I made a generic copy/paste that you can all use against antivaxers:
1. The likelihood of ANY “vaccine injury” has less than a 0.0001% chance of happening. (Which includes mild reactions)
2. Those scary toxins in the vaccines go through chemical reactions that make them harmless to the body and easy to metabolize. Think about it this way, sodium and chloride on their own will kill you but together you get table salt.
3. The increase in unhealthy children with diabetes, asthma, allergies, cancer, etc. Is far more likely caused by processed foods, chemical cleaners, pollution, sedentary life in front of screens and the age at which the mother gives birth than vaccines.
4. Your vaccines do not have aborted fetal cells in them. In the 60s some vaccines were created using voluntarily aborted fetal cells, but scientists were able to grow the tissue in the lab, so you are about 3 generations removed from that original vaccine.
5. If herd immunity weakens, and dead diseases make a comeback, they have the opportunity to mutate and evolve making current treatment and prevention methods obsolete, so even if you aren’t willing to “light your child on fire to protect another” who is immunocompromised, remember that.
6. Every medication has risk, as a mother you most likely have used birth control even though is doubles and almost triples your risk of stroke and blood clots. Even aspirin has the possible side effect for blindness and kidney failure.
7. The long term side effects of these diseases are far more likely and much worse than vaccines. Once you have the measles, for example, you are at risk for SSPE, a fatal disease that attacks your nervous system.
8. Stop spreading fear and misinformation, you are far more of a risk than any vaccine.
9. There is less than 0.00001% chance that your child will develop encephalitis from the vaccine compared to 1-3 in 1,000 children contracting measles will develop encephalitis concurrent with the measles infection. 10–15% of those children will die and a further 25% will be left with permanent neurological damage. 1 in 1,000 children with measles will develop post-infectious encephalitis, which has a very high fatality rate. >1-10,000 children develop SSPE, which is 100% fatal in almost all cases (the exception being a single child that survived) When it comes to measles vs. the vaccine, it’s no contest.
•As many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children.
•About one child out of every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that can lead to convulsions and can leave the child deaf or with intellectual disability.
•For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it.
•Measles may cause pregnant woman to give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby.
•Ear infections occur in about one out of every 10 children with measles and can result in permanent hearing loss.
•Diarrhea is reported in less than one out of 10 people with measles. Which can lead to dehydration and secondary complications.
•Measles is also responsible for inhibiting immune responses which leaves the sick individual vulnerable to secondary infections.
10. And even if the infection doesn’t kill you, the morbidity complications from measles are life altering. Some people may suffer from severe complications, such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). They may need to be hospitalized and could die.
11. It’s not about YOU and “your freedoms”… It’s about everyone else. Stop seeing this as the government trying to regulate your lives. It’s the government enacting a law that protects people. I’ve written to several law makers about this subject and they thankfully agreed that we should have mandatory vaccine requirements to protect the general population. You don’t complain about DUI laws… this really is no different.
12. Since 1988 only 20,522 petitions for vaccine injury compensation have been filed. Of those, only 6,465 were deemed credible and paid out. While the dollar amount was high, the number of cases is much more compelling. Are you going to stop using aspirin for your children because one girl had a terrible, awful reaction where she lost most of her skin and was awarded $63 million? No because it was a very rare reaction. No drug is one size fits all. Unfortunately, some will have adverse reaction but I’ll take the odds of less than 7k vaccine injuries over the last 20 years versus contracting any of these diseases.
A California court is not peer-reviewed science. What we are having here is the legal system unethically crossing the lines into scientific endeavor. If you wanted the courts to be fair, how about place in the courts a bunch of subject-matter experts.
You can tell people that dihydrogen monoxide is an absolutely dangerous chemical that caused a person’s cancer and that every single person that had cancer was exposed to dihydrogen monoxide.
(dihydrogen monoxide is the chemical name for water) The problem is, when you don’t know what science is, you make bad decisions because you were uninformed and uneducated in the subject matter.
We do not have courts make a medical diagnosis, we do not have courts making decisions on how airplanes fly and are designed, we do not have courts making mathematical decisions for engineering, but apparently we now have courts determining scientific matters when it comes to chemicals.
This is not how science works folks! Science is not an ad populum endeavor, it is based upon empirical evidence and years of peer-reviewed research. To use a court case based upon the opinion of non subject matter experts to determine the outcome of what a chemical is or is not responsible for is absolutely pseudoscience and should hold absolutely no grounds. This is a slippery slope and by doing this they are simply adding grease to it.
