Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dealing with the human race's bad decisions

Did you ever make a decision that you regretted later, but could not undo?

I'm guessing we all have, and at that point we have to just adapt. It's no useshould-coulda-woulda-ing our way into depression. Time to accept the things we cannot change, as the old prayer says.

The more I study the history of our species, the more I am starting to feel like humanity made one of these bad decisions a long time ago--actually, a series of bad decisions that stretch right into the present.

And it all started with agriculture, a "decision" that Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel has called "The worst mistake in the history of the human race." It was the first step in a long series of unfortunate and irreversible events that have brought us far from our evolutionary heritage and left us out of sync with human nature.

For one thing, we are not well adapted to the high carbohydrate diet that agriculture introduced. And according to Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha, authors of Sex at Dawn, the agricultural revolution led to fundamental shifts in the way we live and relate to each other. Hunter-gather societies are almost exclusively communal and egalitarian, and agriculture led to private property, which had ripple effects even into our sex lives (women as property, for example).

And the industrial revolution was the agricultural revolution on steroids. And now we find ourselves sedentary, isolated, stressed-out, war-like, competitive and possessive workaholics while our genes are better suited to an active yet relaxed communal existence.

And it's not like we can just turn back the clock and start over. Like a species of bird that finds itself blown to a new island without familiar food, we must adapt or die. Or in our case, adapt or die of stress-induced cariovascular disease or diet induced cancer.

We can either change ourselves (and this isn't possible--yet) or we change our circumstances to better fit our genes. A better fit is what I'm shooting for. Ideally, not some boring compromise, but a new, out-of-the-box, ideas-having-sex strategy for living that gets the primal/ancestral gene thing going in the modern world. I'll keep you posted.

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