Civilized to Death: The Price of Progress

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Civilized to Death: The Price of Progress

Civilized to Death: The Price of Progress

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Ryan also draws a hard line between forager and farmer societies, but fails to analyze the role of herders, who are as nomadic as the foragers, but tend animals. Without understanding what was happening, our ancestors were being domesticated as surely as were their plants and animals. At a time when our ecology, our society, and our own sense of selves feels increasingly imperiled, an accurate understanding of our species' long prelude to civilization is vital to a clear sense of the ultimate value of civilization-and its costs. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.

I don’t believe some governments somewhere ever declared “let’s make people miserable for our own sake”. This, according to him, is the ultimate sign that the only thing we are headed towards, is our own end. And, I think, we are more likely to have new habits or behaviors stick if we make God’s glory the animating purpose of our actions. Bossis believes that psilocybin-assisted therapy could help patients by triggering a cathartic state of enhanced spiritual awareness.

The book overturns the widespread view perpetuated by Thomas Hobbes and Richard Dawkins that the natural state of humanity (and animal life generally) is misery. The list of failed candidates is long and includes things like tool use, cultivation of other species for food, nonreproductive sexual behavior, eye contact during sex, female orgasm, organized group conflict, and transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next. It should have been a red flag when the dust jacket blurbs were drawn from praise for the previous book and none of them from sources with significant credentials in the area of interest. And while prehistoric lives were short, data shows that today’s longevity is a net loss from that period in terms of functional longevity; we are simply expanding the amount of time we spend suffering as we die. The reason why they both bother me so much is that I can’t help feeling that their genetic determinism smells a little too much like eugenics.

Not to mention that children in foraging bands are far less likely to make it to their first birthdays. Nomadism was displaced by a sedentary life allowing for the accumulation of possessions, from goats to wives to children to slaves.Contemporary foraging societies, which represent the same kind of society that was universal until about 10,000 years ago, show us. He's consulted at various hospitals, provided expert testimony in a Canadian constitutional case, and contributed to publications both scholarly and popular. The results are disastrous: patriarchy, war, high-carb diets, cancer, sexual repression, environmental destruction, tooth decay, “rich asshole syndrome,” overprotective parenting, and toilets that thwart humans’ natural squatting posture. In a letter to the king and queen of Spain, he explained: “They are very simple and honest and exceedingly liberal with all they have, none of them refusing anything he may possess when he is asked for it.

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