From artificial intelligence to genetically modified foods, cryptocurrency, and self-driving cars, humanity is at a point of burgeoning and exploding movement in different technologies. We live in these giant and concrete jungle landscapes with digital mediums that aim to improve the human condition. While that may extend our lifespans and make access to our basic needs easier, it brings the question of whether we, as humans, are losing touch with our wildness and connection to nature. In today’s show, Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen explore the concept of human domestication and its pros and cons at this point in time for humanity. They compare the physical and emotional aspects throughout and how they’ve changed based on our lifestyles, including the role of social media on our mental health, the increasing instances of gun violence, and the stimulation overload of our nervous system due to the dense, stressful, and urbanized environment. They also touch on the dichotomy between the emerging technology to make food more accessible and the growing movement to grow organic food, save seeds, and do food sharing. Join Jason and Whitney as they tackle all these and more in this deep dive into human domestication. Are we ultimately domesticating in a positive direction? Find out why it’s yes and no at the same time.
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Human Domestication: Its Pros And Cons For Today’s Humanity
We receive a lot of wonderful and interesting recommendations from our readers and fans online. We keep a running list of these suggestions for topics and explorations. One that popped out at me when we were talking about what we’re going to talk about on the show is the idea of human domestication and the pros and cons of the point that we’re at in humanity. It is an interesting point that we are at because there is a burgeoning and exploding movement in different technologies, from artificial intelligence to genetically modified foods. We look at the vaccine technology with mRNA sequencing. We’re talking about transferring consciousness into hard drives, not to mention cryptocurrency and self-driving cars.
We’re in an interesting moment in humanity as we are recording this episode in 2021. I find it interesting because it seems like there’s a dichotomy between this emerging technology that overall, the aim is to improve the human condition and extend our lifespans and make access to food easier, etc. There are a lot of visionary promises that are usually made with new technology. At the same time, there’s a growing movement with people wanting to grow their food, save their seeds and do food sharing. Also, do a local CSA box where they’re sharing foods and sharing supplies with their neighbors and people in their local communities. There’s a growing movement we saw during the pandemic of people making food, baking bread, planting gardens and getting back to an old-school domestic approach with canning foods, pickling foods, culturing foods.
My question in all this as we were proposed with this idea of exploring human domestication brings up a concern for me, Whitney. I wonder if we as humans, in some ways, are losing touch with our wildness and our connection to nature, and how many generations before us sustained themselves and connected and lived in small units. We live in this giant, sprawling, suburban or concrete jungle landscapes. In some ways, I want to examine how I can personally find a balance between all of this emerging technology, which in some ways might be making us lazier and dumber. The balance of all the things that I mentioned, which is staying connected to our roots as tribal, primal and wild human beings.
It reminds me of a lot of the work that Daniel Vitalis does. He’s got a company out there called Surthrival. I met him years ago on a speaking tour at The Longevity Now Conference. One of Daniel’s things has been about rewilding humanity. I don’t agree with all of his practices but the idea of rewilding human beings is interesting, walking barefoot on the earth and taking walks in nature. He talks about food cultivation and wild foraging. He is into hunting and he’s not vegan. At the core of Daniel’s message, I do find it interesting. He’s not necessarily anti-technology. People who are in the wilding movement, I don’t think they’re anti-tech. Their concern though is we’re moving far away from what makes us human beings and the roots of how we emerged as a civilized society to now being way too dependent on technology and digitization.
I bring this up because it’s an interesting thing to explore. Whitney, we’ve talked about this on our podcast. You’re way ahead of the curve in terms of being an early adopter. Whereas I tend to hang back. I wait for technologies and innovations to prove themselves or see how people handle them, see how humans adopt them. I’m curious how you feel about this balance? Do you feel like we are losing touch with a lot of these primal intrinsic elements that we’ve subsisted on as humans for so long? Do you feel like we are losing ourselves amidst all this technology? How do you feel about this balance?
There’s a lot to uncover. I tend to dive into research to help me shape my feelings on things like this because I don’t have a super-strong feeling. Since I tend to be a little bit more scientific in my thinking, I immediately start to wonder, “What would be best and what does the data say?” One thing I found is an article on NPR. If you type in human domestication, several articles on that subject matter come up. There’s one on NPR.org about How Humans Domesticated Themselves. One thing I find super fascinating is that the cognitive revolution took place between 40,000 and 90,000 years ago, which is mind-blowing. It feels like things that happened 100 years ago were vastly different than they are now. Can you imagine? I can’t. It doesn’t make any sense to me.To what lengths do we go for comfort and to avoid discomfort? Click To Tweet
As this article says, that’s when our creativity exploded into a gallery of tools, weapons, carvings and cave drawings. We have been developing for a long time as a species. This is also when we started cooperating more so our skills and our knowledge started to spread within our group. Some people believe that this leads us to become weak and dependent. This is part of your point of, is using technology a weakness? Are we too dependent on technology? Who’s to say? We’re biased because we’ve been living in this society for so long. What else do we know?
