Mark Plotkin: What the People of the Amazon Know That You Don’t – TED Talk:
Mark Plotkin (born May 21, 1955, in New Orleans) is an ethnobotanist and a plant explorer in the Neotropics, where he is an expert on rain-forest ecosystems. Mark Plotkin is an advocate for tropical rain-forest conservation.
According to Wikipedia, he worked at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology when he joined an expedition searching for an elusive crocodilian species in 1978 and was galvanized into returning to education. He completed his bachelor of liberal arts degree at the Harvard Extension School, his master’s degree in forestry at Yale School of Forestry and his Ph.D. at Tufts University, during which he completed a handbook for the Tirio people of Suriname detailing their own medicinal plants—the only other book printed in Tirio language being the Bible.
He went on to do research at Harvard under Richard Evans Schultes. He is the author of the book Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice. Other critically acclaimed books by Plotkin include Medicine Quest, The Killers Within: The Deadly Rise of Drug-Resistant Bacteria (with Michael Shnayerson), and The Shaman’s Apprentice, (a children’s book with Lynne Cherry).
In 1995, Mark Plotkin and prominent Costa Rican conservationist Liliana Madrigal formed the Amazon Conservation Team to protect the rainforest in partnership with local indigenous peoples. ACT has now worked with 32 tribes throughout Amazonia. Mark Plotkin received the San Diego Zoo Gold Medal for Conservation (1993) and the Roy Chapman Andrews Distinguished Explorer Award (2004).
Time magazine called him an “Environmental Hero for the Planet” (2001) and Smithsonian magazine hailed him as one of “35 Who Made a Difference” (2005), along with other notables like Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, and fellow New Orleanian Wynton Marsalis. In March 2008, Plotkin and Madrigal won the Skoll Award. In May 2010, Mark Plotkin received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. In 2013, he published articles in Harvard magazine, Forbes, and the Huffington Post.
In Oct.2014 Mark Plotkin gave a powerful TED talk at TEDGlobal 2014: South! in Rio, named “What the people of the Amazon know that you don’t”.
“Here’s an ayahuasca shaman in the northwest Amazon, in the middle of a yage ceremony. I took him to Los Angeles to meet a foundation officer looking for support for monies to protect their culture. This fellow looked at the medicine man, and he said, “You didn’t go to medical school, did you?” The shaman said, “No, I did not.” He said, “Well, then what can you know about healing?” The shaman looked at him and he said, “You know what? If you have an infection, go to a doctor. But many human afflictions are diseases of the heart, the mind and the spirit. Western medicine can’t touch those. I cure them.””
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