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The History of Being Human
34 minutes | Jul 20, 2021
HBH 26: Mother and Infant Down the Rocks
We continue our series on the Inquisition with the campaigns to suppress the Waldensians. These "Poor Men (and Women!) of Lyon" were known for their sandals and their beards; but mostly for their Christian piety, humility, and charity. So of course they had to die. And die they did, in the tens, hundreds, and thousands.
48 minutes | Jun 29, 2021
HBH 25: Kill Them All and God Will Know His Own
In this episode we begin a full immersion experience into that most infamous of offices, The Inqusition. From the forces at play in the persecution society where it began, through a few early burnings, to the papal bull that started it all, we refuse to shrink from staring it in all its repressive sanctimony. We also cover some of the early heretical movements and groups that caught the -- very unwanted -- attention of the ecclesiastical inquisition. Finally, the Albigensian Crusade gets off to a brutal and sadistic start, as the Pope calls another crusade, this time against the Cathars -- in what historians call the first ideological genocide in history. Artwork by Ian Armstrong
34 minutes | Jun 14, 2021
HBH 24: Polarization and Conspiracy Thinking
In this episode Steve Rathje, social psychologist specializing in social media and political polarization, explains to us why we are prone to conspiratorial thinking, and how we got into the state we find ourselves in Western societies. Virality, engagement, fake news, motivated reasoning, negativity bias, and much more are covered the way only Steve can explain them. A long overdue episode 24 of HBH. But hey, it's summer, and we can finally travel, so it's better late than never.
38 minutes | May 18, 2021
HBH 23: Jan Bremer on Human Sacrifice
In this episode I speak to Professor Jan Bremer about human sacrifice. We touch on Greek, Roman, Maya, Indian, Aztec, Druid, Egyptian, Chinese, and other instantiations of this most intentionally terrifying of all practices. Who were the victims? How common was it? What motivated it? The answers, from Prof. Bremer, were suprising. I will not say he is a human sacrifice skeptic, but he believes it was less common and less costly than sensationalized accounts would lead us to believe. Art by Ian Armstrong Music Icy Vindur by A. Himitsu
47 minutes | Apr 25, 2021
HBH 22: Fallacies, Biases, and Warped Reality
Conclusion (at last) of a three-part episode on the ways our perceptions and processing distort reality. For the stalwart (and patient) seekers of knowledge only. 0:00 Groupthink 6:13 Halo Effect 10:41 Just World Fallacy 17:21 Negativity Bias 22:16 Optimism and Pessimism Bias 27:19 Reactance 31:44 Self-Serving Bias 34:41 Sunk Cost Fallacy 39:40 The Spotlight Effect 40:51 The Dunning-Krueger Effect as you never knew it Art: Ian Armstrong
46 minutes | Apr 17, 2021
HBH 21: Our Distorted Reality
Today I begin a pedantic journey into the tragicomic ways our perceptions and judgments are altered and distorted by our own cognitive processes -- goofy, heartbreaking, and humorous all at once, Index of topics included: 0:00 Intro 04:52 Anchoring Bias 08:59 Availability Heuristic 13:25 Backfire Effect 16:05 Barnum Effect 19:45 Belief Bias 23:06 Bystander Effect 27:22 Confirmation Bias and Belief Perseverance Including Wm. Flinders-Petrie vs the Pyramidologists 33:56 Curse of Knowledge 35:10 Declinism aka Old Fartism 36:49 Framing Effects 40:06 Fundamental Attribution Error (Salience of the Actor) Empty Boats I will finish the topic in a few weeks, but in order to not bore you to death with this laundry list, I will interject a few historical vignettes between now and then.
51 minutes | Apr 4, 2021
HBH 20: Conspiracy Theories and Cognitive Glitches
In which we continue to Dumbest things in history series by looking at some of the glitches in us that make them possible. And also that they are not the result of our lizard brain, because we don't have one. In this episode, we cover conspiracy thinking and theories and the apophenia that makes them possible, including pareidolia, the gambler's fallacy, motivated reasoning, and of course our ability to talk ourselves into things through repetition.