When you look at animals that we’ve domesticated, this article talks about how plants changed because of the cooperation with pollinators. Dogs become indifferent while domesticated. Even wolves have become more friendly because humans are providing food sources. We’re doing the same thing for all sorts of animals even if they don’t live with us. The way that we care for wild horses and deer. We’re protecting these different species. Some people are hunting them as well but that’s changing the way that they’re living. A lot is shifting around and it feels very comfortable, which ties into the theme of this show, to what lengths do we go for comfort and to avoid discomfort?
Being an early adopter on this curve of technology, I’m usually not quite on the innovator level, which is the first people to start using technology or they’re the ones creating it. I am in that second wave of early adopters. I tend to jump on board with things relatively early on. If you look at the hunter-gatherer, maybe I’m not the first person to go out to hunt or check out the terrain but once that person comes back and says that it’s safe, I’ll go on next before the next wave. The gatherers are like, “Am I trying the berries to see if they’re poisonous or not?” Probably not. If somebody says they’re not poisonous, maybe I’ll believe them and be the second round of people that try them and figure out what to do with them. I digress from the point of that.
It’s hard to say, Jason. We’re developed at this point. I feel like in our lifetime, we’re not going to see any major changes going back. When you see some of these dystopian movies, they show what could happen. The things that we’ve seen change during the pandemic have shifted. Our use of Zoom or other tools like that isn’t so different than it was before. We saw the shift that happened when we got iPhones and similar technology. They changed the way that we operate in a short span of time. I suppose we could go in a completely different direction for “better or worse,” but I don’t know how extreme it would be in terms of affecting us as human beings.
A comforting perspective for us at our age range is hopefully, life is not going to change too much in our lifetime that we’ll see things go completely south. Maybe things will take a turn and be “better.” When you look at how much time has passed 40,000 years ago, so much has changed since then. Who are we to say that things are better or worse? They’re easier in some ways but harder in others. These are the things that I don’t even know if I enjoy pondering because they don’t feel clear to me. Until I get some data on them, they feel speculative and biased. We’re pondering but for what reason? What’s the point? We don’t have control. We only have control over ourselves and the collective impact we can have when we join together. I don’t know if we have control over something like this.
What’s even the point for us discussing domestication if we’re already here? It’s that thought process of hindsight is 20/20. We can’t go and change the past. We can’t go and change what’s led us up to us now.” What we can change is our relationships with the technologies that you brought up. There’s still a lot of data to be collected on that. Most people have to be convinced. They’re the extremists but the extremists have to test things out. When you’re bringing up Daniel, he’s on the innovator end of the spectrum or maybe an early adopter. They’re in that group of people that have to convince others that that’s the way to be. That takes a long time to study it and take a scientific approach to convince the rest of the curve to shift in that direction.
I don’t know that it’s about convincing people per se because maybe some people like an extremely digitized, ultra-tech heavy type of existence. Maybe they like living in the city. Maybe they like all of the digital mediums we have now. I don’t know if it’s necessarily convincing people that domestication is wrong or bad. To your point, I don’t want to make this a binary speculative discussion. For me, it’s a more guttural thing of do I feel connected to my life? Do I feel connected to nature? Do I feel connected to my food? Yes or no. If I don’t feel connected to those things, why don’t I feel connected?
Are Zoom, podcasting, YouTube and social media making me feel more connected, alive and in touch with myself and the world or is it making me feel less so? It’s a complicated set of answers because, in some ways, it does make me feel more connected. You and I are dozens of miles away from each other. It’s not an extraordinary distance but here we are doing our podcast. This is a beneficial thing. Technology is not bad. There’s a conversation I laugh about because I have a version of this conversation with my mom on a semi-regular basis. My mom’s generation, Baby Boomers, grew up in an era post-war with a lot of technological innovation with transportation and things like that. We talk about how a lot of technology now has the intention of making our lives easier but in many ways feels overly complex.
I have a funny example. For anyone who drives a car, one of the basic things you learn when you start to drive a car is to check your mirrors and check your blind spots. How do you do that? You adjust your mirrors, you look over at one and you look over at the other. If you need to look at your blind spot, you turn to look over your shoulder for a second. That’s how I was taught to do it, check your mirrors and check your shoulder. We have a lane departure warning and we have blind-spot monitoring. We have accident avoidance. We have Lidar. We have radar on our cars. As an example of someone passionate about cars, who learned how to drive stick shift young and who’s driven a variety of cars, in many ways, the intent of these things is to keep people safer, happier and do the work for them. It’s also reducing certain skillsets in us.
