The Dartmouth Observer

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Monday, May 03, 2004
Jared Diamond

Fellow 04s will recall being assigned Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel in the summer of 2000 as reading for the Freshman Lecture later that year. I tried hard, but ultimately couldn't bear reading a purported history that was completely devoid of human personalities (save Montezuma, Cortez, Charles V, and the tribesman Yali).

Well, now's your chance to dust off that copy of GGS and pose the questions you've always wanted to ask about the book to the man himself. Prof. Diamond will be giving a lecture in 105 Dartmouth Hall this Wednesday at 4 pm on "Religious elites and the evolution of human culture." The official writeup of the event goes something like this: "Differences among human societies spring largely from geographical factors shaping technology, economic and social life, and forms of cultural expression. This lecture will focus on religion as a cause and consequence of human social development." That doesn't quite make sense to me. If Prof. Diamond is going to argue that religion, which is very much an anthropocentric phenomenon, stimulates human social development, then how still stands his thesis about geography as the cause of differentiation among human societies (a thesis, by the way, that I don't really believe in)?