tv Christopher Ryan Civilized to Death CSPAN December 22, 2019 4:00pm-5:11pm EST
majority consciousness. >> 9:00 p.m. eastern on "afterwards", university of maryland county president on his book, the empowered university. he's interviewed by author and antipoverty firm robin hood ceo westmore. ... people should he the kill tuesday ask the question that can lead to the evidence that can determine what is truth.
>> introduce this guy here. really special guy. done me a lot of solids over the years and he appreciate it. chris is a really interesting character. i wouldn't try this life at home but it's worth knowing about. in addition to being a very decent guy, he is ode indicated to the hit and more than that, krist takes big bites out of the ass of life, and i think -- >> the ass? >> yes, out of the ass of life. here's a sampler. he has racked up college degrees, of course. he is traveled for 20 areas, during which he gutted salmon in alaska, taught english to bangkok 0 prostitutes, adult self-defense to lan reform activists in mexico. was involved in the diamond business in new york. i don't know how that fits in and i jut haese lan has been purchase in an undisclosed
location where tributes are gathering and that's chris. give him six months, something else will happen. he and his cowriter wrote sex at dawn, a pretty major work on human sexuality that taught us that prehistoric sex was pretty damn good and we should try expect one man, one phenomenon, family mod and the idea of fidelity, are really a construct of a tiny blip of human time. and that is was all profoundly wrong tumor and sexual love, family, child raring raring and structures we have today are unnatural in that that it lead to alienation and illness, and loneliness ask dysfunction on a lot of levels. that is nation -- resonated with
a lot of people. now chris hays taken the same broad approach to society at large. questioning the entire basis of progress in civilization. and invites to us go a lot more paleow than just eating nuggets and drives a bright lynn when when we hunting and foraging and agriculture and then things took a little about of a bad turn. hers a quote. civilization is like a whole that our clever species dug and feel into. breeds cruelty, ill in and disco music, which you don't like very much and which you compare to the plague. >> one of the -- >> in the book. i'm reading long and cebu bonnic plague and disco music and you don't like that, don't worry, be
happy. >> i don't. >> good and deposit and funny and sharing and we need to find a way to get that way again, and worse yet, civilization makes us want more of what ails us. we're begging for the -- a very good line. i'm throwing this out for questions. progress, the basic illusion of era is spent. so, chris advocates a return to our basic nature before we fell into the hole we dug, and with the sense -- and this is off of something. i was throwing this out for the crowd. ask him about the upside of armageddon because i'm trying to figure that out.
through this very, very dark examination of current civilization, there's a lot of joy, a lot of humor, a lot of lightness. don't know how you do it but you do it. >> i drink. >> you drink. i just did at bit with you. i'll ask you -- we'll chat for ten minutes and then we're going to open it up. here's my first question. it's really in three parts. what is rich asshole syndrome what the difference between doggy dog and dog eat dog. the phrases that came out of the book which if you can we have that together. >> and in ten minute. the first part. >> rich asshole section. >> acoin a syndrome, call ras,
rich asshole send tremendous and it's attempt to discuss -- an attempt to discuss the phenomenon of people who are wealthy being obnoxious, and i wanted to come at it from a different direction because i have a bunch of friends who are very well off, and some of you who listen to my podcast know, i lived in a mansion in barcelona for a few years where everyone in the mansion was a fashion model except me, which is sort of an acid test for the ego. and i have seen people in these elite worlds, and they're not any happier than the rest of us. so there's this sense, this illusion, that if you have a lot of money you'll be happy. if you are super beautiful you'll be happy. if you're famous you'll be happen and that's all wrong in my experience. so i came to this point in researching this book where i started to ask the question, well, i idea to think that
economics was a zero sum game, where like playing poker at your present odd house which i've done for year. if i lose 20 bucks somebody elsees walking away with 20 pucks. there's more money for them and less for me, whatever. but then when i was hang out with these way. y people i realized they're not happy either. so, the misery or absence of access to resources that people at the lower end of the spectrum are experiencing, done translate into greater happiness and contentment to the people at the upper end, so who is winning? if everybody is losing this game, including the people who are in silicon valley with the house on the -- over looking the ocean and the three teslas in the tripe, who is winning this thing? and so i wanted to sort of examine what is going on with
people who have a lot of wealth and who seem to be very unhappy, and what i came to conclude is that it's not poverty or wealth that's the problem. it's the disparate disparity, the separation that occurs and a lot of research, especially done here in san francisco, actually in berkeley, i forget the name of the man -- dasher celt-fer, they set up a camera at a crosswalk and position an old lady there with a cane, and they have a camera, and they monitor which cars stop and which don't to let her crazy. the more expensive the car, the less likely it is to stop. they do this thing where -- well, it's -- less likely. and so what i came to see is
that it's psychologically painful, it's traumatic, to have more than the people around you, and this book, civickized to death is saying what can we take from our hunter-garterrer pass and apply to our con term prayer live to understand ourselves better and create a better artificial world for ourselves. it's traumatic to have more. so, for example in the back i talk but the first time i went to india and i was sitting in a restaurant, never forget. in new dehli, restaurant at street level, eating me curry and some street kids came over and were standing there, staring at my food. and they weren't asking me for anything, just staring at the food. and when the waiter came and shooed them away if felt a sense of relief. put i also felt disgusted with