A bombshell report from the Pentagon shows that Santa Claus has been kidnapped by ISIS members somewhere in Syria around the Middle Euphrates River Valley. The report stated that ISIS probably used a rocket propelled grenade to down St. Nicks’ sleigh and drone footage shows what looks to be a crash sight with several dead reindeer.
A propaganda film was identified on an ISIS website showing Santa Claus tied to a chair with an ISIS member making demands to the west to convert to Islam immediately or suffer death. In the video they stated that they would make Santa Claus and the western world would “pay for his (Santa Claus) perversion and that he will be punished dearly for his actions.”
Santa Claus read a script with a gun to his head, pleading with world leaders to immediately implement Sharia law and apologizing for his apparent crimes against Islam and the prophet Mohammed.
At this current time, no information was available on the current condition of Santa Claus but officials at the Pentagon stated the situation looked grim. President Donald J. Trump is scheduled to have a press briefing in the morning when more information becomes available.
As someone who works in biotech, I have a lot of strong feelings about this. I am all for genetically engineering and modifying plant, animal, and human life, as long as it is regulated, ethical, and safe. However, that was not the case here. This was done in complete secrecy with no oversight committee. This is not how we conduct science. The following post contains my own opinions as well as some edited statements from science communicators and scientific institutions.
For starters, the researcher claims this gene editing will create HIV-resistant humans. Let’s take a look into the actual biology of what happened. Firstly, the researchers used HIV-positive sperm to fertilize HIV-negative eggs. In order to try and make the embryos resistant to HIV, the CCR5 gene (which codes for a receptor found on white blood cells) was mutated to be non-functional. However, only one of the twins was made homozygous for the CCR5 edit (meaning they received two copies of the edit) while the other was made heterozygous for the edit (they received one edited copy and one unedited copy).
It’s important to remember that people who are heterozygous for the CCR5 non-functional version of this gene are still susceptible to HIV. Aside from that, this also causes a problem because the CCR5 receptor that HIV uses to enter cells has other functions that are essential to the immune system response.
What’s so reckless about this work is that the loss of a functional CCR5 protein increases susceptibility to flaviviruses, such as West Nile virus. The researcher was attempting to make HIV-1 resistant humans, but trading one deadly virus for another, especially when flaviviruses are endemic worldwide, is an incredibly bad idea.
This is still not even mentioning the fact that he has forced one of the twins to essentially be born with HIV. To knowingly and purposefully use HIV-positive sperm to fertilize an egg is beyond disturbing. (A big thanks to The Mad Virologist for providing a lot of the information here.)
What that means is that the use of CRISPR, which is an extremely powerful and new gene editing tool, has been known to edit genes that were not intended to be edited.
This is perhaps the most concerning aspect.
This is why we have regulations and oversight committees. We have no idea what the long term effects of these edits are going to be. Any ethical scientific institution would have needed much more evidence before beginning human trials. This is why we have animal studies and programs that can run simulations using different theoretical nucleotide sequences. To jump straight to human trials is completely and utterly unethical.
We have international standards that we abide by because we’ve seen what happens when people *don’t* abide to ethical principles. I’m of course talking about eugenics, nazi testing, the Tuskegee experiments, etc. Testing new scientific breakthroughs will never be 100% completely ethical, but we can set rules and limitations to make them as ethical as possible.
The Future Effects
Another deeply concerning aspect is the fact that these edits can now be passed on into the human germline. In other words, if these children end up reproducing they can pass these edited genes into the human gene pool. This would begin affecting every single future generation of humans. Especially given the fact that you would need two copies of the edit in order to theoretically become HIV resistant, this is highly dangerous. We would see a large increase of humans who are now much more susceptible to the flavivirus.
In my opinion, which obviously can be changed if I’m philosophically convinced otherwise, we essentially need to look at the possibility of sterilizing them for the sake of future generations and the human germline. And that in itself is a horribly unethical thing to do.
We have absolutely no idea how the researchers conducted themselves. Everything they did was kept in secret rather than them going through peer-reviewed publications. No oversight committees, regulations, or anything.
Doing science this way is completely unacceptable. I am all for the genetic modification of plants, animals, and humans, and I’ve been a proponent of that for years. But if we want to use this powerful and amazing technology, it needs to be regulated and have federal and international oversight. Without those ethical standards, scientific progress is not progress. This is not the way we conduct science. This is unethical. This is dangerous. This is not innovative by any definition of the word.
A lot the time chronic pain sufferers/people w autoimmune diseases are desperate for a good treatment, or maybe even a cure even if their judgement tells them that is bad advice.
