February 19, 2008


Humans are very adaptive, but this means that we’re changed by our environment and actions as much as we change it or control them. To quote Spencer Wells, the anthropologist who interviewed Will Self [below]:

We've probably changed more since the dawn of the Neolithic than we did in the hundreds of thousands of years leading up to that. Basically what we're doing is adapting to the culture we created, which is a frightening thing because the culture, in a sense, has become a living organism of its own. It's almost like a virus the way it's taken over. The greatest adaptation seems to have come from the change in diet and the change, perhaps, in shelter and making clothes, and all these things that happened as a result of the Neolithic.

The User Illusion ended with a criticism of our increasingly mediated, screen-based world, noting that we evolved to preconsciously take in, weigh up and act on millions of bits of information. The idea is that we should cut ourselves off from mediation and gain a more direct experience of ourselves and the environment, but more essentially in this context [and this post] to incorporate elements of a Paleolithic lifestyle. A good start on this, beyond walking - which I dislike, I ride a bike - is in terms of diet and exercise.

The summary is this: as few neolithic, agricultural foods as possible, i.e. no grains, lots of fruit, vegetables, nuts, meats, and short, irregular bouts of randomized hard exercise, interspersed with low level physical activity. Keeping things non-linear and faux hunter-gatherer. A good place to start on this is with Art De Vany and his essay on Evolutionary Fitness.

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