1. Explain the main the idea of the prologue/write a summary of Diamond's main points in the prologue of Guns, Germs, and Steel. 2.Cite two pieces of evidence from the prologue that support the...

1. Explain the main the idea of the prologue/write a summary of Diamond's main points in the prologue of Guns, Germs, and Steel.

2.Cite two pieces of evidence from the prologue that support the main ideas that you claim.

Asked on by James L

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The main idea of the prologue to Guns, Germs, and Steel can be summed up in Diamond’s own words.  On p. 25, Diamond gives what he says is a one-sentence summary of this book.  It is:

History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among the peoples themselves.

In this book, Diamond is trying to answer “Yali’s Question.”  This was a question posed to Diamond by a New Guinean named Yali.  In essence, Yali asked why white people were so rich and powerful while New Guineans were not.  Diamond wrote this book to answer that question.  As we can see in the quote, Diamond argues that the people who became rich and powerful did so because of their environments.  He does not believe that New Guineans and others who remained poorer and less powerful are biologically (or culturally) inferior to the Europeans and their descendants.  This is the point that Diamond is trying to make in the prologue and throughout the book.

Most of the actual evidence to support Diamond’s claim comes in the rest of the book, not in the prologue.  However, we can find a few things that could be called evidence in the prologue.  First, we can see on p. 20 that psychologists doing research on intelligence

…to date have not succeeded in convincingly establishing the postulated genetic deficiency in IQs of nonwhite peoples.

In addition, Diamond argues on p. 21 that children in the developed world surely have less developed mental functions than the average New Guinean.  This, he says, is because New Guineans

 spend almost all of their waking hours actively doing something, such as talking or playing with other children or adults.

By contrast, children in rich countries spend their time doing things like watching TV.  Psychologists have found that activity like that of the New Guineans is better at promoting mental development than watching TV and other forms of passive entertainment are.  Therefore, New Guineans must be more mentally developed than Westerners.

Again, the vast majority of Diamond’s evidence is found in other parts of the book, but we can glean some bits of evidence from the prologue.

Sources:

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