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The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and…
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The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (1991)

by Jared M. Diamond

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note books # 835, 836
  JhonnSch | Feb 26, 2017 |
Non-fiction often has a limited shelf life. After about 20 years, much of the science and data upon which that science is developed is out-dated. New data and new science make such older books obsolete, or at least of lesser interest. The third chimpanzee. The evolution and future of the human animal was originally published in 1992. It's reissue, in 2006, following the success of Jared Diamond's book Collapse. How societies choose to fail or succeed, almost 15 years later, was justified, also because of the help the book could offer at better understanding the new book. But reading The third chimpanzee. The evolution and future of the human animal now, in 2016, almost 25 years after original publication, makes it clear the the book not a classic, and much of its thesis is outdated.

The third chimpanzee. The evolution and future of the human animal is very much a book of the pessimistic 1970s and 1980s, a period in which people believed that the desctruction of the world and the end of the human race by nuclear obliteration was imminent. The structure of the book, as also the title suggest, reflects this belief. The book aims to describe the beginnings of mankind and its end.

Describing the evolution and devlopment of humanity on such a large scale also means that the book is not much more than a primer, and the author must be a mere layman in many of the field he touches upon in the book. Chapters about the prehistory of man, evolutionary biology and the development of language are superficial and sketchy. Particularly the chapters about the devlopment of modern man out of a succession of generations of hominids now shows the weakness of the book, in that many new discoveries leading to new insight have been made over the past 25 years. The portrayal of Neaderthal man in the book by Diamond is still very much the image of the uncultured brute that circulated in the 1980s. New finds or evidence that Neanderthals had a sense of artistic expression are not evidenced in the book. New DNA research also clearly establishes the presence of Neanderthal DNA in the DNA of modern man. Diamond's conclusions that interbreeding between Homo sapiens and Neanderthal man is unlikely because no fossil remains of such offspring have been found is simply an argument that is too weak.

The third chimpanzee. The evolution and future of the human animal is now merely of interest for some snippets of information and facts which may startle, less than develop real insight. For example, the closeness of man to chimpanzee is cleverly demonstrated, although the evidence leans heavily on the importance of quantity rather than quality of difference. ( )
  edwinbcn | Jan 27, 2016 |
Well, he's consistently interesting. It's not the book it claims to be on the cover. I was expecting a thorough comparison between human and chimp and that's not what this is. It's more a look at human history through the light of a variety of theories, not all of which I subscribe to - in fact, some of them have been disproved since publication. Very thought provoking though. The book is marred by a preaching tone, which increases as the book goes on. Worth reading for the facts. ( )
  Lukerik | Nov 26, 2015 |
This book contains an excellent discusion of our past, present, and probable future. This information is vital to our understanding of how to lessen or slow the impact of our self destruction. Unfortunately, too few people know this information or care about the future. Thus, although the knowledge exists the will to change does not exist in sufficient strenght to overcome the unfavorable effects of our destructive behavior. ( )
  GlennBell | Sep 5, 2015 |
As usual, Diamond delivers a thought-provoking book. It was interesting to follow the evolution of our species, as compared with our chimpanzee cousins. I'm not sure of the scientific viability of his "humans as a third species of chimpanzee" hypothesis but it made for an excellent framework with which to shape the narrative.

Much of the early book delved into evolutionary science but the author couldn't help but to slide back into subject matter from previous books (i.e. Guns, Germs, and Steel), with some evolutionary parallels. After reading this book, I was struck with the notion that humans (modern and ancient) are more alike than we often think. Overall, this was a great read; informative and entertaining. ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
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To this day, those who see our species as part of the animal kingdom continue to lock horns with those who see us as separate. While zoologists treat humans as mere animals -- and not even particularly unusual ones given the incredible diversity of life -- many social scientists still place us somewhere between heaven and earth. What is particularly attractive about Jared Diamond's book, "The Third Chimpanzee," is that he tries to strike a balance.
 
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Wie sich der Mensch innerhalb kurzer Zeitvon einer Säugetierart unter vielenzu einem Eroberer der Welt aufschwang ;und wie wir die Fähigkeit erwarben,all jenen Fortschritt über Nacht auszulöschen.
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Dedicated to my sons Max and Joshua, to help them understand where we came from and where we may be heading
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It's obvious that humans are unlike all animals. (Prologue)
The clues about when, why, and in what ways we ceased to be just another species of big mammal come from three types of evidence.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Published in the US as The Third Chimpanzee and in the UK as The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060845503, Paperback)

Jared Diamond states the theme of his book up-front: "How the human species changed, within a short time, from just another species of big mammal to a world conqueror; and how we acquired the capacity to reverse all that progress overnight." The Third Chimpanzee is, in many ways, a prequel to Diamond's prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel. While Guns examines "the fates of human societies," this work surveys the longer sweep of human evolution, from our origin as just another chimpanzee a few million years ago. Diamond writes:

It's obvious that humans are unlike all animals. It's also obvious that we're a species of big mammal down to the minutest details of our anatomy and our molecules. That contradiction is the most fascinating feature of the human species.

The chapters in The Third Chimpanzee on the oddities of human reproductive biology were later expanded in Why Is Sex Fun? Here, they're linked to Diamond's views of human psychology and history.

Diamond is officially a physiologist at UCLA medical school, but he's also one of the best birdwatchers in the world. The current scientific consensus that "primitive" humans created ecological catastrophes in the Pacific islands, Australia, and the New World owes a great deal to his fieldwork and insight. In Diamond's view, the current global ecological crisis isn't due to modern technology per se, but to basic weaknesses in human nature. But, he says, "I'm cautiously optimistic. If we will learn from our past that I have traced, our own future may yet prove brighter than that of the other two chimpanzees." --Mary Ellen Curtin

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:48 -0400)

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A renowned scientist examines the less than two percent of human genes that distinguish us from chimpanzees and that link human behaviors--such as genocide, drug addiction, and the extermination of other species--to our animal predecessors.

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