Jared Diamond Takes Mitt Romney to School?

2 Aug

Those who have taken my classes know that I am a big fan of Jared Diamond’s popular works and their relevance to anthropology.  I have assigned his Discover Magazine articles on a variety of topics, and parts of his books The Third Chimpanzee, Why Is Sex Fun?, Guns, Germs, and Steel, and Collapse.  The National Geographic video based on Guns, Germs, and Steel is another classroom favorite.

Imagine my surprise yesterday, when I saw that Diamond had waded into the dangerous waters of presidential politics (something I avoid since I don’t want to alienate students who might disagree with my personal political views).  Diamond’s Op-Ed piece for the New York Times isn’t overtly political, but does accuse Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney of misrepresenting (and possibly not actually reading) the central thesis of his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies.

The thesis of this book is certainly well known to my cultural anthropology students.  What do you think, did Romney miss the point?  Should authors, like Diamond, take an activist role in insuring that their works are accurately represented in popular media and politics?

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