Author Topic: Paleofantasy  (Read 16814 times)

Offline paleophil

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Re: Paleofantasy
« Reply #30 on: March 12, 2013, 04:34:19 AM »
Another mistake people make who claim that rapid evolution means we are now optimally adapted is to assume that all evolutionary change is positive (as in larger brains, bigger, stronger, faster). It could also be neutral or degenerative (as in smaller brains, smaller, weaker, slower). Loren Cordain and Weston Price have argued that the evolutionary change of the last 10 thousand years has been degenerative, rather than positively adaptive, and the evidence supports that.

Offline samjohn

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Re: Paleofantasy
« Reply #31 on: March 12, 2013, 06:41:31 AM »
One that I haven't seen discussed here is this:  evolution is only rapid when the organism is poorly adapted to the environment, such that selection pressure is strong.  If the organism is perfectly adapted, obviously there's no evolutionary pressure to change.  The fact that evolution has been rapid since the invention of agriculture is actually just another form of proof that we're poorly adapted to agriculture.

To argue that we're now well adapted to agricultural foods, they would have to argue that evolution was fast 10,000 years ago, but has slowed down again.  The evidence is against that.  In fact, evolution seems to have become, if anything, even more rapid since the industrial revolution.

In that article Zuk is quoted as saying 10 thousand years is 'plenty of time' for humanity to select out an genetic issue with digesting grains and it might well be if certain conditions were met, but that does not mean that it did indeed happen, and interventional dietary studies show strong evidence that it did not.

The problem with that theory is that we didn't have a gene for problems with digesting grains that could have been selected out; rather, we would have had to have had a preexisting a gene to tolerate digesting grains.  From the continued prevalence of various forms of leaky gut, diabetes, etc., we didn't have such a gene - or more accurately, we didn't have the full suite of genes that would have been required.

Absolutely. I fell into the trap of looking at the question from her angle :(

But we've definitely discussed speed of evolution and evolutionary pressure before, in fact  I mention it just two posts above yours...


Offline Warren Dew

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Re: Paleofantasy
« Reply #32 on: March 12, 2013, 05:31:02 PM »
Another mistake people make who claim that rapid evolution means we are now optimally adapted is to assume that all evolutionary change is positive (as in larger brains, bigger, stronger, faster). It could also be neutral or degenerative (as in smaller brains, smaller, weaker, slower). Loren Cordain and Weston Price have argued that the evolutionary change of the last 10 thousand years has been degenerative, rather than positively adaptive, and the evidence supports that.

Evolutionary change can be both degenerative and positively adaptive at the same time.

For example, fertility rates are strongly negatively correlated with education for women.  The more education a woman gets, the fewer kids she has, on average.  If the women who get more education are the women who started out more intelligent, then this means that in today's world, being less intelligent is positively adaptive, because being less intelligent means you quit school sooner and end up having more kids.

Evolution does not always select for the strongest and smartest.  Sometimes evolution just selects for those who breed the fastest.  This is especially true when resources are plentiful and early death rates are low, as they have been for at least the last half century.

Of course, if peak oil means the period of plentiful resources is ending, that may change what evolution will be selecting for.

Offline paleophil

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Re: Paleofantasy
« Reply #33 on: March 12, 2013, 06:04:42 PM »
The Paleoanthropological, archaeological and Paleontological record also shows that evolutionary change can provide positive adaptions from the start when the diet is improved, such as when hominins consumed more and more meat/fat and experienced only benefits, like increased brain and body size and strength, thicker bones, more sophisticated tool production and use, etc. Whereas the changes in the last 10-40 thousand years produced physical degeneration from the start. The degeration accelerated as agriculture intensified, then there was some regeneration in the world's wealthiest nations, but which have been experiencing increases in diseases of civilization over the last 30 years.

Interestingly, it occurs to me that there is no opposite/antonym for (physical) degeneration. It's not regeneration, because hominins didn't lose their brains or bodies and then regenerate them with increased meat/fat intake, they developed larger brains and bodies. Does anyone know of a word or phrase that means beneficial physical adaptive change from consuming a superior diet?
« Last Edit: March 12, 2013, 07:40:06 PM by paleophil »

Offline greenchild

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Re: Paleofantasy
« Reply #34 on: March 13, 2013, 03:14:02 PM »
staying somewhat on topic . . . I also noticed in the current issue of Discover, is an article by none other than Gary Taubes.  but it has nothing to do with paleo.  It would have been much more interesting if Discover had published a paleo article by him to contrast the "stuff" she wrote.