miss. >> for feeling that. >> for feeling the relief because their presence put me in an untenable position. and i stayed -- i was in india for five or six months, and pretty quickly i developed psychological scar tissue that allowed me to ignore this kids, allowed me to step over a body in the sleep that may have been sleep organize may have been dead. think that's what happens on a macro scale when their these differences in wealth and access to resources. that is not the way we evolved. we evolved in egalitarian, hunter-gaterrerrer societies in which resources were shared, and i don't want you to think i'm talking about noble savages. i'm not sharing hunter gary gathers are spirit lilly more advantage but inherit-gater
garthering society is a way to share risk. so at we pay our insurancer policies, they share. an expression in africa the best place to store extra food is in your friend's stomach. right? why is that? because when you're hungry, your friending going to share his food with you. this is the way evolve. this is in our instinctive repertoire, and anything that takes out of the relationships with each other hurts us and hurts us if you're on the bottom, if you're on the top. so that's the ras. what was the second harris. >> grasshoppers and locuses. >> people ask if civilization is not a net positive, which is what i argue in this book, why is it so popular? why is it so powerful? why is it everywhere?
and i came across this species of grasshopper in north africa that lives disbursed, mining its own business, crewing on grass, chilling out, and occasionally there will be unusually heavy rains, and so the grasslands spread and expand and the grasshopper population grows and then the rains stop, and when the rain stops the grass lands for to contract so the grasshoppers be closer and closer, higher and higher population density and at some certain density, dormant genes are triggered, changes take place, the grasshoppers transform, not over generations, i'm talking about individual animals, their front legs get shorter, back legs get longer
her thorax, same species, they become jekyll and hyde, they become canniballistic and then they swarm -- the biblical plague of locusts, swarm over north africa-eating everything in their path, destroying everything, until there's nothing left, and then most of them. die, and the ones who survive go back to doing grasshoppers. we're swarming right now. that's the point. we are grasshoppers but because of the conditions that we're living in, we often fine ourselves acting like locusts. >> so you don't need to buy the book. that's the whole thing. >> what was the trigger? when did we leave the egalitarian, horizontal society without leaders, without hierarchy, without masters and
slaves? what was the trigger? how did that happen and how did we -- the same creature because you say over and over in your book, the same species. it's not like muff of an evolutionary change. when and how did it chang. >> anatomically modern human beings, like us, have existed at least 300,000 years. the most recent research -- they used to say 200,000 years. if you read sex al dawn, the first book i wrote, we talk but 200,000 years and this book is 300 because of new research. so we have been around for 300,000 years, this is people who have same brain capacity we have, actually larger brains than we have, the human brain has shrunk by so% since agriculture began. a fact people don't like to hear. and people like us have been around 300,000 years. agriculture started at most 10,000 years ago so you're
looking at very small percentage of our existence as a species, and that is at its earlier point in the fertile crescent. other parts of the world arose more independently more recently. what was the question? this happens all the time. >> host: the inflection point. >> so the infection point is when human beings settled down into communities and growing anywhere own don't and domestickiccating animals. >> host: what went wrong. >> the thing is when they took those steps, they didn't know what was happening. they didn't know that they were entering into a ratcheting process from which there was no escape. if you look at the conditions that preceded the sort of emergence of agriculture in these different parts of the world at different times, there's a universality there periods of increaseed rainfall,
increased plant life, which scientists can fine in the pollening signature left in soil samles on lake beds and beds of pond. what you see is greater and greater fertility of the environment, more food, so human population would have increased in response to that, just like rabbits and foxes and everything else does. and then the rain stopped. there's a radical break in the rains. now in previous times what would have happenes human population would have decreased in response to that, just like the rabbits and foxes and the rest. but in this cases what happened was somebody came up with the idea of, wait a minute, these fruit trees are withering because it has not rained but there's a stream over there. if we dig a trench and bring the water to the fruit frees and the fruit trees responsible, we can help the trees. this is the first step into
manipulating the natural world rather than responding to the natural world. and you can imagine that in each of thieves cases, that would have been a fantastic idea. whoever came up with that was great. they saved a lot of lives. saved the lives their friends. a hero or heroine. but what happened was that put our species on this treadmill from which there is no escape because as soon as you do that, you have increased resources, you want to stay in that place now, right? you have this stretch to the grove of trees and animals coming in, you can build fences rogue that and you heck domesticked animals and population because babies can be weaned earlier because you have milk from the animals. men who are much more interested in controlling the sexuality of