People try to take advantage of these people all the time.I have polled a group of people that are chronically ill. Including myself. There’s plenty of bad advice out there but these are my findings that stuck out the most.
MLM scam known as Mona-Vie (sold as a cure all for mental, physical, and even to cure cancer)
Gluten free life
Veganism or raw vegan diet
Juice cleansing AKA Jilly juice
Symptoms must be caused by Hysteria
“Autoimmune paleo diet”
Organic Juice only
“It’s the devil”
Consume breast milk
Atheism causes physical pain
Seizures are caused by fungus, mold, eating dairy, & gluten
Depression invented by “big pharma”
Onions in socks overnight
Don’t eat or drink cold things
Raw veggies to detox
More exercise (endometriosis) breastfeeding “prevents” it
Caused by poor self esteem
Lavender to treat fibromyalgia
All in your head
Go outside more
Smoking marijuana/eat it as a vegetable(if it doesn’t work, you need more)
Bathe once a week in malt vinegar (Celiac)
Meds for illness are actually causing illness
Intravenous infusions of vitamin C
Accept Jesus into your heart and you’ll be cured
Anxiety is caused by a secret sin and needs to be confessed to Jesus
The doctors have lasers for that, but they don’t want you to know
Getting audited for Scientology would cure all physical and mental ailments
Eat boiled cabbage after accepting Jesus into your heart
Elderberry soup to boost immune system ( immune system actively attacking this person’s brain)
Autoimmune disorder was actually a vaccine injury
Back pain from herniated bulging disc. OB referral to chiropractor while 7 months pregnant. Wanted to adjust her back right then.
Say ” I am healing from EDS” instead of “I have EDS” and the genes will fix themselves
Attend the landmark forum and stop experiencing negativity as pain. You will also no longer burn in the Sun
All medical issues are caused by a bad attitude and you deserve it if cinnamon honey cannot cure it
Although this person had their reflexes checked. The doctor determine the young woman didn’t have an autoimmune disease and just needed more sleep. The Physician try to prescribe sleeping medicine
Nurse practitioner had patient hold small glass vials with names like “gluten” or “wheat”. Had patient touch head with one finger while the nurse practitioner tried to push down the hand holding a vial. This told the nurse practitioner what foods the patient was sensitive to.
Random man saw an article about a young woman with lupus leading the Lupus walk. He looked up her phone number and called her to tell her she was drinking too much soda and chewing too much gum. The woman was scared to hang up and ended up having to listen to his conspiracies.
These are just some examples of the terrible things said knowing the despair of chronic illness. It is very sickening to even read 1/4 of this. We need to do better.
Have you ever debated with someone who says “you Atheists believe we came from a monkey…” or “it’s you who believe this or that”?
Knowing what your opponent thinks or what his/her points are should be the basis of every debate for it to have some merit.
I would like to say that our community is impervious to debating mere assumptions and that it is a bulwark of critical thinking, but, unfortunately, that’s not the case.
I cannot say I haven’t ever assumed what another person believes just by listening to the label that person has chosen to be labeled as, but that’s certainly not an ideal situation.
This is something that occurs when people are fed up with endless discussions and it is easier to dismiss a whole argument just by assuming what the other person will say based on the premise they’ve given than spending time listening or reading to what they are going to say to state their positions on a subject.
One common example is when a theist defends the idea that reality was created by a deity or group of deities and someone opposing that way of thinking assumes what other things that person may believe, like if the person is a young Earth creationist or a Bible thumping southerner who speaks in tongues.
While this may begin just with a misrepresentation of the other person’s position, it can easily devolve into a discussion where the topic at hand is nothing more than a strawman of what was originally being discussed; this situation is especially dangerous when it is a mob against an individual and rationality is not the goal, but bashing the individual who disagrees with the loud majority.
This is something that is prevalent in discussion sites that talk about subjective positions like politics, where each person has a different opinion even within the group, with varying degrees of acceptance between different propositions.
“I believe H”
“Then you are X, Y and Z because most people who believe in H also believe in X, Y & Z; therefore you are evil as I don’t share your opinion.”
As ridiculous as that example may be, plenty of discussions online are managed in such a way, making a cartoon of the other person’s position and then categorizing him or her as wrong or plainly evil due to the disagreement, mixing judgements of value with personal opinions and facts.
The discussion could soon become one side defending his or her own character against accusations about X, Y or Z.
At best this is the result of intellectual laziness or at worst of intellectual dishonesty.
