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Old September 6, 2003, 11:29   #31
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The book is subtitled "The last 13000 years of everybody"

As noted, he is a believer that New Guineians are smarter than westerners.

I liked the book very much, especially because I do not read many history books and this one exposed me to some new ideas, especially geographic determinism.

I was not convinced with his writing about animal domestication and plant domestication. It would take a whole book or two just to clarify those.

And as a rule, if TCO says something appeals to pseudo intellectuals - it is worth a read
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Old September 6, 2003, 11:30   #32
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ah well, is there any book that includes cultural and religious influences? they can't be irrelevant.
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Old September 6, 2003, 12:04   #33
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They are in Diamonds world. Really - I'm not making it up.
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Old September 6, 2003, 12:08   #34
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strange how the book is still so successful, can't have received a lot of scientific / academic "kudos"
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Old September 6, 2003, 12:10   #35
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Well, he does have some very good points and makes some rather convincing arguments in regards to a number of issues.

But, regardless of what his supporters say, he didn't write the end-all, be-all "there's no more to be added" book of historical development.
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Old September 6, 2003, 12:12   #36
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what about "history of the world" by some guy in comparison to this?

I hope you know of which book I speak, the one that was mentioned in my books thread wherein you posted.
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Old September 6, 2003, 12:17   #37
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Quote:
Originally posted by skywalker


He says there are selective pressures for intelligence among undeveloped societies, whereas there are selective pressures for resistance to disease among developed societies.
That is reasonable. But it is also reasonable that those pressures may be different in a forest/grass, hot vs cold climate, etc. And he neglects to show data to support his plausible assertion regardless. Also, he says nothing about the time scales involved. Does the last 4000 years of civilization make Western Man dumber? Or is it the 30,000 years of Ice Age foraging that mattered? Or do the last 50 years of welfare for abos, reduce their intelligence. But the big kvetch is no data. No peer-reviewed research cited. Just an assertion. He's a lightweight. For lightweights, he's heavy.

Last edited by TCO; September 6, 2003 at 12:28.
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Old September 6, 2003, 12:25   #38
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ecthelion
what about "history of the world" by some guy in comparison to this?

I hope you know of which book I speak, the one that was mentioned in my books thread wherein you posted.
History of the World is a much better history than GG&S. GG&S devotes its time to explaining how biological and geographical issues shaped how the various civilizations developed, and doesn't go into the development itself.
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Old September 6, 2003, 12:26   #39
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The "guy" is J.M. Roberts. I recommend his book highly, as does Boris.
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Old September 6, 2003, 12:27   #40
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So HotW describes what happened and GG&S tries to explain it?
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Old September 6, 2003, 12:31   #41
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Yeah, but there's a lot of explaining in HotW. Roberts focused his explaining on cultural, religious (and yes, some geographic) issues, whereas Diamond explains it all merely as a matter of happenstance: Western Europe developed as it did not because of any inherent ability of W. Europeans nor because of any inherent "superiority" of Western ideas/beliefs, but because W. Europe is a geographically ideal place to take over the world, populated by peoples who were more disease resistant than the people they conquered from 1400-1900.
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Old September 6, 2003, 12:44   #42
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ecthelion
So HotW describes what happened and GG&S tries to explain it?
HotW = History. Roberts gives a narrative-style, broad history of the entire world since the dawn of man. It isn't meant to focus on details, but it does explain why things happened in a broad sense. He talks a lot about cultural and societal progress, technology, etc.

GG&S = Sociology and Anthropology. A little history, but not real rigorous, academic history. Diamond is more focused on giving broad theories on how human cultures developed in competition with other cultures, why some societies civilized and some remained primitive, etc. Ignore the criticism here (some of it fair and some certainly not) and read it, because at the very least it will make you look at history with a new perspective.

Have you read Toynbee? If you want history, he's the man to go to.
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Old September 6, 2003, 12:49   #43
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Quote:
Originally posted by JohnT
nor because of any inherent "superiority" of Western ideas/beliefs,
This is a bit of a distortion, because one of the obvious things about Diamond's theory is that Western ideas/beliefs were a product of its geographical and biological situation. After all, in a confined, densely-populated region like Europe, ideas will spread much faster and evolve much quicker.