47 minutes | Mar 19, 2021
HBH 19: Rasputin and the Romanovs
A bad decision for the ages--welcoming a pretentious narcissistic ignoramus into your family to weaken your already precarious hold on power, ignoring all warnings and thumbing your nose at the public outrage it engendered. And worse, taking said lecher's advice on all matters, sacred and secular, because he claimed it came from God himself. It sounds like a path to disaster, as indeed it was. In this episode we uncover what can be known about the life and strange death of Grigori Yefimovich Novykh, aka Rasputin, the so-called Mad Monk of Siberia and his tragic relationship to Tsar Nicolas II and his family. Cover Art by Ian Armstrong
35 minutes | Feb 11, 2021
HBH 18: Vera Tiesler on Mayan Human Sacrifice
This is a release of an interview I did a year and a half ago, but have not released due to some technical -- and technique -- difficulties. Despite that, I have always wanted to clean it up as much as possible and release it, in large part because Dr. Tiesler is a world renowned expert on the topic and was very generous to grant the interview.
39 minutes | Dec 7, 2020
HBH 17: Human Glitches, Part 1
We have a lot going for us, which is why we are currently a very successful species. But we have a lot of problems, defects, deficiencies, dysteleology, and outright glitches in our systems. This episode, the first in a two part series on our glitches, catalogues some of the maladaptive elements that make us who we are. This episode: anatomical, physiological, and genetic human defects. HBH 18: Mental glitches that allow us to make very stupid decisions, thought distortions and cognitive biases.
72 minutes | Nov 23, 2020
HBH 16: The All-Time Dumbest Thing Ever
There are countless stupid events, decisions, policies, and people in history, so it was a great surprise to see how easy it was to decide on the dumbest thing ever. It was, to put it bluntly, no contest. The Great Leap Forward had it all -- poor planning, poor execution, newspeak, happy talk, brutal repression, and tens of millions of deaths. And you couldn't think of a more perfectly ludicrous name. Today's episode is a little complicated, as the topic is VAST and I made a vain attempt to cover it all. Listen to it twice if you have to -- or if you have a stomach for it! Better yet -- Read about the Great Leap Forward: Mao's Great Famine by Frank Dikotter Forgotten Voices of Mao's Great Famine by Xun Zhou
63 minutes | Nov 1, 2020
HBH 15: Fascism and Antifa
In this episode I get distracted while working on another topic. Because of that failure to focus, we cover the origins of left and right political ideologies, the beginnings of fascism, its symbolism, and what special recipe makes a fascist regime fascist. We also briefly discuss Antifa -- which is, depending on who you ask, either the most dangerous shadowy terrorist group in America with billionaire funding and extensive secret networks, or a total boogeyman invented by the right as a scapegoat. Cover art by Ian Armstrong
33 minutes | Oct 5, 2020
HBH 14: The Dumbest Things Ever: The Satanic Panic of the 1980s
Ok, so it wasn't a world-historical level disaster, or maybe even close to the dumbest thing humans have ever believed. But it was pretty stupid. Nations gripped by a fear of covens of witches, repressed memories of ritual Satanic abuse, demonic rock-and-roll, ouija boards stealing your soul, and don't forget those blue-as-death animated corpses, the Smurfs! All, of course, without any credible evidence whatsoever. If you wonder where the Q phenomenon began, and how it can possibly have legs, look no further than the Satanic Panic. This is an interview I did with Paul Corupe (http://www.paulcorupe.com/) since I seem to mostly interview men named Paul(?!). It was originally produced for the series on mob behaviors and mass delusions but I am releasing it now due to some sound glitches that took me a while to correct (and since it applies to this series also). Buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Satanic-Panic-Pop-Cultural-Paranoia-1980s/dp/1903254868 Cover Art by Ian Armstron
60 minutes | Sep 29, 2020
HBH 13: The Dumbest Things Ever: The People's Crusade
Today we embark down a very ignoble road and consider a few of the most dismal failures in history. We begin with a big one -- something that failed spectacularly, at a very high cost, creating misery and infamy in its wake: The People's Crusade of 1095-6! Index of this episode, in case you want to skip to the juicy parts: 0:00 Intro: The Three Poisons 5:20 Why and When the Crusades? Intro to Crusading, Pilgrims; The Houses of Abbas, Fatimids, and Seljuks; Pope Urban II and Alexius I Komnenos. 25:57 The Council of Clermont and Urban's Call to Arms 30:31 Peter the Hermit Inflames the Yokels 33:48 What was the People's Crusade? 34:20 Walter sans Avoir Sets Off for Glory 37:32 The Vicious Little Count and His Holy Goose Crusaders 46:15 Peter the Hermit Storms Anatolia 56:09 Cost:Benefit Analysis of the People's Crusade, or What Does it Take to Be One of the Dumbest Things in History?
