1. Draw Jared Diamond's schematic overview of the chains of causation leading up to proximate
historical factors from ultimate historical factors (or, in other words, the factors underlying the
broadest patterns of history).
Answer on Page 87 (Of guns germs and steel)
2. In Diamond's opinion, why is an east-west continental axis preferable to a north-south continental
Advantages of east-west axis
Same day length, season variations
Lesser degree, similar Diseases
Regimes of temperature and rainfall
Habitats or biomes (types of vegetation)
3. Why does H. F. Dobyns argue that the first Europeans who moved inland into the Americas
encountered recently depopulated landscapes? Why are some scholars critical of the high numbers of
then recently diseased people put forward by Dobyns?
Henry Dobyns states that European-introduced diseases killed up to 95% of all Native Americans.
Dobyns argued that scholars ignored the disease-induced decline that occurred between European
arrival in the Americas and their contact with each tribe. Estimating this loss at over 95 percent, Dobyns
proposed a pre-contact population of 112 million for the hemisphere and 18 million for North America.
(I DON’T KNOW WHY SCHOLARS WERE CRITICAL)
4. What are the diverse ways by which microbes spread from one person to another, and from
animals to people? Why should a germ evolve the apparently self-defeating strategy of killing its host?
1) Microbes wait for their host to be eaten by another host
Salmonella bacteria in eggs and meat. Also worms in meat
Insects to humans (Saliva of insect that bites host)
i. Flies off and bites new host (Causes Malaria, Typhus and Plagues)
From mother to fetus (Syphilis, Rubella, AIDS)
3) Modify Anatomy/Habits of hosts to assist transmission
Genital Sores (Syphilis), Skin Lesions (Smallpox), Cough (Influenza)
4) Attack directly from the host (Hook worms and Schistosomes)
Germs evolve the apparently self-defeating purpose because: they are unintended by-product of
host symptoms promoting efficient transmission of microbes. Providing each victim infect on
average >1 new victim, still winning evolutionary strategy.
5. How do humans physiologically cope with germs? Humans physiologically cope with germ through:
a. An attempt to bake germs to death.
2. Immune system: white blood cells and other cells.
a. Some immune effects are:
ii. Permanent (vaccination efficient)
3. Natural selection:
a. Some people are more resistant than others, evolutionary effect on people repeatedly
exposed to a particular pathogen.
6. According to Rodolfo Acuña-Soto, what was (probably) 'cocoliztli'? Summarize his theory as to what
happened in Mexico during the epidemics of 1545 and 1576. Why did the epidemic remain confined to
Native Americans rather than Spaniards in his opinion?
Cocoliztli is a group of viral hemorrhagic fevers which can affect both animals and humans. Soto argues
that the Spaniards did not bring the epidemic to the Aztecs and that the virus was indigenous. Soto also
states that the disease was also caused by the slavery-like conditions to which the natives were confined
to under Spanish rule. The drought led the rodents to get an infection with they spread to the humans.
Humans then transmitted viruses to other humans.
The epidemic remained confined to the native Indians because of their nutrition and diet. Working in
slave-like conditions, this compromised their immune reaction which made them vulnerable to the
disease. (SOMETHING LIKE THAT)
7. How could have the de Soto expedition ultimately depopulated a significant portion of North
America? What do we know about the type of buildings that the Caddo built before and after the de
Soto expedition? What is the name now given to a rich, fertile "black earth" that is abundant in the
Amazon basin and increasingly believed to have been created by human beings? What livestock
disease profoundly affected the ecology of southern and eastern Africa at the turn of the twentieth
century? What damageable (to humans) insect benefitted most from this? To the cure of what
diseases did Thomas Weller most contribute to?
It is said that De Soto’s pigs probably escaped and ended up spreading their disease to wildlife. Thus the
wildlife began spreading their diseases which ultimately affected the natives. These microbes affected
Before the De Soto expedition the Caddo built monumental architectures like public plazas, ceremonial
platforms and mausoleums. After De Soto left the Caddo began building community cemeteries. The
rich, fertile “black earth” that is believed to be created by humans is called Terra Preta.
