Guns, Germs and Steel

It transpired that my left-leaning brother, sensing my race-realism, thought he could cure it by having me read the book “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond.  He was under the impression that this book would lay to rest any doubts I might have that all the races of Humanity are equal in every way that matters.   I don’t know who told him that “Guns, Germs and Steel” is a refutation of race-realism.  It turned out he had not even read it himself.  Perhaps another individual, who had not read it, had told him this.

After having read the book from cover to cover, I reported back to him that a) it hardly speaks of race at all b) when it does speak of race, it’s to claim that the natives of New Guinea are intellectually superior to other peoples due to natural selection and c) Diamond’s claims can be understood to go hand in hand with race-realism.  He had nothing to say about “a” or “c”.  Regarding “b”, he claimed that Professor Diamond must surely have been joking.  I explained that the claim was made twice and he clearly was not joking.

Although Diamond’s theories don’t contradict race-realism, it seems to me that at least some of them are false – perhaps even lies.  “Guns, Germs and Steel” was published in 1997 and one of its claims is that there were few animals suitable for domestication in black Africa.  Since black Africans had little opportunity to utilize such animals, civilization wasn’t in the cards for them.  Diamond goes to great lengths in order to illustrate exactly why various indigenous African animals and plants could not be domesticated.  To the uncritical reader, it might appear that Diamond is being truthful.

Professor Diamond is clearly a member of the leftist orthodoxy.  Therefore, it’s likely that he had never read “Race” by John Baker.  Baker lists several indigenous African species that are not only suitable for domestication but actually have been domesticated by other races.  Among them are the bush-pig, the hunting dog (possibly domesticated in the Kalahari), the guinea-fowl, the eland, and the African elephant (such as those used by Hannibal).  While it’s true that more such species existed in Eurasia than in Africa, the fact that Africans never took advantage of the ones they had leads us to ask: What use would the additional species have been to them anyway?  “Race” was published in 1974.

The main theory of “Guns, Germs and Steel” is that the alignment of the continents had much to do with the development of mankind in various areas.  Diamond claims that since Eurasia is aligned East to West, along the same climate zone, peoples, plants and animals could more easily travel over wide areas to bring cultural enrichment.  Africa, on the other hand, is aligned North to South.  Therefore East-West commerce was much more limited while the Sahara desert served as a barrier to the North.  As people migrated North/South, they were also forced to adapt to new ecosystems.  While there might be some truth in this, the fact is that Africa is home to far more biodiversity than most of Eurasia.  In fact, generally speaking, the higher the biodiversity in an area, the less advanced the people living there are likely to be (HDI = human development index).

When theorizing about any link between the exchange of species/cultures, it seems to me that the presence of many species and cultures in a smaller area would be a greater advantage than a similar number of species/cultures in a larger area.  From a cultural perspective, there was tremendous diversity in sub-Saharan Africa.  Nothing was stopping them from exchanging ideas and enriching each other.  The advantage was there – but Africans were not capable of taking advantage of it, at least not to the extent that they could create advanced civilizations on their own.

The advantage that people enjoy from an abundance of life in their area also works to their disadvantage.  Because food and water is so abundant, and because the weather is so balmy, there is less need for innovation.  There is less need for advanced forms of transportation, clothing or sophisticated tools.  In short, there is less need for intelligence.  When we recognize this, the above map makes a lot of sense.

Even if we accept, at face value, all the theories set forth in “Guns, Germs and Steel”, this does not diminish the reality of racial differences one iota.  It appears that many people simplistically believe that no more than one explanation of a phenomenon (such as racial inequality) can coexist.  I will take this one step further: Let us say, for argument’s sake, that Diamond is correct.  I would argue, as others have, that once civilization took root, it was the major catalyst for mental development among the peoples that sustained it.  Peoples that lived in areas less conducive to civilization (because of continent alignment or any other reason) would have been deprived of this catalyst.  Diamond can theorize until he’s blue in the face about why things started out the way they did – but the end result is no less real.

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24 Responses to Guns, Germs and Steel

  1. B.B. says:

    In Chapter 24 of Michael Hart’s Understanding Human History, he points out that if Diamond’s thesis were to entirely explain racial differences in the technological advancement of civilizations, Sub-Saharan Africa should of been more advanced than MesoAmerica.

