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The climate crisis is worsening each day that passes, and yet society continues to turn a blind eye to its alarming impact on the entire planet. Climate activist George Paxinos, celebrated as the world’s most cited neuroscientist, has decided to try a different approach to catch everyone’s attention regarding this matter: eco-fiction. Sitting down with Corinna Bellizzi, he talks about his first novel, A River Divided, a story about two parties fighting over the Amazon Rainforest. George explains how his narrative aims to challenge readers to stand up and take part in the battle of nature versus nurture. He also discusses his goal to have a reset of religion, science, and culture, as well as how the ethics of scientific exploration and climate crisis might intersect.
About George Paxinos
George Paxinos is a visionary neuroscientist who has discovered and mapped more brain regions than anyone in history. He uses principles of the mind, free will, and consciousness from neuroscience to shape the characters of his eco-fiction novel, A River Divided. An environmentalist himself, his novel explores some of the most important questions of the 21st Century: Is the human brain capable of solving the environmental crisis it created? Is this generation creating the conditions for the extinction of its progeny? In a battle of nature versus nurture, which will be victorious?
Science and idealism are woven together in this novel about the search for meaning, for love, and for an understanding of what is important for us both as individuals and as actors in the environment. The characters of A River Divided will stay with you long after you read the powerful and evocative last sentence: “A Child, I will bring to the world a child.”
Guest LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/georgepaxinos
Guest Website: georgepaxinos.com.au
00:00 – Introduction
04:27 – Creating eco-fiction
13:26 – Nature vs. Nurture
16:10 – Two conflicts
27:06 – Novel takeaways
39:03 – Healthier living
47:34 – George’s next book
48:48 – The image of God
54:04 – Closing Words
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How Eco-Fiction Can Push Forward The Fight Against Climate Crisis With George Paxinos
As we come back from our holiday break and enter what will be our fourth year of this Journey, I’m thrilled to bring you on a deep conversation with an acclaimed neuroscientist about a beautiful story that he wrote. This is a work of fiction, one that explores perhaps some crazy ideas that seek solutions and that inspire us to work for more meaningful change together. This isn’t the first time that I’ve interviewed authors of fiction, the eco-fiction authors as it would be, about the power of their craft to push for real meaningful change.
We explored a futurist’s perspective on the topic of surrender when I hosted a discussion with Lee Schneider. There was Juliet Rose whose works of fiction have helped us to understand addiction and battling those addictions through sometimes other unhealthy habits, throwing ourselves into hard work, fighting fires in California, creating new traumas in their wake, and the connection to our ecology and what we do as a people to surmount some of these challenging times, the climate change crisis that we confront.
This may not be the last time that you read a story like this, in fact. We also would remember an episode in which I interviewed Isabel Reddy. Isabel constructed an entire work of fiction around a coal mine disaster in Appalachia that occurred in the 1970s and the end of the lives of so many people who worked hard to build that town. As we get started with this new season, we are poised to ask perhaps different questions that connect to the ethics of scientific exploration and the incredible challenges that we face with this climate crisis. How might these two worlds intersect? That’s exactly what we’ll explore.
The questions that we pose are, what if a modern-day geneticist were to discover what could be the bones of Christ and have the skillset, resources, and will to both extract that DNA and clone him not just once but twice? The story comes from someone that I would call an unlikely storyteller. He’s an acclaimed scientist who studied at Berkeley, McGill, and Yale and who was a visiting scientist at Cambridge, Oxford, Stanford, and UCLA. He is a science Professor of Medical Sciences at Neuroscience Research Australia and the University of New South Wales in Australia.
He’s identified and named more brain areas than anyone in history and published 57 scientific books. His first, The Rat Brain in Stereotaxic Coordinates, is the most cited publication in neuroscience and, for decades, the third most cited book in all science of all time. His name is George Paxinos, and he joins me to talk about his first work of fiction, a page-turning novel called A River Divided, which was published on October 31st, 2023 by Heads & Tales. I have so many questions for George Paxinos, and I’m sure you do too. I’ll do my best to cover the bases. George Paxinos, welcome to the show.
