The Landscape of Destiny
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time is now ripe for a fresh look at these questions, due to new
information from scientific disciplines seemingly remote from human
history. Those disciplines include, above all, genetics, molecular
biology and biogeography as applied to crops and their wild ancestors;
the same disciplines plus behavioral ecology, as applied to domestic
animals and their wild ancestors; molecular biology of human germs
and related germs of animals; epidemiology of human diseases; human
genetics; linguistics; archaeological studies on all continents
and major islands; and studies of the histories of technology, writing
and political organization.
the biggest challenge ahead of us is to establish human history
as a historical science, on par with recognized historical sciences
such as evolutionary biology, geology and climatology. The study
of human history does pose real difficulties, but those recognized
historical sciences encounter some of the same challenges. Hence,
the methods developed in some of these other fields may also prove
useful in the field of human history.
I am convinced, is not "just one damn fact after another," as a
cynic put it. There really are broad patterns to history, and the
search for their explanation -- for the answer to Yali's question
-- is as productive as it is fascinating.
from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared
Diamond. Copyright (c) 1997 by Jared Diamond. Reprinted with permission
of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.