I will reread and review Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel

If the price is right. Running a GoFundME for $1000. Paypal and bitcoin are also acceptable.

The idea is not to joyfully take out the trash, as I did with Cordelia Fine’s Testosterone Rex, but to answer a book that is fundamentally wrong without being utter dreck.

Here’s the link.

Then again, since GoFundMe has just suspended my account, maybe not.

Now it’s up again. So go ahead.

Paypal also works: use the Donate button.

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53 Responses to I will reread and review Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel

  1. James Thompson says:

    Don’t bother

    • reinertor says:

      I disagree. I think it’s quite useful to have those ideas taken down together, which could be used in debates later by anyone. You won’t believe (or maybe you will) how many people take this book seriously. I once talked to an evolutionary biologist (!) who believed it to be “largely true”, with the bonus that the guy “couldn’t remember” reading in it about New Guineans supposedly higher intelligence. (I guess some ideas strike even goodthinkers as exceptionally silly and embarrassing and they tend prefer not remembering them, consciously or subconsciously.)

      (This evolutionary biologist was quite interesting, he apparently believed that it was morally wrong to propose a hypothesis where our own race would be genetically more intelligent than some other races. “Only stupid people obsess about how their race could be more intelligent than other races.” This guy – after some debate – actually conceded that of course it might be possible to have such genetic differences, but insisted that it would be morally wrong to even think about it. It was one of the most interesting cases of crimestop I have ever met.)

      • Jim says:

        The chances of absolute equality in mental capabilities and behavioral dispositions between two human groups widely separated for a long time are zero. Would it be immoral to suppose there might be behavioral differences between two varieties of wolves or two breeds of domestic dogs?

      • anonymous says:

        People in MENSA know it is rude to talk about IQ, but they know it exist.

        • Patrick L. Boyle says:

          Mensa members need not be particularly smart. I expect that the average consistent commenter on this blog is far more intelligent and informed. Mensa as I remember need only be in the 98th percentile of IQ. That’s not stupid but almost all important people in the sciences are in 99th percentile. I’m only half smart myself, but I got an 800 on the GREs (less on the quantitative side). I have contempt for those 98th percentile folks. They should go into sociology and keep out of the way.

      • Taken down together — as in, a wiki?… Blogs are, are just blogs.
        I think Diamond does understand that ideas in Guns Germs and Steel and just false but he wrote that the PC crowd wished.

        • Frau Katze says:

          I would say that Diamond was correct on some topics. For example, ideas really did travel more easily in Eurasia (East-West) than in the Americas (pretty hard to get to South America from North America.)

          His later book, “Collapse”, was quite interesting.

          I wouldn’t put him in the category of Cordelia Fine. He’s clearly a lot brighter than her.

          But, yes, he also wrote plenty of silly things. Even in “Collapse”, he said some silly things, such that hunting from kayaks was “unchristian.” Thus the Norse lost against the Inuits in Greenland. I’m not aware that there is anything at all in the New Testament discussing methods of hunting, much less saying some were forbidden.

          A sifting of the wheat and chaff would definitely be worth it for Diamond. I’ve chipped in.

          PS: I know an über-left retired history prof who wrote off Diamond on completely different grounds. Why, the fool said that disease killed the majority of the dead in the wake of 1492! Doesn’t he know that they were all killed by Conquistadors?

          Nothing I could say could cause him to even entertain the disease scenario. I listed several other books, but he rejected them all. They were simply all wrong.

          • Of course, a liar has to say truth some of the time. But the central tenet of the book is wrong and the truths are cherry-picked. BTW West Eurasians and East Asians and much more dissimilar than North Amerinds and South Amerinds.

          • Jim says:

            There were objects found in Meso-America that seem to have come from South America. Also corn which was originally cultivated in Mexico spread to South America. Greenberg stated that the Timucua dialects of northern Florida were not close to any other North American linguistic group and belongs with South American languages. If so the Timucua probably migrated to Florida across the Caribbean.

            But the Isthmus of Panama was a pretty effective barrier.

          • Jim says:

            Of course the Norse in Greenland did not all die off. A large number of them returned to Iceland.

  2. Get rid.. of Diamond. ITS NOT WURF IT!

  3. M says:

    Link to Gofundme?

  4. jd016 says:

    Since you take Bitcoin..a lot of money can be made in cryptocurrency trading. I’ll donate some money after someone suggests me some good trades to make.

  5. Polynices says:

    My impression was that his basic facts were fine and it was just the higher level conclusions (and refusal to see that he’d described why human groups differ) that were dumb. Not that you wouldn’t have enough material right there. Or are even the basic facts messed up?

  6. Ursiform says:

    Diamond’s books generally have a lot of interesting information, and he often starts down a logical path in drawing conclusions. The problem is that when he realizes he’s not going to end up where he wants to he veers away from supportable reasoning and uses leaps of faith to arrive at what he considers the “right” conclusion.

    • engleberg says:

      Good stuff in Guns, Germs, and Steel:

      Diamond is a good ecologist with a lot of experience.
      Guns, Sails and Empires was a great book.
      Plagues and Peoples was a great book.

