Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel.             (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997). 



Environmental constraints of climate. Population, and resources or biogeographical determinism constrain the varied pace of development that differentiates the historical achievements of Indonesians, Chinese, Africans, East Indians, Pan Americans and Europeans.


density of population leads to different responses to genetic, social, migratory -- technical and ecological changes.


“These examples illustrate that wars, or threats of war, have played a key role in most, if not all, amalgamations of societies.”

“We had already concluded that the formation of complex societies is somehow linked to population pressure so we should now seek a link between population pressure and the outcome of war.”

(me) Evidence for teenage cohort size and warfare?

“the fate of defeated peoples depends on population density, with three possible outcomes:

Where population densities are low

Where population densities are moderate

Where population densities are high


“Thus food production, and competition and diffusion between

Another THESIS

Environment and cultural conditions affect technology


“Necessity is the mother of invention”


While the Manhattan project (the atomic bomb) appears to fit this model, the phonograph, automobile engine, or the electric light bulb all attest to tinkering without a really demand driven need.

“invention is the mother of necessity”


consider transistors, automobiles, microwave ovens, batteries and magneto-electromagnets, dynamos or certain fods (almonds, tomatoes, apples, olives).

70,000 patents in the USA / annually.


James Watt and the Savery and Newcomen engines


“My two main conclusions are that technology develops cumulatively rather than in isolated heroic acts, and that it finds most its uses after it has been invented, rather than being invented to meet a foreseen need.”


Acceptability of different inventions within the same or different societies

Development of combustible petrol, gunpowder (Chinese- 700 AD), and gasoline (Greeks, 2000 BC)

US rejection of SST or supercollider –super conductor, or High density resolution TV

British slow to embrace electrical lighting

Attempt to make the internet costly.


societal receptivity for technology is discussed


Chimbus  and Daribis in New Guinea possess strikingly different attitudes about cuktural advantages due to adopting novel technological practices: Chimbus displaced Daribis.


Two key elements in the spread of innovation

Ease of invention and proximity to other societies.


Diamond does not mention ease of use (repair, maintenance and facilitation of varied outcomes) or exaptation per se -- however he alludes to adaptability.

He instead develops technological diffusion based on geography and proximity to inventions, such as Asia, Muslims taking paper from China, Indian monks and books.


“technology catalyzes itself”

259 & 264

“advances depend on previous mastery of simpler problems”


Culture hearths

Food making and technical diffusion have geographical advantages not human genetic or cultural predispositions to be inventive (superior).


Pacey | Pursell | Time

Diamond | Tenner