Some people that I’ve had this conversation are like, “What we do consistently and what we do repetitively.” We talk about consistency a lot. We have this great program, The Consistency Code. It’s a habit-building exercise. You do things consistently. You do them with intention. You make them repetitive. It’s a habit-building thing, which builds a skillset within us. With this example of cars or any tech, what are we losing skill-wise in exchange for these new technologies? I can check my mirrors. I can look over my shoulder. I don’t need your blind-spot monitoring. I don’t need your lane departure. I’ve driven a car successfully without these things for over 30 years.
I might sound like a Luddite. Some people reading might be like, “Jason sounds like, ‘Get off my lawn kids.’” I laugh at myself sometimes because I’m wondering if I’m getting old-school about this stuff. I wonder, are we making things too complicated? What is the absolute necessity of a lot of these innovations? I know you want to see the data on these things. I like pontificating on this because I don’t know that I want to overly techify my life because I want to live a simple life. Sometimes, when I get too much tech, I feel overwhelmed by it. You might not feel the same way but I feel like if I have too many devices, there are too many knickknacks. Some of the new cars I’ve gotten into, it’s like, “What are all these buttons? What the hell is all this? Do we need all this?” It comes down to just because we can do something as humanity, should we do it? That’s where I sit with all of it. Do you remember the movie Cloud Atlas? Cloud Atlas has all these great scenes in these parallel timelines with different lives. I don’t want to give any spoilers away. I think it’s a cool movie. The Wachowskis did it. They were the directors of The Matrix series. I liked that movie.
We saw it together.Hopefully, life is not going to change too much in our lifetime that we'll see things go completely south. Click To Tweet
In one of the vignettes in this story, there’s a future timeline where Tom Hanks and Halle Berry are playing a couple of characters and they also play different characters in past timelines. The whole idea is that the past, present and future are existing together. In this future vision, they’ve gone through an ultra-digitized, cold, dystopian world, which blows up and crumbles. The future is this interesting hybrid of primal hunting. They have these straw huts, but then they have technology that was leftover from the civilization that crumbled. I remember that vignette. They went back to the old ways because society crumbled but they still had some technology that was leftover from the ultra-digitized situation. It was like old school meets new school. I thought that was interesting.
It may be that humanity ends up in some hybrid situation where we don’t dispose of all the technology, but perhaps we begin to realize that all of this tech might not be serving us because it’s too much. That’s why we’ve joked about this in the past when you would come to me excitedly about a new social media app and you’re like, “Check out this app.” You get all excited and I’d be like, “I don’t want one more thing.” I realized that it’s partially because I start to feel overwhelmed by too much technology. It may be that your threshold as a person who’s an early adopter is different than my interest in my threshold.
I do want to grow more of my food. I do want to have a higher level of food security. There have been some interesting articles that I’ve read. In these articles that I’ve been looking at online, there’s been some concerning reporting about different corporations, Monsanto, Bill Gates, some of their privately held corporations buying up thousands of acres of land in the US. Everyone’s like, “Monsanto, Bill Gates, private holding corporations, why are you buying all this land?” We don’t know for sure. It’s all speculative. The point of growing our food and having a higher level of food security is probably an interesting thing to focus on.
I certainly want to focus on getting some seeds, growing more food, pickling and canning. The reason is why? I don’t want to get into conspiracy theory or nefarious forces working against humanity but I do find it concerning when giant billion-dollar corporations start to buy up thousands of acres of arable cropland. There’s a balance that would be wise to find here. I’m certainly trying to find that for myself and not just in terms of driving a stick shift car and listening to old vinyl records and keeping an old phone and whatever. It comes down to, is it giving me peace of mind? Do I feel freer as a result of this technology or this habit? Do I feel more enslaved and more constricted by it? Aside from the data, I try to pay attention to my emotional life and how these things make me feel. That’s the compass that I’m using right now.
Speaking of food, one source of data is on CSFJournal.com. Self-Domestication: Deconstructing Mental Illness is the title of this. This is a research article based on studies. There are several interesting things that I found by scanning it quickly. One of them, in the conclusion section of this article, goes into how the government is involved in what they can do. Studies have found that there is a prominent increase in mental illness in urbanized areas. Some people believe that this is because we have so much exposure to poverty. Even if we’re not in poverty, we’re still seeing it more than somebody that might live more separate from others that aren’t in poverty themselves.
Noise can impact our mental health. These things can cause stress, distress and anger. That was from a study done in 2017. I know you can relate to both of those, Jason. You’re triggered by noise from your neighbors. It’s a huge cause of stress and anger for you. You’re not alone in that. There’s a general anxiety that people have from being within high proximity to one another. The comparison trap is brought up in this article several times and these are backed by studies. Those are two things that you talk a lot about, Jason. I know that you feel a lot of intensity coming from that.
The other element of this in terms of how we live is the increase in prices of food, which you’re bringing up GMOs. There is research that shows that they might be causing long-term negative effects on our bodies. Not everybody agrees with that. There’s a big debate. Let’s say that you’re somebody who wants to eat organic food. We all know that organic food is typically more expensive than non-organic food, whether it’s genetically modified or not. If a food contains antibiotics, pesticides and all of that, it’s generally less expensive. That’s part of the food industry.
