Scientists have found evidence of hot springs near sites where ancient hominids settled, long before the control of fire.
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Can voters really predict who will be a good leader? Malcolm Gladwell joins Big Think Live to discuss this how lotteries could, in theory, distribute leadership more effectively, from government elections, college admissions, and grant applications.
"The results change the perception of who a Viking actually was," said project leader Professor Eske Willerslev.
- A team of international researchers spent years analyzing the DNA of 442 people, most of whom lived during the Viking age.
- It's the largest DNA analysis of Viking remains to date.
- The results show that Vikings were more genetically diverse than previously thought.
An artistic reconstruction of 'Southern European' Vikings emphasising the foreign gene flow into Viking Age Scandinavia.
Credit: Jim Lyngvild<p>The results deal a blow to our modern image of Vikings.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We didn't know genetically what they actually looked like until now," project leader Professor Eske Willerslev, director of The Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre, University of Copenhagen, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/sjcu-wld091120.php" target="_blank">statement</a>. "We found genetic differences between different Viking populations within Scandinavia which shows Viking groups in the region were far more isolated than previously believed. Our research even debunks the modern image of Vikings with blonde hair as many had brown hair and were influenced by genetic influx from the outside of Scandinavia."</p>
A mass grave of around 50 headless Vikings from a site in Dorset, UK. Some of these remains were used for DNA analysis.
Redefining the 'Viking' identity<p>What's more, some of the people who received Viking burials weren't genetically related to the Vikings, suggesting the term "Viking" might have referred more to a job description or cultural identity rather than genetic heritage.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Importantly our results show that 'Viking' identity was not limited to people with Scandinavian genetic ancestry," study co-author Søren Sindbæk, an archaeologist from Moesgaard Museum in Denmark, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/sjcu-wld091120.php" target="_blank">statement</a>. "Two Orkney skeletons who were buried with Viking swords in Viking style graves are genetically similar to present-day Irish and Scottish people and could be the earliest Pictish genomes ever studied."</p><p>Although Vikings idolized warrior culture, took slaves, and focused much of their energy on conquering Europe, they also <a href="https://www.historyonthenet.com/vikings-as-traders" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">helped expand trade throughout the continent</a>, developed <a href="http://www.sourcinginnovation.com/archaeology/Arch07.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">innovative farming and crafting techniques</a>, and were <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-46194699" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">relatively egalitarian in terms of women's rights</a>. Using a genetic framework, the new study adds a deeper layer to history's understanding of the Vikings.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The results change the perception of who a Viking actually was," Willerslev said in the statement. "The history books will need to be updated."</p>
In his new book, "American Rule," Jared Yates Sexton hopes to overturn a centuries-long myth.
- In "American Rule," Jared Yates Sexton wants to eradicate the myth of American exceptionalism.
- Since its founding, Sexton writes that America has been constructed to protect the wealthy elite.
- In this interview, the writer suggests that facing up to our tragic history affords us an opportunity to build something new.
