1. Explain the main idea/write a summary of Diamond's main points in Chapter 13 of Guns, Germs, and Steel. 2.Cite two pieces of evidence from Chapter 13 that support the main ideas that you...

1. Explain the main idea/write a summary of Diamond's main points in Chapter 13 of Guns, Germs, and Steel.

2.Cite two pieces of evidence from Chapter 13 that support the main ideas that you claim. (include page numbers)


Asked on by James L

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter 13 of Guns, Germs, and Steel, the author points to the discovery of the Phaistos disk that was found on the Greek islands. While this disk has not yet been deciphered, nothing of its kind emerged for over three thousand years because there was no need or demand for it. This observation prompts his arguments regarding technology:

Technological inventions, Diamond contends, come about mainly because there is a need and demand for them. Technology develops cumulatively, rather than in isolated "heroic acts" as with the Phaistos disk. As an example, the author points to the steam engine with which James Watt is credited. Watts was not the first to invent a steam engine; however, he improved upon engines created by others such as Thomas Newcomen and Thomas Savery. But, the engine of Watts could power machinery in the textile mills and became valuable. Therefore, inventions are adopted for four reasons:

  1. There is an economic advantage over the existing technology (e.g. Watts's steam engine)
  2. There is a social advantage ( Evidence: British men observed the Arabs defeating the Spanish with cannons; they took some back to England in order to defeat France)
  3. There is compatibility with vested interests (Evidence: the typewriter keyboard was arranged in the QWERTY pattern originally because keys that were struck often had to be distanced from one another. When typewriters were improved, too many had a vested interest in this QWERTY keyboard, so it was not changed.)
  4. There is an ease with which the advantages can be observed.

Further evidence: In some societies, Diamond observes, there was no need for an invention, so nothing came of it. For instance, in Mexico, early natives created a toy with wheels, but because there were not domestic animals to pull a cart, etc. and because there were many men to do the labor, nothing was done with the wheel as in other cultures where it was put on wagons for horses or donkeys to pull.

Greater land area gives those in a continent an advantage because the continent has more societies to be able to invent and improve upon technology. 

The establishment of farming allowed people to remain in one place, and they were able to store food and acquire possessions which then gave them the time to focus upon inventions that would further ease their lives. As they lived in areas where others had preceded them, people were able to expand upon the ideas of others with new technology. This sedentary lifestyle was advantageous for the development of technology because it afforded people the time and comfort for ideas.

Evidence: 1. With more time for thought and invention, craftsmen were, then, able to develop such things as steel and build weaponry. Improvement was made upon farm tools and equipment.

2. As people improved upon their technology, not only could people accumulate it because they were stationary in their lives, but also their technology eased their lives and they could spread to neighboring territories, thus strengthening and improving the population, who would embrace the new technologies. 


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James L | (Level 3) eNoter

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do you have the page numbers for the evidence?