the women because now they understand that sex causes babies, which hunter gathers don't understand. a whole suite of changes occurs. you have accumulated resources for the fir time. hunter gathers don't have accumulated resources by definition, which is why sharing is so important. but now you have accumulated resources, crop that you have harvested. who decided who -- who distributes the crop? who defends it while we get through to the next season? who defends the land? we need more land because populations are expanding so you have this growth based economy which is what we still have today but still live in a world in which eternal growth is in an assumed prerogative of our economic system. so all of these things kick into effect totally unintended. and we're steel stihl reeling
from that. i tell the story of a guy named ian stevenson, a scottish dude in sonoma was a winery, with his family, and he and his family decided to take a hot air balloon ride one morning they went out in the parking lot and they were setting thump he balloon, and it was sort of half inflated and a wind came and started tearing the balloon away, and the professionals were having troublecontrolling it so this guy who was fit, like a personal trainers, jumped in, grabbed the basket, helping to manage it and the anchor ropes broke, and it started to take off and all the professionals immediately let go because if you work with beens you know you never let both feet leave the ground. he didn't know that. he hung on. and went up and up and up until he couldn't hold an anymore, and he fell to his death. and in the article i read about this, the sheriff is quoted as saying, we don't know why he
hung on. and when i read that it thought, are you kidding me? i know why he hung on. he hung on but a everyday he thought he should have left go before. at every instant it was too late. when he was ten feet off the ground hi thought he should have let go before this happened, 20 feet, should have let go when i was ten feet off the ground and so on. so that's what agriculture is. a ranchchesting process because of this rapid population growth, your need to keep going and going and going. and that's what we have been doing for five thousand to ten thousand years. >> tell us about i think you called it the myth or narrative of perpetual progress, which i think builds on this. we have this notion that what we have done is going to keep on serving us and that if we just invest a little deeper in progress, we can fix the problem we created.
>> yeah. so, i want you to talk into the microphone. >> telephone us about the anywhere tv 0 perpetual progress. >> the narrative is the idea that we are toll that we live in the best possible time, right? we're developed that because life has been getting better and better this must be the best time to be alive logically. and yet i think a lot of us feel that is not true. we're looking at the first generations of americans who aren't going to have as many opportunities or as much wealth as their parents. things have peaked and i hope what that mean is is people are more open to the sort of message i'm trying to communicate in this book because i think that lot of people feel deeply unhappy and discontented and don't know why, because the
message they're getting is, this is the best time to be alive. come on. quit complaining. go back toure cubicle and put in your 50 hour work week and be happy, be lucky. oh, yeah, not pick your health care? well, you're lucky you live in americay you can go to the emergency room. so, the point is that the narrative of perpetual progress has been around for centuries. one of the most fame new phrases in the english language is nsay, brutish some short. life before the state was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. what does thomas hobbs now put hunter gathers? indiana damp. it was 16-51. he lived in london and paris, never -- there was no anthropology no study of this, just pulling this out of his nether regions.
so, the narrative of perpetual prohas two parts, one part is demonization of pea history, life was a constant struggle for survival. war was can't. luckive your survived to 35. the average life span was 35. everybody died before the were 40. that's the story we hear but prehistory, and then the story we hear but civilization is, it's been this amazing thing, we're pulling everybody out of poverty. it's been -- gives us all this leisure time. hunt gathers work 20 hours a week and what we're calling work is hunting, fishing and pick knicking, things we do on vacation. most hunter gathers don't have a word for work in their language, don't understand the concept of doing something you don't want to do. especially for someone else, because as you mentioned earlier, they're feesly
egalitarian. hunter gathers dope like to be told what to do, and so what you fine is we have this native that civilization is fantastic, it's the huge improvement, it's wonderful, and yet when you look at the historical record, what you find is hunter-gathers never choose to join our world. hoe,ey. this guy johnny hughes was a documentary filmmaker for the bbc, and he had been living in few guinea for a few months with a tribe, the insect tribe, and is stonage tribe by a -- by a back in the interior, and at some point some of the guys he was hanging out with the tribe said you have been here a long time you see how we live. can we go and see how you live? and invite us to your world and the thought, what great idea.
right? that would be so cool to have these guys come to london and see our world. so he when he got book to london he pitch i it to his bosses and they were like yeah, we'll pay for the flight sod he went to talk to some an to the pollingists because -- an to the pollingists because he was -- anthropologists because he was worried once these -- -- so, anyway -- they understood. they studied this. so these guys fly these guys to england, and they were living -- i guess staying with one of the producers, in his house, and one morning they're sifting at breakfast and the producers getting ready, drinking his coffee and going to work and he's like, okay, got go and they're like, where do you go all day? we have noticed you leave before the sun comes up, you come back when the sun is down.
