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Monday, August 10, 2009

Jared Diamond has Lunch with the FT

From the weekend edition of the Financial Times, evolutionary biologist & "guru of collapse" Jared Diamond has, "Lunch with the FT".

Here is a preview of that article:

"Jared Diamond is the guru of collapse.
Collapse is the title of one of the books that have made him a world-famous academic. It is a theme that captures the Zeitgeist: markets have collapsed, banks have collapsed and confidence, even in the capitalist system itself, has collapsed.

Diamond’s celebrated book – which added to the reputation he earned through Guns, Germs andSteel, a Pulitzer prize-winner about why some societies triumph over others – sought to discover what makes civilisations, many at their apparent zenith, crumble overnight. The Maya of Central America, the stone-carving civilisation of Easter Island, and the Soviet Union – all suddenly shattered.

The question lurking in Diamond’s work is: could we be next? Could the great skyscrapers of Manhattan one day become deserted canyons of a bygone civilisation, a modern version of Ozymandias’s trunkless legs of stone?..."

Reading through the Diamond's comments on the rise and fall of civilizations and the cultural or geographic advantages that some societies have over others, I couldn't help but think back to Charlie Munger (Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway), an admirer of Diamond's work.

Munger has listed Jared Diamond's books as recommended reading material, and I think Diamond's interdisciplanary thinking and style must play a large part in Munger's appreciation for these books.

As noted in his 2008 talk at Caltech, Munger is a proponent of the multi-disciplinary approach, urging listeners to become familiar with the main ideas of many disciplines so that they may integrate their findings and better understand their world. Have a look at the video and notes of Munger's talk (see above link) for more on this theme.