Mar 9 • 45M

Mind Over Reality: Why Men Are Destroying The Planet | Ajit Varki

And why women could be the answer

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Rachel Donald
Planet: Critical is the podcast for a world in crisis. We face severe climate, energy, economic and political breakdown. Journalist Rachel Donald interviews those confronting the crisis, revealing what's really going on—and what needs to be done.
Episode details

“Everywhere you look, humans are ignoring reality – earthquakes happen and people go back and build in the same space again: “It's not gonna happen to me.”

“What is optimism? Denial of reality. What is extreme optimism? Extreme denial of reality. If you didn't have optimism, humans couldn't move forward. We just ignore everything. We corrupt reality at our will look. Just look around the world today and see what's going on. What person on the people on the planet today is not ignoring reality?”

People all around the world wonder what makes human beings so special. One scientist flipped the question on its head: What got in the way of other species developing a similar consciousness?


Ajit Varki met Danny Bower, the man behind the theory, by chance at a conference. They spoke for two hours and never met again. Bower died before having published his theory, but Varki received the manuscript from Danny’s widow. Denial: Self-Deception, False Beliefs, and the Origins of the Human Mind proposes a new theory of the origins of the human species. Bower and Varki suggest that human beings became aware of their own mortality and simultaneously, to deal with the terror of that knowledge, developed a profound capacity for reality denial.

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Ajit Varki is a physician-scientist and distinguished professor of medicine and cellular and molecular medicine, co-director of the Glycobiology Research and Training Center at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and co-director of the UCSD/Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA).

Planet: Critical investigates why the world is in crisis—and what to do about it. Support the project with a paid subscription.

© Rachel Donald