Our Narrow Slice


Hey, Vsauce. Michael here. This picture is about a year and a half old.
But the pyramids themselves are much older than that.
How much older? Well, think of it this way. The Pyramids of Giza were as old to the ancient Romans as the ancient Romans are to us.
When the pyramids were being built there were woolly mammoths living on Wrangel Island. That’s pretty old.
But don’t get too impressed. We often learn about the past in units, separate chapters, which distracts from the fact
that many chapters aren’t just nearer each other than you might think,
they are often literally written on top of one another.
Anne Frank and Martin Luther King Jr. were born
in the exact same year. By the late 1960s humans had come a long way. We’ve become a spacefaring species.
But while we were sending the first probes to the Moon and Venus and Mars, it was still illegal for a black person
and a white person to marry in 16 states.
The guillotine seems like a macabre artefact from bygone days but it was last used by France to
officially behead a criminal the year Star Wars came out.
While General Custer was fighting native tribes on the American frontier,
the Brooklyn Bridge was being build.
And there were people alive then who would later watch the Moon landing on television. We went from Custer’s last stand to Armstrong’s first steps within the span of a single human life. But all of these stories,
from the pyramids to Julius Caesar to you watching this video right now,
belong to an incredibly thin section in the book of human history.
Compared to what human life has mainly been like here on earth, our current societies are weird.
Weird is also an acronym used by Jared Diamond in his new book
“The World Until Yesterday.” Jared Diamond wrote
“Guns, Germs, and Steel,” “Collapse” and he’s here with me to talk about weird. Weird, w-e-i-r-d, is an acronym for “western, educated,
industrial, rich and democratic.” When we talk about human nature
we’re really talking about a narrow slice of society.
Traditional societies were everybody in the world,
from the beginning of human evolution 6 million years ago until within the last 10,000 years for the first time we began
encountering strangers and then we developed writing and then we acquired kings.
All of these things that we take for granted are matter of the last 5,000 – 10,000 years.
Or the Internet or the media, they’re a matter
of the last few decades. The relative recency of weird societies
in the speed with which information and knowledge increases
means that not that long ago we thought some pretty strange things.
For instance, in 1903 The New York Times predicted
that building a flying machine would be possible in 1 to 10 million years. Later that very same year
the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk. In 1908 it was said that no flying machine will ever fly from New York to Paris.
Who made that foolish prediction?
One of the Wright brothers. In 1962 the Decca recording company passed on a young rock band, saying
“we don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out.”
The band in question was the Beatles. Keith Moon
and John Entwistle were said to have remarked about a band called The New Yardbirds, “that band so ill-conceived it will sink like a balloon or a zeppelin made out of lead.” Well, Jimmy Page was not deterred.
In fact, he took that phrase and made it his band’s new name.
He removed the A, so it wouldn’t be pronounced “lead,” and that’s where we got Led Zeppelin. There is evidence the Nazis weren’t entirely convinced Earth was a globe we lived on the outside of. Instead, they figured the Earth’s
continents were actually aligning on the inside of a hollow concave surface
with the stars and moon and planets in the middle. Seriously. As the story goes, Doctor Heinz Fischer
was sent to Rügen Island to spy on the British.
Now, the curvature of the earth would have made this impossible. But thinking the earth was shaped like
this, they pointed their telescopes up at a 45 degree angle. Needless to say, the experiment didn’t work.
The Eiffel Tower’s inauguration and the Wall Street Journal
and “Starry Night” and Coca-Cola and Nintendo and Adolf Hitler all began in 1889. As did a guy named Thomas Midgley Jr. Celebrated in his time, Midgley’s legacy has since been tarnished by the negative consequences of his inventions. His list of contributions to society is impressively disastrous. In the late twenties, Midgley synthesized
the first chloro-fluorocarbons – CFC – for which he won
the Society of Chemical Industry’s Perkin medal.
Only later did we realize all of those tons of CFCs we were emitting were eating away 4% of our
atmosphere’s protective ozone layer every decade. Like a virus, creating a wound, unlikely to completely heal until me and you have long been dead. In the early 1920s Midgley discovered that by adding Tetraethyllead to gasoline engine knocking could be reduced. The American Chemical Society gave him
the 1923 Nichols’ medal for the discovery. There were other, safer
alternatives but General Motors jointly owned a patent on Tetraethyllead with Midgley.
They could make a profit on it, so they advertised it as the best option and almost immediately nearly every motor vehicle on earth was spewing lead into our atmosphere and soil, which put it in our blood, lead poisoning for decades. Currently, the reference for healthy children is a blood lead content of less than 5 micrograms per decilitre. After the popularization of Midgley’s leaded gasoline, 88% of children in America had double that amount of lead in their blood.
When leaded gasoline was finally phased out in the 1970s, that percentage fell to 9%. Lead is a neuro toxin. Even light exposure,
like that caused by Midgley’s invention, can cause a decrease in intelligence and in increase in anti-social behaviour.
Fordham University found that in young adults the best predictor of delinquent and violent behavior is literally the lead content of their blood.
Chillingly, the rise and fall of violent crimes by juveniles in the 20th century tracks significantly closely with the
rise and fall of lead in their blood when they were
preschoolers – all over the world. Historian J. R. McNeill remarked that Midgley had more impact on the atmosphere
than any other single organism in Earth’s history.
Midgley’s final invention was even worse. Well, for him. In 1940 he contracted polio.
To help his friends and family lift him from bed he designed an intricate system of ropes and pulleys. As was the story of his life, the invention seemed brilliant at first, but four years later he became accidentally entangled in the ropes
and his own invention strangled him to death. Midgley’s life took up 0.55% of human history.
And, roughly speaking, yours will too. To put that in perspective, let’s time travel, starting right now.
We begin 100,000 years ago – the beginning of modern humans. We are moving forward in time an entire millennia, a thousand years, every second.
As you can see, not much is changing.
Our modern world will briefly flash at the end.
That’s all it is. That’s all it’s been. So be careful not to miss it. And as always, thanks for watching.