you're not with your people. these are your children, why are you not with your children? and the guy said, have to work. i have to make a living. they said, why? said, well, i have to pay for this house. how many days do you have to work to pay for the house? >> all of them. >> he said 30 years. 30 years? when i want a house, my friends come and we build a house. what's wrong with you? so this is -- you see this again and again and again. on the beagle, the boat chat charles darwyn was on, three native people that had been kidnapped on a previous voyage, by captain fit roi, and the idea being he bring them to england , show them his amazing philosophy england and then take them back to tear'a del fuego, build them a hut, a garden and they would show the other native people how to garden and then soon everybody would have a garden and a house and it would be
great. what happened? took them back, built them a hull, made garden, left them, three months later came back, nobody is around. the gardens are overgrown, they finally found one of the guys, jimmy, and they brought him on the ship, and darwin wrote in his journal he was happy to see the least jimmy york remembered how to use a knife and fork and say said to him, duty, what happened? he said, why would i do this? there are plenty birdies, plenty fishes. whoa do you want me to work? another man in the desert, a famous story machine anthropologist trying to talk but farming and the didn't understand. he said why should i farm in there's so many nuts in the world. we find this again and again. the logic of our way of life, of this work, you shall eat by the sweat of thy brow and bear
children and pain and all this old test. bullshid, hunt gathers don't get hit. he world is full of anything you need. so i know that sounds very romanticized but if you study the anthropologic hurt you see this again. colonial america passed a law forbidding white people from runningway to live with the indians. so many of them were, i'm done with this. >> the french especially. >> many cases, documented cases where the indians would ambush some settlers, kill the men, take the women ask children back to the tribe, adopt them into the tribe, which is what they did generally because they didn't have slavery, didn't have the this other than it. adopt them into the tribe and then as the frontier moved west, often those people would be
rescued, right? by the whites and they'd bring them back and, oh, thank god, you're back and not living with the he heath lan asks the first chance they dot they ran would back to find the heathans. this is historically accurate. >> i have one more question. aisle hearing an indictment of modern civilization. let me tell you about my day. had bagel which i loved a lot. coffee from sue mat triple drove my korean car which is in perfect comfort and then going to get a shingle shot to save myself from a ton of pain which i don't want. are you telling me all that stuff us just so much opium for me to moch and forth the alienation i'm -- forget the alienation i'm feeling? don't take a person. in general we have iphones and --
>> we have a lot of great stuff. kind of great stuff. the thing is, when -- bagels are great there no bagels in prehistory. i'll give you that. when we judge quality of life, what we tend to do is look at the things we appreciate and say, they didn't exist then. i've had this conversation so many times where people will say, i don't know, dude, i don't know how to hunt if like my iphone. yeah. i know you do. because you grew up here and now, right? but if you were a hunter -- i wouldn't want to be a fish. i'd drown, well, not if you were a fish. well, sort of logically inconsistent. but i think what we need to do is we need to look at the contentment, the quality of life of different people and different times and also to look at the average. now, you're trophying your korean car, you're a lawyer, an
author, you live in a big beautiful house. you're not a typical human being in this year, nor am i. >> we're lucky. >> yeah, and yet, here we are in the richest country that's ever existed, suicide rates up 33% in the last ten years. among teens, up 50 %. >> antidepressants every, 25% of boys in public school are being drugged in order to make the compliant with the ridiculous requirements of the public schools. addiction is off the charts. more people are dying from addition than died in the vietnam war year after year, this is not a success story testify prison population is overflowing, prisones the number one purveyor of mental health care. i could go on and on. clearly this is not a particularly successful experiment right now. and yet we're still being told
it's so much better. i tell the story in the become about one night i was watching a bbc nature special with sir richard at at that tenbrow. lows love-the-but there's a scene of seals playing in a wave in south africa, and you see them -- frolicking and then you hear the, do do do, do do do do and you see the shadow coming up, and i don't remember if if was a great white or 0, could but it came up and hit the seal and the seal end one in the air and was flapping around, and you see these teeth and the seal falls down and he chomps on it and there's blood, and he says, the narrator says we slowed this down to one-30th of the normal speed so you can really get into the pain and gore and she says, nature is a constant struggle for survival, and all that
stuff. >> and i'm thinking. i don't know. i i've hung out with some seals and they seem pretty relaxed to me. so, i looked up harbor seals, the species this was, and it turns out they live typically around 30 years. so let's say this seal was 23. in prime of her life, right? she spent 23 years eating sushi, lying around on warm rocks and having a good time, and then she died so quickly that you need to slow it down to a 30th of normal speed to even see it happen. i'll take that. when i watched that film my father had been dying for five years, he was going through test after test, and procedure after procedure, because he had really good insurance policy so they were, ching ching, ching ching, ching ching. i'll take that seal residents
life -- seal's life and death the point is that nature read in tooth and claw is a scare tactic used by the zookeepers to convince us that our cages are protective, that we should be happy to be in those cages because out the, it's a jungle. which gets to the doggy dog world. >> i knew you resident come back to that. >> when i i've always the hearing it's a dog eat dog world. and i never understood that expression. i like dogs. and it seems like dogs have a pretty good life, and so finally i was in college and i wrote in a paper michigan about it become a doggy dog world, and my professor was like, dude, it's not doggy dog, it's dog eat dog. i'm like, real? i thought it was doggy dog it's the doggy dog world.