      Bad stuff:
      Diffuse writing. Political correctness.

  7. Greying Wanderer says:

    Diamond’s book is plausible misdirection so worth taking down.

    “Then again, since GoFundMe, has just suspended my account, maybe not.”

    gulag incoming

    • Frau Katze says:

      GoFundMe doesn’t require a contributor to have an account. The last time, Greg gave the wrong link, to his administrator account. Naturally it kept saying my attempts to login were bad. Someone else pointed out the problem.

  8. anon says:

    Your link doesn’t work for me, BTW.

  9. Alex says:

    Will you get the money I’ve already donated via GoFundMe? I can’t find a paypal link on your side to share…

    • gcochran9 says:

      The account is now unsuspended. If they ultimately sit on me you’ll get your money back. The paypal button ( DONATE) is on the right, under the archives, as you log into the blog.

  10. Ryan Baldini says:

    It’s been a while, but I remember thinking (in undergrad) that the book was okay, though overreaching (which a grand theory is bound to be, I suppose). I seem to remember seeing a list of the number of grass species (or something) on each of the continents. Eurasian had a lot, Australia not so much, which seemed relevant. The observation that Eurasians lived with a lot more domesticated animals is surely relevant to disease spillover, though I doubt that was an original observation.

    Less convincing: New Guinean children smarter than European children. The assertion that African animals are somehow inherently undomesticable. Even my impressionable young self had a hard time with these.

    Would like to see Greg compare this to Clark’s Farewell to Alms, another grand-theory-of-history book.

    • improbable says:

      Re African animals, that seemed like one of the plausible bits to me. American animals were no good, we wiped them out too fast. African animals had to deal with us as we evolved. Somewhere in-between perhaps there was a goldilocks level of contact?

      And (if I remember right) he put a lot of time on E-W orientation, many environments similar enough that innovations could spread. That also seems non-crazy.

      The rest I don’t remember so well, although I do remember the anecdote about the New Guineans! It did not strike me as odd as it would have, had I read it after Greg Clark…

      • gcochran9 says:

        The bit about African animals being untameable is bullshit, of course.

        • Jim says:

          I believe that Europeans in Africa were able to domesticate the eland.

          • gcochran9 says:

            Right. African elephants are tameable ( like Indian elephants). Zebras are tameable and probably wouldn’t be terribly hard to domesticate, bu then we already have horses.

            I wouldn’t want to have to try to tame a Cape buffalo, but then an aurochs was pretty scary too.

            • Jim says:

              We already have horses but imagine a cavalry troop riding zebras. Pretty neat. Would go well with the right uniforms.

              • Michael H says:

                Would the stripes in a formation of fast-moving zebras make it harder for enemy riflemen to lock onto a target?

              • Jim says:

                Isn’t it a basic principle of camouflage that such patterns make it difficult to follow an object? I assume that’s why they involved in zebras.

              • Jim says:

                I meant “evolved” not “involved”.

        • Enrique Cardova says:

          Diamond never said all African animals are untameable -what you say seems a strawman. He said CERTAIN ONES, like the rhino and very dangerous Cape Buffalo etc were unsuitable for domestication. And he was right. By the way the donkey is of African origin and was tamed for domestic use, because it was suitable. Wild cousins in Asia by contrast were not domesticated by Asians for very good reasons- they were less stable, more aggressive and very fast in avoiding capture by humans, even if the humans did manage to find time and energy to chase them around some of the most rugged wilderness and desert terrain..

          • Diamond explicitly writes he considers North Africa as part of Eurasia for purposes of the book. He gives a table with number of species in each region. Heh try computing p-values and say it was random xD

  11. georgioxblog says:

    You shoul review “Sapiens: a brief history of mankind” by Yuval Noah Harari

  12. Greying Wanderer says:

    o/t but relevant to previous discussion on city planning and pyramidal building to save space (assuming roads etc are underground)

    https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/07/welcome-to-china-s-urban-forest

  13. syonredux says:

    Off-topic,

    Ancient Greek Genes:

    “The ancient DNA comes from the teeth of 19 people, including 10 Minoans from Crete dating to 2900 B.C.E. to 1700 BCE, four Mycenaeans from the archaeological site at Mycenae and other cemeteries on the Greek mainland dating from 1700 B.C.E. to 1200 B.C.E., and five people from other early farming or Bronze Age (5400 B.C.E. to 1340 B.C.E.) cultures in Greece and Turkey. By comparing 1.2 million letters of genetic code across these genomes to those of 334 other ancient people from around the world and 30 modern Greeks, the researchers were able to plot how the individuals were related to each other.”

    and they both got three-quarters of their DNA from early farmers who lived in Greece and southwestern Anatolia, which is now part of Turkey, the team reports today in Nature. Both cultures additionally inherited DNA from people from the eastern Caucasus, near modern-day Iran, suggesting an early migration of people from the east after the early farmers settled there but before Mycenaeans split from Minoans.”

