David Quammen — The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life

On this episode of The Polymath Project Podcast, I speak with the author and journalist David Quammen about his latest book, The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life. The book explores how recent discoveries in genome sequencing are transforming our view of evolutionary theory and the history of life.

David is the author of over a dozen books, including Spillover, a 2014 book on the science, history, and human implications of emerging diseases. The book was short-listed for eight national and international awards and won three of them.

Some topics we cover:

  • Why “the tangled tree” is a much more suitable metaphor than the “tree of life” for talking about evolutionary history
  • Wild adventures David went on to write his past books and why this one was a little different
  • How the discovery of horizontal gene transfer is changing human identity and what this means for our future
  • David’s personal encounters with the scientists mentioned in the books
  • The “human” side of science, which is filled with jealousy, compassion, pride, desire, and excitement and all kinds of emotion you might not expect

We also cover a lot more than that, so check out the podcast and enjoy!

How to Listen

Resources & Links

Some of the scientists mentioned on the podcast:

This episode of the podcast was brought to you by audible. Visit audibletrial.com/polymath to get a free audiobook copy of David’s book (or any other book) and a free 30-day trial of audible’s services.