Good day, Corinna. It’s a pleasure to be with you. I share some of your passion for a better world and archeology.
That’s something that we got to talk about before I brought you up. I have a background in archeology. This main character that you explore, we’re going to get into that quite a bit. First, I would really love for you to tell us what moved you from your world of academic writing with 57 works and so much more. What compelled you to write this work of fiction, which I understand was decades in the making?
It was decades in the making. Just before submitting it, a friend of mine found me working on it at the coffee shop in the suburb of Sydney. She asked, as usual, “How is the book going?” I said, “Twenty-one years, and I’m still not finished.” She said, “My cousin’s novel was published posthumously.” I said, “You’re giving me hope.” What moved me to work on a novel was failure leading to fiction in my case. I tried environmental activism and things I tried failed like protecting trees, forests, and the tramway legacy of Sydney for the future advent of a light rail system. I thought, “If only I could write a novel and work not on behavior or to try to stop someone who wants to cut a forest but to make them want to preserve the forest, that is work at attitude upstream of behavior or the origin of behavior, then I could be more effective.”
I didn’t have the vehicle. I couldn’t didn’t come up with an idea. For a decade, I was thinking of this until at one point, one of the many pre-Christmas parties that we have in Australia where some coincide with Christmas, a friend said, “I noticed you’re going to Spain. There you should go and see Santiago de Compostela where the bones of Saint James are buried.” I’ll get some DNA and see what the guy looks like. I then thought, “Why not someone far greater?” This is what the book is about. It asks the question, “What would someone with a genetic endowment of Christ do if he was born today? Would he join Wall Street or street protests?” It’s in your psychological approach to Christ.
I had trouble finding a publisher. The first publisher approached and asked me, “What is this book about?” I said, “It’s a travel diary. It has to do with human cloning. It’s about resurrecting Jesus. It deals with ethics. It is principally about the environment but has philosophy as well.” He said, “On what shelf would I place it?” Until that moment, I was convinced of Woody Allen’s saying, “If you are bisexual, you double your chances for a rendezvous on a Saturday night.”
As it stands, I can understand part of what the publisher’s dilemma is. It’s who the audience for this book is. Frankly, I think it is a work of eco-fiction but it also sits at that juxtaposition of the question of nature versus nurture and what makes us individually who we are, which is one of the most compelling questions that we ever have the will to ask. There have been so many twin studies and so you’re ultimately posing the question about that twin study, “What if you were to make a clone?” That clone was someone who we had documented some of their life when they existed 2,000 years ago and was known as the virgin birth or the son of God. You made a couple of choices in this story, too, that I think make it interesting in another way. That was that Evelyn, while she was a lover of Christ, wasn’t exactly a devout Christian.
In fact, because she was an atheist or at least not a Christian, she could contemplate the idea of finding the remains. All Christians believe that there are no mortal remains of Christ, so she had to be a non-Christian. In her case, an atheist.
There’s also this question of the roots in Israel where she’s finding the bones. This is very early in the story so don’t feel like I’m giving too much of the story away yet because it’s so early in the story. It is finding them in a relatively open space and then worrying and going through that entire worry that they may be discovered and that her plans could be thwarted because she has this desire to do this thing of deeply questionable ethics, which is to bring Christ back into this world in what I really think would be the first true virgin birth in a way because it’s not like there’s an insemination by another sperm. It’s a creation from something of the past. Was that intentional? Was that part of your weaving of this story? Why did you make that choice in creating the work?
I want to have someone genetically and, as you pointed out, the influence of the environment to use psychology. I knew the neuroscience. I knew of identical twins raised apart that come into play in that way. The book is fiction presenting facts in that neuroscience was what I knew and I could ride. My aim was to bring the environment into play and choose Christ as well as all other philosophers. The early Christians certainly produced a big change in civilization. It took over the Roman Empire. It was a new ethic. This and more are required before we construct a sustainable society now as to what symmetry exists there with the birth of Christ, which, according to the protagonist who produced the cloning, is not a case of virgin birth. It’s just birth like any other.
