The History of Being Human
History, anatomy and physiology, philosophy, psychology, anthropology. The podcast that attempts to resurrect sense and meaning from the dust of a billion factoids.
info_outline HBH 18: Vera Tiesler on Mayan Human Sacrifice 02/11/2021
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.
info_outline HBH 17: Human Glitches, Part 1 12/07/2020
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.
info_outline HBH 16: The All-Time Dumbest Thing Ever 11/23/2020
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:
info_outline HBH 15: Fascism and Antifa 11/02/2020
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
info_outline HBH 14: The Dumbest Things Ever: The Satanic Panic of the 1980s 10/06/2020
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 () 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: Cover Art by Ian Armstron
info_outline HBH 13: The Dumbest Things Ever: The People's Crusade 09/29/2020
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?
info_outline HBH 12: The Mystery of the Copper Scroll 09/08/2020
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
info_outline HBH 11: The Worst Year to be Alive Ever 07/17/2020
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
info_outline HBH 10: The Mystery of Consciousness 07/06/2020
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 [email protected]
info_outline HBH 9: Adapt or Die II: Ancient Hominin and Ancestral Human Mysteries 06/14/2020
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
info_outline HBH 8: The Historical Jesus -- Mysteries of Life and Death 06/01/2020
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.
info_outline HBH 7: Mysteries of The Jesus of History II 05/15/2020
HBH 7: Mysteries of The Jesus of History II In this episode I cover: --The Brutal Roman Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE --Christ Mythicism, or can we know whether Jesus of Nazareth ever existed? --Mysteries about the genealogies of Jesus --Questions about the location of Jesus' birth --Especially what on earth were two natives of Nazareth doing in Bethlehem? --Was there ever a time that Cesar declared that "all the earth should be taxed"? --What year was Jesus of Nazareth born? What decade? Art: The History of Being Human by Ian Armstrong Debate on "Christ Mythicism": Song: Done too Soon by Neil Diamond
info_outline HBH 6: The Jesus of History 04/27/2020
HBH 6: The Jesus of History In this episode we rush into a mystery where angels fear to tread and search for the Jesus of History. We visit Palestine of the 1st Century and discuss: --its brutal Roman occupation --its geopolitical situation --the various sects and parties vying for power --Herod and the Herodians --slaughter at the temple --Pontius Pilates complex persona --and even a little Roman intrugue. Now that's something everyone can enjoy!
info_outline HBH 5: Weird Coincidences of History 04/17/2020
HBH 5: Weird Coincidences of History In this edition of the History of Being Human we present our list of the most uncanny, improbable, and influential coincidences in history. Events that make you wonder at times if there are hidden springs turning the wheels of history that we have yet to discover. We peek into the into the troubled minds of conspiracy theorists and their followers for a few enlightening moments and also ask the question of how much volitional control we can exert over the moment of our deaths. Art: Oz by Ian Armstrong End song: 1904 by The Tallest Man on Earth email: [email protected]
info_outline HBH 4: Armageddon and the Ends of Ages with Eric Cline, PhD 04/07/2020
HBH 4: Armageddon and the Ends of Ages with Eric Cline, PhD Armageddon. John of Patmos saw the great battle, where the "demonic spirits" would join "the kings of the whole world" and battle against the armies of "God Almighty." Revelation 16: 14,16 reads: "They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty...Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon." Since then, few words in the English language have carried the power of "Armageddon" -- the great symbol of the end of times apocalyptic battle royale. Why did John see this as the site for his great showdown? What is there about the hill of Megiddo (now Armageddon) that would inspire such violent imagery? Today we find out. We speak with the man who wrote "the" book on the Collapse of the Late Bronze Age and now has written "the" book on the history of the great dig at Har Megiddo and what was found there. In this interview we cover the VERY violent past of Megiddo, the many battles that were waged there, and its status in the Bronze Age Collapse. Dr. Cline shares rare insights into the writing and teaching and researching life, references his extensive corpus of work, and previews some of his coming releases. He also paints a sobering, not to say grim, picture of how similar our civilization today is to the end of the Late Bronze, and how a knowledge of history can go a long way toward saving the world. Highlights include comments on the origins of the Sea Peoples, the evidence for EXTENSIVE drought and famine at the end of the Late Bronze, the great plagues of the Hittites and Athens, a cryptic pleading letter from the King of Ugarit, the digs at Megiddo and the 34 battles fought there including Dr. Cline's own digs at Megiddo (!), the Great Temple of Megiddo from the 31st century BCE, John of Patmos and his Revelation of the penultimate battle at the end of time, and why he couldn't possibly have chosen a more apropos place to have a good apocalyptic war. Visit Dr. Cline: ehcline.com Buy his books: Write to me: [email protected] Intro song: Kaiak "Run to the Hills" Art: Ian Armstrong
info_outline HBH 3: Land of the Moloch Idols with Assaf Yasur-Landau 04/02/2020
HBH 3: Land of the Moloch Idols with Assaf Yasur-Landau You know about them, but do you know them? This episode we speak with someone who does. Dr. Assaf Yasur-Landau is a recognized expert in the Canaanites, Philistines, Phoenicians, ancient Israel, and all things Near-Eastern Bronze and Iron Aged both underwater and on land. In this wide-ranging discussion, Dr. Yasur-Landau explains -- as only a working archeologist can -- who the Canaanites were and how they fared in the Collapse of the Late Bronze Age. We talk about who some of the Sea Peoples were, what motivated their incursions into Canaanite lands. We delve into whether there is any archeological evidence for the Exodus and Conquest of Canaan by the Israelites, the origins of Ancient Israel, and whether the Gods of Ancient Israel were different from other Canaanite deities. This is also a view of the collapse of the Late Bronze Age among the Canaanites, from a man who is immersed in their world and understands their material culture like few others. Visit his web page: See some of his work or join a dig (when it's safe to travel again): Visit the Facebook Page:
info_outline HBH 2: COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 03/22/2020
HBH 2: COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 Today we take a break from the Collapse of the Late Bronze Age to present a primer on the causative agent, the transmission, and the pathology of coronavirus disease (not to be confused with the collapse of the Late Petroleum Age). What is it? Where and what did it come from? How many ways can it transmit? What are its vectors? How does it gain entrance to your body? What happens once inside? Symptoms and signs. Some of this you already know. Some you most likely have never heard or considered. Much of it, I hope, is worth knowing. Comments, suggestions, or questions? Protect yourself: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html Artwork: Oz by Ian Armstrong
info_outline HBH 1: The Mystery of the Sea Peoples 03/10/2020
HBH 1: The Mystery of the Sea Peoples Welcome to the inaugural episode of The History of Being Human. The name is different but the podcast is the same. The Sea Peoples, ominous harbingers of the end of an entire age. In this episode we encounter this most mysterious force of destructive pillaging pirate pilgrims in history. The Sea Peoples. All of them, the Sherden, Shekelesh, Denyen, Lukka, Ekwesh, Peleset, Teresh, Tjeker, and of course Weshesh. Who were they? Where did they come from? What did they want? How did they destroy so many powerful lands? Who could withstand their onslaught? Did their confederation cause the Bronze Age Collapse, or were they also victims of larger forces at play? We read the first hand accounts, such as they are, as we examine the written records from Egypt and Ugarit, the evidence of DNA and physical culture, to learn what we can about these terrifying raiders. And the truth is, it isn't much. Most of The Sea Peoples are a mystery that might never be unraveled. Email me with comments or corrections or questions at . Let me know if you wish to remain anonymous, just in case I read your comments on the next episode. Cover art: Oz by Ian Armstrong