Conspirituality 17: Interview with Jared Yates Sexton<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="15ef8bcd30b09c9541cc8d5d51d16893"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XpQJfxzLAik?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>America's leaders were suspicious of the public's intellect well before that war. The founding fathers created our particular system of democracy because they didn't trust common people. The protection and success of white, wealthy landowners has always been the focus, regardless of the generational veneer pained over the top. </p><p>At one point, Sexton had to leave his desk and walk around. The <a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/white-settlers-buried-truth-about-midwests-mysterious-mound-cities-180968246/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Moundbuilder Myth</a> made him shake his head in disbelief. This conspiracy theory promoted the idea that Native Americans were not sophisticated enough to build mound complexes in the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys and throughout the Southeast, which must have meant Europeans were on the land well before indigenous people. This myth was so woven into the societal fabric that Andrew Jackson, who Sexton calls "a total genocidal madman," mentioned it during the State of the Union address. </p><p>This isn't the only flummoxing footnote. Americans are particularly primed for paranoia. As he says, "You cannot understand modern America without understanding conspiracy theories."</p><p>The recent horrors of <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/jemimamcevoy/2020/09/15/pelosi-calls-for-investigation-into-claims-of-mass-hysterectomies-poor-covid-19-care-at-ice-detention-center/?fbclid=IwAR030JRc9pYvYwvgQMoeBDndZpSbqHkSw16Fn0YLPxwS1O-U2pvmA0DZCgk#4dc1d55e5f7c" target="_blank">hysterectomies performed without consent</a> (not a conspiracy theory) point to another long-standing stain on America's reputation: eugenics. British thinker Francis Galton's bastardization of his cousin Charles Darwin's idea of natural selection fell into favor throughout America. This biologically (and religiously) determined call for selective breeding laid the basis of Nazi Germany, though today few Americans recall how much we inspired Hitler's pogroms. </p><p>The problem, Sexton says, is that we constantly choose to deny or overlook past grievances, which keeps us primed to commit new ones. Germany fessed up to their horrors; so did South Africa. Not so America. Sexton cites Jimmy Carter's "<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCOd-qWZB_g" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">malaise speech</a>," an oft-denounced address that was one of the most honest declarations by a U.S. president. Instead of living up to Carter's impassioned call to action, the public chose an actor that spent eight years coddling a nation's ego instead of holding up a mirror. </p>
Jared Yates Sexton<p>And so here we are, a failing empire foolishly gripping onto the myth of a time that we were supposedly great. In fact, Reagan asked us to make America great again; so did Bill Clinton. With this myth comes the proliferation of conspiracy theories, most notably QAnon, though dozens persist. And they all point back to the founding myth in some capacity.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If America is so special, how are we failing right now? Within the myth is the idea that we're being sabotaged from beyond and from within. Nationalistic conspiracy theories are what happens when a country's mythology starts to wane." </p><p>While critical, Sexton is not without optimism. Our failures shouldn't not erase the incredible progress we've made. Right now, however, that mirror Carter tried to wield is needed. Otherwise, we could be reliving the end of the Cold War. The dismantling of the Soviet Union destroyed Russian optimism, which the government used as a wedge to attain absolute power. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"After the Cold War, they became as a people and a culture incredibly depressed, and incredibly oppressed. It reached a point where they knew their leaders were lying to them. But it was met with a big shrug. Eventually that apathy and powerlessness breeds more apathy and powerlessness."</p><p>Which is where America stands today: skyrocketing rates of depression and anxiety, as well as the blueprint for a new Civil War—a possibility Sexton calls a probability. Nothing new here: instead of collectively focusing our energy on the accumulation of wealth by the moneyed class, culture war issues and conspiracy theories keep us engaged in turf wars. </p><p>If you think it can't happen here, "American Rule" is a reminder that it has, and likely will. Sexton's advice: to achieve any sort of unity, we have to resist the urge to become apathetic. This isn't a red or blue issue. We're still neighbors, part of a community that stretches sea to shining sea, even if at the moment the seas are covered in smog. </p><p>And the road to healing begins with a recognition that we need to rid ourselves of the greatest myth in the history of the republic. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Once we disabuse ourselves of the myth of American exceptionalism, and we start looking at American history and say it's really problematic and inspirational at other times, it allows us to build something new."</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
The major temples seem much more interesting than what also appears on the landscape: apparently random mounds of earth.
The Bayon temple at the famous temple area of Angkor Archeological Park.
Ian Walton/Getty Images<p><span style="background-color: initial;">T</span>he generated maps reveal both areas of dense occupation with city blocks and streets, and lower-density areas with scattered community temples, sometimes marked by little more than a scatter of bricks or just a faint impression of a mound with a moat around it. These community temples probably served a somewhat similar function as churches in the agricultural communities of modern America do: not just to promote religion but also to facilitate social networking and help neighbors coordinate their activities. When growing rice, it's important to coordinate and manage water collaboratively with your neighbors. If one farm hoards all the water, neighboring farms may have to let their fields go fallow. When that happens, pests take over and devastate everyone's crops.</p><p>Our team realized that the key to cracking the code of Angkorian agriculture was to understand these community temples. The new maps showed <em>where</em> the temples were on the landscape, but we needed to figure out <em>when</em> they were built.</p>