(1) In the first sentences, the author (a PhD student in history) cannot really hide his irritation that someone with a background in animal physiology has written a popular book about history. I have seen this ad hominem several times about Jared Diamond. Somehow those historians cannot stand that someone with no degree in history has written such a popular book.
(2) "Guns, Germs, and Steel attacked the notion that racial superiority explained Western global pre-eminence, a view taken seriously by almost no one who’s taken seriously"
Actually, what Guns, Germs, and Steel did, was to provide a first comprehensive theory (that I have heard of, anyway) that explains why Europe, and not someone else, rose to dominance. This is the merit. The main merit is not that it, as a side product, discredited the racially based theories.
Failing to understand this difference does not speak highly of the writer of the review.
So the OP asks for high signal to noise ratio. There comes a recommendation, and then I read some good discussion on Reddit on how the book is actually kind of wrong.
This begs the question: What's "high signal to noise" anyways? Someone who has read 10 books on a subject will find barely anything new. One who just starts out might find "gems" on every other page.
And also: If a recommendation here in this "Ask HN" is given and then debunked as mediocre, how sure can one be to actually find a book with high signal to noise without reading the book?
In that sense: Thanks for your comment. In-depth discussions like the one on Reddit is really necessary, because I, as a starter, have no clue how to evaluate a book. Every recommendation should probably come with a lengthy discussion about its accuracy by people who know the subject :)
My emphasis with my comment is to read books, ideas with healthy dose of skepticism, rather than worshipping it as gospel.