The next example is about a picture of a woman marching in favor of gun control, the response featured in here is against the way the
woman presented her case, not against gun control; the following responses misrepresent the position of the first response and assume what that person thinks of the whole debate, there is even one appealing to emotions.
“To effectively debate someone you have to know their position even better than themselves.”
As many of you may have heard by now, renowned ecologist David Goodall has passed away. While it is of course extremely unfortunate to hear about the death of somebody who was well-loved, I think the details surrounding his passing make for an interesting philosophical discussion.
The cause of his death was suicide, however it was not suicide in a way that society would consider “conventional.” Rather, he ended his own life by a method known assisted suicide. Assisted suicides differ from conventional suicides as they occur under the care, supervision, and judgement of physicians, therapists, and psychologists.
Goodall’s death seems to have reignited the discussion surrounding assisted suicide, especially regarding its philosophy and ethics, so I decided I would like to weigh in on this issue since it is something that I have personally thought, read, and talked about for a long time.
To paraphrase a quote by Daniel Defoe, “There are only two things certain in life: death and taxes.” If the statement is true, then we should have the right to determine how death and taxes occur and play out.
We have the ability to vote for our government officials who will then go on to enact legislation and policies regarding how much tax we will have to pay and how those taxes will be used. If you dislike taxation, you may likely vote for the candidate who supports lower taxes. If you find that paying more taxes is beneficial, you may likely vote for the person who takes that platform as well.
What I find so egregious however, is the fact that we don’t have a system set up which allows us to decide how we die. At the very least, one of the last decisions we ever make in our life should be how we depart this world. We write our wills, hopefully pick our nursing homes, and prepare our end-of-life care as much as we possibly can, however the vast majority of us still don’t have the ability to preferentiate when and how we die.
To die with dignity is a noble and novel concept. For someone to die on their own terms can be one of the most empowering choices they will ever make. It’s almost definitely how I will choose to go. I have been a personal supporter of the right to die for as long as I can remember. And I don’t mean just for terminally ill people. If someone wants to die and perhaps therapy, drugs, etc have all failed, then why should they be stopped from seeking assisted suicide as an option? It is their life, their body, and they have a fundamental right to seek this method of suicide.
Mr. Goodall had to fly all the way from Australia to Switzerland in order to end his life in the closest way possible to how he wanted. He said he would have rather died in Australia, but Australia’s laws made the prospect of finding a safe assisted suicide clinic impossible. While I’m glad he was able to find a facility in Switzerland, it is still slightly depressing to me that he could not die in his home country as he wanted.
We need to give people safe and effective ways to end their life. Doctors, therapists, psychologists, facilities, and equipment dedicated to assisted suicide.
David spent his last hours with his friends and family while enjoying his favorite food and activities. During his final moments, as he listened to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, the last movement ‘Ode to Joy’ began. David flicked a switch which would administer the drug that would stop his heart and his eyes closed for the final time just two minutes later.
Much like the debate surrounding Planned Parenthood, women who want or need abortions will seek alternative and dangerous methods if they are not given easier access to safe abortion facilities. If people want to kill themselves, they’re going to do it. We should at least give them a space which is safe and dignifying.
I don’t celebrate Christmas, I don’t have a Christmas tree in my living room, there’s nothing outside dangling that is festive, I don’t say merry Christmas and only say Happy holidays out of obligation, in all honesty, I sincerely hate this time of year. Let me elaborate so you all don’t think I’m just being depressed or cynical.
For one, as probably all of you may know, I’m an outspoken atheist. For me this time of year is a constant reminder of how people’s deeply held superstition still persists and is quite literally forced in your face in December. The whole aspect of the Christmas season is a Frankenstein holiday, nevertheless Christians never seem to figure this out. They celebrate a holiday that the person they are celebrating… wouldn’t even celebrate.
That being said, it doesn’t take that much applied critical thinking and a minor understanding of geological and historical knowledge to realize that according to the ridiculous book known as the Bible, never mentioned an exact date for this supposed birth; but what we do know is that historically the Romans did their census in the spring and shepherds don’t leave their flocks out at night in the winter, especially since it sometimes snows in Bethlehem during the the winter. So from a historical position, if Jesus did exist, he would have been born in spring. The story of Jesus’ birth is also borrowed mythology as well, born of a virgin, in a manger, a brilliant star in the sky guiding wise men visiting from a far, all borrowed stories from other religions (then again a lot of stories from the Bible are borrowed stories). And being born in the middle east in December, where the altitude in Bethlehem is 2,500 ft above sea level and has an average late December temperature of 42°f, you’d think there would be more emphasis on keeping a newborn warm during this time of year. So that’s why I scoff at Christmas from the very premise of it.
