science | March 11, 2013

Traditional Cultures Are Like Experiments In Human Society: Jared Diamond [VIDEO]

In a short new segment with Bookworld, Jared Diamond provides an overview of the scope and tone of his new bestseller, The World Until Yesterday. The book, he explains, creates a framework for looking at what small, traditional societies can teach us in the industrialized world. "[These societies] are like thousands of different experiments in how to run a human society," he says, "they face the same problems that all of us do, they bring up children, they grow old, they have problems of health, they face dangers, they have religion. In some of those respects they are very different from us, in some of those respects, we prefer the way we've got it."

Diamond doesn't suggest that after reading his book, we will want to convert back to a more traditional society where we live in tribes and operate without centralized government. However, he does say that we can stand to learn a thing or two from these cultures. We can apply these lessons to our own lives, including tips on child-rearing, how to think clearly about danger, and how to stay happy, healthy, and useful as we move into old age. As Diamond explains, he wrote the book partially because he found these societies fascinating, but also because he felt that there was something we could all learn from studying the way they live.

Earlier this year, Diamond presented his book at a free talk in conjunction with The New School and The Lavin Agency. An award-winning author and scientist, Diamond takes his audiences to the far regions of the world—and shows them how the things they've learned can apply to their lives here at home.