What It Means to Be Human

Being Human 2012: The Science of Human Experience
Palace of Fine Arts / San Francisco, CA 

We live at the dawn of a scientific revolution. Every day brings new findings from a broad range of disciplines – behavioral economics, cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, social anthropology, philosophy – that promise to overthrow long-held biases and stories about what it means to be human. 

The coming decades will bring a shift in our worldview as fundamental as any in the past five hundred years. As we use the tools of science to explore the nature of humanity, we are learning more and more about how our brains function and what motivates our behavior, built-in biases and blind spots. 

These fresh insights are interesting scientifically, but they also evoke significant questions about our lived experience. These perspectives challenge our basic assumptions of who we are, both as individuals and as a society.  

Being Human 2012 offered a multidisciplinary public dialogue led by the scientists, thought leaders, and philosophers pioneering this exploration to discover and experience: 

  • How has evolution shaped our brains to construct a model of reality?
  • How does the subconscious mind influence the decisions we make?
  • What is the relationship between self and culture?
  • Are you who you think you are, or is that just an illusion?
  • What does science tell us about our interactions with fellow humans?
  • Is humanity still evolving?