22 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Guns, Germs and Steel.,
This review is from: National Geographic: Guns, Germs And Steel [DVD] (DVD)This two DVD documentary is very obviously designed for the liberal audiences of Professor Diamond's politically correct Californian homeland. Although very professionally presented, with the slogan "guns, germs and steel" (and Jared Diamond's name), being repeated innumerable times; the historical content is unfortunately both patchy and highly selective, being largely centred around the Spanish conquest of South America, where Prof Diamond's 'theory' does fit quite nicely. However; whilst a case can be made for plagues having played a major roll in human affairs, the effects of the Black Death on medieval Europe being a major example; I find it both amazing and tragic that this line of thought can be extended so radically without any meaningful disagreement!
Was Western civilization the only one to domesticate animals? or did they do the same elsewhere? Was Europe the only place to suffer from disease? I seem to remember that most of these plagues originated elsewhere; Smallpox from Africa, Bubonic Plague from Asia, Syphillis from South/Central America, Aids from Africa/West Indies, etc... etc...... Furthermore, the population now 'geographically fortunate' to be living in Europe and America originated far to the East amidst the barren windswept emptiness of the Asian steppes. The horse was the only real asset available in those far-off days and once domesticated, enabled those proto-Aryan/Germanic peoples to arrive in Europe as 'nomadic' cavalry warriors centred around tribal wagon convoys in the 'Volkswanderung' migrations/invasions, which sparked the confrontation which destroyed the Roman Empire in the West. Earlier waves of migration had pushed south to establish the first civilizations of ancient Greece, Persia and India; but that's another story.
A thousand years later, the descendants of those same Germanic/Aryan invaders were still applying their naturally high intelligence to overcoming ever more of life's problems. Adapting gunpowder, inventing firearms, designing/constructing railways, and building ships seaworthy enough to cross the great oceans of the world. Our fore-fathers used those tools amongst others, to conquer and develop the lands we now call America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc.... because ironically, the major motivating force behind Victorian Imperialism was actually economic; IE Europe's lack of resources such as gold, timber, cotton, spices, rubber, diamonds etc...
We are now using the latest inventions of those same ancient bloodlines to first explore and then develop, the Moon/Planets of this Solar System. Given time, our children will develop the knowledge and build the technology that will enable them to reach even the most distant stars. Don't try and tell me it's all been a matter of germs and luck Mr Diamond! National/cultural characteristics, personal initiative and individual genius contributed massively; from the dawn of history right through to our own times.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Jan 2011 20:33:37 GMT
Maarten MariŽn says:
"A thousand years later, the descendants of those same Germanic/Aryan invaders were still applying their naturally high intelligence ..."
And what scientific study has convinced you, sir, of the "naturally high intelligence" of Germanic/Aryan people throughout a thousand year period? As 20th century history has shown, making such untestable and unscientific racial statements can be a dangerous thing.
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jan 2011 23:27:20 GMT
Last edited by the author on 15 Feb 2011 09:46:04 GMT
Irrespective of current political ideology/dogma, scientific revelations such as those which led to the development of atomic power, the moon landings and genetic medicine are a testament to the inherent intelligence of those who discovered them. Like the domestication of the horse, metal working, railways, electricity/radio etc... in earlier times, these modern advances in human knowledge have clearly originated from nations/societies of largely Germanic/Aryan descent.
Interestingly, the genetics underpinning this age-old tendancy toward 'inventive thought' now seems to have been revealed by Dr Bruce Lahn; who as a young student was forced to flee his Chinese homeland for America following the Tiananman Square massacres. On Friday 9'th September 2005 Dr Lahn of Chicago University shocked the world when he announced the discovery of gene varient's ASPM & MCPH 1, which bless their bearers with 'bigger and smarter brains'. Ironically, a horrified American commentator said of this momentous discovery that it's:- "the moment the anti-racists and egalitarians have been dreading!" Why? Because the MCPH 1 gene indisputably originated amongst Europeans 'only' 225 generations (approx 6,000yrs) ago, and although now reasonably widespread across much of the world, is still far rarer in non-Europeans and almost totally absent from the sub-Saharan African gene pool. Thus modern scientific research now incontrovertibly links intelligence levels to racial inheritance. You can obviously verify the scientific detail on numerous websites such as Wikipedia, which contains a long article by Bruce Lahn himself.
