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A series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

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EPISODE # 209

Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein on evolution and the challenges of modern life, based on their new book A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century

A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century (book cover)

We are living through the most prosperous age in all of human history, yet people are more listless, divided and miserable than ever. Wealth and comfort are unparalleled, and yet our political landscape grows ever more toxic, and rates of suicide, loneliness, and chronic illness continue to skyrocket. How do we explain the gap between these two truths? What’s more, what can we do to close it?

For evolutionary biologists Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein, the cause of our woes is clear: the modern world is out of sync with our ancient brains and bodies. We evolved to live in clans, but today most people don’t even know their neighbors’ names. Survival in our earliest societies depended on leveraging the advantages of our sex differences, but today even the concept of biological sex is increasingly dismissed as offensive. The cognitive dissonance spawned by trying to live in a society we’re not built for is killing us.

Heying and Weinstein cut through the politically fraught discourse surrounding issues like sex, gender, diet, parenting, sleep, education, and more to outline a science-based worldview that will empower you to live a better, wiser life. They distill more than 20 years of research and first-hand accounts from the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth into straightforward principles and guidance for confronting our culture of hyper-novelty.

Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein are evolutionary biologists who have been invited to address the US Congress, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Education, and have spoken before audiences across the globe. They both earned PhDs in Biology from the University of Michigan, where their research on evolution and adaptation earned awards for its quality and innovation. They have been visiting fellows at Princeton University, and before that were professors at the Evergreen State College for 15 years. They resigned from Evergreen in the wake of 2017 campus riots that focused in part on their opposition to a day of racial segregation and other college “equity” proposals. They cohost weekly livestreams of the DarkHorse podcast.

Shermer and Heying and Weinstein discuss:

  • Darwin’s Dictum: “How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observations must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service.”
  • proximate vs. ultimate causal explanations of human mind and behavior,
  • Why is evolutionary psychology still politically charged?
  • How do evolutionary psychology researchers test hypotheses?
  • human nature/nurture,
  • ape culture, mating behavior, social organization,
  • archaeological evidence for the EEA,
  • the evolution of sex differences: physical and psychological,
  • sex differences in mating cognition and behavior,
  • mother-infant bonding and attachment,
  • gender division of labor,
  • marriage, monogamy, polygamy,
  • medicine, food, sleep,
  • sex and gender,
  • parenthood and relationships,
  • childhood, school, becoming adults,
  • culture and consciousness.

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This episode is sponsored by Wondrium :

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