The Big Chew Podcast
About This Show
Can we change our culture by changing our story? Yup. Stories tell us what matters. Meanwhile, even secular people are still living a story created back when people thought the Earth was flat—by religions Westerners are leaving. That story says a god made us superior to all other creatures and our real home is "up there" in the sky—not here on Earth. When that old origin story combined with the Cartesian one, that the universe was a big machine—well, now we're talking stupid. And that's what we're living now.
On the Big Chew, host Maria Theresa Stadtmueller and her guests take apart our culture's stories and look for ones without the stupid. What if Earth actually shows us how to live? What does science tell us? What does spirit tell us? Grab a bite, and let's masticate!
Most Recent Episode
Change of Life: How Lynn Margulis Revolutionized Evolution
Biologist Lynn Margulis gave us a new way to look at life—and perhaps, a new way to live it. She showed life doesn't evolve just through random DNA mistakes and competition. Instead, interdependence is the key. Cells are the baseline—not "selfish" genes. Loops and new relationships replace linear branches of life. Nothing is an individual: everything is a community. Every living thing is conscious of its surroundings.
Evolution geographer James MacAllister was Lynn Margulis's graduate student, friend, swimming buddy, and assistant for 10 years, until her sudden death in 2011. He created animations of many of her discoveries, was her teaching assistant, and continues to digitize and represent her research.
I met Jim at his home in Amherst, Massachusetts, where we talked about:
-Old-school evolution thinking based on random DNA mistakes and competition (aka the Modern Synthesis or neo-Darwinism. Richard Dawkins, a neo-Darwinist, who often sparred with Lynn Margulis, once called her "Attila the Hen.")
-Lynn's radically different work on how life evolves (aka symbiosis, biological relativity, systems biology)
-How the Modern Synthesis doesn't do justice to the microbiome
-How DNA is like a bundt pan
-How Lynn and James Lovelock collaborated on Gaia Theory
-How this view of evolution could change our outlook on how to live
Keep an eye out for this new film, Symbiotic Earth: How Lynn Margulis Rocked the Boat and Started a Scientific Revolution. You can watch the trailer at http://hummingbirdfilms.com/symbioticearth/
Jim MacAllister's Environmental Evolution newsletter http://www.envevo.org/environmentalevolution.org/Home.html
Music in this episode is "Always Be" by the Colin L. Orchestra, from Live at WNYU, used via a Creative Commons license.