The philosopher was unusual and she chose Christ rather than any other one because of the change of society, the total shift that we will need to have. There is some symmetry in the sense by the time some of the readers reach the end realize that one of the twins will find himself in the same position. He would be a foster father as well. There is a plot that comes in full circle. With the issue of nature versus nurture that you mentioned, psychology now says it is nature via nurture. Much like two artists would sculpt different statues from the same block of marble, different environments will stop different characters, even with the same DNA, even with identical twins as we have the case in the book.Two different artists would sculpt two different statues even if they use the same block of marble. Click To Tweet
In this case, you’re exploring the story of an affluent couple in Sydney bearing the child, Evelyn, in fact having this child, raising it in that space, and then another individual that they solicit to have the child on their behalf in another space like South America with no real financial security and seemingly on the run for fear of discovery. There’s this layer of another added intensity to one individual’s life and then an exploration of what happens with their moral character as a result of that. I was very curious. As somebody who is an anthropologist myself and was trained and archeology, I explored these topics many times throughout about whether your perspective at all changed in the writing of this story as you continue to do your research. Did you think it was nature more or nurture more at the beginning or did you truly understand it to be a combination of both nature via nurture as you just said?
Yes. I used psychological evidence of identical twins raised apart where you can expect some common traits, but you could expect that the environment will produce variations in them. The evidence, for example, for schizophrenia and identical twins is that 50% chance that the first one that you meet is schizophrenic. You can predict the 50% chance the other twin, the identical twin, will be schizophrenic. Similarly with sex reference with identical twins, if one is homosexual and the probability is 50%, the other one is not 100%. The environment plays a significant role. I used the psychological evidence for that. I had, from the beginning, the idea of what was going to be expected usually. You can have variability in anything, but the reason that I attempted this is because I had this ecological background for it. Out of Interest, I had the environmental science data for that.
Like any great novel, the story does have a big conflict. The two conflicts in the story are the potential of possible Christ figures meeting one another because that question is always there. Do we believe what Evelyn believes? Is this a recreation of a clone of Christ or is it just some other random person from 1,800 or more years? That question is left to our imagination, never a firm answer because how could you firmly answer that anyway?
At the same time, we have that piece of conflict, but then the other big bad really has to do with our environmental collapse and things that we’re doing in the name of green energy and the Amazon. You have this central conflict in this story. This is where the meaning of the book title I think comes in, this concept of a river divided. We have two individuals that could potentially be on opposite sides of the story.
We also have the outcome that relates to the Amazon. Are we going to dam it and continue this deforestation or are we going to let the land stay its wild and beautiful self and preserve its future for the generations that follow and for the health of tomorrow? I wondered if you could, for a moment, talk to me about why you chose this conflict in particular over another conflict. What does it really mean to you?
The Amazon is an iconic acid of the earth. I wanted both identical twins to have a leg to stand on that we don’t have the saint and the devil. For different reasons, there were opposing actions. One of them wanted to construct a green energy renewable resources from the river. The other one was opposed to it because it was going to make the river downstream poor in oxygen and the number of fish species would not be able to cope besides having a limited time span and, afterward, leaving the river and a huge loan to Brazil.
They both have some reasons to act the way they do. It suited this story to have a divided river because you do have a division between the two brothers. The embryo itself was accidentally divided in half when Evelyn, the protagonist, who constructed the clone, accidentally divided it in two and both halves kept the cell division. She had two embryos giving birth to one and the other one she could not and she gave it to a surrogate in Argentina. There is that division of the embryo. There is the identical twins, two of them. The story of The Divided River is suited besides being the iconic asset of the Earth.
I found it to be a truly picturesque story because those who decide to pick up a copy, and I think most should, frankly, this basically offers you the opportunity to explore from a story perspective a lot of the topics that we’ve covered on this show. We had Steve Hawley on this show for example. We interviewed him about his work, Cracked, which is all about the crumbling infrastructure of dams and why dams are actually a bad thing for ecosystems.
