Civilized to Death: Are We Really Making Progress?

Dec. 6, 2019

Christopher Ryan, PhD. is an author, speaker, and podcast host, as well as an excellent storyteller. With his New York Times best-selling book, Sex at Dawn, he became known for challenging the standard cultural narratives around sex and social organization. His new book, Civilized to Death, questions whether civilization has been a net benefit to our species. On his podcast Tangentially Speaking, Chris welcomes a mix of unconventional guests including famous comics, bank robbers, drug smugglers, porn stars, and rattlesnake experts.

In this interview, Chris offers a challenging perspective on how humans have strayed from egalitarian tribal living, instead adopting customs that don’t match our biological drives and social needs. He focuses on the disruptive role of agriculture in human history, marking that as the period during which we veered off course. Chris also shares humorous and touching stories from interviews and travels in his van, Scarlett Jovansson.

Here’s the outline of this interview with Christopher Ryan:

[00:00:17] Tangentially Speaking podcast: Interview with Bruce Parry.

[00:00:49] Film from Bruce Parry: Tawai: A Voice from the Forest.

[00:01:01] Podcasts with Stephanie Welch: Disruptive Anthropology: An Ancestral Health Perspective on Barefooting and Male Circumcision and The Need for Tribal Living in a Modern World

[00:02:50] Book: The Red Queen by Matt Ridley.

[00:03:03] Book: Civilized to Death: The Price of Progress, by Christopher Ryan.

[00:04:50] Spain to lead the world in life expectancy. Study: Foreman, Kyle J., et al. "Forecasting life expectancy, years of life lost, and all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 250 causes of death: reference and alternative scenarios for 2016–40 for 195 countries and territories." The Lancet 392.10159 (2018): 2052-2090.

[00:11:37] Show: Tribe, hosted by Bruce Parry.

[00:11:52] Film: Cannibals and Crampons, with Bruce Parry and Mark Anstice.

[00:14:26] Book: Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What it Means for Modern Relationships, by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá.

[00:18:28] Sarah Hrdy, author of books on alloparenting.

[00:20:37] Article: Sex at Dusk by David Barash.

[00:23:30] Agriculture as the catalyst for a profound revolution in the way human beings organize themselves.

[00:27:27] Book: Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States, by James C. Scott.

[00:29:08] Thomas Malthus and Thomas Hobbes.

[00:44:17] Anthropologist Nurit Bird-David.

[00:46:43] Critics of Chris’s position on cultural evolution: Matt Ridley, Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, David Buss, Helen Fisher.

[00:55:39] Book: Opening Up: A Guide To Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, by Tristan Taormino.

[00:58:09] Dan Savage.

[01:02:50] Book: The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge, by Matt Ridley.

[01:07:28] Book: The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion, by Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson.

[01:09:59] Think globally, act locally.

[01:18:14] Kenneth Ford, Director of the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC); Podcast: Optimal Diet and Movement for Healthspan, Amplified Intelligence and More with Ken Ford

[01:22:35] Tangentially Speaking podcast. Get a T-shirt.

[01:27:03] Podcast with the woman who took ayahuasca: Mandy.

[01:30:27] Podcast with rattlesnake expert: John Porter.

[01:30:46] Jeff Leach.

[01:37:19] See more of Chris at his website and his TED talk.

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