There are several reasons why organic food is more expensive. Sometimes it’s because of subsidies from the government. Sometimes it’s because people are taking advantage of the organic interest and charging more for it. Maybe it doesn’t always need to be that much more. In some ways, this is restricting our collective ability to choose and get access to a certain food, whether it’s not grown near you or whether it’s too expensive. That’s the result of the food industry, capitalism, the way our government runs, and the way things are set up. That’s part of domestication as well. To the point of this article, there’s an external power forcing our decision-making outcomes.
If you think about the way that we’re living, think of all the factors that go into where you live and how you live. That starts with where you’re born and what you have access to. The access to education because education might lead to you leaving town. It might lead to you getting a specific type of job because of your knowledge. The lack of education can lead you to never leave town and not have access to certain jobs. Not having a certain finance structure in your home. Things are changing as you’re growing up. Your job can impact it. All of these things start to add up, which leads you to where you’re currently living. If you’re living in someplace because of what you have limited access to, then that could impact your mental health.
There are so many things that have gone into your situation, Jason. I bring that up specifically because I feel content. I don’t have major issues with where I live. I live in Los Angeles. I like my home. I’m content. I also have the ability to pick up and go visit my family because of my job situation and financial ability and my relationship with my family. If I want to leave Los Angeles, I can leave at any point and go be with them. That’s another privilege that I have. You could certainly do that with your mom but I don’t know if you would feel any happier at your mom’s place, Jason. It sounds like her area would probably lead to you feeling similar emotions because she lives near other people and in a city that’s got a lot of challenges financially as well. Weather is a concern for you. I want to toss it back to you, Jason. When we think about not just food and our access to that, but also where we’re living and how that’s impacting our mental health and the accumulation of your life but also domestication as a whole.
It’s a conversation around how we change as people. When I was in my teens, 20s and 30s, I was driven to live in big cities. I grew up in the city of Detroit. I was like, “I want to move to Chicago. I’m going to live in Chicago for three years and then I’m going to go to New York City and sing and be a chef in New York and then moved to the Bay Area.” I’ve been in LA for over fifteen years. It’s not that I haven’t traveled to remote areas or more natural environments, but where I’ve chosen to maintain home has been from city to city. All I’ve known has been a dense, stressful, urbanized environment.
Part of me is realizing that my nervous system needs a break from that. I have noticed that here in LA, as an example, everything opens back up. At the time of this recording, we’re recording this in May of 2021, we are scheduled to open the entire city back up by June 15, 2021. Everyone is like, “The city is opening back up.” I’m like, “That’s going to mean traffic. That’s going to mean congestion. That’s going to mean more airplanes.” There are already dozens of airplanes over my house every day. Whereas in 2020, it was quiet. It was like, “I’ve never heard of this quiet.” In some ways, the pandemic has given me more peace and quiet here in Los Angeles than I’d ever experienced in nearly fifteen years.A lot of technology now intends to make our lives easier but in many ways feels overly complex. Click To Tweet
I’m dreading the whole thing opening back up to a degree because my nervous system is like, “I don’t want to deal with that anymore.” I don’t want to deal with the traffic. I don’t want to deal with the crush of humanity. I don’t want to deal with all the noise. At this point, my nervous system is fried on this kind of stimulation. What does that mean? If I’m dedicated to myself care and being honest with what my needs are now, I don’t want to be in a city anymore. I want a different experience. That doesn’t mean I want to be in the middle of nowhere and hours from a hospital and civilization.
I’m not envisioning this Grizzly Adams type of experience with all my animals. It’s not that. However, living on the outskirts of a city where there’s more land, nature, animals, cleaner air and hopefully, cleaner water. If you need to go to the hospital and you need supplies and you need things, you have access to that. It goes back to this idea of balance that I was talking about. Even with my living environment, I want to be in nature, in quiet, in some semblance of solitude, not stacked next to people. I feel like I can reach my arm out and touch my neighbor’s house. I don’t want that anymore. This is a conversation about our evolving needs and our evolving desires as human beings.
For decades, I wanted that city life. I wanted the clubs and the music and the comedy and I still do. I love all that. Do I want to live in it 24/7? I don’t think that it’s healthy for me mentally to live in a major city anymore. As a tangent, I’ve been existing in this old-school paradigm of if you’re an artist and you’re a content creator, you need to live in LA or New York. If you’re going to do music, entertainment, film and whatever content, you got to be in LA or New York. That’s where the agents are. That’s where the community is. That’s where the collaborations are. I’ve done both of those things. I don’t feel the necessity to do things like our podcast, YouTube, Instagram and the music I’m doing. I don’t need to be here anymore.