  2. Doug Whitman says:

    I read Guns Germs & Steel long ago, but I remember thinking at the time that Diamond was full of Sh**! Africa is an incredibly large and diverse place, much, much larger and diverse than either the Middle East or Europe. This great diversity in biomes, topography, geology, altitudes, climate, fauna and flora, meant that every possible combination of environmental conditions and resources was available, from fish to minerals, to timber to water to sunlight, etc. High physical and biological diversity in Africa offered high potential for domestication.
    Secondly, because Africa is large, there have always been a lot of people living there. Because of the tropical and sub-tropical zones in Africa, with food, warmth, and water available year-around, parts of Africa had a relatively high population density. If the number of innovations/time are related to the number of people (we would expect more innovation from 1 million people, than from 10 people), then Africa should have led the world in innovation.
    Thirdly, Africa has the highest percentage of herding/semi-social animals, which favored domestication in Africa. Domestication is easier with herding or social animals, because they already possess some genes that allow non-violent aggregation.
    Also, Diamond’s idea that you need 4,000 miles of continuous longitude to develop civilization is totally ludicrous. Before 1000 BC, humans were more-or-less divided into small tribes surrounded by enemies. Nearly all people died close to where they were born. For each tribe, their entire world, their entire lives was a few miles in each direction. Of course, some human groups were migratory, and small groups did explore, and over long periods of time, certain races expanded their range, but, for the most part, people stayed in their tribal areas — Diamond knows that from Papua New Guinea, where 750 different language groups each live in a designated spot. Trespassing out of one’s homeland brings warfare. So, whether or not the continent continued another 100 or 1,000 miles to the West or East was meaningless for most of human evolutionary development.
    Finally, domestication of plants and animals requires a sedentary existence. You don’t have time to domesticate wild animals if you are constantly walking. Likewise, you can’t domesticate a specific plant, if your tribe is moving among different biomes. Hence, again, large continents have nothing to do with domestication, and in fact, being stuck in one place for generations (such as on an island), should aid domestication.
    Diamond was wrong. Africans and Aborigines and many AmerIndian groups failed to domesticate because they have low IQ
    I’ve spent time in PNG, and I did not find the natives intelligent. I found them them to be superstitious, petty, ignorant, opportunistic, over-emotional, corrupt, and amoral. The men of some tribes tend to be lazy. Diamond had an agenda. His book is interesting, but a big lie, and he knows it.
    I must admit, with their small bodies and short, highly muscled legs, they were superb at climbing steep, slippery rain-forest mountains. We Europeans were slipping and nearly broke our legs on several occasions. Our larger bodies and higher center of gravity made movement through the thick, steep, & slippery forests difficult and dangerous. We also overheated. Each race has evolved traits to best survive in their specific homeland.

  3. Fjordman says:

    In my essay Why Did Europeans Create the Modern World? I showed why the conclusion of GGS is wrong and why Diamond is a dishonest writer. The 2007 book Understanding Human History by the American Jewish astrophysicist Michael H. Hart is much better. Yes, I know that there are many white Marxists and others who are hostile to Western civilization, and there are many non-whites who genuinely admire this civilization and want to preserve it.
    Culture does not always follow genes, but on the other hand it is questionable whether the two can be completely separated. What if culture is at least partly the product a specific group of people with a related genetic profile? What if cultural heritage cannot be totally separated from genetic heritage and that in order to preserve the former in any meaningful way you must also preserve the latter? If so, Western culture was historically the product of European peoples and can only be maintained by them. In that case, perhaps US President Barack Hussein Obama will be remembered as a transitional figure in the evolution of the USA from a Western to a non-Western country with a non-European majority.
    While Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel contains some worthwhile parts, the overall conclusion is almost certainly wrong. You can just look at the state of California to disprove it. California was by the 1960s and 70s the economic engine of the USA and by the extension the world. By 2009 it is close to bankruptcy. The reason for this is not that the geography of California changed, nor its plants or animals to any significant degree. What changed was the demographic make-up of California. As long as it was predominantly inhabited by whites it was a dynamic region. As soon as it become inhabited by Mexicans and other lower-IQ Third World peoples it came increasingly to resemble a Third World region. Diamond is currently a Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), which means that he can see clearly that his theories are flawed just by looking out the window.
    Jared Diamond is a poor and dishonest scientist for failing to seriously consider alternative hypotheses which sometimes explain observed reality better than his own. So why has he become so popular and influential? Because he gave the Western Multicultural elites exactly what they wanted to hear: People are equal, what matters is geography. This is an ideological green light for mass immigration of people from failed countries and cultures to the West. If you follow this logic to the extreme you should be able to swap the populations of, say, Japan and Kenya. Kenyans would then have access to all those magnificent Japanese plants and would therefore become much cleverer and would develop the next lines of high-tech cars for Toyota and Mitsubishi or sophisticated TVs for Sony. Personally, I don’t buy that idea. The experiences brought by non-Western immigration to Western cities so far indicate otherwise.

