Category Archives: GGS

Guns, Germs, and Steel

Guns, Germs, and Steel revisited

Jared Diamond’s thesis, in Guns, Germs, and Steel, is that regional differences in civilizational achievement are entirely caused by biogeographical factors, while regional differences in ability have had no effect. It isn’t that he believes that there are no such … Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews, GGS | 218 Comments

Not without honor

Jared Diamond spends a lot of time in GGS making excuses for groups that didn’t do much domestication of animals and plants. Sometimes the excuses are valid: farming was hard for Eskimos. Mostly they’re not: the wild ancestors of horses … Continue reading

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Domesticated animals and human disease

Jared Diamond considered the disastrous impact of Eurasian and African diseases on the inhabitants of the New World, contrasted with a much smaller impact in the opposite direction, and concluded that a major factor had probably been transmission from domesticated … Continue reading

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Regional change

Jared Diamond thinks that people in different parts of the world can and have evolved in different directions, depending on local selective pressures. He thinks that people in Eurasia and Africa evolved resistance to various crowd and tropical diseases, and … Continue reading

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Psychometrics

Jared Diamond says ” Sound evidence for the existence of human differences in intelligence that parallel human differences in technology is lacking.” In short, he dismisses the entire field of psychometrics. Doesn’t even bother to argue about it. The word … Continue reading

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Something changed

Jared Diamond notes (p 161) that the wild ancestors of domesticated animals are spread unevenly – only two are in South America, while none come from North America, sub-Saharan Africa, or Australia. He then argues that only a few special … Continue reading

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Persistence

Jared Diamond notices that early development of complex civilizations had ongoing consequences: peoples that developed such things way later or not at all continue to do poorly today, even if they encountered Western technology and technologists several hundred years ago. … Continue reading

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PNG Über Alles

One of the more interesting points in Guns, Germs, and Steel is Diamond’s claim that people in Papua New Guinea (PNG) “are probably genetically superior to Westerners”: p21. More quotes: “Natural selection for intelligence has probably been far more ruthless … Continue reading

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PNG data

Anyone have data on PNG performance in PISA or TIMSS? Or similar info?

Posted in GGS, Uncategorized | 19 Comments

Buffalo gourds and Josephson junctions

Every technique is in competition with rival techniques. This inhibits the development of new techniques, even if they have high potential in the long run. To succeed, they have to beat out existing techniques in the short run. For example, … Continue reading

Posted in GGS, Uncategorized | 33 Comments