Jared Mason Diamond (born September 10, 1937) is an American geographer, historian, and author best known for his popular science books The Third Chimpanzee (1991); Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997, awarded a Pulitzer Prize); Collapse (2005); and The World Until Yesterday (2012). Originally trained in physiology, Diamond is known for drawing from a variety of fields, including anthropology, ecology, geography and evolutionary biology. He is a professor of geography at UCLA.
Jared Mason Diamond
September 10, 1937
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Education||Roxbury Latin School|
|Fields||Physiology, biophysics, ornithology, environmentalism, history, ecology, geography, evolutionary biology and anthropology|
|Institutions||University of California, Los Angeles|
|Thesis||Concentrating activity of the gall-bladder (1961)|
|Influenced||Yuval Noah Harari|
Diamond was born in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. Both of his parents were from East European Jewish families who had emigrated to the United States. His father, Louis Diamond, was a physician, and his mother, Flora Kaplan, a teacher, linguist, and concert pianist. Diamond himself began studying piano at age six; years later he would propose to his wife after playing the Brahms Intermezzo in A minor for her. He attended the Roxbury Latin School and earned a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and history from Harvard College in 1958 and a PhD on the physiology and biophysics of membranes in the gall bladder from Trinity College, University of Cambridge in 1961.
After graduating from Cambridge, Diamond returned to Harvard as a Junior Fellow until 1965, and, in 1968, became a professor of physiology at UCLA Medical School. While in his twenties he developed a second, parallel, career in ornithology and ecology, specialising in New Guinea and nearby islands. Later, in his fifties, Diamond developed a third career in environmental history and became a professor of geography at UCLA, his current position. He also teaches at LUISS Guido Carli in Rome. He won the National Medal of Science in 1999 and Westfield State University granted him an honorary doctorate in 2009.
Diamond originally specialized in salt absorption in the gall bladder. He has also published scholarly works in the fields of ecology and ornithology, but is arguably best known for authoring a number of popular-science books combining topics from diverse fields other than those he has formally studied. Because of this academic diversity, Diamond has been described as a polymath.
Diamond's first popular book, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (1991), examines human evolution and its relevance to the modern world, incorporating evidence from anthropology, evolutionary biology, genetics, ecology, and linguistics. The book traces how humans evolved to be so different from other animals, despite sharing over 98% of our DNA with our closest animal relatives, the chimpanzees. The book also examines the animal origins of language, art, agriculture, smoking and drug use, and other apparently uniquely human attributes. It was well received by critics and won the 1992 Rhône-Poulenc Prize for Science Books and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
His second and best known popular science book, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, was published in 1997. It asks why Eurasian peoples conquered or displaced Native Americans, Australians, and Africans, instead of vice versa. It argues that this outcome was not due to biological advantages of Eurasian peoples themselves but instead to features of the Eurasian continent, in particular, its high diversity of wild plant and animal species suitable for domestication and its east/west major axis that favored the spread of those domesticates, people, and technologies for long distances with little change in latitude. The first part of the book focuses on reasons why only a few species of wild plants and animals proved suitable for domestication. The second part discusses how local food production based on those domesticates led to the development of dense and stratified human populations, writing, centralized political organization, and epidemic infectious diseases. The third part compares the development of food production and of human societies among different continents and world regions. Guns, Germs, and Steel became an international best-seller, was translated into 33 languages, and received several awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, an Aventis Prize for Science Books and the 1997 Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science. A television documentary series based on the book was produced by the National Geographic Society in 2005.
In his third book, Why is Sex Fun?, also published in 1997, Diamond discusses evolutionary factors underlying features of human sexuality that are generally taken for granted but that are highly unusual among our animal relatives. Those features include a long-term pair relationship (marriage), coexistence of economically cooperating pairs within a shared communal territory, provision of parental care by fathers as well as by mothers, having sex in private rather than in public, concealed ovulation, female sexual receptivity encompassing most of the menstrual cycle (including days of infertility), female but not male menopause, and distinctive secondary sexual characteristics.
