A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century

by Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein, 2021

I asked neighbor, Nate, what book he was reading currently and he said this one. It sounded intriguing so I checked it out from the library. I scanned it–didn’t read it word-for-word. Their premise is that our modern lives are the opposite of healthy lives. I like what the jacket sleeve says: “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 In our haste to discard outdated gender roles, we increasingly deny the flesh-and-blood realities of sex–and its ancient roots.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.”

I only scanned this book. The first chapter on evolution lost me. I believe God created us, male and female, and He created everything, this world, all of its creatures, everything. That’s not to say creatures, including us, haven’t evolved over time, and I do believe the universe and our world are ancient. I am not a flat earth type person. However, there is also good and evil in this earth, and right now, Satan’s kingdom is this earth, but some day, Jesus will come again and this time, He will come as a conquering King. Until then, we wait, and we love. We focus on what is good, true, lovely, noble, admirable. We have the Holy Spirit inside of us to guide us. Man thinks he is so smart, but all of our intelligence can fit on the head of a pin compared to the God of the Universe. He created all things and He is sustaining all things, and we continually mess things up, but someday, Satan and all sin and evil will be banished forever and we will live forever with Him who is Love Incarnate, and all evil that has happened will be transformed by Him into mind-blowing goodness, never tainted by sin again. All pain and mourning and darkness will be gone forever and ever.

They are evolutionary biologists. Mostly, they shared stories from their lives, their research in the Amazon and Costa Rica, teaching and taking students abroad, raising their kids. I agree with a lot of their opinions, but mostly, this is opinion masquerading as science.

They cover modern medicine, food, sleep habits, sex and gender, parenthood, childhood, and school. They are against our modern educational system. Children should be outside as much as possible. They should be allowed to play and learn as much as possible through play. Helicopter and snowplow parenting are creating disfunctional adults. We shouldn’t start hormone therapy on our children when they are simply experimenting with gender roles through play. Don’t do something that can’t be reversed when it’s natural to play and experiment as a young child. Keep children away from TV and inanimate baby-sitters. Mean what you say and if you make a threat, carry through. They told their boys it was okay for them to break arm, wrist, leg bones but it was not okay to break their brain.

At the end of each chapter, they have a section called, “The Corrective Lens.” I do agree with a lot of what they say in these sections. For example, in the chapter, Medicine: “Listen to your body, remembering that pain evolved to protect you; Move your body every day; Spend time in nature; Be barefoot as often as possible; Resist pharmaceutical solutions for medical problems if you can.”

In Food, they talk about Jesus feeding the 5000 with loaves and fishes, and they point out it might be good to think about the food that Jesus fed us. “Perhaps “loaves and fishes” has meaning that is deeper than we might have imagined.” In the Corrective Lens for Food, they write: “Shop the edges of the supermarket. Better yet, buy your food with as few middlemen as possible, as at a farmers market. Avoid GMOs…[neither dangerous nor safe but different from what farmers have been doing for thousands of years]. Respect your food aversions and cravings. Expose children to a diverse range of whole foods.” They also recommend intermittent fasting, since that is what we did back when food was scarce. Don’t eat alone – food is a social lubricant.

In the chapter on sleep, the Corrective Lens says: “Allow celestial bodies to set your sleep-wake pattern. Wake with the sun. Know the phases of the moon…Spend time outside…Get closer to the equator at some point during your winter…Avoid caffeine less than eight hours before bedtime…Go to sleep early enough that you wake without artificial help. Develop a ritual in advance of sleep. Spend time outside every day. Keep your bedroom dark while you sleep. Use a red light, rather than a standard one, if you read before bed. Restrict outdoor blue-spectrum light at the societal level…Besides sleep, which we need, what else might we lose when we disappear our own night sky?”

In Sex and Gender, they talk about differences between males and females, that that is a good thing. “We are and should be equal under the law. But we are not the same–despite what some activists and politicians, journalists and academics would have us believe…To ignore our differences and demand uniformity is a different kid of sexism. Differences between the sexes are a reality, and while they can be cause for concern, they are also very often a strength, and we ignore them at our peril.” In their Corrective Lens on Sex and Gender, they list: “Avoid sex without commitment, including sex for hire…For straight women: Do not succumb to social pressure to embrace easy sex…You are better off looking for a good guy who is capable of, and interested in, refusing to act on his basest impulses. Keep children far away from pornography. Try to keep yourself away from it as well. Do not interfere with children’s development by trying to block, pause, or radically alter their developent…Childhood is a time of identity exploration and formation. Children’s claims to be the sex that they are not should therefore not be indulged as anything beyond normal play and searching for boundaries. While actually intersex individuals are real and incredibly rare, and actually transgendered people are also real and very rare, much of modern “gender ideology” is dangerous and contagioius, and many of the interventions (hormonal, surgical) are not reversible. Keep contaminants away from fetuses and children…While sex determination in frogs is different than in humans, we will not be surprised if it turns out that some of the modern confusion around sex and gender ends up attributable to widespread endocrine disrupters in our environment. Recognize that our differences contribute to our collective strength.

In the chapter on parenting, the Corrective Lens states: “Do not expect your children to keep up with the Joneses. Encourage active engagement with the physical world. Do not let inanimate objects babysit your children. Do let children play without adult supervision as early and as often as possible. Consistently follow through on your promises, both positive and negative…Do not helicopter or snowplow your childen. Let them make their own mistakes. At the same time, make clear rules. One that we set was this: “You are allowed to break an arm, a leg, a wrist, an ankle. But you may not break your skull or your back, or impair your senses.” Do not spoil your children. Let your children in on (almost) every conversation. Let siblings (and friends) teach each other, and do not intervene whenever they have a disagreement or altercation. Let your children sleep. … Do not make a habit of displaying your children on social media. Provide ample free time for your children…Be the kind of person you want them to become.”

This is interesting in “Becoming Adults:” “Doing things with nonnegotiable outcomes in the physical world–skateboarding, growing vegetables, ascending a peak–provides a corrective to many wrongheaded ideas currently passing for sophisticated.

Some of these include: all of reality is a social construct, emotional pain is equivalent to physical pain, and life is or can be made perfectly safe.” Under the Corrective Lens for Becoming Adults, they talk about ‘taking responsibility for our own actions, minimize the effects of economic markets on our daily lives, be aware of the constant flow of information telling us how to be, always be learning, have rites of passage in our lives, celebrate things, get outside, get over your bigotry, smile at people, be grateful, laugh daily with other people, put your phone down,’ “Define your fights for whom and what you love, rather than against whom and what you hate.”

All good advice.