Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization
Ten thousand years ago, our species made a radical shift in its way of life: We became farmers rather than hunter-gatherers. Although this decision propelled us into the modern world, renowned geneticist and anthropologist Spencer Wells demonstrates that such a dramatic change in lifestyle had a downside that we’re only now beginning to recognize. Growing grain crops ultim...more
In a 2006 interview with Conservation Biology, geneticist, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, and head of NatGeo’s Genographic Project, Spencer Wells said that in various ways people today
are mismatched with the culture we’ve created in the last 10,000 years. And where are we going in the future?When asked what he meant by “mismatched,” Wells replied
I mean things like the obesity epidemic, increasing diabetes, children on Ritalin, high levels of sui...more
As with the power of genetically modifying our offspring and, before that, domesticating plants and animals during the Neolithic period, we have set in motion transgenerational forces whose ultimate effects we simply cannot predict. Although much of the debate around global warming centres on models and predict ...more
According to Wells, we traded longer, healthier lives in greater balance with nature (though not perfection) with less or almost no warfare as hunter-gatherers, for certainty as agriculturalists. The cause for this swap appears to have been climatic, with the help of six thousand feet of mountain top blown off as initiator of volcanic winter and its after effects. Nearly exterminated as a species, we tumbled to a mindboggling bottom of perhaps 2000 humans between us a ...more
After reading Wells’ The Journey of Man and loving it, I couldn’t wait to dig into Pandora’s Seed, which promised to illuminate how “advanced” the hunter-gatherer societies were and what modern man can learn from these times for sustainability. Where there were a plethora of interesting ideas and facts, I must admit the book never grabbed me for a couple of reasons.
As I said, there are fascinating ideas and much to learn from this book for sure. Who wouldn’t be inte ...more
The key idea upon which the rest of the book is predicated, is that the development of an agricultural, sedentary based li ...more
Wells gives us a gentetic ...more
he has a really good idea. how has the genetics of human beings, shaped by nearly 200K years of evolution as a small group hunter-gatherer been changed by the neolithic revolution (growing plants and raising animals) of about 10k years? he looks at hypertension, obesity, diabetes then animal viruses, then religion.
the problem is unity around a big them ...more
It turns out I didn't really have a knack for piecing together the story of human history based on the items our predecessors left behind though. Our professor would draw a picture of a dwelling on a whiteboard, pointing out different ...more
Spencer Wells explains what happened, how we (humans) transformed from a simple and perhaps content with the basics people who needed and wanted only to survive and thrive, not to acquire unnecessary possessions and the inherit oppressive workweek that comes along our new found "freedoms". He illustrates how we went from a loosely organized civil structure requiri ...more
Spence Wells offers very interesting theories which seem credible. At the end however, he doesn't offer any solution to all our problems. Rather the book is about WHY these problems exist at all. Good book. 5 stars.
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