This story works to tell you more about the reasons behind that in an entertaining perspective. You’re not just sitting there reading the scientific journals. Sometimes, our brains need that kind of a break. I really enjoyed that exploration. I also liked this perspective that Jose, and we can call him the Jesus of South America if we want to for this case, is speaking about the brain as his mentor, which happened to also be somebody in the neurosciences. He uses this metaphor essentially saying that our brains aren’t actually the right size for the solutions that we would seek to create.
Basically, we don’t have the capacity to understand the unintended consequences that our actions will have, and because we don’t have that capacity, we need to stop. I have often felt this in a very real rudimentary way in my bones, being, gut, and soul when I hear about things like the government doing experiments on an island off the coast of Hawaii and choosing to do something like introduce a rabbit because they want to get rid of some grass that is growing there.
They then figure that the rabbits are just going to die off after they eat all that grass because there’s no water source. Guess what the rabbit started doing? They started eating the eggs of the sea birds because the eggs had moisture to them. They’re getting their water by eating the eggs of the sea birds that are endangered, and then to get rid of the rabbits, they introduce dogs. It just got worse and worse. It was like the story of the little old lady who swallowed the fly. These are smart people and scientists working on these problems and yet we can’t solve the most basic of them.
In the case of the environment, the producing, sustainable society, which I assume everyone would like to see, is going to be a far greater challenge than it’s thought so far. I bring my granddaughter to this. I asked her, “Tell me something that you will do today that does not pollute the planet.” She said running. I said, “That’s good, but if you run, you will wear out more shoes than otherwise.” “Running barefoot.” I said, “That is good, but if you run, you build up your appetite and they will have to slaughter more chickens to bring them to you to eat in trucks.” She said, “Sitting in a chair.” I said, “That’s very good, but to make a chair, you have to cut the tree.” “Lying on the ground naked.” It is hard to think of something that you do that does not pollute the planet.
This is one of my friend’s arguments against recycling. She said, “I didn’t have children.” I’m like, “You got me there because I had too.”
That’s right. People shouldn’t have to go to that extent. We are entitled to have our children, but the problem is not assisting those who do not want to have additional children not to have them. This is family planning. This is where we find that institutions such as the religions are working against survival. The concept of enlightenment is that you do not follow dogma but science. It’s exactly the opposite that is happening now. The number of religions in this is taken up by one of the protagonists in the novel, Jose, who asks questions about equality.
He said, “Tell me the difference between these two sets of groups of people, Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini, and on the other hand, Nightingale, Marie Curie, and Mother Teresa.” The answer to which his brother gave was ordination. The first three can apply to become priests in the Catholic Church. The other three need not apply. The church deals with the environment no better than it treats women. If you look at it, they consider prophylactics, which could assist people to plan their family and not to have so much 80 million people additional coming to the planet unwanted.
The fear of this is because they consider prophylactics to be more evil than HIV, from which they can protect and assist you to plan your family. Unless religions get out of the bedrooms of people, we will continue to have a problem with population because, whatever else you do, if you have twice as many people, you’ll have twice the problem in other things being equal.Unless religions get out of the bedroom, we will continue to have a problem with the population. Click To Tweet
As we think about this story as a whole, I’d really love for you to share what you hope that people will take away from the story and carry with them as a resounding message to perhaps inspire them or keep them thinking. What is it that you hope that they will leave this story thinking about?
To tell you what my aim was, it is to have a reset of religion, science, and culture. My book will be ignored much as most books are ignored but that’s my aim. What I hope they will understand is humility. We are not as clever as we think. The brain is the limited organ that produces cognitive, emotional, and motivational limitations. It is not that different from the brain of the chimpanzee, which I also studied. In fact, on my road to the Toronto Park Zoo in 1980, I requested the opportunity to be given a chimpanzee brain once a chimpanzee died. They responded they would be happy to oblige, but they had not had the death of a chimpanzee in the zoo for a decade. Two months after receiving my letter, three chimpanzees died. Luckily, they didn’t suspect me.
