The Third Chimpanzee
At some point during the last 100,000 years, humans began exhibiting traits and behavior that distinguished us from other animals, eventually creating language, art, religion, bicycles, spacecraft, and nuclear weapons—all within a heartbeat of evolutionary time. Now, faced with the threat of nuclear weapons and the effects of climate change, it seems our innate tendencies for violence and invention have led us to a crucial fork in our road. Where did these traits come from? Are they part of our species immutable destiny? Or is there hope for our species’ future if we change? With fascinating facts and his unparalleled readability, Diamond intended his book to improve the world that today’s young people will inherit. Triangle Square’s The Third Chimpanzee for Young People is a book for future generation and the future they’ll help build.

The Third Chimpanzee Details

TitleThe Third Chimpanzee
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 3rd, 2006
PublisherHarper Perennial
ISBN-139780060845506
Rating
GenreScience, Nonfiction, History, Anthropology, Biology, Evolution

The Third Chimpanzee Review

  • Chuck
    January 1, 1970
    Another great book from Jared Diamond. I found this to be just as engaging as Guns, Germs, and Steel, and also an easier read. I find that his books have so much information that it is helpful for me to outline them as I go. Here are my favorite bullet points from The Third Chimpanzee. Not at all a comprehensive outline, but may be of interest to some people.Chapter 1- Our ancestors diverged from other apes around 7 million years ago.- We share 98.4% of DNA with common chimps.- Chimps are more Another great book from Jared Diamond. I found this to be just as engaging as Guns, Germs, and Steel, and also an easier read. I find that his books have so much information that it is helpful for me to outline them as I go. Here are my favorite bullet points from The Third Chimpanzee. Not at all a comprehensive outline, but may be of interest to some people.Chapter 1- Our ancestors diverged from other apes around 7 million years ago.- We share 98.4% of DNA with common chimps.- Chimps are more closely related to humans than to gorillas. We are really a third kind of chimp.Chapter 2- We descended from Cro-Magnons, not Neanderthals.- Hunter-gatherers were probably poor hunters.- Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals co-existed 100,000 years ago (from 130,000 years ago until 40,000 years ago).- The Great Leap Forward occurred 40,000 years ago with the emergence of spoken language. Progress no longer depended on genetic evolution but cultural evolution.Chapter 3- Across primate species, degree of polygyny is correlated with sexual dimorphism in body size and other physical features, and also testis size of males.- Humans have exceptionally large penises and breasts for our body sizes.Chapter 4- Roughly 10% of babies are adulterously conceived.- Unlike most mammals, human ovulation is concealed and sex is done in private.- Also unlike most mammals, humans have sex all the time and it's purpose is largely social rather than merely for reproduction.Chapter 5- Couples tend to have a high degree of correlation (+.9) in religion, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, age, and political views; (+.4) for personality and IQ; (+.2) for physical traits; (+.61) for middle finger length.- Incest taboo is probably genetic rather than cultural. We avoid people we grew up with between birth and 6 years, but then as adults we seek out partners similar to those people.Chapter 6- Racial variation can be explained only partly by natural selection (correlation between skin pigmentation and latitude - which is nevertheless noisy); but it is also probably due largely to sexual selection which results from the mating preferences reviewed in the previous chapter.Chapter 7- Body is like a car. Scheduled maintenance and unscheduled repair. When do you scrap it? When everything breaks at once. But it's not a conscious decision to scrap it. The evolutionary reasoning is this: the body is only as strong as the weakest part. So given that it's going to fail, it's ideal/optimal if they all fail at the same time.- If you are likely to get in a crash that totals the car in the near future, then it's not worth investing in a lot of repair and maintenance.- Rate of aging across species is correlated with age of first reproduction.- Turtles live long because it's worth repairing their bodies because they have good protection (shell) and so are unlikely to die a sudden violent death.- Menopause is a solution to the risk taking behavior of having more kids. Human childbirth is particularly dangerous. Having a fourth kid could kill the mom and put the other three at risk.Chapter 8- Most sophisticated animal "language" studied to date is the vocalizations of vervet monkeys.- Vervets have at least ten "words": "leopard", "snake", "unfamiliar human", etc. They are truly words, not just stimulus-response grunts, because they sometimes use them in a lie to confuse rival troops.- There is no correlation between linguistic and social complexity. (Really?)- Children in a community of pidgin-speaking parents spontaneously add grammar to make the next generation a full creole language.- Chomsky said we have universal grammar, with switches that can be set for different word orders and specifics; Bickerton went further to say those switches have a default value (a default word order that emerges spontaneously unless overridden by the linguistic environment).- Babies start to say single words; then at two they can make multi-word phrases; then at four they can make complete sentences. That stage may have enabled the Great Leap Forward.Chapter 9- First human (Cro-Magnon) art emerged around the Great Leap Forward 40,000 years ago in the form of cave paintings and flutes.- Bowerbirds use their art to woo mates. It is as if women put each of their suitors in sequence through a weight-lifting contest, sewing contest, chess tournament, eye test, and boxing tournament, and finally went to bed with the winner.- In humans, dance and music and poetry are common preludes to sex.- In summary, art is about sex. And now that we have lots of free time, our art can get very elaborate and serve other functions (such as aesthetics) as well.Chapter 10- No other primate practices agriculture. Closest thing is ants, which grow fungus and use insects such as aphids like cattle, drinking their honeydew.- Hunter-gatherers are taller, work as many hours or fewer than farmers, have healthier bones, fewer diseases, fewer cavities, have a more diverse diet, are better nourished, are less susceptible to famine because of the diverse diet, and have lower rates of mortality at every age.- Today just three plants - wheat, rice, and corn - provide more than 50% of calories consumed by the human species.- American and European civilized society are elites, and their lives are better in large part because of oil and other resources. The elite became healthier, but at the expense of the majority who became worse off.- Agriculture allowed for specialists and for class divisions.- Agriculture allowed for birth intervals to shorten from 4 years to 2 years, and increased calories per unit area of land tenfold, thus dramatically increasing population density.- Agriculture was not a conscious choice. It spread largely because it could support a population density 10x of hunter-gatherers, and 10 malnourished warriors can still beat 1 healthy bushman.Chapter 11- We drink and use drugs as a sexual advertisement that says, look how much of a handicap I can give myself and still be superior. Like birds of paradise with long tails that make it susceptible to attack. It says, look how long and heavy my tail is but I can still get away from predators.- but in humans drugs and alcohol are addicting and also genuinely harm the user.Chapter 12- An important consideration in guessing whether intelligent life exists elsewhere is the degree of convergent evolution (inevitably).- Woodpeckers exploited an extremely rewarding niche, but only evolved once. On the other hand, eyes and flight evolved multiple times independently.Chapter 13- Europe has about 50 languages, but New Guinea has one hundredth of the population but 1,000 languages.- New Guinea included lots of small societies completely isolated from one another by the terrain.- We are becoming culturally homogenized; there are very few places where alternative models for society can exist.Chapter 14- Of the many plants and animals available as candidates for domestication, only a few are actually domesticable, and those happened to be in Europe and the Near East.- In addition to that head start, the east-west axis of Eurasia allowed the spread of farming more easily than the north-south axis of the Americas did.- Rise of civilization brought disease and the people evolved immunity; but not hunter-gatherers.Chapter 15- Language evolves over time, and languages diverge to become mutually unintelligible when a group becomes isolated, just like speciation.- Glottochronology is like a genetic clock; languages replace 20% of their words every one thousand years, but it's noisy.- Invention of wheel about 3,000 BC (or about 5,000 years ago).- Domestication of horses about 4,000 BC (6,000 years ago).- Indo-European languages probably had a common ancestor around 3,000 BC north of the Black Sea. The package of agriculture and technology there allowed rapid waves of expansion, then another expansion into the Americas, and now half the world speaks Indo-European languages.Chapter 16- Chimps are xenophobic. They recognize members of other bands and treat them differently. They practice genocide.- Many species practice murder, and some genocide.- Stalin and Hitler were better at genocide because of technology, communications, and high population density.- Humans practice a dual standard of behavior: strong inhibitions about killing one of "us", but a green light to kill "them".- Our early American heroes were outspoken supporters of Native American genocide.Chapter 17- Tells the story of three ancient civilizations that collapsed due to environmental exhaustion: Easter Island, Anasazi, and Petra.- Humans basically live in harmony with nature when conditions are stable, but sudden changes such as acquisition of a new technology or discovery of a new island realizes conditions for species extermination and environmental collapse.- "While courses in the history of civilization often dwell on kings and barbarian invasions, deforestation and erosion may in the long run have been more important shapers of human history."Chapter 18- To get to the Americas, you gotta cross Siberia, then Bering Straight, then coast-to-coast ice sheet of Canada. Humans crossed the latter during an opening 12,000 years ago.- Those early people are called Clovis people. They reached Tierra del Fuego within 1,000 years.- Clovis people probably killed all the large mammals except bison.- The Clovis culture then rapidly changed to the Folsom culture about 11,000 years ago, with different spear tips optimized for bison.Chapter 19- Four mechanisms of species extermination: overhunting, species introduction, habitat destruction, and ripple effects.- "Dismissing the extinction crisis on the grounds that extinction is natural would be just like dismissing genocide on the grounds that death is the natural fate of all humans."