The history of Christmas is just as dubious, especially when it comes to Christmas tradition. Getting people to embrace the Christian religious beliefs did pose a challenge to earlier followers of this religion, especially in European areas where they held their own religious beliefs and traditions in December. We know that in an effort to make the Christian religious beliefs more acceptable to the Europeans in the late Iron age, they had to adopt traditional times of celebration that other religions had. Yule, Winter solstice, Ziemassvētki, etc. were pagan traditional holidays this time of year. And in an effort to convert the people of these religious beliefs, the Christian Church adopted the customs and traditions of these holidays in an attempt to make the Christian religion more appealing (and it worked).
So with all this being said, now you know why I refer to it as a Frankenstein holiday. But this isn’t just what bothers me about this holiday season, this is more of an irritation to me. It’s the people themselves that really get under my skin as well as the expectations society has that really erks me.
People are at their most hypocritical point this time of year. They pretend to be happy and helpful with a desire to help their fellow man (which sometimes they do for this short period of time), but mostly they come across as pretentious and fake with a holier-than-thou attitude. For some reason people feel like they need a special occasion to help one another, and they aren’t really doing it for the right reasons; they’re doing it because they themselves feel like they need to appease a bearded white man that knows if they’re good or bad and will either punish or reward them for their efforts or there by lack of (sound familiar?). So they smile with tongue in cheek and pretend to be merry and joyful and scoff at those of us that dare roll our eyes.
This is where Christians are at their most loudest, their pinacle of bigotry this time of year and it’s truly pathetic. Masquerading around like they’re being oppressed and screaming there’s a “war on Christmas” and how they’re being so undoly discriminated against if anyone dares to tell them to kindly keep their religious beliefs to themselves. The arrogance this time of year makes me only gain in my disdain for the holiday season, but just when you think this couldn’t sound any worse than it is; society and capitalism ensures to add insult to injury.
We lie to our impressionable children and tell them a white bearded man will reward them with toys and treats if they behave (sound familiar?). And we constructed a grandiose back story about this character we call Santa Claus with it’s own customs and traditions that dazzle children and gives them hope (sound familiar?). All to eventually find out that it was all just a lie to keep them in line. Why do we do this to them when we know it’s wrong? (Maybe it’s because society tells us it’s ok)
And with that lie we the parents need to deliver on that promise, and dig ourselves into a financial hole by spending money we don’t have! But wait, just when you think this couldn’t be any worse, it does!
To add to the financial burden and pain of the societal expectation to buy treats and gifts for our children, we also do the same for our family, friends, acquaintances and coworkers, because if we don’t you’re an asshole! And businesses capitalize on this and assault your senses with a barrage of Christmas music and decorative displays and just short of fumigating the air with the scent of cinnamon and pine; all in an attempt to get you to spend more of your hard earned cash that you really should be using for other things like bills. What’s worse is people buy right into this hook, line, and sinker and spend that money on holiday sales to the point that businesses mark their growth on just this month alone.
It’s pure chaos and hypocrisy wrapped in colorful paper with bow of insanity on top. But remember if you’re not singing joyful merry Christmas tunes then people have a name for this as well Ebenezer Scrooge… Bah-Humbug!
So happy holidays to you all, I hope a reindeer display falls on your head so maybe I won’t have to hear merry Christmas… again.
Have you ever actually looked at our planet? How many places on Earth would actually kill you if you were there? How many places on Earth are lethal to life in general, let alone human life? I’m sure in your natural state (meaning completely naked and unaided) if we dropped you just about anywhere from where we originally evolved from you would eventually die due to the environment.
So let’s talk hypothetically, if we dropped you in the center of Antarctica (or any other living animal for that matter) you would quickly freeze dry within a few minutes. I’m sure if we put you on top of Mount Everest (or any other animal for that matter) you would suffocate and die (if not freeze to death very rapidly first.) If you were put on the bottom of the ocean (which by the way makes up 70% of the earth’s surface) you and many other animals would instantly die ( FYI you would be crushed by the sheer pressure of the water before you could drown). I’m sure if we put you on the middle of a salt flat somewhere in the Kalahari Desert you would eventually die and completely dehydrate into a mummy, same goes with most other animals.
