The jury will begin deliberations later today on whether George Floyd's death was caused by his inability to breathe under the weight of Derek Chauvin. Breathing is so automatic that we don't think about it until lung disease, dirty air, poor breathing habits and, now, COVID-19 and police brutality make it hard to do.
We take breathing for granted; we don't breathe deep enough, we breathe too much, and we often breathe through our mouths instead of our noses.
We can't take all the blame. The tradeoff of humans evolving to have bigger brains is that our larger brains squeezed our noses, sinuses, tongues, and jaws into smaller spaces. That's why humans are the only species of 5,400 mammals to have misaligned jaws, overbites, underbites, and crooked teeth.
This hour, the science, art, and politics of breathing.
- James Nestor - A journalist and author; his most recent book is Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art
- Dahlia Lithwick - A senior editor for Slate and the host of Amicus
Colin McEnroe and Cat Pastor contributed to this show, which originally aired June 18, 2020.