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  • Science (Fiction) Nerd Mario
    January 1, 1970
    A confrontation with the often forgotten stations of incarnation.The author tackles a variety of topics in his first work and shows similarities with human norms in the animal kingdom in state formation, social and sexual behavior, drug use and rudimentary agriculture by using evolutionary development. The origins and history of communication, xenophobia, art, and warfare are also illuminated in detail.The influence of environmental conditions can be well explained by the differences between A confrontation with the often forgotten stations of incarnation.The author tackles a variety of topics in his first work and shows similarities with human norms in the animal kingdom in state formation, social and sexual behavior, drug use and rudimentary agriculture by using evolutionary development. The origins and history of communication, xenophobia, art, and warfare are also illuminated in detail.The influence of environmental conditions can be well explained by the differences between bonobos and chimpanzees. Separated by the insurmountable Congo, the peaceful, matriarchal life of the bonobos developed in an environment of sufficient and comfortable living conditions, while the habitat of the hierarchically structured and highly violent chimpanzees was rather barren and inhospitable. Thus, the thesis comes up: Adverse environmental conditions would require stricter rankings and an evolution promoting aggressive behavior. On the other hand, the wealth of resources enables the bonobos to cooperate socially and peacefully without the necessity of aggression.In contradiction to this, however, there are both other animal species and specialized groups of people, who still treat each other friendly in the most adverse conditions. To start directly and just with the assumption of the necessity of a more brutal mentality would be too far-fetched and simplified. There are for instance the inexplicable, for the own group sometimes even harmful, behavioral patterns of chimpanzees such as senseless violence, incitement, and persecution of individual group members and genocides in conquest campaigns including cannibalism, which all together already gives a pretty good description of modern humans.Moreover, bonobos are threatened of extinction because they are defenseless against organized animal attacks or rather raids organized by the chimpanzees, which can be described as an animal precursor to genocide. This shows impressively and sadly that the mentality of humankind awoke long before our rise to power.It is close to impudence how often Diamond has used parts of this book for his other, later published books. Thus, portions of the chapter on the conquerors of the world were included in the book "Guns Germs and Steel" and sections on the meaning of the habitat are found in "Collapse: Why Societies Survive or Perish."In the case of personal interest, the reading of the detailed descriptions of both works is, in any case, an option if the relatively short explanations of this work have made one curious.There are few arguments against the preference to blame humans as the most likely cause of past species extinction and as a secondary cause of climate change, given the apparent archaeological evidence. It may well be that the evolution of ice and warm periods in specific regions had stronger influences, but especially in the always relatively moderate climates, this argument does not withstand because of the adaptability of most animals.It is argued by skeptics that the finding of fossils is a random gamble that does not allow serious estimates of numbers. Only if one finds excessively many bones of extinct animals in the sediment layers coinciding with human migrations, this should be a clear indication.At the end of the book, Diamond asks people to avoid the always same mistakes and the cycles of expansion, species extinction, and environmental degradation and at least not do more damage. It is a noble concern because it must be incredibly frustrating, especially from the perspective of an evolutionary biologist, to observe over decades how habitats, that are still to be explored, are irreversibly destroyed right in front of one's nose. A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this completely overrated real-life outside books:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_e...https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jared_D...https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thi...
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  • Riku Sayuj
    January 1, 1970
    Original review: The audience called for an encore and Jared obliged. The rewind was not as much fun.Update:The Homosexual Chimpanzee?However, this book has some great explanations on human sexuality but does not address one which I was not able to find a satisfactory explanation for, evolutionarily speaking: Homosexuality. The following is an explanatory excerpt from The Extended Phenotype by Richard Dawkins. I am adding this here for my own reference, but I am sure you will find it damn Original review: The audience called for an encore and Jared obliged. The rewind was not as much fun.Update:The Homosexual Chimpanzee?However, this book has some great explanations on human sexuality but does not address one which I was not able to find a satisfactory explanation for, evolutionarily speaking: Homosexuality. The following is an explanatory excerpt from The Extended Phenotype by Richard Dawkins. I am adding this here for my own reference, but I am sure you will find it damn interesting too."Consider human male homosexuality as a more serious example. On the face of it, the existence of a substantial minority of men who prefer sexual relations with their own sex rather than with the opposite sex constitutes a problem for any simple Darwinian theory. The rather discursive title of a privately circulated homosexualist pamphlet, which the author was kind enough to send me, summarizes the problem: 'Why are there "gays" at all? Why hasn't evolution eliminated "gayness" millions of years ago?' The author, incidentally, thinks the problem so important that it seriously undermines the whole Darwinian view of life. Trivers (1974), Wilson (1975, 1978), and especially Weinrich (1976) have considered various versions of the possibility that homosexuals may, at some time in history, have been functionally equivalent to sterile workers, foregoing personal reproduction the better to care for other relatives. I do not find this idea particularly plausible (Ridley & Dawkins in press), certainly no more so than a 'sneaky male' hypothesis. According to this latter idea, homosexuality represents an 'alternative male tactic' for obtaining matings with females. In a society with harem defence by dominant males, a male who is known to be homosexual is more likely to be tolerated by a dominant male than a known heterosexual male, and an otherwise subordinate male may be able, by virtue of this, to obtain clandestine copulations with females.But I raise the 'sneaky male' hypothesis not as a plausible possibility so much as a way of dramatizing how easy and inconclusive it is to dream up explanations of this kind (Lewontin, 1979, used the same didactic trick in discussing apparent homosexuality in Drosophila). The main point I wish to make is quite different and much more important. It is again the point about how we characterize the phenotypic feature that we are trying to explain.Homosexuality is, of course, a problem for Darwinians only if there is a genetic component to the difference between homosexual and heterosexual individuals. While the evidence is controversial (Weinrich 1976), let us assume for the sake of argument that this is the case. Now the question arises, what does it mean to say there is a genetic component to the difference, in common parlance that there is a gene (or genes) 'for' homosexuality? It is a fundamental truism, of logic more than of genetics, that the phenotypic 'effect' of a gene is a concept that has meaning only if the context of environmental influences is specified, environment being understood to include all the other genes in the genome. A gene 'for' A in environment X may well turn out to be a gene for B in environment Y. It is simply meaningless to speak of an absolute, context-free, phenotypic effect of a given gene.Even if there are genes which, in today's environment, produce a homosexual phenotype, this does not mean that in another environment, say that of our Pleistocene ancestors, they would have had the same phenotypic effect. A gene for homosexuality in our modern environment might have been a gene for something utterly different in the Pleistocene. So, we have the possibility of a special kind of 'time-lag effect' here. It may be that the phenotype which we are trying to explain did not even exist in some earlier environment, even though the gene did then exist."Yes, this is inconclusive, but it does point out some interesting directions in which we can direct our evolutionary reasoning. Don't you think?
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  • Scott
    January 1, 1970
    If you've read Guns, Germs and Steel or Collapse you know what to expect from Jared Diamond- a blizzard of fascinating facts, insights and theories that will spark tens of conversations among your like minded friends and colleagues.Diamond is a master of spinning hard fact and intriguing theory into readable books, and he does so again in The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution & Future of the Human Animal, exploring the link between humans and the beings we call apes (Diamond argues against If you've read Guns, Germs and Steel or Collapse you know what to expect from Jared Diamond- a blizzard of fascinating facts, insights and theories that will spark tens of conversations among your like minded friends and colleagues.Diamond is a master of spinning hard fact and intriguing theory into readable books, and he does so again in The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution & Future of the Human Animal, exploring the link between humans and the beings we call apes (Diamond argues against such a distinction, and posits that humans are simply a third variety of chimpanzee) and the evolution of human bodies, minds and culture.If you're in the mood for an interesting and informative info-dump you've come to the right book. Diamond explores high and low, illuminating research ranging from comparisons of genitalia size (There's reason why 'Hung like a Gorilla' is not a popular phrase) and the theories behind these differences, the possible reasons behind Homo Sapiens' sudden technological leap beyond our early origins and our cousins the Neanderthals, and finally a discussion of the threats to our existence that Diamond later devoted Collapse to. Diamond weaves his own experiences working with remote tribes in Papua New Guinea into the narrative and I that found this aspect of his storytelling balances the more fact heavy sections well.I learned a great deal from this book about the evolution of my own body, and the ways that the human form could indicate social and behavioral traits to a neutral observer (Diamond uses the example of Aliens viewing our species for the first time). Diamond makes these learnings both accessible and interesting and I experienced a number of out-loud-wow-science exclamation moments while reading this book.If you're at all interested in evolutionary theory and our genetic proximity to our forest-dwelling relatives, you should read this book. If you're still uncertain that we're related to chimpanzees and gorillas, you too, should read it (I guarantee you'll be convinced we should have been inviting Bonzo and Harambe to our family barbecues). If you're really, really certain we aren't related to 'apes' and you aren't interested in being convinced otherwise.... well, I suspect you aren't browsing this section of the library/bookstore anyway.
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  • David
    January 1, 1970
    This is a wonderful book by a great author. In fact, I prefer this book to the other books that I've read by Jared Diamond. It is entertaining, informative, and every page is interesting. The book covers a vast range of topics, such as how are humans qualitatively different from other animals, why do men do stupid things to impress women, why do people practice adultery, why do humans practice genocide, how did languages evolve, why do some people become addicted to drugs, why do humans produce This is a wonderful book by a great author. In fact, I prefer this book to the other books that I've read by Jared Diamond. It is entertaining, informative, and every page is interesting. The book covers a vast range of topics, such as how are humans qualitatively different from other animals, why do men do stupid things to impress women, why do people practice adultery, why do humans practice genocide, how did languages evolve, why do some people become addicted to drugs, why do humans produce art, and why do humans age. The book ends with the ecological harm humans have done to the planet (not just recently, but in ancient times as well), and the extinctions of species that we cause. Diamond shows how none of these activities are unique to humans; each activity has some analog in animal behavior, as well.Like Diamond's other books, there is plenty of speculation here. He makes sweeping generalizations that are not always held up by documented facts. But Diamond's enthusiasm rings loud and clear, and his speculations always sound reasonable, at least to me.