By the way salt flats in deserts are not very uncommon as deserts make up some 33% or a 3rd of earth’s non water covered surface. That’s just short of 10% of the entire earth’s surface when you include the water of the oceans. So that means 20% of the earth’s surface is left… but that also includes other things like tundra, artic and subartic, mountains, temperate zones, rainforests, and tropical regions. In our natural state, we can only survive in tropical regions. Tropical regions comprise approximately 7% of the earth’s dry land surface or just short of 2% of earth’s total surface and sustains over 50% of all species, that’s not very much space… In-fact if you just stand out in the sun long enough you would eventually die due to exposure… These are simple facts.
There are very few areas where a human can naturally survive, and those areas are filled with very large predators that evolved to eat us. For a place that was supposedly so perfectly created for us, it sure seems to want to kill us a lot; and has a great deal of completely uninhabitable areas and areas that are inherently dangerous to we fragile humans… So much for that intelligent design hypothesis you had.
The Paleo diet trend was kicked off with the publication of a book by Dr. Cordain published in 2002. Since then it’s popularity has increased steadily. Dr. Cordain believes that by eating as he believes our ancestors ate you can lose weight, and cure many diseases. Despite Dr. Cordain’s claims of expertise on Paleolithic diet, heath, and nutrition the majority of his claims are suspicious at best. The majority of the book relies on the appeal to nature fallacy whereby Dr. Cordain repeatedly claims that the only natural and safe diet for humans is the way our hominid ancestors allegedly ate. In order to understand the problem with many of Dr. Cordain’s statements you must first understand human evolution.
The Paleolithic period, which means Old Stone Age began approximately 2.5 million years ago when hominids began making stone tools. It ended approximately 10,000 years ago when the Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age, began with the advent of agriculture in the archaeological record. The Paleolithic period can be further broken into the Lower Paleolithic period that lasted from 2.5 mya (million years ago) to approximately 200,000 ya (years ago). For much of the Lower Paleolithic period stone technology was quite simple, and did not change much despite significant changes in hominid species and their brain capacity. Approximately 200,000 ya the Upper Paleolithic began when our species, Homo sapiens, evolved. Now this distinction is not merely human ego, but is based on the more advanced stone technology that humans displayed compared to other hominid species.
During the Paleolithic hominids learned to control fire, and it is thought that the first signs of human culture date back to the Paleolithic. Archaeological sites from this time are very rare. Any hominid remains from this time consist solely of fossilized skeletons that are fragmentary and often quite degraded.The archaeological evidence suggests that Homo erectus was the first species to be able to control fire, and therefore to begin cooking food. This is a very important factor in human evolution. It has long been known that eating meat was important to human evolution, particularly in allowing our brains to grow to unprecedented size and complexity compared to our body size.
Our hominid ancestors most likely started out as scavengers before learning to hunt animals for food. However there is another aspect of meat eating whose importance is often under estimated, and that is the ability to cook the meat and other foods so that the nutrients are more easily absorbed. As cooking developed we see morphological changes such as decreased molar and mandible size as large jaws and teeth were no longer necessary to process tough food.
It is undeniable that humans evolved by eating an omnivorous and very adaptable diet. The evidence for this is written all over our bodies if you know how to read it. Perhaps the most easily identified evidence of our omnivorous origins lies in our teeth. We have teeth that are designed for chewing plant matter as well as consuming meat. As tooth morphology is almost completely controlled by genetic rather than environmental factors it is very slow to change and an excellent source of information about human evolution.
The consumption of meat was undeniably a very important nutritional source for hominids, however Dr. Cordain is incorrect in overstating how frequently hominids and early humans ate meat. Archaeological evidence suggests that most hominid species and archaic Homo sapiens were primarily vegetarian with meat being an occasional dietary supplement when available. This is supported by studies of modern hunter-gatherer populations.
Now it is important to understand that direct comparisons between modern hunter-gatherer populations and prehistoric populations are not possible. The environment has changed dramatically since the Paleolithic, even since the Mesolithic the environment has undergone rapid change. This means that the environments that modern hunter-gatherers live in is not necessarily similar to the environment that prehistoric populations lived in. Additionally modern hunter-gatherer populations have been pushed to areas that are not conducive to agriculture, while prehistoric populations would have lived in all environments. Yet that direct comparison is something Dr. Cordain attempts to do on several occasions.
Studies of modern hunter-gatherer populations are useful, but it is very important to remember that there is no single dietary pattern than hunter-gatherer’s utilize. They are known to be very flexible in their food sources. Modern population’s diets range from extremes such as the Inuit whose diet is predominantly meat based, to the predominantly vegetarian !Kung. Some hunter-gatherer populations are also well known to consume large quantities of starchy vegetables that according to the Paleo diet they should not be consuming.
