Thursday, July 4, 2013

Zoo Humans

A brand new post is up at Psychology Today:

Zoo Humans

Hat tip to John Durant for the idea and to Erwan Le Corre for the name (and also to the originator, of course, published in 1969 of which I was unaware…The Human Zoo by Desmond Morris which I have now ordered from Amazon. John tells me his new book, The Paleo Manifesto has quite a bit more about primates and zoos in the second chapter. I got a preview copy of the book a few days ago but haven't had a chance to look at it yet.*

Lots still going on! Finishing up the draft of the book, working on chapters and articles for other publications, and (eventually) prepping for my presentation at AHS13. There are a number of interesting papers being published nearly all the time, and I will try to squeeze out more moments to write about them.

*Having read it now, John even has a visit to the Cleveland Zoo! I really enjoyed The Paleo Manifesto and will have a review up closer to the publication date. In short, it is a fascinating foray into one man's discovery of what it means to be human in the Industrial Age. From zoos to religious hygiene practices sex cults to monasteries to skulls to sleep to swimming in the ocean on New Year's Day, John brings together culture and biology to explain the quirks of modern human life.


  1. That was very good even by your standards Emily.
    I had thought these animals were fed more scientifically. It should be no surprise that lab and zoo animals and pets are gaining weight trans-generationally on these diets. I don't think we need look for any more obscure cause than an improperly calculated diet.

  2. Your posts never cease to pose intriguing questions and spark new thought-scapes to ponder. And despite that I sometimes disagree, though not very much--probably if I always agreed 100% with anyone that is what should make me worry-- the fact that your ideas make me think and even challenge me is so much more invaluable.

    Also the image of the treadmills is fits very aptly here, yet also illustrates a bit of the dilemma we face in our society. For example, the reason I do use the gym and treadmills is that I just don't enjoy (and sometimes don't feel safe) walking/running outside in the area where I live. For starters, it is always too hot and humid for me to withstand it. I don't really like the gym, but I feel like it's all I have.

    Kudos for a brilliant article!!


  3. "Zoo humans" can use our big brains to amuse ourselves a lot more than an animal can (that we know). Lock a gorilla in room with wifi and an ipad, and they'll go out of their skulls with boredom. Lock a human in the same room, and that giant brain of ours can manufacture enough interest to keep us going for much longer. Gorillas in zoos can't play guitars or converse, play cards, build things, have hobbies -- again, that we know of. I think we have such a huge universe inside our skulls that we can cope better with a shrunken universe outside our skulls. I can't recall who it was said it, but I remember reading a comment by a fellow who had been put into a prison camp as a boy, and how horrifically boring it was. Not just pain and fear, but the endless trickle of indistinguishable present moments was what drove him bonkers. Then, he got moved to another camp with a tiny library, and suddenly he said his entire universe opened up. Our brains enable us to put up with awful deprivation much better than most other animals, simply because we can even conceive of something better. We're not constrained to just the universe at our fingertips.

  4. Hi Emily

    Is your book going to be about the themes you discuss in this blog?

    1. Yes, some old some new (sorry about the delay in replying, I had iffy internet access on vacation except for some small amount of phone, so I tried to reply about three times and failed!)

  5. Hah! I love the "Get in Shape or Die Trying" tacked up on the gym wall, in the photo.


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