Could Yali, the man who's question Diamond claims promulgated the book Guns, Germs, and Steel, simply have been asking Diamond why he and other "white people" travel with so much junk?
What is modernity? For example, was Classical Greece modern or a subsistence-farming society? Were the British Isles prior to 1500, modern or a subsistence-farming society?
Does the human proclivity for war really have anything to do with modernity or not? For example, how does Diamond account for the Peloponnesian War or the wars between the Gaels and Picts and the wars between Scotland and the English?
Did farming have anything to do with the development of cultural or intellectual modernity? What about other kinds of resource aggregation such as fishing or hunting that would also have allowed people leisure time and time for cultural development? There are many examples of societies that did not engage in farming as their primary activity yet had highly developed political and social structures, as well as technology and art. How does Diamond account for this?
Why doesn't Diamond discuss the impact of megafauna extinctions on human culture? It's possible that farming was primarily a response to population increase, climate fluctuations and megafauna extinctions. It is not clear that Neolithic farmers were better off than Palaeolithic Hunters in terms of their overall quality of life. The paintings of the Chauvet Cave indicate a highly developed Palaeolithic culture, yet Jared Diamond followers never discuss this. Why not?
What about the long term impact of industrialization? Can it really be argued that industrialized societies that have leaned heavily on fossil fuels to develop are more advanced that pre-industrial cultures that developed without fossil fuels? In the long term, in terms of survival and in the face of climate change, who really is more "modern"?
Regarding Diamond's recent comments on the treatment of the elderly in pre-industrial societies, can it be said that industrial societies treat their elderly better than the indigenous societies he describes?
It is becoming depressingly common to hear quotes of Diamond as an authoritative expert on all things Palaeolithic, Neolithic, native, anthropological, archaeological, pre-industrial and "modern". While I agree with Diamond on some issues, such as the influence of geography in human development, he is outside his area of expertise on many of the topics he covers. He more often than not does not reference experts in the areas of many of the topics he discusses. Yet, it is still common to hear issues of human prehistory or wealth and development disparity discussed with glib references to Diamond, as if these issues are foregone conclusions requiring no further investigation and no action.