A bold, provocative history of our species finds the roots of civilization’s success and failure in our evolutionary biology.
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. Traditional gender roles once served a necessary evolutionary purpose, but today we dismiss them as regressive. The cognitive dissonance spawned by trying to live in a society we're not built for is killing us.
In this book, Heying and Weinstein cut through the politically fraught discourse surrounding issues like sex, gender, diet, parenting, sleep, education, and more to outline a provocative, 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 straight forward principles and guidance for confronting our culture of hyper-novelty.
Look to the evolutionary past to understand latter-day social discontents, argues this ambitious pop-sci manifesto. Husband-and-wife evolutionary biologists and Darkhorse podcast cohosts Weinstein and Heying (Antipode) contend that today's "hyper-novel" innovations clash with human predilections that evolved long ago: casual hookups chafe against women's innate preference for committed relationships, ubiquitous junk food overwhelms the brain's hardwired urge to gorge on once-scarce sugar, and kids shielded from normal adversity by helicopter parents and schools become adults who can't handle reality. The authors offer lessons on how to accommodate one's evolved natures, from the anodyne "Be barefoot as often as possible" to the controversial: they frown on transgender affirmation treatments for children, writing that "much of modern gender ideology' is dangerous and contagious, and many of the interventions (hormonal, surgical) are not reversible." The discussion of evolutionary theory is insightful, but not always germane; they encourage readers to "avoid GMOs," for example, solely on vague claims that GMOs "are creating a new playing field" unfamiliar to evolution. Unfortunately, the sometimes sketchy arguments end up outweighing substantive rationale. Readers are likely to be left wanting. Agent: Howard Yoon, Ross Yoon Agency.