Jared Diamond has published another book, The World Until Yesterday. What is it about him that annoys me so much? I think of that poem:
I do not love thee, Dr. Fell
The reason why I cannot tell.
But this I know, and know full well:
I do not love thee, Dr. Fell.
What really annoys me is that I am going to have to read his book. How can I critique it otherwise? In his earlier books I have hated the way he extrapolates huge conclusions from tiny amounts of data, sometimes data that proves in itself to be wrong. His meditations in his book, Collapse, on the disappearance of the Easter Islanders were disproven by the simple fact that they and their monuments had not disappeared. The real disaster for them was their contact with Europeans. But in this we must see a metaphor for social collapse, even though it isn't even true. And that is just one example of his erroneous, psuedo-scientific thinking.
Thre is no denying it: a lot of people go gaga over his stuff and admire him a lot. I got into an online argument with some Reed College alums about him. I don't know why they think he is any kind of rigorous thinker. I'm married to a real scientist, and I can't imagine him taking data and running away with it the way Diamond does. And where is the proof for anything he says, and how can he make such sweeping generalizations about the lives and fates of others?
I wonder what he was up to in New Guinea, too, when he was doing his fieldwork. I wonder if he was guilty of things we would consider crimes in our society and is rationalizing that. Sometimes I think he is just a big fraud. But I will read the book, because I'm sure it will cause quite a sensation. Why, even David Brooks has written about it!
I think Diamond is a crypto-fascist.