The disease that affected the ecology of areas in Africa was the rinderpest plague. The insect that
benefitted most from this was the tsetse fly. Thomas Weller introduced vaccines for polio, chicken pox
and measles. Weller was able to produce cures by studying viruses in tissue cultures. 8. What use did Charles Kay make of the Lewis and Clark journals? What was his main conclusion
regarding the areas in which wildlife thrived at the time of the expedition? What is his 'keystone
species' theory and what are its implication for the observed number of American bison’s and other
species in the second half of the nineteenth century?
Charles Kay has quantified all the wildlife observations and encounters with native people recorded in
the journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
The only places that Lewis and Clark observed significant numbers of wildlife were in buffer zones
between tribes at war. Because Indians avoided these zones, wild animals flourished.
Kay states that the Indians were the keystone species of American ecosystems. A keystone species
affects the survival and abundance of many other species and this when Indians are affected by disease
etc. animals such as Bison’s and say Elk are also affected by this which affects more animals and thus the
entire ecosystem is changed.
9. According to Clark Erickson, what is the 'myth of the pristine environment'? How does it relate to
biodiversity? According to William Cronon, what is the 'myth of wilderness'? In his opinion, how
natural is wilderness (and what does he mean by his answer)?
The myth persists that in 1491 the Americas were a sparsely populated wilderness, a world of barely
perceptible human disturbance. The myth of wilderness is that we can somehow leave nature
untouched by our passage. By glorifying pristine landscapes, which exist only in the imagination of
romantics, Western conservationists divert attention from the places where people live and the choices
they make every day that do true damage to the natural world of which they are part.
10. What were the two main ways by which writing was diffused? What are Diamond's two main
points about the nature of technological innovation and the innovative process? According to
Diamond, what are the four main factors influencing the acceptance of new technologies?
Writing was diffused by blueprint copying and idea diffusion (Reinventing basic ideas)
Diamonds two main points about the nature of technological and innovative process was cumulative
development (not isolating heroic acts) and most uses found after invented.
The four main factors influencing the acceptance of new technologies are advantage over alternatives,
social value and prestige, compatibility with vested interests and ease of seeing advantages.
11. List 3 factors related to the organization of society that, according to Diamond, explain differences
in receptivity to new ideas and technologies among societies and explain each briefly. According to
Diamond, how does life expectancy affect the differences in receptivity to new ideas and technologies
among societies? List two ideological reasons that, in his opinion, also play a role in this respect.
Three factors are cheap slave labour, patents and property laws, and financial rewards to inventions.
Life expectancy gives prospective inventors the years necessary to accumulate technical knowledge as
well as patience and security to embark on long development programs yielding delayed rewards. Two
ideological reasons are risk-taking behavior and religion. 12. According to your professor, what are the main processes through which 'collective creativity'
1) Multidisciplinary teams within a firm
2) Employees adding/switching product line
3) Individuals moving between different lines of work
4) Individuals observing a product/process in another setting and incorporating it into their main activity
5) Individuals possessing different skills and working for different firms collaborating with each other
13. How does Diamond distinguish bands, tribes, chiefdoms and states in terms of membership?
Bands consist of dozens of people in a nomadic state (kin), tribes consist of hundreds in 1 village (kin-
based clans), Chiefdom’s consist of thousands in 1 or more villages (Class and residence), and states
consist of over 50,000 people in many villages (Class and residence, more than 1 language).
14. According to Diamond's historical analysis, how did elite groups maintain a lifestyle considerably
higher than that of the commoners? According to Diamond, how were population density and the fate
of defeated people related?
Elite groups maintained a higher life style because they:
1) Disarm populace & arm elite
2) Redistribute tribute in popular ways
3) Monopoly of force to promote happiness:
4) Construct ideology/religion justifying kleptocracy.
Fate defeated peoples depended on population density.
Survivors need only move farther away from enemies
No large vacant areas remain to flee
Not much employment as slave either
No incentive to have survivors, except women.
2 options: slavery or pay tributes
15. Why does Diamond argue that Australia is by far the most distinctive (and less hospitable to
humans) continent? Why does he argue that 40 000 years ago Native Australian societies enjoyed a
big head start over many societies on other continents? What were the main characteristics of
Australia as a continent is by far
- Driest - Smallest
- Most infertile
40,000 years ago Australians were of an advanced society because of their watercrafts, stone tools and
rock paintings. Anatomically modern humans probably settled in Australia before Europe.
Firestick farming drove out animals for hunting, converted dense t