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  • SJ Loria
    January 1, 1970
    Funny that I read this book in Mexico, a country where more people believe in creation than evolution. For the record, I think we evolved from apes. For the record, that doesn't bother me in the least.I am going to do two things, first, I will talk about what I learned from this book, secondly I am going to go on a rant about anthropology. While this book was interesting, there were parts where the author stepped far beyond his area of expertise, leading to some very weak chapters. Further, this Funny that I read this book in Mexico, a country where more people believe in creation than evolution. For the record, I think we evolved from apes. For the record, that doesn't bother me in the least.I am going to do two things, first, I will talk about what I learned from this book, secondly I am going to go on a rant about anthropology. While this book was interesting, there were parts where the author stepped far beyond his area of expertise, leading to some very weak chapters. Further, this was written almost 20 years ago, and it is simply amazing how quickly scientific knowledge has advanced. Some parts were outdated, which I found remarkable. Scientific facts seem to have a very quick expiration date.This book details defining characters of human society - symbolic language, art, agriculture, war, drug abuse and environmental destruction - and presents our evolutionary precursors to these traits. He covers some excellently, and others with not as much conviction. He begins by discussing the unique aspects of the human body both genetically and our life cycle. This part was quite interesting. I learned that we share a whopping 98.4% of our genes with chimpanzees, which is pretty cool if you ask me. It was interesting to see how our prolonged life cycle and the unique characteristic of females menopause has influenced human life. Those two things allowed us to transmit lots of information (because old folks would be the story tellers and survival experts when shit hit the fan) and allowed women to also live a bit after having children. It's quite dangerous to have children, let us recall. So menopause was a great thing for women, evolutionarily speaking. Interesting to learn that genetic changes took thousands of years to develop, but once they developed than cultural evolution exploded and since has outpaced biological evolution. Evolution slowly brought us to the place where we had the tools to really start running with it.One thing that stands out from this book is that a large part of our progress was heavily dependant on the environment and our genes. Rarely do we stop and thank water for being there, or acknowledge how certain geographical features shaped us as humans. Perhaps we should do this more often.At points, the author stepped outside of his area of expertise to strengthen his argument via other disciplines. I admire the approach and feel it's best to cover one subject through as many routes of knowledge as possible. The tricky thing is, you just have to make good arguments in those other fields. There were two chapters which I shook my head more often than I nodded it, they covered art and astronomy. The author, in discussing what makes humans unique tries to find precedent in other animals as to how this evolved in humans. Art proves tricky. Art, which I would define as the soul expressing itself in reality, is a uniquely human endeavor. Diamond makes the claim that chimpanzees and elephants have produced art in captivity. He quotes an abstract expressionist painter and critic and a psychologist as his authorities. However, the issue is that other animal art is not a spontaneous creation. They were provided the tools in captivity, it's much more likely that they pick up paintbrush and smoosh paint to gain the approval of their handlers and earn extra attention than it is an undeniable expression of their soul. Also, the category of "art" that Diamond holds up as his "see, they can produce art" in fact defines itself as "anti-figurative aesthetic," meaning art that tries to look like nothing in order to symbolize emotion. So yes, chimps splashing paint fits into this very specific category, but that doesn't make it art outside of that interpretation. Show me more realistic art, art that holds the mirror to reality with a bit more clarity and then show me another animal spontaneously producing that, then we'll talk. This author simply does not understand art, which is fine, but which also means you should steer far clear of it while making a case.However, the chapter that blew my mind more than any other was one chapter on our place within the universe. This chapter came from left field, was almost entirely speculative and had very little to do with the central thesis. I have no idea why the editor didn't cut it. Suddenly he begins to explain the immense size of the universe, accurately. Then he suddenly declares that there are no planets that can support life (incorrect), we're the only one with life (speculative), period. I was shocked, and I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt only because we have learned very much about the abundance of habitable planets in the universe since 1992. That is the only thing that can possible explain this chapter, because after factually stating how immense the universe is, he then is completely incorrect scientifically about the abundance of planets and finally 100% speculative about there being no other life. The crappy part is he tries to present it all as factual, when in reality just his first stand of evidence was. Ugh. What the hell.Now, time to rant, this book embodied a perspective on life that I am coming to disdain - anthropology, or 21st century intellectualized racial awwwing at the primitive people who are just so interesting! Primitive people make great facebook photo albums. Let me explain. The author did a lot of research on New Guinea, and talks extensively about it. Due to the terrain, there were many different societies who lived close to one another but remained isolated. Each pocked was a unique culture, with unique traditions and all that. For example, apparently round them parts the cool thing to do is wear basically a codpeice or penis stick. Some tribes painted them yellow, some green, some had flowers, some feathers, dudes had multiple and some were special occasion ones, etc. You getting the picture (if so what color is your penis stick, haha)? Lots of penis sticks, no shoes, native instruments, so cute right? None of the influence from evil modern society and satan incarnate aka the white man. Only within the last 40 years or so did these tribes begin to modernize, trade, get modern goods and all.The author fondly recalls one of his strolls through the jungle back in the good old days where he came up to a tribe banging on drums and they were so amazed to see him, a white man. About 20 years later he goes back to visit the tribe, with I'm sure his notebooks to do "observations" on them, fancy camera, maybe a computer, etc and to his horror hears them listening to pop music and sees a few wearing Reeboks. Gasp, they were so much cuter, so much more useful to the purpose of my research paper, when they didn't have Reeboks.What I find appalling about this perspective is it completely ignores the desires of the native people and it ignores the benefits that one is able to obtain from modern society. The very system that allowed the author to think in this way, be educated, and write a book is the one he wants to hold back from cultures because he would rather see the variety of penis ornaments. What if these people want to be modernized? Is it such a horrible thing that they learn about medicine and their infant mortality rate plummets? Is it a bad thing that their life expectancy is over 40 now? What if they want to wear Nikes? Is it such a bad thing to see a world map, understand it's a big place, learn that there are about 7 billion other humans out there?What I simply do not understand about the "awww, look at and study the primitive people" perspective is the lack of consideration for the desires, wishes, or well being of the culture in question. It's like they feel guilty about being white and going to good prep schools. So they'll write academic papers about those cute jungle people, and take photos and all that, but it's like they want that to remain the way it is. Don't modernize, I just got grant money to study you! It's like their vacation from reality, and I think it's frankly insulting to the people being photographed and studied as if they were animals.Breathe. Anyway, I thought this book was going to be excellent, instead it was average. Perhaps a new edition would really go a long way in improving it. I learned some interesting statistics, but am not very inspired to continue reading Diamond.It has also proved possible to work out a calibration between genetic distance and elapsed time, and thereby get an approximate answer to the question of when we and chimps split apart from our common ancestor. That turns out to be somewhere around seven million years ago, give or take a few million years. 12If our ethical code makes a purely arbitrary distinction between humans and all other species, then we have a code based on naked selfishness devoid of any higher principle. If our code instead makes distinctions based on our superior intelligence, social relationships, and capacity for feeling pain, then it becomes difficult to defend an all or nothing code that draws a line between all humans and all animals. 30The emergence of Homo sapiens illustrates the paradox discussed in the previous chapter; that our rise to humanity was not directly proportional to the changes in our genes. 37Those of us accustomed to getting our information from the printed page or television will find it hard to appreciate how important even just one or two old people are in a preliterate society...one such person in a preliterate society can thus spell the difference between death and survival for the whole society. 50Cro-Manon Neanderthal transition was a harbinger of what was to come, when the victors' descendants began squabbling among themselves. It may at first seem paradoxical that Cro-Magnons prevailed over the more muscular Neanderthals, but weaponry rather than strength would have been decisive. Similarly, it's not gorillas that are now threatening to exterminate humans in central Africa, but vice versa. People with huge muscles require lots of food, and they thereby gain no advantage if slimmer, smarter people can use tools to do the same work. 52Until the great leap forward, human culture had developed at a snail's pace for millions of years. that pace was dictated by the slow pace of genetic change. After the leap, cultural development no longer depended on genetic change. Despite negligible changes in our anatomy, there has been far more cultural evolution in the past forty thousand years than in the millions of years before. 56Our mean duration of coitus (about four minutes for Americans) is much longer than for gorillas (one minute), pygmy chimps (fifteen seconds), or common chimps (seven seconds), but shorter than for orangutans (fifteen minutes) and lightning fast compared to the twelve hour long copulations of marsupial mice. 75In these days of growing human over population, one of the most ironic tragedies is the catholic church's claim that human copulation has conception as its natural purpose, and that the rhythm method is the only proper means of birth control. The rhythm method would be terrific for gorillas and most other mammal species, but not for us. In no species besides humans has the purpose of copulation become so unrelated to conception, or the rhythm method so unsuited for contraception. 78How does one decide whether recognizably distinct animal populations from different localities constitute different species, or belong instead to the same special and just constitute different races (also known as subspecies)?...The distinction is based on interbreeding under normal circumstances,: members of the same species may interbreed normally if given the opportunity, while members of different species don't. 112The longer life span of modern humans as compared to that of apes does not rest only on cultural adaptations, such as tools to acquire food and deter predators. It also rests on the biological advantage of menopause and increased investment in self-repair. Whether those biological adaptations developed especially at the time of the great leap forward or earlier, they rank among the life-history changes that permitted the rise of the third chimpanzee to humanity. 