Who are we?

Question: What forces have shaped humanity most?


Dennis Ross: You know I have to tell you that when I was an academic, I was a big believer in the forces of history. You know nothing happens . . . It’s just these larger dynamics at play. And you know you’re at a certain stage of development. That explains why certain things are possible and not possible. And I must say after I began working and actually trying to negotiate, I became a much bigger believer that it’s the forces of personality much more than the forces of history. When you have strong leaders emerge who are driven by a sense that they’re prepared to achieve big things, or solve conflicts, that changes what’s possible at any given moment.

Sure there are dynamics created by technology. No doubt about that. The world is different today than it was. And we have instant communication, so we’re in a world that is much more connected than it ever was before. And yet, you know, we also see very traditional kinds of conflicts that take place in this globalized world. You look at a place in the Middle East, and we see the most modern of all places in terms of, you know, the instant communication and transmission of money for investment. And we see people who wanna be building everywhere. And we see people who wanna tear down everywhere. So these larger forces are affected by changes in technology; but they’re also affected by individuals and leaders who are prepared in a sense to take the cudgels and try to transform reality as we know it.


Recorded on: September 12, 2007


As a negotiator, Ross became a believer in the forces of personality and technology.

Unraveling the mystery behind dogs' floppy ears

Dogs' floppy ears may be part of why they and other domesticated animals love humans so much.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Nearly all domestic animals share several key traits in addition to friendliness to humans, traits such as floppy ears, a spotted coat, a shorter snout, and so on.
  • Researchers have been puzzled as to why these traits keep showing up in disparate species, even when they aren't being bred for those qualities. This is known as "domestication syndrome."
  • Now, researchers are pointing to a group of a cells called neural crest cells as the key to understanding domestication syndrome.
Keep reading Show less

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
Keep reading Show less

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less