Rutger Bregman’s Optimistic History of the World

History Extra | 20 May 2020 | 0h 35m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with Rutger Bregman about his book, Humankind: A Hopeful History, which ranges over the past to argue that humanity is inherently good.

3 thoughts on “Rutger Bregman’s Optimistic History of the World

  1. How likely was a hunter-gatherer to experience lethal violence? From

    From 50,000 years ago to 10,000 years ago, when humans lived in small groups of hunter-gatherers, the rate of killing was “statistically indistinguishable” from the predicted rate of 2%, based on archaeological evidence, Gómez and his colleagues report today in Nature.


    The study is “innovative and meticulously conducted,” says Douglas Fry, an anthropologist at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. The 2% figure is significantly lower than Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker’s much publicized estimate that 15% of deaths are due to lethal violence among hunter-gatherers. The lower figure resonates with Fry’s extensive studies of nomadic hunter-gatherers, whom he has observed to be less violent than Pinker’s work suggests. “Along with archaeology and nomadic forager research, this [study] shoots holes in the view that the human past and human nature are shockingly violent,” Fry says.


    It is misleading to suggest that humans in the state of nature are pacific, though it does seem to be the case that the rise of cities and states led to an increased rate of lethal violence.

    1. Thanks for the link to Science Mag article. I really liked that. A cunning approach that provides an independent way of getting at how we behave “in a state of nature”.

      I’m 60% of the way through reading Humankind. It’s a great read. Deliciously contrarian.

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