Track & Food Podcast

UBC Professor Edward Slingerland On His New Book Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced And Stumbled Our Way To Civilization

June 16, 2021 Jamie Mah / Mickey Mcleod/Edward Slingerland Season 1 Episode 64
Track & Food Podcast
UBC Professor Edward Slingerland On His New Book Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced And Stumbled Our Way To Civilization
Show Notes

Now brought to you by Scout Magazine.

What luck it is for me today to discuss today's topic with UBC Professor Edward Slingerland. His latest book which came out on June 1st delves into the world of imbibing and how its purveyance within our world and history has helped shape our modern civilization. The book in question is titled, Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced and Stumbled Our Way To Civilization.

It's a fantastic read and often hilarious in it's scope as Professor Slingerland examines our tendency to want to get drunk, how this act has enabled us to trust and cooperate and why this engagement with alcohol has fostered human development. Not to ignore some of drinking's pitfalls and how one ought to be cautious with the negative aspects of drinking too much, especially with regards to distillation, Professor Slingerland details a unique perspective of our fondness for altering our mental state.

This is a fantastic chat with plenty of insight. I hope you enjoy.

Do buy his book. You won't regret it.

Edward Slingerland is Distinguished University Scholar and Professor of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia, where he also holds appointments in the Departments of Psychology and Asian Studies. Educated at Princeton, Stanford and UC Berkeley, he has taught at the University of Colorado, Boulder, the University of Southern California and the University of British Columbia. Dr. Slingerland is an expert on early Chinese thought, comparative religion and cognitive science of religion, big data approaches to cultural analysis, cognitive linguistics, digital humanities and humanities-science integration. He is the author of several academic monographs and edited volumes from Oxford and Cambridge University Press, a major translation of the Analects of Confucius, and approximately fifty book chapters, reviews, and articles in top academic journals in a wide range of fields, from psychology, cognitive science and linguistics to Asian studies, philosophy, religious studies and international relations. He is the recipient of several book, research innovation and teaching awards. Dr. Slingerland’s broad research goals involve exploring the potential of novel digital humanities techniques, introducing more psychological realism and evolutionary perspectives to cultural studies and philosophy, and getting scientists to understand the importance and value of humanistic expertise—especially when it comes to research areas such as literature, ethics or religion.

 His first trade book, Trying Not to Try: Ancient China, Modern Science and the Power of Spontaneity (Crown 2014), ties together insights from early Chinese thought and modern psychological research. His second, Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization (Little, Brown Spark June 2021), targets the standard scientific view of our taste for intoxicants as an evolutionary accident, arguing instead that alcohol and other drugs have played a crucial role in helping humans to be more creative, trusting and prosocial, thereby easing the transition from small-scale to large-scale societies.  

Dr. Slingerland is also Director of the Database of Religious History (DRH), an online, quantitative and qualitative encyclopedia of religious cultural history, based at UBC and  involving a large international network of postdocs, editors and contributors. As primary investigator, he has received over $11 million in grants to support projects exploring the origins of religion and their role in supporting large-scale societies or developing innovative digital humanities techniques and platforms. Dr. Slingerland also teaches two popular MOOCs on the edX platform on “Chinese Thought: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Science” and “The Science of Religion.”