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Growing older in yesterdays world

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Dick Fenner.

Jared Diamond will draw extensively from his new book The World Until Yesterday, and provide an epic journey into our rapidly receding past. Diamond reveals how tribal societies offer an extraordinary window into how our ancestors lived for millions of years – until virtually yesterday, in evolutionary terms – and how they can provide unique, often overlooked insights into human nature.

Drawing on his own fieldwork spanning nearly five decades working and living in New Guinea, as well as evidence from Inuit, Amazonian Indians and other cultures, Diamond will explore how tribal peoples approach essential human problems, from childrearing to old age to conflict resolution to health, and discover that we have much to learn from traditional ways of life.

He will unearth remarkable findings: from the reasons why modern afflictions like diabetes, obesity and hypertension are largely non-existent in tribal societies, to the surprising cognitive benefits of multilingualism. As Diamond will remind us, the West achieved global dominance due to specific environmental and technological advantages, but Westerners do not necessarily have superior ideas about how to raise children, care for the elderly, or simply live well.

Jared Diamond is an American scientist and author best known for his popular science books The Third Chimpanzee (1991/2004), Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997), and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005). Originally trained in physiology, he has developed careers in ornithology and ecology, specialising in New Guinea as well as in environmental history and he is Professor of Geography at UCLA He was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1999 and he has also received a Pullitzer Prize and Royal Society Prize for Books. His new book called “The world until yesterday”.

Photo credit Jochen Braun

This talk is part of the Sustainable Development: 11th Distinguished Lecture Series 2013 series.

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