If you’re like most people these days, you probably rely on the turn-by-turn directions given by a smartphone app to navigate to where you want to go. While Google Maps has certainly made getting around a lot more convenient, my guest today makes the case that by relying on GPS to navigate, we’re turning our backs on a skill that makes us uniquely human.
Her name is Maura O’Connor, and she’s a journalist and the author of Wayfinding: The Science and Mystery of How Humans NavigateWe begin our conversation discussing what goes on in our brain when we navigate and how we use the same part of the brain that we use for memory when we’re getting around town. We then discuss how human navigation differs from animal navigation and the cultural tools that humans have developed over millennia to help them find their way, including storytelling and songs. Maura then shares research that suggests our language influences our sense of location and space and how our ancient ancestors sowed the seeds of the scientific method when they were tracking animals while hunting. We also discuss recent research that suggests relying too heavily on GPS may increase your risk for dementia and be linked to other mental health problems. We end our conversation by musing on how it is that using GPS can shrink your sense of autonomy, while navigating on your own feels existentially empowering. 

Show Highlights

  • What’s going on in our brain when we navigate?
  • The connection between memory and navigation
  • Lessons from the inuits on navigating 
  • The two strategies your brain uses to navigate
  • How does navigation possibly explain childhood amnesia?
  • Why kids should be able and allowed to freely explore their environment 
  • How animals navigate vs. how humans navigate (and what we can learn from them)
  • Storytelling and navigation 
  • The relationship between language and navigation
  • The existential threat of GPS 
  • What the implications of using our brain less in navigating?

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

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The post Podcast #534: How Navigation Makes Us Human appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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