I’m Really Glad I’m Not a Caveman

When I was introduced to the primal lifestyle, I was amazed to learn how pre-agricultural human adults were taller than their post-agricultural decendents, had less cavities, and suffered virtually no diseases of civilization that plague modern societies.

The Paleo/Primal lifestyle has positively influenced the health of literally millions of people.  Of course, there’s a small percentage of folks that Robb Wolf likes to call a ‘lunatic fringe‘, who try to recreate a life of cultural primitivism & dream about living the life of the mythical noble savage.  The evidence pointing to the superior health of our pre-agricultural ancestors is convincing, but if you were to give me a time machine I sure as hell wouldn’t permanently turn the dial back to 10,000 BC.

In a recent Guardian profile of Steven Pinker’s upcoming book, Andrew Anthony observes

“In ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and Its Causes, the celebrated evolutionary psychologist and bestselling author argues that we – the human race – are becoming progressively less violent. To the consumer of 24-hour news, steeped in images of conflict and war, that may sound plain wrong. But Pinker supports his case with a wealth of data.

Drawing on the work of the archaeologist Lawrence Keeley, Pinker recently concluded that the chance of our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors meeting a bloody end was somewhere between 15% and 60%. In the 20th century, which included two world wars and the mass killers Stalin and Hitler, the likelihood of a European or American dying a violent death was less than 1%.

Pinker shows that, with notable exceptions, the long-term trend for murder and violence has been going down since humans first developed agriculture 10,000 years ago. And it has dropped steeply since the Middle Ages. It may come as a surprise to fans of Inspector Morse butOxford in the 1300s, Pinker tells us, was 110 times more murderous than it is today.”

Being alive today gives us the ability to have the best of both worlds if we want it.  Thanks to information sharing available in modern societies, we have access to an unprecedented wealth of information about optimal health by reading books and blogs, joining meetup groups, even following twitter feeds of like-minded people.  And as Bob mentioned,  with international trade, an advanced economy and modern cultures, we can enjoy all sorts of foods never dreamed of by our ancestors.


About Scott Ewing

Primal Blueprint enthusiast living in Chicago. Twitter: @scewing
This entry was posted in Interesting article, the science behind it and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to I’m Really Glad I’m Not a Caveman

  1. Bob Ewing says:

    Excellent post! I agree 100%, and I love the cartoon. Pinker’s books are fantastic, and I’ve been waiting for years for this one to come out. He blows away the myth of the noble savage in Blank Slate, so this full book-length treatment should be impressive.

    He gave a TED talk on this that worth watching: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html

    To the best of both worlds!

  2. geezerguy46 says:

    I very much enjoyed this post.

  3. scottdworkin says:

    Good post! Even though I love Pinker’s work (especially Blank Slate) the statistics just have too broad of a range to justify using it as a sales point on an idea.

  4. Trade is awesome. Violence… not so much. Great post Scott!

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