like a disney movie or something. so, anyway issue tried to we've -- weave that through the book, it's more a doggy dog -- dog eat dog world than a doggy dog world. we're doing instagram life. want to do the first question or come back for that? we're going to new jersey a couple of questions from -- a couple of questions from instagram live because the internet is amazing, right? >> could there be a resurgence in nome made tick live in america and one else asked is there a better way to create a zoo for us humans so basically what do we do in modern life right now to mimic the best we
can ancient civilization. >> thank you for your question, instagram person. i think that there's a lot that we can do to integrate prehistoric principles into our modern lives. for example, i spend this year i spent five months in my van, traveling all around the world, quite -- north america, know nomaduc lick. temperatures a lot of blm land where you can camp for tree and other places you, camp very cheaply and van life is a big thing. a lot of people are doing it. a lot of millenial generation people are looking at this package that they're being offered and saying, no thanks. you're not going may my health care, you can fire me whenever you want, i have to get a 30-year mortgage to pay for a small little box to live in. life is too short.
and i am there with them. agree. so i think van life, people trying to live together, forming communities, because another -- there are good things about civilization and technology. one of them is recently a lot of people are able to work remotely. so if you can work remotely, why are you going to live in san francisco and pay $1,400 for a bedroom and someone else residents apartment, when you could pay $1,400 and buy a house in detroit. or inhood and you can have your friends come with you and join together, have one washing machine and one car. everybody doesn't need all their own stuff. that's all consumerism, that's to benefit corporations. we're better off sharing. one part of the book that we haven't spoken pout yet but that i found personally very touching and important was -- i came across a book called paradise
built in hell but rebecca sonnette who lives around here somewhere, and it's about disaster sociology. people who study how human beings behaved in disasters when the trappings of civilization fall away, what happens? now, according to the neohobbsy yen people lime richard dawkins and matt ridley, we rape and pillage and attack each other because -- >> fight for the last. >> we fight because we're all inherently selfish and all looking out for number one, and so if you take away these civilizational constructs, what is happen i it's a dog eat dog world, right? but what they've found, disaster sociologists, is that in tsunamis and earthquakes and wars and other situations in which the trappings of civilization fall apart, what do
people do? they act like hunter gathers because that's what we are. we're grasshopper, not locusts and they help each other. they take care of each oomph not just people who are genetically related to in some fitness calculation, they help each oomph that's what we do. i lived in man had tan -- i was here, in san francisco in '89 when the pick earthquake and the brim fell and i experienced it myself. people i had lived next to for months, i'd never spoken to suddenly we were talking, offering them water. they were offering me whatever they have. that's how we react to these things and there's a quote from charles frist who started the disaster southernology and she says in all my years of research, i've come to the conclusion that people who live through disasters think of those
year, remember those years as the best times of their lives. because they had a sense of purpose, and community, and meaning, the real disaster, the slow, rolling disaster, is daily life. so, getting back to this question. i think that we can -- one of the most important ways to bring hunter gary value is to focus on community, focus on one another, try to arrange your life in such way you can live around people who love you and that you love and take care of each other, help each other raise kids, help each other take care of each other when you're sick, when you get old. all that stuff is very deeply ingrained in us. the number one retickettor of hotel is not how much you spoke or exercise, it's not how much you weigh, not what you eat. it's whether or not you feel
imbedded in a community of people who love you. if you feel that, you're likely to live longer than someone who doesn't no matter how much they work out and eat perfect food and count calories and the rest of it. so i think these are what i tried to do in this book is outline how we evolved, what sort of animal we are, and then to recognize that we live in a zoo that we ourselves are creating. we live in a zoo that we have designed and built. do we want it to be the calcutta zoos which is cames and for his sent light or the san diego zoo where the environment it created with the college respect for the world that created those animals. that's what i'm hoping we'll do design our world in such a way that we, inhabit tenant -- inlab
tenants tenants tenant -- inhabitants live a more meanlingful life. >> next question. >> mostly in america or extra -- mexico and europe, you talk but the very -- [inaudible] -- >> we, i do talk about that in the book. it's true that a lot of the worst examples are in the united states. we live the most fractured existence in the western world. i talk particularly about some of the scandinavian countries who have a more collective identity, collective sense of commune. i talk about a whole section in there about sex education and how the dutch approach it verse americans and the respect for children and acknowledgment of the sexuality offed a less dents
that americans are very uncomfortable with. that's a good point. i lived in spain for most of my adult life, and spanish have a very -- much more cohesive sense ofity than americans. do it's something i want to popularize in america so people here understand, we live in a sick society. we live in a society whose values are out of align. with the values of our spears and it's much worse here than it is in other countries, and we're very so proud to be americans but maybe lately it's changed. i'm very -- i work like a hunter gather which mean its don't get things done. it's taken a long time to get this book out. and i'm glad it came out so late because i think in this moment,
