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Compared to the rest of the natural world, human evolution can feel as if it has evolved with all the thoughtfulness of a lightning storm. Jared Diamond, scholar, bestselling author of Guns, Germs, and Steel and a National Geographic “explorer in residence,” breaks down the pros and cons of rapid change at the society’s Grosvenor Auditorium. He’ll discuss his latest book, The World Until Yesterday: Can We Learn From Traditional Societies? (Spoiler alert: Diamond believes that we can.) The book considers the last 11,000 years an evolutionary eye-blink during which modern societies have gone from traditional and very sparse social structures to literate societies that have learned to harness fossil fuels and fly airplanes. But this rapid speed of social change, Diamond argues, is out of sync with the human ability to evolve in body and instinct. As much as we’d like to think that we’ve evolved to become dependent on phones and tablets, Diamond just might have you second guessing your reliance on the gizmo of the moment.
The lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. at National Geographic’s Grosvenor Auditorium, 1600 M St. NW. $25. (202) 857-7700. events.nationalgeographic.com.