The next Jared Diamond book


Didn't take too many searches to locate mendacious Democratic talking points (see p. 360).

Prof. Diamond could improve our civic life by emigrating.

It is our solemn duty to make the World a better place.

But, Diamond's crap is so effing stupid that only an intellectual could espouse it.

Plus, "mendacious Democratic" is redundant.

I would solemnly "assist" in his suicide, no charge.

Killing is too good for that shitlib


Wow, you guys are really losing it, worse than usual here. Frustrated that all the chanting of "no collusion! no obstruction!" is not selling beyond the confines of already over the top MAGAland? Awwww....

Or just an obvious troll. You chose.

Well, one wonders how he handles Germany’s postwar rebuilding, considering that neither the 'nation' nor the countries represented by the BRD and DDR followed the same paths while rebuilding.

Personally, I'm a huge Jared Diamond fan. His 1993 collection of magazine articles "The Third Chimpanzee" really was a galvanizing influence on my thinking.

Here's a new quote from him in the Guardian:

“There are about a billion Africans in Africa and almost all of them would be better off economically and politically and in terms of personal safety in Europe,” he says. “The cruel reality is that it’s impossible for Europe to admit a billion Africans but Europeans will not acknowledge this conflict between ideals and reality.”

Certainly true for the first thousand, but not clear it’s true for the last thousand. Europe + 100 million immigrants isn’t Europe anymore. There is a dosage effect.

But the more interesting question is what makes Europe a better place?

All billion would be better if they were living per Europe's standards of living now. If you transplanted a billion people into Europe? People with vastly different cultures, often cultures that are openly at war with one another? Cultures that have ideas and institutions that are antithetical to those of Europe? That's not going to end well.

There's the dosage problem sure, but there's also a logistics problem. Imagine if England and France circa 1800 were transplanted into Main. If you just dropped them off, the streets would be flowing with blood before the ships were empty. And if you transported England to Main and France to Virginia, you'll just start a war between those two states.

There's no conflict here. You CANNOT do what Diamond is proposing, not in the real world. (If there is a conflict it's inherent in the idea that Europe has an obligation to provide better lives for Africans.)


Presumably you mean "Maine," not "Main."

Yeah, I got a new laptop recently and the keys have slightly different pressure requirements than I am used to; occasionally I think I type a letter and it doesn't register (happened 4 times so far in this post....).

Diamond does admit the dosage effect. "The cruel reality is that it’s impossible for Europe to admit a billion Africans"

He's talking about how much greater the standard of of living is in Europe compared to Africa not that Europe should take in all Africans, and how much guild Europeans have about it.

That's an insufficient assessment of this effect.

He's playing Make Believe--what if we gave Africans the standard of living enjoyed by Europeans? The problem is, his question isn't related to that. It's sloppy thinking at best, downright magical thinking at worst.

I'm not so sure that Diamond isn't talking about Europe taking in all those Africans. To me, Diamond seems to be a strong proponent of the geography and climate are destiny school of economic development. That is to say that he seems to think that the reason that Europeans are better off than Africans is that they live in Europe while Africans live in Africa.

There is something to be said for geography and climate having an effect on economic growth. A place like Pennsylvania simply has a more hospitable environment for economic growth than does, say, Chad, which is in the middle of the Sahara. But Diamond tends to greatly overemphasize their importance.

So I'm not so certain that he wouldn't believe that is you swapped Europe's and Africa's populations and reset their standards of living to equal each other, while keeping all other factors the same as before, that the people living in Europe wouldn't immediately begin to outpace the people living in Africa.

We can test it. History shows multiple examples of groups migrating from one area to another. If Diamond's argument is true, the migrations should not affect wealth of a region significantly. The Americas should have had the same quality of life whether Europeans or the native tribes dominated; territories conquered by Romans should have had roughly the same level of wealth and prosperity; the areas conquered by the Chinese should have; and so on.

I would argue that the opposite is seen at least in Classical and modern history. Groups tend to take their culture with them, and that culture has a tremendous impact on the prosperity of a region.

Since most African Americans are better off in the US than they would be in their family's country of origin, how about negative reparations?

So unsurprising you found that quote worth repeating, when it is probably his most embarrassing among several others. Such as this one - “talk some sense into the immigration policy” - which is hilarious because non-EU 'migration' into the UK is the highest since 2004. That being the 'migration' that the EU has zero influence over, compared to the right of all EU citizens to live and work anywhere in the EU.

Obviously, a billion Africans are not about to pick up and head to Europe, and Europeans are fully open about the fact that their borders actually exist, and that economic refugees are provided basically nothing in the way of encouragement or rights. The Libyan coast guard being a fine example of how European 'ideals' are actually put into practice. The extra helping of hypocrisy is particularly European, admittedly - it is the way so many Europeans reconcile the conflict between ideals and reality. Acknowledgment is more subjective, of course.

