144. Agustín Fuentes — Why We Believe: Evolution and the Human Way of Being
Play • 1 hr 40 min

Why are so many humans religious? Why do we daydream, imagine, and hope? Philosophers, theologians, social scientists, and historians have offered explanations for centuries, but their accounts often ignore or even avoid human evolution. Evolutionary scientists answer with proposals for why ritual, religion, and faith make sense as adaptations to past challenges or as by-products of our hyper-complex cognitive capacities. But what if the focus on religion is too narrow? Renowned anthropologist Agustín Fuentes argues that the capacity to be religious is actually a small part of a larger and deeper human capacity to believe. Why believe in religion, economies, love? Fuentes employs evolutionary, neurobiological, and anthropological evidence to argue that belief — the ability to commit passionately and wholeheartedly to an idea — is central to the human way of being in the world.

The premise of the book is that believing is our ability to draw on our range of cognitive and social resources, our histories and experiences, and combine them with our imagination. It is the power to think beyond what is here and now in order to see and feel and know something — an idea, a vision, a necessity, a possibility, a truth — that is not immediately present to the senses, and then to invest, wholly and authentically, in that “something” so that it becomes one’s reality. The point is that beliefs and belief systems permeate human neurobiologies, bodies, and ecologies, and structure and shape our daily lives, our societies, and the world around us. We are human, therefore we believe, and this book tells us how we came to be that way.

Shermer and Fuentes also discuss:

  • what it means to “believe” something (belief in evolution or the Big Bang is different from belief in progressive taxes or affirmative action),
  • evolution and how beliefs are formed…and why,
  • evolution of awe, wonder, aesthetic sense, beauty, art, music, dance, etc. (adaptation or exaptation/spandrel?),
  • evolution of spirituality, religion, belief in immortality,
  • Were Neanderthals human in the “belief” sense?
  • human niche and the evolution of symbolism/language,
  • evolution of theory of mind,
  • how to infer symbolic meaning from archaeological artifacts,
  • components of belief: augmented cognition and neurobiology, intentionality, imagination, innovation, compassion and intensive reliance on others, meaning-making,
  • dog domestication and human self-domestication,
  • Göbekli Tepe and the underestimation of ancient peoples’ cognitive capacities,
  • the development of property, accumulation of goods, inequality, and social hierarchy,
  • gender role specialization,
  • monogamy and polyamory, gender and sex, and continuum vs. binary thinking,
  • violence and warfare,
  • political and economic systems of belief, and
  • love as belief.

