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Publisher's Summary

A provocative exploration of the tension between our evolutionary history and our modern woes - and what we can do about it.

We are living through the most prosperous age in all of human history, yet we are listless, divided, and miserable. Wealth and comfort are unparalleled, but our political landscape is unmoored, and rates of suicide, lone­liness, and chronic illness continue to skyrocket. How do we explain the gap between these truths? And how should we respond?

For evolutionary biologists Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein, the cause of our troubles is clear: The accelerat­ing rate of change in the modern world has outstripped the capacity of our brains and bodies to adapt. We evolved to live in clans, but today many people don’t even know their neighbors’ names. In our haste to discard outdated gender roles, we increasingly deny the flesh-and-blood realities of sex - and its ancient roots. The cognitive dissonance spawned by trying to live in a society we are not built for is killing us.

In this book, Heying and Weinstein draw on decades of their work teaching in college classrooms and explor­ing Earth’s most biodiverse ecosystems to confront today’s pressing social ills - from widespread sleep deprivation and dangerous diets to damaging parenting styles and back­ward education practices. Asking the questions many mod­ern people are afraid to ask, A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century outlines a science-based worldview that will empower you to live a better, wiser life.

This audiobook includes a downloadable PDF containing illustrations and charts from the book.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2021 Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Husband and wife team Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein bring their vast knowledge of evolutionary biology to bear on the problems that beset us. Wide-ranging and illuminating, A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century posits an intriguing, surprising, and profound view of human nature.” (Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, author of Beyond Order, 12 Rules for Life, and Maps of Meaning)

A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century is the human story retold in beautiful language and moving metaphors. Heying and Weinstein are professorial in the best possible sense: They exemplify the intellectual humility, nuanced thinking, and love of learning that a great liberal arts education should nurture. Everyone who is raising or educating kids, or who wants to change social systems, should first read this book.” (Jonathan Haidt, coauthor of The Coddling of the American Mind and author of The Righteous Mind)

“I have never read such a bold, well-researched, and succinct exploration of the puzzling predica­ment we find ourselves in. Anyone who wonders why the most comfortable society in history - our own - has such astronomical rates of depression, anxiety, and poor health will find abundant answers in A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century.” (Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm, War, Tribe, and Freedom

What listeners say about A Hunter-Gatherer's Guide to the 21st Century

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    4 out of 5 stars

Presents conjecture and bias as science

I had a great time listening to this audiobook and found many of the pieces of lifestyle advice offered insightful, so long as they were backed by science and observation. This applies to about 80% of the book.

But mixed in with the reasonable conclusions were instances of pure conjecture utterly disconnected from science and reason. The author's biases, unfortunately, show up and are presented in the same light as actual science and the conclusions reasonably following from it. But because they are presented with such confidence and matter-of-factness, readers who aren't paying attention and specifically looking for them might mistake unsubstantiated opinion inserts for science, which makes parts of this book fall into the category of scientism, which is ironic since scientism is specifically called out in the text.

At one point, the author postulates that justice and freedom are on a sliding scale that cannot coexist in their ideal form, and thus her particular favored brand of legal regulations must be enforced. How does she reach this conclusion? Can she even define what she means by operative terms like "justice" and "freedom"? She presents these arguments alongside real, credible, substantiated ones like that its perfectly healthy for us to eat cooked food because we've been doind so for more than a million years. She can certainly define the biological and anthropological terms she uses when making conclusions in those domains, so at what point does the book transition into a soap box for her personal views? And how is any of this related to a hunter-gatherer view of life?

Anyway, I still learned a lot from the book, so I recommend it. But the reader must tread carefully with a critical eye (or ear) out and not take everything in at face value.

84 people found this helpful

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“When it rains in the mountains, don’t swim in the river.”

There is something exceptional about the thinking of these two evolutionary biologists.
All too often specialization has left our greatest minds Mired in one topic and unable or unwilling to form a comprehensive view of the world.
This book is a refreshing exception.
In their thinking they remind me of Alexander Von Humboldt, a Beautiful throwback to the greatest minds the world has known.
Whether perfectly correct on every topic or not the framework provided with their “evolutionary lens” transcends biology and beautifully weaves into philosophy.
The world has greatly lacked these types of thinkers and scientists in our time. I’m glad to know they are still out there.

46 people found this helpful

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Two Uninformed People Driveling On

I first started to suspect that this was about nothing but surface level opinions during the chapter that touted how great it is to not follow your doctors' advice because they just want to push medicine on you. Their misunderstanding of the medical field is of the kind you often see in basic scientists who fall into the Dunning Kruger trap where they believe that because they know about their own field, somehow they don't need years of a medical education and experience to confidently spout opinions without backing them up.

Speaking of medical misinformation, I just found out that these authors are proponents of the lab-leak theory of covid and they are true believers in the magical powers of ivermectin. Credibility meter just went wayyy down.