people are much more willing to entertain the notion that maybe things aren't going in the right direction, and they may have been three or four years ago. another question. >> talk about my favorite episode of the podcast -- [inaudible] -- that episode was hit close to the nerve for you, given it was all about death. i'm curious to know what that episode left you with? i had to listen to it five times before any of it sunk in. some pretty abstract views on death. there's so much to it, and i'm wondering what that kind of left you with as an interviewer, because it was just so much to take in, and also what that left
you with during a time of grieving. >> steven general jenkins and his -- guru, -- -- antidula. yeah. he has written about dying and helping -- he's helped thousands of people to die and sat with their families as they went through the process, and i've been trying to get him on my podcast for months, people kept writing to me saying you really need to get this guy on your podcast and, okay, i'd love to, and but i only do them in person, so i don't like talking through computers. i just feel like that ruins the experience. not into condoms, either. but the only time that we could do it -- he was in l.a. and it happened to be the morning of my father's memorial service. so that's what he is referring to, very like heavy moment for
me to be talking about death. i did it that morning, wrapped up the interview and then drove to celebrate the life of my father who had just died a week before or two weeks before. so, what i came away with was sort of a reinforced sense there's something deeply wrong with our approach to death and life, of course in that as i mentioned earlier, the last few years of my father's life were unnecessarily difficult, and at one point i had -- i called his doctor and said, you got to stop this. enough. the dude's dying. let him die. stop this. and it's very difficult for her to hear because doctors are trained in this country to fight against -- it's a war. it's a war. and it's a war of attrition and
we can't let death win. where is the dignity in death? where is the grace and the beauty and the kindness and -- it's gonna happen. let it happen. this a sort -- i've often -- as i said i lived in the spain for a long time and i always go back to this conversation i had with a spanish oncologist that i knew, and he said -- he's a funny guy. dr. rubio. was teaching english to him in this hospital and he really had no interest in learning english. i soon learned. what he wanted was the hospital paid me to come in twice a week and sit in his office with him for an hour if closed the door and said, sorry, english class, lock the dough, open the door, smoke cigarettes and talked in spanish. that's dr. rubio, very spanish kind of situation. but i remember one day he said
to me, talking about culture and the differences between spain and america and he said the thing is, chris, the best thing and the worst thing about your country is you have in sense of the ridiculous. he said jimmy hendrix could only be american. i'm going to restring a guitar and play ilineed and never take a music lesson and i don't gave a damn but time signature. no spanish guitarist will do that. but orbit ronald reagan could only be american. only americans would elect this guy president. so i think there's -- i mentioning that because i think that we have an adolescent approach to life in america. adolescent boy in particular where fascinated by violence and guns and sex, but we're also embarrassed and don't want to talk about it and all weird like a 15-year-old boy, who is perpetual hardon ski think that
what i came away from that particular conversation with was a sense that our aversion to death is part of that same mentality. it's an immature approach to life. and of course hunter gathers deal with death all the time. they're hunters. every time you hunt you kill something. and so death is not a foreign concept for them. and also because i think we're in a difficult spot now because we have become so secularized, that it's difficult for people to have any sense of an afterlife, and so many of us are raised in a very materialistic mental set where, i'm dead, that's it, it's over and so we get this sort of panic. i want to get every last minute because when it ends that's all there is. it's a scarcity mentality. everything about our world is base -- based on scarcity which
i ironic because hunter gathers are materially poor but they act as if they're wealthy. they don't save anything but the environment around them has whatever they need so no need to hoard things and save them for later. it's out there. so you have hunter gathers with nothing who act as of they have everything and us with everything who act as if we have nothing and hunt hunters spirit to all understanding, there ten be worship of ancestors, the ancestors speak. sometimes born into children, all different sorts sorts of sik cyclical belief systems which i think relieves a lot of that pressure that we feel in this very sort of linear, beginning, middle-end, experience. you had a question? >> two for the price of one if
they're easy. >> i don't think so. really cool to hear -- i didn't know you jenkins on the podcast because i read his book back-to-back, and the section about death and the whole time i was at the edge of my seat wondering when -- and that was connected to you talking about the quality of life and curious, i was wondering that -- [inaudible] -- that pursuit of quality of life is itself an aspect of civilization and -- [inaudible] suggested a different way that -- different pursuit that hunter gather people have -- [inaudible]
>> so, if i came across anything suggesting that hunter-gathers seek -- have an appetite for something beyond quality of love? that's an interesting question. don't think so. i -- yeah, there's a point at the end of the book where i'm talking about the fact that for 50-60,000 years doesn't seem to have been a lot of technological innovation and our ancestors lives. the spear points didn't change much. it seemed that not much changed materially in their lives, and then there was an explosion of innovation, 40,000 to 30,000 years ago, and that's been a big question for archaeologists, why
did nothing change for so long when we know that they had this great mental capacity, that we have. just as clever as we are. why did nothing change? i looked at that and thought, maybe nothing changed because nothing needed to change. right? rather than assuming nothing changed because they couldn't figure it out, maybe life was so easy that there was no need to innovate. because that's what we see in hunter gathers today. going back to those guys who came to london. when they went back to new guinea there is one thing they wanted to take back with. the, one thing they'd seen in the western world that impressed them. was the idea that you could put feathers on arrows and they would fly straighter. that's what the found clever. a good invention.
