Jared Diamond

American scientist and author
Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond (born 10 September 1937) is an American evolutionary biologist, physiologist, bio-geographer and nonfiction author. He is best known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997) and for Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005).



The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (1991)Edit

  • Put another way, the chimpanzees' closest relative is not the gorilla but humans.
    • The Third Chimpanzee (1991)
  • We have already discovered two species that are very intelligent but technically less advanced than us — the common chimpanzee and pygmy chimpanzee. Has our response been to sit down and try to communicate with them? Of course not. Instead we shoot them, stuff them, dissect them, cut off their hands for trophies, put them on exhibit in cages, inject them with AIDS virus as a medical experiment, and destroy or take over their habitat. That response was predictable, because human explorers who discovered technically less advanced humans also regularly responded by shooting them, decimating their populations with new diseases, and destroying or taking over their habitat. Any advanced extraterrestrials who discovered us would surely treat us in the same way...If there really are any radio civilizations within listening distance of us, then for heaven's sake let's turn off our own transmitters and try to escape detection, or we are doomed.
    • The Third Chimpanzee (1991)

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997)Edit

  • White blood cells and other cells of ours actively seek out and kill foreign microbes. The specific antibodies that we gradually build up against a particular microbe infecting us make us less likely to get reinfected once we become cured. As we all know from experience, there are some illnesses, such as flu and the common cold, to which our resistance is only temporary; we can eventually contract the illness again. Against other illnesses, though—including measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, and the now defeated smallpox—our antibodies stimulated by one infection confer lifelong immunity. That's the principle of vaccination: to stimulate our antibody production without our having to go through the actual experience of the disease, by inoculating us with a dead or weakened strain of microbe.
    • p. 200

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005)Edit

  • History, as well as life itself, is complicated; neither life nor history is an enterprise for those who seek simplicity and consistency.
    • Page 349
  • People often ask, "What is the single most important environmental/population problem facing the world today?" A flip answer would be, "The single most important problem is our misguided focus on identifying the single most important problem!"
    • Page 498
  • Two types of choices seem to me to have been crucial in tipping their outcomes towards success or failure: long-term planning, and willingness to reconsider core values. On reflection, we can also recognize the crucial role of these same two choices for the outcomes of our individual lives.
    • On the fates of past societies facing problems of sustainability, page 522
  • [..] the values to which people cling most stubbornly under inappropriate conditions are those values that were previously the source of their greatest triumphs.
  • Religious values tend to be especially deeply held and hence frequent cause of disastrous behaviour. [...] The modern world provides us with abundant secular examples of admirable values to which we cling under conditions where those values no longer make sense [...] It appears to me that much of the rigid opposition to environmental concerns in the First World nowadays involves values acquired early in life and never again reexamined [...].
    • Chapter "Why do some societies make disastrous decisions", section "Disastrous values" (Penguin Books, 2011, pages 432-433, ISBN 978-0-241-95868-1).
  • My views may seem to ignore a moral imperative that businesses should follow virtuous principles, whether or not it is most profitable for them to do so. Instead I prefer to recognize that, throughout human history, [...] government regulation has arisen precisely because it was found to be necessary for the enforcement of moral principles. Invocation of moral principles is a necessary first step for eliciting virtuous behavior, but that alone is not a sufficient step.
    • Chapter "Big businesses and the environment: different conditions, different outcomes" (Penguin Books, 2011, pages 484-485, ISBN 978-0-241-95868-1).
  • Businesses have changed when the public came to expect and require different behavior, to reward businesses for behavior that the public wanted, and to make things difficult for businesses practising behaviors that the public didn't want. I predict that in the future, just as in the past, changes in public attitudes will be essential for changes in businesses' environmental practices.
    • Chapter "Big businesses and the environment: different conditions, different outcomes" (Penguin Books, 2011, page 485, ISBN 978-0-241-95868-1).

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