AirTalk for March 11, 2010

How are Haiti and the Dominican Republic so different? Jared Diamond's Natural Experiments of History

Mercer 6832

Harvard University Press

What's a comparative history? Blending the social sciences in the great lab known as nature.

How did a single island, Hispaniola, produce nations as different as Haiti and the Dominican Republic? When scientists test theories, they do lab experiments. But what about situations where a quantifiable experiment is impossible? In Natural Experiments of History, Jared Diamond and his co-editor James A. Robinson look at different theories in the social sciences and discuss methodologies of analysis—all in hot pursuit of answers to basic questions: how and why do societies develop the way they do? And, how can experts draw on strengths of different disciplines to paint a complete picture?


Jared Diamond, co-author of Natural Experiments in History and a Professor of Geography at UCLA. He is also the author of Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

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