Significance of Yali’s Question and the Questions it Poses

Survival of the fittest is a famous phrase to describe both the evolution of species and the rise and fall of civilizations. Humanity’s brutal history has made that doctrine even more apparent as empires of steel have assimilated or exterminated technologically inferior communities. Technological gaps in societies have resulted in generations of lost cultures as technologically inferior societies were colonized by more technologically advanced civilizations. In the prologue to Jared Diamond’s book “Guns, Germs, and Steel”, Yali’s question asks what has caused technological gaps in civilizations and why have some civilizations advanced technologically faster than others. This is evident by how some civilizations developed written systems and steel tools while others have continued to use stone tools until recent times (Diamond, p. 24). Diamond’s book seeks to answer Yali’s question in order to uncover the reason why such a large disparity in technological advancement existed-and if that reason continues to exist currently-attempt to resolve it.

Yali’s question poses multiple more questions and to answer Yali’s question requires knowledge in multiple scientific and sociological disciplines including genetics, engineering, history, and sociology. Each of these disciplines can only answer a part of the question and to answer the question fully requires knowledge of all related disciplines. For example, a geneticist would best be able to answer whether certain groups are genetically superior to others, however, would not be knowledgeable to the effects of different social environments or whether resources required for scientific innovations are harder to procure in certain areas. As Diamond stated a unified synthesis of multiple disciplines is required to answer the question fully and without that the answer neglects a potentially significant variable that could change the conclusions of the research.

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