A New Theory of (un)Natural Selection
by Mickey Z.
November 4, 2003
"Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul."
Observation. There is perhaps no more valuable tool in the world of science. Ask Darwin. He did all right for himself observing finches, didn't he? Or ask Marcel Proust. He said: "The true voyage of discovery lies not is seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."
What I've recently observed with my very own "new eyes" is an expeditious epicurean evolution defying all previous postulations on how quickly a species can mutate, adapt, and evolve. In terms of eating habits, it's obvious from even the most tertiary scrutiny that Homo sapiens have undergone a fair amount of evolution, since 1945 or so. Thus, it is in the spirit of open-minded observers-past and present-that submit a new theory of natural selection based, of course, on elementary observation:
* Humans are now designed to consume animals. All responsible scientific data had proven that the consumption of animals (beef, pork, veal, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, etc.) is not only absolutely unnecessary for human subsistence; it is the principal cause of premature death, environmental devastation, animal cruelty, and corporate welfare (not to mention, Mad Cow Disease). However, in the face of this supposed reality, how does one rationalize the insidious infestation of fast food burger joints, the unchecked expansion of a meat-based diet into Asia and Latin America, and the wanton proliferation of "milk mustache" ads? And, as if that's not enough observation for you, try opening the nearest refrigerator and you'll find a clearly marked "butter rack," "meat drawer," and lots of room for eggs. Obviously, Hotpoint knows something we don't. Human beings, those notoriously resourceful creatures, have simply outgrown the dangers of animal consumption and can now drink milk meant for calves without nary a concern.
* Humans can now ingest caffeine without any nasty side effects. It is has been commonly known for years that the consumption of caffeine-an addictive chemical obtained from coffee, tea, cola drinks, and cocoa that signals the brain to allow stored energy to be released and acts in a similar manner as cocaine or amphetamines by stimulating the cerebral cortex-can deplete energy stores and may contribute to a condition of chronic fatigue. Other health hazards related to long-term caffeine use are heart disease, panic attacks, reproductive problems, low bone mass, and possibly pancreatic, esophageal, and colon cancers. Not any more, baby. Thanks to some rapid-fire natural selection, today, Coke is it, chocolate is the stuff of true romance, and coffee bars dot the landscape as far as the eye can see. But, in terms of recognizing that today's highly evolved humans are now immune to caffeine-related ills, one observation truly stands out. Ask yourself this: Whenever a fellow mortal decides to take a breather, what is that rest period called? A "coffee break," what else? Since no prudent society would allow a phrase to become part of its cultural vernacular if the meaning behind that phrase could conceivably lead to, say, chronic fatigue or esophageal cancer, I'd say something must have changed. Caffeine, my fellow Homo sapiens, is now in.
* Humans have grown immune to other once-lethal toxins. Similar to the caffeine scenario, pure observation has led me to also discern that humans, thanks to epicurean evolution, are no longer vulnerable to other nefarious elements like sugar, tobacco, pesticides, radiation, heavy metals, antibiotics, hormones, and certain microbes (to name but a few). The mere act of perusing a typical American drink tap water (heavy metals and microbes galore), light up a cigarette (tar and nicotine), chat on a cell phone (electromagnetic radiation), chow down on a candy bar (sugar and chemicals) and an nonorganic apple (pesticides and bioengineered food stuffs), wash it down with a glass of milk (animal protein, BGH, sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics, and more pesticides), wipe her or his face with a napkin (chlorine and dyes), and then head off in a car (exhaust emissions) to the dentist for X-rays and a filling (radiation and mercury), is evidence enough for me. After all, would an entire nation so readily embrace such comportment as utterly normal if it might hurt us or our future? I sincerely doubt it.
*Humans now need less nutrients. This one is rather obvious, if I say so myself. If we were to still require the same nutrients that our great-grandparents did, we'd be using sustainable farming techniques to preserve the topsoil and ensure that the crops we consume gain the full benefit of growing in a nutrient-rich environment. But, when one observes that this generation's Homo sapiens are depleting the topsoil at the rate of five billion tons a year in the U.S. alone, the point becomes moot. Hey, other great civilizations may have crumbled due to top oil depletion, but for us it's nutrients, schmutrients. We've evolved and vitamins and minerals are now as archaic as, say, universal health care or labor unions.
Far be it for a sneaky little concept like evolution to limit itself to only one realm. On the contrary, in today's new world order, rampant natural selection is even more pervasive than U.S.-manufactured arms. Therefore, I vehemently suggest you begin doing some observing for yourself before you miss your chance to become the Copernicus of the MTV Era. Here are a few questions and clues to help get you started:
*With the rapid surge in cell phones, fax machines, and beepers, isn't it safe to assume that human beings have simply evolved to become more important now than they were forty or fifty years ago?
* Look around you: There are televisions everywhere: in the gym, in your doctor's waiting room, in the laundrymat. Could it be that we simply need, on a physiological level, more stimulus than our ancestors?
* Speaking of TVs, if you combine the omnipresence of the television set with the ever-growing popularity of the Internet and the widespread utilization of personal Walkman-style stereos, is it not logical to postulate that the early twenty-first century model human needs far less face-to-face social contact than its primitive, less secure predecessors?
* One more TV-related observation: Are televisions, automobiles, escalators, and elevators proof that the necessity for exercise and physical activity has gone the way of the dinosaur?
* Walk into your bathroom. Walk into anyone's bathroom for that matter, and what do you see? A medicine chest, of course. Clearly, thanks to evolution, our immune systems have been relieved of the tedious chore of keeping us healthy. What do you think?
* Can you explain why human beings behave in such a manner as to increase global warming and the greenhouse effect, promote the destruction of the ozone layer and the rain forests, and allow pollution to overtake many urban areas? To me, it's easy. Our superior bodies now require higher temperatures and less oxygen.
* Along the same lines, since rising water levels and population explosion are proceeding unchecked, can this be telling us that we now need far less space than we currently occupy?
* Finally, can you believe that primitive women of a bygone age once gave birth while standing up and they didn't even rely on any high-tech medical interventions? Fortunately, we've evolved past that point. Today, through the magic of natural selection, we have the obstetrician.
Now, if only some sectors of our species could simply evolve past the need for poverty, we'd really be in business.
Mickey Z. is the author of The Murdering of My Years: Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet (www.murderingofmyyears.com) and an editor at Wide Angle (www.wideangleny.com). He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Recent Articles by Mickey Z.