Dr. Cordain states that during the Paleolithic humans had a longer life span, did not suffer from tooth decay, did not have “modern” diseases and were taller than in the Mesolithic and later periods. In order to examine these claims you need to understand a little bit about biological anthropology, which is the study of human and hominid skeletal remains. It is generally accepted that only a very small proportion of diseases leave a mark on the skeleton, and very few of these are specific enough to diagnose. As the majority of our bodies are made of soft tissue, therefore the majority of our illnesses are found in the soft tissue. Due to how long it has been since the Paleolithic no soft tissue has ever been found from this time. That means the only way to assess health is through the skeletons. Now we can determine their estimated height, age, and the sex of adults if the skeletal remains are complete enough, but this becomes more difficult to accurately assess as the remains become more fragmentary. As there is no soft tissue we cannot determine if the individual had diseases such as heart disease or diabetes, nor can we tell if they were obese as there is no consensus on how to identify obesity in the skeletal record at this time. We can look at indicators of health and nutrition called non-specific stress indicators, such as bone porosity or interruptions of dental enamel formation in childhood.
The average stature of a population has cycled many times throughout history. Our adult height is affected by a combination of factors including genetics, nutrition and health. In some populations stature and general health did decrease after the advent of agriculture, but to associate that strictly with nutrition would be incorrect. With the advent of agriculture we suddenly had large populations living in the same place for extended periods of time, and there was not exactly good hygiene or sanitation. The communicable disease load increased dramatically as populations grew. In some areas malnutrition also increased, but this trend is not universal. There is a pattern of negative affects on health in the archaeological record as agriculture was adopted. However not all populations that transitioned from being a hunter-gatherer society to agricultural society experienced this decline. In particular it does not appear to be associated with societies that began depending on wet-rice agriculture. The decline in health is particularly noticeable in societies that depended on maize as their main crop.
Life span is another factor that is harder to determine. Once an individual reaches adulthood it becomes more difficult and less accurate to determine their age at death based on the skeleton. It is not impossible, but the age frames become wider than with children that can be accurately aged based on tooth eruption patterns and bone growth. The average life span of a population is difficult to estimate. In the past there were high rates of child and infant mortality. We do not know how high these rates were in the Paleolithic as the bones of children are more delicate than the bones of adults and do not preserve as well. We do know that if one survived into adult hood the next biggest threats to their lives were infection from injury, and for women childbirth. This is one of the reasons that in the archaeological record we see more men surviving into old age than women. These death patterns also skew the population’s average age at death downward. The fact is the archaeological record shows that the average age of death for humans and hominids in any period was far shorter than it is today. While some individuals did survive into old age, even during the Paleolithic the average lifespan of an individual was what we would not consider not quite middle age.
The archaeological record does not support the claim that hominids and humans prior to agriculture did not have tooth decay, or caries. Neanderthals lived during only during the Paleolithic with the last Neanderthals dying out on Gibraltar approximately 28,000 ya. The skeletal remains of Neanderthals and other hominid species show signs of periodontal disease, and caries. While we do not know the rate at which caries and dental disase were present in the Paleolithic, we do have evidence that it was at lower rates than in societies that practice agriculture. In this Dr. Cordain is correct that agriculture had a negative impact on our health.
Dr. Cordain repeatedly claims that the so-called modern diseases such as cancer, diabetes and autoimmune diseases did not exist prior to agriculture. The evidence does not support this either. The oldest known case of cancer in hominids is a 1.7 mya osteosarcoma found in the metatarsal from an unknown hominid species. Cancer is found across species, therefore it is likely that cancers in hominids are older than this, but we do not have evidence to conclusively state this.
We do not know when the first case of heart disease, diabetes or autoimmune disease occurred based on skeletal material and that is where we must start looking at genes. After death the DNA in the body degrades until it is impossible to be extracted for analysis. At this time it is only possible to extract DNA in skeletal remains up to 30,000 ya, therefore Neanderthals are the only reliable source of non-human hominid DNA. The Neanderthal genome was sequenced several years ago and has provided a wealth of information. We now know that they had the genes for some autoimmune diseases such as lupus and Crohn’s disease. They also had genes that indicate a predisposition to several diseases that are considered modern diseases. These include type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, heart disease, and depression. This is contradicts Dr. Cordain’s claim that eating his version of a Paleolithic diet will cure or prevent these diseases as they are complex disease that include both genetic and environmental factors.
