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Richard Manning: Is Civilization Such A Good Idea?

Brian Kahn talks with writer Richard Manning, co-author with Harvard Medical School professor and M.D. John J. Ratey of the book "Go Wild." (2014 Little, Brown).

From the book's introduction:

"Our meaning is easy enough to grasp. Think of wild versus tame, wolf versus dog, bison versus cow. We have the same sort of distinction in mind now when we ask you to expand this with the somewhat revolutionary notion of applying the idea to humans. Wild humans. It’s not as odd as it sounds. In fact, through deep history, through tens of thousands of years, everyone was a wild human. The very same forces that tamed wolves and made them dogs tamed humans. Call these forces civilization, and yes, obvious and abundant benefits came with the deal. We’re not here to dispute those blessings. Our bedrock point has more to do with genes, evolution, and time. Human evolution occurred under wild conditions, and this made us who we are. The modern human still operates on those same genes, almost wholly unchanged. We are designed to be wild, and by living tamely we make ourselves sick and unhappy.

We are going to tell you a number of fascinating details about that design: that you are born to move with grace, born to embrace novelty and variety, born to crave wide-open spaces, and, above all, born to love. But one of the more profound facts that will emerge is that you are born to heal. Your body fixes itself. A big part of this is an idea called homeostasis, which is a wonderfully intricate array of functions that repair the wear and tear and stress of living. This ability lies at the very heart of what we mean by “going wild.”

(Broadcast: "Home Ground Radio," 2/8/15. Listen weekly on the radio, Sundays at  11:10 a.m., or via podcast.)

Beth Anne Austein has been spinning tunes on the air (The Folk Show, Dancing With Tradition, Freeforms), as well as recording, editing and mixing audio for Montana Public Radio and Montana PBS, since the Clinton Administration. She’s jockeyed faders or "fixed it in post” for The Plant Detective; Listeners Bookstall; Fieldnotes; Musicians Spotlight; The Write Question; Storycorps; Selected Shorts; Bill Raoul’s music series; orchestral and chamber concerts; lecture series; news interviews; and outside producers’ programs about topics ranging from philosophy to ticks.
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