info_outline Know Thyself 50: The Late Bronze Age Collapse I -- The Civilizations 02/25/2020
Know Thyself 50: The Late Bronze Age Collapse I -- The Civilizations Welcome to the greatest mystery of the ancient world. In the 12 Century BCE, the greatest civilizations of the ancient world were suddenly and violently either eradicated or weakened so badly that they never recovered. Almost every city of importance was demolished, most of them never inhabited again. The Late Bronze Age was a dynamic, intriguing, optimistic time with vast nations and empires trading, writing letters, building and creating, traveling, intermarrying, and making war. And all of it, incomprehensibly, would end in a period of a few decades. This episode is an introduction to the Empires and Kingdoms of North Africa, the Aegean, Levant, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia -- the worlds original (semi) global society
info_outline Know Thyself 49: The Mystery of the Mary Celeste 02/04/2020
Know Thyself 49: The Mystery of the Mary Celeste The most famous real-life ghost ship in history is also one of the greatest maritime mysteries ever. A ship found floating is good condition without a soul aboard. Valuables untouched. No evidence of violence or serious damage. The personal belongings of the captain and crew undisturbed. Strange spots, marks in the wood. A famous inquiry with a prosecutor that comes right out of a cartoon. Wild theories, speculations, and accusations. No solutions. Cover Art: Oz by Ian Armstrong Music clip: Ghost Ship of Cannibal Rats by Billy Talent, Flying Dutchman Overture by Richard Wagner.
info_outline Know Thyself 48: Lost Franklin Expedition Mysteries 01/20/2020
Know Thyself 48: Lost Franklin Expedition Mysteries There are many mysteries haunting the memory of the Lost Franklin Expedition. Some questions have been answered, some remain to be answered, and others never will be. How did Franklin die? Who was Aglooka? The Ice Zombies? Could the Inuit have saved them? Why did 24 men die aboard ships with plenty of rations? Who sailed the ships South after they were abandoned? Did any men make it back to civilization? Did the expedition ever, at any point, have a chance? A deep dive into the questions that have perplexed and continue to baffle researchers of this ill-fated undertaking.
info_outline Know Thyself 47: The White North Has Thy Bones -- The Lost Franklin Expedition 01/07/2020
Know Thyself 47: The White North Has Thy Bones -- The Lost Franklin Expedition 1845 Two Ships leave England to seek the Northwest Passage, and disappear from the face of the Earth. Where had they gone? What happened to them? Almost two centuries later, we know some of the answers. But mysteries remain. The most complete audio presentation of the Lost Franklin Expedition anywhere. Part 1 -- The Story.
info_outline Know Thyself 46: Heretics Must Die! 11/26/2019
Know Thyself 46: Heretics Must Die! It is one of the most infamous acts of butchery in history. Parisian Catholics vs Protestants at the height of the Reformation. People were going to die. A lot of people. In this episode you will hear the background, the intrigues, the animosities personal and religious, the kings and queens and dukes and admirals, the popes and reformers, and in the end the murderers and their victims. A sad, sordid, disturbing tale of how religious zealotry mixed with power lust, greed, and fear brought out the absolute worst in humanity and resulted in the wholesale slaughter of 10,000 to 30,000 people. Cover Art: Oz by Ian Armstrong
info_outline Know Thyself 45: Rampaging Mobs Edition 11/06/2019
Know Thyself 45: Rampaging Mobs Edition This episode continues our excursion into the manifestations of mob behavior by covering some of the deadliest, most out-of-control, seething, frothing, infuriated hordes and outraged masses in history. Sports Hooliganism on a grand and deadly scale (as in 30,000 people massacred during the Nika riots), anti-Vaccination riots in Rio, Religious riots, salt riots, plague riots, riots and more riots. So light your Molotov cocktails, grab your rocks and clubs, and stake out your barricade for this survey of some of the deadliest (and goofiest) riots in the ancient and modern world. The in depth discussion of the NIKA RIOTS of 532 CE begins at 43 minutes.