so, i think -- it's really interesting point because we have this -- we're trained to think like you got leave a legacy, have to change the world. are we changing it for the better? who changed the world, columbus? history supplier he changed the world good, job, hey dolph adolph. a lot of people who changed the world should have left it alone. it what better off before the change. and people say to me, your books will outlive you. don't care. there's no value to me. so i think we're -- this idea that there's something -- we're put here on earth to build a company or a brand or -- i don't know what people are doing with these ambitions, but i've always been very suspicious of ambition. feel like it's a scam trying to get me to -- trying to extract
my life's energy for someone else's benefit. i think we're on earth, our purpose here is to take care of each other and have a damn good time. i don't really see anything beyond that. and i think that's enough. at least for me. >> you had a great quote by kurt vonnegut we're here to fart around until the day -- >> exactly. >> one of the chapters that resonate with me was -- [inaudible] -- and ancient -- and back in my early 20s i get to really involved with the pickup artist community and two books were bibles and that was neil strauss' the game, i think your friend, and your books, sex at dawn.
i found a bunch of young men who were just painfully irrelevant or feel so, at least. >> irrelevant. >> yeah. and i was wondering, you both have completely different world views. the pickup community has a world view of getting to the top of an hierarchy and that's how you -- that's your mating strategy and you have probably had plenty of success not with that mating strategy but i don't know when you're sexual memoir book is coming out but -- >> down the road. >> that's the last book, right? but i guess what i want to ask is if you had a ton of-the-guys in this room right now, knowing they're suffering because they are lacking something they feel they need in in and that society has stripped from them. what would you say. >> who are these guys.
>> just a pickup artist community. >> did everybody hear the question? i don't know how well the mic is working. basically neil strauss is a friend of mind wrote a book called the became "pout he pickup artist community. it's funny. first heard of neil strauss issue was in spain, and i had this buddy who was a tattoo artist and came to my place one day and were talking and he said dishes wax working on sex at dawn and he said you're writing a book about sex. he said you should read the game by neil strauss. i side who is this. >> it's great, it's look the science of how to pick up women by making them feel insecure. and he told me about nagging, which is where you -- you'll -- i don't no -- a woman you want to talk to at the bar you might say something like, -- i love
that blouse. i see it around everywhere these days. like something that seems like a compliment but designed to make her feel like, what's going on with this dude? i said to my friend, no, no, that's the opposite of what i'm trying to write about here. and so i just always assume this guy was somebody i didn't want to know. and then he interviewed me for a book he was working on after sex of dawn had come out and was successful and all that, and then he invited know mobile -- mobile by -- mow by's being day party. that was an interesting event. and we have become friends. so, what would i say -- northeasterly is actually that book -- neil is lilly that book, the game, which sold million odd copies and neil lives in a mansion in malibu largely in thankses to that back. neil says dish haven't read the
book hut he says it's the story of the people in this world. it's not a celebration of these people. it's sort of imbedded journalist documentary approach to their world and it starts with the goo who is the best pickup artist in the world who is suicidal. so i don't know to what extent he is just covering his ass there. what would say to those guys if they were here is that rather than learn, how to try to manipulate other people, figure out who you are and be a decent, unapologetic version of yourself. and then other people will come to you. so rather than going out and trying to change -- what are you going to do anyway? you trick a woman into sleeping withyou've? eventually she'll figure out who you are. right? that's the whole point of
intimacy, to figure out who each other is or are. not sure which verb that is there. so you'll never achieve intimacy if you're pretending to be someone else in order to get someone to come home with you. and the point is intimacy. the -- if your point toils -- point is to get laid, just go malls -- masturbate. what's the point? >> but they can't have intimacy if they're not being honest, not being authentic and using tricks to try to make someone feel bad about themselves in order to achieve intimacy. that's an eveil approach and eventually that's going to come out. so, what i would say these guys is i feel your pain. that's why i included that chapter, because i think it's a very underappreciated phenomenon in american life, how much
suffering sexual shame causes here and that's also why i want ed to write sex at dawn. fakes men and women, hurts everybody, divide and conquer strategy, pitting men against women, in this war of the seconds, which i think doesn't exist. ... frustration is one of. i'm not excusing it, i'm not saying it's women's fault in any sense but i am saying that when you live in a culture that is so afraid of sexuality that your shaming people for being who and what they are, it's going to cause serious
problems. in light of that question, we have time for one more and it really needs to be from a woman.i'm sorry. it's been all dudes >> please. [inaudible question] earlier you mentioned something about agricultural process and advancement like being the tilting point for our civilization. what about crisper technology and not manipulation? are we making a huge mistake what are your thoughts? >>. >> i don't know much about ã >> the question is, what about crisper technology?is that huge mistake? i don't know much about crisper, i know it's jean