I have something else in common here. In my undergrad, I had the pleasure of helping where I worked on one of the chimpanzees that had passed in nature that Jane Goodall had studied. I’d been kept in cold storage for a couple of decades frankly because I went to college in the late ‘90s. She had a very close friendship with Adrian Zillman, who was my professor of primatology and I was an assistant in the lab. I got to work on a desiccated formalin-soaked skeleton and work to prepare it, which was a very tedious process. Now, that skeleton is part of the learning of the students at primatology at UC Santa Cruz. I believe it was Flint’s skeleton, a famous chimpanzee for those who study Jane Goodall’s work.
It is similar to us.
It is so similar. The more that you study them in life, the more you start to understand how little difference there really is. We have the ability to think on a somewhat different level, but they would never think to damage their living environment. They would never think of polluting their environment. They don’t think about modifying it and the way that we do. They see the pastoral beauty of their environment and they work to be a part of it as opposed to separate from it. That’s something that we’ve learned to do differently than they have. The question of what makes us uniquely human has been one that I continue to question.
That’s right. This human exceptionalism is not justified by science. If you look at Darwin, he placed us where we belong as it concerns the brain. I studied in parallel the human brain with that chimpanzee brain in whatever else. Corinna, you resemble the divine. As it concerns your brain, you’re made in the image of the chimpanzee. If only you understood that, structurally, the brains have no difference. The human brain is larger and probably that’s the reason.
However, it is getting smaller over the generations too.
Let’s come to this in a second. Firstly, the chimpanzee’s brain is 600 grams and ours is 1,300. Whether the brain is getting smaller, that would be simply the outcome of who is procreating more. The size of the brain in humans within us doesn’t have a big role in intelligence. There is some, but the correlation is very small. You don’t predict variability as they say in science by just checking whether your partner’s potential partner has a large hat.
I wear a large helmet. We joke about this in my household all the time.
There is some correlation between people who have larger heads and intelligence but not a large correlation. It is significant but not large. Amongst species, the 1,300 grams of our brain with these chimpanzees that are more than twice their brain seems to be what makes the difference since you’re talking to a human and not to a chimpanzee. It also gave rise to hubris since Narcissus looked at the reflection of his face on the river and was fairly in love with it because there has been such an admiration of a bodily organ as there is now of the brain and never with such little justification for it. The human brain is an exception compared to our size which is unexpectedly large.
The giraffe’s neck is far larger than what our brain is large in relation to the chimpanzee brain. You don’t have the giraffes committing hubris that they’re God-like creatures because of their big neck. We have a specialization, but we have to understand it in the scheme of things that the issue that one of the heroes in the book examines is whether the brain is the right size for survival. If it were smaller, as you pointed out, the chimpanzee is not undermining its subsistence. It would not have split the atom. It would not produce airplanes that pollute the skies, extract fossil fuels, and overfish the oceans. If it were larger, it might have understood the problem and even solved it. It’s just not the right size.
You might say, “What is the right size? What is the Goldilocks zone for the brain? The Earth is in the Goldilocks zone around the Sun. Much closer, it would burn. Much further, it would freeze. It is in the Goldilocks zone. What is the Goldilocks zone of the brain? I would suggest in the booklet that this goes into this. If it were a bit larger than the chimpanzee brain so that it would give us some quality of life and so that we don’t live like troglodytes, but not large enough to split the atom, then you get into difficulties. The book asks examination of ourselves.
There was an engraving in the Temple of Apollo in Delphi that said, “Know thyself.” Let’s understand who we are that we are not intellectually, emotionally, and motivationally as strong as we think we are. The evidence is all around us in wars but also in the way we damage the Earth. If we only understood that, we would stop constructing mouse traps. We are mice constructing mouse traps as it consists of the environment. That is the question. We have to understand our power and refrain from things that will construct the conditions for the extinction of our own progeny if there is anything. One of the heroes in the book asks, “If there were any immoral thing, it must be that this generation constructs the condition for the extinction of its own progeny in terrestrial inferno.” Understand who we are and refrain from constructing the mouse traps.