There’s been part of me that’s been clinging to this old paradigm of, “You need to be there.” I’m like, “No. It’s not 1999 anymore. You don’t have to be there. You could be in Wichita if you want to.” Not that I’m going to move to Wichita. I’ve never been to Wichita. It could be a nice place. My point is if we as human beings are self-aware of how our needs and desires change and what’s going to make us feel good and feel nourished. I don’t feel nourished by Los Angeles anymore. There was a time I did. The question is, what’s going to nourish me? The answer is nature. Nature is going to nourish me. I’m contemplating where that’s going to be.
It’s a life experiment. Maybe I go into nature and I’m like, “This is way too crazy. I didn’t think this is what it was going to be.” I can always come back. The cities aren’t going anywhere. Unless Godzilla makes an appearance then maybe cities are going somewhere or if the aliens show up and start torching the cities. That’s a morbid thought. That’s another upcoming episode. In June 2021, the Federal government is going to be releasing its files on UAPs. They don’t call them UFOs. That’s probably going to be an upcoming episode. Spoiler alert.
I did not know UAPs, what does that stand for?
The Federal government refuses to officially call them Unidentified Flying Objects. They now refer to them as Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, UAPs. It’s a euphemism game. People with UFOs automatically flash on little grey aliens. They are trying to play this euphemism game so that people don’t automatically think, “They’re going to reveal these papers and they’re going to tell us aliens exist.” The Federal government has officially changed its verbiage to UAPs.
As I’m going down my research in real-time, one thing I came across is this term called the naturalistic fallacy. If you can look that up, Jason, I am curious about what you would think about it. It’s a fallacy that argues that if something is natural, it must be good.
I’ve never heard of this terminology before. Although, in some ways, it sounds pseudo-Darwinian. I looked it up to know the reference you’re bringing up here, Whitney. I found the Wikipedia entry for naturalistic fallacy. It’s a long, a little bit difficult to understand philosophical dissertation. One section, in particular, that jumped out at me that I was like, “Light bulb.” Some people use the phrase naturalistic fallacy or euphemism appeal to nature in a different sense to characterize inferences of the form, “Something is natural, therefore it’s morally acceptable,” or “This property is unnatural, therefore it’s undesirable.” It gives some examples. It says, “Such inferences are common in discussions around medicine, science, homosexuality, environmentalism and veganism.”
There’s a guy named Steven Pinker who has a quote here that says, “The naturalistic fallacy is the idea that what is found in nature is automatically good. It was the basis for social Darwinism, the belief that helping the poor and the sick would get in the way of evolution, which depends on the survival of the fittest. Today, modern biologists denounced the naturalistic fallacy because they want to describe the natural world honestly without people deriving morality about how we ought to behave based on nature. For example, if birds and animals engage in adultery, infanticide and cannibalism, it must be okay for us to do too.” That’s interesting.
It’s interesting for several reasons. Number one, it’s highlighted that I have a bias towards naturalistic fallacy which is like, “If it’s natural, it must be good. If it’s organic, if it’s grown in the right soil, if it comes from this farmer and it doesn’t have these chemicals, it automatically must be good.” It’s revealing to me that I have a hell of amount of biases around this. The second part that’s interesting in Steven Pinker’s comment was looking at the natural world and then somehow creating a corollary between our human practices. He brought up infanticide, adultery and cannibalism. Those do exist in the animal world. In our system of ethics and morality, generally speaking, most people would say, “Killing your children and eating each other are probably not good practices to have in human society.”
It’s interesting to see how this philosophy colors our choices and shapes our biases in life. This is prevalent not only around the GMO food conversation, which you brought up but also around vaccines and different medical interventions. People are saying, “Vaccines are unnatural. We shouldn’t have them.” Other people are saying, “They are good. Here’s why.” We are seeing this naturalistic fallacy creating a dividing line with a lot of issues in our culture now, wouldn’t you say? I’ve never heard this terminology before. I’m fascinated by it. Also, as a tool for me to examine my judgments and biases in my life which I’ve got a lot of them. Do you feel like this plays a role in your life too? Do you identify with this in your system of belief?We as human beings are self-aware of how our needs and desires change and what will make us feel good and feel nourished. Click To Tweet
Certainly, I can resonate with some of it. I lean towards the natural way of doing things because I associate that with something good, pure, better and all of that. I also have that scientific side of myself where I tend to believe things more if it’s backed up with research. That played a role in my deciding to get the vaccine, for example. My hesitancy to get the vaccine was part of this idea that I don’t want to put something in my body unless it feels important to do so. I had to do a lot of research to come to that determination that it felt important for me to do so.
This also reminds me a lot of the book I’ve been reading called The Righteous Mind, which goes into all of these scenarios and belief systems that we have and how we can become hyper-focused on what something ought to be, and whether something is right or wrong. One of the articles I’m reading about the naturalistic fallacy outlines the “is versus ought” fallacy, which is when a statement of facts jumps to a statement of value without explanation. An example of this could be, “It is true that smoking is harmful to your health, therefore, you ought not to smoke.” That’s something that I’m like, “That makes sense to me.” It goes on to say that the claim that you ought not to smoke is not just saying that it would be unhealthy for you to smoke, it would be unethical. Why? Because lots of unhealthy things are perfectly ethical but that’s where this whole is-ought statement comes in, where it starts to become unsound.
