss the books sooner, i've been away for business reasons. 

As for the book, i thought Diamond's theories were incredibly interesting, some eye opening to me.  The break down of large domestic animals in the book was brilliant.  His explanation for the rise and domestication of crops was convincing.  The graph on the spread of fertile crescent crops was interesting. And his China chapter was compelling. 

But i have a few problems with the book.  These may be more personal taste if anything, but i could not help but nearly fall asleep every time i read the book.  I also thought that the pictures in the book weren't needed at all. 

Overall, i applaud Diamond for bringing a myriad of theories into a single comprehensive book for everyone. 

So, did anyone have any problems with his theories?  I know there is a lot of criticism pointed at the book.  I know i had a few problems with a couple of his theories (and some contradictions in the book) but i will get to that later. 

Cheers!

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  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-May-2007 at 15:35
Originally posted by pinguin

1491?
 
I don't hate it. I believe it is misleading. I preffer realistic books. Native cultures were quite interisting and they not need to be glorified at all.
 
Pinguin
 
 
 
???????????????????? You haven't read it.  If you had you wouldn't be saying what you just wrote.  What Mann has done is compile and analyze the research and archeology being done by many others, North and South Americans, and put it all together in one volume.  We are talking hard science, not fiction.   As to glorification, he doesn't glorify anything or any one, except possibly the scientists who have had to fight narrow minded ethno-centrists who refuse to look at the immense amount of evidence that is being assembled, reversing the idea that the Americas were a vast and empty wilderness befor the whiteman arrived. 
"Arguing with someone who hates you or your ideas, is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter what move you make, your opponent will walk all over the board and scramble the pieces".
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-May-2007 at 08:55
Originally posted by red clay

[
...  
???????????????????? You haven't read it.  If you had you wouldn't be saying what you just wrote.  What Mann has done is compile and analyze the research and archeology being done by many others, North and South Americans, and put it all together in one volume.  We are talking hard science, not fiction.   As to glorification, he doesn't glorify anything or any one, except possibly the scientists who have had to fight narrow minded ethno-centrists who refuse to look at the immense amount of evidence that is being assembled, reversing the idea that the Americas were a vast and empty wilderness befor the whiteman arrived. 
 
Well, it was not an empty wilderness at all. But large chuncks of the Amazon and North America have a density quite low by modern standards.
20 to 40 million people in total are the estimations that, I believe, matches reality and chronicles. Curiosly enough, the places where most Natives existed at contact are also the places where you find most of them today: Mexico and the Andes.
 
It is also known that most Natives, although knew about farming, only had an low scale agriculture, and depended on hunting and fishing. Only in Mesoamerica and Peru you find high densities and large scale agriculture.
That mean theirs economy couldn't stand large densities. And, in fact, outside Mesoamerica and Peru you don't usually find cities but just temporary towns. In Chile, for example, Mapuches didn't have towns but lived spread in the countryside and wet forests, like the ancient germans once did.
 
Densities in Amazon, Patagonia and North America were low. That's something known. It is even described in the Chronicles.
 
Now, if someone claim that a jungle like the Amazon was made "by design" I won't agree at all. Perhaps I am wrong but that's what scares me out of that book LOL
 
Pinguin
 
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  Quote Kevin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-May-2007 at 19:26
I checked this book out of my school library one time, However I never got around to reading it. 
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