Jared Diamond’s Collapse

John Hawks observes that Mel Gibson’s film Apocalypto is basically a novelization of the Maya part of Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive.

Diamond pushes this simplified version of Maya history as an allegory for U.S. ecological hubris…

…if you’re looking for the social zeitgeist behind this Apocalypto phenomenon, it would seem to derive from these widespread assumptions about Maya ecology and political structures that Diamond has helped to popularize. Collapse itself already simplifies vastly to make his point about ecologies and social regulation. The entire book is a case of “imposing an accessible scheme on a faraway time and place.”

Here is a fair 2005 review of Collapse by Jared Diamond. Partha Dasgupta writes,

…I think he has failed to grasp both the way in which information about particular states of affairs gets transmitted (however imperfectly) in modern decentralised economies – via economic signals such as prices, demand, product quality and migration – and the way increases in the scarcity of resources can itself act to spur innovations that ease those scarcities. Without a sympathetic understanding of economic mechanisms, it isn’t possible to offer advice on the interactions between nature and the human species…

There is no evidence that he even realises he doesn’t have the equipment to hand with which to study our interactions with nature...[emphasis added].


More on Collapse in a review by Ronald Bailey in Reason, here. More on Apocalypto by Tyler Cowen here.


One thought on “Jared Diamond’s Collapse

  1. Pingback: My Thoughts on Analysts: Doug Casey « EE/RE Investing

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