Composite image representing the road to the future

About Us

This is a civilization that is going down, not because it hasn’t got the knowledge that would save it, but because nobody will use the knowledge.” —Idries Shah

The Human Journey website is a project of The Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge (ISHK). For 50 years, under the direction of Robert Ornstein, ISHK has been at the forefront of the effort to highlight the growing body of research on human nature and the human mind.

Perhaps never has this endeavor been more important. Thanks to the internet, we can now access an astonishing amount of scientific, archeological, historical and neuroscientific information in a few seconds. Unfortunately, the same technology brings more to distract and misinform. The result is a culture expanded drastically in reach, but often drastically reduced in scope and thought.

According to a July 2017 Gallup poll, 38% of Americans believe that God created humans just 10,000 years ago and another 38% believe that God directed evolution. Creationism is the most prevalent “alternative fact,” and according to Gallup, there’s been a major increase in people who doubt that objective facts exist at all.

Though not political, ISHK aims to influence society’s understanding of truth. Over the last fifty years, with the collaboration of leading thinkers and pioneers in their fields including Doris Lessing, Jonas Salk, Idries Shah, Rene Dubos, Paul Ehrlich, James Burke, Edward T. Hall, Hans Selye, William Dement, Philip Zimbardo, Paul Ekman, and many others, we have helped change the world in significant ways:

  • The idea of two different kinds of thought in the brain is now widely established
  • Understanding the role of mind in health has helped change medicine
  • ISHK’s at-home education helps thousands of psychologists stay abreast of new developments in the field
  • Millions of underprivileged kids here in the United States, in Canada, South America, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Lebanon have received storybooks in their own languages that foster self-awareness and multi-cultural understanding.

The goal of The Human Journey project is to present the basic background information everyone should have at their fingertips to answer the questions of who we are, how we got that way, and what we might become – a comprehensive understanding now available thanks to the recent work of anthropologists, neurobiologists, psychologists, historians, philosophers, and others.

A cadre of dedicated professionals and interested supporters contributed to the launch of this project and continue to expand and update it with the latest research and information available.

Follow the Journey

We begin with a review of our hominid ancestors and our own evolution—how we, our cultures, beliefs and societies evolved, what our priorities were and why, and how they led to the world we live in today.

Road to the Future

We then examine the development and roles of religion, technology, education, economics and international aid against the background of a constantly changing climate. How can we leverage the increased understanding of our human nature—our strengths and weaknesses—to make better decisions, direct our own evolution, and create a sustainable human future?

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