We’ll dig into this further because it’s a bit confusing. We’re reading this on the fly and my brain is having trouble fully understanding this. It comes down to the ethics of it. Another example is, “Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed children, therefore mothers ought to breastfeed their children and ought not to use baby formula.” That one is a little bit different from me because part of me does think that breastfeeding sounds great, but another part of me understands that not everybody is able to breastfeed. Not everybody wants to breastfeed. I have room in my belief systems for the fact that some people choose to do baby formula. Who am I to judge them? The article says, “We act against nature all the time with vaccinations, electricity, medicine, many of which are ethical. Lots of things that are natural are good but not all unnatural things are unethical.” This is what the naturalistic fallacy argues.
What that brings up for me is that each person’s ethics and set of morals is going to vary from person to person. You brought up smoking. Some people find smoking pleasurable. Perhaps, in their value system may be, the pleasure of what they derive from smoking a cigarette is of a higher value than the potential health consequences of doing it long term. Maybe in certain people’s minds, because this is an individual discussion, in their sense of morality, pleasure is a higher value and more important than the potential consequences of doing the thing. That’s a real consideration for certain people.
I wonder if absolute morality exists or if we contrast the animal and human species, whereas, in the animal world, infanticide, cannibalism and destruction. We as humans created a framework of ethics. We created a framework of morality. Some religious people may say it was God or the Bible or The Ten Commandments but I believe that the concept of ethics and morality are human-created concepts. Does that mean they’re real? We’re going down a deep rabbit hole right now because it makes you wonder if humanity could all agree, if it’s even possible to agree, that certain things are objectively moral and ethical and others that are not. Is this truly a deeply individualized examination? It is interesting.
As an example, I don’t find the concept of slaughtering hundreds of millions of animals a year for human consumption an ethical thing to do. Some people might say, “We’ve got people to feed. It’s unethical if we don’t feed them because then children are starving and people are starving. We need meat so we need slaughterhouses. You’re unethical because you’re saying that’s unethical.” The point is this is an individualized perception conversation. One person can say, “That’s unethical. That’s wrong. We need to stop it.” A whole other group of people can go, “No. It’s not unethical. We need to keep doing it.” Maybe this is one of the reasons humanity can’t get along in some ways. Maybe certain people are saying, “That’s wrong. It’s unjust. It’s unethical.” Other people are like, “It’s perfectly fine. We don’t need to stop it.” I don’t know that there is absolute objective morality. I don’t know what else to say because I feel like we’ve opened up a deep portal with this whole conversation.
We’ve come to similar conclusions in recent episodes and many of our episodes of the show being an exploration and a conversation not about answers, not about solutions necessarily, but just pondering. As individuals, we need to take things day by day and continue to ask ourselves, “Does this feel good to me? Is this okay for me? What are my boundaries?” Recognizing that other people have different boundaries and needs and belief systems.
One of the articles that got into the role of social media was the article on CSFJournal.com. It gets into the link between loneliness, wellbeing and depression in social media. There’s a lot of research being done about that. This one points to one in 2018 and how social media is tied into social comparison. Each of us has to step back and ask, are we gaining pleasure from something or feeling bad about something because of comparison? We tend to look to others to help us create our sense of self. Identity is a huge part of this.
We’re in a time where social comparison is normal and we’re exposed to many people. If we think about evolution, what has happened in the past years, our ability to compare ourselves to all of these strangers are going to have an impact on our mental health. That’s vastly different than it was twenty years ago and way before. To my knowledge, we never had quite the ability to compare ourselves to that many people quickly. If these articles are finding that people are becoming more depressed from this and they’re feeling lonelier, maybe humanity is headed towards a bad place. We know that these things can lead to suicide, self-harm and anger.
To my knowledge, gun violence is so horrible. There’s an article on BBC.com and it’s comparing the US, where we live to England, Canada and Australia. We have such a high level of gun-related killings in this country. It makes me wonder, what is going on with our finances? What is going on with our food system? What is going on with our use of technology? We also have different rules. This same article points out that the US, percentage-wise, has a lot more firearms per person than many other countries. That could explain it too. Certainly, guns aren’t the only issue. Guns are an easy way for somebody to end their lives or the lives of others. We’re seeing it frequently. We’re seeing mass shootings. There are many statistics around this. That’s part of domestication too, our access to weapons. It’s relatively new for us as a society to have this much access to guns and the ability to end life in general.