135 Up to half the words in typical human speech are purely grammatical items, with no referent that one can point to. 153 Most of today's leading infectious diseases and parasites of mankind could not become established until after the transition to agriculture. These killers persist only in societies of crowded, malnourished, sedentary people constantly reinfected by each other and by their own sewage. 187Besides malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic diseases, farming brought another curse to humanity:class divisions. 187[Discussing dangerous behaviors, such as smoking or tattoos] Males of many more species have bright colors, loud songs, or conspicuous displays that attract predators. Why should a male advertise such an impediment, and why should a female like it? Zahavi's theory goes to the heart of this paradox. According to his theory, those deleterious structures and behaviors constitute valid indicators that the animal is being honest in its claim of superiority, precisely because those traits themselves impose handicaps. 197Continental differences in level of civilization arose from geography's effect on the development of our cultural hallmarks, not from human genetics. Continents differed in the resources on which civilization depended - especially in the wild animal and plan species that proved useful for domestication. 236Plants and animals spread quickly and easily within a climate zone to which they've already adapted. To spread out of this zone, they have to develop new varieties with different climate tolerances. A glance at the map of the old world shows how species could shift long distances without encountering a change of climate. 245These calculations, which belong to a science called glottochronology ( = chronology of languages), yield the rule of thumb that languages replace about 20 percent of their basic vocabulary every one thousand years. 262The steppe itself reaches its western limit in the plains of Hungary. That's where all subsequent steppe invaders of Europe, like the Mongols, stopped. To spread further, steppe society had to adopt to the forested landscape of western Europe - by adopting intense agricultural or by taking over existing European societies and hybridizing with their peoples. Most of the genes of the resulting hybrid societies may have been the genes of old europe. 271Chimpanzee behavior suggests that a major reason for our human hallmark of group living was defense against other human groups, especially once we acquired weapons and a large enough brain to plan ambushes. If this reasoning is correct, then anthropologist's traditional emphasis on "man the hunter" as the driving force of human evolution might be valid after all - with the difference that we ourselves were our own prey as well as the predator that forced us into group living. 294Our power threatens our own existence. 311
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  • James
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent. I'm giving it four stars instead of five only because from the vantage of 2014 its age shows, mainly in the absence of some information learned since it was written about the Neanderthals and the similar but then-unknown Denisovan people - specifically, the presence of small amounts of Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA in the modern human gene pool - and in the absence of that knowledge, the author makes some assumptions about our history with those other peoples that are incomplete at Excellent. I'm giving it four stars instead of five only because from the vantage of 2014 its age shows, mainly in the absence of some information learned since it was written about the Neanderthals and the similar but then-unknown Denisovan people - specifically, the presence of small amounts of Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA in the modern human gene pool - and in the absence of that knowledge, the author makes some assumptions about our history with those other peoples that are incomplete at best; but the book is impressive in its accurate anticipation of the situations of the present and probable future. The title is based on our very close genetic links with the two species normally called chimpanzees, i.e. the 'common' chimp and what Diamond calls the pigmy chimp, normally referred to now as the bonobo. Any other species as closely related to those two as we are would be recognized as simply a third type of chimpanzee by naturalists, hence the title. But this book is not only about our species, but about the environments that have shaped us and how we in turn began shaping the rest of the natural world, usually unintentionally but no less powerfully, once our numbers and technology made that possible, starting with humankind's probable role in the mass extinctions of large animals wherever we showed up and continuing through today's problems of climate change, overfishing and -hunting, introduction of invasive species, and habitat encroachment. The threat of nuclear war is in there, but Diamond accurately predicted that it would become less likely as the catastrophic consequences of environmental devastation grew more visible and irreversible.Informative, thought-provoking, often funny - I recommend this strongly to anyone interested in human history and prehistory and our relationships with the places and the other life forms on our planet.
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  • Ray
    January 1, 1970
    We are all 98% chimp. By that I mean that we share 98% of our genes with our closest animal ancestors. Diamond patiently explains what that means and explores what makes us human.People say that humanity is differentiated by the use of tools and language, but also by murder and genocide. Actually the animal kingdom has examples of rudimentary tools, complex language, murder and genocide. Perhaps it is the degree to which we indulge that makes us human - no bonobo or aardvaark has a red button We are all 98% chimp. By that I mean that we share 98% of our genes with our closest animal ancestors. Diamond patiently explains what that means and explores what makes us human.People say that humanity is differentiated by the use of tools and language, but also by murder and genocide. Actually the animal kingdom has examples of rudimentary tools, complex language, murder and genocide. Perhaps it is the degree to which we indulge that makes us human - no bonobo or aardvaark has a red button where, by pushing it, they could obliterate whole cities.No penguin or gazelle lives in as diverse a range of habitats as humanity, nor do they bend nature to its will in quite the same way as we do.So what does make us human. Diamond makes the case that language of increasing complexity and abstractness (this is a word?) is the prime suspect.An interesting book, and thought provoking. I marked it down because I did not find this as compelling as the other books I have read by him. Perhaps this is because he invokes many of the same themes as other books, and I have lost the thrill of the new as far as Diamond is concerned.By bizarre coincidence Diamond was on Desert Island Disks on BBC R4 on Friday. Must catch up with this.
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    Jared Diamond should be required reading. He has influenced my view of humanity and history more than probably anyone except maybe a history professor in college, where I was a history minor. No, I think I Diamond has influenced me more. I stumbled across a 3 part series on PBS based on Guns, Germs and Steel a couple of years ago and was floored. I bought and read the book immediately and was even more blown away. Since then I have read Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed and Why Jared Diamond should be required reading. He has influenced my view of humanity and history more than probably anyone except maybe a history professor in college, where I was a history minor. No, I think I Diamond has influenced me more. I stumbled across a 3 part series on PBS based on Guns, Germs and Steel a couple of years ago and was floored. I bought and read the book immediately and was even more blown away. Since then I have read Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed and Why is Sex Fun. Both of them were also mind-blowing and insightful. The Third Chimpanzee was Diamond’s first book and it really lays the groundwork for his three following. In fact 3C read a bit like an abridged version of the other three books combined. But that is not to say it did not contain things the other books didn’t….or at least that I don’t remember. The next time I recommend Diamond to a friend, I think I will recommend 3C because it is a great overview of his works.I was particularly struck by the chapters on language, both animal languages that are only beginning to be unraveled, as well as the information on human languages.The book also contains a striking chapter about genocide. It was a tough chapter to read and teetered on the edge of being overwhelmingly depressing to me. But it is something that can’t be ignored. Humans have a long history of killing each other on a massive scale. If humanity is going to change how we act in the future, we can’t gloss over the past because it demonstrates human tendencies. Besides his incredible insight, I appreciate Diamond for a number of other reasons. First off I find his writing reachable. Although he often talks about some very complex and specific things, he does a brilliant job of making it understandable to a layperson. He also pulls no punches; he seems to have a very realistic view of humanity, good and bad. He is quick to point out inconsistencies, discrimination and arrogance, including his own. He preaches without ever feeling preachy. He also has a fun sense of humor and appreciates irony as it regularly occurs in life. I would be dumber and my life less full if I had not discovered Jared Diamond. And much to my joy he has a new book coming out in mere weeks!
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  • Bonnie
    January 1, 1970
    I've read Diamond's Collapse and Guns, Germs and Steel and had never heard of this book before, so when I saw it at the bookstore I picked it up because I thought it was his new book. It wasn't. It was his first book, and it shows. This is basically a primer for the rest of his books, since all his other books are expansions of chapters/sections in this one. Why is Sex Fun? is Chapter 3, Guns, Germs and Steel is Part 4 and Collapse is Part 5.My problem with this book, besides the fact that I'd I've read Diamond's Collapse and Guns, Germs and Steel and had never heard of this book before, so when I saw it at the bookstore I picked it up because I thought it was his new book. It wasn't. It was his first book, and it shows. This is basically a primer for the rest of his books, since all his other books are expansions of chapters/sections in this one. Why is Sex Fun? is Chapter 3, Guns, Germs and Steel is Part 4 and Collapse is Part 5.My problem with this book, besides the fact that I'd read some of it before, was that while most of his arguments were interesting, some weren't convincing. He sometimes kinda relied on personal anecdotes--mostly from his New Guinea friends--and broad generalizations instead of facts. The chapter I had the biggest issue with was "Why Do We Smoke, Drink, and Use Drugs?" His answer is: because, like peacocks' tails and other seemingly useless/potentially dangerous displays, it shows others that I can have/do this crap and still survive, so obviously there's enough awesome about me that it outweighs this stupid thing I do, so you don't want to mess with me if you're a predator/you should want to mate with me if you are a female. He states that "Now, let's test my theory...if it's valid, [it:] should apply to other societies as well." So he brings up this one guy he knows in Indonesia who drinks kerosene as a test of strength. Okay...and that proves your theory how exactly? To be fair, he also mentions Native American tribes that used drug enemas, but still. He doesn't address other possible factors, such as the benefits people feel they get out of drugs and alocohol (mood boosts/escapism/whatever) or their addictive nature. That entire chapter seemed like a 10th grade paper: lots of suppositions, little to concretly back it up. The book did bring up ideas I'd never thought about before, and made me feel less special as a human being, but I'd still say just read Diamond's later, better books and skip this one.