People fleeing a civil war is another subject, whether that involves the break up of Yugoslavia or the Syrian conflict - a conflict with an apparent death toll 3 times greater than that involving the Yugoslavian wars. Of course, the UK has taken a grand total of 10,000 Syrian refugees since the start of the Syrian conflict, but refugees are not precisely an EU policy either (the Schengen zone is relevant in such discussions, but the UK does not belong to it).

'“talk some sense into the immigration policy” - which is hilarious': it's absurd for another reason too. The idea that Britain could persuade the EU apparat to do something sensible is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

'The idea that Britain could persuade the EU apparat to do something sensible is the last refuge of a scoundrel.'

Well, it was Macron that tried to have the EU reject the UK asking for a long extension allowing the UK to remain a part of the EU, so it is not just the UK unable to convince the EU apparat to do something sensible thing, which in that case was to ignore May's begging to stay in the EU.

prior: which is hilarious because non-EU 'migration' into the UK is the highest since 2004

Non-EU migration largely transient students and "Highly Skilled" migrants mainly.

Changes in EU migration have been good as well - not so much fall in Western Europeans, while accession state countries have gone to net emigration.

It'd be good if the numbers went down, but all the composition changes since the ref have been positive....

Sounds interesting. I like Diamond. It appears he collects enemies across the political spectrum.

Diamond: “It would seem that the long-term solution for Britain is not to get out of the EU and you already dealt with this issue in the 1950s and 1960s,”

the UK should remain within the EU but, as he puts it, “talk some sense into the immigration policy”.

It would seem that he doesn't understand what the EU is, or at least why membership of the EU is incompatible with immigration control between a member state and other member states, so it's hard to take seriously his assertion about what a long-term solution for Britain may be.

This seems par the course for the "conservative wing of liberalism" sort of politics that combines being "against nationalism but in favour of national identity" without an understanding that the EU is an anti-national project (at least on the level of the national identities of European states, rather than the idea of belonging to a "big" European nation).

The rest of his quotes seem flatly obvious to a moronic degree (to paraphrase 'Democrats won't win through LGBT rights', 'All Africans cannot migrate to Europe and have anything like social stability or continuity'). Although perhaps these are indeed a shocker to The Guardian.

I never found Diamond particularly insightful: what he says that is true is not new (being recycled William McNeill), and what he says that is new is not true (e.g., that the Easter Islanders chopped down all their trees). His current books sounds like the standard "sensible liberal" stuff you could get at any Upper East Side Manhattan cocktail party or economics department faculty lounge. (The English and history departments would be a little farther left.)

"what he says that is new is not true (e.g., that the Easter Islanders chopped down all their trees)."

You sort of placed a burden on yourself to demonstrate why this is not true. How was he wrong? Links to prior research his theory may have invalidated does not suffice.

You can find more academic articles as well; I'm merely providing a convenient article. This was drafted in 2016, so it meets your absurd criteria (absurd because prior research certainly IS admissible, as any serious researcher will tell you--"may have" isn't good enough, Diamond has to ACTUALY invalidate some argument for it to be inadmissible).

This question is highly complex, involving a wide range of disciplines. I've done similar dating techniques as they used for the obsidian tools, and it's not easy to interpret the results! The idea that any one side has the burden of proof is simply absurd; this is an open question, meaning every side has the burden of proof.

Ever pondered the possibility that people at Upper East Side Manhattan cocktail parties read his books?

I'm sure they do, but only to confirm what they already thought. I've lived here for sixty years, long before Jared Diamond's musings had seen the light of day.

You can tell that Mr. Diamond is important and interesting because he has so many haters.

It's also telling that people routinely misunderstand (or deliberately mischaracterize) his work and then try to "expose" it as being fundamentally flawed. They're not able to engage Diamond at an intellectual level, so they resort to cheap "gotcha"s.

Diamond, hrm... a geographer would ideally combine strengths in both natural sciences and social sciences. He's great on the natural sciences, which is why GG&S was great. But in "Collapse" it seems he's never heard of the Tragedy of the Commons or other collective action problems. My freshmen can answer questions that leave him genuinely puzzled.

Are you really a Va Tech prof, VTProf? This is an embarrassingly ignorant remark. Since Elinor Ostrom came along, it has been known that using the terminology "tragedy of the commons" is highly misleading. The question is access control and organizing that, and Diamond does seem to have been aware of these issues in Collapse by and large, even if he made a mistake about Easter Island. His discussin of the collapse of the Viking colony in Greenland is excellent, as his discussion of how Japan avoided collapsing in the early 1700s when facing a wood shortage.

