Jared Diamond exposes Mitt Romney's superficial glibness by accusing him of misrepresenting the ideas of his book, according to a post in Huffington Post
Scientist and author Jared Diamond said that Mitt Romney mischaracterized his book, "Guns, Germs and Steel," to theorize why Israelis and Palestinians have such vastly different levels of economic development at a fundraiser in Jerusalem Sunday.Last night a poster here provided a list of the per capita incomes of US states showing the top five are blue states, and 14 of the bottom 15 red states including Utah at 47. Someone should ask Romney is he thinks the blue states should send missionaries to the red states to help them address their "cultural deficiencies." Or, does he this this would be opposing the "hand of Providence?"
He said that Romney's description of the book, which "basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth," was false.
"That is so different from what my book actually says that I have to doubt whether Mr. Romney read it," he wrote in The New York Times on Tuesday. He also said that he focused mostly on "biological features" and there was no mention about iron ore in the book.
He said that the other author Romney cited, Harvard economist David Landes, would find Romney's thesis that culture accounts for economic differences "dangerously out of date."
7:39 AM PT: Here's a link to anon2008 post last night demolishing Mitt Romney's theory that cultural superiority can be established by per capita income.
The 2010 US Census data shows that most of the poorest states are red states. In fact, 14 of the 15 states with the lowest per capita income are states which Romeny is currently counting in his win column:
RANK R/D STATE INCOME
1 D Connecticut $56,001.00
2 D Massachusetts $51,552.00
3 D New Jersey $50,781.00
4 D Maryland $49,025.00
5 D New York $48,821.00
36 R Georgia $35,490.00
37 R Montana $35,317.00
38 R Tennessee $35,307.00
39 R Arizona $34,999.00
40 R Indiana $34,943.00
41 R Alabama $33,945.00
42 R South Dakota $33,865.00
43 D New Mexico $33,837.00
44 R Kentucky $33,348.00
45 R South Carolina $33,163.00
46 R Arkansas $33,150.00
47 R West Virginia $32,641.00
48 R Utah $32,595.00
49 R Idaho $32,257.00
50 R Mississippi $31,186.00
Reporters should be asking Romney if he believes MA, CT, and NJ, should be sending missionaries to UT, ID, and MS to help them with their cultural deficiencies?
7:45 AM PT: Romney's opportunistic exploitation of the ideas in Diamond's book seem consistent with a compulsive pattern of behavior Romney exhibits of trying to pander to what he believes will win him favor with the audience of the moment, as in "the trees (in Detroit) are just the right height," or developing a souther accent in one day and having cravings for "cheesy grits."
He doesn't seem to realize that his pandering is so superficial as to be insulting to his audience.
7:53 AM PT: gchaucer2 provides us to a link to the original NYT articles for those who want a much deeper explanation and avoid slumming at HuffPo.
I changed the New York Times quote because these paragraphs are more descriptive of what Romney misses.
It is not true that my book “Guns, Germs and Steel,” as Mr. Romney described it in a speech in Jerusalem, “basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth.
”Just as a happy marriage depends on many different factors, so do national wealth and power. That is not to deny culture’s significance. Some countries have political institutions and cultural practices — honest government, rule of law, opportunities to accumulate money — that reward hard work. Others don’t. Familiar examples are the contrasts between neighboring countries sharing similar environments but with very different institutions. (Think of South Korea versus North Korea, or Haiti versus the Dominican Republic.) Rich, powerful countries tend to have good institutions that reward hard work. But institutions and culture aren’t the whole answer, because some countries notorious for bad institutions (like Italy and Argentina) are rich, while some virtuous countries (like Tanzania and Bhutan) are poor.
Mitt Romney may become our next president. Will he continue to espouse one-factor explanations for multicausal problems, and fail to understand history and the modern world? If so, he will preside over a declining nation squandering its advantages of location and history.