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  • Gendou
    January 1, 1970
    Jared Diamond is a mostly sensible anthropologist. However, he's a lousy evolutionary biologist.For example, he presents multiple theories of the reason for homo sapiens concealed ovulation. These are presented with false balance i.e. he doesn't share the consensus view, or the quality (and lack thereof) for each theory. Some have laughably low plausibility, in my opinion. He should have done the research and presented the reader with the likely truth, not a list of mostly bad ideas. Worst of Jared Diamond is a mostly sensible anthropologist. However, he's a lousy evolutionary biologist.For example, he presents multiple theories of the reason for homo sapiens concealed ovulation. These are presented with false balance i.e. he doesn't share the consensus view, or the quality (and lack thereof) for each theory. Some have laughably low plausibility, in my opinion. He should have done the research and presented the reader with the likely truth, not a list of mostly bad ideas. Worst of all, he presents issues of natural and sexual selection from the species and even the group point of view. Group selection isn't a thing. Individual selection isn't a thing. Gene selection is the only thing. Come on, man! Read some Dawkins! There's yet more false balance and lack of scientific scruples when discussing skin pigmentation. And race. And aging.He also has this cooky theory that drug and alcohol addiction is a sort of "status symbol" of fitness gone amok. I think this is bogus. Heroin isn't sexy. Alcohol and tobacco can be sexy when they make you look older (and thus allowed to legally buy it). But drug addiction didn't evolve in humans. All animal that has a basal-ganglia-to-limbic loop can become addicted. Our propensity to become drug and alcohol addicted stems only from our access to drugs and alcohol.While I'm picking knits, he claims that the ancient practice of taking an alcoholic beverage as enema would bypass the liver. It actually bypasses the stomach, wherein enzymes would begin to break down the alcohol. Ethanol delivered into the blood stream via the lower gastrointestinal tract goes strait into the blood but does eventually arrive at the liver. Safe to say, it's not advised.Another thing Diamond gets wrong is SETI. For some reason, hopefully not a personal one, he insists on calling the Drake equation the "Greene Bank Formula" which nobody else does. Diamond seems perplexed by the question, where are all the flying saucers? This is essentially the Fermi Paradox. The answer Drake himself gave me when I posed the question to him at a SETI convention in 2011 is that space travel is expensive. ET isn't going to visit us in a flying saucer. They'll send robotic probes, and maybe even colonize multiple star systems. But they won't waste time abducting cows. Diamond doesn't adequately illustrate the degree to which we've barely started looking for SETI signals. He claims we've looked, but the silence is deafening. This is just wrong. We've not looked at a millionth of the stars in the milky way at all, and looked at no single star for longer than a year. SETI will take immense patience.He uses the wood pecker to make some point about how convergent evolution may not be universal, implying that radio capable civilizations might be super duper rare. This is bogus. Convergent evolution is not intimidate. But you better believe that a hundred million years from now, something will be picking bugs out of trees. Maybe descendants of birds. Maybe not. But something will fill the niche.Diamond dedicates the last chapter to anthropogenic mass extinction without using the word "Holocene", which I found strange. He suggests that humans might be dead men walking, that we're all doomed like the Easter Island civilization. But Easter Island had people on it when it was re-discovered. Small population, but humans didn't go extinct on Easter Island. I think Diamond plays the doom and gloom card to heavily. There is plenty to say about how we can conserve biodiversity. He talks about some conservation efforts in Indonesia. But it's clear he's playing the Silent Spring card. Probably a great political tool, just not very skeptical.
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  • Dov Zeller
    January 1, 1970
    Hmmm. This one is a bit dated and he goes off on some not terribly impressive tangents. But also a lot of interesting stuff. Here is an outline of the book:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4...And here is a great critical reviewhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4...
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  • Sheng Peng
    January 1, 1970
    I will show below why I think Jared doesn't know what he is talking about, why he is an abysmal science writer, and why he is as much of a drama queen as Gladwell.Firstly, most people would put this book on the "evolutionary biology" shelf. So Jared better know something about evolution and biology. He does. But not nearly enough. For example, I noticed at least five times where he had used group selection, by which a gene propagates because it's beneficial to the group rather than to the I will show below why I think Jared doesn't know what he is talking about, why he is an abysmal science writer, and why he is as much of a drama queen as Gladwell.Firstly, most people would put this book on the "evolutionary biology" shelf. So Jared better know something about evolution and biology. He does. But not nearly enough. For example, I noticed at least five times where he had used group selection, by which a gene propagates because it's beneficial to the group rather than to the individual, to explain some evolved traits. It's quite wrong. I get it that it's easy to fall for this unless being constantly on the guard. But he fell for it more than five times. Maybe he didn't get it how natural selection really works after all. Considering the book was published in the 90s, when group theory had been out of favor for decades and was becoming pretty much as laughable as Lamarckism. Oh Jared, quo vadis?Secondly, he is a really annoying smart alec. It was the worst when he used Zahavi's handicap principle to explain drug addictions of people. The theory could work very well for why peacocks have big showy tails and male deers have big antlers. But it's really stretching to say that people are showing off their health when doing hard drugs. When I was reading it, page after page, I was like this was so implausible there's no way he actually believed what he wrote. And lo and behold, he proved me correct himself! On the last page of that not so short of a chapter, he admitted his explanations didn't really work for our case and that's actually what made us uniquely human. Then why have you just wasted dozens of good pages on this nonsense. This is a ridiculous level of pedantry. To have the balls to waste the reader's time and trees like this on an irrelevant theory that obviously does not explain the question proposed. He devoted about 90% of the chapter to this non-answer.And later, he literally flipped out when listing the risks we were running when beaming radio signals to potential alien overlords out there. I think it's a valid concern and caution is warranted. But I don't think the concern could only be conveyed to the reader by showing your lid literally flying off as you are tying and head banging on desk and all. Did you forget to take your pills again, Jared?Obviously, this is all my opinion, but I judge Jared to be a frivolous pulp science writer. Avoid if you want true intellectual stimulation.
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  • Ericka Clouther
    January 1, 1970
    This book was both very interesting and entertaining. It precedes Diamond's book Guns, Germs, and Steel. It ties in pretty well with some other books I've recently read including The Sixth Extinction and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and even Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History.It's a little out-of-date. For example, our ancestor Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals co-existed approximately 100,000 years ago. New research shows that many modern humans contain a little Neanderthal DNA showing that This book was both very interesting and entertaining. It precedes Diamond's book Guns, Germs, and Steel. It ties in pretty well with some other books I've recently read including The Sixth Extinction and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and even Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History.It's a little out-of-date. For example, our ancestor Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals co-existed approximately 100,000 years ago. New research shows that many modern humans contain a little Neanderthal DNA showing that there was interbreeding, whereas Diamond was pretty sure that there was basically no interbreeding. The title of this book comes from the fact that chimpanzees and pygmy chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than chimps are to gorillas. Thus, especially from the perspective of chimps, humans are a third chimp.Fun topics include the emergence of language in humans, male penis and testes size, sexual selection, adultery, racial variation due to sexual selection not natural selection, aging, menopause as an adaptive solution to childbirth, the arts, agriculture and animal domestication, drug use, the question of intelligent alien life, genocide, and extinction. Whoo. It didn't always feel like it was well-organized or related but it was all very interesting.Personally, I don't think the menopause explanation makes a lot of sense. It seems like if you weren't well-suited to give birth to your partner's baby, a first or second birth would kill you. At the rate of a baby every 4 years from ages 16-40, you'd be up to 6 births before menopause. Instead, menopause seems to make grandmothers more available to tend to their grandchildren instead of having more babies of their own (think prehistoric Michelle Duggars).
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  • Bart Everson
    January 1, 1970
    I first became aware of Jared Diamond while having lunch in Tampere in the summer of 2001. I was there in Finland for a conference, and one of my lunch companions was raving about Guns, Germs, and Steel. A quick glance at other reviews indicates that's his most revered book; it seems to be an expansion of a single chapter in The Third Chimpanzee. Indeed many if not all of his subsequent books seem to expand on themes he first addressed here. That says a lot about the scope and ambition of Third I first became aware of Jared Diamond while having lunch in Tampere in the summer of 2001. I was there in Finland for a conference, and one of my lunch companions was raving about Guns, Germs, and Steel. A quick glance at other reviews indicates that's his most revered book; it seems to be an expansion of a single chapter in The Third Chimpanzee. Indeed many if not all of his subsequent books seem to expand on themes he first addressed here. That says a lot about the scope and ambition of Third Chimpanzee.I was drawn to this book because of its focus on human origins. This is a subject about which I knew little, and I learned plenty here, which was gratifying. But I was surprised by how much more I found here, everything from ruminations on extraterrestrial life to an examination of genocide.Diamond takes aim at the biggest questions of human existence, and attempts to explicate them with passion and honesty. Occasionally his reach exceeds his grasp, occasionally he doesn't seem to deliver the goods he promises — but only very occasionally. And honestly, if he's half-right about half the issues he takes on, it's still an impressive effort. I found his outlining of the questions at least as valuable as the answers he provides.Utterly fascinating.