Offline tinknal

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Re: Paleofantasy
« Reply #35 on: March 13, 2013, 06:51:01 PM »
People like to bandy about the "10,000 years" figure but I would bet that for many of us, especially those of us with northern European blood, and those of us with nomadic pastoralists, native Americans, etc in our heritage the timeline for the beginning of grain consumption the timeline is much shorter,

Offline paleophil

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Re: Paleofantasy
« Reply #36 on: March 16, 2013, 11:36:26 AM »
What do you make of this? Marlene Zuk is described in one of her book bios as “a respected biologist and a feminist” (Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can't Learn About Sex from Animals
http://www.amazon.com/Sexual-Selections-Learn-About-Animals/dp/0520240758), she reportedly calls herself a "feminist biologist" and "liberal feminist" (http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/iaph/June25/Presentations/5, http://capitolhillcoffeehouse.com/more.php?id=A5708_0_1_0_M, http://sciencereview.berkeley.edu/pdf/2.2/bookreview.pdf), and a graduate school classmate said she has "feminist politics" (http://www.ucpress.edu/excerpt.php?isbn=9780520240759).

It sounds like she may enjoy taking a combative approach:

   “A review once called her ‘snarky and a tad feminist,’” he said. “She was thinking of having T-shirts made up of it.” (http://www.mndaily.com/2012/05/30/cbs-hires-bug-sexpert-marlene-zuk). Snarky is defined as "Rudely sarcastic or disrespectful; snide." (www.thefreedictionary.com/snarky)

Did she ever discuss feminism vis-a-vis Paleo here? Can someone please provide a link to any of her posts? I wonder if she sees Paleo diets/lifestyles as based on interpretations flawed by "sexist biases and stereotypes":

   "Anthropomorphism, however, can lead to flawed interpretations of animal behavior, particularly when combined with sexist biases and stereotypes. Marlene Zuk, a professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside, argues these points in an engaging, highly readable, and thoughtprovoking book, Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can’t Learn about Sex from Animals, now available in paperback.The pitfalls of anthropomorphism are illustrated to great effect with a number of entertaining examples, many of which document a distinct male bias. Zuk argues that feminism can provide anthropomorphist biologists with the intellectual tools needed to cure their bad habits." (What We Can and Can’t Learn about Biology from Feminism, http://www.bioone.org/doi/pdf/10.1641/0006-3568(2005)055[0182:NT]2.0.CO;2)

[Not that any of this would necessarily disprove any of her points re: Paleo nutrition, of course, but it does raise some questions.]
« Last Edit: March 18, 2013, 03:05:39 PM by paleophil »

Offline tinknal

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Re: Paleofantasy
« Reply #37 on: March 16, 2013, 06:16:27 PM »
This witch obviously has an agenda. 

Offline Eric

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Re: Paleofantasy
« Reply #38 on: March 16, 2013, 08:36:45 PM »
Great post Phil. 

Now who wants to write "Feministfantasy" mocking a collection of posts stolen from some feminazi forum  ;) ?

Offline paleophil

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Re: Paleofantasy
« Reply #39 on: March 17, 2013, 04:45:47 PM »
Thanks Eric.

Well, even just joking about trolling a feminist forum might serve only to confirm her negative opinions and turn off some other feminists to boot, though not enough to make a noticeable blip in the continuing rapid growth of the movement.

Besides, is Paleo/ancestral necessarily antithetical to non-extreme forms of feminism? Despite the "caveman" image that this forum and others have adopted, Paleo might actually be seen as more "feminist" than the common patriarchal societies of today, since many HG and even pastoral societies were not patriarchal and patriarchy didn't become dominant until the Neolithic, as pointed out here: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/12/why-does-it-always-have-to-be-cavemen/ and here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriarchy.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2013, 07:23:34 PM by paleophil »

Offline tinknal

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Re: Paleofantasy
« Reply #40 on: March 17, 2013, 06:19:40 PM »
Well, even just joking about trolling a feminist forum might serve only to confirm her negative opinions and turn off some other feminists to boot, though not enough to make a noticeable blip in the continuing rapid growth of the movement.

Besides, is Paleo/ancestral necessarily antithetical to non-extreme forms of feminism? Despite the "caveman" image that this forum and others have adopted, Paleo might actually be seen as more "feminist" than the common patriarchal societies of today, since many HG and even pastoral societies were not patriarchal and patriarchy didn't become dominant until the Neolithic, as pointed out here: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/the-women-of-slate-take-on-evolutionary-psychology/ and here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriarchy.

