JS-Kit/Echo comments for article at http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2005/03/illustrative-example.html (14 comments)

  Tentative mapping of comments to original article, corrections solicited.

jsid-1111342161-284196  ben at Sun, 20 Mar 2005 18:09:21 +0000

a good example of cultural darwinism, to be sure.

jsid-1111393851-284293  Keith at Mon, 21 Mar 2005 08:30:51 +0000

"but what of that? It was in accordance with our custom."
Which is precisely what modern-day New Zealanders should be saying to Maori about the present situation there. Maori have a huge grievance industry which has given them an enormous slice of the fisheries, forestry plantations and even the radio spectrum, in addition to them being by far the greatest recipients of welfare and free healthcare. And prison places.
I just wish to hell they could be treated as they deserve, primitive savages who've ridden on the backs of hardworking people for too long.

jsid-1111403388-284298  Stoney at Mon, 21 Mar 2005 11:09:48 +0000

If you give up the right of revolution, of separation, you deserve the misery you reap.

jsid-1111435355-284424  Alex Swanson at Mon, 21 Mar 2005 20:02:35 +0000

Keep reading. If you're alert, you'll find one place where Diamond suggests that Pacific islanders might be naturally more intelligent than whites . . . followed a few pages later by an uncompromising condemnation of racism.

jsid-1111437068-284432  LabRat at Mon, 21 Mar 2005 20:31:08 +0000

He doesn't suggest that Pacific islanders are "naturally" more intelligent than whites, he suggests that when children and adults alike are constantly forced to engage with the environment around them, it produces a higher basic IQ- better learning facility and problem-solving ability. And he might well be right; lord knows we've all bitched about the passive spoon-feeding that passes for education in America today. But that's not by far the same thing as suggesting the Pacific genotype is "smarter".

Read carefully before you insinuate that Diamond is so blatantly hypocritical.

jsid-1111459032-284489  Alex Swanson at Tue, 22 Mar 2005 02:37:12 +0000

"Read carefully before you insinuate that Diamond is so blatantly hypocritical."

I did. Unfortunately I borrowed the book from a friend, so I don't have a copy to hand - but I'm sure I'm right. Possibly you didn't notice the passage which led me to that conclusion.

And I have to point out that this is not the only place Diamond lets his prejudice guide his conclusions. For example, he claims that Africans were disadvantaged because zebras are not as tameable as horses, and hence cannot be ridden. What he forgets is that people have been breeding horses
for thousands of years - and for many centuries did not ride them either. Comparing the two isn't valid.

Keep your eyes open, and the whole book is full of this sort of thing.

jsid-1111467781-284511  moriori at Tue, 22 Mar 2005 05:03:01 +0000

we're all the same deep down

jsid-1111468524-284513  Keith at Tue, 22 Mar 2005 05:15:24 +0000

moriori, I simply don't believe that, unless by "deep down" you mean right down at the cellular level.
I've lived and worked in Africa, worked in Asia and presently live in a very remote community among desert Aborigines.
Deep down they're as different to Europeans as it's possible to imagine.

jsid-1111503010-284567  Kevin Baker at Tue, 22 Mar 2005 14:50:10 +0000

Alex, I'm reading the book right now. I've seen the passages on the New Guineans and on the Zebra.

How you interpreted those passages says, I think, more about you than about Diamond.

jsid-1111515256-284629  LabRat at Tue, 22 Mar 2005 18:14:16 +0000

*shrug* I've got two copies of the book, and both are pretty well-thumbed. Diamond is one of my favorite biology writers, and a big reason why is that he rarely brings politics into his conclusions. (Unlike, say, Gould or Dawkins.)

I went back and look at the passage you discussed. He advanced two theories as to why New Guineans (the "primitive" people with whom he had the most experience) might on average be more basically intelligent than Western Europeans - the first, a genetic one (which I had admittedly forgotten) due to about a thousand years of being killed off by strongly selective (relative to intelligence) causes such as murder, warfare, and starvation, as opposed to the indiscriminate cause of epidemic disease that was the major cause of death for the average member of most European societies in the same timespan. It's not a very strong theory and he admits as much. The second was the one I remembered, probably because it's a much better argument- the developmental cause of active versus passive education and entertainment during childhood, which does make a HUGE difference to an adult's intelligence.

As for horses versus zebras, sure Europeans and Asians had horses without riding them for a long time, but once they DID start, mounted cavalry became the most dominating military force in the world from ancient times straight up to the twentieth century and the advent of mechanized warfare. Moreover, regular conflict between these civilizations and Africans didn't start until long after horses were a regular means of transportation- comparing the two is not only valid, but obvious from any honest perspective on military history.

jsid-1111567833-284800  LabRat at Wed, 23 Mar 2005 08:50:33 +0000

Jesus. Western European humans. I do proofread, and then I shoot myself in the foot doing so.

jsid-1111586265-284831  Kevin Baker at Wed, 23 Mar 2005 13:57:45 +0000

That did sound virulently racist, but I knew better than to interpret it that way. Want me to fix it? ;-)

jsid-1111604501-284928  LabRat at Wed, 23 Mar 2005 19:01:41 +0000


(Why is it that my typos are rarely so harmless as "teh"...)

jsid-1111608815-284943  Kevin Baker at Wed, 23 Mar 2005 20:13:35 +0000

Fixed! :-)

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