See From Space – New Music Video!
Steve Stewart-Williams' new book "The Ape that Understood the Universe" was published in September, but months before it was published the author reached out to email me an advance pdf of the book so I could write him a book jacket blurb. It's an excellent read, synthesizing evolutionary psychology and cultural evolution to give a sense of the relative contributions of genes and culture to human behavior across a wide range of examples, unified within a Darwinian framework. I especially like the two appendices: "How to Win an Argument with a Blank Slater" and "How to Win an Argument with an Anti-Memeticist." Also, Steve is a very witty and informative social media presence; I recommend you follow him on Twitter.

Steve also made an unusual pitch to his publisher, Cambridge University Press. He asked them to spend some of their marketing budget hiring me to write and record an original song and produce a music video based on the first chapter of his book, in which an alien biologist from Betelgeuse travels to earth to take a survey of the life forms here, comparing the behaviors of different species, including us, to determine how the various survival strategies on this planet evolved.

To both of our surprise, Cambridge decided to green light the proposal, and over the past few months, after many many consultations and iterations, we created "See From Space", a rap delivered entirely from the perspective of an alien trying to make sense of earthlings. To make the video, I wore red greasepaint makeup to become the "Betelgeusian" and my friend Aaron and I monkeyed around in lycra bodysuits in public to dramatize the alien investigation of human behavior. And to produce the song (which you can download from here) we collaborated with musicians in three countries. Cambridge covered the video and audio production costs for this one, but without the support of my Patreon patrons I would barely be making minimum wage for the hours I put into producing it, so I thank you as ever for your support, and you get to see it first.

This is also the first video I've done explicitly as a commission to promote a newly published science book, and given the fact that I read popular science voraciously anyway, it's a gig I hope to get more of. The video was fun to produce, the book is outstanding, the science it conveys is fascinating and should be more widely appreciated, and it feels good to get back my "roots" as a communicator of evolutionary theory. In short, the chance to make videos like this is why I love my job, and why I deeply appreciate your support.

So please share the link with friends if you enjoy it, and I welcome your comments and suggestions for what subjects to tackle next.

Yours in earthling solidarity,

Baba




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