Evolution and the Challenges of Modern Life Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying 216

Author:

Video Creator’s Channel Jordan B Peterson

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To Recognize That So Much Of Modernity

has been amazing for humanity and has given us the level of comfort and productivity and connection that we have, and that is we do not forget that when we also point out that the amazing rate of change that we ourselves have created is itself deranging us and making it very difficult to understand how to be human and how to remember how to be human Hello everyone I’m pleased today to have some friends of mine on Heather Heing and Brett Weinstein. They’re evolutionary biologists who’ve been invited to address the Us Congress, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education, and they’ve spoken to 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.

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They Resigned From Evergreen In The Wake

of the 2017 campus riots that focused in part on their opposition to a day of racial segregation and another college equity proposal. They co-host weekly live streams of the Dark horse podcast and are both quite well known to many people in my audience. It’s a pleasure to have you guys here today. I just read your new book. I’m very much looking forward to talking about it.

I You Have A Copy Maybe We Could

see it it is a pleasure to be with you Jordan thank you yes thank you great to see you again Jordan and great to be back on your podcast thank you. A hunter-gatherer’s guide to the 21st century. So let’s talk about that I’ve got some questions well first of all maybe we should maybe we should ask why why did you write it what was your purpose well. In the many years that we were teaching at evergreen, we were deploying what we called the evolutionary toolkit, which was a set of concepts that allowed people to understand the nature of biological creatures and the nature of they themselves and many of our students asked us if there was not some way some form in which we could provide them the toolkit so that they could hand it off to people who weren’t in our classes and events have conspired so as to allow us to to write that book and we’ve now done it we’re very excited to finally have the toolkit in the world so there was a broad question that was popping around in my mind. While I was reading this, I mean you you do state in the book that it’s very difficult to derive shoulds so pathways for behavior from scientific facts and scientific data, but in some sense the book is an attempt to what would you say extract out from biological knowledge Certain guidelines for behavior guidelines for thinking and so it looks like it’s in part an attempt to bridge the ought.

The Is Ought Gap To Speak

philosophically and did you did you think about that explicitly when you were writing the book well? It is you know we. We do. We point out that the naturalistic fallacy is something to be avoided exactly as you just alluded to you know we what we know to be true does not necessarily mean that that’s what ought to be true, or what we ought to aspire to, But I think what we what we do consistently in the book and in our teaching and in our lives is try to understand what we’ve been who we are and not just you know what we are evolutionarily from an anatomical and physiological perspective, but from a behavioral perspective and a cultural perspective, and thus make the most meaning that we can from what we’ve been to what we can be yeah well you. talk about human universals? For example, and and you speak about them biologically sets of emotions. We have language the use of shelter the fact that we all live in groups that we imitate that status is part of our.

What Would You Say Psychological Concern

existential concern the division of labor, artistic production and and so and so you know you could you could think in some sense that if that’s what human beings have always done that there’s some and and that’s what we are in some sense that there’s some utility and having some respect for that and that seems to be at least a tentative bridge between the is ought chasm um for what it’s worth. I don’t think there’s really any conflict between what we’ve tried to do here and the obvious difficulty of extracting extracting an offerman is the fact is we have values. Ultimately, they may not be defensible from a scientific perspective. In fact, if you take it to an extreme it’s difficult to establish a reason that existing is better than not existing. In some sense that’s a subjective preference, and it’s one that it’s not surprising we all share because we are the descendants of many creatures who have preferred it, but in an absolute sense, it may not be defensible.

So What We Do In The Book Is

we inform the question of what ought to be with a scientific understanding and we believe that any credible ought needs to be informed in this way at least in modern times, and where we arrive is at the conclusion that we cannot in fact go back. There is no place for us to return to that would be sensible from the point of view of modern people and we cannot. Go forward in a chaotic way. We have to recognize that there are many things about what we were that need to be preserved and updated. There are other things that need to be jettisoned, and that it is that renegotiation of our relationship with each other and with the planet that is the um the focus of where we must go and you talk at the beginning about the new landscape that sits in front of us and you also discuss that in relationship to the human niche and so one of the issues you confront very early in the book is this notion of hyper novelty and I mean I I I’ve been very ill for a long time and so I’ve sort of woken back up and I have all this new electronic stuff around me that I don’t know how to use and it’s it can.

