Friday, August 26, 2011

Honesty is the best policy

Let's pretend we are in a courtroom. If we were part of the jury, the most important thing is that we pay close attention to the evidence. Our job isn't to try and figure out if this person is in the wrong or right about whatever they did. Our job is to merely observe the evidence provided and from that come to a conclusion of guilty or non-guilty. In the case of Jared Diamond, he is obviously guilty of being a geographic determinist. Throughout the book he clearly states that human history was different because of the geography, more specifically the plant life, animal life, and climate of an area.

Diamond basically wrote the entire book to explain why geography does determine human history. In my personal opinion he is right, and this is a very noble act. The reason he wrote the book was to prove to Yali and millions of others that it is not the limitations of his people that set them behind, but limitations of their environment. And many people believe that the more adversity you face, the better you will be. "As a rule, people do their best thinking and planning, their minds are most alert and inventive, and they have the best judgment when the thermometer out of doors falls toward freezing at night and rises toward 50 degrees or 55 degrees by day,'' declares Ellsworth Huntington in ''Principles of Human Geography (Patricia Cohen, New York Times)." This quote serves to show that even scholarly people believe that you think more when you are in a harsher climate, because you have to adapt quicker, outlive your environment. But in the case of Diamond, it doesn't matter if we believe he was in the right, according to the evidence he is in the wrong. Diamond states, "We found that these differences between the Fertile Crescent, New Guinea, and the eastern United States followed straighforwardly from the differing suites of wild plant and animal species available for domestication, not from limitations of the peoples themselves(Diamond,153)." He clearly states that the environment the people were in affected them.

Diamond goes on to state, "In addition, Australia's aridity, infertility, and climatic unpredictability limited its hunter-gatherer population to only a few hundred thousand people (Diamond,311)." Diamond is guilty as charged. He admits through his writing that he believes geography determines human history. He states over and over again that the conditions of a country are directly related to the development of that country. The first person to propose this idea of geographic determinism was Ellsworth Huntington. "He proposed that geographical conditions are the sole determinant of the philosophies and infrastructure of a civilization.(Aaron Hoffer, Slideshare) Even the person who created this theory would agree that Diamond is guilty of the same crime. They both believe that geography determines what will happen to a society.

Countless times Diamond explains that the environment affected the people of that area in many ways. If it wasn't the climate, it was the animals. If it wasn't the animals, it was the plants. If it wasn't the plants, it was everything else. I personally don't see how this is a crime, and I commend Diamond for being bold and creating this book. However, in terms of being a geographic determinist the proof is in the pudding. Like Diamond states, "All human societies contain inventive people. It's just that some environments provide more starting materials, and more favorable conditions for utilizing inventions, than do other environments (Diamond, 408)."

Point-blank Diamond is guilty of being a geographic determinist, no question about it.

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