Diamond's next book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, published in 2005, examines a range of past societies in an attempt to identify why they either collapsed or continued to thrive and considers what contemporary societies can learn from these historical examples. As in Guns, Germs, and Steel, he argues against explanations for the failure of past societies based primarily on cultural factors, instead focusing on ecology. Among the societies mentioned in the book are the Norse and Inuit of Greenland, the Maya, the Anasazi, the indigenous people of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Japan, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and modern Montana. The book concludes by asking why some societies make disastrous decisions, how big businesses affect the environment, what our principal environmental problems are today, and what individuals can do about those problems. Like Guns, Germs, and Steel, Collapse was translated into dozens of languages, became an international best-seller, and was the basis of a television documentary produced by the National Geographic Society. It was also nominated for the Royal Society Prize for Science Books.
In 2008, Diamond published an article in The New Yorker entitled "Vengeance Is Ours", describing the role of revenge in tribal warfare in Papua New Guinea. A year later two indigenous people mentioned in the article filed a lawsuit against Diamond and The New Yorker claiming the article defamed them. In 2013, The Observer reported that the lawsuit "was withdrawn by mutual consent after the sudden death of their lawyer."
In 2010, Diamond co-edited (with James Robinson) Natural Experiments of History, a collection of seven case studies illustrating the multidisciplinary and comparative approach to the study of history that he advocates. The book’s title stems from the fact that it is not possible to study history by the preferred methods of the laboratory sciences, i.e., by controlled experiments comparing replicated human societies as if they were test tubes of bacteria. Instead, one must look at natural experiments in which human societies that are similar in many respects have been historically perturbed, either by different starting conditions or by different impacts. The book’s afterword classifies natural experiments, discusses the practical difficulties of studying them, and offers suggestions on how to address those difficulties.
Diamond's most recent book, The World Until Yesterday, published in 2012, asks what the western world can learn from traditional societies. It surveys 39 traditional small-scale societies of farmers and hunter-gatherers with respect to how they deal with universal human problems. The problems discussed include dividing space, resolving disputes, bringing up children, treatment of elders, dealing with dangers, formulating religions, learning multiple languages, and remaining healthy. The book suggests that some practices of traditional societies could be usefully adopted in the modern industrial world today, either by individuals or else by society as a whole.
Community assembly rules are a set of controversial rules in ecology, first proposed by Jared Diamond.Cosmos (Australian magazine)
Cosmos (styled COSMOS) is a science magazine produced in Australia with a global outlook and literary ambitions, published by the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus). It appears four times a year in print, and browser-based subscriber editions. It has a readership of 87,000 in print, and 130,000 via browser subscribers. Its Internet sister, Cosmos Online, publishes daily news and has an audience of 400,000+ unique visitors and 1 million+ page views monthly. It is subtitled "The science of everything" and is described as "a magazine of ideas, science, society and the future".
The magazine was established in November 2004 by the Melbourne-based neuroscientist and entrepreneur Alan Finkel, Sydney magazine publishing executive Kylie Ahern and science journalists Wilson da Silva and Elizabeth Finkel. Launched in 2005, it has won 47 journalism and industry awards, including Magazine of the Year in 2009 and 2006, Editor of the Year in 2006 and 2005, and Best Internet Site at Australia's Bell Awards for Publishing Excellence, Best Magazine at the Bell Awards in 2009, as well as a Reuters/World Conservation Union Award for Excellence in Environmental Reporting, an Earth Journalism Award and the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award. The magazine is published by Cosmos Media Pty Ltd, a boutique publishing house that was named Best Publisher at the same awards ceremony in 2009 and 2006.
It was founded in Sydney, where da Silva and Ahern were based. In June 2013 the company moved to Melbourne following its acquisition in February 2013 by co-founders Alan and Elizabeth Finkel, who purchased the remaining stake they did not already own from co-founders Kylie Ahern and Wilson da Silva, both of whom chose to leave the business to pursue other interests. In 2018, custodianship of the magazine was transferred to RiAus, a not-for-profit science media organisation based in Adelaide.Writers whose work have featured include Margaret Wertheim, Jared Diamond, Tim Flannery, Richard Dawkins, Edward O. Wilson, Michio Kaku, Susan Greenfield, Steven Pinker, Paul Davies, Simon Singh and Oliver Sacks.
