Crash Course: How did civilization get here?

I post a lot of humor and entertainment on this blog, but I also try to include a dose of brain stimulation, because gaining knowledge and understanding how things work is a mighty fine pursuit. In the past few years we’ve been experiencing a huge transformation in the way knowledge is learned, shared, and otherwise interacted with. We’ve become accustomed to rapid-fire, bite-sized chunks of information presented to us in the tone and format of our choosing. If we find a medium that suits are tastes, we can learn faster and understand more than ever before.* With that in mind, I sought out a couple of new “edutainment” sources.

Below is the first episode in a great series called Crash Course.  In this episode, John Green explains how man’s decision to become an agriculturalist 15,000 years ago led to the cold 99 cent double cheeseburger on his desk. Watch and learn.


*We’re seeing this in the business world too. Research from Bersin & Associates shows that more and more corporations are rethinking their entire enterprise learning models, embracing informal, social tools to create more on-demand and agile approaches to training and development.


3 thoughts on “Crash Course: How did civilization get here?

  1. We are an arrogant bunch, aren’t we, calling ourselves civilized? 😉
    Some people gain knowledge to survive; some to control others; some to gain fame… some pursue knowledge for the pure pleasure of satisfying their insatiable curiosity. Yet some others have no interest in knowledge. They stumble through their lives without ever giving a thought about improving their present being.
    Humans. Absurd creatures. Yet fascinating 🙂

  2. Sure there are plenty of other motivations but doesn’t it seem like the ones we admire most are the ones who were motivated by nothing other than the thing itself? I remember an article about the Wright brother’s first flight. They were up some big shot who had all this money invested, all the people and technology he needed and was motivated by fame. He failed, and these nobodies succeeded because their small team wanted to fly because, well, they wanted to fly. At least that’s how they put it. And I think if you asked the Franklin’s and Tesla’s of the world they’d probably say knowledge was reward in and of itself. Then again, there are those people that changed the world because they valued power above all else – Genghis Khan for example.

    Another thing to think about is if all this “progress” we have made should even be considered progress. Hmmm…

  3. Yes for sure, the most inspiring ones are those who pursue knowledge for nothing but knowledge itself, and quantum leaps are usually made when there is no other motive involved. The Last Days of Socrates by Plato tells the ultimate example of such pursuit, which, at least, inspired me when I was a child. It’s the opposite of Chinese value system.

    And of course we, as a race, need both Einstein and Genghis Khan. Without the latter, we wouldn’t have the ambition to execute, to make the difference on large scale, without the former, we wouldn’t have what we need to make a difference.

    Although I am a cynic, I do believe that we are making progress 🙂
    Humanity is still quite primitive and barbaric, but compared to Neanderthals, I think we are better off… But we can’t measure anything unless we can define it first. So how do we define progress? Is it the sum of happiness of our race? Are there less depressed people now than 50,000 years ago? Or should we define progress as “things” that we create and bring to this universe? Or perhaps none of this matters. What matters is how well the society (collective wisdom) provides to each and every individual and how each individual contributes to the society so that we collectively and individually are not just given the opportunity but also the means, to pursue happiness, whatever happiness means to each individual.

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