Natural Experiments of Science by Jared Diamond

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Natural Experiments of Science by Jared Diamond

#1  Postby natselrox » Feb 27, 2010 6:46 pm

Anyone read it? Is it good?

SOME CENTRAL QUESTIONS in the natural and social sciences can’t be answered by controlled laboratory experiments, often considered to be the hallmark of the scientific method. This impossibility holds for any science concerned with the past. In addition, many manipulative experiments, while possible, would be considered immoral or illegal. One has to devise other methods of observing, describing, and explaining the world. Jared Diamond, author of the Pulitzer-prize winning Guns, Germs, and Steel and the bestselling work in environmental history Collapse, here reveals for the first time his methodology in the applied use of natural experiments and the comparative method. In this lecture based on his new edited volume, Natural Experiments of History, Diamond presents eight comparative studies drawn from history, archaeology, economics, economic history, geography, and political science. The studies cover a spectrum of approaches, ranging from a non-quantitative narrative style to quantitative statistical analyses. The studies range from a simple two-way comparison of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which share the island of Hispaniola, to comparisons of 81 Pacific islands and 233 areas of India. The societies discussed are contemporary ones, literate societies of recent centuries, and non-literate past societies.
When in perplexity, read on.

"A system that values obedience over curiosity isn’t education and it definitely isn’t science"
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Re: Natural Experiments of Science by Jared Diamond

#2  Postby Elena » Feb 27, 2010 7:14 pm

Hi, natselrox! It's great to see you here. :cheers:

I've read:
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It is excruciatingly detailed. The research is outstanding; anyone with a basic training in scientific research would find it difficult to criticize Diamond's methods and conclusions. He is also very sober in presenting information. It can be inferred from the narrative (for example, when he describes his beloved Montana) how affected he must be by the damage of civilization. Yet the descriptions are dispassionate -as they should be.

At times the book can be tedious, but yes, imho it is a compendium of natural experiments.
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Re: Natural Experiments of Science by Jared Diamond

#3  Postby natselrox » Feb 27, 2010 7:19 pm

Hi Elena! Nice to see you too!

I've read Guns, Germs and Steel and Third Chimp.. Loved both of them. I'm planning to read Collapse and this one.
When in perplexity, read on.

"A system that values obedience over curiosity isn’t education and it definitely isn’t science"
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Re: Natural Experiments of Science by Jared Diamond

#4  Postby Elena » Feb 27, 2010 7:30 pm

natselrox wrote:Hi Elena! Nice to see you too!

I've read Guns, Germs and Steel and Third Chimp.. Loved both of them. I'm planning to read Collapse and this one.

Of the other two, which did you like most? (both the same?)
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Re: Natural Experiments of Science by Jared Diamond

#5  Postby natselrox » Feb 27, 2010 7:41 pm

I liked the R&F of Third Chimp more but that's probably because it was my first Diamond book. His style and perspective was refreshing at first glance but I'd somewhat got used to it by the time I read GG&S. But they are both equally good, to be honest.
When in perplexity, read on.

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Re: Natural Experiments of Science by Jared Diamond

#6  Postby Elena » Feb 27, 2010 8:07 pm

:thumbup: I'll probably pick up one of those soon.
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Re: Natural Experiments of Science by Jared Diamond

#7  Postby j.mills » Feb 27, 2010 11:54 pm

I've only read GG&S, which I massively admired and by which I was broadly persuaded. But boy was it dry! :ill:
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Re: Natural Experiments of Science by Jared Diamond

#8  Postby gib » Feb 28, 2010 12:29 am

I have a lot of time for JD.
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Re: Natural Experiments of Science by Jared Diamond

#9  Postby j.mills » Feb 28, 2010 2:46 am

You need a lot of time for JD! :grin:
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There is grandeur in this view of life
Where one becomes many through struggle and strife,
But the Mother of Mysteries is another man's call:
Why is there something 'stead of nothing at all?

The Darwin Song Project
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Re: Natural Experiments of Science by Jared Diamond

#10  Postby Aether » Feb 28, 2010 4:56 am

Elena wrote: It is excruciatingly detailed. The research is outstanding; anyone with a basic training in scientific research would find it difficult to criticize Diamond's methods and conclusions.


I'm not so sure about that.

I absolutely loved Third Chimpanzee and Collapse wasn't bad either but I must say after that lawsuit against Diamond I've lost quite a bit of respect for him. Sure, the lawsuit itself was bogus but it did bring to light his less than thorough 'research techniques' (and by research techniques I mean publishing unsubstantiated rumors as facts.)
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Re: Natural Experiments of Science by Jared Diamond

#11  Postby Velma » Feb 28, 2010 8:36 am

I've read GG&S and Why is Sex Fun?. GG&S was ok, just, very repetitive at times, a book in need of a good editor. As for Why is Sex Fun, well you are still no closer knowing why at the end, a very substandard book. So I'll probably give this one a miss
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Re: Natural Experiments of Science by Jared Diamond

#12  Postby natselrox » Feb 28, 2010 8:38 am

akigr8 posted the links to GG&S documentary in the General Science Section.
When in perplexity, read on.

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#13  Postby crank » Mar 02, 2010 9:47 pm

I've read the 4 main books, all marvelous as far as I'm concerned, the ideas behind GG&S are brilliant. I've had the pleasure of seeing him on TV a few times, he is a delight to listen to, not only for his words, but he has a very cool, distinctive voice .
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#14  Postby gib » Mar 03, 2010 12:04 am

He has the coolest voice.
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