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  • Jamie
    January 1, 1970
    Jared Diamond has an amazing talent for connecting facts one after the other, leading to surprising insights. His books are full of things that make you go “Hmm.” In The Third Chimpanzee the reader will learn of humanity’s evolutionary past and the social and cultural adaptations that led to the modern world.We start with a common ape-like ancestor from whom both humans and chimpanzees/bonobos diverged some 3,000,000 years ago, and progress through the various human ancestors until we arrive at Jared Diamond has an amazing talent for connecting facts one after the other, leading to surprising insights. His books are full of things that make you go “Hmm.” In The Third Chimpanzee the reader will learn of humanity’s evolutionary past and the social and cultural adaptations that led to the modern world.We start with a common ape-like ancestor from whom both humans and chimpanzees/bonobos diverged some 3,000,000 years ago, and progress through the various human ancestors until we arrive at homo sapiens. Spoken language precipitated what Diamond calls The Great Leap Forward, from which point mankind’s evolution would proceed along cultural rather than biological lines. We learn interesting facts about human reproduction, some of which are still not clearly understood, about things like why ovulation in human females produces no outward physical changes in their appearance, why they are fertile for only a few days each month, why sex is done in private, and why women experience menopause. Individually, these are just facts that we all know, but most of us never thought about linking them together into into a narrative that explains how biology and cultural selection reinforce one another. Remove any one of these characteristics and modern society would probably be very different.Language is a remarkable subject, and, once again, Diamond provides interesting observations. For instance vervet monkeys have a small number of words for different kinds of threats. That these are truly words, not just vocalizations like prairie dogs make, is shown by the fact that they can use them to purposely deceive rival troops.Diamond has some good observations about the transition of humans from hunter gatherers to pastoralists and farmers. The transition from a nomadic to a settled lifestyle was not necessarily a healthy choice. Archaeological evidence show that hunter gatherers worked less than farmers, were healthier, and lived a more egalitarian lifestyle. Yuval Noah Harari, in his recent book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, expands on this topic in greater detail and with more recent scholarship. For those with an interest in political history, according to Marx this is also the point in humanity’s past when things began to go wrong, when communities moved from what he theorized was primitive communism into the next stage of society: slavery (to be followed by feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and finally, communism again. Needless to say, it didn’t quite work out that way.)The author makes a point about the domestication of plants that he would develop more fully in Guns, Germs, and Steel, and it is one of the key concepts that he would use to try to answer the question: why did science and technology develop in the West rather than somewhere else? Why did the Europeans sail to South America rather than the Aztecs sailing to and conquering Europe? One reason was that Europe and Asia found their dominant societies oriented on an east-west axis, while in South American it was north-south. The east-west one allowed plants to move easily across the continent, introducing better nourishment and leading to larger populations. North-south would require long and painstaking generations acclimatizing plants from cooler environments to equatorial heat, and back again to cooler climates in order for them to make it to the Northern Hemisphere. The accident of east-west geography granted European and Asian societies an advantage that none of the other cultures could overcome.Finally, Diamond ends his book with a prescient look at humanity’s impact on the world. We have wiped out many many species and there is no reason to believe we will show greater caution in the future than we did in the past.The book was published in 1991 based on earlier research, so, while it is still interesting and informative, science has moved on and some of what he says is out of date. With that in mind, however, this is an excellent book for someone looking for an understanding of human social, biological, and cultural evolution.
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  • Helga Mohammed el-Salami
    January 1, 1970
    Dr. Diamond’s first book for which he won nothing but the admiration of some pathetic, lifeless losers like yours truly. But he should have. It was excellent. True that Chimpanzee is the Salieri to Guns’ Mozart, but what it lacks in breadth it makes up in simplicity and erudition. I breezed through this book with nary a trip to Wikipedia unlike GGS, which sent me there virtually every day. And yet I still learned a ton. The chapter titled “The Golden Age That Never Was” was a delightful Dr. Diamond’s first book for which he won nothing but the admiration of some pathetic, lifeless losers like yours truly. But he should have. It was excellent. True that Chimpanzee is the Salieri to Guns’ Mozart, but what it lacks in breadth it makes up in simplicity and erudition. I breezed through this book with nary a trip to Wikipedia unlike GGS, which sent me there virtually every day. And yet I still learned a ton. The chapter titled “The Golden Age That Never Was” was a delightful decimation of the position that simpler times harbored some kind of environmental respect that we have since lost. It’s like he read Quinn’s manuscript for Ishmael (see) and wrote this in protest. Diamond points out that the Native New Worlders, far from respecting nature, precipitated the largest wave of extinction in human history. Just how respectful is it to walk up to a 500lb flightless bird that doesn’t run from you because it didn’t have the benefit of evolving to be afraid of humans and club it over the head? Or to kill a wooly mammoth, feast for 2 days and then leave the rest to rot? About as respectful as trading Manhattan Island for some beads. At least now the species-killers get to keep our gambling money. What did the giant ground sloth get?
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  • Zuberino
    January 1, 1970
    If I could have a brain transplant, I'd choose to have Jared Diamond's. Loved the whole book! If you have a curious bent, it will blow the doors of your mind wide open. Loved loved loved the disquisition on the Kurgan hypothesis - brilliant to find out where the two disparate languages that I speak came from!
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  • Jeanette
    January 1, 1970
    I read this the first time more than 25 years ago. At least, possibly more time ago even than that.Then it was a 4 star read going on 4.5 stars. It just isn't anymore. Some parts of it are excellent but dated. Some parts are beyond dated- they no longer are considered viable theory. Some sections are pure hogwash, although stated in a strongly logical and respectful tone. This is primarily his whole universe "picture" to life and intelligent life, in particular. What that issue of compatible I read this the first time more than 25 years ago. At least, possibly more time ago even than that.Then it was a 4 star read going on 4.5 stars. It just isn't anymore. Some parts of it are excellent but dated. Some parts are beyond dated- they no longer are considered viable theory. Some sections are pure hogwash, although stated in a strongly logical and respectful tone. This is primarily his whole universe "picture" to life and intelligent life, in particular. What that issue of compatible numbers of environments that could produce life outside of our solar system. That's just plain wrong, IMHO. The probabilities figures on that have immensely been turned upside down since this book was published. Most of the early homo species stuff is 4 or 4.5 stars. But this is a field that has been tremendously altered by DNA and other particular physical forensics and anthropology studies of forms and chemical sciences in the last 10 to 15 years, IMHO. Also there is another wider tangent he takes here that is likable to read, but most probably is not numerically or nuance width assumption correct. He knows a lot, don't get me wrong. He is a superb observer and seeking, an excellent scientist. But he also clearly did not know all he did not know when he wrote this. His picture was actually too narrow to make assumptions as wide to the outcomes he has here, IMHO.But it's really worth a read if you never understood early homo forms or had see where that field was when earlier tracking homo progressions in geographic movement. And especially a call out for the excellent parsing of homo sapiens women's menopause development appears here. That's a particular phase of life that rarely, rarely exhibits in any animal or mammal life form and he has a superb chapter here about evolution favor for this feature.
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  • Daniel Hageman
    January 1, 1970
    This will probably be my go-to recommendation for human evolution from now on. The anthropological view, unlike the biological one covered by Dawkins, keeps things interesting by addressing questions related to our every day lives, yet still having a scientific foundation to provide scaffolding for the content. If you've read Diamond's GG&S prior to this, as I'm sure many will have, there may be a few chapters you can skip, but the content remains as fascinating as when you read it the first This will probably be my go-to recommendation for human evolution from now on. The anthropological view, unlike the biological one covered by Dawkins, keeps things interesting by addressing questions related to our every day lives, yet still having a scientific foundation to provide scaffolding for the content. If you've read Diamond's GG&S prior to this, as I'm sure many will have, there may be a few chapters you can skip, but the content remains as fascinating as when you read it the first time.
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting look at where we have come from, and a powerful message of conservation for a society that needs to hear it. Slightly dated, but still a very good read for anyone interested in anthropology and biology
  • Karmologyclinic
    January 1, 1970
    Most chapters are interesting and informative and entertaining, some are outdated by recent finds and a few are complete speculation with misinformed logic and oversimplifications. Maybe it would be wise to revise this book for this century's discoveries.
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  • Nandita Damaraju
    January 1, 1970
    A few weeks ago, a bunch of us were talking about the origins of our species, Homo sapiens and I was astonished at how little my friends and I knew about our ancestors. Going back to the roots of our development can provide a lot of insights into our present. So after scouting around for some recommendations, I picked up this brilliant book to learn more about our past, present, and future. The book begins with the deviation of homo sapiens and our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, and the A few weeks ago, a bunch of us were talking about the origins of our species, Homo sapiens and I was astonished at how little my friends and I knew about our ancestors. Going back to the roots of our development can provide a lot of insights into our present. So after scouting around for some recommendations, I picked up this brilliant book to learn more about our past, present, and future. The book begins with the deviation of homo sapiens and our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, and the bonobos from our common ancestor, the great ape, about 3 million years ago. The book then proceeds to trace our evolution through hallmark human characteristics and how these characteristics might eventually spell disaster for our species. The author Jared Diamond draws a lot of his observations from his frequent trips to the Pacific Islands, that until recently were isolated pockets of land with no contact to the outside world. These observations span the domains of biology, anthropology, culture, history, and language. It is hard to gain an unbiased outsider’s perspective of the evolution of our species, and the author attempts to do this from time to time by invoking a neutral alien observer who would comment on our development. Since this book was written in 1991, a part of the book that is based on conjecture about the genetics of human evolution. These theories have primarily been proved/disproved ever since sequencing technologies have evolved rapidly. I also couldn’t help but notice how natural selection has played a significant role not only in genetic evolution but also in cultural development. The author remarks how genetic differences between humans 40,000 years ago and now are very minimal. The author argues, that if humans of 40,000 years ago were to be born today, they would be able to use the latest technology with dexterity. The author in his chapters of sexuality and the human life cycle very wonderfully brings out how this cultural evolution has superseded genetic evolution in various aspects of our lifecycle such as our choice for a mate, concealed ovulation, clandestine copulation. The traits mentioned above, have been carried forward over generations because they enable us to perform more efficiently. It was a revelation to see how the modern plagues of society, xenophobia, violence, environmental destruction, etc. are rooted deeply in our evolutionary history. We, humans, were responsible not only for the extermination of large species such as the woolly mammoths, sabertooths and giant sloths that roamed the planet until recently. We were also responsible for the extinction of a part of our OWN species, such as the Tasmanian aboriginals, all 50,000 of whom were killed by colonists. The list of species we have driven to extinction is a lot larger than I would have ever imagined. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that we continue to act in our evolutionarily wired ways and continue to decimate our environment and species around us. But being rooted deep in our evolutionary history doesn’t warrant justifying such acts. To quote the author, “The past was still a Golden Age, of ignorance, while the present is an Iron Age of willful bliss.” We were oblivious to the damage we were causing to the environment a few centuries ago, but now we are aware of the consequences and aware of the fact that these consequences are much more substantial due to our large population. The period of “willful bliss” will soon transform into a period of "irrevocable despair" if we continue to use lack of awareness as a pretext to cause environmental damage further. The last few chapters of the book, take on an apocalyptic tone and very rightly so. Even though the author profoundly believes our end is near, if we don’t reform our ways, he remains “cautiously optimistic” in the epilogue of the book. A lot of the events that helped our species flourish throughout the planet were mere coincidences, and we’re collectively abusing that luck. Reading about our origins was deeply humbling and puts all the other "problems" that pique our capitalistic, material world today into perspective. I would highly recommend this book to EVERYONE, irrespective of age, interests, and beliefs.