Cosmos is produced in Australia and sold internationally, with a news-stand presence in New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom and Asia. In June 2006, the magazine launched a daily Internet news and features service. It also produces a weekly email newsletter, Cosmos Update, and the educational supplement Cosmos Teacher's Notes, which reach 70% of Australian high schools and hundreds in the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
The magazine was the originator of Hello from Earth, a web-based initiative to send messages from the public, each just 160 characters in length, to Gliese 581d, the (then) nearest Earth-like planet outside the Solar System. Created as a science communication exercise for 2009 National Science Week in Australia, it collected nearly 26,000 messages that were beamed by NASA's Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex on 28 August 2009.Creeping normality
Creeping normality or death by a thousand cuts is the way a major change can be accepted as the normal situation if it happens slowly, in unnoticed increments. The change would be regarded as objectionable if it took place in a single step or short period.
The phrase was coined by American scientist, Jared Diamond, in his 2005 book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. He had previously alluded to this theory while attempting to explain why in the course of long-term environmental degradation, Easter Island natives would, seemingly irrationally, chop down the last tree:
"I suspect, though, that the disaster happened not with a bang but with a whimper. After all, there are those hundreds of abandoned statues to consider. The forest the islanders depended on for rollers and rope didn't simply disappear one day—it vanished slowly, over decades."
In his book, Diamond also refers to creeping normality as landscape amnesia.Environment of China
The environment of China (Chinese: 中国的环境) comprises diverse biotas, climates, and geologies. Rapid industrialization, population growth, and lax environmental oversight have caused many environmental issues and large-scale pollution.Environmental determinism
Environmental determinism (also known as climatic determinism or geographical determinism) is the study of how the physical environment predisposes societies and states towards particular development trajectories. Nineteenth-century approaches held that climate and terrain largely determined human activity and psychology, and it was associated with institutionalized racism and eugenics. Many scholars underscore that this approach supported colonialism and eurocentrism, and devalued human agency in non-Western societies. Jared Diamond, Jeffrey Herbst, Ian Morris, and other social scientists sparked a revival of the theory during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. This "neo-environmental determinism" school of thought examines how geographic and ecological forces influence state-building, economic development, and institutions.Golden-fronted bowerbird
The golden-fronted bowerbird (Amblyornis flavifrons) is a medium-sized, approximately 24 cm long, brown bowerbird. The male is rufous brown with an elongated golden crest extending from its golden forehead, dark grey feet and buffish yellow underparts. The female is an unadorned olive brown bird.
An Indonesian endemic, the male builds a tower-like "maypole-type" bower decorated with colored fruit.
Originally described in 1895 based on trade skins, this elusive bird remained a mystery for nearly a hundred years, until 31 January 1981 when the American ornithologist Jared Diamond discovered the home ground of the golden-fronted bowerbird at the Foja Mountains in the Papua province of Indonesia.
In December 2005, an international team of eleven scientists from the United States, Australia and Indonesia led by Bruce Beehler traveled to the unexplored areas of Foja Mountains and took the first photographs of the bird.Guns, Germs, and Steel
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (previously titled Guns, Germs and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years) is a 1997 transdisciplinary non-fiction book by Jared Diamond, professor of geography and physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In 1998, Guns, Germs, and Steel won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction and the Aventis Prize for Best Science Book. A documentary based on the book, and produced by the National Geographic Society, was broadcast on PBS in July 2005.The book attempts to explain why Eurasian and North African civilizations have survived and conquered others, while arguing against the idea that Eurasian hegemony is due to any form of Eurasian intellectual, moral, or inherent genetic superiority. Diamond argues that the gaps in power and technology between human societies originate primarily in environmental differences, which are amplified by various positive feedback loops. When cultural or genetic differences have favored Eurasians (for example, written language or the development among Eurasians of resistance to endemic diseases), he asserts that these advantages occurred because of the influence of geography on societies and cultures (for example, by facilitating commerce and trade between different cultures) and were not inherent in the Eurasian genomes.Jared Diamond bibliography
Jared Mason Diamond (born September 10, 1937) is an American scientist and author best known for his popular science books The Third Chimpanzee (1991), Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997), Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005) and The World Until Yesterday (2012). Originally trained in physiology, Diamond's work is known for drawing from a variety of fields, and he is currently Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. The Jared Diamond bibliography includes both his scientific and popular works.
