Jared M. Diamond (born September 10, 1937) is an American author, evolutionary biologist, physiologist, and biogeographer. He is best known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Guns, Germs and Steel (1998), which explores the geographic, cultural, environmental, and technological factors which have led to domination of Western culture in the world and argues for a new kind of history based on science that can make predictions rather than merely describing "one damn fact after another."
Diamond was born in Boston to a physician father and a teacher/musician/linguist mother. After training in laboratory biological science, he became professor of physiology at UCLA Medical School in 1966. While in his twenties, he also developed a second parallel career in the ecology and evolution of New Guinea birds, and he has led numerous trips to explore New Guinea and nearby islands. In his fifties, Diamond gradually developed a third career in environmental history, becoming professor of geography and of environmental health sciences at UCLA, his current position.
Diamond is renowned as the author of a number of popular science works that combine anthropology, biology, linguistics, genetics, and history. While Diamond is a staunch opponent of genetic arguments for racial differences, his early work included a paper entitled "Ethnic differences: Variation in human testis size", in which he investigated correlations between possible racial variations in testicular size and hormone levels and argued that testicular size and hormone levels were highest among African populations and lowest in East Asian, with Caucasian populations falling between the two.
In his most recent book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2004), Diamond examines what caused some of the great civilizations of the past to collapse into ruin and considers what contemporary society can learn from their fates.
Diamond speaks a dozen languages, and his books rely on fields as diverse as molecular biology and archaeology, as well as obscure knowledge about everything from typewriter design to feudal Japan. Because of his broad expertise and the large number of articles credited to him, it has been suggested jokingly by Mark Ridley that "Jared Diamond" is not a single person, but instead "is really a committee".
Diamond is on the editorial board of Skeptic Magazine, a publication of The Skeptics Society.
Diamond is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences.
- Curse and Blessing of the Ghetto (March 1991) Discover, pp.60-65