It’s interesting because human domestication has happened and continues to evolve because we feel like our needs are being met. We have a right as a country to bear arms and people might feel that ties into their needs and brings them pleasure. We have to realize that we also simultaneously have all this access to technology and studies are showing that it’s increasing our mental health issues. Owning a gun now is different than it was when these laws were established in the Constitution. You can’t quite point back to the past given what’s happened in the past years with technology. That’s not even enough time for big studies to be done in-depth.
A study that was done in 2018 is just scratching the surface and that’s already outdated in terms of what’s happened up until 2021. Things are rapidly changing. With technology, our mental health might be getting worse. Are we headed in a bad direction? Perhaps, but my belief system is I do have hope for humanity. I do think that human beings are intelligent and compassionate. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen. There are a lot of amazing things that we have access to because of technology and domestication.Each of us has to step back and ask, are we gaining pleasure from something or feeling bad about something because of comparison? Click To Tweet
My ability to travel across the country is privileged compared to what it was 100 years ago. What we’ve evolved to is amazing, our abilities to record a podcast virtually and see each other. We have incredible perks and we have to figure out a way to balance them with the challenges and the drawbacks. Know that we do still live in a dangerous time. Ultimately, domestication is a desire to get our needs met and to survive longer. Our life expectancy is going down. I remember reading that around Millennials. Surprisingly, the life expectancy was lower and it was a shock. What do you mean it’s lower with everything that we have? Maybe the reason it’s lower is because of mental health issues and the rise in violence.
A lot of the anxiety that’s plaguing humanity right now is we don’t know where we’re headed. That’s okay because, for those who are willing to face our collective unknown and the dark cave we’re all in, I vacillate between being hopeful and feeling hopeless. There are some days where I feel a lot of hope for humanity and days where I feel completely hopeless. I feel like, “Let’s burn the whole thing to the ground.” I tend to be maybe a little more morose or macabre than you but I dwell maybe a little too much on the complete decimation of Western civilization as we know it. That might not be such a bad thing. Who knows where we’re heading? We don’t know but this idea of life expectancy is interesting you bring up.
I read an article that scientists, based on their calculations and data, estimate that the maximum range of a human lifespan is around 150 years. It’s a fascinating read. I’ve been in longevity for a long time. I crafted a cookbook and a TV series around it. In this article, they were saying that on a cellular and biological level, we only have so much resilience to withstand stress and trauma. Based on our biochemistry, or cellular makeup, medicine, etc., they don’t see that the human body can withstand sustained trauma and stress past 150 which is super interesting because then it brings up the conversation, would I even want to live more than 150 years? One hundred and fifty sounds like a good run. If you think about it, that’s pretty remarkable if we would even scratch that surface. That’s an interesting article.
I was looking at some of the reasons for lower life expectancy and there is some data behind this. One that I found was a Duke University study. It looks like it was from 2018. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that life expectancy has gone down and that was in 2017, but then some sources are saying it’s going up because of our access to things. Why is some life expectancy showing that it’s going down? Part of it is the mental health issues. There’s a big issue of burnout right now, especially for Millennials and Gen Xers that are feeling fed up. This other research from Duke University was showing that the life expectancy for certain age ranges is declining because of things like drug overdoses.
I watched a documentary on HBO about opioids, The Crime of the Century. There was another one called The Pharmacist on Netflix that was good. The Crime of the Century was a two-part documentary series about the opioid epidemic and it was eye-opening. It’s a huge issue, even bigger than I realized. Our access to things like that has a lot to do with domestication as well. That’s a huge reason why our life expectancy has gone down. If we look deeper into why people are taking opioids, they want to feel better. Physically and mentally, people want to feel better and they probably feel like shit. Maybe their lives suck and they’re like, “I’m going to take some drugs so I can get through this.”
They’re also finding that suicides are on the rise and there are a lot of racial issues, especially young Hispanics, apparently back in 2018, at least. There was a rise in alcohol-related deaths, which was a bigger problem for white people. Diabetes-related deaths were increasing for young black women. Cancer and alcohol-related diseases are the leading causes or were the leading causes of death in 2018 of young black men. They’re finding that the racial disparities and the less access to health care and opioids were becoming a bigger challenge.
Opioids on one level can be used for people managing their pain, which the documentary covers. Chronic pain is physically and mentally debilitating but the problem is the lack of responsibility in prescribing the correct dosage and monitoring people to make sure they get off of the drugs. A lot of people become addicted to it and there’s a financial incentive for people buying these and getting hold of these things. Not to end this episode on a downer but to recognize that there are a lot of challenges. Seeing some of these deaths is my understanding in a general scope of why somebody drinks, does drugs, smokes cigarettes, eats processed foods, and all that. Most of it seems like it’s tied to emotional challenges and mental health. They are coping mechanisms or their element of access in society.