I have no idea what your freshmen would have to say about all this, but I would hope it is better informed than what you appear to argue.

Japan with 30 million people was not on the verge of collapse in the early 1700s because they were "facing" a wood shortage.

It was facing a serious problem that it managed to deal with successfully. Read the book.

BR - uh, I think you're the one who should be re-reading Ostrom. She showed that the ToC *can* be overcome in certain circumstances, not that it didn't exist. If one of her criteria fails to obtain, the ToC will result. She deepened our understanding of the ToC, rather than invalidating it. Some reading:

You do not need to lecture me on Ostrom, "VTProf." I am one of the few econ journal editors who published her work prior to her getting her Nobel and was a plenary speaker at a conference honoring her shortly before she died. I knew about her stuff long before it was widely known among economists.

As it is, Diamond did discuss access control and overharvesting of resources as a problem in Collapse.

The climate got colder, there was dislocation in the ivory trade, and a colony on the very fringe of the Scandinavian diaspora was abandoned. Talk of "collapse" is wildly overblown.

No, y81, it was not "abandoned." It collapsed. They all died, with a bit of a mystery still exactly what happened, although Diamond provides an interesting speculation. And there was more involved than the items you mention, including bad relations with the Inuit, and, oh yes, mismanagement of natural resources. They could have used some advice from Lin Ostrom.

Except that recent research suggests some of the Greenlanders returned east to Iceland and Norway.

Of course the real reason Tyler likes Diamond is that he is a fellow polymath, as he is described in the Guardian article, :-).

I remember in the beginning of Guns, Germs and Steel Damond wrote that he could tell New Guineans were smarter than Japanese because of the difference in the sparkle of their eyes. Not exactly starting out on a rigorous foot...

Jared Diamond is a skillful author who writes very readable page-turners.

Nonetheless, "The Statues that Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island by Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo seems to raise serious questions about the accuracy of Diamond's Easter Island ecotastrope story.

Sometimes there's a gap between "plausible" and "true," and it's sometimes difficult to trust Diamond to deliver all the evidence, instead of just that which supports his narrative.

Diamond’s opinions in this review are somewhat surprising. Diamond’s thesis in Guns, Germs, and Steel is that Europe and its offshoots developed a superior civilization due to geographic advantages; thus, people in poor parts of the world are poor primarily because of geographic disadvantage and not genetic inferiority.

If that is so, and I cannot say with confidence that it is, then the logical and fair thing to do is to allow migration from geographically disadvantaged places to geographically advantages ones.

Diamond’s position against migration given his views in GGS is akin to someone arguing that discrimination is the main reason blacks can’t get ahead in the US, but we should continue discriminating anyway. It makes me wonder what their underlying principles are.

You could apply that argument to any basis whatsoever - if it were "genetic inferiority" or poor development of institutional ideas (or dopiest and least plausible "colonial exploitation"), then, well, it's still their bad luck so may as well let them migrate.

The idea that's there it's just that communities of people are allowed to restrict their membership and its advantages to their genetic and cultural descendants does not rest on the idea that whatever advantages they have are the fruit of pure free will exempt from fortunate causality that sits outside their free will.

Well, no. If poor countries were poor because their people were genetically inferior, letting them move to richer countries would not help.

Whether a community may restrict its advantages to its members depends very much on whether those advantages are earned or not. If the community is say a company that’s advantages come from the fact that it invented a new product purchased by millions of consumers, then yes it should have the right to choose who gets those benefits because they were fairly earned. If on the other hand, a community’s advantages come from the fact that it conquered advantageous land hundreds of years ago, it has little if any moral claim to restrict its advantages to members.

"If on the other hand, a community’s advantages come from the fact that it conquered advantageous land hundreds of years ago..."

Where do you draw the line? EVERY nation has some advantages from the fact that its people conquered some territory a long time ago; wars of conquest are ubiquitous in human history. For that matter, we see analogous behavior in chimps and other primates, so it's likely to be older than our species.

At some point this line of reasoning becomes patently absurd. No one would say that humans have no moral right to live in Europe, despite the fact that at least one other human species lived there and was eliminated from the area (how is an open question). Similarly, no one's going to read through a few thousand years of German history to figure out which tribe has the right to which plot of land. I don't even know of anyone willing to argue that the USA shouldn't have a space program specifically because we built it up by capturing German scientists. You have to draw the line somewhere, otherwise you basically are obliged to re-fight every war that has ever occurred

You could draw the line by allowing migration. This seems to have worked in Europe, where the European Union rendered all territorial disputes moot as there is now free movement so Germans and French can now both live in Alsace-Loraine and no longer feel any need to fight over it.

If you don’t like free movement, reducing inequality between countries is a second best solution. If Latin America, African, and Middle Eastern countries had Chinese growth rates, there would be no migration problem.

