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Evolution's Other Narrative

9/17/2018
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In this episode, we're shifting gears and I'll read an article that I published in 2013 in the journal American Scientist called "Evolution's Other Narrative." Here is a link to the article: https://www.americanscientist.org/article/evolutions-other-narrative Given our conversation last time about the importance of disease in the history of civilization, I thought this article would be an interesting supplement to our understanding of humanity's co-evolution with microorganisms. To...

Duration:00:28:33

Plagues and Peoples, by William McNeill

9/5/2018
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The history of disease demonstrates both the accidental nature of history and the triumph of human reason that can enable us to gain some control over our fate; most of us no longer suffer the death of half our children, among other nightmares. William McNeill’s book, Plagues and Peoples, was the first comprehensive history to capture this balance, and after more than 40 years it remains one of the most insightful narratives on how disease has both shaped and been shaped by...

Duration:00:42:22

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, by Charles Mann

8/20/2018
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In 1493, Charles Mann shows us how Europeans emerged at the center of a modern, globalized world by establishing the Columbian Exchange; a system they created but could not control, and with consequences none of them could imagine. You can access all episodes of Context ad-free along with bonus content, including a 20-minute interview with author Charles Mann himself, by supporting the show on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/context or through the website at https://bradharris.com.

Duration:00:40:38

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, by Jack Weatherford

8/6/2018
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Genghis Khan was so influential that, to understand how Europe began to shake off its medieval provincialism, how the Islamic world lost much of its momentum, and how China's unparalleled technology trickled beyond its borders and reshaped the fortunes of the West, it's well worth studying the legacy of this single Mongolian man. Please complete this one minute survey to help me work with new sponsors I need to grow the show: https://survey.libsyn.com/contextwithbradharris To support...

Duration:00:38:24

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas Kuhn

7/24/2018
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The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is a classic in the history of science, and one of the most cited books of the twentieth century. Thomas Kuhn insightfully challenged our assumptions about how science works, but his opaque style ignited a cultural movement energized around the misinterpretations that objective truth was an illusion and that scientific progress was just a conceit of western civilization. These ideas became pillars of postmodernism, and no one was more frustrated by the...

Duration:00:24:19

Scientific Culture and the Making of the Industrial West, by Margaret Jacob

7/10/2018
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Margaret Jacob’s book helps us understand how scientific knowledge became integrated into the culture of Europe through the 1600s and 1700s, and how the different social and political conditions of different European countries influenced the application of science to material prosperity. Jacob enhances our understanding of the role of science in the Industrial Revolution, and provides insight on why Britain’s distinctive approach to the utility of science enabled it to industrialize...

Duration:00:33:10

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, by David Landes

6/26/2018
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The Wealth and Poverty of Nations was published by David Landes in 1998, and it has occupied a preeminent place on the bookshelves of scholars ever since. Landes boldly argued that historically unique cultural values of curiosity, novelty, and private property empowered European society to lead the modern world; a history that offers invaluable lessons for our own time. You can support Context on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/context, or through the show's website at...

Duration:00:36:51

Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond

6/6/2018
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Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies was published by Jared Diamond in 1997. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998, along with several other awards. The fundamental question that Diamond seeks to answer through this book is, why did history unfold so differently on different continents such that Eurasian societies became so disproportionately influential in creating the modern world? You can support Context on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/context, or through the show's...

Duration:00:26:51