Agustín Fuentes is a Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University. He is an active public scientist, a well-known blogger, lecturer, tweeter, and an explorer for National Geographic. Fuentes received the Inaugural Communication & Outreach Award from the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, the President’s Award from the American Anthropological Association, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Future of Life
The Future of Life
Future of Life Institute
Max Tegmark and the FLI Team on 2020 and Existential Risk Reduction in the New Year
Max Tegmark and members of the FLI core team come together to discuss favorite projects from 2020, what we've learned from the past year, and what we think is needed for existential risk reduction in 2021. Topics discussed in this episode include: -FLI's perspectives on 2020 and hopes for 2021 -What our favorite projects from 2020 were -The biggest lessons we've learned from 2020 -What we see as crucial and needed in 2021 to ensure and make -improvements towards existential safety You can find the page for this podcast here: https://futureoflife.org/2021/01/08/max-tegmark-and-the-fli-team-on-2020-and-existential-risk-reduction-in-the-new-year/ Timestamps:  0:00 Intro 00:52 First question: What was your favorite project from 2020? 1:03 Max Tegmark on the Future of Life Award 4:15 Anthony Aguirre on AI Loyalty 9:18 David Nicholson on the Future of Life Award 12:23 Emilia Javorksy on being a co-champion for the UN Secretary-General's effort on digital cooperation 14:03 Jared Brown on developing comments on the European Union's White Paper on AI through community collaboration 16:40 Tucker Davey on editing the biography of Victor Zhdanov 19:49 Lucas Perry on the podcast and Pindex video 23:17 Second question: What lessons do you take away from 2020? 23:26 Max Tegmark on human fragility and vulnerability 25:14 Max Tegmark on learning from history 26:47 Max Tegmark on the growing threats of AI 29:45 Anthony Aguirre on the inability of present-day institutions to deal with large unexpected problems 33:00 David Nicholson on the need for self-reflection on the use and development of technology 38:05 Emilia Javorsky on the global community coming to awareness about tail risks 39:48 Jared Brown on our vulnerability to low probability, high impact events and the importance of adaptability and policy engagement 41:43 Tucker Davey on taking existential risks more seriously and ethics-washing 43:57 Lucas Perry on the fragility of human systems 45:40 Third question: What is needed in 2021 to make progress on existential risk mitigation 45:50 Max Tegmark on holding Big Tech accountable, repairing geopolitics, and fighting the myth of the technological zero-sum game 49:58 Anthony Aguirre on the importance of spreading understanding of expected value reasoning and fixing the information crisis 53:41 David Nicholson on the need to reflect on our values and relationship with technology 54:35 Emilia Javorksy on the importance of returning to multilateralism and global dialogue 56:00 Jared Brown on the need for robust government engagement 57:30 Lucas Perry on the need for creating institutions for existential risk mitigation and global cooperation 1:00:10 Outro This podcast is possible because of the support of listeners like you. If you found this conversation to be meaningful or valuable, consider supporting it directly by donating at futureoflife.org/donate. Contributions like yours make these conversations possible.
1 hr 1 min
Bret Weinstein | DarkHorse Podcast
Bret Weinstein | DarkHorse Podcast
Bret Weinstein & Heather Heying
#62: Tyranny Comes at you Fast (Bret Weinstein & Heather Heying DarkHorse Livestream)
In this 62nd in a series of live discussions with Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying (both PhDs in Biology), we discuss the state of the world through an evolutionary lens. In this episode, we discuss the value of gratitude, always but especially now. We pivot to the lab leak hypothesis, and what its discussion in the mainstream media means for the ability of society at large to consider what might be true regarding the origins of SARS-CoV2. We discuss what happened in the Capitol on January 6, and and the ensuing censorship and purges by the big tech platforms. We see the boot coming down hard and fast, with calls from U.S. Representatives to refocus our concern on events and enemies within our own borders. Finally, a reading from Thich Nhat Hanh’s 2012 book, Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm.  DarkHorse merchandise now available at: store.darkhorsepodcast.org  Find more from us on Bret’s website (https://bretweinstein.net) or Heather’s website (http://heatherheying.com).  Become a member of the DarkHorse LiveStreams, and get access to an additional Q&A livestream every month. Join at Heather's Patreon.  Like this content? Subscribe to the channel, like this video, follow us on twitter (@BretWeinstein, @HeatherEHeying), and consider helping us out by contributing to either of our Patreons or Bret’s Paypal.  Looking for clips from #DarkHorseLivestreams? Here are some, updated frequently: @DarkHorse Podcast Clips  Theme Music: Thank you to Martin Molin of Wintergatan for providing us the rights to use their excellent music.  Q&A Link: https://youtu.be/CS3w9zOGvmw  Mentioned in this episode:  Baker 2020. The Lab Leak Hypothesis. Published in New York Magazine: https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/coronavirus-lab-escape-theory.html  Klotz & Sylvester 2012. The unacceptable risks of a man-made pandemic. Published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: https://thebulletin.org/2012/08/the-unacceptable-risks-of-a-man-made-pandemic/  Op-ed by Aaron Zubia in the Wall Street Journal, The Founders’ Guide to ‘Knock Down, Drag Out’ Fighting: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-founders-guide-to-knock-down-drag-out-fighting 11610133634?st=xwxxiioo6trfkag&reflink=article_email_share  Johnstone 2020. The Boot Is Coming Down Hard And Fast. Published in Medium: https://caityjohnstone.medium.com/the-boot-is-coming-down-hard-and-fast-5e05befc156a  Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/bretweinstein)
1 hr 42 min
History on Fire
History on Fire
Daniele Bolelli
EPISODE 67 Ripples of History
“If I knew the way, I would take you home.”  From the song Ripple by the Grateful Dead  “The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.” Bertrand Russell  “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Michael Jordan  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Tao Te Ching  In most fields, we are taught that people in your same profession are your competitors, and you need to do whatever you can to prevent them from rising above you. In podcasting I found the opposite attitude—people helping each other out and doing whatever possible to facilitate things for other podcasters in the same field. In this spirit, today we’ll do something unique: six history podcasters cooperating, with each one tackling a segment, to create a super-episode together. As the host, yours truly will get the ball rolling setting the theme and offering some examples of ‘historical ripples’—events that end up having unforeseen consequences years, or decades, or centuries after they take place. Alexander Rader Von Sternberg (History Impossible) will chat about how a man who died feeling like he had failed to make his mark in history ended up—possibly more than any other—shaping the culture of several Asian civilizations. CJ Killmer (Dangerous History) will tackle the Bacon’s Rebellion and its ramifications. Sebastian Major (Our Fake History) will play with the myth and lasting impact of Homer’s telling of the Trojan War. Sam Davis (Inward Empire) will be discussing the impact of Henry David Thoreau’s essay Civil Disobedience on the Civil Rights Movement about a century later. And Darryl Cooper (Martyrmade) will make a case for the Japanese origin for suicide bombings in the Middle East.
2 hr 55 min
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