Diamond does not say, IIRC, that Western ideas/beliefs had no function whatsoever in European dominance. But they are subsidiary functions of what he emphasizes, biological and geographic factors. Ergo devoting a book to the biological and geographic makes sense, especially seeing that countless other tomes have dwelt on the ideas/beliefs angle.
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Old September 6, 2003, 12:51   #44
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Eh. I stick to Larry Gonick if I want to be entertained by history.
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Old September 6, 2003, 12:54   #45
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Roberts is a page-turner, IMO. I finished the entire 1100+ page book in about 2 weeks.
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Old September 6, 2003, 12:59   #46
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Quote:
Originally posted by TCO
He claims genetic intellectual superiority of New Guineans.
I don't think so. The point he was making about the New Guineans is that intelligence is relative. The NGs developed a high level of intelligence to survive in their environment. We tend to ignore that intelligence and look upon them as undeveloped. The old ignorant savages bit.
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Old September 6, 2003, 13:02   #47
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My major issue with Diamond is that he argues based on repetition. And that he disdains statistics or multiple regression. It's as if he wanted to prove that nutrition was the only factor affecting longevity and then told you a million stories of how starving people died (and the converse). The issue is that this does not isolate for the other variable.

(For the Texans) It's as if he wanted to prove that the passing game is the key thing that determines a football champion and gave a million examples of how good teams had a great QB and the converse. Maybe even showed a statistical correlation between good yardage gained in the air and winning (actually wait, that would involve math and be beyond him). But never showed a multiple regression to prove that rushing prowess was irrelevant. And of course, this would be leaving the defense entirely out of the question.
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Old September 6, 2003, 13:04   #48
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Be nice, math is beyond me too. I just make nice bowls in pottery...
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Old September 6, 2003, 13:08   #49
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Be nice, math is beyond me too. I just make nice bowls in pottery...
That's fine. Just bow down.
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Old September 6, 2003, 13:09   #50
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tingkai


I don't think so. The point he was making about the New Guineans is that intelligence is relative. The NGs developed a high level of intelligence to survive in their environment. We tend to ignore that intelligence and look upon them as undeveloped. The old ignorant savages bit.
I quoted the man above where he says exactly that.
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Old September 6, 2003, 13:15   #51
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Old September 6, 2003, 13:17   #52
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Quote:
My major issue with Diamond is that he argues based on repetition. And that he disdains statistics or multiple regression. It's as if he wanted to prove that nutrition was the only factor affecting longevity and then told you a million stories of how starving people died (and the converse). The issue is that this does not isolate for the other variable.
The nature of history isn't very quantifiable. The bit on his experience on New Guineans wasn't meant to actually be part of the meat of the book (which is academically sound and as quantified as it needs to be IMO), just some personal anecdotes to show that being a hunter-gatherer doesn't prove one is less intelligent. It's pop anthropology, not an academic paper. My main problem with the book is that the quality of writing was rather bad (too much repetition, hammering in simple points, etc.).
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Old September 6, 2003, 13:25   #53
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It's a fault of logic to assume that proving one cause is significant disproves others. See the football anology, Tejas man. Or run a few multiple regressions. You don't need to do the math to understand the concept.
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Old September 6, 2003, 13:27   #54
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And wrt his comment about NG being smarter than Westerners, there is nothing to stop testing on that hypothesis. Instead we have his general impression. Great. So he beleives himself. What a miracle of argument and explication.
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Old September 6, 2003, 13:28   #55
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I mean this is a case, where his assertion is amenable to testing. But he doesn't bother. He is a lightweight.
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Old September 6, 2003, 13:31   #56
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It's meant to be anecdotal, not rigorous. That isn't what the book is about.
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Old September 6, 2003, 13:33   #57
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GG&S is an excellent book. TCO needs to get over his "he complements the evil saavges, it must be motivated by the left blah, blah, blah."
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Old September 6, 2003, 13:38   #58
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Odin, have you even read TCO's comments? Your remarks are WAAAAAY out of line and are completely unwarranted. One expects better of you.
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Old September 6, 2003, 13:49   #59
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ramo
It's meant to be anecdotal, not rigorous. That isn't what the book is about.
Don't have a problem with plausible arguments. He just overstates his thesis. Proving (giving him credit here) on factor does not disprove others. Read some books on social science. It will give you a feel for this issue. My major kvetch is not with the lack of math to prove his hyptothesis but with extending one-factor causation to negation of other factors.

Here is a good book to read through. It actually points out the limits of statisticial analysis. But not in a methof of lets throw them away. (Just like a critique of X-ray cxrystallography would not say, let's go back to pulling molecular structures out of our azz.)

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...glance&s=books
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Old September 6, 2003, 13:49   #60
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Odin, have you even read TCO's comments? Your remarks are WAAAAAY out of line and are completely unwarranted. One expects better of you.
I am suspicious of the reasons he is dissing the book, it seems that he can't admit that us europeans are no better than anybody else. Him being a conservative and a southerner makes it seems he has an ideological bone to pick.

Oh, It was skywalker that said the book was full of PC. My response is, I DON'T THINK SO!
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