Unwelcome Guests Program: Is Humanity In Its Right Mind? The Rise of the Left Brain

652Via Unwelcome Guests:

Tony Wright was a student of plant biology at a university in Scotland when he became interested in ‘the human condition’. Over the course of two decades, self-experiments into consciousness developed into serious study. He became convinced that the mental state we regard as ‘normal’ – even perhaps the pinnacle of evolution – is in fact a degenerated condition. The human brain, he suggests, is not what it once was. In his 65 minute interview, Wright explains his theory that the human brain co-evolved with fruit in the tropical forests, and that since humans left that environment, we have suffered a lack of flavonoids and other biochemicals, allowing the left hemispheres to take effective control of our brains, with disasterous consequences.

To underline some of Tony Wright’s points, and provide connections to other speakers, his talk is juxtaposed with material from other episodes. We begin with episode 465, a reading of Charles Eisenstein’s Ascent of Humanity about the Pirahã, one of a few tribes who still live a traditional life in the tropical forest, whose language and culture is singularly unaffected by modern man. Could they, perhaps, still have a healthy balance between brain hemispheres?

Radio episode featuring input from Charles Eisenstein, Tony Wright, Iain McGilchrist, and Michael Pollan.

Hour 1 mp3 http://www.unwelcomeguests.net/archive/ug652-hour1mix.mp3

Hour 2 mp3 http://www.unwelcomeguests.net/archive/ug652-hour2mix.mp3

  • BuzzCoastin

    a nice theory
    but to relegate the madness of modernity to simply a lack of fruit is too simplistic
    because there’s not just one cause of this madness
    and I doubt that many
    would choose to live a traditional life in the tropical forest
    to cure a madness they don’t think they have

    • Juan

      Tropical forests are no fun. At least for me, they’re not. I don’t think I’ve ever been so miserable. I spent some time volunteering as an English teacher in the Ucayli region of the upper Amazon in Peru last year. I gained a whole new level of respect for the people who call this place home. Also, floored when considering the exploits of people like Schultes and Fwacet. Difficult doesn’t even begin to cover it. First there’s the heat and humidity, pretty much around 90 every day, with a relative humidity of about the same. Then there’s the fucking relentless, blood sucking, larva laying, bugs. The food is starchy, bland and nasty. At night, at least where I was, the fucking roosters and dogs, would be going off all night long, non-stop. So you know, no sleep.
      I was totally down there trying to cure an illness I was quite sure I had. Had some success too.

      • BuzzCoastin

        yeah,
        tropical rain forests are for bugs, trees & tree dwelling animals

        his theory plays into some western cultural archetypes
        the noble savage being the most common
        it assumes we were once in a state of perfection from which we fell
        another common western archetype
        (Adam & Satan being most notable)
        and redemption is always a return to the garden
        where all fruit is good fruit but one
        the fruit of the bicameral mind

        • LifelongLIb

          Well, maybe humans did evolve in an environment of year-round abundance where little work/foresight/technology was needed to survive, and later left it or were forced out. That’s the basic Garden-of-Eden story minus the religious elements. I don’t know if other cultures have origin stories like this though.

          • BuzzCoastin

            your theory seems likely
            since by using observation & forethought
            “gathering” humans created food forests aka The Garden
            which were still part of North America when Columbus arrived
            & were still extant in Italy when Virgil wrote Georgics
            but those have all but disappeared
            the Amazon being the last big human cultivated food forest
            being destroyed in the name of modernity
            by modernity’s technologies

    • godozo

      I could see the lack of oxygen
      as the answer instead of “lack of proper fruits.”
      After all, madness is highest in cities
      and cities tend to have lower oxygen levels…

      Maybe fruits are false positives here?

      • BuzzCoastin

        certainly a change in diet can lead to a change in thinking
        else what’s a Vegan vegetarian for?

        this lack of fruit may have caused the bicameral mind
        but more likely was the split caused by technologies
        the use of language changed our way of thinking completely
        as did the wheel, writing, print, weapons, tools, electricity

        First we shape out tools
        and then our tools shape us.
        McLuhan

  • Tchoutoye

    Since when does a student of plant biology become an expert on neurology? And why is Trevor Smith peddling the same article here every couple of weeks?

    Tony Wright has the annoying habit of accusing everyone who doesn’t praise his pseudo-science of “left-brain thinking”, in other words that they’re deluded. This ad hominem gives him an excuse not to counter criticism with any valid arguments.

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      the “Math vs Language” version of the brain lobes explanation is sortof falling away.

      Heres the new version.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFs9WO2B8uI

  • LifelongLIb

    I wonder if the type of mentality required to survive in environments of scarcity (most of the world) is different from what you would need in environments of abundance (the hypothetical tropical forest). Not sure that the tropical forest mentality would have enough foresight to store food for the winter, much less do something like build an irrigation system. Maybe different environments require different mentalities. Our current mentality may be more a result of natural selection than of fruit deprivation.

  • infoboy

    Search for terra preta on you tube , the amazon was extensively farmed with great sucess useing biochar. bbc did documentary on it

  • LifelongLIb

    I’m not disputing that the actual humans who live in the Amazon are very resourceful. My argument is that humans with the mentality that Troy Wright proposes (it’s his idea they lived in a tropical forest, apparently with abundant fruit) could probably not survive most places in the world. We need more detail about precisely what kind of environment Wright thinks humans evolved in. Maybe it’s nothing like today’s Amazon.