Scientist says Western world can learn from traditional societies


Modern society has a lot to learn from traditional cultures, according to guest lecturer Dr. Jared Diamond at a lecture Wednesday night in the Brown-Lupton University Union.

Diamond, an American scientist and author, said modern societies, also referred to as Western societies, are obsessed with low-risk dangers present in society.

These low-risk dangers include terrorist attacks and plane crashes, he said. A number of people are killed in these situations, however humans overestimate situations where they do not have control.

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On the contrary, Diamond said the more dangerous situations are the ones that people in modern societies are able to control.

Diamond listed some of these situations including: consumption of alcohol, smoking and falling in the shower. He said many of these accidents are underestimated.

Diamond provided the crowd with an example, exclaiming that he did “the most dangerous thing today.”

“I took a shower,” he said.

This is daily occurrence for Diamond, as it is for most people.

However, Diamond stressed that slipping in the shower is very common and more likely to happen than being in a plane crash.

Diamond said that traditional societies in New Guinea pay more attention to these low-risk actions within one’s control. Diamond acquired his cautious shield from the New Guinea traditional society.

Avoiding certain dangers is not the only issue Diamond said the Western world can learn from traditional societies.

He added that modern society could learn ways of raising children, how to treat the elderly and conduct a court system from watching traditional societies.

Students and faculty congregated outside of the ballroom to have their books signed by Diamond.

Together they discussed his presentation, and multiple attendees called his lecture interesting and eye-opening.

“It is strange to look at our society in the eyes of traditional society,” said professor Kristi Argenbright of the College of Science and Engineering. 

Diamond is a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. He graduated from Harvard University and Cambridge University.

He is an American scientist, Pulitzer Prize winner and TED speaker, according to Dr. Don Mills of the College of Education.

The event was sponsored by TCU Provost’s Council and multiple colleges at TCU.