As of 2012, the Microsoft Academic Search database lists 538 publications with Diamond as an author, including collaborations with 343 co-authors.Natural barrier
A natural barrier refers to a physical feature that protects or hinders travel through or over.
Mountains, swamps, deserts and ice fields are among the clearest examples of natural barriers. Rivers are a more ambiguous example, as they may obstruct large-scale movement across them (especially by armies) but may facilitate smaller-scale movement along them in boats, once some of the people in the region have developed the relevant technologies. Seas have likewise been an obstacle at first, then a convenient medium for transport along coastlines, and finally a medium for intercontinental transport.
Natural barriers have been important factors in human history, by obstructing migration and invasion. For example, Jared Diamond argues that West European nations have been the dominant powers of the last 500 years because Europe's many natural barriers divided it into competing nation-states and this competition forced the European nations to encourage innovation and avoid technological stagnation.Some examples of natural barriers are the Himalayas isolating the Indian subcontinent from the rest of Asia, the Grand Canyon, the Dead sea, and the Mississippi river.Oneworld Publications
Oneworld Publications is a British independent publishing firm founded in 1986 by Novin Doostdar and Juliet Mabey originally to publish accessible non-fiction by experts and academics for the general market. Based in London, it later added a literary fiction list (in 2009) and both a children's list (Rock the Boat, 2015) and an upmarket crime list (Point Blank, 2016), and now publishes across a wide range of subjects, including history, politics, current affairs, popular science, religion, philosophy, and psychology, as well as literary fiction, crime fiction and suspense, and children's titles. A large proportion of Oneworld fiction across all its lists is translated.
Among the writers on the Oneworld list are Marlon James, Jean Guerrero, Paul Beatty, Gloria Steinem, A. C. Grayling, Iain Sinclair, Stanley Johnson, Jenni Murray, Jason Segel, Antonia Fraser, Richard Adams, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Sean M. Carroll, Samanta Schweblin, Barnaby Phillips, Martin Bell, David McRaney, Jared Diamond, Ivor Crewe, Anthony King, Ilan Pappe, Mary Roach, Adam Frank, Peter Cave, Jean Sasson, William Poundstone, John Hick, Hans Küng, Helen Fisher, Atticus Lish, Peter Matthiessen, Amit Chaudhuri, Kamel Daoud, Caryl Phillips, Jane Urquhart, Sun-mi Hwang, Margaret Mazzantini, Yvvette Edwards, Joseph Boyden, Iman Verjee, Deborah Kay Davies, Peter Fiennes, Miranda Kaufmann, Martin Bell and Anthony Warner.Royal Society Prizes for Science Books
The Royal Society Science Books Prize is an annual £25,000 prize awarded by the Royal Society to celebrate outstanding popular science books from around the world. It is open to authors of science books written for a non-specialist audience, and since it was established in 1988 has championed writers such as Stephen Hawking, Jared Diamond, Stephen Jay Gould and Bill Bryson. In 2015 The Guardian described the prize as "the most prestigious science book prize in Britain".Science book
A science book is a work of nonfiction, usually written by a scientist, researcher, or professor like Stephen Hawking (A Brief History of Time), or sometimes by a non-scientist such as Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything). Usually these books are written for a wide audience presumed to have a general education rather than a specifically scientific training, as opposed to the very narrow audience that a scientific paper would have, and are therefore referred to as popular science. As such, they require considerable talent on the part of the author to sufficiently explain difficult topics to
people who are totally new to the subject, and a good blend of storytelling and technical writing. In the UK, the Royal Society Prizes for Science Books are considered to be the most prestigious awards for science writing. In the US, the National Book Awards briefly had a category for science writing in the 1960s, but now they just have the broad categories of fiction and nonfiction.
There are many disciplines that are well explained to lay people through science books. A few examples include Carl Sagan on astronomy, Jared Diamond on geography, Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins on evolutionary biology, David Eagleman on neuroscience, Donald Norman on usability and cognitive psychology, Steven Pinker, Noam Chomsky, and Robert Ornstein on linguistics and cognitive science, Donald Johanson and Robert Ardrey on paleoanthropology, and Desmond Morris on zoology and anthropology, and Fulvio Melia on black holes.Skeptic (U.S. magazine)
Skeptic, colloquially known as Skeptic magazine, is a quarterly science education and science advocacy magazine published internationally by The Skeptics Society, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting scientific skepticism and resisting the spread of pseudoscience, superstition, and irrational beliefs. Founded by Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptics Society, the magazine was first published in the spring of 1992 and is published through Millennium Press.
