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Ode to Jared Diamond, best world building resource

Discussion in 'World Building' started by tantric, Aug 29, 2015.

  1. tantric

    tantric Dreamer

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    Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
    Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive
    Am I alone in considering this critical?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 1, 2015
  2. acapes

    acapes Sage

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    I liked Collapse, definitely had some useful stuff in there for world-building, yeah
     
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    As a historian I very much dislike the notion of collapse. Or of progress, rise and fall, all those metaphors, because they are all reductionist. Societies change. Period.

    I also resist universalist interpretations. To me, trying to come up with an explanation for why all societies change (rise, fall, your verb of choice) is rather like trying to explain why all humans do this or that. Societies, like humans, are different. One can find commonalities, but one cannot from that deduce any general rules about Life, the Universe, and Everything. Unless it's satire, of course!
     
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  4. tantric

    tantric Dreamer

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    You're going to have to support that. Pandemics are fairly easy to model and they work across a wide range of situations. Evolution can be modeled. Why can't you deduce general rules, or at least trends in human social development? For instance, beyond the tribal nation state, based on ethnic identity and often having a figurehead divine ruler, multi-ethnic empires co-opt exoteric religious traditions as a societal binder, often fusing the religion with the government and heavily altering its former principles.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 1, 2015
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Is 'tantric' the handle for Harry Seldon, by any chance? ;-)
     
  6. tantric

    tantric Dreamer

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    Nope, no relation. Bored to tears by those books. 'tantric' comes from my buddhism and predilection for 'edging', having to find a screen name for stupid gay chat rooms (tantric4hrs) and, of course, the BareNakedLadies..."like Sting, I'm tantric"
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
  7. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    The standard argument against societal models is that they lead to biased value judgments. For instance, if you claim that polytheistic cultures tend to become monotheistic, that's often framed as polytheism being outdated superstition and monotheism being the truth that deserves to replace it. Conversely, right up until the Holocaust, Germany was considered the most civilized nation in the world, so people didn't think atrocities could happen there like they might in "barbaric" countries. But misuse of models doesn't mean models are bad or shouldn't be used.
     
  8. tantric

    tantric Dreamer

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    More to the point, reading GG&S really gives you the background to create believable but completely fantastic cultures. You know to care about their crops and animals, the climate they live in, how their religion limits their options at adaptation.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 1, 2015
  9. DeathtoTrite

    DeathtoTrite Troubadour

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    With polytheism vs. monotheism, I would argue it had more to do with the content of monotheistic religions and the comparative structure of them than any innate superiority in monotheism.
     
  10. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    It's all a cycle. The golden age on one end and the Kali Yuga on the other.
     
  11. Incanus

    Incanus Archmage

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    I read both books and found them useful. Are they perfect? Certainly not. The author himself basically says that this is the beginning of the conversation, not the conclusion. Much interdisciplinary work still needs to be done on this stuff. No matter your opinion, its pretty fascinating.
     
  12. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Stephen Jay Gould and many other great evolutionary thinkers would disagree with you. Especially if you believe random mutation is the creative core of evolution.

    Diamond is an okay thinker and okay researcher. But if his over arching revelation is "environment matters", readers centuries ago would not have been surprised by that conclusion.
     
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