June 17, 2013

Paleo diets - yet another #PopEvPsych failure

Hey, third time is the charm today on Scientific American stories and blogs. I found one that's actually scientific.

The writer notes several things wrong with paleo diets, such as incorrect assumptions about evolution and how it works, and, even more, the assumption that there's "one" Paleolithic diet and only one.

Man the noble hunter-gatherer, for example, informs wrong ideas in PopEvPsych and in the idea of "one," meat-heavy, Paleolithic diet. Indeed, per the chart, the Kung of "The Gods Must Be Crazy" fame only get 10 percent of their food intake from meat.

Meanwhile, both Pop Ev Psych with its noble meat-killing hunter-gatherer (already shown to be incorrect, above) and the paleo diet craze, gets a more direct smackdown. Our ancestors started eating more grasses 3.5 million years ago. The Science Daily story notes that we don't know for sure what part of those grasses were being eaten, but part that was surely seed heads, i.e. ...

GRAINS! The grains decried as unhealthy by the paleo dieters and rejected as being beyond the noble pale by Pop Ev Psychers.

Oh, and per claims (not necessarily wrong) that meat cooked on fires fueled our brain expansion, this does matter for reasons beyond what I just listed.

Per Science Daily:
"If diet has anything to do with the evolution of larger brain size and intelligence, then we are considering a diet that is very different than we were thinking about 15 years ago," when it was believed human ancestors ate mostly leaves and fruits, Cerling says.
Now, the biggest brain explosion happened later. But, it may not been quite so much due to cooked meat, as to expansion of proteins in general, and perhaps certain fats and fatty acids, too.

That said, the Scientific American author, on the first link, could have gone much further.

I believe that these, and other incorrect ideas and assumptions, are partially connected, or more than partially, to Pop Evolutionary Psychology, even though its starting point is further back in hominid history.

Because of this and other incorrectnessess, paleo diets are stupid because like anything connected in any way to Pop Ev Psych (and this halfway goes for "normal" ev psych) it's based on half-baked, largely untested, probably largely untestable ideas, and ideas that often have a good "leaven" of sexism behind them.

And, note that I applied this critique as halfway falling on "normal" evolutionary psychology, too. Because it's true. Some of its assumptions about human evolution and its pace are just ill-thought. The EEA is largely untestable. And probably will always be so. To the degree it is testable, it's at least partially refutable.

And, the sexism is heavy in the idea of man the "noble hunter-gatherer." Mankind first increased the amount of meat the species was eating by being a scavenger-gatherer, not a hunter-gatherer. That's less noble. It's also less individualistic.

And, as I recently blogged about how there's no basic difference between men and women on level of sexual drive, or on level of sexual roaming eyes outside of strict monogamy, one key tenet of such sexism has not just been refuted but crushed.

And, I'm more and more willing to say that about "legit" ev psych. Other than the idea that mind = brain, and brain evolved, therefore human psychology evolved, I think a legitimate field of evolutionary psychology needs to start from ground zero.

Update: I think paleo dieters ought to combine with breatharians, once they figure out the exact composition, by ratios of elements and CO2, of the atmosphere of the PopEvPsych EEA, and therefore, lose weight, trump conventional science, and become Social Darwinist sexists all at once!

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