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Sign in to turnon 1-Click ordering.248 used and new from $4.40

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Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human SocietiesJared M. Diamond

Price: $10.68

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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize, and the Commonwealth Club of California's Gold Medal

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jared diamond
JaredDiamond

Jared Diamond is one of America's most celebrated scholars. A professor of Geography and Physiology at the University of California, he is equally renowned for his work in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology, and for his ground-breaking studies of the birds of Papua New Guinea.

herrnstein and murray the bell curve 1994
Herrnstein and Murray :The Bell Curve(1994)
  • Intelligence exists and is accurately measurable across racial, language, and national boundaries.
  • Intelligence is one, if not the most, important correlative factor in economic, social, and overall success in America, and is becoming more important.
  • Intelligence is largely (40% to 80%) genetically heritable.
  • There are racial and ethnic differences in IQ that cannot be entirely explained by environmental factors such as nutrition, social policy, or racism.
  • No one has so far been able to manipulate IQ long term to any significant degree through changes in environmental factors - except for child adoption - and in light of their failure such approaches are becoming less promising.
  • The USA has been in denial regarding these facts, and in light of these findings a better public understanding of the nature of intelligence and its social correlates is necessary to guide future policy decisions in America.
slide4

Yali’s Question: “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?”

  • Why do you think Diamond chooses to begin his book with a question?
  • Why do you think Yali’s question is relevant for us today?
  • Diamond proposes his answer to Yali’s question: Do you find this
  • persuasive so far?
  • If so, why? If not, what kind of evidence would he have to supply to persuade you?
  • Diamond challenges some common explanations for differences among
  • human societies. Are you familiar with these explanations?
  • Do you know people who share them?

Prologue: Yali’s Question

Why do you think Diamond chooses to begin his book with a question?

Why do you think Yali’s question is relevant for us today?

Diamond proposes his answer to Yali’s question: Do you find this

persuasive so far? If so, why? If not, what kind of evidence would he

have to supply to persuade you?

Diamond challenges some common explanations for differences among

human societies. Are you familiar with these explanations? Do you

know people who share them?

slide5

Part One: From Eden to Cajamarca

  • Where is Cajamarca?
  • What is Diamond referring to?
  • What do you expect to learn in this section of the book?
  • Why would Diamond choose to start here?
slide6

Chapter One: Up to the Starting Line

Diamond says: “An observer transported back in time to 11.000 B.C. could not have predicted on which continent human societies would develop most quickly, but could have made a strong case for any of the continents.”

Why does Diamond begin his story at this point in human

history; why not sooner or later?

slide10

Chapter Two: A Natural Experiment of History

How does the fact that the Maori defeated the Moriori (a natural experiment of history”) support Diamond’s argument?

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Chapter Three: Collision at Cajamarca

Pizarro defeated the Incan emperor Atahuallpa, just like the Maori

defeated the Moriori in the previous chapter.

Why does Diamond use historical anecdotes to support his argument at this point in the book, rather than some other kind of evidence, like statistics?

Can you think of a time when a less materially advanced society

defeated a more materially advanced society?

If you can, doesn’t that cast doubt on Diamond’s claim?