    • fred says:

      Because he gave the Western Multicultural elites exactly what they wanted to hear: People are equal, what matters is geography. This is an ideological green light for mass immigration of people from failed countries and cultures to the West.
      There’s no such thing as 3rd world countries – only 3rd world people. Case in point, without oil arabs are poor and backwards. With oil arabs are rich and backwards. Where is Israel’s oil? Why isn’t Israel backwards?

  4. jewamongyou says:

    Thank you B.B., Doug and Fjordman, for your great comments! Fjordman, can we get a link to your essay?

    • Kiwiguy says:

      I also find people citing GGS to refute HBD ideas. They obviously read the first page where Diamond reassures people that tests showing differences in intelligence are not only loathsome, but wrong!
      JP Rushton has an excellent review of GGS. Diamond omits that the geographic differences he refers to would also lead to different selection pressures. So the divergent populations became genetically diverse. The ‘10,000 Year Explosion’ is quite good at building on Diamond’s work in this respect.
      Steve Sailer has an amusing story about Diamond:
      “The one time I talked to Jared, we’re chatting pleasantly until I asked him if tropical female farming economies wouldn’t select for different behavioral genes than in economies in which men brought home the bacon. He got a very worried look on his face, said he didn’t know anything about female farming economies (despite all those years in New Guinea!), grabbed up his papers, and half jogged out of the building at about 5 miles per hour.”
      Jared Diamond: Life is full of interest in the New Guinea highlands

      • jewamongyou says:

        Very impressive! I would call it more a “book” than an essay. I think it would be more readable if you divided it into chapters and modified the style a bit so that it doesn’t read like a textbook (just in the middle parts, where you cite different authors in each paragraph).
        After reading it, I feel a lot more educated so thank you very much!

  5. Annoyed says:

    I have experienced something similar where people have said I should read GG&S, that it would disprove the belief in racial differences affecting the performance of races and the civilizations created by them.
    It’s nice to read an analysis on the book and its flaws.

  6. Californian says:

    California was by the 1960s and 70s the economic engine of the USA and by the extension the world. By 2009 it is close to bankruptcy.
    Indeed this is the case. We have also seen a considerable migration out of the state by Whites and higher IQ minorities. Incredible to think that California was once the promised land of the USA and the world.
    Another point to consider is how various African countries under European rule were reasonably productive colonies, but with black majority rule have fallen apart economically and politically. Same geography, same animal life, different populations running the show.

  7. Doug Whitman says:

    In his book GG&S, Diamond writes as if he is “down with the homies” in PNG. If I remember correctly (I don’t have the book in front of me) GG&S starts out with a story about sitting at the foot of a native who has “great wisdom.” This is the old “native people are better than us, because they possess great knowledge of nature, are uncontaminated by civilization, are pure, are closer to nature, and are more spiritual, etc., etc.”
    The funny thing is that Diamond is actually somewhat of an egotistical spoiled elitist. Before traveling to field stations in PNG (Wau Ecology Station & Christinsen Research Institute), he demanded that the underfunded, understaffed research station purchase and have on hand all sorts of special foods and other items. These were not for medical or religious reasons, but were things like 5 kinds of soda, special breakfast cereal, and 3 kinds of coffee (sorry, I can’t remember the exact items — it was a long time ago I just remember that everyone was aghast at his inconsideration). This was very difficult for the staff at the research stations, because the had little funding and were hundreds of miles away from Western Stores. Where does one obtain Grape Nuts Cereal in PNG? Can you imagine the expense involved in shipping a box of cereal from Austrailia to some isolated research station in the bush in PNG?
    He would arrive with his assistant (his “lackey”) who would carry his bags, arrange his schedule, and interact with the “locals.” Diamond didn’t mind being near natives for a short time for a photo-shoot, but he definitely did not want them around all the time.
    Diamond is a clever opportunist. He is smart, a great writer, and he has some really good ideas and has done some good research. But, he is also a huckster who sells an exotic make-believe ideology to the ignorant masses. He knows better, and should tell the truth.