I finally decided to throw in the towel in the most transphobic of chapters where Heying drones on about how the animal kingdom has division of labor and clear sex roles, therefore we need to stick to that model as human animals because that's the way things should be and we shouldn't delude ourselves that gender is a spectrum like those silly liberals think. Going against well-studied modern medical research-- that she hasn't taken the time to read-- on the benefits of hormone treatment for transgender people and delaying puberty for trans kids, Heying essentially says we are committing a crime against nature with these treatments. And that there's really something biological to the fact that women aren't good at math.

Oh also she says sex positivity is evil.

How did this get published?

26 people found this helpful

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excellent!

Thought provoking and well read by the authors. The main points are well laid out and expertly woven with anecdotes and personal experiences. The authors paint a clear picture with their words and, as a fan of their podcast, I am thrilled to hear their narration.

21 people found this helpful

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A good summary of Bret/Heather's work

This book functions as an excellent summary of Bret and Heather as their roles in the intellectual dark web as evolutionary biologists. It resembles both their good insights, inquiries, possible solutions from science and their troubling and tricky aspects.

Overall, it's an excellent place for the layman to introduce themselves into the biological science of being human and learn how modern traits and choices affect lifestyle, quality, and sustainability using scientific method and logical extrapolation. It provides useful and agreeable tips using this method and is direct on what works and what wouldn't for fact. Even without science most of the tips seem common sense, but what seems common sense is not really the goal of the book.

The issue like another review put more eloquently is that the two often slip in views that are pooled from their amalgamation of experiences that are politically and philosophically based that is partly influenced by scientific research but not necessarily directly derived, sometimes not at all. This is a delimma because societal structure and culture do play indisputable roles and are thus a necessary part. This is what makes this book fall into political categorization and thats where things get tricky, but they choose to embark an attempt on solving it and addressing issues becuase of how detrimental politics and larger society has become. The big criticism is that the science is professed but its also done alongside their own opinions so a unwary reader may be caught off guard. It perhaps would have been more helpful if they overexplained the philosophical entities and made opinioned positions more lucid.

And so, the book overall is solid knowledge-wise. It gets really sticky in the last several chapters that dig into current issues like postmodernism and how to keep stability in a democratic, free society assuming that's where you want to live, anyway. But that's by design, because they are just trying to figure that out based on their knowledge of evolutionary biology and anthropology and feel necessary to do that here since societal structure is part of life. Obviously they have to philosophize a solution, and that is where you can agree or disagree. It certainly would have helped if they sourced information as much as possible despite that burden, especially in the late chapters to build their argument.

Overall, it's a great way to encapsulate the dozens of hours of Heying and Weinstein into a single book filled with much sound advice on scientific literature. It should also be read with careful inspection.

20 people found this helpful

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Informative, yet too many opinions

The book contains lots of interesting facts about our human nature and explains our behavior, instincts and feelings from the evolutionary perspective. Which is interesting. A big turnoff is the authors sharing their personal opinions on how to live and thrive in our modern environments. In general, the authors’ view on certain aspects of life seem plausible, but seem to lack scientific proof. Also, they spread an almost paranoid mistrust in modern medicine, education and genetic engineering, and advocate for a lifestyle only the richest and most privileged of us can afford to have. Good entertainment and easy to follow though.

15 people found this helpful

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Opinion presented as science

I never write reviews but this book really frustrated me, especially seeing all the five star reviews. The authors frequently present unsubstantiated claims as equally true to the aspects of the book describing research based on the scientific method. The text preaches dangerous lifestyle changes while supporting their claims with nothing more than anecdotal evidence wrapped in scientific jargon. This ranges from advice to disregard recommendations and treatments from medical professionals for conditions ranging from broken bones to depression, to suggestions not to fully validate children expressing gender identity that does not match their sex assigned at birth because the authors believe that most such experiences are part of play and exploration since real transgender individuals are "rare", implying it is unlikely that child expressing themselves is truly transgender. The authors equate cultural behaviors with biological genetic traits and fail to sufficiently distinguish between behaviors that are learned and traits that are inherited. They complain about logical fallacies that encourage society to place too much faith in change while ignoring their own tendency to fall into the equally problematic fallacy that one's ancestors must hold all the answers. History is full of counter examples where folk wisdom and tradition were horribly wrong but the authors rarely mention those instances while preaching the wisdom of tradition. The performance is well done, which actually makes it worse because the pseudoscientific elements of the text are presented in a compelling manner. There is just enough scientific explanation included to make their ultimately unsubstantiated opinions seem valid at first glance. Disappointed.

11 people found this helpful

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Thought provoking and important read!

I know I’m reading a great work when it sends my mind racing, when I question my priors and when I find myself deep in thought.

8 people found this helpful

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Excellent.

I highly recommend this book as it has upgraded my understanding in numerous ways.

8 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

Heather and Bret.. absolutely brilliant, once I heard this book would be available I immediately pre ordered. Love the Dark Horse podcast, check that out as well.

8 people found this helpful