I think that you have become a philosopher.
They’ve called me worse, Corinna.
This is something I’ve seen in artists, authors, and scientists all over the world. It’s like once you get to a certain point in you’re learning, you see patterns beyond what you expected in the beginning. You may have initially been focused on the myopic and identifying each of these interesting parts of the brain, but once you get to see the picture as a whole, suddenly, the meaning of everything you’ve learned to date starts to change. That’s what I’m seeing here.
I started with philosophy at Berkeley. I was attracted to experimentation, which I did for 50 years. I’ve come to some circle again. Philosophy can flick on things in a more holistic way that science produces the pieces of the puzzle that you have to assemble. In my case, it was working with the brain, holding it in my hands, and understanding that this 1.3 kilos of meat, neurons, and other cells is actually all there is. It is the product of the environment as much as many evolutionary scientists have said in such an elegant way as Dawkins and others.
I would love to have another conversation with you about your work, specifically around the brain. My work in the professional field is in the space of omega-3s. I’ve studied, for instance, how fats impact the brain, half of the fat in the brain being DHA specifically in omega-3, and then how some of these challenges that we face as we age may also be related to the nutrition that we’re putting in and the things that we’re not getting because we’re eating artificial foods or highly processed foods that are not meant to be in our diets in the first place. Also, the story of the gut-brain access and the brain that lives in the gut and how these things talk to each other. I’m so curious about your perspective on these things.
Scientists have not cured any disease, but they are not altogether useless. They have identified factors that predispose you to an earlier onset dimension than otherwise. One of which is diet. 1 of the 3 studies as the more significant is physical exercise. That is walking, running, swimming, rowing, and cycling. The other one being diet, as you mentioned, and processed food has additional burdens on it.
I have a representation of the APOE4 genome type, which is negatively associated with brain degradation or positively associated with it. It’s a negative, but it means that I’m more likely to develop Dementia or Alzheimer’s if I don’t have my lifestyle right. The lifestyle definitely plays a role too.
The most significant factor or the greatest predictor of whether you will develop dementia early is your birth status. If you’re born poor, then you are out there on your own. That starts from the uterine environment. Your mother would not have had the appropriate diet and might have been smoking. It continues forever on how many knocks you get on the head and what medical care you will receive. All of them are impacting whether you will develop early or later.
Also, education. In a number of years, you study. In science, it’s hard to distinguish what is the cause or the coincidence. You don’t know whether somebody argues, “You were not smart enough to go to university. That’s why you develop dementia.” It’s not the university, but the correlation is strong that it’s probably that education whether you can afford it. Also, motivation itself if you can have the motivation. Incidentally, motivation itself is environmentally caused as the book describes. You can blame poor people. They don’t want to help themselves.
I laugh at that because the more you learn about cultures around the world, it definitely isn’t that. You have access to food, resources, and good education. We even had a wonderful individual on this show, too, who has gone through the wiggers of higher education and got her JD and everything else out of Northern Ghana where they didn’t have a lot of access to education. Rosalinda, through CAMFED, got access to these resources and was able to then go and get her higher education and is now going back to that community and helping other people to rise too.
It isn’t that we don’t have the innate ability. It’s that we don’t have often the opportunity. It’s so easy, when you come from the West, to take a lot of that for granted. George, I think you said your name is Yorgos because you’re Greek. That’s correct, but looking at the title of the book, this is George Paxinos. I know Paxinos is Greek. You come from a part of the world that has a deep long history of education from Socrates to the present. There’s opportunity in Australia that doesn’t exist in certain parts of Africa or in the slums of different spots in the United States where people just don’t have the same upward mobility.