100 thoughts on “Our Narrow Slice

  1. lol after talking about how there are all these false predictions, he predicts that the ozone layer will heal after the time me and you are dead. Its almost completely healed now, the irony

  2. I find it hard to believe humans existed for 100,000 years and only now we become advanced in such a short period of time. It wouldn't surprise me if we achieved this a few items before but something like a meteor hit destroyed everything. What we see as slowly advancing ancient history might be a post-apocalyptic aftermath.

  3. If you think about it Hitler is the most famous person in history putting aside religious names or names of cities and tribes.

  4. 1889 ~The year my father was born. When he was 50 in 1939, he married my mother, then 22. In 1945, my older brother was born (dad was 56, mom was 28). In 1954, when my father was 65 and my mother was 37, I was born. In 1966, at 12 years of age, I was lying on my stomach on our living room floor watching an episode of the original Star Trek series on our black and white TV when I sensed my dad, then 77, standing behind me. I turned to look up at him and said, "Pretty cool huh dad?" He chuckled and said, "I guess, if you go for that Buck Rogers bullshit." I replied, "Well it could happen, " and turned back to my show.

    Fast forward three years. July 20th, 1969, the day after my 15th birthday. I am sitting on the living room couch next to my 80 year old father, both of us leaning forward staring intently at the same black and white Magnavox console television we had three years prior. Neil Armstrong descends the ladder on the Lunar Excursion Module and after making the awkward jump from the final wrung to the surface of the moon, utters what it arguably the most well known sentence in all human history. I turned to look at my dad with a smile even a certain Cheshire Cat might envy, and said, "So how about THAT Buck Rogers bullshit, dad?" He laughed in the same way I'd seen him so many times while watching some Laurel & Hardy or Red Skelton skit, until he was red in the face. Then he reached down and gave my knee bone the tweak he was so good at, always catching me unaware.