In 1991 one of the oldest mummified human remains were found in the Ötzal Alps. Ötzi, as he is known, dates back to the Neolithic (New Stone Age) approximately 5,300 ya. Ötzi was found in a glacier, which preserved his body remarkably well. Analyses of his genes show a predisposition to heart disease, and the presence of the world’s oldest case of Lyme disease. A CT scan confirmed the diagnosis of atherosclerosis. Now agriculture was present in the Neolithic and in fact Ötzi’s last meal did contain some unleavened bread however; studies of remains including those from hunter-gatherer societies suggest that atherosclerosis was prevalent in antiquity contrary to Dr. Cordain’s claims that it is only caused by agriculture.
The Paleo Diet does have some good points about choosing lean meats over fatty meats, reducing salt and sugar consumption, and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. These are all recommendations routinely made by dietitians. However it also states that all grains, legumes and dairy should be avoided. Dr. Cordain repeatedly claims that our hominid ancestors did not eat grains or dairy, and therefore we should not either. The argument against legumes is never explicitly stated, except for his statement that they contain lectins that aggravate autoimmune diseases. There does not appear to be a scientific consensus on this point at this time. Some research implicates lectins in some autoimmune diseases, but there is no clear evidence for the method by which this may occur. Also legumes contain protease inhibitors that have anti-inflammatory properties after cooking. Furthermore there is evidence of Paleolithic peoples consuming legumes and processing grains long before they began growing them.
Grains, legumes and dairy can all be excellent sources of nutrition. The agricultural revolution that occurred approximately 10,000 ya in multiple locations around the world dramatically changed human history. Humans were no longer nomadic hunter-gatherers. As agriculture spread some populations settled in location permanently and their population size exploded.
The process of domestication of plant and animal species was not as fast as Dr. Cordain implies. In order to domesticate a plant or animal species it’s entire life cycle, and especially it’s reproductive cycle needs to be well understood. The process of domestication takes generations. Not every attempt at domestication was successful either. In order to domesticate a plant or animal species it had to be very familiar and useful to the population, which means they had to eat or use it regularly. The species of fruits and vegetables available today have changed dramatically from the species that would have been available in the Paleolithic due to selective breeding for thousands of years.
The argument against dairy is one of the more illogical arguments in the Paleo Diet. Dr. Cordain once again commits the appeal to nature fallacy and argues that we have not had enough time to evolve to eat dairy. This is patently untrue for individuals who are lactose tolerant. Lactose intolerance is indeed the” natural” human state, however approximately 7,500 ya in Europe a single allele mutation allowing for lactase persistence emerged. This adaptation allowed adults to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk. Due to positive evolutionary pressure these genes became fixed in the populations very quickly. Today the rates of lactase persistence vary in Europe from as low as 15-54% of the population in eastern and southern Europe, to 62-86% in central and western Europe, to a high of 89-96% in the British Isles and Scandinavia. While lactase persistence has been most intensively studied in Europe, it is also found in other populations around the world including populations in Africa and India. Lactase persistence is found societies that were historically pastoral, that is they herded cattle. Perhaps more interesting is that there are multiple derived alleles allowing for lactase persistence that evolved independently.
One further claim Dr. Cordain makes regarding dairy is the body does properly not absorb the calcium in diary products and that eating too much dairy can increase osteoporosis risk. This has been hypothesized but further studies have found no evidence to support this conclusion. Dr. Cordain makes this claim as part of his discussion of the need to keep the diet more alkaline than acidic. This brings in elements of the alkaline dietary trends, which are also unsubstantiated by current research available. Furthermore idea of balancing acidic and alkaline foods suggested by Dr. Cordain is not actually upheld in studies of hunter-gatherer societies.
The Paleo Diet makes repeated claims that eating the way Dr. Cordain believes our ancestors did will cure diseases that he believes are caused by eating “unnatural” foods such as grains, legumes and dairy. These claims are not supported by the archaeological record, which shows no single Paleolithic diet or dietary pattern, and as previously discussed is not supported by the study of ancient remains. Specifically Dr. Cordain believes that heart disease, autoimmune diseases and even skin cancer can be prevented by eating his diet despite there being no evidence to support this. The book also relies heavily on anecdotes provided by people who claim the diet has cured them along with a brief explanation about how this allegedly works that does not actually provide any scientific information in the second half of the book. Any time personal anecdotes are being provided instead of scientific evidence it should be a red flag to begin to look more deeply into the claims.
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