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Skepchick Quickies 7.26

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21 Comments

  1. “Proven wrong”? I might agree with “proven silly,” but that review is ALSO specifically targeted at supporting vegetarians, and is, aside from proving the paleodieters silly, equally silly on the other side.

    Is it really trying to say that a vegetarian diet will make humans lose the power of speech and art and tools? Because that’s what it’s saying.

    • Bah, people get so emotional about their food. It always seems that challenging the notion that our ancestors weren’t fearsome carnivorous predators brings out their defensive emotions.

      The paleolithic lasted from 3mya-10kya and believe what the article is saying mainly:

      1. Big game type meat (goats, cows, deer, etc.) that we eat today costed a lot of energy and potential injury to catch. So most of the meat was likely tiny, easier to catch stuff like bugs, small lizards, or rodents and was probably a minority part of the diet.

      2. Our gut is incredibly unremarkable and is able to digest pretty much anything.

      3. Diet changed a lot with much more in the later paleolithic and definitely with the advent of human populations living in colder environments, agriculture and pastoral lifestyles than it did for most of the paleolithic. And that there’s genetic evidence to show this (i.e. things like lactose tolerance).

      I’m not sure how that’s “pro-vegetarian”.

  2. Re: the lady politician cartoon, I have to say, I hear people all of the time saying things like “Hillary Clinton lost because she was too catty/emotional”, “Sarah Palin is a dumb broad”, etc.

    If you’re an effective female politician, it REALLY means you’re a catty bitch.

  3. I thought the “paleo” article was kind of bizarre. Don’t look at the actual anscestors of humans, look at other surviving primates. Why not look at our actual anscestors? Or how about looking at actual humans that survived into the modern era with pre-agricultural lifestyles? As far as I know, none of them live on nuts and berries. In any case, no one is going to survive on nuts & berries in temperate or sub-polar climates. Also, the article looks only at superficial aspects of the digestive system. That is just inadequate. Dogs (and wolves) generate enzymes to break down carbohydrates. Does that mean they aren’t carnivores? It is a survival advantage to be able to eat low-quality foods, but that doesn’t mean the low-quality foods aren’t low quality.

    • Well I think the article covered that when they said “what do you mean the paleo diet, the one from 1mya, 500kya, 10kya”. For most of the paleolithic humans and their ancestors survived on whatever was available in their habitats in Africa. It was only in the late paleolithic that diets diversified so much as humans went across the world.

      He acknowledges that many cultures have special adaptations for eating specific foods (like milk, etc.) and that the diet changed in the more recent paleolithic. And I think he rightly says a “paleo” diet would depend on which paleolithic culture you’re talking about.

      It is a survival advantage to be able to eat low-quality foods, but that doesn’t mean the low-quality foods aren’t low quality.

      Plant foods aren’t “low quality”.

  4. The article is an indictment of the paleo-argument, a good one, and a funny one. It’s not an indictment of specific diets or elements of them, it simply states that the paleo-argument is an overused and easily oversimplified one: “Taken too literally, such diets are ridiculous.”

    Well, actually it is an indictment of one “diet”, the “average modern”, but the comments still appear to be a bunch of knee-jerk “my-diet-is-so-supported-by-evidence” nitwittery unrelated to the point or plain wrong.

    Footnote 6: “I know, what I have shown is not that our ancestors were vegetarians but instead that they tended to mostly eat vegetable matter. Here though I am using the definition of vegetarian that most humans use where someone is a vegetarian if they decline meat in public but occasionally, when no one is looking, sneak a beef jerky. The modern vegetarian’s illicit beef jerky is the ancestral vegetarian’s crunchy frog.”

    • I agree with you, the author I don’t think is trying to promote vegetarianism (I’m not sure the author is a vegetarian), it’s just that when a lot of people see the word “vegetarian” they tend to start reflexively going on the offensive.

      I think it would be interesting to investigate the homeland(s) of early modern humans in the earlier parts of the paleolithic (like 500k-100kya) and determine what was actually available to eat back then. I searched on google scholar, but couldn’t find a good research article about it (most focused on late paleolithic diets).

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