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  • Clif
    January 1, 1970
    Were you a visitor to Earth from outer space, you'd want a handbook about the dominant kind of life on the planet. The Third Chimpanzee would be perfect for you!Jared Diamond has published several books, all of them a pleasure to read. In this one he first presents the themes that he develops in the others. You hear about the factors that favored Europeans in their rise to domination of other people which is greatly expanded upon in Guns, Germs and Steel. You also learn of the common human Were you a visitor to Earth from outer space, you'd want a handbook about the dominant kind of life on the planet. The Third Chimpanzee would be perfect for you!Jared Diamond has published several books, all of them a pleasure to read. In this one he first presents the themes that he develops in the others. You hear about the factors that favored Europeans in their rise to domination of other people which is greatly expanded upon in Guns, Germs and Steel. You also learn of the common human social characteristic of continuing to follow the same path even when it leads to the destruction of a way of life, which is greatly expanded upon in Collapse.The Third Chimpanzee takes a wide view of Homo Sapiens Sapiens, explaining where we came from (having a common ancestor with the chimps), our patterns of social and sexual behavior contrasted with other animals, the most important being language. He writes of our place in the universe, and why we may be alone though others might have gone before elsewhere. Intelligence brings the ability to manipulate the physical world in dangerous ways and responsibility does not necessarily develop with brain power. Upon finishing the book, the reader can't help but acknowledge that humans are not the perfection of life on earth, but rather are creatures with positive and negative qualities that, because of our explosive population growth, must be controlled if we are to survive. A bountiful earth has given us the illusion that there are no limits, but the lives most of us spend in completely artificial creations, our cities, keep the changes our consumption makes in the natural world from notice. Diamond wants us to think of ourselves based on our real behavior and the consequences to be expected from it, not upon lofty mythological tales of what it is to be a human with a divine sanction to do as we please.The most intriguing topic is our sudden great leap forward about 40,000 years ago, long after our large brain had evolved. Diamond believes it was the development of language that allowed us to plan with each other and to pass knowledge from one generation to the next that did the trick, but how did that come about? Other animals are intelligent but lack the physical apparatus to speak as we do. Another amazing fact is that since humanity emerged in Africa a million years ago, until about 15,000 years ago there was not a single human being living in North or South America.It has been more than 20 years since this book was first published. I had read it then and put it on the shelf to read again. This second reading was not a disappointment, it has aged very well, but leaves me curious to find out what further information has been found since 1991.
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  • Eric
    January 1, 1970
    This is the third "textbook" I have read by Jared Diamond. Guns, Germs, and Steel continues as a must read for anyone remotely interested in the history of mankind. The Third Chimpanzee refers to Diamond's views that Homo Sapiens evolved from chimpanzees some 6 million years ago. The other "two" chimpanzees refer to a not well understood "third man" and robust australopithecines. In any event, homo sapiens first emerged as homo erectus 1.7 million years ago and evolved into homo sapiens about This is the third "textbook" I have read by Jared Diamond. Guns, Germs, and Steel continues as a must read for anyone remotely interested in the history of mankind. The Third Chimpanzee refers to Diamond's views that Homo Sapiens evolved from chimpanzees some 6 million years ago. The other "two" chimpanzees refer to a not well understood "third man" and robust australopithecines. In any event, homo sapiens first emerged as homo erectus 1.7 million years ago and evolved into homo sapiens about 500,000 years ago. The other two chimpanzees did not "survive".What was most intriguing for me is Diamond's unique writing style (I can understand him!) and the logical progression he outlines in the "Third Chimpanzee". Perhaps the most important event in the history of man is Diamond's portrayal of "The Great Leap Forward". This Leap is likely the bridge in our evolution to human language for which, due to its nature, archaeological evidence is very difficult to find and age. Other topics he covers are the substantially unique human elements of: sexuality, why we grow old and die, origins of art, agriculture (and its mixed blessings), domestication of animalswhy humans smoke, drink and use dangerous drugs (even though they know it is stupid to do so), whether we are alone in the universe, history of first contacts, accidental conquerors (hard to summarize but interesting), racial discrimination, and genocide.Diamond closes with his views of two clouds hanging over us. Until our own generation, no one had grounds to worry whether the next human generation would survive or enjoy a planet worth living on. That is no longer the case. First is the cloud of nuclear holocaust. If it occurs, it will be bad of us and might even kill us all. The risk shapes much of current world diplomacy. The second cloud is environmental holocaust. As early as 1992 (when The Third Chimpanzee is published), Diamond succinctly summarizes this risk. His epilogue is "Nothing Learned, and Everything Forgotten? We should pay attention to everything he has to say.
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  • Jake
    January 1, 1970
    I was unimpressed as I had read so many other books on the same, or on similar topics, nevertheless, this book can serve well as good framing for those interested in anthropology in its lens of human evolution. The one idea I saw discussed here which is often neglected is the idea of human cultural elements existing within animals. That is really freaking cool and I would love to see a book handle that topic in more depth. If you have any recommendations lemme know.I recommend this for those who I was unimpressed as I had read so many other books on the same, or on similar topics, nevertheless, this book can serve well as good framing for those interested in anthropology in its lens of human evolution. The one idea I saw discussed here which is often neglected is the idea of human cultural elements existing within animals. That is really freaking cool and I would love to see a book handle that topic in more depth. If you have any recommendations lemme know.I recommend this for those who liked books like sapians, the selfish gene, the moral animal and books of the kind, this will help you gain some more depth in your understanding of humanity.
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  • Victor
    January 1, 1970
    Good book but not quite as good as Guns, Germs, and Steel. This book was written before that one and you can tell that Jared Diamond becomes a more polished and focused writer. The Third Chimpanzee focuses on how many of the characteristics the we consider uniquely "human" (language, art, murder) really aren't as unique as we think. He makes good arguments but maybe takes on more than he should. Still, it sets the stage for Diamond's later works (including Collapse which I still haven't read. Good book but not quite as good as Guns, Germs, and Steel. This book was written before that one and you can tell that Jared Diamond becomes a more polished and focused writer. The Third Chimpanzee focuses on how many of the characteristics the we consider uniquely "human" (language, art, murder) really aren't as unique as we think. He makes good arguments but maybe takes on more than he should. Still, it sets the stage for Diamond's later works (including Collapse which I still haven't read. 3.5 stars
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  • Ben Babcock
    January 1, 1970
    As I began reading The Third Chimpanzee, a little voice in my head told me that I should stop reading books by Jared Diamond. His subsequent three popular science books all have their origins in this one; I began with Guns, Germs, and Steel and then read Collapse. So reading The Third Chimpanzee was sort of like getting a summary of those two books, plus the one I haven't read yet. Thus, I sought out to determine if the latter books suffered because they were too long an exploration of As I began reading The Third Chimpanzee, a little voice in my head told me that I should stop reading books by Jared Diamond. His subsequent three popular science books all have their origins in this one; I began with Guns, Germs, and Steel and then read Collapse. So reading The Third Chimpanzee was sort of like getting a summary of those two books, plus the one I haven't read yet. Thus, I sought out to determine if the latter books suffered because they were too long an exploration of Diamond's ideas, or if they are superior to his original formulation of arguments concerning those three subjects. The shocking answer will soon be revealed!Caveat: parts of this book are now dated, as it was written nearly twenty years ago. Hence, while I usually find Harper's "P.S." sections boring, this one was useful because it allowed Diamond to update us on some of the advances in science and historical discoveries since the book was first published.My reaction to this book is probably the most mixed reaction I've had to any of Diamond's books thus far. As the aforementioned "P.S." author interview says, Diamond's life as a modern scientific polymath stems from a desire not to be confined to "one tiny slice of life's palette." He began as a physiological researcher and has since distinguished himself for writing on subjects like ornithology, anthropology, history, and geography, earning him the title of "biogeographer." I applaud Diamond for his varied interests and ability to apply those interests and synthesize an argument about human development from multiple disciplines. However, it's important that the reader remember that Diamond isn't a geneticist, astronomer, anthropologist, etc. And sometimes, he overreaches himself when attempting to apply his considerable life experience to his arguments. Oh, and he also tries to be witty and . . . well, once and a while it works, but most of the time his attempts at humour fall flat.In Part One, Diamond begins by examining how we differ from our closest relatives. There's a fancy chart that shows the estimated dates of evolutionary divergence from common ancestors (gibbons and orangutans split off earlier, then gorillas, then chimpanzees and humans finally went their separate ways around 7 million years ago). Still, the human genome and chimp genome are 98 per cent similar, and Diamond argues that this is enough of a similarity that humanity should constitute the "third chimpanzee." He then postulates that the rise of complex spoken language was the cause of the anthropological "Great Leap Forward" that allowed humans to begin developing the behaviour required for societies to arise. This is the "teaser" part of the book, in which Diamond whets our appetite for details he'll later reveal. He also makes a one-off attempt to plead for the cessation of medical experimentation on chimpanzees, implying that because we are—in his view—of the same genus, it's just as bad as experimenting on humans. Regardless of one's views on the subject, Diamond raises an interesting point . . . and then