Monday, February 13, 2006

An end to racism

Well, no... but Jared Diamond has provided the thin part of the wedge in his 1997 book Guns, Germs and Steel. The book attempts to comprehensively explain differences in human societies that existed before the new world and the old world finally met irrevocably in 1492. How did humanity start in Africa, but never flourished as a technically adept civilization on the same continent? Why were native americans using technology more than a millenia behind that of the European invaders? How did Europeans live with the diseases that decimated the American continent? Diamond's book answers all of these questions, in a calm and thorough way. Assuming racists would be willing to read it, it would be a devasting series of arguments against some widely held beliefs. It's a cheering book, in its low-energy way. I still hold out hope for the next century.

If you want the thumbnail sketch of Jared Diamond's arguments, check out the PBS web site on the book.

(16th century picture of Battle of Tenochtitlán courtesy of Wikipedia.)


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