Maybe you’re just around people, the peer pressure side of it. Maybe you don’t have access to other things so you start drinking, eating processed foods or doing drugs because that’s what you have access to. You continue or start taking those things because of big mental health issues and people feeling lonely. Why does somebody go to the bar? Why does somebody engage in certain sexual relationships? It’s often related to loneliness. People feel heartbroken and they’re trying to cope with it. They start drinking and they start doing drugs. It’s a simplified perspective but overall, the mental health side of it is a huge issue and probably at the core of our lower life expectancies. Are we ultimately domesticating in a positive direction? It’s yes and no at the same time.
I agree with you. Most of the topics we discuss here is a layered, multi-dimensional conversation. It comes down to looking at this not just on an individual level but a collective sociological level of how we can make ourselves well. I want to conclude on a statement where there are a lot of individuals in the wellness healthcare medical system that genuinely deeply care. I do believe that. I’ve met many people on my journey, doctors, therapists, naturopaths, healers that genuinely want to help heal themselves and heal humanity.
However, the systems we have in place do not serve human health and human longevity. There are people in the system that do but I believe that pharmaceuticals, mental health, privatized health care, denying medical access to certain people. I don’t believe that the systems we have here in the United States of America are designed to heal people and sustain them. It’s broken as hell. That’s a totally different conversation but I do think there are wonderfully talented and caring individuals in the systems. I am grateful to know some of them and work with some of them and have helped to heal myself by some of them.
This is not an easy thing to figure out, which is one of the reasons we do this show. We’re trying to pontificate, get clear, discuss, examine, experiment, and not necessarily provide you with any answers. If you came here looking for answers, sorry, but we do love having these conversations. If you want to read more of our conversations, we have well over 200 episodes at this point. You can access all of them on our website, Wellevatr.com. We also have something new that we’re doing, Whitney. Do you want to tell our readers about this brand new exciting thing that they can access to know more about what we are sharing with the world?
We were going to shout out some brands, but we’re saving it because Jason and I are going to experiment with some new things. One of them is a separate, short mini-podcast that you can get access to if you’re interested. It is a private podcast. If you sign up for our newsletter at Wellevatr.com, you will get access to this new podcast that we’re experimenting with. It may not last long or it may continue alongside this show. We don’t know. As of the beginning of June 2021, we’re going to play around with this. You can check it out.Ultimately, domestication is a desire to get our needs met and to survive longer. Click To Tweet
On that show, you will find our product recommendations. We’ll be talking about the things that we love to eat and consume like supplements, love to put on our bodies and use online. Whatever things that we’re enjoying and bringing us pleasure and are supporting us with our well-being. Jason and I have been passionate about product and service recommendations for many years. We have been doing them at the end of the episodes but our episodes tend to run long and we want to offer something shorter and maybe compartmentalize it. We’re going to try out with doing this.
It will probably be 5 to 10 minutes long. They will be much more bite-size which some people may enjoy and we would love your feedback on it. You can get access to this. Go to Wellevatr.com. If it’s not super clear where to click on it, we’re probably still in development. Connect with us on social media, send us an email if you have any trouble. In future episodes, we’ll have a direct link for you. For now, if you’re part of our newsletter, you will be notified of this new private podcast for newsletter subscribers and we’re excited to get your feedback on it.
With that, dear reader, thanks for getting uncomfortable with us as we discussed human domestication and all of the myriad issues, challenges and revelations around that topic. Stay tuned for our brand-new mini bite-size podcast. We don’t know what we’re going to call it yet but Whitney now has come up with some pretty interesting titles.
Should we keep it simple and call it The Mini Bite-Size Podcast? What if it’s called Comfort Food? What if it’s the antithesis of the show? I have to research. I’m sure there’s a podcast called Comfort Food but I don’t know of one off the top of my head. Did there are a number of shows that are called This Might blank like This Might Get Weird? I looked it up and it was like, This Might Get Something Else or This Might Get Real. There’s a number of shows that have similar names and some shows that have the exact same name. I like something around comfort food. That makes me feel good. It should have the word comfort. Instead of uncomfortable, it’ll be comfortable. We’d be like, “Did we make you uncomfortable in this episode? Go check out this episode.” It could be called Food for the Soul but it’s not just going to be food.
Nourishment is a more accurate word.
I want to call it comfort something.
We’ll work on it. Stay tuned because Whitney and I are going to ideate.
We might put out a survey asking people what they think.
That worked well last time so maybe we’ll take a mega-dose of CBD. Shout out to Head & Heal. We’ll work on some show ideas. Stay tuned for that and thank you so much for reading, supporting and reviewing us on Apple Podcasts. We’ll be back soon with another episode. Thanks so much.
*We use affiliate links in our show notes. This means we receive a small sales commission if you purchase an item based on our recommendation.
- Head & Heal
- Apple Podcasts – This Might Get Uncomfortable
- How Humans Domesticated Themselves
- The Consistency Code
- Ethics Explainer: Naturalistic Fallacy
- The Righteous Mind
- America’s Gun Culture in Charts
- Life Expectancy Down for Gen X-ers and Millennials
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