Manual Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

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Events News Bargains. This the spread of agriculture was once again impacted by the environment. There is a inefficiency during the eating process. The nutrient transfer is much less than percent and typically around 10 percent. For example, it takes 10, pounds of corn to create a 1, pound bull. The primary geographic axis of North and South America is north-south. That is, the land mass is more longitudinal than latitudinal. The same for Africa. But for Europe and Asia, the primary axis is east-west.

Interestingly, this positioning and shape matters greatly because it appears that agriculture and innovations spread more rapidly along east-west axes than along north-south axes. Locations along the same east-west axis share similar latitudes and thus have similar day lengths, seasons, climate, rainfalls, and biomes.

All of which increase the speed of innovation relative to north-south axes. All tropical rainforests are within 10 degrees of latitude of the equator. One collection of evidence for the difference in spread along geographic axes is the spread of domesticated crops. Many crops spread across Asia with one domestication, while crops like cotton or squash were domesticated in multiple individual areas throughout Mesoamerica. This is because the crop spread too slowly for one domestication to takeover the region.

Guns Germs And Steel part 1

It is vital to realize that although Diamond is discussing long time frames of hundreds or thousands of years, the core idea can be applied to short time spans of individual behavior as well. Indeed, large long term differences only occur because short term differences are repeated over and over again. Small environmental differences led to small changes in individual behavior, which resulted in significant differences when repeated for thousands of years. In order for the disease to sustain itself there must be enough new babies born to contract the disease from those who have already developed immunity.

Only agricultural communities could grow to the required population size. On average, farming sustains populations that are 10x to x larger than hunting and gathering. North America was populated by about 20 million Native Americans when Columbus landed in Within two centuries, 95 percent of the native population had died, most of them from infectious diseases. Writing systems are historically seen as the deciding factor on whether an ancients civilization is considered advanced or not.

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This can be debated. The Incas built a great civilization without writing. All alphabets in the modern world evolved from one original alphabet, either in idea or actual written form, developed in the Middle East. Writing evolved independently in a few areas, but was spread via idea diffusion in most cultures and locations. Most inventions are not a result of necessity, but rather the result of tinkers and curiousity. Technology develops cumulatively rather than in isolated heroic acts. Even people we often associate with acts of genius like the Wright Brothers and Thomas Edison actually built upon the work of predecessors and had capable people who followed them and advanced ideas.

Guns, Germs & Steel: The Fate of Human Societies

Technology finds most of its uses after it has been invented rather than being invented to solve a foreseen need. Even though some examples, like the Manhattan Project, exist. Long life expectancy is one reason technology might develop and spread faster in some locations rather than others. A longer life increases the surface area you have to test ideas and allows you to take on longer projects that you might otherwise avoid with limited time.

Geographic location is a key determinant in the pace of technological innovation and acceleration because a centrally located society will not only accumulate knowledge and technology from their own inventions, but also from neighboring societies. In the case of a particularly large land mass like Eurasia, technologies can spread from one culture to another and continue to do so along the entire span of the continent.

This spread occurs much more quickly in these locations than it would to, say, aboriginal cultures in Tasmania, which did not receive outside contact from other civilizations for over 10, years.


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Government and religion are two of the main reasons some societies overcame others. These shared myths led to collaboration and increased power. Humanity has been on a clear path from small groups to larger ones, culminating in states, over the last few thousand years. The size of a population in a region is a strong predictor of the complexity of the society. Culture is heavily dependent on population density. The higher the population, the more culture seems to spawn and spread. War, or the threat of war, is the primary factor in the amalgamation of human societies throughout history.

It is how cultures merge.

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Five dog night is an Australian phrase referring to a very cold night because you would need to use five dogs as blankets. Isolation is a key factor preventing creativity and innovation from spreading because most people and societies get their ideas from outside societies. So constant connection to others and trading of ideas and resources is essential for technological and creative progress.

Food production was a key component in the determining the strength of a society. At that point, a great divide occurred in the rates that human societies evolved. In Eurasia, parts of the Americas, and Africa, farming became the prevailing mode of existence when indigenous wild plants and animals were domesticated by prehistoric planters and herders. As Jared Diamond vividly reveals, the very people who gained a head start in producing food would collide with preliterate cultures, shaping the modern world through conquest, displacement, and genocide.

The paths that lead from scattered centers of food to broad bands of settlement had a great deal to do with climate and geography.

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

But how did differences in societies arise? Why weren't native Australians, Americans, or Africans the ones to colonize Europe? Diamond dismantles pernicious racial theories tracing societal differences to biological differences. He assembles convincing evidence linking germs to domestication of animals, germs that Eurasians then spread in epidemic proportions in their voyages of discovery.

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