According to Guns, Germs,and Steel, why are some societies more receptive to inventions than others and what factors influence this?

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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.  Specifically, it can be found on pages 249 through 251 in the paperback edition of the book.  On those pages, Diamond gives a list of 14 different factors that people have suggested as reasons why some societies accept new technologies more readily than others.

The first of these factors is life expectancy.  The idea is that people who live longer have more time in which to invent things.  Therefore, societies with long life expectancies have more innovation.

The next five factors all have to do with what Diamond calls “economics or the organization of society.”  In other words, scholars say that some societies are set up to be more encouraging to inventors.  For example, a society in which slave labor is cheap does not need labor-saving devices and will not accept technology as readily.   As another example, some societies have economic systems that allow inventors to make a lot of money from their inventions while others do not.

The next four factors have to do with ideology.  Historians have suggested that some ideologies are more accepting of innovation. For example, they argue that Christianity is more friendly to innovation than Hinduism.  They say that societies that tolerate diversity are more likely to accept innovation.

Finally, there are four more proposed factors that have no connection with one another.  These are problematic because some people say they help bring about more innovation while others say they hurt it.  These are war, strong central governments, harsh climates, and a lack of natural resources.

Diamond devotes three pages to this discussion.  Please refer to the book for more details.

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