the world until yesterday | February 11, 2013

Why Traditional Societies Have Stood The Test of Time: Jared Diamond [VIDEO]

"Tribes constitute thousands of natural experiments in how to run a human society," Jared Diamond says in his new talk at The New School. "They constitute experiments from which we ourselves may be able to learn." In his new book, The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?, Diamond unpacks this idea further, arguing that tribal societies of the past and present may have more to teach us in the industrialized world than we think. In an event presented by Lavin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and scientist compared our way of life to those living in New Guinea. Using the research he compiled from living in these societies firsthand, Diamond says that his new book is his most personal, and practical, to date.

While we are used to living in a society with the Internet, centralized government, and food grown by someone other than ourselves, these staples of industrial culture are recent evolutions. As Diamond explains. "the ancestors of all of us here were living under traditional, tribal, conditions until virtually yesterday measured against the time-scale of human evolution." Although we have made many advances as a society, the fact that traditional societies have been living the same way for hundreds of years gives them experience that we don't yet have. They have learned certain strategies and ways of living that have stood the test of time—something that we can certainly learn from no matter how different these strategies may be from our own.

Diamond is currently a professor of geography at UCLA. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and his groundbreaking work answers some of today's most pressing questions about the nature of human development. His talks are eye opening and comprehensive. Diamond shows us a history of where we came from, how we can learn from our past, and what direction we will take as a species in the future.

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digital and social media | February 10, 2013