editing, i think most of the diseases that we suffer from are caused by civilization. people will often say, come on man we have modern medicine we have antibiotics we have vaccinations, but most of the things that vaccinations and antibiotics and the rest of modern medicine are partially addressing are in fact caused by civilization. heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, collateral, malaria, tuberculosis, smallpox, influenza. you go down the list of the biggest killers of humanity, they are all results most results of civilization. cancer. most forms of cancer didn't exist before civilization. i think that we come up with these new technologies, heart students and dialysis machines, it's like a guy who likes your
house on fire and then shows and a half hour later with a bucket of water and you are supposed to feel grateful. it's like, wait a minute, we are causing the problem and then partially fixing it. we screw up the water supply and then sell bottled water. i'm supposed to be thankful for that? when i was a kid we drank water out of the tap and it was fine now i have to go buy it at the store or i have to buy filters and this is the cycle of civilization. destroy the free things so you can can modify it to make money from it. i love the commercial, like a good neighbor, state farm is there. i'd rather have a good neighbor. [laughter] i think that crisper technology, other technological solutions are very partial solutions to problems that are in fact created by the system that gives rise to the technology. that's the hamster wheel we are all running on.
on that thought, i think we are out of time and need to sign these books i want to thank you all for coming and for your great questions we will see you next time. james dalton sold over 30 years of the directors cia is currently at the bush school of public services texas a&m this is his latest book, to catch a spy. mr. alston, how is the u.s. doing in the intelligence war? >> i don't think were doing very well. the reason i wrote the book is because i think that we are losing our secrets and technology. i'm very concerned about that. >> who are main competitors? >> china number one, the chinese are conducting an assault against our technology.
the russians haven't gone away. they're still there also. we are very concerned about that. cuba is very active the iranians are active. a lot of service trying to steal our technology. >> were they feeling and how? >> the number one thing they are after is our technology. what they figured out is that it's a lot cheaper and a lot faster's to steal our technology than do their own research and develop men. so are using billions of dollars in r&d and markets competitive edge it's really a terrible thing going on. >> how is counterintelligence changed over your career? >> i think it's got more difficult in the old days in the cold water we had one adversary we could really focus on and we could penetrate the russians, we could get the russians to work secretly for us. working against terrorists,
working to get some of these other targets arm more difficult.the chinese have been basically invincible, they are hard to get to. and we need to do a lot better job. >> is espionage still based on people to people interactions? >> espionage is still very much a people business. it's people who for whatever reason are willing to betray their country to sell their secrets. we are the major victims in the world in that regard. i really challenge for counterintelligence to keep up with all that. >> why do people betray their countries? >> money. money, money, money, there are some other motivations we see from time to time but the sad reality is that americans unfortunately can be bought. there are some other inducements from time to time, revenge, seduction, other things like that but the
overwhelming majority of americans to betray our country do it for money. >> how do you think we can do a better job of protecting our national intelligence? >> we need to give a lot more priorities to counterintelligence and we are giving it now. we need more resources. we need to attract some of our best young men and women to go into this kind of work. we need to be more aggressive, i think right now were being a little bit to kasem. one of the major points of my book is to go take it to them, to hit them hard with operations double agent operations. >> is there money is their current money in the budget the federal budget for this type of operations right now? >> not enough. fortunately counterintelligence is kind of lost some of its luster, some of its appeal. other targets have serviced and their valid targets. counterterrorism, counter narcotics. things like that.
unfortunately too often it's been at the cost of counterintelligence resources. >> what role does rls play?>> our allies are very helpful to us in the war on terror and other counterintelligence concerns. typically the uk countries and the israelis. a lot of countries are very friendly to us and helping us out in the counterintelligence wars. uk, australia, canada, new zealand. they been very supportive of us. we work very closely with them. >> i think people would be surprised that you said one of our competitors was cuba. i think people would expect them to be a player. >> people are surprised by that but the cubans have not gone away. in my book i ranked cuba number three in the
counterintelligence threat. the number one on the obnoxious scale because they been a real thorn on our side. when castro died we thought they would probably fold, they would go away, it hasn't happened. in fact, the cubans have a really ãband they are giving our technology also, the cuban services is very disciplined, very effective they are good spies and we need to take them seriously. >> james olson, serb cia for over 30 years this is a copy of his new book "to catch a spy" published by georgetown university press. >> thank you very much it's nice to be here. >> now we are joined by the author of this book that american family david marinus. who were elliot and mary? >> elliott and mary were my parents. elliott marinus was a lifelong newspaperman my mother was a book editor. and they are the cal