    “The ancient Mycenaeans and Minoans were most closely related to each other.The Mycenaeans did have an important difference: They had some DNA—4% to 16%—from northern ancestors who came from Eastern Europe or Siberia. This suggests that a second wave of people from the Eurasian steppe came to mainland Greece by way of Eastern Europe or Armenia, but didn’t reach Crete, says Iosif Lazaridis, a population geneticist at Harvard University who co-led the study.’

    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/08/greeks-really-do-have-near-mythical-origins-ancient-dna-reveals

    • syonredux says:

      Corrected a typo.
      Off-topic,

      Ancient Greek Genes:

      “The ancient DNA comes from the teeth of 19 people, including 10 Minoans from Crete dating to 2900 B.C.E. to 1700 BCE, four Mycenaeans from the archaeological site at Mycenae and other cemeteries on the Greek mainland dating from 1700 B.C.E. to 1200 B.C.E., and five people from other early farming or Bronze Age (5400 B.C.E. to 1340 B.C.E.) cultures in Greece and Turkey. By comparing 1.2 million letters of genetic code across these genomes to those of 334 other ancient people from around the world and 30 modern Greeks, the researchers were able to plot how the individuals were related to each other.”

      “The ancient Mycenaeans and Minoans were most closely related to each other,and they both got three-quarters of their DNA from early farmers who lived in Greece and southwestern Anatolia, which is now part of Turkey, the team reports today in Nature. Both cultures additionally inherited DNA from people from the eastern Caucasus, near modern-day Iran, suggesting an early migration of people from the east after the early farmers settled there but before Mycenaeans split from Minoans.”

      .The Mycenaeans did have an important difference: They had some DNA—4% to 16%—from northern ancestors who came from Eastern Europe or Siberia. This suggests that a second wave of people from the Eurasian steppe came to mainland Greece by way of Eastern Europe or Armenia, but didn’t reach Crete, says Iosif Lazaridis, a population geneticist at Harvard University who co-led the study.’

      http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/08/greeks-really-do-have-near-mythical-origins-ancient-dna-reveals

      • Fallmerayer wept says:

        The degree of genetic relatedness between Mycenaeans and Minoans is what’s really new in this study.

        On the other hand, if it takes so much work to prove something that anyone with a pair of working eyes can see, aren’t we one small step closer to doom?

  14. You’ll enjoy it again, I’m guessing. It’s got some big flaws, but there are many great historical tidbits. The Maori/Moriori split and disastrous meeting (for the Moriori) centuries later is a great example of geography influencing social development. His thesis is not crackers. Just a little wrong, like most ideas more than two months old. We can give him the classic progressive out of, “his heart’s in the right place” 😂

  15. Maciano says:

    I’d like to pay in bitcoin. But please promise you’ll keep holding them.

  16. Michael K says:

    Done. The way it’s going, you will reach the target today, so you can start reviewing.

    The book seemed plausible to me and enlightening, even in my already red-pilled state – other than completely avoiding the topic of how culture imparts selective pressure. But it seems to me that can be added without negating much, if anything, in the book.
    Looking forward.

  17. Enrique Cardova says:

    Guns, Germs and Steel makes some very valid points and has some good data. For example- The degree to which agriculture could be practiced in any location, before the advent of world-wide commerce, depended heavily on what species were locally available for domestication or could be acquired from neighboring cultures sharing a similar climate. Some of the same points on the importance of geography are made by Thomas Sowell in his latest. Where Diamond goes wobbly is when he leaps beyond sound data and analysis into trying to determine various ultimate “laws” of history like for example saying agricultural societies will inevitably dominate non-agricultural societies, ignoring numerous instances of the opposite.

  18. egregious philbin says:

    Diamond played 2 the PC crowd & made dumb claims: New Guineans r smarter than whites & r “genetically superior” 2 whites (pp 19-21) w/ NO data, & dismissed >100 yrs of DATA as “wrong.” 2 him it’s ok 2 assume primitives r smarter than whites, but the reverse is racist + it’s gr8 2 accept PC beliefs w/o data! He h8ed occam’s razor. But, true: different peoples r ok solutions 4 their environments.

    • PrenelaWhitcomb says:

      A bogus strawman.. Actually Diamond does not say what you claim he is saying. He did not say New Guinea folk are smarter, genetically superior etc.. That is plain lying and anyone who has read the book knows this. Have some integrity..

      • gcochran9 says:

        You are an illiterate jackass.

        Quotes from GGS:

        “in mental ability, New Guineans are probably genetically superior [my emphasis] to Westerners”: p21. “Modern ‘Stone Age’ peoples are on the average probably more intelligent, not less intelligent, than industrialized peoples. ” p 21.

        But you are not alone. I’ve had several other people make this exact same mistake. Since you are presumably not Papuan, in a sense you are yourself evidence for the intellectual inferiority of the industrialized peoples.

        But there’s another fascinating implication: apparently, morons are bosons. Who’d a thunk it!

  19. egregious philbin says:

    guns, germs, & steel = magic dirt: the book
    (from JohnRivers on Gab:)

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