Do So Much And It But Its Very

very hard to figure out how to make it work and I know perfectly well that that problem is not going away like it’s going to be twice as bad in a year and twice as bad again a year after that and so what what’s this idea of hyper novelty in more detail well at one level and I’ll let Brett finish continuing on after I answer but at one level. The book is an invitation to consider trade-offs in all things to recognize that so much of modernity has been amazing for humanity and has given us the level of comfort and productivity and connection that we have and that is we do not forget that when we also point out that the amazing rate of change that we ourselves have created is itself deranging us and making it very. to understand how to be human and how to remember how to be human? So I would add that the the fact of novel technology of course exists in obvious forms in the types of devices that you’re referring to, but it also fits well with many other things. Novel molecules that we encounter novel ways of socially interacting and the problem is that although we are the most flexible creature that selection has ever produced. Our level of flexibility is not up to a rate of change where we literally do not mature into the same world in which we were born.

By The Time We Become Adults.

We live in some different context and what this means at an intuitive level is that we do not know what to do our intuitions are badly tuned for the kinds of things that we encounter and this is made particularly. bad in the context of markets where our our intuitions can be hijacked to get us to engage in behavior that benefits the people producing the content, but at some cost to us, so we have to become aware of this hazard and we have to learn to apply the breaks to it. It’s not that progress is bad progress is often tremendous, but it almost always comes with important unintended consequences and being aware of them. Is an important feature right right.

So So Thats A Permanent Part

in some sense of the proper political debate right and so you think we face a horizon of of genuinely and truly unpredictable change. No one knows what’s going to happen in the next 10 years. At all and so the cons the liberal types who think more would you say loosely and in with more associations more creatively they’re going. to produce solutions hypothetically to those unpredictable problems, But the conservative types are always saying yeah, but be careful guys because your damn solutions might be worse than the problem and so and you can never say that one side of that argument has the floor properly you never know because it really is unpredictable and so if that debate between the liberals and the conservatives isn’t allowed to exist in an untrembled manner. We actually interfere with our fundamental problem-solving what would you problem-solving ability both individually and collectively, and when you talked about our our niche being niche switching you know that we and that’s I mean part of the reason that I thought that the hero’s story in some sense is at the top of the value hierarchy is because the hero story is about niche switching.

Its About The Transformation Of Viewpoints

and so well what. Viewpoints be subject to the transformation of viewpoints when necessary it’s something like that and I thought that dovetailed with this idea of niche switching being one of human beings prime. So maybe, you could explain that niche switching idea and the niche idea too because lots of people don’t know what that is yeah well so in in ecology, the idea of a niche is that part of the environment to which an organism is best adapted and most organisms have a relatively narrow set of environmental conditions which includes both the plants around them. The soil. The you know the the climate and the weather.

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All Of These Things The Geology To Which

they are best able to exist and as they extend towards the borders of that of that niche they do less and less well, and there’s some area outside of it that they don’t do. well and humans, of course, as is widely understood, have managed to excel in on every continent of the planet that has plants right you know we we have explored everything successfully and so we argue in the book that while it is well understood in ecology and evolution that every organism has a niche. The human niche is in fact niche switching that is what we do that we are able to move from you know hunting marine mammals on the coast inland to hunting salmon inland. Further to hunting large large terrestrial mammals and that’s just an example from a pre-industrial pre-agricultural moment right. We can

Summary

Heather Heing and Brett Weinstein are evolutionary biologists who’ve been invited to address Congress, Department of Justice and Department of Education . They both earned phDs in Biology from the University of Michigan . 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 the 2017 campus riots that focused in part on their opposition to a day of racial segregation and another college equity proposal . They co-host weekly live streams of the Dark horse podcast and are both quite well known to many people in my audience . I just read your new book. A hunter-gatherer’s guide to the 21st century.& I’m very much looking forward to talking about it. It is a pleasure to be with you Jordan thank you yes thank you for a copy of the book. I have a copy maybe we could see it it is a friend of yours. I hope you can see it here today. It’s a…. Click here to read more and watch the full video