10,000 years ago, humans made a decision to change our relationship with nature: instead of hunting and gathering, we developed agriculture. Spencer Wells argues in his new book, Pandora’s Seed, that this seemingly simple transition set in motion the most significant changes in the history of humanity, the unforeseen costs of which we are living with now.
Wells takes us back to that moment that changed human history forever to trace the origins of some of the most important problems in our world today. From global terrorism and climate change to swine flu, AIDS and obesity, the root causes lie in the biological implications of agriculture. Wells shows how humanity’s move away from hunting and gathering has had a fundamental impact on our bodies, our society and our planet and asks: is there a fatal mismatch between western culture and our biology that is making us ill, both mentally and physically?
Only through rediscovering humanity’s needs and questioning the cultural progression we have achieved as a species, he argues, can we hope to understand what it means to be human in the modern world.
Spencer Wells will be interviewed by Robin McKie, science and technology editor for the Observer.
Spencer Wells is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and Frank HT Rhodes Professor at Cornell University. He leads the Genographic Project, which is collecting and analysing hundreds of thousands of DNA samples from people around the world in order to decipher how our ancestors populated the planet. Wells received his PhD from Harvard University and conducted postdoctoral work at Stanford and Oxford. He has written two other books, The Journey of Man and Deep Ancestry. He lives in Washington DC with his wife, a documentary film-maker.
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