A rebuff to Romney’s remarks on “cultural differences”

While in Israel earlier this week, Mitt Romney stated to considerable controversy that the great disparity in income between Israelis and Palestinians was attributable to “cultural differences.” As books that informed his opinion on this he cited “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations” by David S. Landes and “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond.

Mr. Diamond took to the Op-Ed page of the New York Times today to dispute Mr. Romney’s interpretation of his book, writing

It is not true that my book “Guns, Germs and Steel,” as Mr. Romney described it in a speech in Jerusalem, “basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth.” That is so different from what my book actually says that I have to doubt whether Mr. Romney read it.

Diamond goes on to explain the theory of economic development he was espousing in his book. If you haven’t read the book, check out today’s article which presents a concise summary of the book and also serves as a pretty good reminder that the world is a complex place that defies simple explanation.

One Response to A rebuff to Romney’s remarks on “cultural differences”

  1. C R Krieger says:

    Wait, I thought the factor was geometric.  Nations longer than they are taller do better than nations taller than they are wider, or so someone asserted a couple of weeks ago.

    Given the OpEd, I wonder how we understand Switzerland?  And all those people painting themselves blue and living in what is now Great Britain, who were well behind all those people in Eurasia—read the Med for the Eur part.

    There are indeed “cultural” questions to be asked, like the number of book translations each year in the Arab world.

    This is a hard topic, not easily covered in a speech or an OpEd.

    Regards  —  Cliff