The morality behind your final sentence: "As 20th century history has shown, making such untestable and unscientific racial statements can be a dangerous thing." clearly does you credit but is inaccurate. These things are now scientific fact and easily testable, as the efficiency of 'forensic profiling' techniques used by Police Forces around the world demonstrate. I suggest however that it is the application of knowledge rather than knowledge itself which has been at the root of humanities historic problems. EG:- The domesticated horse was a huge asset to human civilization while pulling the farmer's plough, but when deployed on the battlefield brought us the invasions of Attilla, Genghis Khan and numerous other disasters. This conflict of application can been seen throughout the ages with all the great discoveries, largely because despite our supposed 'culture' mankind is still a blend of ape and angel psychologically.
I therefore believe our generation would be wise to use the benefits genetic science/medicine offers, rather than emulate the forlorn attempts at suppression deployed by the Catholic Inquisition, Gestapo/KGB etc.... from equally needless fears of short-term political/social repercussions in by-gone eras. IE:- By correcting just a little of the masses of genetic damage/flaws each of us carry, the average human could enjoy a lifespan of over a century in vigorous good health now!!! Hereditary illnesses such as heart-attacks, strokes, cancer, progressive dementia etc... could be virtually erradicated today, just as the old epidemics:- measles, smallpox etc..... were erradicated by vaccination. Why should humanity deny itself these immense benefits from vestigial fear of a long-dead dictator?
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jan 2011 16:41:41 GMT
Maarten MariŽn says:
Interesting, I did not know of Dr Lahn's research. Some quick browsing makes me think that the last word on this has not yet been said (e.g., is the correlation "bigger brain--smarter brain" proven?), but certainly you're right that science can indeed make accurate and testable statements about race, intelligence, and their relation.
As to the suggestion in your last paragraph: I haven't thought enough about "correcting genetic damage/flaws" to form a cohesive set of opinions about it. But anyway, I would say the best mechanisms to ensure that humanity advances in a generally desirable direction are transparent and fair political policies, unhampered public debate, and free and unbiased media. And I am confident that rationality will in the end always conquer emotions such as "vestigial fear", if public debate is held properly.
In reply to an earlier post on 15 Feb 2011 11:12:25 GMT
Last edited by the author on 16 Feb 2011 19:25:48 GMT
Thank you for your reply Mr Marien, which I appreciate. The medical methods which could/should be used to reduce the propensity to previously mentioned hereditary afflictions "such as heart-attacks, strokes, cancer, progressive dementia etc..." in the human population are relatively 'simple' and ironically, have been employed to increase the profits/productivity of farming for decades now. Although the genetic make-up of all living creatures including humanity is very similar, all species differ quite markedly and the individuals within those species differ just as the various makes/models of vehicle on today's roads vary. It is by exploiting the benefits of those differences that the human condition will eventually be improved.
The typical human-being inherits from 4,000-15,000 different types of hereditary genetic damage to the central DNA 'programme', which over time lead to the failure of health which ultimately kills that individual. As we all know, some people enjoy a century long lifespan now; while others die quite 'naturally' very much earlier. The skill of genetic medicine is to take copies of those undamaged DNA sequences which offer some fortunate individuals immunity from heart desease, cancer etc... and use them to replace the damaged sequences within the DNA of those prone to such ailments. If widely deployed, this sort of genetic damage control/repair strategy would steadily reduce the deathtoll from today's killers, just as good sanitation, good nutrition and vaccination improved the prospects of previous generations.
As to your confidence "that rationality will in the end always conquer emotions"; you are almost certainly right in the longer term, BUT as the blindly bigoted resistance to vaccination in the 19'th and even the 20'th Centuries demonstrates, humanity does not accept change easily, especially when it's based upon medical/scientific complexities which most of us including myself, will never truly understand. When this lack of understanding is linked in the public mind with the horrific events committed in Auchwitz, Belsen etc..... blind/unthinking rejection is the norm unfortunately. I've listed some interesting books on the subject below; all heavy reading unfortunately:-
1. Reproductive Medicine: Molecular, Cellular and Genetic Fundamentals
2. Genes and Common Diseases: Genetics in Modern Medicine
3. The Troubled Dream of Genetic Medicine: Ethnicity and Innovation in Tay-Sachs, Cystic Fibrosis, and Sickle Cell Disease
4. Moments of Truth in Genetic Medicine
In reply to an earlier post on 17 Mar 2011 12:22:56 GMT
M. Hedley says:
Why is this reply so long? Are you kidding? A URL or a reference would have been more appropriate.
Posted on 3 May 2011 12:49:18 BDT
K. Donoghue says:
I don't know if you've read the book - possibly it would help you to understand the arguments Jared Diamond put forth since your post above suggests the DVD did not do them justice. He certainly does not suggest that it's all been "a matter of germs and luck".