45 minutes | Sep 7, 2020
HBH 12: The Mystery of the Copper Scroll
Today we discuss the mystery of 3Q15 -- also known as the Copper Scroll. One of the most mysterious, and potentially valuable finds, in archeology. An enigmatic and totally unique document, scratched onto copper, that hints at the locations of over 2 billion USD worth of hidden treasure, left in a cave almost 2000 years ago. Who wrote the copper scroll? Is the treasure real? If so, whose treasure was it? And why, after decades of searching, has none of the treasure been found? Since we can't definitively answer any of those questions, we will detour into the history of the Essenes, the commune and caves at Qumran, the finding and controversies around the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the defeat and subsequent victory of the Romans in the first Jewish War. Graphic Artwork by Ian Armstrong Music Icy Vindur by A. Himitsu
1 minutes | Aug 3, 2020
Due to commitments in the month of August, I will be releasing the next episode of The History of Being Human on September 6, 2020. In the meantime, check out the previous episodes you've missed!
43 minutes | Jul 16, 2020
HBH 11: The Worst Year to be Alive Ever
The whole world seems pretty down on 2020. And let's face it, so far 2020 has not distinguished itself for outstanding achievements in the field of excellence. But is it, as some have argued, the worst year ever? And if it is not, which year carries that dubious honorific? Which year in history was the worst ever to be a human? Which year in the bigger history of forever was the worst ever to simply be a life form? And why? Many historians have thrown in on this question. Here are some of their answers, and the current consensus champ of the worst historical year ever to be human. At the end I offer my contender for worst year to be a life form ever. Graphic Art: Ian Armstrong Music: Icy Vindur by A. Himitsu and Hard Times by John Lee Hooker
51 minutes | Jul 6, 2020
HBH 10: The Mystery of Consciousness
In today's episode we get heroically pummeled by one of the most intractable -- and maybe insoluble -- mysteries of our existence. A topic that strikes at the core of who we are and what it means to be human. A short intro to and history of the problem of consciousness. What it is, what it does, how it can (possibly, ever?) be explained, and why it is such a perplexing phenomenon. 'Graphic The History of Being Human by Ian Armstrong Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
62 minutes | Jun 13, 2020
HBH 9: Adapt or Die II: Ancient Hominin and Ancestral Human Mysteries
In this episode we square off against some of the many, many puzzles remaining about who and when we came from, including: 0:00 - 0:58 Intro 0:58 - 4:30 The Hominins 4:30 - 6:52 The Earliest Ancestral Human 6:52 - 22:50 The Mystery and Controversy of H. naledi 22:50 - 41:40 The Walking Anachronisms of Red Deer Cave 41:40 - END The Final Fate of the Neanderthals
74 minutes | May 31, 2020
HBH 8: The Historical Jesus -- Mysteries of Life and Death
Rushing in again where angels fear to tread. This time into the deep end of the mysterious life of arguably the most influential person in the history of the West, if not the entire world. Who was Jesus? What did he think about himself? Where did he come from, what did he do, how did he die and why? What were his influences? Was he a disciple of John or not? Was he married or not? What happened after his death? How do we know any of this? Although not even close to exhaustive, there is a wealth of information in this episode about some of the episodes in the life of Jesus, about what we can and do know about the times and place he lived, about his motivations and influences, and about what happened after his death to vitalize a movement that would take over the Western World.
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