Anthropology has shown that the value of women in society is directly correlated to their economic contribution to the tribe and family.  Most of this is dependent on climate and lifestyle.  Hunter gatherer societies who ate a lot of plant food (nuts, wild rice, pinion nuts, fruit, maple syrup, etc) valued women highly while those who mainly ate meat (think arctic dwellers) valued women much less.

Offline paleophil

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Re: Paleofantasy
« Reply #41 on: March 17, 2013, 07:13:19 PM »
Thanks Tinknal, I did allow for that in my post, using the word "many" instead of "all." And thanks for motivating me to check my post to make sure I did that, because I noticed that one of the links was wrong. The first one should have been http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/12/why-does-it-always-have-to-be-cavemen.

Unfortunately, the "caveman" image is also widely caricatured (holding a ridiculously thick club, dragging women by the hair to rape them, looking and acting stupid, and so forth). Interestingly, though, the portrayal of Neanderthals and archaic H. sapiens sapiens have been improving as more and more evidence is found about their larger average brain size vs. today's averages and their cultural artifacts.

So who knows, maybe cavemen will eventually be widely perceived as more egalitarian and less brutal toward women than they generally are now. Of course, we'll never know all the details of what they were like, but it might help people not jump to conclusions about Paleo diet advocates and followers having some sort of male chauvinist or misogynist "paleofantasy," and it also might help Paleo dieters to not adopt such notions.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2013, 03:01:55 PM by paleophil »

Offline tinknal

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Re: Paleofantasy
« Reply #42 on: March 18, 2013, 04:24:21 PM »
Thanks Tinknal, I did allow for that in my post, using the word "many" instead of "all." And thanks for motivating me to check my post to make sure I did that, because I noticed that one of the links was wrong. The first one should have been http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/12/why-does-it-always-have-to-be-cavemen.

Unfortunately, the "caveman" image is also widely caricatured (holding a ridiculously thick club, dragging women by the hair to rape them, looking and acting stupid, and so forth). Interestingly, though, the portrayal of Neanderthals and archaic H. sapiens sapiens have been improving as more and more evidence is found about their larger average brain size vs. today's averages and their cultural artifacts.

So who knows, maybe cavemen will eventually be widely perceived as more egalitarian and less brutal toward women than they generally are now. Of course, we'll never know all the details of what they were like, but it might help people not jump to conclusions about Paleo diet advocates and followers having some sort of male chauvinist or misogynist "paleofantasy," and it also might help Paleo dieters to not adopt such notions.

The evidence is clear that paleo people created music, art, medical practices, and so on.  They had brains just like ours.  They were us.

Offline paleophil

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Re: Paleofantasy
« Reply #43 on: March 18, 2013, 05:17:22 PM »
Precisely! Not only that, the brains of Neanderthals and Cro Magnon Homo sapiens were larger, on average, than those of modern humans.

I should mention that the "witch" comment was over-the-top and also reinforces the negative "caveman" stereotype of Paleo/ancestral nutrition, especially since we don't have a lot of input on what the book actually contains. John Hawks claims her book is good, so I'll at least leave open that possibility, however remote. Who knows, maybe it has some positive stuff in it, and Zuk did say this:

"As an evolutionary biologist, I was filled with enthusiasm at first over the idea of a modern mismatch between everyday life and our evolutionary past." http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/20/health/views/20essa.html

If she learns more about the varieties of Paleo/primal/ancestral/traditional that include dairy and plenty of plant foods, maybe she'll even come round to supporting that aspect of the movement. Stranger things have happened (not holding my breath, though).

The agenda remark is fair, because she herself has said that she has a feminist agenda, though she portrays it as a counterbalance to existing male bias. That still strikes me as more of a political stance than a scientific one. What do you think? Is that a proper mindset for a scientist?

I've never heard of a scientific book (certainly not one described as taking us to "the cutting edge of biology") quoting excerpts from an Internet forum of nonscientists. Is this considered scientific nowadays? 

Zuk's book will only further publicize the Paleo/ancestral movement, and it's good to question some of the dogmas that get bandied about. So if she intended to undermine it, she will fail miserably.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2013, 06:41:40 PM by paleophil »

Offline tinknal

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Re: Paleofantasy
« Reply #44 on: March 19, 2013, 06:27:48 AM »
Heck Phil, I only used the word "witch"  to avoid using the other "itch" word....................... ;)