Rise & Fall of the Third Chimpanzee

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I’ve recently finished a book by Jared Diamond titled The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee. It’s quite a dated book now, first being published in 1991, however the content is still relevant today and it definitely makes for an interesting read.

I think the biggest aspect about the book which I found striking was the breadth of scope. Diamond attacks a wide variety of topics of human behaviour from sexuality and drug abuse to language evolution and genocide. The main argument in each of these areas is that many of our behaviours are based on animalistic pre-cursors. Things like men driving fast sports cars or women wearing fancy jewellery are much in the vein of a peacock with his beautiful tail feathers, costly but beneficial for attracting potential mates. Is dancing the night away in town really that different to the the displays of Japanese cranes?

Much like the discovery that the Earth wasn’t the centre of the universe, or that humans had evolved from ape-like ancestors; this book casts doubt on the much supposed divide between humans and the natural world.

The book really does jump around but everything covered makes for interesting reading. The book ends by looking at our capability of reversing all our progress either instantly, through nuclear warfare, or gradually, through environmental degradation. It leaves us with acknowledging that we do have it within our power to address these issues and a question of whether we actually will.

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