You could say they should bootstrap themselves up all day long, but their mom is working the night shift in addition to taking a day job where there isn’t as much opportunity around them. They don’t see examples of people in their communities succeeding. By not seeing examples, they’re kept back too. I liked how your book tackled that, too, because in Jose’s case, what he saw was activism and something that inspired him to learn more, to keep reading, and the power of the written word to educate him. Also, the many books that he had in his room and how some of those books were even the same on his twin brother’s shelves in a community that was well-educated. Improved access is the message.
Yes, exactly. If there’s anything unfair, if we think would need to give equal opportunity, and all people are created equal, from the moment, even in the conception, you have discrimination if you’re poor. Poor people contract dementia earlier. If you look at the Aboriginal population of Australia, who is disadvantaged from historical reasons initially, they were neglected or mistreated. Now, they contract dementia eleven years earlier than the non-Aboriginal population. They died about eleven years earlier. With COVID, all people above 70 were locked in Australia.
You cannot go out if you’re about 70, except for Aborigines who are above 50. In other words, 20 years earlier the government looked for the Aborigines. In other words, they are more vulnerable. This is an admission that things are not working yet. The government is trying now, but there is a long way to go to bridge that gap in health, including mental health and dementia. The injustices that people suffer from the beginning are not equal opportunity. There’s a huge gap in opportunity even in postponing your dementia. I don’t know why the poor people do not stage a revolution. The discrepancy between rich and poor is large enough to justify that.
With enough in the past for us to initiate a revolution. That wasn’t up in the past. I feel that coming too, but then you have a pandemic and suddenly people are under control again. I wonder that. Fear does a pretty good job of controlling people, so I think we need to control our fear too. This is my last question for you before I offer you the floor to close. Do you think that you’re ever going to write another work of fiction? If so, what might it be about?
My next book will be entitled How to Write a Novel in Less Than 25 Years. I have said what I wanted to say and I have returned to science. I’m happy to give lectures as my contribution to disseminating things that I have found through my journey in science but don’t have that time available.
You’ve already written 59 books in total.
It should be 60 by the end of 2024.
Continue your great work. As we close the show, I like to ask my guests what I call my final question, and sometimes it leads to another 1 or 2. Is there a question that I haven’t asked that perhaps you wish I had? If there is, you could ask and answer it, or if you have a closing thought that you’d like to leave our audience with, I’d love to offer you the floor.
Consider the human hubris. We consider ourselves made in the image of God. Consider what happened to Sisyphus. The ancient gods were not kind to the mortals who compared themselves to the gods. I told my granddaughter again this story of the king of Corinth, who was condemned by the gods, Sisyphus, to push a rock straight up the hill only for it to fall down again and have to do the same job the next day because he was narcissistic, egotistical, and insulting. My granddaughter said, “Like Trump or Elon Musk.”
Some of the richest people in the world can be like that. It doesn’t mean they have to be.
Have the humility to understand our place in evolution. Is there anything unethical to what we are doing now? We are undermining the existence of future generations and constructing this sustainable society, which presumably will have to be a world government. I know some people are allergic to the concept of the United Nations, but how else are you going to prevent these conflicts and see some egalitarianism and steer the ship through those big problems who haven’t had the war between California and Nevada? That’s the way it should be if you have a world government. Neither between Victoria nor New South Wales in Australia, the states do not fight each other. That’s the way we’ll have to consider.
The possible way out of this impulse of having the tragedy of the commons, which you will find the concept in the book, the tragedy of the commons, that these things held in common tend to degrade. The atmosphere is for everyone and, therefore, nobody looks after it and the oceans likewise. Some organisms can do this state. I like the experiment that they started in Europe where the borders fell, but I could imagine other countries growing to that unit and then having a world government like that, but then people started dismantling it.
Consider what will happen not until the end of the century, which is expected that the temperature will rise between 2 to 5 degrees, which is likely to end civilization as we know it but to look even beyond what’s going to happen. If people in ancient Rome were not concerned about the environment, we wouldn’t be here now. If they had the means to destroy the environment, we would be dying now. The time will come when people will feel the consequences of our actions now.