Ultimately though, I agree this is a line-drawing problem, but it’s a line-drawing problem that comes up in all kinds of cases. There are many legal doctrines about restitution, fraudulent conveyance, bona fide purchaser for value, etc. that attempt to determine when people should be allowed to keep ill-gotten gains. The right answer falls somewhere between always and never.

"You could draw the line by allowing migration."

Possibly. However, note that the EU is based on a shared history that goes back as far as the Roman Empire. How well would migration work for, say, folks from Mongolian stepps migrating to Europe en mass?

And I find the idea that the EU has rendered territorial disputes moot rather laughable. What is the Brexit scandal, after all, but a territorial dispute? The USA has its own examples of problems of this nature--the fact that we're all one big happy nation does not prevent states from occasionally trying to shoot each other over territory. The Civil War is only the most extreme case.

"If you don’t like free movement, reducing inequality between countries is a second best solution."

It would be interesting to see how you propose to do that.

"Ultimately though, I agree this is a line-drawing problem, but it’s a line-drawing problem that comes up in all kinds of cases."

The issue is, in this case you want to carry this to an absurd degree. You want the nth generation to be paying for the sins of the previous ones. There is NO logical place to stop this line of "reasoning"--the further you go back the more victims you'll find, inevitably given the nature of human history.

And bear in mind, that's giving you the best possible interpretation of this nonsense. I'm conveniently ignoring the attempts at restitution in the past, the treaties, and the fact that in almost every case both sides of a conflict were victims and benefactors.

Zaua: Well, no. If poor countries were poor because their people were genetically inferior, letting them move to richer countries would not help.

Yeah it would, they could still do complementary trades with people from rich countries by taking up low skills roles, as is the normal argument from open borders types. Welfare would also help them etc.

If on the other hand, a community’s advantages come from the fact that it conquered advantageous land hundreds of years ago, it has little if any moral claim to restrict its advantages to members.

There was advantage to Native Americans from being an advantageous position to colonize the Americas. Most people still feel it was a moral wrong to dispossess them of their land. Most people feel that they had a clear moral claim to restrict their land to their descendants. Perhaps you feel differently....?

No one really believes that the fact that one community was in past in a position to get "good land" and that this is "not fair" is ever really a argument that wholescale invasion and conquest is fair game.

You assume that geographic advantage is static.
Given modern communications, it’s not.

The Columbian Exchange made geographic advantage nill or at least very nominal. Firmerly disadvantaged North America and Australia now host three of the world's richest nations courtesy of introduced biota and technologies.

I find Prof. Diamond's books helpful half because of their good content, half by the pretty vigorous critiques of his more mendacious points.

Diamond finds facts to fit his conclusions.

Well, I have to say I loved JD's "Guns ...." and "Collapse ...". Perhaps he didn't get everything right but he certainly inspired a conversation. "The World Until Yesterday" didn't excite me as much.

Most of all, I am glad he is still alive and still writing. The last time I saw him giving a presentation (on YouTube) he didn't look well - he was using what looked like a respirator. I was worried.

I look forward to reading his new book.

One interesting thing, in past conversations he referred to his New Guinea contacts as "friends", whereas in hindsight last book he stated that they could never be friends. He went on to say that they might do business with him or see him as a source of goods or gifts, but never friends. I am paraphrasing here. The implication, as I understood it, perhaps incorrectly, is that sometimes the cultural distance is too great, or that tribalism is so strong and fear of strangers so great that they would never consider him a friend. Something to ponder ...

Talking of geographical nonsense on economic growth - "Global warming has increased global economic inequality" - - We find that global warming has very likely exacerbated global economic inequality, including ∼25% increase in population-weighted between-country inequality over the past half century. This increase results from the impact of warming on annual economic growth, which over the course of decades has accumulated robust and substantial declines in economic output in hotter, poorer countries—and increases in many cooler, wealthier countries—relative to a world without anthropogenic warming.

Their model includes the assumption that there is an "optimal temperature" for economic growth and that northern countries have gained by being pushed closer to it (those dastardly Russians have won again!).

This "optima" comes from computing a bunch of different country average growth bins for mean temperature ranges, then assuming the differences are due to the mean temperature.

I mean, how does something like this get published? In PNAS?

Because scientific institutions with high prestige are abusing their inheritance. It's happening at the Royal Society too.

" ... how does something like this get published ..."

Because someone has to publish something and the journals have to have content to publish. The veracity of the published work is a secondary consideration.

Consider the paper in Nature claiming the deep oceans are warming faster than previously thought. An amateur mathematician pointed out major flaws in the uncertainties. The paper was retracted. Why didn't the "peer review" catch that?

Something is rotten in Denmark.

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