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©2012 Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge

30 years of working to advance our understanding of the mind toward conscious evolution

Today humanity faces unprecedented challenges. How can we apply advances in science and technology to ensure health and safety for all the world's people? Can we learn to tolerate and appreciate cultural diversity in an ever-shrinking global community? Can we learn to manage the planet's dwindling vital resources and basic life-support systems before it's too late?

Many worthy organizations address these issues in the political, cultural, and humanitarian spheres. But none focus, as does ISHK, on the root cause — our very nature as human beings. What do we know about the way our brains work, about the way we receive and process information from our environment, about how our mental and nervous systems evolved, which create these crises in the first place? What other capacities might be inherent in our nature to help us rise above our narrow-minded reactions and choose the most appropriate mindset for a given situation? How can we develop these new capacities in ourselves and in our children?

For more than thirty years, ISHK's programs have been addressing these questions, contributing to some major shifts in public thinking and public policy — such as in the recognition of the role of the mind in health. ISHK's efforts have been supported by renowned specialists in medicine, ecology, psychology, and education. Today some of our key programs focus on early education.

Our Mission

Humanity now needs to adapt to a world that is far different from that of the past. A primary need at this critical point in human history is to understand our human nature. If we know who we are, how human beings evolved, what our possibilities and weaknesses are, we might correctly assess what we can change, adapt, and create so that humanity and the planet thrive.

It is the mission of ISHK to gain such insight through the investigation of humanity's biological and cultural evolution and to communicate new understandings in the human sciences to both professionals and the culture at large through symposia, curricula development, workshops and publications.

ISHK Highlights:

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we are making good progress on our programs. Here are the most recent NEWS & UPDATES.

We will keep all our supporters up to date on our plans and progress by email. If you want to receive these emails, please give us your email address by filling in the form provided on the left.


Edited by Paul Ekman

This is the latest book from MALOR BOOKS...due to arrive in May 2013. Click here to read more and to pre-order this title.

Paul Ekman is also the author or co-author of two other Malor Books titles: Unmasking the Face and Darwin and Facial Expression.



ISHK RECEIVED A GRANT FROM THE US DEPARTMENT OF STATE To provide over 2.4 million books to the children of Afghanistan!
ISHK- Hoopoe Books has received a Public Diplomacy Grant from the U.S. Embassy Kabul Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Department of State which allowed us to print and distribute six traditional Afghan stories retold for children by Idries Shah in Dari-Pashto bilingual and English editions. For more details please visit:

Now you can purchase books and tapes, and register for CE Psychology and CME Medicine courses online.




written by Robert Guarino
Foreword by Robert Ornstein
Published by Hoopoe Books, 2012
Click here for more information and to pre-order


SPECIAL OFFER ON THREE ALL ABOUT ME BOOKS - Me and My Memory; Me and My Feelings; and What's the Catch! [click here for details]

Focus on 9/11 and Beyond: ISHK stresses the need for greater understanding of the psychological impact of this and subsequent events, and a need for better understanding of other cultures and religions, and how these came about. Our cross-cultural studies include the rich cultural heritage of Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Middle East.

The Human Journey

Human Journey: Our new Human Journey website explores some of humanity's most crucial questions, including: How did humanity evolve to be different from our early ancestors? How did our myths about ourselves arise? What tendencies made us select and cling to the stories we chose to represent our "history"? Are there patterns running through these histories that we can learn to recognize from exposure to psychology, both traditional and contemporary?

The California Learning Resource Network ( has accepted the Human Journey website as an Electronic Learning Resource.


New World New Mind: Are humanity's crises products of a mind evolved for a world long gone? The landmark book by biologist Paul Ehrlich and psychologist Robert Ornstein is now available for download in Adobe PDF.

Teaching Storiestm and the Brain: A form of literature little-known in the West but common in Afghanistan can help develop thinking skills and perceptions. Read highlights from a Library of Congress lecture by ISHK President, Robert Ornstein. THE CLEVER BOY AND THE TERRIBLE, DANGEROUS ANIMAL, one of Idries Shah’s books for children animated and with written words that are highlighted along with the audio.

Kids with Hoopoe Books

Hoopoe Books: Teaching Stories for Children by Idries Shah. Hoopoe Books publishes a series of 11 illustrated tales for children retold by the Afghan author and educator Idries Shah. These books with a curriculum alined to Head Start, national performance and assessment standards and other educational standards in the United States have been used in over 150 schools and educational agencies across the country primarily in grades preK-6. The stories have been highly praised for their unique ability to foster not only literacy but thinking skills, social-emotional development and perception in students of all ages.

Children's Literacy: Responding to deep cuts in education budgets, ISHK partners with corporate and other co-funders to donate books to literacy programs nationwide.

All About Me: This series of paperbacks teaches middle-school students about their human nature. Through reading, activities and discussions they will learn to understand and appreciate the power of unconscious mechanisms in their thoughts, emotions and behavior and, as a result, develop more flexibility, confidence and control.

Books for Afghanistan Program: We provide bilingual Dari and Pashto Hoopoe titles, audio readings of them and classroom Teacher Guides to schools, orphanages and libraries throughout Afghanistan.

Books for Pakistan Program: We provide bilingual Urdu-English and Urdu-Pashto Hoopoe titles and classroom Teacher Guides to schools, orphanages and libraries throughout Pakistan, currently focusing on the Afghan-Pakistan border region.


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