  8. Ryan says:

    In an argument with a Black male just over a month ago he recommended I read this same book. I have to admit that I was curious about it, and have been for a several years. Now I know better thanks to your entry Jewamongyou, and especially by the commenters here.
    Thank you all from saving me from yet another liberal piece of trash point of view. Recently just for the sake of making room for new books, I threw out several women’s studies books I had from my ex when she was in University.
    I really hate to get rid of any books, but just by the titles alone and reading the first paragraph of one, I couldn’t bring myself to keep them.

  9. Harold says:

    Michael Levin also reviewed GG&S see here:

  10. Bantu Education says:

    Like several of your other readers I was also advised to read this book by an otherwise highly-intelligent idealist who seemed convinced it would convert me to the “holy” Doctrine of Innate Racial Equality (or DIRE, because the prevailing slavish adherence to this foolish doctrine is having dire consequences for our civilisation).
    In the very first chapter, or perhaps even the prologue, Diamond reveals his anti-white bias (and inner angst) by self-righteously declaring it “odious” to even consider racial differences in intellectual ability. And yet, within paragraphs of outlawing reality, he incredulously declares the people of a stone-age culture (New Guineans) to be more intelligent than “most whites”.
    His theory of continental-orientation being a leading factor in civilisational development immediately struck me as being highly improbable, contrived in the extreme, and really unworthy of any serious consideration.
    His tedious labouring over the number of wild grasses and the size and quality of their seeds bored me to distraction and I readily admit to not being able to judge its significance. Knowing that very few people could or would be able to judge its significance, and noting his intellectual dishonesty in other areas, I am suspicious of Diamonds motives and to me it smelt like a classic case of “bullshit baffling brains”.
    His claimed lack of “domesticable species of animals” (in Africa) was also highly unconvincing given the Carthaginian use of trained African elephants which Diamond omits to mention. Who is he to claim that with selective breeding selection over many generations the zebra, for example, could not have been made a useful transport animal or the hippo or rhino a beast of burden? I have seen an old photo of Belgian colonists sitting astride apparently docile zebras. The fact is the Africans never tried and the Europeans were not in Africa for long enough.
    Given the range of omissions, obfuscations, and contradictions in this book what I find most distressing is the overwhelming number of gushingly approving reviewers on Amazon. I can only assume that whites who uncritically endorse Diamonds DIRE Drivel do so because of a desperate need to reject their inner “racist” demons and thus conform to the prevailing pseudo-religious Doctrine of Innate Racial Equality, the mere questioning of which is regarded as confirmation of “racism” and therefore innately “evil”.

  11. Chuck says:

    “In an argument with a Black male just over a month ago he recommended I read this same book.”
    My brother did the same about a year and a half ago. It’s seems to be a standardized rely on par with ‘but the constitution is based on the idea of all Men are …” It would be useful to create an index of these and then some standardized counter replies. If someone is up to working on one, let me know.

  12. JL says:

    “Undomesticable” zebra:
    Diamond has not always been so PC. Somewhat amusingly, he used to study such things as racial variation is the size of testicles:

  13. andrew says:

    Good stuff guys very intelligent commenters here. I preach this stuff at work and I get responses like but there are black doctors! What do I say to this? just look at africa!

  14. Pingback: Why I believe in race-realism | Jewamongyou's Blog

  15. I would recommend Race, Evolution, And Behavior By J. Philippe Rushton, or Race By John Baker, for a scientific refutation of Jared Diamond’s position on race.
    I am working on putting together an entire page listing quality books on race and sex realism, and linking to book reviews for them, on my web site. Here’s the link:
    If anyone has anything to add or suggest, I would be grateful.

  16. Pingback: Why the West Rules – For Now | Jewamongyou's Blog

  17. Observer says:

    I’d recommend that HBD’ers post their reviews on Amazon. This biased, misleading piece of egalitarian propaganda is number 1 in Geography.
    I think the main points to make are that while it’s a very comprehensive overview, Diamond overlooks gene-culture coevolution. Essentially the idea that different cultures affect the reproductive payoff for different traits. You get a feedback loop of culture influencing the prevalence of traits in a given society. A basic example is that in tropical horticultural society women tend to do more of the work, there are lower costs on polygyny, and lower paternal investment. This might favor different male behavioral traits to a society with state control, monogamy, and a greater need for paternal investment.

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