Response to Jared Diamond

“Yali’s Question” is prologue of the book Guns, Germs and Steel written by Jared Diamond. In the prologue, Yali’s question “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?” is the main clue of the article. Through the prologue, Diamond was discussing the causes of distinct human development rate.

In the prologue, Diamond indicated from  11,000 B.C to A.D 1500, political and technological disparities happened. It made me to think what factors limited countries like New Guinea to develop their technology and political organization? What factors spurred countries or areas like Europe or Asia to improve their tools?   In addition, he listed some examples that some bronze tools appeared in Eurasia 4000 years earlier starting becoming prevalent in the South American Andes. That was to say South America was far behind in Eurasia at that time. But why such condition happened even if they were almost in the same staring point? Or was there fierce competition among Eurasia to force countries in Eurasia to develop?

Before answering Yali’s question, Diamond also talked about the objections about it. The objection argueed we were making excuses to justify such domination. But later, he also came up with an explanation, understanding of a chain in order to break it out to overthrow the objection. I believe the explanation is very persuasive because knowing every detail of things can help us manage what happens. Only by knowing things clearly, we can avoid making the same mistakes again and again.

After reading through the whole passage, I thought the answer to Yali’s question was the white people developed much quicker than New Guinean. White people had more advanced technology to produce products while New Guinean was not able to. But later, the author rephrased the Yali’s question: Why did human  development proceed at such different rates on different continents? After understanding his explanation, collisions led by disparate people led to differentiated rates of development. Conquest, epidemics and genocide resulted in different  political rights and economy.  Besides, language was also affected by those collisions. The languages owned by people at advantages were preserved and spread while the rest of them were gradually replaced and finally disappeared.



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