Civilized to Death – The price of progress by Christopher Ryan.

Civilized to Death – The price of progress by Christopher Ryan. This book is really interesting, but it’s hard to give a fair opinion because it talks about many important things we see as humanity’s greatest achievements. It covers topics like the positive impact of technology, economic growth, and medical advancements, to name a few.

The writer suggests that ancient humans who lived before farming had a better life in many ways compared to us. By showing evidence from anthropology, this book paints a convincing picture of how hunter-gatherers from over 20,000 years ago were better nourished and generally healthier. Modern studies on groups of people living in similar conditions today, like those in the South Pacific islands or South American jungles, support these ideas.

The Narrative of Perpetual Progress (NPP) argues that ongoing social and economic improvements make our lives better, and the present time is superior to any point in the past. However, the author points out that many modern diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and hypertension, didn’t exist in times before farming. Examining ancient human skeletons shows that tooth decay and cavities were less common back then, suggesting our teeth weren’t designed for a diet based on cultivated grains.

After farming and especially after industries developed, our way of living has not only harmed our physical and mental health but has also significantly changed society, and not for the better. Ideas like owning things, marriage, social rankings, and other human concepts were not part of how the first hunter-gatherers lived in the past.

When we carefully examine our current way of life, it might not be as great as many believe. Yes, we have things like computers, advanced medical procedures, and space travel now, but we’ve also sacrificed a significant amount of our freedom, health, and happiness along the way.

In the latter part of the book, the author begins sharing personal experiences and talking about themselves. I think this is more fitting for a memoir. I would suggest skipping those parts that don’t contribute anything to the discussion about pre-agricultural societies.

Towards the end of the book, the author suggests a different way of living that could balance our current rush for endless economic and technological progress. The idea is simple: the purpose of life is to live it. Just keep enjoying it like a game. Since the universe and life are infinite, it doesn’t make sense to try extending our time on Earth indefinitely. Everything has its right time and place to thrive. We don’t need to create super-expensive societies that harm our planet. Maybe that’s why we haven’t found intelligent life in space—they might have already realized they are where they want to be and have no need to look further.

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