info_outline Know Thyself 44: The Terror of History: Witch Trials with Teofilo Ruiz 10/01/2019
Know Thyself 44: The Terror of History: Witch Trials with Teofilo Ruiz National Humanities Medal Award Winner, Author, Revolutionary, Historian Professor Teofilo Ruiz explains how the witch persecutions began, what they consisted of, why they stopped, and what it means for humanity. A fascinating, broad and deep discussion with a brilliant and distinguished historical researcher and multi-award-winning teacher and author. From Professor Ruiz: “I think that the role of a historian, the role of a teacher—and I truly believe this—is to go against the grain. To argue. To be a contrarian. To make people think critically about things."
info_outline Know Thyself 43: The Bible in 50 Minutes 09/17/2019
Know Thyself 43: The Bible in 50 Minutes IMPORTANT CORRECTION!! Near the end of the episode I commit a gaffe and state that there is no "Satan" in the Old Testament, which is obviously false. As per our interview with Dr. Price, there IS a Satan in the Old Testament, most fully developed in the book of Job. What I meant to say is that there is no DEVIL in the Old Testament! I conflated the two terms (as did later interpreters of the bible), and said "Satan" when I meant "Devil," hence the error. Satan in the Old Testament is the accuser -- something akin to a prosecuting attorney working in the court of God. Satan in the New Testament is presented as the Devil, an Angra-Maniyuesque enemy to God, chief among the demonic forces who actively oppose the work of God. Although it is seen by later Christians as the same being, his role and powers are very differently presented in older Hebrew and Christian texts. I will correct this with some bad editing when I get the chance. Other than that, I think my errors are no more than usual. Where did the belief in witches and demonic powers come from. What were the bases for these beliefs, the rationalizations of the persecutors, and the world view in which these unreal events played out? To find the answer, we run through the entire history of the universe as it was and is believed by billions, not millions, of people throughout time. The Bible is far and away the best-selling book of all time, and it has cast more light and shadow over civilization in the West than any other source. But what does it say? What story does it tell. And where, pray tell, do all these devils and demons come from? Music: In Spiritus by Danny Rayel, By the Rivers of Babylon by Sublime Art: Oz by Ian Armstrong
info_outline Know Thyself 42: Steve Rathje on Identity and Reason 07/30/2019
Know Thyself 42: Steve Rathje on Identity and Reason Who are you going to believe -- the group or your own eyes? Answer (all too often): The Group. In the fascinating and wide-ranging discussion with Psychologist Steve Rathje, we take a hard look into: what reason is and why we developed it how our need for belonging drives our beliefs why we ignore inconvenient evidence whether it hurts worse to listen to the other side or get a root canal how even listening to conflicting evidence can threaten our identity why being smart can lead you deeper into error how Occam's razor can cut the wrong way how enemies can fulfill some of our deep needs what can be done to incentivize truth over tribalism Steve is studying for his PhD in social psychology at Cambridge University, and is the author of the Words Matter Blog in Psychology Today (. Music: Icy Vindur by A Himitsu Art: Oz by Ian Armstrong
info_outline Know Thyself 41: Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins and the Daemonologie of King James 07/17/2019
Know Thyself 41: Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins and the Daemonologie of King James The 1640s were a brutal time in England, with the breakdown of many state governmental functions during the English Civil War. It was a time of chaos, and the perfect opportunity for the one-man murrain known as Matthew Hopkins to begin accusing, swimming, pricking, and torturing hapless victims as witches. In 3 short years, Hopkins sent between 200 and 300 souls to the gallows. But Hopkin's comeuppance was, ahem, coming, although the form it would take has been open to some dispute until recently. Also, the "madness" of King James VI and I, the obsession with witches and demons, contributed to the general atmosphere of fear and loathing that allowed Hopkins and his ilk to have their way. Herein is the story of an honorary diplomate of the school of worst humans--Matthew Hopkins. Cover Art: Oz by Ian Armstrong