Sunday, October 14, 2012

Great Courses:  Being Human.

This is the latest lecture series for the Wednesday lunch time group.  The 1st lecture was an introduction.  The 2nd lecture compared humans to baboons and came to the startling conclusion that humans would be physically healthier if we all behaved like a bunch of wild baboons unencumbered by the technologies of society.  The Noble Savage myth still has legs and a tail and lives in an ivory tower.

Prof. Sapolsky compared the health of baboons who discovered a garbage dump in Africa to Americans in North America.  The baboons who discovered the garbage dump stopped foraging and enjoyed the bounty, growing quicker and bigger, yet being less healthy.  For comparison, an Indian tribe was considered since the tribal branches exist both in Mexico and in the US.  The fact that the group in America was wildly obese was taken to be a sign of the evils of modern farming, which apparently equates to the baboons garbage dump.  But what does the Mexican branch of the tribe eat?  He didn't tell us.  Of course the problem north of the border is something called "welfare", which allows America's poor to eat unlimited amounts of food without ever getting out to forage for themselves.  Thus, the baboon's garbage dump might be better equated to the modern welfare state, rather than mechanized farming.

Backing up a bit, Prof. Sapolsky first criticizes modern technology for leaving society sick and diminutive, based on sizes of people during the middle ages.  His final criticism, however, is that we are over sized as a result of technology.  So which is it?  In fact technology changes things in many ways, which the lecture acknowledges.  What is bugging me is that I should like to see what the overall patterns look like, but Prof. Sapolsky is giving a few random anecdotes that come from a sea of data.  Are the anecdotes representative of anything?  Stay tuned for the next episode ...

5 comments:

Vid said...

I'd rather be fat than starving.

Looney said...

:) How many fat people have you seen where you are at?

Delirious said...

I have to admit that living here in China reminds me just how wealthy we are in America. We don't have to grow or kill our own food. We can even buy food that has already been prepared and frozen. We live very far from where our food is produced.

But I think the worst culprit in making us fat and lazy is fast food. So many calories for so little nutritional value. My husband used to often grab a burger or tacos for lunch. Now he is eating rice and vegetables for lunch every day.

And it's amazing how advertising has lead us to believe that sugary cereals are a healthy breakfast. I blame our obesity on our prosperity. We can afford to eat whatever we want, and we don't have to move far to get it.

Looney said...

My father always lost a lot of weight after some time in China. It was a very effective dieting tool! Hoping y'all come back healthier!

Dee Ice Hole said...

I think our health is worse because we live lots longer. When the life expectancy was 50 you didn't have time to get fat.