doesn't return to it at any subsequent moment in the book.Next, Diamond looks at humans' anomalous "life cycle" compared to the rest of the animal kingdom, particularly primates. Humans are the only primates in which the women go through menopause and cease being fertile. Chimpanzee males have larger testicles than human males because chimpanzee males mate so frequently they need the extra sperm, but most couplings last only seconds! I've always been interested in how our different sexual characteristics have helped humanity rise to its present status on the planet, so I loved this part of the book. Furthermore, unlike some later parts, Diamond remains on firm ground when he seeks evolutionary explanations for human sexual behaviour.That ground becomes progressively shakier in Part Three, perhaps the worst of the five parts to Diamond's book. Here, he examines aspects of human society that are uniquely developed—the two most notable examples are art and drug abuse. Unfortunately, Diamond over-extends his attempts to explain these behaviours purely from an evolutionary perspective. Is this because evolution can't solely explain them? Or is this merely a failure on Diamond's part as thinker? It's a little of both, in my opinion: Diamond is great at synthesizing disparate sources of information to create a compelling thesis; unfortunately, as he does so, he tends to get somewhat reductionist in his perspective. While his argument is not wrong, it is at the very least incomplete, which still makes it flawed.I was annoyed when, in the chapter on extraterrestrial life, Diamond began to explain why it's not necessarily likely that an advanced species would develop radio:You might object that I'm being too stringent in looking for early precursors of radios themselves, when I should instead look for just the two qualities necessary to make radios: intelligence and mechanical dexterity. But the situation there is little more encouraging. Based on the very recent evolutionary experience of our own species, we arrogantly assume intelligence and dexterity to be the best way of taking over the world, and to have evolved inevitably.Now, I actually agree with the latter part of that quotation. The fact that, on Earth, so far humans are the only form of life to have developed what we term "intelligence" indicates it may not be the only path to global domination. After all, prior to their extinction, the dinosaurs ruled the Earth, and they were certainly dumb by our standards. Still, Diamond is short-sighted; he wrongly assumes that intelligence or dexterity are prerequisites to leveraging radio. They're prerequisites in the invention and construction of mechanical radio transmitters and receivers, sure. "Radio" itself is a medium; radio waves constitute part of the electromagnetic spectrum of radiation. Just as many species have independently evolved eyes to see visual light (and some species can see into other spectrums), what's to stop a species on another planet from evolving a radio transceiver organ? Perhaps the absence of any such creature on Earth would make such an evolutionary development unlikely, at least on Earth-like planets. However, not every habitable planet has to be exactly Earth-like. Maybe there exists conditions on another planet where the evolution of biological radio makes sense. This is a totally hypothetical, spontaneous scenario, but I hope it demonstrates my problem with Diamond's reasoning. In an effort to produce the best arguments possible, he often generalizes or focuses too narrowly on subjects beyond his best areas of knowledge.In Parts Four and Five, Diamond explores the seeds of the ideas that would turn into two of his later books, Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse. Since I've already read these books, I have to admit I skimmed a great deal of these sections. The chapter on language was interesting, but I had already learned much the same from the more recent Before the Dawn . If you read a great deal of anthropological non-fiction, you too may find these sections less-than-fascinating. The one exception is Chapter 17, "The Golden Age That Never Was."Thank you, Mr. Diamond, for that chapter. It irks me to no end when I hear someone talk about the "good ol' days" of human society, some sort of pastoral paradise where everyone was happy and we experienced no strife. The idea that simpler times were better times is a myth, one that Diamond thoroughly discredits in this chapter. He shows us that people, for the most part, have perpetrated the same sort of acts in the past as we see happening now—the difference is one of degree. Modern technology allows us to expand the scale and speed with which we create problems, making us more efficient at marshalling chaos. Unfortunately, Pandora's box has been opened, and there's no going back. Diamond comes to the same conclusion and so focuses on what hope we might have for the future of our spaces, however slim.As with Collapse, Diamond broadcasts a message of cautious optimism. We may be able to survive, provided we as a society "choose" to begin living in a way that's more sustainable. He's vague on the details, claiming that his book is "an analysis" of our problems rather than a laundry-list of potential solutions. The solutions, he maintains, are already well-known; we just have to choose to implement them. While that sort of rhetoric isn't very appealing to me, I understand Diamond's difficulty in writing prescriptions. Nevertheless, that call for optimism is less effective in such an unhelpful context.Right from the start of The Third Chimpanzee, Diamond was up front about his mad love for New Guinea and its peoples and his opinion that it's somehow a microcosm for the development of society. Those who have read my review of Guns, Germs, and Steel know how I got tired of hearing that line. Paradoxically, the New Guineans feature more heavily in this book, but I found their inclusion both more tolerable and more interesting. I actually learned things about New Guinea that made me exclaim, "Oh, that's cool!" rather than roll my eyes and snort, "Right, OK Diamond. Whatever you say." My experience with The Third Chimpanzee has therefore provoked the least amount of sarcasm from me regarding Jared Diamond's writing. It is both the best and the worst of his work: where it is flawed, it is more flawed; where it is useful, it is far more useful. If you read one Jared Diamond book, this should be the one.And there's the rub. It's difficult to write popular science books. There's a fine line between intelligent and esoteric, between academically rigorous and overly-complicated. Diamond has undertaken a challenge, and for that I respect him; at least he isn't writing puff pieces. For the majority of people, The Third Chimpanzee is worthy of dinner table conversation or book group discussion; it's a great starting point in the quest to read anthropological non-fiction. It is not the culmination of that quest, but a stepping stone along the way to more rigorous, more intense non-fiction on this subject. And that's all it can be.
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  • Nola
    January 1, 1970
    The Third Chimpanzee is meant to show that humans may be able to preserve the environment and avoid mutual destruction through awareness of our true nature, which is something that we don’t spend much time exploring. This book is meant to remedy that. I don’t need to be convinced that humans are a type of chimpanzee, but Jared Diamond has some convincing evidence that I hadn’t known. For one thing, in addition to humans being more closely related to chimpanzees than to any other species, The Third Chimpanzee is meant to show that humans may be able to preserve the environment and avoid mutual destruction through awareness of our true nature, which is something that we don’t spend much time exploring. This book is meant to remedy that. I don’t need to be convinced that humans are a type of chimpanzee, but Jared Diamond has some convincing evidence that I hadn’t known. For one thing, in addition to humans being more closely related to chimpanzees than to any other species, chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas or any other apes. Jared Diamond also makes a compelling case against using chimpanzees for medical experiments or keeping them in zoos.The book has introductory teasers at the beginning of the sections, asking the reader to think about intriguing questions. The answers given vary from no one has any idea to nicely crafted theories of how evolution progressed. Here are just a few tidbits from the book. The progress of human civilization has been very slow. It is documented only through items that have been preserved, which leaves gaps in what we know about early ape/human lives. Neanderthals, in contrast to humans, had a culture that did not vary from place to place or change over time. The life history of humans is remarkably different from that of all other mammals in number of offspring, menopause and length of life. Agriculture has been a mixed blessing, supporting more people than hunting and gathering, but requiring more work and leading to epidemics as more people were able to live closely enough together to facilitate the spread of disease.There is a lot in this book that I didn’t know, both facts and studied considerations. I’m not sure the components of the book are tightly tied into the basic premise, but it is well worth reading for the perspective that Jared Diamond can provide.Audio Version
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  • Bill Sleeman
    January 1, 1970
    …Small bands [of “uncontacted” peoples]…continue to turn up. But at some point within the early twenty-first century, we can expect the last first contact, and the end of the last separate experiment at designing human society…that last first contact won’t mean the end of cultural diversity…but the shift from isolated groups to global population does mean a drastic loss of [some types] of diversity. That loss is to be mourned…Reading this ARC copy of Jared Diamond’s The Third Chimpanzee (for …Small bands [of “uncontacted” peoples]…continue to turn up. But at some point within the early twenty-first century, we can expect the last first contact, and the end of the last separate experiment at designing human society…that last first contact won’t mean the end of cultural diversity…but the shift from isolated groups to global population does mean a drastic loss of [some types] of diversity. That loss is to be mourned…Reading this ARC copy of Jared Diamond’s The Third Chimpanzee (for young people) was an interesting and informative read. Having read other works by Diamond I was a little worried about the level that this book might be written and while the text is simple it is hardly simplistic. This YA adaption reflects well on Diamond and its adapter Rebecca Stefoff. Like many of Diamond’s other works this title is a manifesto of sorts of what has gone awry in our environment and how it might be corrected that is unburdened by the day-to-day politics (both academic and legislative/electoral) that tend to get in the way of any sort of reasoned discussion about climate and environmental change. The work is challenging, balanced and engaging and pitched perfectly for YA readers. To prove that last point I will add that I left this copy sitting out on the coffee table at our house and my middle school son picked it up to read and asked if he could have it when I was finished. My copy goes to him tonight and I am looking forward to talking about it with him. Perhaps The Third Chimpanzee (for young people) will help him and his generation better understand the state of our world (and the sad condition of our closest kin in the animal world) and guide them to fix the mess we are in.
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