Posted on 25 Jun 2011 14:28:25 BDT
Jos Lenaerts says:
The Indo-European tribes arrived in Europe at about 3000 BC. The Romans are descendants of these " horsemen ". The Roman empire was destroyed by nomads, but much later. Between these nomads were early Turkish people, Iraninans, Slaves and people speaking a Germanic language. The nomadic way of life did not become dominant however.
Posted on 29 Mar 2012 08:59:25 BDT
rob crawford says:
The reviewer should read the book. There are very good answers to all the questions he raises and it would test his ideas. The reviewer's perspective here reflects a valid point of view that should not be rejected outright, but refuted in detail.
This review is useful because I was thinking of getting the dvd for my kids, but see that they must indeed read the book because the dvd must not present Diamond's perspective in sufficient depth.
In reply to an earlier post on 14 Apr 2012 08:32:41 BDT
Last edited by the author on 16 Apr 2012 07:21:49 BDT
Since writing the review/comments above I have become aware of the existence/value of Helium 3. The Wikipedia report on Helium 3 follows below:-
Helium-3 (He-3, sometimes called tralphium) is a light, non-radioactive isotope of helium with two protons and one neutron. It is rare on Earth, and is sought for use in nuclear fusion research. The abundance of helium-3 is thought to be greater on the Moon (embedded in the upper layer of regolith by the solar wind over billions of years) and the solar system's gas giants (left over from the original solar nebula), though still low in quantity (28 ppm of lunar regolith is helium-4 and from 1 ppb to 50 ppb is helium-3).
The helion, the nucleus of a helium-3 atom, consists of two protons but only one neutron, in contrast to two neutrons in ordinary helium. Its existence was first proposed in 1934 by the Australian nuclear physicist Mark Oliphant while based at Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory, in an experiment in which fast deuterons were reacted with other deuteron targets (the first demonstration of nuclear fusion).
Helium-3 was postulated to be a radioactive isotope until helions from it were identified in a sample of natural helium (which is mostly helium-4) from both the atmosphere and gas well sources, by Luis W. Alvarez and Robert Cornog in a cyclotron experiment at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in 1939. Although helium-3 was found to be about 10,000 times more rare with respect to helium-4 in helium from wells, its significant presence in underground gas deposits implied that it either did not decay, or else had an extremely long half-life compatible with a primordial isotope.
Helium-3 occurs as a primordial nuclide, escaping from the Earth's crust into the atmosphere and into space, over time. It is also a natural nucleogenic and cosmogenic nuclide, produced when lithium is bombarded by natural neutrons generated by spontaneous fission, and by cosmic rays. Some helium-3 in the atmosphere is also a relic of open air thermonuclear weapon testing. Tritium, with a roughly 12-year half-life, decays into helium-3, which can be recovered. Irradiation of lithium in a nuclear reactor-either a fusion or fission reactor-can also produce tritium, and thus (after decay) helium-3.
Helium-3 is proposed as a second-generation fusion fuel for fusion power uses, but such systems are still in very early experimental development phases. Helium-3 is used in neutron detection, and extremely low temperature cryogenics. It has been used as a magnetizable (hyperpolarized) gas to carry out nuclear magnetic imaging studies of the lungs.[
In simple terms, this means we have already discovered a new, immensely powerfull non-polluting fuel, plus basic understanding of how to exploit it. Inexaustable amounts of Helium 3 are available FREE on the moon. Both China and India are racing to develop Space Programs. Why? Because although massive populations need what seem massive amounts of power today, they won't need much Helium 3. It's estimated that one NASA Space Shuttle can carry enough to power America for a year!!!
When we ran out of trees we started digging for coal. Then we split the atom/plumbed the oceans for oil. Very soon we will be flying; because greed points the way and fortune favours the brave. The only real questions left are:-
1. How soon can we do it? Both China and India have plans for a functioning 'Moonbase' by 2035, only 20+ years away.
2. Will the West join the race or continue shutting factories and putting up windmills?
Posted on 13 Aug 2012 15:41:25 BDT
Could I suggest that in your review you are picking one point in human history (i.e. right now) as an indication of the success of Germanic/Aryan/Victorian Imperialism. Looking at a longer timescale there was a time when Europe struggled in ignorance to produce a few handwritten bibles while a flourishing civilisation in China had printed novels for sale in the streets. When europe finally came out of the dark-sages it was largely due to translations of arab knowledge, in particular mathematics, geography and medicine. In another thousand years victorian imperialism will be just a footnote in the history of the world, and that footnote could well be written in chinese.
The points you make are knowledgeable, but not wise.