    It's now 2019 and I turned 65 this last July. Having raised two daughters of my own I cannot imagine having a newborn to raise at this age, even if I do feel so much younger than I should and hope to live as long or better. My dad passed away at 87 when I was 22, and I miss him and his wit and humor to this very day. Cheers all. A Narrow Slice indeed.

  5. When counting from the beginning of the Universe to the estimated end of it all, life is only possible in (get ready, it's a long number)

    0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001%

  6. Vuia then presented his plan to the Académie des Sciences
    in Paris on February 16, 1903, but was rejected with the comment, "The
    problem of flight with a machine which weighs more than air can not be
    solved and it is only a dream."

  7. Me: 'Hey Michael, love the video'
    Vsauce: 'BUT WHAT REALLY IS OXYGEN? AND HOW DOES IT CONTRIBUTE TO NATURAL SELECTION?!'
    vsauce music intensifies

  8. What's that 10 seconds from the end, seems like a continent is separating? That's not possible in 10000 years, that should have been in 160 M years ago or so.

  9. The reality you sense from the egocentric predicament is not 100% created by you, it's simply an interpretation of the senses. It can 100% come from your brain, such as when you're hallucinating, but that generally doesn't happen. How do I know this? When others acknowledge my perceptions, and I can't stop feeling pain when I touch something harmful.

  10. I believe in it bcus as a ball it limits our existence to 7 major continents. Our world is the whole universe with many dimensions and levels of worlds of more lands. Not planets of spheres in the sky occupied with UFOS. They're not UP and over they're out and abroad planes of lands or outer worlds. Water and magnetic fields separate our world from theirs.

  11. I truly and soulfully do not BELIEVE earth is a ball. We are mind fucked and eyes tricked. Bent out of shape like the light that bends our ILLUSIONS manipulated by man that hold the keys and secrets to enslave using cell batteries to keep theyre mind games in game mode operation. WE ARE NOTHING OF THIS. WE ARE IN MENTAL PRISON LOST AS A BLIND DUCK CROSSING A FIELD OVER A CLIFF.

  12. WHY do ppl think these things we call ancient is of the old and no more? These ancient ppl we call aliens and ancient creatures STILL EXIST on the other side of this world. The next step after discovering what earth really is find out how to get out of this bowl we're in into other realities hidden from us. Ppl really think our 7 major continents and a few tiny pieces of islands that broke apart from one mass of land like our continents is all there is? 😂 on a ball😂

  13. haha, Jared thinks contemporary life under the oppressive economic paradigm of capitalist exploitative value extraction is "democratic"

  14. The world is flat ! A clue, "ocean level" "water level"
    Man has never been to the moon,
    it was & is a Hollywood show, that gets billions & billions of tax payers money every year to go now where, not even a decent movie. Nasa in Hebrew means to deceive in plain sight, lie in your face. The so called shots of the globe earth are fish eye lense, the space shots are photo shop, once called trick photography.
    Look at "Lloyd Pye" every thing you know is wrong" & "Michael Telligen" slave species of the God's" Gold mines of south Africa "
    Some of this information is in the Bible !

  15. It blows my mind people can be flat-earthers and anti-vax in this day and age… Talk about public beheadings… WHO'S TRAYINA START A REVOLUTION AGAINST IDIOTS

  16. 5:57 | notice how all of those images are in October? Yeah. It’s seasonal . If you were to look at it in, say, June, it would all be green.

  17. this video has fucked me up since the first time I saw it in 2015. i still recommend that people watch this to this day.

  18. Could someone tell me which video he goes over a tangram solution that involved mechanics like a pac-man map? I've been trying to find it for months put can't seem to find the right one.

  19. Nazis: In the future, people will discover that the earth is inside out
    2019: The earth is flat oof tsk tsk *dabs away snorting tide pods

  20. the ozone hole is a lie and regenerates as it gets regenerated by radiation from space creating O3….I bet ur a climate alarmist too hey, tyrants have no right to violate even one of our rights even slightly or more tax theft or more centralized power to tyrants for any so called emergency

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