Sunday, March 2, 2014
The title: Paleofantasy
The author: Marlene Zuk
Publication: W.W. Norton & Co., 2013
Got it from: Sony Store
It's not too often that I will say that everyone should read a book, but everyone should read this book. Here's why: you can stop worrying. I mean it. Stop worrying that you're a cave person trapped in the modern world, doomed to be out of sync with your surroundings. You're not.
I've rarely been so reassured by a science book, but reading this just gave me so many common sense lightbulb moments. I've been skeptical about many "paleo [X]" movements and now I know why. In simple, straightforward language, Marlene Zuk explains that we're so very much more complex than what pop science would have us believe. For starters, there was never a time when we were in complete harmony with our surroundings. Humans are like every other living thing: constantly evolving, our genes always being tinkered with, our bodies adapting in many different ways and many different environments. In one chapter she addresses the notion that men are "hardwired" to be promiscuous (spoiler: they're not) or that women have always been monogamous and faithful (spoiler: no). In fact, she lays to rest the fantasy that men were the hunters and women the gatherers and we're just programmed that way. (Actually, we're not "programmed" any way, because we're not computers.) She also gently and non-condescendingly blows apart any argument for a paleo diet or lifestyle. The truth is, people can eat a whole lot of things and always have been able to. 10,000 years in plenty of time to adapt. And why should the paleolithic era be the evolutionary benchmark, anyway? Why is nobody advocating we live like our fish or small mammal ancestors?
Go ahead and have a slice of bread. We're all going to be fine.