Study Questions for Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel, Chapter 13

Remember, this is the second "proximate" factor that we are considering.  Remember to consider carefully how 1) the agricultural revolutions (the power of farming, surpluses, and population increase) fit into this story about technology and 2) how the axes relate.

1)  What is the "heroic theory" of technological innovation?

 

2) Diamond spends some time deconstructing the myth that necessity is the mother of invention.  What does he replace it with?

 

3)  So what are the two main conclusions about technology mentioned on pg. 245.

 

4) Diamond moves on and briefly discusses 14 factors that govern a society's receptivity to new technology.  Briefly summarize one from each category:  economic, ideological, other.

 

5) What does Diamond mean when he says that most technology is "borrowed"?  Can you figure out what connection he is about to make (think in terms of axes)?

 

6) What are the two reasons why a society may or may not adopt a "borrowed" technology?

 

7)  How does geographic isolation fit into the discussion of a society's receptivity to technology?

 

8)  Technological sophistication is much greater in Eurasia than it was in sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, Australia, and the Pacific Islands.  Explain why, in Diamond's terms.

 

Study Questions for Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel, Chapter 14

9)  What was the key point (regarding conflict resolution) Diamond made in relating the story of the Fayu tribes in New Guinea?

 

10)  Describe a) the leadership structures and b) the systems of tribute/taxation of the various political structures.  Be sure to understand the meaning of "egalitarianism" and how it related to each.

~Band

 

~Tribe

 

~Chiefdom

 

~State

 

11)  What is the "most fundamental distinction" of the state, mentioned on pg. 280?

 

12)  What are the two advantages of centralization, mentioned on pg. 281?

 

13)  What are three reasons that intensive agriculture led to complex societies? (pg. 285)

 

14) Briefly summarize the 4 basic factors that made chiefdom and state structures "inevitable" among populations with high densities.