What about continuity and change over time? How have Middle Eastern Islamic communities been a "case study" for this in Guns, Germs, and Steel?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The answer to this can be found in Chapter 13.  One of Diamond’s main purposes in this chapter is to argue that people of one continent are no more or less willing to accept new technology than people of another continent.  Some historians think that some societies end up being  poor and weak because their cultures do not accept change and new technologies.  Diamond does not believe that this is true.

Instead, Diamond says that different societies on the same continent can have really different attitudes towards technology.  As he says on p. 253 of the paperback edition of the book

…the development and reception of inventions vary enormously from society to society on the same continent.  They also vary over time within the same society.

In other words, Diamond argues that the success of Europeans was not due to them being more receptive to change and the failures of Australian Aborigines cannot be blamed on their unwillingness to change.

Diamond says that the Middle East is an example of this.  He says that Islamic societies were way more advanced than European societies in terms of technology and education.  It was not until about 1500 AD, he says, that things changed and Muslim societies became less receptive.

Middle Eastern societies, then, are a good case study because they show that there is a great deal of change, and not much continuity, in how receptive societies are to technology.

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