Re: Prologue: The World Until Yesterday
A friend of mine who worked on a charity project in a remote village in PNG told me he had never met such happy people, and that by comparison Australians are sour, depressed and anxious. Later in the book Diamond describes how small clan societies provide dense social bonds, for example with babies spending literally 98% of the time in physical skin contact with adults, carried by mothers and other adults in the fields, not being allowed to cry, and developing relations of trust with numerous people in the community. One contrast he draws is with Germany, where adults contend that it is good to allow children to cry.
This happiness question is hard to sort out. Bhutan is renowned for promoting Gross National Happiness. It seems there is a positive correlation between wealth and happiness, but it is hard to tell how material happiness stands against the strong sense of social connection and belonging in traditional communities.