Jared Diamond is not an anthropologist or an archaeologist. Nevertheless, Diamond rose to fame as a popularizer of anthropology and archaeology. But for Living Anthropologically it is important to realize how Diamond promotes misguided ideas.

Pages on Jared Diamond

There are two critical pages on Jared Diamond located in the Archaeology section. Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race examines the still-popular 1987 article that in many ways launched Diamond as a popularizing science writer. Guns, Germs, and Steel: Against History takes up Diamond’s most popular book. I contend that Guns, Germs, and Steel displaced the much better and stronger account offered by Eric Wolf in Europe and the People Without History.

Also watch my interview on Diamond with Cosmoetica (posted 9 July 2017).

Teaching Jared Diamond

We need to be very careful when using Diamond’s work in the classroom. I still find it useful to assign the “Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race.” See Domestication for class notes in Introduction to Anthropology 2016. Later in 2017 I will attempt to fill in class notes for the page on Domesticating.





Blog Posts (newest first)

Shankman - Trashing Margaret Mead - Public Anthropology

Jared Diamond & Future Anthropology

What makes Jared Diamond possible? Discussant commentary for the panel “Margaret Mead and Jared Diamond: Past Publics, Current Engagements.”

Patterns of Culture - Ruth Benedict

The Anthropological Concept of Culture

Ruth Benedict’s Patterns of Culture translated US Boasian Anthropology to a mass audience, promoting culture, cultural relativism–and cultural wholes.

Social Science for the Twenty-First Century

Anthropology Is Your Ally

An impassioned plea to lower the arrogance decibels. In the wake of Steven Pinker’s “Science Is Not Your Enemy” assessing humanities & science together.

Virtual War and Magical Death - Technologies and Imaginaries for Terror and Killing

We Cannot Abandon Humanity

Preparing for the biggest Jared Diamond review of all-time–by Bill Gates. As American Anthropology becomes Public Anthropology, we cannot abandon humanity.

Daniel Everett - Language The Cultural Tool

Goodbye to all that

Could epigenetics finally re-write the script about human nature? Maybe, but first we have to go over The Edge’s promotional tribute to Napoleon Chagnon.

War in the Tribal Zone & Napoleon Chagnon

Party Like It’s 1999 with Napoleon Chagnon!

If “anthropology’s future depends largely on its ability to contest the Savage slot” (Trouillot 2003:9), then how to take Napoleon Chagnon’s Noble Savages?

Douglas Fry - Beyond War - Gun Control

Anthropology & Gun Control: Human Nature, Culture, History

Arguments against gun control are rooted in shoddy anthropology: ideas about human nature, culture & history which cannot withstand anthropological scrutiny.

Angry Papuan leaders demand Jared Diamond apologizes

Angry Papuan leaders demand Jared Diamond apologizes – Survival Intl

Papuan leaders jump into the discussion, as Stephen Corry and Survival International challenge two very public figures–Jared Diamond and Steven Pinker.

Patterns of Culture - Ruth Benedict

Patterns of Culture (1934) wins Jared Diamond (2012)

Ruth Benedict’s Patterns of Culture trumps Jared Diamond for conceptual clarity, writing style, ethnographic example, and impact. Pretty good for 1934.

Political Punditry and Anthropology

Anthropology & Politics in 2012 Elections

Anthropology should be front and center–the 2012 Obama Romney election concerns race, culture, history, and power, key issues for political anthropology.

Anthropology of Latin America and the Caribbean

Teaching Anthropology of Latin America and the Caribbean

Anthropology of Latin America and the Caribbean is less about “peoples and cultures” and more about processes at work across the Americas.

Communist Manifesto, Four Field Manifesto

Anthropology, Moral Optimism, & Capitalism

Anthropology’s Moral Optimism: Four Field Manifesto & alternative visions of humanity. Capitalism is not the most beautiful or respectful of shared planet.