The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


EPISODE # 279

Ian Morris on Deep Time and Big History

Geography is Destiny: A 10,000-Year History (book cover)

Shermer and Morris discuss:

  • the history of Big/Deep History
  • the US, UK, Europe and the West in the context of Russia and China and his book Why the West Rules — for Now
  • Russia’s war on Ukraine in the context of his book War: What is it Good For?
  • the future of energy and civilization in the context of his book Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels
  • Is there such a thing as “national character”?
  • How similar and different are people from the US, UK, and Europe?
  • China and the future of energy and political power
  • what Britain was like 8000 years ago
  • the major transitions in British history
  • Nigel Farage and Brexit, and 5 things that matter then and now:

    • Identity (that is, who the British thought they were)
    • Mobility (who was moving into, out of and around the British Isles)
    • Prosperity (how rich the islanders were and how their riches were shared)
    • Security (how safe they were from violence)
    • Sovereignty (who made the rules)
  • Adam Smith and the economic revolution
  • counterfactual history
  • slavery and the abolition of the slave trade
  • Would slavery have ended in the US without the Civil War?
  • the role of ideas in history (civil rights, rule of law, justice, etc.)
  • colonialism and postcolonialism
  • reparations and making right the wrongs of the past
  • immigration and migration in history and today.

Ian Morris is the Jean and Rebecca Willard Professor of Classics and Professor in History at Stanford University and the author of the critically acclaimed Why the West Rules — for Now, as well as The Measure of Civilization: How Social Development Decides the Fate of Nations; Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve; and War! What is it Good For? He has published many scholarly books and has directed excavations in Greece and Italy. His new book is Geography is Destiny: Britain’s Place in the World: A 10,000-Year History.

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This episode was released on June 11, 2022.

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