12. Supernormal Stimuli by Deirdre Barrett

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12. Supernormal Stimuli by Deirdre Barrett

Post  wmeisel on Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:54 pm

"How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose"

This was quite interesting. The author discusses how our evolutionary urges, which worked well when we were living in nomadic groups, are not so well suited to living in the modern world.

So, for instance, our tendency to eat the wrong things comes from the scarcity of those items in the environments we used to live in - but our bodies still crave those things,and now that they are so easily accessible, we end up obese. (She reproduces a circus sideshow postcard showing "obese people", who nowadays would probably not even be noticed if they were walking around on the street.)

Another chapter talks about war, and makes a fascinating point: many of the places in the world that seem to have endless wars are minority/minority areas. Example: Palestinians are a minority in Israel, which is a land consisting of Jews who are a minority in the rest of the middle east. Another example: Protestants are a minority in Ireland, which consists of mostly Catholics, who are a minority in the rest of the British empire.

Unfortunately, the author doesn't have a lot of advice on how to stop people from making these unhealthy decisions. The idea that "we are smart enough to just know that these things are happening, and can intellectually choose not to do them" does not fill me with optimism.

This was a quick read that is definitely recommended. Her previous book, Waistland, just focuses on food, and I may try to pick that one up too.

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