Shermer remains the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the magazine and the magazine’s Co-publisher and Art Director is Pat Linse. Other noteworthy members of its editorial board include, or have included, Oxford University evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist Jared Diamond, magician and escape artist turned educator James “The Amazing” Randi, actor, comedian, and Saturday Night Live alumna Julia Sweeney, professional mentalist Mark Edward, science writer Daniel Loxton, Lawrence M. Krauss and Christof Koch.
Skeptic has an international circulation with over 50,000 subscriptions and is on newsstands in the U.S. and Canada as well as Europe, Australia, and other countries.State of the Planet
State of the Planet is a three-part environmental documentary series, made by the BBC Natural History Unit, transmitted in November 2000. It is written and presented by David Attenborough, and produced by Rupert Barrington. It includes interviews with many leading scientists, such as Edward O. Wilson and Jared Diamond. Each of the programmes attempts to find answers to the potential ecological crisis that threatens the Earth.
The series was specially commissioned by BBC One for the millennium, and had a budget of around GBP2 million. The BBC drew criticism for scheduling the first episode in competition with the final part of ITV's Inspector Morse; as a consequence, it drew just 4 million viewers, well below the channel's typical share. However, ratings recovered to around 7 million for the second and third programmes.Attenborough fronted this series in between presenting his 1998 ornithological study, The Life of Birds, and providing narration to the award-winning 2001 series The Blue Planet.Supertramp (ecology)
In ecology, a supertramp species is any type of animal which follows the "supertramp" strategy of high dispersion among many different habitats, towards none of which it is particularly specialized. Supertramp species are typically the first to arrive in newly available habitats, such as volcanic islands and freshly deforested land; they can have profoundly negative effects on more highly specialized flora and fauna, both directly through predation and indirectly through competition for resources.
The name was coined by Jared Diamond in 1974, as an allusion to both the itinerant lifestyle of the tramp, and the then-popular band Supertramp. Although Diamond originally applied the term only to birds, the term has since been applied to insects and reptiles as well, among others; any species which can migrate can be a supertramp.The Third Chimpanzee
The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal is a 1991 book by academic and popular science author Jared Diamond, in which the author explores concepts relating to the animal origins of human behavior. The book follows a series of articles published by Diamond, a physiologist, examining the evidence and its interpretation in earlier treatments of the related species, including cultural characteristics or features often regarded as particularly unique to humans.
Diamond further explores the question of how Homo sapiens came to dominate its closest relatives, such as chimpanzees, and why one group of humans (Eurasians) came to dominate others (indigenous peoples of the Americas, for example). In answering these questions, Diamond (a professor in the fields of physiology and geography) applies a variety of biological and anthropological arguments to reject traditional hegemonic views that the dominant peoples came from "superior" genetic stock and argues instead that those peoples who came to dominate others did so because of advantages found in their local environment which allowed them to develop larger populations, wider immunities to disease, and superior technologies for agriculture and warfare.
The Third Chimpanzee also examines how asymmetry in male and female mating behaviour is resolved through differing social structures across cultures, and how first contact between unequal civilizations almost always results in genocide. The book ends by noting that technological progress may cause environmental degradation on a scale leading to extinction. The original title of the book in its initial 1991 publication was The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee: How Our Animal Heritage Affects the Way We Live; the current title was adopted with the third edition in 2006. In between, the second edition of 2004 was titled The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee: Evolution and Human Life. In 2014, Diamond published an adapted version for young people with Seven Stories Press titled, The Third Chimpanzee for Young People.The World Until Yesterday
The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? is a 2012 popular science book by American intellectual Jared Diamond. It explores what people living in the Western world can learn from traditional societies, including differing approaches to conflict resolution, treatment of the elderly, childcare, the benefits of multilingualism and a lower salt intake.Why Is Sex Fun?
Why Is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality is a 1997 book about the evolution of human sexuality by the biologist Jared Diamond.
Books by Jared Diamond
Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction (1976–2000)
Laureates of the Wolf Prize in Agriculture