Blame it on the Caveman
on 6/18/2004 (1)
Ever wonder why being human is so knuckle dragging at times?
|A penny for the old guy. |
Why do we do what we do? Here are some answers:
Overeating: The reason that we as a species are predisposed to overeating is a vestige of the primordial brain carried within all of us. Millions of years ago, on the vast Serengetti plain, a tiny group of humanoid bipeds wandered about, always looking for something to eat. It was likely that the greater part of their day was spent looking for food, let alone lounging around eating it. A great deal of energy was required to power the body in its ceasless caloric quest. When our early ancestors encountered a windfall, such as a tree ripe with fruit or an animal carcass, they ate feverishly, gourging as much as possible to prepare for the more common, leaner times.
Evolution favored individuals who could store fat. Those who could put on weight lived to pass their genes on. Evolution also programmed us to eat as much food, especially energy rich fat foods, as often as possible. When we bite into a cheeseburger, a flood of chemical reactions occur, prompting a rush of neurotransmitters in the brain, instructing us "Yay! Fat! Eat more!"
Unfortunately, this trait is not of benefit in modern times. With Burger Kings at every corner, one does not have to walk, or more likely drive, very far for dinner. But our bodies and brains have not changed much internally. Our brain still beckons us to eat as much as possible, and rest as much as possible, an obvious equation for obesity. The reason Americans are the fattest is the sheer availability of fatty foods, not our culture in itself. *Sigh*. Blame it on the Caveman.
Tribalism: As man wandered out of the Serengetti to Europe and beyond, groups splintered off, setting their own course. It has been estimated that some of these tribes may have numbered as little as a hundred or so in number. Geneticists have determined that about 30 individuals are required for any splinter group to prevent adverse inbreeding, insuring them a healthy genetic future.
Through the adaptive process of evolution, or simply through random mutation, these groups developed different physical characteristics. Hair color, skin color, eye color, facial features, language, etc. In those perilous times, it was imperative to be able to recognize ones own tribe. To fail to do so could mean death.
The unfortunate side effect of this trait is that it can make life in a multi-cultural world seem menacing and unatural to some of us. It is the reason their are about 150 major and minor wars and conflicts going on in the world at any given time. Sadly, this is programmed into us all. Most people feel more comfortable among those that are like themselves. Don't feel bad or politically incorrect for feeling this way. Don't blame yourself. Blame it on the Caveman, again.
Anxiety: Way, way back when, the only pressures exerted on our hominid predecessors were enviromental and social. Early tribes certainly had pecking orders and rules, and the enviroment certainly offered danger and challenge at every turn. About 10,000 years ago, as man became technologically adept, he built cities and irretrievably transformed his world. An entirely new set of stimuli racked and tortured his age old set of nerves. Add jet planes, atom bombs and global warming, and the ensuing inability to process multiple, complex levels of stress leads to anxiety, depression and Prozac. We have built an unatural world with the "new" part of our brain, but the old timer wit
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