“meat made us smart” theory debunked


Promote a cruelty-free lifestyle long enough, and you’ll eventually bump into the expensive tissue hypothesis. No, it’s not a pet theory about the rising cost of toilet paper, but the claim (usually foisted upon you by paleodieters or some carnist who took an anthropology class once) that meat-eating made humans into the big-brained rocket scientists we are today. How ungrateful and unnatural you are to reject millions of years of evolution. Surely, your brain has shrunk from lack of essential fatty acids, to even entertain such a notion as eating vegan.

To be fair, that last bit isn’t actually the expensive tissue hypothesis (ETH). It’s just the pop culture meme that grew out of an influential idea first put forward by Leslie C. Aiello and Peter Wheeler in 1995. While “meat made us smart” is not, as you’ll see in a moment, actually what Aiello & Wheeler said, it is the message that carnist mainstream society took from the paper and ran with. It’s been the urban caveman’s naturalistic fallacy of choice ever since.

But as with many things in modern science, things look a lot different in the field today than they did 18 years ago. The idea that meat-eating was essential to the evolution of human intelligence isn’t holding up as well as your average broscientist thinks it is. What follows is a slightly edited re-post from my usual blog that explains all the details.

“Energetics and the evolution of human brain size,” published in the November 2011 edition of Nature, tests and refutes the expensive tissue hypothesis. It’s impressive work, and pretty devastating to the hypothesis that has provided a rhetorical foundation to the paleo diet mythology for over a decade now.

Their conclusion: when adiposity, phylogenetic relationships, sample bias and sex differences are controlled for, Aiello’s & Wheeler’s original data don’t support their hypothesis any better than the newer data does! In short, the ETH is wrong at the foundation, not just at the margins.

- See more at: http://www.thediscerningbrute.com/2013/03/20/why-meat-made-us-smart-is-a-dumb-idea/#sthash.AFXfb6Hl.dpuf             

building a world

building a world

“building a world of concrete”

read the cement truck sign

as I look out my bus window

sitting on plastic

holding metal

gliding in a walled enclosure

upon round oil-infused rubber

gazing out glass

as the automated humans

in Sunday’s best

and not Sunday’s best

(both shipped across the ocean

or maybe within the homeland

from slavery)

walking in rhythm

on the stiff concrete sidewalk

(“building a world of concrete”)

with determined moss in cracks

along cookie cutter dwellings & dealings

and inserted ornamental trees

(from hybridization for preferential traits

or seeds stolen from a far off ecosystem)

with squawking invasive aviators

perched on safe nonnative branches

bartering with automated humans

“A revived sense of nature connection

(however false)

for industrial lifeless foodstuff.”

scavenger birds & squirrels,

civilized humans and their

pampered pet dogs -

the dominant vertebrates,

desperate fools, dormant beings

in this dead constructed world

with cranes

(not the animals)

constructing more

and more

atop foundations of

of dug out ‘dirt’

turned concrete pits.

“building a world of concrete”

(Quick, please tell me, it’s urgent –

where is the nearest living soil?

I need to be there now.

Panic subsides. Longing fads.)

my eyes search

for anything real

finally resting on the one and only

the sky

baby blue with wispy clouds

trusting, hoping

the sky is still real

where humans first took the wrong path

James DeMeo’s and archeological research into the ecological bases of patriarchal societies revealed “Patrism, perpetuated by trauma-inducing social institutions, first developed among Homo sapiens in Saharasia, under the pressure of severe desertification, famine, and force migrations” (p. 247). There are later links between desertification and the appearance of oppressive social structures in Arabia, Central Asia, and South America. In Saharasia, drought and associated famine led to changes in family and social structure that both reflected and reproduced trauma. These traumatic cultural practices then spread through the world via violent conquest.
Pastoralism (animal herding) originally arose as an effort to ward off starvation by ensuring a steady source of food, and ideas about human superiority arose to counteract guilt feelings about the everyday violence associated with the enslavement of animals whose intelligence and emotions were very evident to the people now in contact with them. The tension can be seen in stories like those in Genesis, where the fear that animals have of humans is described as a punishment and where the tragic story of Cain and Abel begins with a jealous deity’s irrational preference for blood sacrifice over a vegetable offering. In any event, pastoralism is a very bad strategy for the avoidance of famine in dry regions, since grazing animals exacerbate desertification and consume scarce water during drought. Thus, yet again, a reaction to trauma leads to more trauma. Many generations later, we live in a world where every year farmers produce more than enough plants to feed everyone but millions of children die due to hunger and malnutrition. Billions of farmed animals live and die in misery, consuming many pounds of plant protein and many gallons of water for every pound of flesh made into meat and warming up the atmosphere with the methane they expel. Diet-related heart disease and cancers kill off the people who eat them. And the cycle of trauma continues.
evoluntion to zoo