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The point is not lost, but the author does attribute it to a specific culture:

>"I first became aware of the New Guineans’ attitude toward risk on a trip into a forest..."

>"I now think of New Guineans’ hypervigilant attitude..."

>"Traditional New Guineans have to think clearly about dangers....In contrast, Americans’ thinking about dangers is confused."

The truth is it's a common, learned attitude of anyone who spends a lot of time sporting in the outdoors - no matter where you live. The author himself points out the American/European pilot and raft guide, for example.

None of those statements imply that it is unique to the New Guinea culture though.

It's just another example of the "magical natives, so in tune with the natural world" bullshit myth.

No it's simply an example of people who live in a particular environment being well aware of the risks associated with it.

For example, before I worked in the Peruvian rain forest I would not have guessed that being hit by a brazil nut was one of the commonest reasons for accidental fatalities in the forest.

Good grief, do you have to wear a helmet any time you're in the forest?

No, but the rule of thumb was never to go into the forest when there was a storm with decent winds.

Or maybe it's just where the author happened to learn this. He could have cited the boy scouts if he'd learned it there.

I was about to respond to the GP with "Jared Diamond uses New Guineans in many of his examples because he spends an extraordinary amount of time with them. He's not trying to say they are unique."

But you're right, he's a native fetishist.

I read it as an example of natural selection. The natives who attune themselves to a particular risk, are much less like to die, and more likely to pass along, this particular idea.

Or.. humans in general have evolved the ability to gauge risk and modify their behavior accordingly, long before any humans stepped foot in Papua New Guinea. That this particular culture is more vigilant than others (if in fact that's the case, which I highly doubt) has nothing to do with natural selection. It has to do with culture.

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