Reading/Video questions for
Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel
Prologe “Yali’s Question”
1. What is Yali’s question and why did it motivate Diamond to write this book? Yali’s question was “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea but we black people have little cargo of our own?” Jared Diamond wrote this book to answer Yali’s question because he didn’t have an answer when Yali asked him the question. 2. What are other ways that Diamond asks or rephrases the same question? One way he rephrased the question was “Why did wealth and power become distributed as they now are, rather than in some other way? For instance, why weren’t Native Americans, Africans, and Aboriginal Australians the ones who decimated subjugated or exterminated Europeans and Asians? Another way is also “why is it that Europeans, despite their likely genetic disadvantage and (in modern times) their undoubted developmental disadvantage, ended up with much more of the cargo?” 3. What answers to Yali’s question have some historians given in the past? They have said things from biological differences among people to natural selection, evolutionary descant, Political organizations, and technology. 4. What is wrong with those answers according to Diamond? He believes that they are racist explanations and they are wrong because not everyone has the same opportunities and people are raised in different ways and different places with a different environment. 5. What kind of evidence does Diamond use to prove those answers? Aboriginal Australians and New Guineans routinely master industrial technologies when given the opportunities to do so. White American psychologist is trying to prove that black African Americans are less smarted then white Americans but it depends on the social environment and educational opportunities. New Guineans impressed Diamond because they were more intelligent, more alert, more expressive, and more...
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