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The Brain, Determinism, and Cultural Implications
The Great Simplification #88 with Robert Sapolsky
Today, I'm pleased to welcome someone who has had a great influence on my work and the entire field of neuroscience, the brain, and human behavior. Professor Robert Sapolsky joins me to discuss the structure of the human brain and its implication on behavior and our ability to change. Dr. Sapolsky also unpacks how the innate quality of a biological organism shaped by evolution and the surrounding environment - meaning all animals, including humans - leads him to believe that there is no such thing as free will, at least how we think about it today.
Robert Sapolsky is professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University and a research associate with the Institute of Primate Research at the National Museum of Kenya. Over the past thirty years, he has divided his time between the lab, where he studies how stress hormones can damage the brain, and in East Africa, where he studies the impact of chronic stress on the health of baboons. Sapolsky is author of several books, including Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, A Primate's Memoir, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, and his newest book coming out in October, Determined: Life Without Free Will. He lives with his family in San Francisco.
How do our past and present hormone levels, hunger, stress, and more affect the way we make decisions? What implications does this have in a future headed towards lower energy and resource availability? How can our species manage the mismatch of our evolutionary biology with our modern day challenges - and navigate through a ‘determined’ future?
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In case you missed it…
This past Sunday, we posted Reality Roundtable #4 with marine biologist Daniel Pauly, ocean physicist Antonio Turiel, and paleobiologist Peter Ward join me to discuss the numerous oft-overlooked threats to the Earth’s great oceans. From overfishing and plastic pollution to climate change and acidification, the human system is assaulting one of the most important regulators for our climate and the largest habitat for life - anywhere.
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