A barrel of petrol is equivalent to the work it does for us for my car or is equivalent to eleven people working for you for a whole year. That’s a convenient thing for us, but who’s going to scrub the atmosphere to remove the CO2 that’s going to burn our descendants? Unless we consider the real cause of things, then it cannot be thought that we are acting morally that concerns our descendants. Finally, if I may wish your audience for their brain to shrink less than expected for their age.
I have to invite you, Yorgos, to listen to an episode I recorded with Paula DiPerna. She wrote this book called Pricing the Priceless, which is all about pricing the cost of these common resources from the oceans to the atmosphere. She studied alongside Jean-Michel Cousteau. She worked for Jacques Cousteau. Through this weird connection, she ended up spending some time with Jean-Michel Cousteau and inviting him on the podcast too.
I’m an ocean health advocate and that’s part of that journey. Ultimately, I’m here to support our climate health, the longevity of all people, and the preservation of our planet. The only way forward for all of us is to do so in a way that respects the common man and that respects the mindful use of resources without thinking that technology is simply going to save the day because we have too many examples where it’s failed. Frankly, it’s because our brains are probably not the right size.
Know thyself. As silly as it might look, it’s not a slogan as it might seem.
Thank you so much for joining me. I’ve truly enjoyed it. Our audience has likely come along for this journey wanting to read your book, A River Divided. I know that this is available by Yorgos spelled George Paxinos, wherever books are sold. I know you can find it on Amazon. Is there anywhere in particular you’d like them to go to find this book?
Amazon is fine. If they want the audiobook, they can write to me. They’ll find my email. It’s easy. I’ll send them a link to the audiobook.
I would have enjoyed that. Perhaps I’ll hit you up for that, too. Thank you so much for joining me.
Corinna, it has been a pleasure. I hope we speak again.
Certainly will. I’ll invite you to my other show to talk about brain health.
What a pleasure to have the opportunity to meet with an acclaimed neuroscientist and one who has taken up the helm of philosophy and answered some big questions through the work of his fiction in the simple and beautiful book, A River Divided. It is available now wherever books are sold. Visit our website, CareMoreBeBetter.com. While you’re there, I hope that you’ll subscribe to our newsletter, which will gain you access to a free gift. It’s a Five-Step Guide to Unleash Your Inner Activist. That could be used for climate activism. It could be used for a project that you’re working on. It really is a thinking resource with some helpful links to get you started. It was ultimately the culmination of some of my work and my graduate degree for my MBA. While you’re there, I hope that you will also give me the benefit of the doubt and subscribe for future episodes, if you haven’t already, on whatever platform that you’re tuning into. You could give us a thumbs up, a five-star rating, or even write us a written review. Each of these actions helps the show to grow, reach more people, get more great guests, and ultimately continue on this journey.
If you are tuning on Apple Podcasts or iTunes, leaving a review there really helps us. Thank you so much in advance for doing that. I do read every single one, so if you want to go ahead and recommend a future guest, you can even do that in the written review or you can send me an email note from my website or simply by sending a note to Hello@CareMoreBeBetter.com. Thank you, now and always, for being a part of this pod and this community because, together, we really can do so much more. We can care more, we can be better, and we can even dream up a better world for tomorrow so that we can live and thrive together for generations to come. Thank you.
- George Paxinos
- Surrender Your Eco-Anxiety With Lee Schneider, Author, Podcaster, Producer And Director – Past Episode
- Truth In Fiction: Storytelling for Social Change with Juliet Rose, Author and Activist – Past Episode
- The Unseen Negative Impacts Of Coal Mining With Isabel Reddy, Author Of That You Remember – Past Episode
- The Rat Brain in Stereotaxic Coordinates
- A River Divided
- The Impact Of Dams On The Health Of Our Entire Ecosystems With Steven Hawley – Past Episode
- The True Price Of Saving The Planet With Paula DiPerna – Past Episode
- Pricing the Priceless
- A River Divided Audiobook
- Apple Podcasts – Care More Be Better
- George Paxinos – LinkedIn